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Newness and new things dominated 1964. There was a flurry of innovations in media and retail, not to mention Flora and the Flymo. Even Mr Potato Head went plastic. While Flora was invented following a plea from the medical community to create a healthy alternative to butter, the Flymo hover mower was inspired by the Hovercraft.
The launch of Britain’s third TV channel, BBC2, didn’t quite go as planned. A huge power failure from Battersea Power Station on the evening of launch caused the Television Centre to lose all power meaning the scheduled programmes on the new channel failed to be broadcast. Playschool, the first ever pre-school TV programme ended up being the first show to be broadcast on BBC2, “which window shall we look through today?” Meanwhile, a lavish adaption of The Forsyte Saga attracted huge audiences to the fledgling channel.
Two key retail brands launched in 1964 – Biba and Habitat, both around the fashionable Kings Road area in central London. While Habitat focused on well-designed modern furniture and accessories; Biba’s affordable fashions extended into a whole new lifestyle.
Terence Conran, Habitat’s founder has said that one of the main reasons of Habitat’s initial success was that it was one of the few places that sold cheap pasta storage jars just as the market for dried pasta took off in the UK.
The debut of the Esso Tiger, “Put a tiger in your tank,” and Timex’s ticking ad from “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking!” both won awards. The Pirelli calendar was launched.Pop pickers enjoyed their first ever Top of the Pops, ending with The Beatles who played the week’s number one, I Want to hold your hand’. The TV show was initially commissioned for just six shows. Meanwhile, in September 1964, a new broadsheet with a logo featuring an orange disc was launched, called The Sun.
Books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl; Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton
Events: Beatlemania arrives in the US; Nelson Mandela is jailed for life; Lyndon Johnson becomes US president; Nehru, India’s PM, dies
Films: Mary Poppins; Dr Strangelove; Hard Day’s Night
Music: Cilla Black sings “Anyone who had a heart”; The Kinks sing “You Really Got Me”