1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 3 (UK)
Former Tingha and Tucker presenter “Auntie” Jean Morton was briefed to devise a ten-minute-a-day experimental programme aimed at an afternoon audience of young mothers, housewives and grandparents, the retired, and shift workers of both sexes.
As a result, she produced and presented Women Today, and the response to the show was so great that the original 10 minutes was expanded to twenty, and later to twenty-five, with an ever-increasing volume of viewer mail and soaring ratings.
The programme was mostly based on viewers’ letters and suggestions – and many of the controversial subjects eventually openly discussed on television were first tackled by Women Today.
Women were found to be both tolerant and broad-minded and desperately anxious to have the windows of their world opened wide so they could broaden their horizons. Because of this liberal attitude, air time was given to human problems and, with professional and expert advice, to providing help for the sufferer.
Mother and baby were well catered for by in-depth medical discussions with specialists advising on the menopause, impotence, frigidity, childbirth and contraception.
Hobbies and crafts for the housebound were also well catered for, including cooking, preserving, flower arranging, dressmaking, library lists and gardening. Well-known people in the world of fashion – including Norman Hartnell, Yugoslav designer Franka, and Yuki from Paris – travelled to the Birmingham studios to bring both couture design and ‘off the peg’ bargains.
Recognising too that the afternoon could be a lonely time for women, there were musical acts, new vocalists and young entertainers, and a series of ballroom dancing with an outside broadcast unit.
Many men also watched Women Today, and there were segments on winemaking, beer and cider making, and a do-it-yourself segment of loft, kitchen and patio conversions and how to turn a spare larder into a shower room.
Film cameras covered premiers, big theatrical occasions and receptions, and interviews with stars of the cinema and theatre.
There were topical subjects too, like a visit to the London Stock Exchange to meet the new lady members or a fascinating sail on the Grand Union Canal on a Victorian-style longboat with music and song.
Jean Morton died on 26 May 2012 at Beechfields Care Home in Lichfield (near Birmingham). She was 91.