MUCH LOVED BBC popular science series that seemed best served when stuck out after the NINE O’CLOCK NEWS. Although the title was mystifying to many younger viewers (“Kwed?”) ,Q.E.D. found the perfect route between the whisker stroking extremities of the OU and the too populist Doctor MIRIAM STOPPARD and that-bloke-with-the-nose helmed WHERE THERE’S LIFE. While “John’s Not Mad” is undoubtedly the strand’s best-remembered episode, Q.E.D. embraced a wide range of subjects, such as “Why things go wrong” metal bending, what it’d look like to fly all the way round the coast of Britain in a fighter jet, “Understanding Rape”, snooker, and (helpfully) “A Guide to Armageddon”. Q.E.D. also provided some of the first television exposure for Falklands Veteran SIMON WESTON. But best of all on 13 March 1985, that comic imp KENNY EVERETT was given thirty minutes of airtime in which to muck around with Quantel, CSO and other ace mid-Eighties video effects, all in the name of better acquainting Joe Public with how that “Goodnight goodnight goodnight” bit at the end of LES AND DUSTIN’S LAUGHTER SHOW was achieved. Not that all editions were great though; a 1991 episode in which Professor Ian Fells attempted to test “Murphy’s Law” consisted of little more than slices of jam on toast hurtling to the floor and various people switching from one checkout queue to another. However, it was always easy to forgive Q.E.D. the odd whimsical item, especially when an intriguing episode about panic attacks was served up the very next week. Axed in 1998, we fear we shall never see its whimsical-but-serious like again.
Q is for…
MILLIGAN MULLARKEY which bemused most (including the Beeb) but delighted enough to keep it being recommissioned despite the same things showing up in the same order every bloody series, namely: Nazis; Nazis dressed as Jews; Nazis dressed as beautiful buxom women; Nazis and beautiful buxom women running an unlikely business such as a costermogers or grocery; everyone blacked up; everyone blacked up playing Nazis; everyone walking off set into the audience; everyone walking off set into another sketch on film; people with cotton wool in their ears; hole reinforcers and cutlery falling from people’s sleeves; BBC costume department labels on the outside of clothes; and racist and sexist punchlines. Original trailer announced the death of Spike, aged 104.
TV CREAM SAYS: "SO, WHERE DID THE ANCIENT BRITONS GET THE CLAY TO MAKE THE
BRICKS TO BUILD STONEHENGE?"
SPACE NONSENSE about an intergalactic dustman. RICHARD BENJAMIN wore the flourescent jacket of infamy in this lazy STAR TREK parody, which, given Trek was 10 years old and just gone out of re-runs, meant the show lasted all of six weeks and died unlamented. Then a year or so later, something called “Star Wars” attracted a bit of attention and suddenly Quark returned with a new one-off “pilot” which contained tons of Star Wars gags…and then the network showed the same six episodes and it died again. Characters besides Dick Benjamin included a pair of Hill’s-Angels-type twins (one was supposed to be a clone but neither would admit it), a “transmute” who constantly switched from male to female (in voice only; lots of laughs from burly guy doing limp-wristed routines), and Ficus, a “Vegeton” plant-based Spock-alike. They got their marching orders from a disembodied head (called, startlingly, “The Head”), who bore an alarming resemblance to Holly in Red Dwarf.
TV CREAM SAYS: BEAM THEM ALL UP. PERMANENTLY.
