The scripts will evoke many memories for
those who remember the programme. The Studio ‘E’ Scripts
Following Gilbert Davey’s death in April 2011, I was contacted by John Winter, a friend of his family, who kindly sent me scans of four Studio ‘E’ scripts that Davey had kept since 1957.   Mr Winter has recently sent me the original scripts themselves.   With his encouragement and the permission of the BBC and other rights holders, selected images from these scripts are shown on this page.   We may assume that Davey kept them for over 50 years through several house moves purely because the series had been an important event for him.   I am most grateful to have been given access to them.

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The man who introduced radio
construction to several generations
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(This page)
Extracts from the scripts preserved by
Gilbert Davey himself since the one-valver
series was broadcast in 1957.
A series of letters to Wireless World
in which Davey defends the Studio 'E' design.
This series raised almost as much interest as
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There were six parts to the Studio ‘E’ one-valver series altogether, the first broadcast on 30 September 1957, and five more from 21 October to 18 November inclusive.   Gilbert Davey kept four scripts: those for 21 and 28 October, and 11 and 18 November.   The BBC Written Archive Centre holds copies of all the scripts for the series except that for the 30 September transmission, so were able to send me a copy of the script for 4 November.   This, while confirming that the 4 November programme included a part of the construction series, adds little to our knowledge, so I have decided to reproduce images from only the scripts that Davey preserved.

Each foolscap script, now dog-eared and yellowed, has a title page which carries a running order, rehearsal schedule, and transmission date and time.   Some also have a production personnel list.   Rehearsals for each Monday’s 5pm live transmission took place during that day, concluding with a late afternoon run-through.

Careful, luvvies!
    Health & Safety, 1957:
    Davey's warning notice on the back of his 28 October script.

The scripts will evoke many memories for those who remember the Studio ‘E’ programme and the personalities who took part; it served as jumping-off point for some well-known figures who went on to long-standing TV success.   These included Clive Dunn (later famous as Lance-Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army).   Tony Hart, the gifted artist and storyteller whose career in children’s television spanned five decades, and whom we will meet again below, was already a seasoned performer, having made his debut on children's television before Studio ‘E’ began.

The scripts also reveal something of the camera and production techniques of the time (almost all content was transmitted “live”).   The varying degrees of scripting detail for each item are also revealing.   Four cameras (Marconi Mk III image orthicons) were available in Studio ‘E’, plus inputs from telecine machines, turntables and tape decks, used principally for the opening and closing sequences.

In contrast to the necessarily detailed scripting for such items as comedy sketches, the sections for Davey’s items generally give no dialogue except Vera McKechnie’s brief introductions and wind-ups.   There is a little dialogue for Davey himself in the last part of the series.   This may seem disappointing, but it must be remembered that he knew his stuff; the rehearsals, together with a note of points to be covered, were clearly all he needed.   The back of the script for 21 October carries Davey's pencilled list of the components for the one-valver.   I doubt whether he learned his words or even read from an autocue.

On the back of the script for 28 October is a large notice in red ballpoint: "THIS IRON IS HOT!!" (picture above).   We may imagine Davey during rehearsals, concerned for the safety of the studio staff and guests who didn't know one end of a soldering-iron from the other, scribbling this notice before leaving his place for a momemt.

From the hints that the above annotations give, together with the scripted dialogue and Radio Times listings, it is possible to guess at the content of each broadcast as follows:

30 September Appetiser, perhaps with a complete demonstration set?   Instructions on sending for leaflet.   Advice on buying components?   (Series paused until 21 October, to allow viewers to send for leaflet and buy components.)
21 October Make chassis?   Identify components?   (Pencilled components list on back of script.)
28 October Mount components?   Discuss soldering irons and demonstrate soldering?   (Warning notice on back of script.)
4 November Start wiring up.   (Following week’s script refers to wiring having been started on 4 November.)
11 November Conclude wiring up.
18 November HT-LT test with torch lamp.   Discuss rigging aerial and earth.   Connect up.   Demonstrate controls.   (Scripted dialogue makes clear that the set was already complete or virtually so.)

Images from the scripts are below, with notes and comments.

Script for
21 October 1957
Script for Studio ‘E’ programme    
transmitted on 21 October 1957,    
kept by Gilbert Davey.    
Title page (right), and    
page 4 (below).    

Copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation;    
reproduced by kind permission.    
Images courtesy John Winter.    

21 October 1957:
Title page.
Vera McKechnie began her broadcasting career in children's radio in Manchester, moving on to be an in-vision TV announcer and a presenter of children's programmes including Watch with Mother.   Studio ‘E’ always opened with a film of Vera arriving at Lime Grove and ascending in the lattice-gated lift to the studio.   See an interview with Vera McKechnie at   (No longer works with Internet Explorer - use another browser.)

Like its successor Blue Peter, Studio ‘E’ had its resident dog.   Kim the Keeshond (a Spitz-type breed from Holland) acted as “host” to various visiting animals and their owners.

John Hunter Blair, principal producer and editor, went on to produce early editions of Blue Peter, but his career was sadly cut short by ill-health.

Gilbert Davey was first up for the rehearsals, with forty minutes allowed.   Whilst his item probably lasted no more than ten minutes, the rehearsal would not only have been for his benefit; time would also have been needed to establish camera postions and shots, lighting, microphones, etc.

21 October 1957:
page 4.

After the title page, page 1 (containing the first 14 cues) is missing.   This almost certainly contained dialogue for Vera to remind viewers that the radio construction series was to begin in earnest after the three-week interval since the "appetiser" programme on 30 September.   This would explain the sparseness of her introduction to the item here on page 4 (above).

At Cue 49, Camera 3 is lined up for a medium shot (M.S.) on Gilbert Davey, and during Cue 50, Camera 2 provides close-up shots (C.U.) of the radio components - presumably under the producer's instructions.

"Over the points, over the points . . ."   If you're a certain age, you cannot have forgotten The Six-Five Special, whose theme tune, recorded by Don Lang and his Frantic Five, featured in the following item.   With the launch of this programme earlier in the year, the BBC had called an end to the programming gap between 6 and 7pm (the so-called "Toddlers' Truce") that had been intended to help parents to persuade young children to go to bed.

Notes on back of 21 October script,    
with one-valver components list.    

Components list

The back page of Davey's 21 October script (above) has, in the top half, a list of districts.   My guess had been that these were perhaps musings in connection with some aspect of his insurance work.   After I first added these images to the site, two correspondents (Alan Giles and Doug Brown) suggested that most of them matched up with component supply businesses advertising in the radio press at the time.   Doug Brown came up with an almost complete list from Wireless World for October and November 1957.   Adrian Hindle-Briscall later suggested Bentley Acoustic Corporation for London NW1.

Doug Brown has since gone one better.   It was the order of the list that interested him.   Fairly recently he came across the web site, and inspected complete copies of Practical Wireless for the period of the Studio ‘E’ series.   A bit like dendrochronology (as he describes it), he compared the order of appearance (by page number) with the list on the script, and the November 1957 edition of PW produced a close match.   The October and December editions had different "fingerprints" of advert sequence.

In page order, the list of advertisers now looks like this:

Page: District on script list:
(Up = grouped on Davey's list with earlier Leeds or London
entry, thus departing from magazine page order.)
Advertiser and address in November 1957 PW:
586-7 Leeds 2 Radio Supply Co (Leeds), 32 The Calls
588 Mitcham, Surrey Home Radio, 187 London Road
590-1 Eastbourne Electronic Precision Equipment Ltd, 66 Grove Road
593 London NW1 Bentley Acoustic Corporation, Chalcot Road
594-5 London EC4     Up Sterns Radio, 109 and 115 Fleet Street
610 Nottingham Eddy's (Nottm) Ltd, 172 Alfreton Road
617 West Croydon, Surrey Radio Components Specialists, 337 Whitehorse Road
629 London W1     Up Lasky's Radio 42 Tottenham Court Road
630 London NW10     Up Superior Radio Supplies, 37 Hillside, Stonebridge
633 Leeds 7     Up Alpha Radio Supply Co, 103 Leeds Terrace, Wintoun Street
634 London W2     Up Henry's Radio, 5 Harrow Road
637 Weybridge, Surrey Watts Radio, 54 Church Street
642 Manor Park, London E12 (outlying) Duke & Co (London) Ltd, 621-3 Romford Road
645 Thornton Heath, Surrey TRS Radio Component Specialists, 70 Brigstock Road
649 London WC2     Up Southern Radio Supply Ltd, 11 Little Newport Street

Thus the locations certainly reflect the order in which the advertisers appeared in that edition, with the additional Leeds and London districts, except the outlying Manor Park, (London) entry, simply added to the previous entries as Davey trawled through the magazine.

