Vision On, 1964
Vision On was a children’s TV show that was designed specifically for children with hearing impairment. It ran for fifteen series between 1964 and 1976, during which there were some one hundred and sixty eight episodes.
The idea for the show was conceived and developed by Ursula Eason and Patrick Dowling who were two BBC producers, looking to replace the monthly series “For Deaf Children” that had ran from 1952 until 1964.
Since the new programme was intended as entertainment rather than education, it was decided that, communication would be entirely visual, the amount of text would be severely limited and, except for a few repeated statements, speech would be abandoned altogether. The title Vision On referred to the illuminated sign in studios indicating that cameras were live.
A fast-paced flow of contrasting ideas, both sane and silly was used to both entertain and encourage children’s imaginations. Clearly the idea worked as Vision On ran for twelve years, attracting a a wider following than just those with hearing impairment.
By 1976, series producer Patrick Dowling eventually found that the flow of new ideas became more and more difficult to sustain, so after twelve years he decided not to continue the show while it was still at it’s height.
Dowling and presenter Tony Hart continued to make arts programmes for the BBC, starting with Take Hart (which kept “The Gallery” segment), continuing with Hartbeat during the 1980’s and 1990’s, and then the BBC’s current children’s art programme,SMart.
Alongside the presenters creating their artworks there were a number of segments that made up the show.
These included: “The Burbles ” – A couple of unseen people living inside a grandfather clock who converse in speech bubbles, mainly telling puns. Occasionally they are heard speaking the lines as if they are underwater, but other times there are just the speech bubbles.
“The Prof” – A man in a white lab coat (aka film-makers David Cleveland, Tony Amies and David Wyatt) who is usually outdoors doing various humorous things.
“Humphrey the Tortoise” – Much like the Burbles, Humphrey talks of something specific (usually a pun or joke) either to himself or someone else. His speech, as well as the other person’s if there is one, is shown on screen with no audio.
Perhaps the most famous segment was the legendary “Gallery” showcasing viewers’ artwork. Although they were unable to return any pictures there was a prize for any that were shown. Not sure to this day if anyone knows what the prize was.
You’ll be whistling this all day!
Pat Keysell – Artist/Presenter
Tony Hart – Artist/Presenter
Ben Benison – Mime Artiste
Sylveste Mc Coy – Mime Artiste
Wilf Lunn – Eccentric Inventor
David Cleveland – The Prof
Created By: Ursula Eason and Patrick Dowling
Produced By: Patrick Dowling
Original Transmission Dates: 6th March 1964 – 11th May 1976