REGAL COMMUNIQUE FROM Commonwealth-manufactured mahogany writing bureau doubling as traditional televised post-prandial leg-stretch/retire-to-the-other-room interlude. On the dot of 3pm, Christmas Day, networks cut to single shot of flag hanging limply above random royal palace. Camera fades up on bejewelled resident of No 1, London, The World, standing in front of paltry display of cards, framed photos and more Commonwealth-manufactured furnishings. HRH purses lips. “Once again it has been a busy year”. Clippage of Liz and Phil shaking hands with red-cheeked labourers and watching brief demonstration of British Industry At Its Best. “My husband and I made several tours abroad”. Footage of royal party watching an ethnic dance and accepting clay pot-cum-fertility symbol. “But there have also been moments for reflection”. Cut to serious montage: memorial dedications, a clutch of Princes in uniform, Her Maj nodding sagely while chatting to a wounded veteran in a military hospital. “Yet I am cheered continually by the spirits of my British subjects”. Union Jack-waving yokels are glimpsed pressing flesh with a Windsor personage. “I have been particularly moved by…” Insert this year’s royal “event”, i.e. birthday pageant/Red Arrows flyover/nuptials. “And I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous new year”. Queen purses lips and holds pose uncomfortably as camera lingers a little too long before fading to black. Message over. Mum: “She’s looking good for her age”. Dad: “Pfft, not as good as last year”. Gran: “Oh dear – *sob* – I’ll be through for pudding in a moment.” Used to be on the radio, first done by George V in 1932; switched to TV in 1957, when it was done live until HRH got sick of interrupting the brandy butter; pre-recorded from 1960. Strictly an Auntie Beeb production until That Diana Interview and the Palace threw a strop. Now alternates twixt BBC and ITV, but aspic-hewed format untouchable by broadcasters upon pain of swift exile to regal journalistic hinterland (aka 30 Minutes With Prince Edward On A Wet Tuesday Afternoon Next October If You’re Lucky).
TV CREAM SAYS: PARTY-POOPING CHANNEL 4 INTRODUCED ALTERNATIVE QUEEN'S SPEECH
IN 1993, INAUGURATED BY ALTERNATIVE QUEEN QUENTIN CRISP
KEITH WATERHOUSE and WILLIS HALL-penned palaver for DIANA DORS as eponymous matriach mithering about the Buckingham flats – a Yarrrkkkshire housing development – with the likes of FREDDIE FLETCHER, LYNNE PERRIE and BRYAN MOSLEY popping in for a) a cup of sugar b) a cup of “something stronger” c) a couple of jam sponges.
TV CREAM SAYS: BRASSY
KURT RUSSELL dons statutory small screen Wild West outfit and steps out into the dust to look for his long lost sister. Helped, and hindered, by brother TIM MATHESON, a San Francisco doctor. Spoiler: they never found her.
TV CREAM SAYS: "AND SO, MY FRIEND, THE QUEST CONTINUES" [CLICK]
“SPORTING WIT AND BADINAGE”, as Ceefax often had it, which somewhat underplayed the whole quizzing element if you ask us. Avuncular, easily entertained DAVID COLEMAN presided at just the right pace, except when making sure to ask the guests “you had a good season last year, and you’ll be hoping for more of the same with the world championships coming up?” in the middle of a round. BILL BEAUMONT seemingly spent decades at the helm of one team, except for a couple of weeks when Coleman was off with shingles and he took over as a snail’s pace host. Opposite massed a phalanx of overexcitable captains, most notably WILLIE CARSON and EMLYN HUGHES of John Reid-related royal handbagging and ill-fated attempt to make “we think…” a national catchphrase. The Mystery Guest round added “can you recognise this sporting star going for a day’s fishing?” intrigue and hope that it wasn’t someone you were particularly proud of, a tyro RAY STUBBS directing many an example. You knew Christmas was coming when the annual Mystery Guest competition started, the winner picked out in the series finale by the captains from a mound of envelopes dropped from the studio ceiling. Supposedly annual surveys referred to once a series placed What Happened Next? as the show’s most popular round year after year. The score is Emlyn seven, Bill five.
TV CREAM SAYS: MANDATORY OPENING GAG: "ON TONIGHT'S TEAMS, AN EXCEPTIONAL
RANGE OF SPORTING TALENT AND ABILITY - PLUS X AND Y!"
