Entertainment 2: What were the major developments in the 1950s and 1960s?
The Development of Television and the Cinema
The Growth of Television in the 1950s
One form of popular entertainment which saw dramatic growth in the 1950s was television:
- Although the BBC (funded by the TV Licence Fee) began television broadcasts in 1936 very few people owned a TV set before the 1950s.
- Because of World War 2 the BBC stopped television broadcasts between 1939 and 1946.
- By the early 50s TV availability had spread across most of Britain: the first BBC transmitter statin in South Wales was opened in 1952.
- The boom in TV ownership came when the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was shown in 1953: over half of the UK population watched it live.
- ITV (Independent Television) was launched in 1955 as a commercial television (television funded by advertising) service to provide competition to the BBC.
- ITV controls the regional television companies which have to compete to win the franchise for ales between 1968 and 2002.
Several TV programmes developed immense followings during the 1960s and had a dramatic impact on the nation's viewing habits.
- The soap opera Coronation Street was first broadcast by Granada Television in 1960.
- Comedies such as Steptoe and Son and On the Buses attracted huge audiences.
- Children's programmes like Blue Peter and Thunderbirds began long running careers.
- Police dramas like Dickson of Dock Green and Z Cars were very popular.
- Pop music shows like Juke Box Jury and Top of the Pops were popular among teenagers and young adults.
The Decline in Cinema Attendance
The cinema continued to be popular in the 1950s but attendance declined steadily during the 1960s mainly due to the influence of television:
- Hollywood feature films in colour continued to attract audiences in the 1950s, making household names of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne.
- By the late 1950s cinema audiences were in decline - an increase in entertainment tax caused ticket prices to rise and a lack of new investment caused many cinemas to become rundown.
- Many cinemas were forced to close: there were 3,000 cinemas in England and Wales in 1960 but only 1,500 by 1969.
The Impact of Popular Music and the Development of Musical Styles
At the end of the Second World War big bands dominated popular music, but by the mid-1950s a new form of music, Rock 'n' Roll, had arrived from America. It had a fast beat and relied on the guitar, bass and drums. Artists such as Elvis Presley, and Bill Haley and his Comets, became extremely popular, especially with younger people. Their parents wee less enthusiastic and disapproved of the energetic style of dancing. Skiffle, an alternative style of music which also developed at this time, was inspired by artists like Lonnie Donegan.
The 1960s: The 'Swinging Sixties'
The Beatles from Liverpool changed the face of pop music in the 1960s by developing a new style of music. After their first single 'Love Me Do' reached number 17 in the charts in 1962, they followed it with a string of chart-topping singles. They became the first British group to break into the American Music scene. Other groups such as the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Hollies and the Kinks, copied and developed the Beatles' style and also became very successful.
The 19060 also saw the development of other styles of music:
- The Californian style of music from the Beach Boys.
- The Folk Music of Bob Dylan.
- Motown music with the Jackson Five and Supremes becoming very popular.
- The Welsh singer Tom jones who came onto the pop scene in the mid 1960s quickly became a best selling vocalist.