Transmitted once a fortnight from 1952 in the Children's Television slot, The Appleyards is generally regarded as Britain's first television soap opera-even if it was made for kids.
Telling the ups and downs of a suburban Home Counties family, the show, which picked up a number of awards during its 5 year run, was broadcast live on Thursday's around 4.30 to 5.00pm with a repeat performance the following Sunday. Each episode was approximately 20 minutes in length.
The theme music for the series, 'Looking Around' was played into the studio live off a 78rpm record.
The family consisted of Mr and Mrs Appleyard and their four children; teenagers Janet and John, and their younger siblings Margaret and Tommy. Interestingly, the younger actors were replaced during the series run in order to maintain a constant age for the children, suggesting that although regarded as an ongoing series, time stood still in 'Appleyard World'.
Although the series was popular with the viewing public it's title was not to the liking of everyone, especially the then Controller of Programmes, Cecil McGivern, who suggested it sounded like 'suet pudding with a dash of cement.'
The series ended in 1957 following around 160 broadcasts of what is best described as the trivial ups and downs of a nice suburban family, worlds apart from the dramatic and often traumatic lifestyles that latter day soap characters lead as an obligatory requirement. A Christmas reunion, Christmas With The Appleyards, was made in 1960.
Published on November 27th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.