THROUGH-THE-MOTIONS SPIN-OFF from THE GENTLE TOUCH, wherein JILL GASCOINE, LESLIE ASH and another one (either ROSALYN LANDOR or TRACY LOUISE WARD) played Charlie’s Angels in Kent. DON “NOW CALM DOWN, RIGSBY” WARRINGTON shuffled papers.
C is for…
EARLY RUN-OUT for renaissance man and “handsome chap” JOHNNY BALL, honing his comedy stylings via a bran tub of historical skits and spoofs. JULIE STEVENS and DEREK GRIFFITHS completed the justly stellar line up.
TV CREAM SAYS: TITLES, BOASTING CABBAGES DOING COUNTRY DANCING, NOT THE MOST OBVIOUS OF MARKETING STRATEGIES
AND AGAIN. But not a mistake (on our part, anyway), for this was the handiwork of the seemingly ageless (and charisma-less) NIGEL REES, trying to get his Radio 4 panelathon Quote Unquote onto the small screen. GYLES BRANDRETH found aiding and abetting at the scene of the crime.
TV CREAM SAYS: 'AMUSING GRAFFITI' ROUND FEATURED SLOGANS NOT FOUND ON THE
WALLS OF ANYWHERE IN THE WHOLE WORLD
MAYBE it’s the water? Maybe it’s the air? Maybe it’s the sunshine that gets in your hair? Maybe it’s the ladies and the clothes that they wear? I don’t know, and I don’t care! Teen Coffee-Shop-Convergence stuff of legend, in which hot-rod tinkering Ross (Marc McClure), pirate-radio tinkering Vince (Jimmy McNichol), and synth-tinkering Laurie (Michele Tobin) plotted surf’n'disco-centric escapades in cahoots with standard issue part-Frankie-Avalon-part-Fonz-part-Kramer-part-Bob-Markley ‘older pal’ Rick (the brilliantly named Lorenzo Lamas). Bombed and cancelled mid-season in the States, where it was presumably considered too close to what the target audience got up to in their everyday lives anyway, but which bizarrely found its way into the BBC’s school holiday childrens’ schedules, where the gang’s exotic (and occasionally jaw-droppingly ‘spicy’) beach-themed exploits caught the imagination of many a viewer burning their own selection boxes for warmth in front of the BBC Christmas Skaters, and in a classic example of the ‘Red Hand Gang Gambit’ became a much-loved favourite over here yet almost forgotten in its homeland. And yes, there was inevitably a ‘roller showdown’…
TV CREAM SAYS: "CALIFORNIA, HERE I AM - AND I LOVE YOU!!"
ANGLO/ANTIPODEAN CO-PRODUCTION, trotted out in that tantalising post-9pm-news not-too-adult-but-worth-staying-up-for-all-the-same slot. Oz Australian bloke (STEVE BISLEY, Jim Goose in “Mad Max”) is the bastard son who inherits the title “Sir”; Call Me Mister indicates his reluctance to adopt it. Moves to the UK where he meets his half-siblings (HAYDN GWYNNE and RUPERT FRAZER). They’re not too glad to see him – bro’ suspects he’s an imposter. Other characters include a wheelchair-bound private eye (not Ironside but DAVID BAMBER) and Bamber’s rather attractive girlfriend Jock (VALERIE GOGAN). And would you believe that Bisley’s romantic interest in the show is none other than Precious Matthews from Grange Hill (DULCIE LIECIER)? Pretty much a star-studded cast, though Precious swings it for us. All in all, a series’ worth of criminal activities for Bisley to sort out. Very flash, standard Crocodile Dundee stereotyping, but very watchable.
TV CREAM SAYS: YER GREAT HOON!
“AH, WOULD THAT IT WERE, but pray, let us have the next word, the next lexicographical leguna, the next syntactical soupcon, and lo, here it comes, but ah me, a turn of speed if you please, and nay, tish and fibble, come with me if you will, is there no hope, is there truly no hope, I spy no flicker on their faces, oh to be sure, well, I am throwing it over to the other side, do you have it, do you have it, do you have it, I think that you have it, by jove, the game is well and truly afoot, but wait, tush, a pause, a parenthesis, an intermission, could this really be the end, ah, would that it were my friends, would that it were, from me, Robert Robinson, farewell!”
TV CREAM SAYS: CO-STARRING A BLUE SPINNING THING WITH WORDS ON IT AND SOME
TATTY BROWN FOLDING CARDS
ONE OF those American imports that lit up the dark recesses of late night ITV, a la Sledgehammer. Despite being cut from similar cloth, this one-off POLICE SQUAD-type US action spoof, based around the Indiana Jones ‘hero-in-a-hat-plus-papier-mache-caves’ format, and roping in Jamie Lee Curtis as the permanently-imperilled female lead, failed to translate into the inevitable season of 2000 episodes, despite being nifty in the postmodern gags stakes. Fondly recalled bits of over-clever folderol included a ludicrously OTT A-TEAM-style militaristic theme tune which went on for at least two whole minutes (“CALLAHAN! CALLAHAN! C-A-L-L-A-H-A-N! CALLAHAN!”)
TV CREAM SAYS: NO US SERIES WAS, IT'S PERHAPS UNSURPRISING TO LEARN,
EDWARD WOODWARD plays hard-as-fuck secret service “loose cannon” moping and snarling his way through Cold War Britain occasionally assisted by smelly sidekick called Lonely. Seminal in every sense, not least the swinging bare light bulb opening titles.
