Archive for January 19, 2009

Playing to The Gallery 

Posted in Music, Television with tags , , , on January 19, 2009 by telescoper

I was very sad yesterday to hear of the death at the age of 83 of the pioneering children TV’s presenter Tony Hart.  The newspapers and television have been filled with suitably glowing tributes to him, because he was not only a superb presenter but also a warm and generous person. That’s quite a rare combination in the world of television, so I’m told.

I knew of him primarily through Vision On, a programme which I watched avidly as a child, and only found out much later on that it was intended to be for deaf children. The show involved comedy sketches and cartoons, as well as Tony Hart’s contributions which involved creating works of art live in front of the camera. He hardly ever spoke and used only the simplest of materials to create very beautiful things with the idea that this would inspire his audience to get in touch with their artistic side without making it look too much like a lesson. He did it brilliantly.

Here’s the middle chunk of a broadcast from 1975 which will bring it all bank to those of you of a certain age like me, but notable also in that it includes Sylvester McCoy who later became the 7th Doctor Who:

Best of all, this segment ends with my favourite bit, The Gallery, accompanied by a piece of music which is almost as redolent with nostalgia for me as the theme from Doctor Who. The track concerned is called Left Bank Two and was performed by the Noveltones; it can be heard here in full. Just a trio of vibraphone, guitar and drums played with brushes, I think it’s a masterpiece of relaxed simplicity. Nobody got his collar wet playing it, that’s for sure. It’s the sort of music you might have expected to hear in a smart cocktail bar in the early 60s but is now inextricably linked to The Gallery.

I was struck watching the above clip just how good the childrens’ drawings and paintings were too. I tried several times to get something shown in The Gallery, but never succeeded.