The November 1957 PW was published on 4 October, so Davey will have received this edition shortly after the first “appetiser” programme on 30 September, during the three-week hiatus until the series resumed on 21 October.   He would not have received the 21 October script in advance of the day of the broadcast.   The order of play for the (all-live!) programme was settled at the last minute, and the script would have been typed on the day, duplicated, and distributed to programme participants for rehearsals.   So in all probability, Davey had the November 1957 PW with him at the studio, and wrote out the list in a spare moment.

My thanks to Doug Brown and the others for their work on this - especially to Doug for his terrier-like persistence!   As to what use the list was to Davey for the broadcasts, we can only guess.   My view remains that the BBC would not have permitted him to give explicit details of dealers; they were then, as now, careful about advertising.   Perhaps the most Davey could have done was to name localities of suppliers rather than naming them specifically.   As a heavy hint to viewers who were having difficulty with their local shops, he might have been able to suggest on the programme that they look through “any well-known radio magazine” (as the leaflet says), with the briefest possible reveal of his copy of PW!

Perhaps the list did not assist Davey in the broadcast directly, but might have simply been an aide-memoire in a discussion with the programme’s producer about the involvement of dealers in supplying kits of parts.   We know he was in contact with radio component dealers who questioned the specified value of the reaction capacitor – see Studio ‘E’ under fire!.   He may indeed have initiated some contacts by sending them copies of the leaflet and asking them to consider stocking kits of parts.   If he had been in contact with the dealers represented by the list and had even got them to agree to stock the parts, he would have been able to assure the producer that these firms (at least) were ready.

Some dealers may have got wind of the series from the “appetiser” broadcast on 30 September, or as a result of enquiries from prospective constructors.   Had there been more time between this broadcast and the resumption of the series, Davey would have been able to mobilise dealers nationwide by using Practical Wireless, Wireless World or the radio trade magazines - either with an advert or editorial text.   In pre-internet days, the best he could do might have been to call the dealers suggested by Doug's list and get them on board.

Below the list of districts is a components list, probably written as an aide-memoire during rehearsals.   It is not complete; the valve itself and the battery are omitted.

Script for
28 October 1957
Script for Studio ‘E’ programme    
transmitted on 28 October 1957,    
kept by Gilbert Davey.    
Title page (right), and    
page 2 (below).    

Copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation;    
reproduced by kind permission.    
Images courtesy John Winter.    

28 October 1957:
Title page. This edition carried a film item celebrating the 21st anniversary of the start of BBC Television.

Australian-born Shirley Abicair came to the UK in 1953, and was talent-spotted when her picture was published in a newspaper.   She became known for her Australian-themed stories and songs, often accompanied on her trademark zither.

Peter Butterworth appeared in Studio ‘E’ comedy sketches as a well-meaning bungler.   He went on to appear in numerous films, including many in the Carry On . . . series.

In the list of staff:
T.O.M. = Technical Operations Manager (or facilities manager);
Lighter = person responsible for lighting plot and placement of lighting;
F.M. = Floor Manager;
A.F.M. = Assistant Floor Manager.

28 October 1957:
page 2.

Once again, Davey's item (above) shows no scripted dialogue for him.   As before, two cameras are used to cut between medium shots of Davey and close-ups of items on his table.

Script for
4 November 1957
Davey did not preserve this script, but the copy sent to me by the BBC shows that the rehearsal time for the radio item was reduced from 40 to 30 minutes.   The item is scripted in the same way as before: "RADIO ITEM AS REHEARSED", with Veras's brief introduction and wind-up.

Script for
11 November 1957
Script for Studio ‘E’ programme    
transmitted on 11 November 1957,    
kept by Gilbert Davey.    
Title page (right), and    
page 5 (below).    

Copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation;    
reproduced by kind permission.    
Images courtesy John Winter.    

