“Think on these things!”
My friend threw this remark over her shoulder as she went to make us coffee. We had been discussing topics for my next blog and this comment stopped those thoughts completely.
“Think on these things!” I exclaimed. “That was the title of a radio programme when I was a child.”
I remember it began each evening at 7.30 p.m. Our family would be sitting in the lounge, with Dad listening to the daily news at 7 o’clock. It would finish at 7.30 p.m. and a rather sonorous voice would crisply announce the next program: Think on these things. This would invariably be followed by Mums: “Okay, kids, time for bed!”
I smiled to myself thinking how one sentence can instantly transport you years back to the pre-television era.
The world of radio!
The radio was constantly playing in our home. Mums used to love listening to Springbok radio.
They had daily fifteen and thirty minute ‘serials’: Forces favourites with Pat Kerr, Father, dear Father, Men from the Ministry, Taxi and every child’s favourite, Squad Cars. Squaddies, as we children called it, was on every Friday evening. I laugh at myself still being able to remember the intro:
They prowl the empty streets at night, waiting in fast cars, on foot, living with crime and violence. These men are on duty 24 hours out of every 24. They face dangers at every turn, expecting nothing less. They protect the people of South Africa. These are the men of …..squad cars!
With music and a flare for drama, this showed police work in a most arresting and stunning form. Our family sat listening, often with bated breath. What sensational scenes were played out for us. Sitting there, we would allow our imaginations to be caught up as we entered the world of evil and corruption. Whilst listening, I was relieved to know that in the end, the ‘goodies’ would eventually overcome the ‘baddies’!
An acting friend of mine, Jonathan Taylor, was one of the script writers and actors on Squad Cars. He recalls the recording of Squaddies as being: “the kind of fun you have on the last day of school.”
He wrote on a portable typewriter and never corrected his typos. Part of the fun during rehearsal was to read the script exactly as written and then exclaim: “Who wrote this garbage?”
Another dear friend, Tammy Bonell Garner, recalls her radio work with sheer delight.
“We all loved doing radio. I can say of all the mediums we worked in, I loved it the most.”
She remembered doing a radio program with Brian O’Shaughnessy directing.
“I adored Brian, he was such a joy to work with. We just laughed from beginning to end. We were recording and Di Appleby was heavily pregnant and feeling incredibly uncomfortable and tired. So Brian said: “No problem. We’ll all just lie down on the studio floor and lower the mike.”
We recorded five episodes of Jet Jungle, lying in a circle on the floor.”
I am amazed to discover that so many of the friends I made during my acting career, were actually voices that I already knew and loved from my days listening to the radio.
Our family spent 1966/67 in England and relished the television. My brother and I, aged three and five were totally besotted with this amazing box that had characters almost leaping out of it. How easy it was for Mums to put us in front of the TV, while she did the ironing! To this day, I still remember The Magic Roundabout with Zebedee, Florence and Dougal, the dog. To return to a non-TV’d South Africa was horrifying. The South African Government banned television for many years on the grounds that it was morally corrupting. The fact that it could show the horrors of apartheid SA was more to the point. It finally gave in to public pressure and in 1975 television hit South Africa in all it’s glory. Dad was away on business and Mums was at the hairdressers. She discovered that her hairdresser’s partner was a TV salesman. Mums was offered a television to take home to see whether she liked it. If she didn’t, she could return it free of charge. Was Mums going to refuse such a dynamic offer? Not on your life!
We returned from school to discover a television sitting in our lounge. It almost seemed to be grinning at us. We were utterly gobsmacked with excitement and delight! So was our entire neighbourhood for no one had yet bought a TV. We were the first to have that box of enchantment in our house. As the word spread up and down our street, so people began crowding into our home, eager to see a real television for themselves. At the time, broadcasting only began at six. At three o’clock in the afternoon, our lounge was filled with people, some standing outside, craning there neck to see…the test card!
When Dad arrived home that evening he was aghast.
“We can’t afford a television,” he said to Mums, “what were you thinking?”
At that moment, six o’clock struck and the television broadcast began. We were off! When Dad finished watching the news, he turned to us and said: “Maybe we could rent a television!”
Radiant beams greeted these words!
And so television entered our lives.
Who can forget Dallas? With JR, Sue Ellen, Bobby, Pamela – the Ewing family! The World At War, Columbo, The Avengers…..These were just some of the programmes that entertained us during the 70’s and 80’s.
Nowadays our attention seems to have turned from television broadcasting to internet streaming services which enable us to watch what we want, when we want. My interest is caught up by the wonderful films and series on Netflix. I wonder what will happen next in the world of home entertainment?
My heart smiles at people who still read books and listen to the radio. I love the way you have to use your imagination and fantasy in order to enter into those glorious, enticing worlds. I think maybe with screen based entertainment, too much is simply presented to us. The dreaming and vision of our imagination is trampled upon. I wonder whether these qualities are being lost in our future generation?
With a smile, I say:
“Think on these things!”
Hi Gaye. Your latest article “got me thinking”. I have been doing and no doubt will be doing – a lot of interviews this year, as I reached the unheard of milestone of voicing (and facing) a computer game lead character for 20 years. Agent 47 in IO Interactive’s Hitman franchise. Here’s the thing – one question I’m often asked is: “how did you get started in v/o’s?”. It was my mum who suggested during second year varsity, that I go down to SABC and ask to audition for the juvenile parts in radio drama productions. Your story reminded me – how much imagination we use in listening to those radio theatre stories. I loved every minute of it. Love, David
Such memories! I remember my dear friend Jimmie White inviting me round for a glass of wine… to watch the test pattern! And happy memories of evenings spent mesmerised watching ‘The World at War!
This is a terrific read and triggers vivid memories from the past. I was already a journalist when TV began and some of my duties involved watching and reporting. Those were the days. keep up the good work.
Just loved reading this Gaynor, bought back memories of our family listening to the radio too, Check Your Mate, Just a Minute, The Mind of Tracey Dark and of course Squad Cars! A much simpler world it was, such happy memories, thank you!
Great reminiscing Gaynor.
Thamks and regards from Norfolk
What a wonderful blog this one is! You made so much more of it than I could have imagined. It took me right back to my days before TV and the beloved radio. And reminded me of what it was like when TV finally came. We were also one of the first to have a set in our neighbourhood, because of my Dad’s work. It was a Phillips and lasted my parents from 1975 to 2002, can you believe?
Wow Gaynor, that really was a blast from the past! Thank you so much!
Love it as usual, Gaynor
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