RAMBLING SATURDAY ramble through laughably watered-down Swinging Sixties, seen through escapades of flat-dwelling twentysomething “cats” BARRY FANTONI, TEDDY GREEN and DAVID GRIFFIN. Based on far more explicit tomes by Mark Timlin. Ner-ner theme tune taunted befuddled elder generation’s viewers: “Quick before they catch us, everybody run run run/we’ll get away from the people who put us down; everybody run run run!”
TV CREAM SAYS: BLURB OPTIMISTICALLY PROMISED "CARS, GIRLS, GUNS, STRUNG OUT
ALONG THE HIGH SIERRAS OF BRIXTON AND BATTERSEA"
WEEKDAY AFTERNOON siestathon hosted by LORD BOB MONKHOUSE (aided by JAN RENNISON) based around the modest talents of “UK’s fastest cartoonist” BILL TIDY, who along with the similarly pen-wielding likes of WILLIE RUSHTON, ROLF HARRIS and MICHAEL BENTINE, would draw whimsical illustrations on a big pad in response to Bob’s Pictionary-esque questions. Then, to prove the format was as flexible as a wobbleboard, Rolf took over hosting duties and Bob (an ex-cartoonist himself, of course) cropped up among the contestants. Later still, Bentine took over. The big flip chart thing remained, thankfully, largely unaltered. Possibly the only programme apart from THAT’S LIFE! to have the end credits cartooned in-studio. Devised by DENNIS GIFFORD.
TV CREAM SAYS: ROLFAROOS NOT INCLUDED
SO SO thriller filler based on famed torture-proof creation of US writer Elleston Trevor, previously subject of big budget mid-60s United Artists effort The Quiller Memorandum. MICHAEL “GUILLAM” JAYSTON did the honours for the Beeb, including being drugged up and afflicted by numerous voodoo curses.
TV CREAM SAYS: OUTRO MUSIC WAS "ODE TO A G" BY DEEP PURPLE
“GENTLEMAN, YOU are about to enter the most fascinating sphere of police work.” What, going undercover? Chasing people through busy streets? Manning a space station-sized walkie-talkie control panel? “The world…” Yes? “…of forensic medicine”. More Larsonry, with JACK KLUGMAN as “I’m Quincy, me” going about his cadaverous business with oriental lab assistant Sam boiling up some coffee on a tripod and gauze. Lived on a boat. Kept poking his nose into unsolved cases, before poking his beak into another jar at Danny’s Place. Still a staple of the schedules in 2009. “Mr. Klugman’s wardrobe furnished by Botany 500.”
TV CREAM SAYS: TITLE SEQUENCE BOASTED OUR HERO EXAMINING A COUPLE OF OTHER "FASCINATING SPHERES"...ON A NUBILE WENCH ON HIS SPEEDBOAT
INSANELY COMPLICATED parlour game panel joust, ostensibly resembling a knock-out tournament but forever sagging under the weight of one too many rules and too too many outbursts from host STUART HALL. Each week two professional football teams, composed of players, management and “celebrity supporters”, answered questions in order to move across an electronic scoreboard designed like a pitch, but not in a sensible way from end to end but in any manner of means involving “long ball” questions, passes, penalties, goal kicks and whatever else dreamt up on the spot by Hall, DAVID “THE GUV’NOR” VINE or BARRY DAVIES. “Internationals” were also staged, but only involving the home nations. Ultimately became too incomprehensible, or Hall’s head burst, or nobody bothered turning up, and got axed.
TV CREAM SAYS: A GAME OF FIVE HALVES
ONE-TIME NORTH WEST-ONLY, then nationwide, shamblathon hosted by the mighty STUART HALL (in contractual obligation mode). Supposedly like a pub quiz, but with all the fun removed, it featured two teams of pub blokes, very similar to MASTERTEAM, even down to having “hilarious” team names, eg “The Middleford Munchers”. Half-an-hour of the usual average-intelligence questions, with no “In A Spin”-style shenanighans to divert attention from its blandness. Studio was just like a pub; Hall was the “landlord”, see, and his desk had beer pump handles on it, like a real pub.