A futuristic dystopian britain provides the setting for a hard-bitten “and-the-moral-is” fantasy runaround, with EDWARD WOODWARD smuggling top scientists in the back of a caravan through a beauraucratic dictatorship chock-a-block with ID cards, surveillance cameras, post-recession financial collapse… Hey! It could happen! Robert Lang was at the heart of it all, as the head of the crypto-fascistic Public Control Department. Lots of bleakly sinister deserted, overcast British landscapes, firmly in the 1970s manner, but a cracking good yarn once you managed to work out what was going on (taking a risk that paid off, the script didn’t spoon-feed the viewer with any tedious overlong explanatory dialogue – you had to sort it out for yourself). Oh, and the whole thing was inspired, rather disappointingly, by VAT.
0-9 are for…
HAND JIVER extraordinaire TED ROGERS flipped his wrists throughout this hour-long Spanish-derived mystery quiz rambling epic of an extravaganza, seemingly involving the whole Yorkshire Television studio complex every Saturday night and relying upon the most convoluted set of rules imaginable. Three dopey couples tried to outwit each other on the quest for a forrin oliday or a fitted kitchen (Moben, Schreiber etc.) while avoiding radio-controlled, red-nosed booby prize Dusty Bin. Fiendishly impossible rhymes, given by “guests” after they’d done their turn, were never guessed correctly. Many a bin won in this rather tight game show, mostly recalled for the way the Yorkshire logo would take off in flight at the very start of the opening titles. How would you have fared?:
Sample Clue: “The Arches Might Provide A Clue, Not Strolling But He’s Going Too”, accompanied by some sheet music.
Ted’s Baffling Explanation: “Well the first three letters of arches might have been clue enough, but we also said not strolling but he’s going too. Well if you take away HES from arches, all you have left is ARC. If you rearrange that with the sheet music, you’re left with ‘Music Maestro Please’. So what do think that means? Maestro! The British Leyland Maestro! You’ve won the car!” We didn’t make that up.
TV CREAM SAYS: "PEOPLE FORGET ABOUT THE MONEY THEY WON EARLIER..." "AND NOW, THE BRIAN ROGERS CONNECTION!"...
US SEMI-ED kid’s show. Two girls, one boy in a sort of jollied-up loft apartment learn about “stuff”, e.g. making volcano with cardboard, papier-mache and sherbet, or learning about death, decay and grieving for their lost “Crazy Uncle Harry”. Old-school funk/rap theme.
TV CREAM SAYS: "WOW! SO THAT'S HOW A TRAIN WORKS!"
AGAIN WITH THE home computers. This one wasn’t a patch on the likes of MICRO LIVE, though, not least due to lazy bastards not having any opening titles and instead asking viewers to program them on their home computers. The fools. Result: a series of psychedelic distractions, each as indecipherable as the next, over a burbling programme-provided synthpop theme. Experiment never again repeated. Then there was the monumentally ill-judged ‘software by lightpen’ scheme. Flashing cursor at bottom right hand corner of screen could be converted into free software using – a) the guts of a lightpen; b) a suction holder towel thingy painted black; c) black PVC insulating tape to hold b) and a) over aforementioned flashing cursor. Biddy Baxter-pleasing shenanigans apart, it didn’t work. All that, Guy Kewney on the computer newsdesk, a step-by-step guide on how to convert your ZX81 into a maze-following robot, and someone inexplicably driving a Sinclair C5 with converted sunroof into the studio in the last show. How prophetic.
TV CREAM SAYS: ALSO A POINTLESS "DRAMA" WHEREIN A THIRTYSOMETHING COUPLE STRUGGLE TO COME TO TERMS WITH THEIR COMMODORE
VINTAGE WORTHINESS from Four’s fledgling days, with DAVID STAFFORD and PENNY JUNOR sitting in a huge studio with loads of yellow TV sets and plastic furniture (look it’s the 80s!) helming watchdoggery very much of the “placing power in the hands of you: the consumer” kind. One of the many shows to be graced with amusing-for-a-couple-of-minutes “Four”-fuelled title from the channel’s tepid toddlership (4 COMPUTER BUFFS, 4-MATIONS, 4-PLAY et al).
TV CREAM SAYS: HANDED BRIEF ONTO C4 DAILY'S STREETWISE
NOOOO! YOU don’t want to give something that’s supposed to be a far more sleek and with-it rival to Ceefax a name that sounds like a badly-translated Spanish business management course! Typically pedantic moniker handed to “not alternative, but complimentary” brother of Oracle whenever it showed up to fill gaps in the C4 schedule (of which there were countless). Exchange rates, viewers’ letters, linkups with 4 COMPUTER BUFFS and blocky comic strip Adventures of 4-T about a talking superhero dog and his mates. All of ten people must have seen it.