The Toddlers' Truce: Why You Couldn't Watch British TV at 6pm Until 1957

Keystone / Getty Images
Keystone / Getty Images

Turn on the TV at 6:00 this evening and you’ll find the local news, SportsCenter, or perhaps an old Seinfeld rerun. But until 1957, British TVs wouldn’t show a thing at 6 p.m. Thanks to a post-war BBC policy known as the “toddlers' truce,” stations would not broadcast between 6:00 and 7:00 in the evening to give parents a chance to put their children to sleep before the evening programming. The thinking went that if the television programs stopped, it would provide a nice end to the children's day and give parents time to get them to bed before the evening's shows began.

The policy didn't raise much of a reaction among audiences, although some in the government thought it reeked of a nanny state. However, the 1955 launch of the advertising-based ITV (in contrast to the BBC’s public broadcasting model) threw a wrench into the works. ITV felt that going dark for an entire hour, especially the one preceding primetime programming, meant the loss of an hour's worth of ad revenue, giving the BBC an unfair financial advantage.

ITV companies protested and fought for government intervention to lift the “toddlers' truce.” Finally, in late 1956, the stations and government struck a deal to allow programming in that hour, shepherded by Postmaster General Charles Hill, who felt the original policy was paternalistic to begin with.

The first 6:00 shows started on Feb. 16, 1957, and stations reported almost no problems. A BBC spokesman told newspaper reporters that the network had received just six phone calls complaining about the change.

“We regard that as a negligible public protest,” the spokesman added.

Rock 'n' Roll, Calypso and Church Hymns

The BBC actually went about as far away from silence as it could get in its first 6:00 program, airing a rock 'n' roll jukebox show called The Six-Five Special. The show – which started at 6:05 on Saturdays, hence the name – featured hosts Josephine Douglas and Pete Murray, with house band Don Lang and the Frantic Five, plus guests ranging from Petula Clark to boxer Freddie Mills.

Throughout the week, the BBC tried to attract a mix of young and old viewers with a new news show called Tonight. Producers tried to nix the BBC's traditionally stern tone and make Tonight more informal and loose, allowing viewers to tune in and out during an hour when they would usually be doing chores or moving around the house. The show contained everything from interviews to news reports to a regular segment where entertainer Cy Grant sang news-based calypso tunes (check out a clip of one of his "topical calypsos" here, followed by a report about dinosaurs).

Tonight was only slated to run for a few months, but ended up being so successful (audiences averaged around 7 million people a night) that producers left it on the air for eight years.

A sticking point, however, remained with the 6-7 hour on Sunday, when evening church services were held. The BBC elected to keep the hour empty for a while, then later relented and allowed 15 minutes of programming (the remaining 45 minutes stayed dark). Finally, in 1961, the BBC found an acceptable program to fill the full hour: Songs of Praise, a show based around Christian hymns.

 

The 10 Best Memorial Day 2020 Sales

iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth
iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth

The Memorial Day sales have started early this year, and it's easy to find yourself drowning in offers for cheap mattresses, appliances, shoes, and grills. To help you cut through the noise and focus on the best deals around, we threw together some of our favorite Memorial Day sales going on right now. Take a look below.

1. Leesa

A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
Leesa

Through May 31, you can save up to $400 on every mattress model Leesa has to offer, from the value-minded Studio by Leesa design to the premium Leesa Legend, which touts a combination of memory foam and micro-coil springs to keep you comfortable in any position you sleep in.

Find it: Leesa

2. Sur La Table

This one is labeled as simply a “summer sale,” but the deals are good only through Memorial Day, so you should get to it quickly. This sale takes up to 20 percent off outdoor grilling and dining essentials, like cast-iron shrimp pans ($32), a stainless steel burger-grilling basket ($16), and, of course, your choice of barbeque sauce to go along with it.

Find it: Sur la Table

3. Wayfair

KitchenAid Stand Mixer on Sale on Wayfair.
Wayfair/KitchenAid

Wayfair is cutting prices on all manner of appliances until May 28. Though you can pretty much find any home appliance imaginable at a low price, the sale is highlighted by $130 off a KitchenAid stand mixer and 62 percent off this eight-in-one GoWise air fryer.

And that’s only part of the brand’s multiple Memorial Day sales, which you can browse here. They’re also taking up to 40 percent off Samsung refrigerators and washing machines, up to 65 percent off living room furniture, and up to 60 percent off mattresses.

