25 YEARS before Russell T Davies, a DR WHO spin-off! And what an appalling one at that. Eminently kickable robot mutt on wheels teams up with Best Ever Companion Sarah Jane to battle a script of the most diabolical propotions, capped with a theme by uber-fan uber-lord uber-porker Ian Levene. Titles showed Sarah Jane doing stupid non-journalist things like going jogging. Introduced dopey “sidekick” Brendon. All wrong in so many ways. Thankfully, it wasn’t recommissioned. Neither was its parent series a few years later.
K is for…
WHAT RICHES lie ahead of us: it’s KATE “WROTE THE THEME FOR SURPRISE SURPRISE” ROBBINS and her brother TED “DIDN’T” ROBBINS, together in their own “show” doing impressions of Sarah Ferguson and Derek Hatton. They said it’d be over Christmas, and unlike the First World War, it was.
TV CREAM SAYS: "IMAGINE IF DEBBIE GREENWOOD AND MRS THATCHER CHANGED PLACES.
IT MIGHT GO SOMETHING LIKE THIS..."
STALWART OF that post-Corrie “bathos but pathos” comedy slot, here were the Rush family whiling away the recession in posh Highgate with head of the household Dudley (ROBERT GILLESPIE) trying to earn money from drawing comic strips starring Barney the Bionic Bulldog while Muriel (PAULINE YATES) did the dishes and daughters Susan and Jacqui slept around. Or so it was implied, for this was Thamesland, and 8pm at that, so only a lewd, louche remark was allowed. Usually, for comic effect, in the presence of Dudley’s boss, the ever-dapper, GLYN HOUSTON.
TV CREAM SAYS: FORMAT REFIT SAW GLYN MOVE IN FOR ONE SERIES, WHICH UNCOINCINDENTALLY WAS ALSO THE LAST
TOOTHY BALDING-PERMED ventriloquist wields pathologically feeble green duck in a nappy on one hand and nasally-blocked orange “cheeky” monkey on the other. “Now it’s time to welcome our very special guests: Matt Bianco!”
TV CREAM SAYS: "I 'ATE THAT DUCK!" NEVER WAS A TRUER WORD SPOKEN.
AMERICAN EXPORTED choice of viewing to the Nine O’clock News. Long-running series revolved around “character” called, ho ho, Kelly Monteith, whose “life” formed the basis of endless relationship observation schticks and LARRY SANDERS-esque dressing room inserts. “Wife” was GABRIELLE DRAKE.
TV CREAM SAYS: "NOT SURE THAT LAST SKETCH REALLY SOCKED HOME" - AYE TO THAT
SHOUTY SCOUSE sound effects nerd herein masquerading as A1 kids comedy champion. VIDEO was done on a shoestring but made a virtue of it, using camera crew for audience, globular titsci-fi Captain Kremmen cartoon (by Cosgrove-Hall) plus bank of TVs, gags based on Quantel effects console and the baiting of the “mates” Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury who appeared for bugger all. Arseing around with Thames continuity was icing on the cake. SHOW was for the Beeb and cemented legendary roster of characters: Gizzard Puke (“but don’t we all?”), Cupid Stunt (Michael Parkinson’s corpse, “best possible taste” legs routine), Marcel Wave (“my little rubik cubes”, rubber jaw), Sid Snot (“Snot Rap”, fag-catching), Reg Prescott (“Our old friend the cross-cut saw”), that clown who “drew things”, outraged bloke in bowler hat, exploding head bloke, “Round ‘em up, put ‘em in a field and bomb the bastards!” shoulder pads general, Brother Lee Love (giant hands, etc.) and copious use of white limbo backgrounds and blue screen. Futurist “I Like Electro People” theme. Oh, and the Bee Gees. BARRY CRYER co-wrote the lot.
TV CREAM SAYS: "NOW ON THE BBC IT'S TIME TO HAVE A COMPETITION/AND YOU MAY OR
MAY NOT ENTER IT/UPON YOUR OWN VOLITION"
MORE GRUEL FROM REG GRUNDY, here fronted by the ever-smiling ALISTAIR DIVALL. Curious three team members who’ve only just met hugging each other to guess bouncy-ball Name That Tune-ish lyricteasers vibe.
TV CREAM SAYS: MUSIC WAS ARRANGED, IT SAYS HERE, BY A NOM DE PLUME-SPORTING
UNCLE PETER PURVES and his brainbox mate JACK STITES narrate junior motorcross time trial competitons on the muddiest courses in the land, replete with bunny hops, ramps, see-saws and the requisite pile of old cars and oil drums as obstacles. Utterly inappropriate but still ace theme tune played on fairground organ. Primetime exposure for St. John’s Ambulancemen, if nothing else.
TV CREAM SAYS: "NO, THE FLAG'S GONE UP, THAT'S ANOTHER TWENTY SECONDS"
AUNTIE’S FIRST tryst with alternative comedy, very much a first-date-down-the-park affair with dependable chaperone RICHARD STILGOE initially on hand to becalm bemused Home Counties viewers. In fact, what with ROGER SLOMAN and MIRIAM MARGOYLES also in attendance, it was really only the presence of RIK MAYALL as Brummie investigative reporter Kevin Turvey to mark proceedings down as in any way “alternative” (TRACEY ULLMAN dressing up doesn’t count). Second series found Stilgoe substituted for ROBBIE COLTRANE as demented Scots Orangeman Mason Boyne (doing a rendition of Deck Of Cards: “The Eight of clubs reminds me of the bacon and eggs I eight for breakfast!”), equally mad Master of Dundreich (“Let me help you out of those wet things, my dear.” “But they’re not wet.” “Bucket!” [SPLOSH!] “Let me help you out of those wet things, my dear”). Just over a million people wrote the script. Just under a million tuned in. Bequeathed LAUGH??? I NEARLY PAID MY LICENCE FEE.
