And now… From Norwich!
That would be the famous war-cry of ITVs late, great stalwart of off screen continuity – John Benson. Mr Benson worked freelance for the telly, usually the unseen voice of gameshows like 3-2-1 for example. However, he was more well known for his milk chocolate smooth patter giving us all the low-down on the prizes you could bag on Sale Of The Century (SoTC) on ITV from 1971 to 1983 and made for the network by Anglia Television in the fine city of Norwich.
And its right here in Norwich that you find us on a sunny Tuesday in March 1979 – looking at the staff car park of Anglia Television’s Head Office and studio nerve centre just months before the diggers and construction equipment moved in to build a brand new extra studio and office complex. If we were to dwell on all of the vehicles pictured, this article would take longer to read than it would to watch a whole episode of Tales of the Unexpected, but savour that front row just for measure, eh?
We can clearly see a brace of Viva HCs and a Chevette too, not to mention a Renault 5 Mk1 and a poorly-parked Escort Ghia that’s alongside an Escort Mk2 and a clumsily-left Triumph 1300. Even more British built tin on that row is demonstrated by the Chrysler Avenger and another Vauxhall Viva HC. Other lovelies are the Citroën GS, 1300 estate and Mini parked in a row behind the security box.
Fans of retro mopeds will adore the Yamaha FS1-E – or Fizzie 50 as us old `uns called them that can been seen in the very foreground of the car park. Be still my beating heart, I’ve ridden one or two of them off a jetty into the River Tees when I was none but a pup. The car park is now long gone and the space is now occupied by Townshend House – named in honour of Marquess George Townshend, co-founder and Chairman of Anglia TV.
Round the corner, out of sight, was the former Head Office of the Mann Egerton motor company – a dealer group of once nationwide size majorly dealing in Austin Rover and Jaguar at one point, which was taken over by another group a few years back and the once good name faded away. It was this dealer group that used to supply Anglia TV with cars that would be won either on SoTC or their other networked quiz show Gambit – hosted by the legend who is Fred Dineage.
The TV buildings still stand, although they are badly under-utilised these days, but the surrounding vista is little changed. Norwich was and still is a fine city – it tells you so on the signs as you enter the borough. It’s almost like a little London such is the hustle and bustle during the week, but full of charm and utterly stunning Victorian architecture – if you have never been, you must!
If you’re lucky enough, you might just spot Alan Partridge mooching about the quaint market square.