08 April 2021, The Tablet

A godsend for the God slot


A godsend for the God slot

Journey of a Lifetime: Anne Lawson uses the Bible as her tour guide, travelling the Holy Land with John Bonney
Network Distributing

 

A resurrected Holy Land travelogue fits into the extraordinary story of TV’s Sunday evening religious programming

The lure of old newspapers is the far past told in the present tense. The Observer of 1 January 1961 reports speeches by First Secretary Khrushchev in Moscow and President de Gaulle in Paris, and includes a profile of John F. Kennedy, 19 days before his inauguration as US President.

That Sunday’s Review section notes the beginning of an ITV series called Journey of a Lifetime, which has not achieved the longevity in posterity of the politicians on the news pages but, in its time, completed three long and popular terms in the schedules, filling 39 UK commercial television evenings from 1961 to 1962 with such impact that the ­programmes were shown around the world.

They would now be forgotten except for the work of the televisual detectives at Network Distributing, a company specialising in reviving old TV shows, on DVD, Blu-ray and a streaming site. Its biggest sellers are three ITV ratings-toppers from the 1960s-70s – Upstairs Downstairs, The Sweeney, On the Buses – but there have also been retrievals of more niche pieces such as The Strange World of Gurney Slade, an intriguing, surreal 1960s ITV series starring Anthony Newley.

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