18 OCTOBER 1963, Page 9

The Missing Link This Week's decision to dispense with the

services of a Link Man is something of an event. I cannot recall a programme of this kind taking the step before (World in Action is not a parallel case, as it confines itself to a single subject, and therefore requires no linkage). I had always regarded linkage as a necessary and useful concomitant of current affairs programmts until some months ago the wicked Philip Mackie (to whom viewers have been indebted for the admirable Saki and de Maupassant series, among others) asked me to do a send-up of the Link Man, in a programme that he was pro- ducing, Men on Women. Early in the re- hearsals it became clear that his idea of a send- up was for me to play it 'straight'; and since then my enthusiasm for the link, as a TV in- stitution, has dwindled. There are a few who add something to the programme, but most are . superfluous; one looks as if he were an early and imperfect attempt to produce an auto- mated Link Man, leaving the impression that he is run by some form of clockwork and wound up by the floor manager before each appearance. The trouble is, though, that viewers tend to identify a programme visually with the man who links it: and whatever one may think of Panorama, without Dimbleby it would not be Panorama. This Week, I fancy, will miss Brian Connell's distinctive beard line more than his soothing avuncularities. Perhaps they can find some substitute—like, say, the Hitchcock silhouette—as a visual identity tag.