Gypsy Creams

Woman’s Own Archive

Secrets of the Frost Programme

Woman's Own / 30 September 1967

The man himself left us a year ago today, of course, so perhaps this is an excellent time to highlight this gem of a feature from 46 years ago. The historical interest of this cleverly written ‘day in the life’ of The Frost Programme (and, by extension, the man himself) is obvious, but it’s interesting that this sort of piece would be unlikely to feature in a woman’s magazine today. I have to admit that this piece is unusual in my collection, so I suspect that this piece appeared in Women’s Own due to the importance of the programme, rather than it being part of a theme. I’m extremely grateful to Janice James for producing such a fascinating piece, although sadly there’s next to nothing of her work online, presumably due to her retiring before the WWW was in wide usage.

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The Entertainers Entertain

Woman's Own / 17 August 1968

Don’t say that I’m not good to you. Here, we have a real treat; major stars of the 1960s give us an exciting glimpse into their lives via their cooking. Nowadays, this sort of feature is commonplace, especially on TV, although the ‘celebrity chef’ phenomenon had just about begun, with Fanny Cradock already an established star. However, the more relaxed approach was gaining popularity, as we can see in this feature, and it’s worth considering that The Galloping Gourmet was soon to become well-known in the UK.

For me, the use of the word ‘pace-setter’ in a pop culture sense, the explanation of brunch, and the definition of gazpacho as a cold soup is a lovely sign of the times, (although the serving of mixed salad as a separate course is still not common in the UK), and the whole feature is topped off with the phrase “NEXT WEEK: Supper with Engelbert Humperdinck and lunch with Dilys Watling.” What a hectic social calendar!

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The ABC of Dee

Woman's Own / 14 June 1969

In 2009, an iconic part of the Sixties passed on with Simon Dee, the host of the notorious Dee Time, a show which had 18 million viewers in 1967. Nowadays, the collective memory of Simon Dee has faded, which is the main tragedy of his life; a man who epitomised the famed spirit of the late ’60s spent the rest of his life in obscurity.

This is a scan of an interview with Simon Dee at the height of his fame, taken from the June 14, 1969 edition of Woman’s Own. Although the day-in-the-life is something of a puff piece, it does feature the passage “Dee seems, to his fans, boyishly engaging. To his critics he is irritatingly incompetent”, suggesting that opinion on him was, at the very least, divided.

Dee does actually admit in the article that he was too nervous initially, but whether he’d improved or not, it didn’t stop Benny Hill performing a rather vicious parody of him, called Tommy Tupper, with a show called ‘Tupper Time’ in his 1970 series. Given Hill’s usual material, it’s something of a shock to see something that pointed in one of his shows. Benny Hill must REALLY have hated him.

His Wikipedia entry documents his dramatic rise and fall from grace, and although there’s very little evidence of his charm and talent remaining in archives (Dee Time was mainly transmitted live and not recorded by the BBC), there is the odd chance to decide on Dee’s talent for yourself. He had one celluloid appearance in the 1970 film Doctor In Trouble, YouTube hosts a surviving show of Dee Time (amusingly, the same show referenced in the article, as it has a Susannah York appearance), with part of the 2003 Dee Time remake (produced by Victor Lewis Smith), along with some other interview and documentary footage. The charming @DamoIRL also pointed out on Twitter that Dee had a cameo in The Italian Job (image from

It seems very sad that there’s so little left to remind us of a man Elizabeth Hurley cites as the inspiration for Austin Powers, but his career could be seen as a metaphor for the ephemeral medium that television was seen as in the 1960s; the ultimate Sixties icon indeed.

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Looks familiar?

Woman's Own / 13th June 1969

Hmm…don’t these look like the Whoopie Pies which are currently sweeping the nation’s supermarkets? Maybe someone else out there has a similar magazine collection to me!

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Woman's Own / 13th June 1969

Seeing as Spring’s in the air, I thought this groovy ad might help us all look forward to seeing the sun on a regular basis. All together now: #Hey, Mr Tambourine Man…#

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RIP Claire Rayner

Woman's Own / 16th August 1968

No doubt UK readers will have heard about the recent death of sexual health education pioneer and legendary agony aunt, Claire Rayner. Until I read the Guardian obituary about Claire, I hadn’t realised that she’d written health advice columns for Women’s Own between 1966 and 1975 under the pseudonym ‘Ruth Martin’. Naturally, I turned to my collection, although it must be said that as far as this site’s concerned, Claire was a victim of her own high quality, as there’s not many jokes you can make about her good advice! I thought this column was a good example of contemporary attitudes, however, so sit back, relax and wonder at the social climate which persuaded women that being ‘modest’ was preferable to easing their suffering, or that painful prolapses were just part of ‘being a woman’. Rest in peace, Claire: Britain will miss you.

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Woman's Own / 4th April 1969

Horray for Super 8! Thanks to this instructive site, I can tell you that this was a Kodak Instamatic M12, the bottom of the Instamatic movie camera line, which took a Super 8 cartridge and had a single speed shutter. These cameras were an extension of the famous Instamatic photo camera range, which took 110 and 126 film, which I vaguely remember from my childhood, along with flashcubes. As the ad suggests, this was a reasonably-priced home-cine camera, which is probably a good indication of when home movie-making began to become a popular activity, rather than one confined to professionals or the rich. An interesting article about Super 8 can be found here, and BBC Two recently broadcast the fascinating Home Movie Roadshow.

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Woman's Own / 14th July 1967

Andrews for ‘inner cleanliness’? I always thought it was meant to help your body recover from over-indulgence in alcohol, rather than something you should take on a regular basis. Frankly, the link between a hangover aid and garden furniture is…interesting, to say the least.

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Woman's Own / 14th July 1967

Ooh, this is an interesting one. I’m not quite sure why Nikini sanitary pads need their own pair of tiny pants, but it does sound uncomfortably like the pad’s only held in place by forcing the wearer’s crotch to stay still. No wonder ringed pads were so popular for quite a few years afterwards, as it was some years before British women got a pad which was thin enough to not make the wearer feel self-conscious, and which actually worked!

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‘Ow about none of ’em?

Woman's Own / 14th July 1967

With apologies to Harry Hill. Don’t you just love old-style magazine competitions like these? Here’s you can put a series of photographs of Michael Caine in order of which one arouses you the most. I don’t know who was the judge of this silly competition, but I’m guessing that they probably pulled the winning entry out of a hat. Nice prize though (the cash prize is roughly an average woman’s yearly salary at that time): but I suppose at 3d a guess, you only need 120,000 entries (assuming they all have only one guess, with 4 attempts = 1s, and 20,000s making up £1000*) before you start turning a profit!

* I think my maths is correct, but let me know if you can be bothered checking!

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