TV CREAM SAYS: 1981 REVIVAL ENTITLED, ER, "WET JOB", WITH LONELY WORKING AS A BATHROOM STORE MERCHANT.
UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS DOCUMENTARY about crappy singer CK and his just as crap travelling roadshow navigating the Scottish Highlands and getting slowly more desperate and pissed off. Massive legal problems delayed broadcast for five years.
TV CREAM SAYS: "A MOCKERY OF ONE IN PARTICULAR AND SCOTLAND IN GENERAL" QUOTH THE KENNSTER
LONG-FORGOTTEN ROWAN Atkinson blueprint for the bonechilling Mr Bean, featuring our man saying very little in a radio station while deliberately overhyped canned laughter sounded when bugger all funny was happening. Which was presumably a hell of a lot.
TV CREAM SAYS: WELL-WORN 'RADIO PHONE-IN NUMBER GOING ON FOR ABOUT A MINUTE' GAG PLAYED SUPPORTING ROLE
“TO BE HONEST,” they would proclaim, “the fuss that is sometimes made when we’re playing the theatres scares us. It’s like The Beatles.” The Bootleg Beatles, that is. Walking (just) embodiment of what went wrong with comedy in the 80s, now born-again Christians but still happy to lap it up at the Blackpool Winter Gardens. Enjoyed astonishing exposure off the back of amusingly failed appearances on BRUCE FORSYTH'S BIG NIGHT doing sub-sub-sub Morecambe and Wise variety with a curly-haired noisy little sod with braces (“Rock on, Tommy!”) and tall dull stooge. Own show weirdly mutated into a sitcom for a bit, then ended up – oh god – Cannon And Ball’s Casino with a young Steve Coogan cashing his chips. Not the nadir, though; that was spin-off film The Boys In Blue, done ten years after ITV spin-off films had a) stopped being funny and b) just stopped. An appearance in 2000 on J** D*******’s Generation Game was arduous: Cannon sings song “for all the ladies and gentlemen here tonight”, Ball accompanies on toy trumpet, Cannon gets gradually more agitated with Ball’s erratic behaviour, audience sympathises with Ball… They hadn’t learned.
TV CREAM SAYS: TRAGICAL HISTORY TOUR
“IF HE DOESN’T BREAK EVEN, he breaks his phone.” With taglines like that, how could CAPITAL CITY possibly fail to not be a complete failure? A Canary Wharf-sized cocktail of high finance, greed, sexual horseplay and shouting, the only things missing were decent plots and likable characters. Perma-portfolioed employees of pretend finance empire Shane Longmans included JASON “CHILDREN’S STORY HARRY POTTER” ISAACS, PIPPA “HELEN BRITTAS” HAYWOOD and LOUISE “HOUSE OF ELIOTT’ LOMBARD.
TV CREAM SAYS: CO-STARS INCLUDED MASSIVE FUCK-OFF BOTTLES OF EVIAN WATER
OBSCURE-AS-EVER EDUCATIONAL shenanegains with cutout animation Mr. Capricorn directing a middle-aged live action couple around various provincial suburban locations in the name of basic mathematics. Had a magic umbrella. Was a clever fella. You can see the level we’re working at, here.
TV CREAM SAYS: "LET'S PLAY THE MATCHING GAME!" LET'S NOT, EH?
OFF THE BACK OF two nationwide stocking filler longplayers, Henry VIII, Inspector Clouseau and Margo Leadbetter recite comic songs about sentient animals while perched on stools among tasteful ferns. JACKANORY-style overlaid illustrations accompanied the more elaborate numbers. PETER SKELLERN and TERRY WOGAN turned up on occasion. The most typical early evening BBC2 fare there was to be had outside of a King’s Singers special.
TV CREAM SAYS: BRINGING UP THE REAR: TIMID TOAD, RECKLESS RAT, ARTFUL OWL AND BATTY BAT
WRETCHED CRYOGENICALLY-FROZEN four-foot furball with a) ragged leopardskin cape b) solitary facial feature (a pink bulbous nose) c) club which opened up to reveal mini-pterodactyl with candle, and d) various woolly mammoths/sabretooth tigers hidden in fur, battles crime with Charlie’s, er, the TEEN Angels (like no-one would spot that rip off), comprising Brenda (token nervous/pathetic one), Dee-Dee (token black/sassy one) and Taffy (token blonde of “Super zowee!” fame). Appalling scruffy runt used to stupidly try and fly with the club every episode, but it always conked out mid-air (“Bad time for power failure!” etc). Resulting injuries were never fatal, sadly.
TV CREAM SAYS: "UNGA BUNGA!" FUCK OFF
EARLY ENTRY in the endless foreign import animation stable (see AROUND THE WORLD WITH WILLY FOGG) with all those dreaded elements already in place: weird bastardisation of original hero (here sporting – eh? – a beard), unnecessary meddling with the companions (one apparently called Johnny), sassy robot for the youngsters.
TV CREAM SAYS: THE ROBOT MIGHT HAVE BEEN MADE UP
BRACING BRINY cut-out chicanery with bloated, nasal, goateed Puggers leading his band of buffoonish piratical chums aboard the Black Pig and constantly finding no treasure. Remade in colour in the 70s, still using the same cardboard. Harmless tales unmarred by that shit playground rumour about characters called “Mr. Sperm”, which managed to fool no-one, except, inevitably, The Guardian Guide.
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