TV CREAM SAYS: "VAT IS ON THE UP AGAIN, WHICH CAN ONLY MEAN ONE THING
REDOUBTABLE KIDS sitcom from the keep-smiling-through school of jokery. Downbeat “sit” finds four children living alone, thanks to the father dying and the mum being in hospital (joining her husband for the second series). “Com” derived from wacky junior funsters: George (RUSSELL LEWIS), who became antisocial one week and donned a German helmet with a badly-scrawled swastika on it; Jess (CHRISTINE MCKENNA) who somehow worked in an office; Binny (GAYNOR HODGSON) who wanted to become a writer; and Willy (NIGEL GREAVES) who was the youngest and therefore a pest. Somehow they ran the house, paid the bills, did the washing etc. Enemy was anyone who tried to destroy this delightful domestic harmony, i.e. the child welfare officer. All rather grim and grisly, with laughs, like much else in Britain at the time, being in drastically short supply.
TV CREAM SAYS: STUPID OPENING TITLES INVOLVED THE KIDS BUMPING INTO EACH OTHER
IN THE STREET
CANADIAN SOAPERY that became a regular Children’s BBC post-school distraction. First incarnation found the eponymous small urban east-coast location peopled with kids making their way through life in familiar harsh realities of crazy, scary modern day world with moral lessons well to the fore, usually involving a disabled weakling/ethnic minority/brainaic being picked upon then “coming through” at some pertinent plot point. Graduated into DEGRASSI JUNIOR HIGH (“Wake up in the morning/Feeling sad and lonely/Gee, I gotta go to school!”) and the post-NEWSROUND slot thanks to more teenage concerns (“She’s so flat the walls are jealous!”).
TV CREAM SAYS: EPISODE DISCUSSING CONDOMS BUMPED TO DEF II FOR FEAR THE
COUNTRY WOULD EXPLODE
ORIGIN UNCERTAIN for this bunch of tales involving crime-cracking youths led by the titular teenager, played by SIMON TURNER. Ubiquity of bad haircuts at least confirmed mid-70s follicle foul-ups were a worldwide disease.
TV CREAM SAYS: BASED ON BOOKS "KIM THE DETECTIVE" AND "KIM AND THE BURIED TREASURE"
SO-SO ADAPTATION of the not-actually-that-good kitchen sink novel from Stan Bairstow that sneaked onto school syllabi because of its cautionary tale of the consequences of pre-marital sex. The action was spread over 20 years but star CLIVE WOOD still looked too old at the end of it. Not that it stopped him bedding both SUSAN PENHALIGON and a young JOANNE WHALLEY, the lucky bugger.
TV CREAM SAYS: FEATURED ANOTHER POST-PISTOLS APPEARANCE FROM BILL GRUNDY AS
A TV PRESENTER INTERVIEWING PENHALIGON
WEIRD SPEEDWAY freakery for kids done in a SWEENEY style but with PETER DUNCAN as the lead. Eponymous monarch is in fact a restaurant in seaside town of Barton, wherein dwell a mob of black-leathered bastards led by a pre-chequered-suited Pete who run a protection racket but which somehow get caught up in backhanded motorbike mallarkeys.
TV CREAM SAYS: WELFARE ORANGE ABOUNDED
UTTERLY BAFFLING childathon charting the fortunes of boring posh teenager Roland Wright (PHILIP DA COSTA) who gets stuck in a lift which crashes down an elevator shaft in his block of council flats and delivers him into an alternative world where all the lovable locals have sinister alter egos and his stepmum becomes a witch. Typical HTV hokum, but considered too “controversial” by ITV suits for weekday fare and shunted into Sunday teatimes instead. Written by Dr Whoers Bob Baker and Dave Martin. FULTON MACKAY looked in as a mad scientist.
TV CREAM SAYS: TITULAR KING WAS ROLAND, BUT (INEVITABLY) ONLY AFTER HE'D LEARNED SOME OF LIFE'S AWKWARD LESSONS
CUT-OUT ANIMATION beloved of lunchtime schedulers, wherein a mentally-retarded, erm, childlike monarch tried his best to rule his subjects but kept cocking up, much to the chagrin of his long-suffering courtiers and a mischevious cat. The latter was the best thing in it, by dint of always arseing around in the background. Cheery fare (do you see?) in the style of MR BENN, with RAY BROOKS once again on pipes duty.
TV CREAM SAYS: STATUS OF RELATIONSHIP WITH QUEEN GWEN WHO "LIVED NEXT DOOR" UNCLEAR
NIGEL “QUATERMASS” KNEALE’S one attempt at comedy, perhaps wisely. Eponymous repairman TONY HAYGARTH owns a crappy electrical repair shop, helped/hindered by his mate COLIN “THE OTHER LESTRADE” JEAVONS and cosy wife PATSY ROWLANDS. One day, attractive PRUNELLA GEE moves in upstairs, causing palpitations in Tony and Col, but her standoffishness is baffling until Tone discovers she’s actually – of course! – an alien from the planet Mercury, surviving on said planet by living underground. Hilarity ensues, naturally, over the teacakes and inter-planetary tittle-tattle. Prunella resembles Barbarella-style creature, i.e. almost naked. No wonder Tone joins her for a turn around the galaxy. First she wants his help to save her planet from hostile forces, but then falls in love with him and wants him to marry her and be king of Mercury. She even gives him a special talisman to rub when he wants to contact her, except it’s disguised as a two-pence piece, so frequently gets lost/accidentally spent with more of that hilarity just around the corner. Whole thing never properly resolved.