THIS week in 1970, Britain was in the final days of campaigning for a General Election due the following week.

Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Conservative leader Edward Heath Wilson busily dispatched ministers and shadow ministers to drum up support in various parts of the country.

Heath had sent his higher-profile people elsewhere, so Swindon had to make do with a fairly obscure shadow education minister.

Her appearance on the Drove School hall stage merited only a small photograph and story on page seven of the following day’s Adver.

We wrote: “Margaret Thatcher, Tory shadow education minister, said last night that she was prepared to make only three election promises.

“They are to look after the very old, young widows and the physically disabled.”

The shadow minister told her audience: “The 70s and 80s were just on retiring age when pensions were introduced, and many of them are living on pitifully inadequate pensions now.

“I feel we owe it to them to help. We also feel that between 40 and 50, widows should get a modified widow’s pension, so that they can live.”

The election produced a surprise victory for the Conservatives, although David Stoddart held Swindon for Labour.

There being no Liberal candidate for the constituency, third place went to the only other contender, who attracted a little over 450 votes. Judith Gradwell was one of 58 candidates representing the Communist Party of Great Britain, which had been formed 50 years earlier and would last until shortly after the end of the Cold War.

The Swindon candidate, daughter of veteran local political firebrand Ike, was 25 years old and worked as a planning assistant at the Civic Offices.

Interviewed before the poll, she told us: “What we must do is put people first.

“Everything is so interrelated. We must work at changing the root of the problems, but this is glossed over by other parties.

“Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, and the people’s standard of living should be rising. The Government should use its position to introduce Socialist change and put considerations of people first.”

Also interviewed that week - on a Harlech Television chat show recorded in Bristol - was a rather more famous Swindon personality.

Diana Dors had by that time entering the long period of character acting which would earn her immense respect and affection from the public.

Characteristically self-effacing, she told interviewer John Morgan that an accident of birth had fuelled her initial rise to glamorous stardom.

“Producers thought I typified a bad girl or a sexy girl,” she said, “and if I had not looked like that I would not have become Diana Dors and I would have vanished into the obscurity of a small rep company.”

The 38-year-old was pragmatic about her early fame: “The English were a bit frightened of sex in those days, and my name tended to be mentioned in a hushed voice.

“But the sex symbol image gave me fame and fortune and I have never regretted it.”

She added: “I don’t smoke or drink and I like walking in the countryside.

“People picture me propping up a bar and drinking gin with someone else’s husband, but although this image is aggravating there is nothing I can do about it.

“I have had a marvellous life and if I had to live it again there is very little I would change.”

Most viewers saw the programme in black and white, but later that week viewers across the region learned that they would soon have more colour TV thanks to a new ITV transmitter in Oxford which would beam images from the ATV studio in Birmingham.

The news was revealed in a large supplement whose photographs included a rather disturbing one of a young woman’s disembodied head on a stick.

A second glance reassured readers that the head in question was not real, and all was explained in the accompanying story.

“She is French,” we revealed, “with a beautifully English peaches-and-cream complexion and a rather haughty expression.

“At her neck, a notice warns: ‘Do not touch.’ And below that - nothing. She has no body.

“This carefully-made head, patiently given perfect flesh tints, is a vital part of the hour-long process of preparing the colour television cameras for work at the ATV centre in Birmingham.

“They used to have a pretty girl with absolutely nothing missing, but she turned out to be too expensive because she was hired so often.

“So today it is an artificial head on a pole which stands before a colour chart while the cameras are tuned up.”

The advertisers in the supplement included what seems to have been just about every TV shop in the Swindon area.

Colour sets were expensive, costing £200 or more at a time when the average weekly wage was £32.