A biography of Rediffusion’s director of programmes
On 4 November 1965, Rediffusion Television shuffled its board of directors. The next edition of house magazine ‘Fusion’ gave these biographical details of the new members.
Cyril Bennett, director of programmes. A 37-year-old Londoner and former producer of ‘This Week’, he was editing his school magazine at 13, and a year later, on impulse, he telephoned the Evening Standard to ask for a job. He was delighted on hearing he could start the following Monday at 27s 6d a week in the ‘Correspondents’ department. After a happy weekend envisaging himself as Foreign Correspondent and mulling over the pros and cons of being Moscow or Istanbul based, the Monday anticlimax of having a filing tray thrust in his hand, was acute. Undaunted, however, he found an outlet for his ideas during the following nine months in the ‘Correspondents’ department, by sending memos to Michael Foot (then writing for the Standard) suggesting subjects for the following day’s leader. His enthusiasm won attention, and despite his youth, gained him a reporting job with the Bedfordshire Times at 15½.
On returning to London he worked for a group of Dominion journals and at 19, as a result of a ballot run by the Empire Press Union, became the youngest lobby correspondent. Later, on the strength of a successful interview with Frank Sinatra, he started freelance work for Odhams Press, writing on entertainment for Illustrated, Picturegoer and John Bull.
In 1956, after seeing one of Rediffusion’s ‘This Week’ programmes, he applied for a job with the editor. During the interview he was asked if he had any ideas for ‘This Week’ and suggested the entertainment tax which he had been covering for Illustrated. He was invited to prepare a script, and was included in the following Thursday’s programme. He continued to contribute to ‘This Week’ on a freelance basis, until he was invited to join the Rediffusion staff, collaborating with Peter Morley to produce feature programmes – this took him to Israel, France and Japan. In June he became co-producer of ‘This Week’ and in 1963, as joint-producer, received the Guild of Television Producers’ and Directors’ Annual Merit Award for Factual Television. He was appointed head of features in the same year and in 1964 became executive producer in charge of features and children’s programmes.
He is married to a former photographic model, who now has a full-time job looking after their two daughters.