You’ve been working away on a television series for months. You have your scheduled transmission slot. You want as many people as possible to watch it. How do you promote the living daylights out of it? In the United Kingdom during the first few decades of television, your first port of call was obvious. Get your series featured in the listings magazines.
I’ve written about Manhunt before. First broadcast in the UK on the 2nd January 1970 on the ITV Network it ran straight through for 26 weeks, ending rather neatly on June 26th. While the country was going World Cup Bonkers, ITV broadcast a sobering reminder of an altogether different conflict as Jimmy, Nina and Vincent attempted to fight their way through war-torn France in a desperate race to get vital information back to London. Alfred Lynch, Peter Barkworth did weekly battle with the Nazi menace as personified by Philip Madoc, Robert Hardy, Tony Beckley et al in a series which remains my single favourite ITV drama ever broadcast. Nothing’s come close to touching it. I don’t know if anything ever shall.
It deserved the widest audience possible. To the credit of the ITV listings magazine TV Times, strenous efforts were made to ensure that Manhunt got just that. It may have sunk into relative obscurity in the intervening years but for the six months it was being broadcast, I’m pleased to say that TVT went hell-for-leather to make sure that we tuned in every Friday evening. Let’s have a look, see how they went about it. Click on the jpegs for a higher-res scan. All listings copyright TV Times.
Week 1 fairly low-key start. A box-out on the listings page for the Friday night, but a decent enough summary of what’s to come. Those still loitering near the exits after On The Buses would – it’s safe to say – have been greeted with a remarkable tonal shift in their evening’s viewing.
Nothing too spectacular. A basic listing,but enough to whet the appetite. The plot-summary – as with every week – is bang on the money. Either someone is watching preview tapes avidly or the press-pack sent out by the production office is extraordinarily detailed.
Blimey, here we go. An unexpected start to the luxurious extended coverage afforded to Manhunt, with a piece on the booming trade in Nazi memorabillia. That’s Richard Hurndall in full costume, looking altogether too comfortable.
Another oblique approach this week, with more focus being paid on the filming of the series rather than the performers. Makes for an arresting headline, though.
Time to get personal. A revealing and rather sad interview with Alfred Lynch.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. Peter Barkworth’s cooking tips. Hey-ho. Rough with the smooth…
Something of a desert, as presumably with the series up and running the listings people are happy to leave things to cook by themselves. Lots of other series to promote, all jostling for page-time.
Time for another promotional push as Robert Hardy’s increasing presence in the series (becoming more or less the fourth regular lead by this stage) warrants another “at-home-with” feature. And what a home. Bonus picture of Hunky George Sewell on the listings page, you’ll note.
Fans of the Madoc rejoice, for here he is at last.
Manhunt finally makes the front cover – sort of. An enticing strapline slapped over Des O’Connor’s mush leads us towards Cyd Hayman’s fashion shoot. Well, a gal needs something nice to wear after all those French Ditches.
The extraordinary Intent To Steal this week, an episode with no dialogue whatsoever after the opening recap. A fact not lost on TV Times. Out of all the assorted promotional material here, this pic of Alfred Lynch and Peter Barkworth is by far my favourite. The article also gives away that the working title for the episode appears to have been The Raid. Makes sense.
The Gratz/Lutzig conflict takes centre stage this week, edging all of the other regulars out. Another series high-point. TVTimes has obviously been taking note of how this particular thread has been developing.
Before we know it, it’s all over. A simple listing for the penultimate week, a pic of Cyd and Maggie for the final listings page and they’re off. A low-key exit for a series which – once I started digging – revealed itself to be far more visibly promoted than I’d at first assumed. Well deserved coverage of one of the commercial network’s unfairly neglected treasures. We shall never see their like again.