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The 1964 ITV Strike was the first prolonged dispute endured by the network (aside from the 1961-1962 Equity actors' strike) and a precursor of the many instances of industrial action by technicians that the station would face in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s culminating in the ten-week long shutdown from 10th August to 24th October 1979.
The strike, as with all the others to come, was on the subject of pay. Whereas future strikes would be played out in at economic atmosphere of high inflation, the 1964 strike centred around the issue of the large profits that the ITV network had started to enjoy - £146 million aggregate from 1955 to 1964 - and the insistence by technical staff that they should enjoy a share of this largesse (the same issue had been behind the actors' strike).
A national agreement existed between all of the ITV companies and the ACTT (Association of Cinematograph Television and Allied Technicians) with the exception of Channel Television on the Channel Islands who had a separate agreement which took into account the permanently precarious financial situation of that station. The mainland agreement was due to expire at midnight on Tuesday 30th June as the union had given notice six months before that they would be cancelling it, and nine meetings followed in which management and the ACTT tried to reach a new agreement. The union asked for pay rises of between 3% and 25% dependent on the grade which the ITV companies said would lead to an increase in the wage bill from £3.5 million to £4.5 million (although another source stated that the overall cost would be an extra £2.5 million a year). The union also asked for a working week of thirty-five hours instead of forty (to bring them in line with the BBC) and an overtime rate which was described by industry observers as being "so high that it would make overtime virtually impossible." Among the latter were demands that all crews called in from their days off should be paid double time, plus £10, plus treble to quintuple time for any overtime hours then asked for plus another day off in lieu. This was stated to be the same sort of deal that had killed off live television in the US and led to filmed programmes there being made by external production companies however ACTT General Secretary George Elvin countered that television was, "the greatest wearer-out of people ever invented" and claimed that most staff "couldn't survive" in the profession past the age of forty-five. The governing body of the network, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) described the overall claim as "probably one of the largest claims ever made in British industry." Management refused to concede and technical staff refused to turn up to work on Wednesday 1st July.
Television was screened for far fewer hours in 1964 than in the present day with the vast majority of the weekday service only starting in late afternoon and finishing in the late evening. Little notice was given to the viewing public that a strike was imminent with the first notice that they might be deprived of their favourite programmes being given in the press on Monday 29th June when George Elvin crowed that stations would be showing, "tatty and shabby old films." However from 10.00am to 10.00pm two days later all that most viewers could see was a test card. The exception was in the Channel Islands where a local service of news and films continued. From 5.15pm on Wednesday 1st, Border Television management and clerical staff produced a television service while Westward Television did the same from Thursday 2nd July but without commercials, and therefore income. Ulster Television also managed a service but these stations were deprived of programmes made by the big players in the ITV network.
The strike continued for the next few days with Elvin appearing in the press being photographed watching the ITV test card. Management attempts to circumvent the union as they were able to in 1968 were anticipated by the ACTT who asked the ABS (Association of Broadcasting Staff) not to cooperate with a move to transport videotapes to a central programme control point and broadcast from there - the ABS staff manned the transmitters and they had the power to totally shut down the network. In addition, the Variety Artistes Federation decided to tell its members not to work with substitute labour for the ACTT but nevertheless for its members to present themselves at work and therefore honour their contracts to that extent.
The strike came to an end on Monday 6th July when ACTT staff agreed to return to work and begin negotiations afresh. The press of the day carried stories that the broker behind this arrangement was Leader of the Opposition Harold Wilson who persuaded the unions to return to work and restore the normal ITV service with another important unnamed "third party" being involved in this deal. The left-wing press presented this story in a positive light whereas the remainder carried the story of how the Conservative government called the intervention a political stroke by Wilson to further his own ends (Wilson would become Prime Minister in the October 1964 General Election). Several weeks later, the Television Mail reported that Arnold Goodman, legal advisor to Television Wales and the West (TWW), Southern Television and Granada Television, had met Wilson at a meeting after a private showing of a film about Aneurian Bevan at TWW's London headquarters on 2nd July. The two had then drafted an agreement between the two sides to negotiate which Wilson then persuaded George Elvin (a longtime friend and supporter of Wilson) to accept.
The ITV service started as scheduled on the afternoon of Monday 5th July except in the Granada region where technicians only returned to their posts at 7.55pm, thus missing the normal transmission time for that night's edition of Coronation Street. Negotiations continued with the press reporting that on 24th August ACTT members at all the ITV companies except Granada had rejected an offer of 17.5%. After that there were no reports issued concerning the terms of the deal that was reached. An agreement dated 17th November was signed however in view of the fact that in 1968 the ACTT again demanded a reduction from a forty-hour week, it can be presumed that four years earlier the union had been unable to gain acceptance of this demand.
Coronation Street and the strikeEdit
The cast and crew of the programme began their normal rehearsal routine on Monday 29th June for Episodes 372 and 373. These were due to go into studio and be recorded on Friday 3rd July however the ACTT action put paid to that plan. It must be presumed that plans were too well advanced for the rehearsals and recording of the next two episodes to be changed as 372 and 373 were effectively abandoned and the transmission of the programme skipped from Episode 371 (8th July 1964) to Episode 374 (13th July 1964), the latter being recorded on 10th July.
Viewers therefore lost their chance to see the Ogdens moving into 13 Coronation Street and their participation in a bazaar in the Mission of Glad Tidings. Another storyline in which Val Barlow discovered she was pregnant was delayed until Episode 384 (17th August 1964) .
The storylines, cast and production details for the two unrecorded episodes are as follows:
The Ogdens move into No.13 helped by the residents. They set the table up in the Street and have a party. Ena is not pleased about the new neighbours: "That family's a disgrace to the neighbourhood!" The Hewitts return from Ireland and are horrified to find Lucille dancing in the Street with Trevor Ogden. Concepta puts a stop to the party. Ena and Minnie both break down in tears with they remember Martha. Val discovers she is pregnant. Trevor overhears her telling Albert and tells Ken before she has chance to.
- Leonard Swindley - Arthur Lowe
- Concepta Hewitt - Doreen Keogh
- Annie Walker - Doris Speed
- Valerie Barlow - Anne Reid
- Charlie Moffitt - Gordon Rollings
- Albert Tatlock - Jack Howarth
- Jack Walker - Arthur Leslie
- Florrie Lindley - Betty Alberge
- Kenneth Barlow - William Roache
- Len Fairclough - Peter Adamson
- Minnie Caldwell - Margot Bryant
- Harry Hewitt - Ivan Beavis
- Ena Sharples - Violet Carson
- Elsie Tanner - Patricia Phoenix
- Lucille Hewitt - Jennifer Moss
- Miss Nugent - Eileen Derbyshire
- Hilda Ogden - Jean Alexander
- Irma - Sandra Gough
- Stan Ogden - Bernard Youens
Writer: Ray Butler
Stories by: Harry Driver and George Reed
Designer: Peter Caldwell
Producer: Tim Aspinall
Director: Douglas Hurn
Elsie rows with Ken when she discovers he blames Val for being pregnant. She tells him she doesn't feel he's fit enough to have children. The residents set up the bazaar. Trevor Ogden does a lucky dip. Minnie judges the knobbly knees competition - she chooses Jack. The Barlows run the hoop-la, Minnie and Ena the cake stall, Swindley the clothes stall and Florrie the refreshments. Swindley discovers he'll be married in a week.
Same as Episode 372