The Colourisation of TV Shows

The latest episode of A Brit Talks Vintage TV is now available to stream and download!

Below is a transcript of the podcast.

Hello there, and welcome to A Brit talks Vintage TV, with me Jamie Dyer.

2021 marked the 85th anniversary of the birth of the man known as ‘The Big O’ and I can’t get enough of him. Last year, my family and I spent a week in a static caravan. This was due to electrical works that were to take place at our property. While wondering what to do with ourselves, we turned on a documentary about the late, great Roy Orbison., I reviewed a new vinyl collection of Sun Records-era Orbison, collated by Bear Family Records. Little did I know that this review would set me up for a viewing of a famous Roy Orbison concert entitled Black And White Night. To say it was strange to see a performance recorded in the 1980s in old-fashioned monochrome is an understatement. However, it suited the intended mood perfectly.

I am not sure that, when the pioneers of television were first laying down their television pictures in glorious 405-line, they would have considered it a stylistic choice when colour had long been the standard. Although, saying that, they may have appreciated it has its merits when compared to colour. In a similar train of thought, I wonder what they would have thought of colourisation; The process of taking something originally made in black and white and…well you know the rest.

The concept of colourising black and white media has always been something that divides fans. However, it has come a long way since the likes of Ted Turner began colouring in old movies to show on TV. Utilizing computer software and a bit of manual quality control can produce pretty decent results. We saw it a few years back when CBS showed colourised episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy. While Black and White grounded them in the past, colour made them seem new again.

The same can be said for the work on Network’s latest release, Presented in SuperColorisation. A selection of six episodes from Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation series originally made in black and white, restored and colourised in high definition.

The three series featured on the set are:
One episode of Four Feather Falls, a western series starring the voices of Nicholas Parsons and Kenneth Connor.
Two episodes of Supercar: A visually impressive yet strange series about a flying and swimming supercar, its driver, a professor, a child and a monkey. It’s pretty funny too.
And three episodes of Fireball XL5: A show my son thought was Supercar, but wasn’t. I’m not as familiar with this show, but I do know it has a following.

So what about the quality of the colourisation? How is it? To be completely honest with you…it’s marvellous. The amount of detail in the work makes Anderson’s magnificent stunt execution even more breathtaking. Explosions, water, falling rocks and so much more, are even more impressive. Narratively the inclusion of colour changes the mood somewhat, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

Now do I think everything should be colourised? No. There are just some things that work best in their intended medium. The moody look of monochrome suits the vibe. Colourise it and you change that. People sometimes have an issue with the effect that colourisation has on the product. The Anderson set, for example, has instances where strings and other limitations are much more visible in colour due to the change in contrast to achieve the desired effect. Aside from Four Feather Falls, which I think suits black and white best, the shows have a whole new life ahead of them in colour.

Presented in Supercolorisation is available to pre-order from, and will be released on the 12th of December 2022. Roy Orbison’s Black and White Night can be found either on BBC4 or Sky Arts.

So what else is there to say? I’ve said enough. If you have anything to say about the shows mentioned in this podcast, you can email, tweet @OldTimeReview on Twitter or check out the Facebook page, Old Time Review. This is Jamie Dyer signing off.


Written and Presented By Jamie Dyer

This is an Old Time Review Production

Jamie Dyer

Jamie Dyer is an experienced writer, broadcaster, musician and social media marketer. He enjoys Old Time Radio, vintage TV, collecting vinyl and supporting the New York Knicks.

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