by Stafford Hildred
Birmingham Evening Mail
14 August 1979
“BRASS TACKS” (BBC 2, 8.5), the current affairs show that has pioneered viewer participation, would like to announce a modest success. The Monday evening chance for feedback from the show – “Return Call to Brass Tacks” – has been extended until the end of the series.
And calls following the weekly Tuesday evening documentary to local radio stations across the country are building up to a regular avalanche.
All of which delights editor Roger Laughton, who gained much of his considerable TV expertise helping to run “Pebble Mill“, the lunchtime show produced here in Birmingham.
“We still only get around two million viewers a week,” says Roger, “but when you consider that we deal with one serious subject in some depth then maybe that is quite a high figure.
“And there is a sort of cultural watershed that prevents people switching to BBC 2 before nine o’clock.”
The series has certainly built up a considerable following among those who remember that the BBC’s brief is to educate and inform as well as to entertain.
“This week we are focusing on some kids in Sunderland,” says Roger Laughton. “They are members of a punk rock group called The Rejected but they are also victims of a system that educates young people and then fails to find work for them.
“They could equally be in Handsworth in Birmingham, say. It is a problem that exists in many cities.
“What we try to do is to use one specific example and then try to widen the discussion.”
And on subjects as unlikely as the problems of the deaf, factory farming and artificial insemination, “Brass Tacks” has stimulated exactly the sort of healthy informed debate our leaders want.
Congratulations to Mr. Laughton and “Brass Tacks“. I hope they keep hitting the nails on the heads.