11 November 1957:
Title page. Charles Chilton became an expert on American Western history having researched and produced earlier radio programmes on the topic.   A versatile writer, producer and presenter, he is best remembered for the 1950s radio series Journey into Space, and as a one-time producer of The Goon Show.

In the running order, the radio item was followed by Clive Dunn as Charlie Quick, a genial stage-door keeper turned sleuth.

Rehearsal time for the radio item was again 30 minutes, split over the lunch break, perhaps indicating an increasingly relaxed attitude towards Davey's abilities as a presenter.

11 November 1957:
page 5.

Vera’s dialogue (Cue 54 above) establishes that wiring-up was started the previous week (4 November).

Script for
18 November 1957
Script for Studio ‘E’ programme    
transmitted on 18 November 1957,    
kept by Gilbert Davey.    
Title page (right), and    
pages 12 and 24 - 26 (below).    

Copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation;    
reproduced by kind permission.    
Tony Hart's dialogue reproduced with    
acknowledgments to R Renals and C Ross.    
Images courtesy John Winter.    

18 November 1957:
Title page. For this last of the one-valver series, Gilbert Davey got away once more with 30 minutes’ rehearsal.

18 November 1957:
page 12.

At Cue 55, Camera 2 is faded up for a “2-shot” of Assistant Announcer Caroline Denzil and Davey at his table.   She raises anticipation to fever-pitch with her introduction, with which Davey connives in the only scripted dialogue for him that the scripts show.   Then once more it’s “ITEM AS REHEARSED”, with Camera 2 tracking in for medium close-ups of Davey, and Camera 4 providing close-ups of what's happening on the table.

On completion of the wiring and having connected up, but before fitting the valve, Davey would undoubtedly have shown how to check with a torch bulb that HT was not reaching the filament connections.

Caroline rejoins Davey as the set springs to life.   “And perhaps we’ll see you again sometime”, she says.   We did - see the end of this page.

Ted Taylor’s scripted introduction to the next item, Don Lang’s Red Planet Rock, shows a typical period reaction to the recent launches of Sputniks 1 and 2 by the Soviets.   Other items followed according to the running order . . .

18 November 1957:
page 24.

. . . until we reach page 24 of the script (above) where we find Tony Hart, with his cartoon character Packi the baby elephant and his keeper Tipu.   In this story, Packi is trying to mount his own version of the Studio ‘E’ programme on his own TV channel.   He concludes a dance routine with Tipu as cameraman filming him.   Then at Cue 95, his next item is announced.

(Some modern readers might wonder at the name “Packi” which was quite unconnected with the slang term of racist abuse, usually spelled differently, but was derived from "pachyderm", any thick-skinned mammal such as an elephant.   I am happy to say that my 1957 world included only this intended meaning.)

Cameras 1 and 4 cut between the successive cartoons ("captions" in the script) drawn by Tony Hart.   Sadly, none of the artworks for this episode seem to have survived.

18 November 1957:
page 25.

Like many of Packi's adventures, this one ends in disaster!   No digital effects were available in 1957 - at Cue 99 (above), the camera operator provides them!

18 November 1957:
page 26.

For the goodbyes (above), the producer cuts between the four cameras as the guests say or nod their individual farewells, concluding with Camera 1 panning round the studio, then the closing film sequence (S/I T/C = Superimpose telecine: does anyone remember what this was?).

By modern standards, the scripted dialogue, especially for introductions and wind-ups, seems quaint and stilted.   Staging was unadventurous, with Vera presiding from her desk, heavy reliance on studio sets, filmed items kept to a minimum, and the final round of polite goodbyes.   But Studio ‘E’ was the pioneer in intelligent programming for children, with the one-valver construction series perhaps its best-remembered achievement.   Before the era of instant results with washing-up bottles and sticky-back plastic, young builders of the Studio ‘E’ one-valver had to work with care and perseverance in order to succeed.   Not all did succeed, but that was life; I was fortunate in having my set built for me.

In March - April 1959, Gilbert Davey returned to appear on Focus, the immediate successor to Studio ‘E’, with a transistor radio design - see The Focus Transistor Set, where you can find downloads for this design, and other information.   For a wealth of information on current and past TV studios, see Martin Kempton’s excellent site at

My thanks to John Winter for making the scripts available, and to the BBC and the Tony Hart estate for permission to reproduce these extracts.