MOANING YORKSHIRE clan the Brandons, of the moaning persuasion, get in various gloomy situations (crap holiday outings, burnt dinners, local hostelry is out of pork scratchings) and moan and bicker and moan. Lugubrious centre of things was Uncle Mort, aka ROBIN “POTTER Mk. II” BAILEY. BERT PALMER turned Uncle Staveley, cloth-eared caterwauler of “I ‘eard that…pardon” proclivity, into role model for miserly uncles across the land. LIZ SMITH, STEPHEN REA and Ethel off of EastEnders made up the numbers and brought the drain cleaners.
I is for…
TWO MIDDLE-AGED middle class middle Englanders…with mirth in mind! At least that’s what was promised as PETER JONES and PAT HEYWOOD moved to the country, finally having shaken off the tenacious talons of their offspring. Only…well, can’t you read the title?
TV CREAM SAYS: NO NO PLACE LIKE HOME
LIFE SWAP endeavour for kids, usually involving week-long exchange between grotty urchin from Lancaster and muted offspring from “the third world”, latter forever proving to be more cultured than the former. Every episode had to feature a scene where an Arab child looked stumped trying to understand pigeon racing and a Brit giggled embarrassingly at a woman with a turban.
TV CREAM SAYS: "I DON'T WANT MY SON MIXING WITH MOSLEMS!"
FROM THE BOTTOM of Will and Joe’s filing cabinet came this offering: a BATFINK-esque runaround boasting a Beatlesesque three man pop band called upon at a moment’s notice to become crimefighting figures Coilman (spring replaces lower body); Multiman (there’s loads of him) and Fluidman (guess).
TV CREAM SAYS: BACK HOME IN TIME FOR TEA AND THREE-PART HARMONIES
HEADLINE VEHICLE for ubiquitous have-a-go merchants CHRIS SERLE and PAUL HEINEY moonlighting from THAT’S LIFE to assume preposterous gigs in preposterous professions all in the name of television. Seemed to always be on in the 80s, and for many the sight of Paul trying to direct the video for Bananarama’s ‘Trick of the Night’ is what that decade will always be about. Quite rightly, we’re saying. Other “assignments”: working as press photographer for the Daily Mirror; fashion designer; bookmaker (they were short of ideas that week); opera singer; shepherd (ditto); auctioneer; and snooker partner to Steve Davis.
TV CREAM SAYS: "THERE WAS CLEARLY MORE TO THIS JOB THAN MET THE EYE..."
DECENT ENOUGH diminutive dosage courtesy of the eternally-generous Will and Joe, this time in the form of the titular imperially-measured miniature private dick. Only ran for 13 episodes, despite having LENNIE “SCRAPPY DOO” WEINRIB on vocal duties.
TV CREAM SAYS: "OH NO! THE SHRINKING FORMULA'S WEARING OFF! AGAIN!"
FLEDGLING EFFORT from the boys at Euston Road, with TREVOR PRESTON faithfully adapting various of NORMAN HUNTER’s mobile lending library stalwarts. JACK WOOLGAR played the Prof, PAUL WHITSUN-JONES Colonel Dedshott, and FREDA DOWIE a suitably shifty/scary Mrs Flittersnoop.
TV CREAM SAYS: COMBUSTIBLE
DR ‘DAVID’ BANNER, nebulously defined “strength” research, gamma rays, green skin, ripped shirts, slow-motion violence, back to normal, new shirt from nowhere, long trek down road, plaintive piano, “quest to control the raging beast that dwells wthin him”. BILL BIXBY and LOU FERRIGNO (“he eats 40 eggs a day!”) as before and after respectively.
TV CREAM SAYS: RESURRECTED, WITH BOTH LOU AND BIX, IN A SERIES OF TV MOVIE
'SPECIALS' THROUGHOUT THE 1980S
ROBERT HARDY unsheathed his best eccentric credentials for this bonkers Hammer-esque Victorian yarn wherein our hero, a psychic ghostfighting doctor, goes about his business replete with private steam train boasting lab, living quarters, and assistants. Quasi-alien spooks invading 19th century England? That’d never work on telly.
TV CREAM SAYS: "DOCTOR, WHAT ARE WE UP AGAINST?" "ALL IN GOOD TIME, ALL IN GOOD TIME"
CHARMLESS CRIMEWATCH roadtester shuttled out on BBC2 proffering supremely detailed reconstructions and behind-the scenes gubbins with camera-shy forensics. Notable early small screen airing of PAM ST. CLEMENTS’ Cockney Harridan, here trying to gas herself in own car.
TV CREAM SAYS: INTOXICATION EFFORTS UNSUCCESSFUL
EARTHY ATTEMPT to popularise earthy Professional Northern earthiness in shape of mass participatory sports of bar billiards, bar skittles and shove ha’penny, the latter, averred host FRED TRUEMAN in earthy fashion, “matches the skill and dexterity of the miniature portrait painter.” Whole shebang set in a pretend pub, complete with awful lifesize cartoon murals of be-flared ’70s people. Ultra-cheap institution of a weekend lunchtime, judiciously – and earthily – helmed by NEIL CLEMINSON, DAVE LANNING and KEITH MACKLIN.
TV CREAM SAYS: I'LL SEE THEE...
PYTHON IMPOSTER and ex-Rutle presents ragbag of self-penned songs accompanied by cheapo prototype video clips, which promises much but delivers only sporadically. Much like The Rutles. And all other Innes/Idle tomfoolery (RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION for starters). Highlights: UFO Shanty, with Innes in blackface and full Tom Baker regalia performing with a scout jamboree, complete with multi-lingual bouncing ball subtitles; and the Gallagher-nicked How Sweet To Be An Idiot accompanied by some condom-headed performance art.