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This Week 9: Teddy Boys (1956)

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Main image of This Week 9: Teddy Boys (1956)
Rediffusion for ITV, tx. 2/3/1956
8 min item, black and white
ProducerCaryl Doncaster
Production CompanyRediffusion

Reporter: Michael Ingrams

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Reporter Michael Ingrams joins Mike, a self-confessed 'Teddy Boy', on a typical day in his life, starting at the barbers and ending in a Jazz Club.

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Later generations worried about their mods, rockers, hippies, punks, new age travellers and hoodies, but the 1950s gave rise to the first 'moral panic' - though the term wasn't coined until the 1970s - centred on teenage culture, itself a relatively new phenomenon of the postwar years. The 'Teddy boys' - so named because of their adoption of revived and refashioned Edwardian styles - were blamed for a host of social evils from petty crime to gang fighting and racist attacks. The mostly working-class Teds had expensive taste in clothes and haircuts, which they were able to satisfy thanks to their new disposable income in a recovering post-austerity Britain.

This short item from the ninth edition of Rediffusion's This Week (ITV, 1956-68) current affairs series is a plea for greater understanding for the maligned Teds, interspersing reporter Michael Ingrams' interview with young Londoner Mike Woods with highlights from Mike's day, including a visit to the barber's for a three-guinea perm haircut, an afternoon playing snooker and an evening's dancing in a Wardour Street jazz club.

Despite insisting that he would do 'anything' - up to and including breaking the law - so that he can carry on 'living it up', Mike presents himself as a pretty normal teenager. Never in trouble since his national service in the army, he faces rejection and hostility wherever he goes because of his appearance - an opening sequence shows Mike and a group of friends turned away from a nightclub because, as the bouncers tell them, their 'sort' aren't wanted. Mike describes working 9 or 10 hours a day, 7 days a week for £12-13 a week to fund his mildly hedonistic lifestyle, returning each night to a cramped bedsit in Hounslow West.

The relatively short length of this item - just eight minutes - reflects the multi-story nature of This Week in its early days, and makes it seem rather insubstantial now, however interesting. As the series developed, it began to concentrate on one or two longer reports with a more serious tone.

Mark Duguid

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Video Clips
1. Introducing Mike (2:09)
2. Mike's clothes (0:53)
3. Mike's hair (1:11)
4. A night out (2:30)
Complete item (8:01)
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