24 OCTOBER 1958, Page 6

THE WAR between the BBC and ITV is rapidly degenerating

into a no-holds-barred affair. The other night on the BBC a voice announced that the Steve Allen show was coming 'live' from Hollywood, which no doubt it was when it was originally produced months (or years) ago, but which it certainly was not on Sunday night. Later, in an episode of an ITV crime series called Dial 999, the commercials were stuck in before the end, to prevent us from switching off before the adver- tisers had a chance to display their wares. An understandable desire; but was there not some- thing in the TV Act about 'natural breaks'? It could be argued, of course, that the commercials in this case did come in a natural break. They were inserted after the main action of the story, so that the final ends-tying-together scene could be made to look like an epilogue. There is hardly any break that cannot be deemed 'natural' : what more un- naturally natural a time for a break, after all, than that which is the stock in trade of every serial: with the hero just about to be shot; or the heroine about to be run over by the down express? But I know exactly 'what will happen if this 'epilogue' business is encouraged, for it is com- monplace in America : all programmes of the kind will be scripted so that they can include an epilogue (it is surprisingly easy to arrange).