Find it: Wayfair

4. Blue Apron

If you sign up for a Blue Apron subscription before May 26, you’ll save $20 on each of your first three box deliveries, totaling $60 in savings. 

Find it: Blue Apron

5. The PBS Store

Score 20 percent off sitewide at Shop.PBS.org when you use the promo code TAKE20. This slashes prices on everything from documentaries like Ken Burns’s The Roosevelt: An Intimate History ($48) and The Civil War ($64) to a Pride & Prejudice tote bag ($27) and this precious heat-changing King Henry VIII mug ($11) that reveals the fates of his many wives when you pour your morning coffee.

Find it: The PBS Store

6. Amazon

eufy robot vacuum.
Amazon/eufy

While Amazon doesn’t have an official Memorial Day sale, the ecommerce giant still has plenty of ever-changing deals to pick from. Right now, you can take $100 off this outdoor grill from Weber, $70 off a eufy robot vacuum, and 22 percent off the ASUS gaming laptop. For more deals, just go to Amazon and have a look around.

7. Backcountry

You can save up to 50 percent on tents, hiking packs, outdoor wear, and more from brands like Patagonia, Marmot, and others during Backcountry's Memorial Day sale.

Find it: Backcountry

8. Entertainment Earth

Funko Pops on Sale on Entertainment Earth.
Entertainment Earth/Funko

From now until June 2, Entertainment Earth is having a buy one, get one half off sale on select Funko Pops. This includes stalwarts like the Star Wars and Batman lines, and more recent additions like the Schitt's Creek Funkos and the pre-orders for the upcoming X-Men movie line.

Find it: Entertainment Earth

9. Moosejaw

With the promo code SUNSCREEN, you can take 20 percent off one full-price item at Moosejaw, along with finding up to 30 percent off select items during the outdoor brand's summer sale. These deals include casual clothing, outdoor wear, trail sneakers, and more. 

Find it: Moosejaw

10. Osprey

Through May 25, you can save 25 percent on select summer items, and 40 percent off products from last season. This can include anything from hiking packs and luggage to outdoorsy socks and hats. So if you're planning on getting acquainted with the great outdoors this summer, now you can do it on the cheap.

Find it: Osprey

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Why Do Brides Carry Bouquets?

Thanks to the ancient Romans, today's brides never have to worry about what to do with their hands in wedding photos.
Thanks to the ancient Romans, today's brides never have to worry about what to do with their hands in wedding photos.
frantic00/iStock via Getty Images

While the bridal bouquet isn’t exactly a wedding necessity—the show could technically go on without it—it’s still a pretty integral part of the ceremony. To put this in perspective, just imagine how odd it would seem for a bride to walk down the aisle empty-handed.

So where did the tradition come from? Though some have suggested wedding flowers were originally used to mask body odor before frequent bathing became the norm, that’s a misconception. In fact, the earliest bridal bouquets didn’t contain very many flowers, if any—instead, they mostly comprised herbs. According to Reader’s Digest, ancient Romans were the first to adopt the practice of sending their brides down the aisle with bundles of herbs, which symbolized things like fidelity and fertility.

Dill, already a known aphrodisiac at the time, was especially common in those bouquets, and it was also often served at wedding receptions to help the bride and groom prepare to consummate their bond. Garlic was sometimes used in the bouquets, too, since it was thought to protect the bride from bad luck or evil spirits.

Over the following centuries, people started to introduce other flora into their wedding bouquets, flowers included. As Snopes reports, marigolds gained popularity in 16th-century England as a symbol of faithfulness and endless love, because marigolds are so faithful to the Sun—blooming in daylight and closing their petals at night. And, like dill, they were considered an aphrodisiac.

Then, during the Victorian era, floriography (the language of flowers) became a prevalent fad, and people began to send each other carefully-assembled bouquets of flowers with specific meanings, which your handy floral dictionary could help you decipher. According to Atlas Obscura, pennyroyal meant “You must leave,” for example, while a pineapple would clearly convey to your lover that you think they’re perfect.

Secret flower messages fell out of fashion as the world shifted focus to World War I, but bridal bouquets never did—though you might want to make sure yours doesn’t contain any pennyroyal, just in case your soon-to-be spouse happens to be a closet floriographer.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]