Searching For: TV Times magazine front covers – Christmas Issues

By April 29, 2023 Will Carleton

This from a PPHP reader:

Hi Will,

Nice to chat with you over the phone.

I’m trying to complete a dataset of all the artists and photographers who did the front covers of the Christmas issues of the TV Times magazine from its start in 1955 onwards, in time for the magazine’s 70th anniversary in 2025.

Someone produced a video looking at the history of the Radio Times Christmas issues since the magazine’s launch in 1923, but many of the cover artists could not be fully recognised and were thought lost to time. Using a combination of research and the BBC Genome website and Programme Index, I therefore recently completed a spreadsheet which covers the front covers of all the Christmas issues over the last 100 years, including:
The volume number
The issue number
The date each issue was published
The schedule start dates and end dates covered
The price of the issue
The number of pages in the issue
The full name of the artist or photographer responsible for the front cover artwork or photograph
The year each artist/photographer was born and (if applicable) the year they died
This took many months of work, and I decided to expand this to include the TV Times Christmas issues as well, starting from 1955 and celebrating their 70th anniversary in a couple of years. Unfortunately, this has been a lot harder, as there is no equivalent “ITV Genome”, and many photographers or artists were never credited or mentioned in the issues themselves. Searching for them online as produced some results (for example, I’ve managed to find all photographers who did photos of the late Queen, and some photographers I’ve located from screenshots of the inside cover found in eBay listings), but some, like 1956’s Christmas cover of children in front of a television set, are impossible to credit. Where I have found some names (e.g. chief photographer Peter Bolton), I can’t find the year they were born or died.

• Mid-50s to mid-70s which is predominantly what I’m looking at. The ones I’m still missing are as follows:

  • 1956 (Two girls watching a TV which says “A Happy Christmas”)
  • 1959 (Various faces in baubles – more who did the design than took the photos)
  • 1960 (The lost ABC production of “Alice Through The Looking Box”; I found a Getty photo by Monte Fresco, but I believe he worked for The Mirror at the time, not TV Times)
  • 1961 (Harry Secombe dressed as Father Christmas; the Santa outfit is added in colour afterwards)
  • 1963 (Little girl in prayer)
  • 1964 (Little girl receiving a present on behalf of a charity event via the NSPCC and Pat Phoenix called “Pat’s Christmas Tree”)
  • 1967 (Choirboys in the parish church of Bierton in Buckinghamshire)
  • 1971 (Barbara Murray in a Santa outfit)
  • 1973 (Sid James and Barbara Windsor in Christmas outfits)
  • 1991 (The Darling Buds of May special “Christmas is Coming”; a Getty search shows the name “Tony Ward” but I’m not 100% on whether this is correct.

    If you can help Glenn with his research please email [email protected] and I’ll put you together.