1 9 6 4 – 1 9 7 2 (UK)
From its theme tune straight out of a smoky jazz cellar to its intentionally minimalist set and nattily attired presenters like Joan Bakewell (who was christened “the thinking man’s crumpet” by writer and comedian Frank Muir) and Tony Bilbow, this live late night arts discussion programme – and its weekend counterpart (The Look of the Week) – could not have been more evocative of the 1960s arts scene if it had tried.
Yet viewers were as likely to see Dennis Potter and Johnny Speight being interviewed, American singer-songwriter Tim Buckley playing live, or even a young Michael Palin and Terry Jones performing sketches, as they were to see features on abstract artists or avant-garde composers.
The diversity of the show is best exemplified by the three most widely-known extracts, all coincidentally dating from 1967:
The first is a feature on the BBC visual effects department, with explanations of how various monsters were created for Doctor Who.
The second is an examination of the phenomenal cult appeal of The Magic Roundabout, featuring a rare interview with the series’ creator Serge Danot, and the third example includes Pink Floyd performing live in the studio complete with their legendary light show, before taking part in a remarkable interview with the show’s somewhat condescending and certainly underwhelmed music critic Dr Hans Keller (“My first question is this – why does it all have to be so terribly loud?”).
Arriving with the launch of BBC2 in 1964 as Line Up (a nightly ten-minute preview of the channel’s evening programmes), by 1969 Late Night Line-Up had become one of the first British television programmes to be recorded and broadcast in colour and continued to present unusual angles on contemporary culture through to 1972.
As a mark of its significance, the show was exhumed in 1986 as part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of BBC television.