Poets at the BBC
Saturday, 23.00, BBC4
Saturday night is now arts night on BBC2, and tonight that means poetry, including a film where a number of poets are composing verse based on a railway journey, which is intended to be a modern equivalent of Night Mail. This is the bit we’re most interested in, though. It used to be that most people had a couple of poems they knew off by heart, and poetry was quite prominent on television with people like John Betjeman appearing with David Frost. It doesn’t happen quite so much these days, but maybe programmes like this will help.
Top of the Pops
Friday, 19.30, 00.30, BBC4
We know we seem to say this all the time, but we really mean it when we say this is probably the episode we’ve been most looking forward to since they started this repeat run five years ago. It’s the famous Steve Archibald episode, the Spurs and Scotland striker perhaps not someone you’d expect to see on this show once, let alone twice in one show. But he pulls double duty thanks to a whopping three football songs on this show, Archibald’s two sides also joined by the full England squad, all live in the studio. Indeed it really is a cast of thousands tonight, as virtually every other act – and a top line-up it is too – is live in the studio as well, along with a very, very famous surprise guest, and just to make things even more complicated, the whole show is broadcast live as well, and Michael Hurll’s even given himself the handicap of the hapless Bates as host. It all sounds more extravagant than Live Aid and we can’t wait to see how it all looks on screen, especially as it was never on UK Gold and virtually none of it’s on YouTube so its exact contents remain a mystery. We can’t wait to see it!
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 02.00, BBC4
Kid’s smooth presentation meant his last outing was surely the slickest live show yet, helped of course by the glossiness of a lot of the music. Indeed that Spandau Ballet performance sums up all that’s great about this show at the moment, the song is all over the place and the rather frantic performance fitted perfectly. Two things that have been regrettably rare in this run recently are two episodes a week and Richard Skinner, but both are now back, the perfectly agreeable presenter hosting a perfectly agreeable edition – but it’s slightly overshadowed by what’s happening in 24 hours.
Golden Age of Protest Songs
Wednesday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2
The case against Richard Littlejohn is an extremely long one, and for many years, the only positive thing we could say about him was that he was quite a good presenter of the first series of Wanted, although that barely made up for the fact he was responsible for some of the worst things ever to appear in the history of the British press. Now here’s another charm offensive, because rather remarkably he’s a huge fan of protest songs, particularly admiring the work of Billy Bragg, and here he is to share some of his favourites, and speak to the likes of Tom Robinson and Trevor Phillips about what inspired them and what they’ve achieved. It’s all genuine and this should be an interesting programme for all that, although it is important to realise that he is still clearly an awful, awful man.
Thank You For Being My Friend – A Tribute To Terry Wogan
Monday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2
There’s a lot of Lord Terence this week as it’s fifty years to the week that Tel, fed up with the politics at RTE that had seen his popular TV show axed, decided to try his luck across the Irish Sea and made his first broadcast for the Beeb. Obviously he bestrode the Corporation like a colossus for the next five decades, but Radio 2 was always his spiritual home, firstly virtually inventing every single national joke in Britain, and then after a brief interregnum on television, coming back to probably even greater acclaim. This two-part tribute is doubtless going to make for wonderful listening, not least thanks to Sir Ken Bruce, as is only right, on hosting duties.
A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of Sir Terry Wogan KBE, DL
Tuesday, 12.00, BBC Radio 2
Well, this is not usually the kind of programming you hear on this station, but it seems absolutely right they should broadcast it, as the centrepiece of a whole day of programming devoted to this station’s greatest ever broadcaster. There’ll be music and memories throughout the day, and either side of the visit to Westminster Abbey, Jeremy Vine, who memorably suggested Tel was the man for whom the microphone was invented, will be soliciting listeners’ tributes.
The Envy Of The World
Sunday, 18.45, 22.45, BBC Radio 3
Somewhat inevitably, the only other programme we’re highlighting from the Third’s birthday celebrations is twenty years old itself. It’s Humphrey Carpenter’s history of the station, which was born in controversial circumstances in 1946 when not very good DG William Haley, a man probably more Reithian than Reith, slashed budgets for popular programmes to rush this more improving service on air, while it got off to a slightly shaky start as it had to go off air for a fortnight after six months because of a fuel crisis. Still with us, though, and despite the fact that if we listen to this programme we’ll probably have doubled the amount of time we’ve listened to this station in our entire lives, we don’t begrudge it being there, as it’s less annoyingly cheery than Classic FM.
Keith Richards’ Lost Weekend
Saturday, 19.00, BBC4
Two more nights of this, and we welcome it because this really is a theme night of the old school, taking up several hours and all properly curated, rather than just two or three shows whacked together. As we know, much of the line-up is a closely guarded secret, all the better to baffle the casual audience, but among tonight’s fare is Robert Elfstrom’s 1969 biography of Johnny Cash and Julien Temple’s film on the history of London, while tomorrow Keith’s fave films include The Man Who Would Be King and Build My Gallows High.
Top of the Pops
Friday, 19.30, 00.30, BBC4
But John, they all have dreadful shirts! Quite a bizarre show all round last time out, with Lemmy smashing his mike stand, Bardo and Roxy Music performing under a billowing bedsheet and the April Fool. But for the next few months we reckon it’s all killer and no filler, a brilliantly fertile period for music, and this episode’s an absolute cracker, surely one of the poppiest Pops ever thanks to Bucks Fizz, Bardo and two records produced by the great Trevor Horn.
