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I will now swear an oath on the Radio Times

Greenslade: With a small stove, Lord Seagoon set off in hot pursuit in his horse-drawn motor car. The trail of missing teeth led them to the village of [Tarzan yell]. And there, next to a newsvendor's shop in which this week's copy of the Radio Times is now on sale, they stopped.

(from ‘The House of Teeth’, Series 6 Episode 20, broadcast 31 January 1956)


The listing for ‘The House of Teeth’ is on page 22 of the Radio Times. At the time, the RT published different editions for the regions, with some covering radio only (at least, this is my understanding – feel free to correct me).


On page 3 of this issue it notes that there is just one edition of the magazine this week, owing to a dispute with printers.


Printing staff and unions wanted a pay rise higher than the one they’d been offered by employers and were on a “go slow”. This meant a reduction in printing capacity for the periodicals and regional papers that the London presses produced. (National newspapers had different printers and were unaffected.)


A notice in the Radio Times, 27 January 1956

Over the next few weeks the dispute escalated, with thousands of staff on the “go slow” being threatened with dismissal and the Ministry of Labour stepping in in an attempt to resolve the dispute.


Some publications couldn’t be printed at all, but the Radio Times continued, first as an abridged 24-page edition (as opposed to the usual 48 pages), and then an even more abridged broadsheet edition, printed in France, in late February 1956.

Front page of the 24-page edition of 10 February 1956
The first 'broadsheet' edition from 24 February 1956

The 48-page editions did not return until the 6 April 1956. This issue led with an article detailing how the RT remained in print, in some rather over-the-top self-congratulatory terms.

But the true story itself, the work that went into the production, transport and distribution of something like 60 million copies has until now been a back-room story, at times as improbable as any of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and at times as tense as any wartime underground movement.

(from ‘Now it Can be Told’, page 3 of the Radio Times, 6 April 1956)


I for one can't wait for the film version showing how a white rabbit and several people dressed as playing cards smuggled copies of the Radio Times through Nazi-occupied Paris.


For those media nerds like me, the full article is available here.

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