Weird old titles: Picture Box

Be prepared to be haunted

Normally – by which I mean "in the three previous and indeed only entries in this series of weird old title sequences" – there’s been something weird and off-putting about the titles themselves. This week, we’re going to be a little different and have a weird and off-putting theme tune instead. 

Picture Box was a schools’ programme that went out mid-morning during the week and showed a ragbag of international, often entirely silent and quite mesmerising short films introduced by Alan Rothwell IIRC (TV Ark says Dorothy Smith presented in the 60s when it was in black and white). Although you’d be hard-pressed to remember a single one of those films, the really quite eery music played on what sounds like a fairground steam organ will have stuck with everyone who ever watched the show.

Press play and you’ll see what I mean if you went to school in the 70s and 80s. Whether you did or you didn’t, by the end of it, you should be expecting the grey ghost of an old carnie to beckon at you whenever you look in a mirror.

No Alan with this clip, although you can see him very briefly in this unembeddable version over here.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.