John Bishop In Conversation With Steve Coogan
Thursday, 21.00, W
This channel’s first appearance in Creamguide comes from its new chat show. We know Bishop can be a bit of an acquired taste but he’s clearly very popular, and fair play to him for wanting to branch out into new areas. We’ve not been very interested in his guests so far to tune in but by all accounts these have been quite good programmes with John’s relaxed and informal manner getting a lot out of guests who are either his peers or people he admires, and we’re alighting on it this week as one of our favourite comic performers is in the chair. “Now Steve, when we think about you, we think of the nineties!”
Lost Sitcoms: Steptoe and Son
Wednesday, 21.00, BBC4
The last of these remounts features a sitcom that was a giant show at the time, and indeed one of the first old sitcoms we became aware of thanks to its constant repeats in the eighties. Indeed, even BSB’s Galaxy channel had the show as one of its big attractions, billed as The Best Of Steptoe And Son, as if it might involve Wilfrid Brambell saying “’Ere, ‘Arold, remember when I ate pickled onions in the bath?” Given what a famous and ground-breaking series it was, you’d think the colour revival in 1970 would have been something the Beeb would have wanted to keep, but alas no. In recent decades we’ve seen lots of wiped episodes via Alan Simpson’s video collection, but even he didn’t have this one, so Jeff Rawle and Ed Coleman have a go at it instead.
Matilda and Me
Tuesday, 21.00, Sky Arts
Tim Minchin has certainly been elevated to the top table of the arts in recent years, progressing from stand-up gigs to one of the top theatre composers in the world, his work on the new Groundhog Day show enjoying much critical acclaim. The work that catapulted him to these heights was his Matilda musical, and as we continue the Dahl commemorations, here’s the man himself to explain what a passion project it was for him.
British Sitcoms – 60 Years Of Laughing At Ourselves
Monday, 21.00, BBC4
The history of the sitcom, all of it, ever, in an hour. Well, not quite all of it, because as with the rest of the Beeb’s Sitcom Season it’s taking as its starting point the launch of Hancock’s Half Hour which is considered the first sitcom actually made for television rather than putting cameras in front of a stage play or radio show. Obviously we’re only scratching the surface here – especially as we recall a three part series on the same subject in the nineties – but they’ve rustled up a decent set of contributors, including Coogan, Curtis, Clement and La Frenais, plus there are a few excursions to less familiar fare, including Agony and Curry and Chips.
Friday, 21.00, BBC1
The most recent sitcom to appear in this season, and what is perhaps the most blatantly a pilot for a potential new run, because it’s a straight continuation from where we left off in 1999, with Marks and Gran on writing duties and the same cast – including the second wives. We’ve reached the sixties now, though quite how they can explain the concept, update on what’s happened since and actually get some jokes in the half hour they’ve got, we’re not sure.
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 02.00, BBC4
Another landmark passed here as we get the episode from 1st April 1982, exactly six years to the day from the first one we saw, and certainly there’s a million miles between the show then and now, but all the change has been for the better we think, not least because we now have the pleasure of seeing John Peel as host every few weeks for the foreseeable future. His presence automatically makes this show one of the best of the year, despite the fact we’ll seemingly have to wait until the (very) late edition to get our best ever Eurovision entry and, yes, an April Fool.
Wednesday, 22.40, Film4
Lots of stuff this week inspired by or reimagining stuff, and here’s yet another, though on a far larger scale. When it was first announced that Michael Fassbender would be playing Frank Sidebottom in a Hollywood film it sounded the most bizarre thing imaginable, but it’s perhaps not as odd as you’d expect as there are no references to Timperley, but instead it uses Frank’s story as a semi-biographical portrayal as an outsider who only wants to make it in the music business their way or not at all, even if it’s the most idiosyncratic way imaginable.
The Legendary Angela Lansbury
Tuesday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2
The endless repeats of Murder She Wrote on ITV mean Angela is still a regular on our screens, but it’s certainly not all she’ll be remembered for as last year she won an Olivier Award at the age of 89. Emma Thompson has considered her both an inspiration and a friend so she’s doubtless delighted to get to chat with her for this special programme.
Monday, 15.15, BBC2
Well, here’s a bit of a surprise! You may recall this series of clips of interviews with comedy stars, a companion to the Saturday afternoon regular Talking Pictures (and a very similar format to The Interviews off Gold), began about eighteen months ago but only got out a handful of episodes before abruptly disappearing, with the same episodes being repeated last Christmas. Now here’s another one, originally planned for the original run but not shown for some reason, and this screening hasn’t even been included in some listings. All very curious. Nevertheless, this is definitely going to be worth the wait, because the subject is Lord Bob Monkhouse.
Are You Being Served?
Sunday, 21.00, BBC1
So here comes Sitcom Season, and it certainly is a pan-BBC affair with a host of pilots on BBC2 and some interesting archive-based stuff on BBC4, though the most high profile stuff is here on BBC1 with four classics getting exhumed, though they’re slightly different – one’s a remake, one’s a spin-off and two are being sold as straight continuations. This is one of them, albeit with a totally different cast and writers – for obvious reasons – and apparently set in 1988, not an era often mined for comedy. The cast looks fairly decent but as to whether it’ll work or not, we have no idea.
Saturday, 19.10, BBC1
Been a long summer break for Pointless, in terms of new episodes in any case, but with the nights drawing in Richard and Xander are back with new daily episodes from Monday and a new episode of this here, launching the pan-BBC Sitcom Season, of which much more later. Vicki Michelle, who as we know got in the papers after moaning she isn’t in it more, is among the contestants, alongside the likes of Charlie Higson and Pauline McLynn.