Sunday 5 December 2010

Leicester on Film -the Newsreel

Thanks to all those who braved the snow and came to see ‘Leicester on Film’ last week! We received such a good response that we’re hoping to make film nights a regular event... Any suggestions for thought provoking films gratefully received.

As promised on the night, Julie Ives (my research partner in crime at the MACE ) and I have put together a newsreel with material from the ITV regional television news collection. We’ve given it the title ‘Leicester: City of Innovation’ to capture how the regional news teams attempted to injected newsworthiness into local on the links below to see the (dubious) results!

The ITV regional news collection consists of filmed inserts made for the daily news programmes, first broadcast in the Midlands in 1956. As you can see some of the inserts are mute in their archived form, since their accompanying voiceovers were broadcast live. Footage of the newsreaders and studio interviews had a similarly ephemeral existence. These details will ever remain tantalisingly irretrievable, but I love working with them, the immediacy, movement, testimony from local people on the streets...all fabulous.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect to the collection is how it shows contemporary excitement, or attempts to generate it, for ideas that never caught on. Wonderful initiatives that were never to become ‘historically significant’ in the conventional sense. The item on ‘New Car Park for Small Cars’ is an ATV classic in these terms. The presenter pulling up in his car, framed by the window as his does his piece to camera, attempting to ignite a spark of controversy despite the stoicism of the local councillor, oozes seventies local media kitsch.
I also have to mention, one of my favourite items in the regional news collection: Miss World visits Leicester, or more precisely “visits [the] Leicester hosiery factory which makes her track suits and leotards” (Whatever happened to leotards, eh?!). Beauty queens had been a television news staple since the 1950s, usually filmed lined up for the judges. In the 1960s the beauty queen on the news moved into the realm of advertising (sometimes perched on elephants...) for local businesses. However, just as feminists were attacking the institution of the Beauty-queen-cattle-market, Miss World gained the ultimate TV news respectability, taking part in a ‘factory visit’ –a duty usually reserved for civic dignitaries, sporting heroes and PM James Callaghan. A feat which I think represents the importance of looking at the mysterious workings of celebrity amidst the dazzling mundanely of the regional television news.
Happy viewing!