Home TV by Decade TV Shows - 1950s Monitor


1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 5 (UK)

During its seven-year run, the BBC programme Monitor – the first regular television arts programme – became a Sunday night institution for the learned classes.

Screened at around 10 pm and presented for the most part in relaxed authoritative fashion by its editor, Huw Wheldon, the programme spanned all artistic fields and laid the foundations for later successes like Aquarius and The South Bank Show.

Wheldon once described a piece of abstract sculpture roughly thus: “You’ll see that it’s made in three sections: a top section which is at the top here, a bottom section at the bottom, and a middle section in the, er, middle”.

As well as featuring interviews with writers, sculptors, musicians and painters, Monitor broke new ground by commissioning film profiles of artists from emerging filmmakers like Ken Russell and John Schlesinger. These have since become archive classics.