Top 6 Forgotten TV Programmes From the 1950s

British television programmes were just getting into their stride in the 1950s. The BBC had started to realise the worth in television and whilst classics such as ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ and ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ are fondly remembered and often reminisced there were others.

How many of these do you still remember? (Let us know in the comments section below)

For millions of the population, their first experience of television was on 2 June 1953 when 20 million+ gathered around televisions sets up and down the country to watch the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster. In the build-up to the event, some 526,000 sets were sold for fear of missing out on the Royal occasion.

However, there wasn’t a Royal knees-up every week, so here’s some of the lesser known series that we tuned into religiously in the 1950s.

How many of these programmes do you remember?

Life With The Lyons (1955-1960)

Who remembers this sitcom telling the story of an American family settled in London after World War II? It was a follow up to the successful ‘Hi, Gang!’ a radio show that ran from 1940-1949. John Lennon and Yoko Ono paid tribute to the show in the naming of their second album, Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions.

Cool For Cats (1956-1961)

Whilst ‘Oh Boy’ and the ‘6-5 Special’ are well remembered and documented. One of the first shows aimed at the teenage music fan was ‘Cool For Cats’ presented by Kent Walton. If the bands or artists couldn’t make the show their music was often skilfully interpreted by the Dougie Squires Dancers can you spot a young Una Stubbs?

Boyd QC(1956-64)

‘Boyd QC’ starred Michael Denison as a suave London barrister Richard Boyd QC. This series ran from 1956-1964 over a total of 7 series. It was thought that Michael Denison’s portrayal of Boyd QC was so accurate he received invitations to address Law Society dinners!

The Army Game (1957-61)

A highly popular series made for Granada about a gang of peacetime soldiers in constant pursuit of easy money and ways of outwitting their fiery Sergeant. Whilst it had echoes of ‘The Phil Silvers Show’ both were being broadcast at roughly the same time. Alfie Bass played Private ‘Excused Boots’ Bisley and Private’Professor’ Hatchett was played by Charles Hawtrey and of course Private ‘Popeye’ Popplewell was played by Bernard Bresslaw with his famous ‘I only arsked’ catchphrase. Dick Emery also starred. ‘The Army Game’ was perhaps the precursor to the first Carry on film ‘Carry On Sergeant’.

The Appleyards(1952-1957)

This was a lightweight series detailing the likely ups and downs of the ever-rosy Appleyard family. The programme was broadcast during the Children’s Television slot 4.30-5pm on a Thursday afternoon and repeated again on a Sunday and was billed as a junior ‘The Grove Family’. Starring Constance Fraser, Derek Rowe, Douglas Muir and David Edwards.

The Larkins (1958-1960 & 1963-1964)

A rumbustious cockney family sitcom full of farcical situations and starring David Kossoff as the father and Peggy Mount as the mother who lived at 66 Sycamore Street with the rest of their family ‘The Larkins’ was hugely popular at the time and also had a feature film made in 1959, ‘Inn For Trouble’.

Let us know what other 1950s TV series you remember in the comments below?

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  • I remember them all apart from Cool for Cats, I loved The Appleyards and The Army Game. My favourite was The Grove Family which is mentioned. I suppose they were the fore runners of today’s soaps which I still love. So my viewing as a 10 year old obviously shaped my viewing over 60 years later.

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