Friday, 8 April 2011

French connections, part one

Salut!  Quite by chance (well, you know, the usual ‘one thing leads to another’ scenario that happens when you start Googling stuff)  I’ve just come across ‘Dim Dam Dom’ – not a new Chinese takeaway dish or a comedy trio, but a TV series from France.  First broadcast in March 1965, it ran until 1970 and was an hour-long monthly Sunday variety/magazine programme, aimed mostly at women but definitely of some interest to men too (and there were certainly lots of attractive female presenters…)  The concept of the programme was used to create its catchy title: ‘Dim’ for dimanche, ‘Dam’ for dames and ‘Dom’ for d’hommes…(a little contrived, perhaps…)

Aiming to be both informative and light-hearted, it included plenty of music, not just popular French singers such as the pretty blonde France Gall and the sharply dressed Serge Gainsbourg, but also some interesting British bands: Manfred Mann, The Nice, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Soft Machine…   Each programme was presented by a woman of note at the time, including Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, Jane Birkin and Romy Schneider.  And if you’re into yé-yé, it seems there’s plenty to be found on here.

With its set designs, choreography and particularly some of its choice of music, it’s a great little period piece from across la Manche.

Amazingly several of the clips from as early as 1967 are in colour.  We in the UK only had an extremely limited colour service which began on BBC2 in July '67 from just a handful of transmitters around the country.  Apparently even by December '68 only 25 hours of TV a week were in colour and it wasn’t until the following year that BBC1 and ITV were also regularly broadcasting in the full spectrum… 

I can remember when I was first aware that colour TV existed it seemed a real novelty and, before my parents finally got one several years later, I’d tried to imagine what ours might look like by staring at its monochrome screen through the tinted cellophane wrappers found around Quality Street chocolates. The bonus of this being that you had to eat the chocolate first  - and you could get a great purple image after you’d had the Brazil Nut Caramel, which just happened to be my favourite.  But it was purple only, which was a bit limiting… The first colour TVs also seemed to display their hues very luridly, but then again maybe that suited such colourful times?

Anyway, whilst my counterpart in France was perhaps spending some of her Sunday watching Jimi Hendrix in his gorgeous turquoise suit, sadly I was probably viewing ‘Dr Finlay’s Casebook’ through the bright yellow wrapper of a Toffee Penny.  Still, I suppose it did at least make its Scottish setting look permanently sunny - and that’s not something you can imagine too easily.

...Mais maintenant, je dois partir.  J’espère que je vous verrai bientôt…!

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