A now-forgotten alternative to the commercial break in the early days of British commercial television was the Advertising Magazine (or ‘Admag’) in which performers were allowed to extol the virtues of various products during the course of a generally vapid quarter-hour of chat.
Admags began as a result of the Parliamentary debates on the 1954 Television Act after which the Independent Television Authority (ITA) made a ruling allowing them and ensuring it should always be made clear that they were indeed advertising.
Admags not only provided an outlet for the smaller advertisers but, as the ratings showed, they became remarkably popular in their own right.
Jim’s Inn was the best-known example. The show featured Jimmy Hanley and his real-life wife Maggie (Margaret Avery) running a cosy pub in the (fictitious) village of Wembleham, providing the perfect opportunity for visitors to the pub to discuss a variety of products over a pint or two.
Each 15-minute episode went out live, once a week, at 10:45 pm and the series became almost something of a soap opera.
Pub regulars were played by Roma Cresswell, John Sherlock, Jack Edwardes, Diane Watts, Dennis Bowen, Ken Howard and Victor Platt.
Jim’s Inn ran from 1957 until 1963, and Jimmy Hanley ended up on the children’s television series The Five O’Clock Club.
Other Admags included About Homes and Gardens (1956) with Noele Gordon and Raymond Bishop; Bazaar (1957 – 1959); Fancy That! (1956); Flair; For Pete’s Sake (1957 – 1958); Girl With a Date; Home With Joy Shelton (1955 – 1956); In Store (with Kenneth Horne and Tommy Trinder); Midweek Miscellany (1956 – 1957); Over the Hills (1956); Send for Saunders (1957 – 1963) with John Warren as Head Porter George Saunders who invited viewers to join him in the Poter’s office to see new and interesting products; Shop on the Corner; What’s in Store? presented by Doris Rogers (1956 – 1958); What’s New? (1957) and Where Shall We Go? (1956).
The facility was withdrawn by the ITA in 1963 when Parliament prohibited Admags. On Sunday 31 March 1963, Admags were no more.