The Rack Pack
Saturday, 21.30, BBC2
A first television outing, after a few months on iPlayer, for this hugely entertaining romp through the golden age of snooker, majoring on the careers of Alex Higgins and Steve Davis. It looks and sounds great, and is possibly the only film ever to soundtrack a character having an emotional breakdown with Snooker Loopy. If it reminds us of anything it’s The Damned United, and it’s all good foul-mouthed fun – and if the snooker overruns and it ends up going out late, you can, er, watch it on iPlayer of course.
Trailblazers of Disco
Friday, 21.00, Sky Arts
With that rather odd Dave Clark Five epic getting another outing on BBC4, we instead alight on Sky Arts who launch this new series, and despite this channel’s usual mid-Atlantic focus it appears to be both new and British, not least as it’s presented by Sir Nodward Holder. Doesn’t seem to be a great deal to it, mind, simply highlighting people and places that played a major role in the history of various genres, which may not offer much you didn’t already know if you’re a fan but could serve as a useful greatest hits package and make for amiable viewing. Probably worth a look in any case.
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 01.15, BBC4
One episode from 1981 we couldn’t see earlier this year wasn’t because of anything to do with its presenter, but because it was broadcast live, for the first time in several years, and the production team were clearly so concerned with just getting on air they forgot to record it properly. We then missed the second live show of the year because of the host, but now finally we get to see Michael Hurll’s latest idea to make the show more of a spectacle, a live broadcast. Of course, that just means live miming, but nevertheless there is certainly more of a manic air to proceedings and the neon and glitter is ramped up another notch, so they’re particularly entertaining. Tonight too we get the debut of the band that surely sum up eighties Top of the Pops in being a bit embarrassing but secretly likeable in the shape of Modern Romance, as well as both Bucks Fizz and Dollar, the latter now with the genius of Trevor Horn on hand.
All Mouth and Trousers
Wednesday, 14.15, BBC Radio 4
Given it broadcasts several hundred dramas a year, you can forgive some Radio 4 plays for having some rather odd premises, but we’re still rather surprised that here we have 45 minutes devoted to the making of All Gas And Gaiters. Indeed writers Pauline Devaney and Edwin Apps even play themselves in it, while John Sessions takes on the role of Frank Muir and Zeb Soames is Derek Nimmo. And we have absolutely no idea why we’re getting it now.
Sid James – Not Just A Dirty Laugh
Tuesday, 06.30, BBC Radio 4 Extra
Apologies for this rather inane point but it seems remarkable that Sid James died in 1976 – before punk rock, before Morecambe and Wise moved to ITV, all that – because it seems like he’s always been with us. Indeed most of the inmates of TVC Towers can’t remember him being alive, Creamguide’s first real introduction to him coming through eighties repeats of Bless This House. Helped he was so prolific when he was alive, we suppose, and to mark forty years to the day he died here’s this repeat which looks at Sid the man, who rather remarkably for the archetypal cheeky Cockney didn’t even live in Britain until he was in his thirties.
Zig and Zag
Monday, 18.00, CBBC
“If you don’t want to be a future to be sloppy, don’t send me a fuzzy photocopy!” Ah, Zig and Zag, for a few years one of the best things on telly, and who achieved the impossible by creating breakfast TV that you’d deliberately wake up for or even set the video, which had surely never happened before. Like much on The Big Breakfast they went off the boil a bit, but we’ve always been fond of them and here they are with a brand new series! Only this time they’re in cartoon form, and rather controversially sporting legs. We’ve had a look at it – because it’s already on iPlayer – and, well, it’s OK as these things go, but Zig just isn’t stupid enough.
Arena: All The World’s A Screen – Shakespeare On Film
Sunday, 21.00, BBC4
It’s all Shakespeare all the time on the Beeb at the moment, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream on CBeebies to, er, A Midsummer Night’s Dream on BBC1, plus a new sitcom by Ben Elton which, shock horror, is apparently quite good. Here’s an hour of Shakespeare on screens both big and small, the more familiar adaptations accompanied by some familiar fare, including prison dramas and spaghetti westerns.
Arnie Schwarzenegger’s 50 Greatest Ever Stunts
Saturday, 20.00, Channel 4
Arnie certainly isn’t the only actor who’s gone into politics later in his career, though we don’t recall many who have managed to resume their acting career after they’ve done it, with Arnie kicking butt on screen as if he’s never been away. Now here he is with this flimsy affair, including not just movie clips but anything at all that’s been committed to film.
Billy Fury – The Sound Of Fury
Friday, 22.00, BBC4
Billy Fury was one of Larry “Parnes, Shillings and Pence” Parnes’ farm of teen idols in the late fifties who were famously worked to the bone and paid a pittance, and was probably the most lusted after and most charismatic of them all. Sadly he suffered from extremely poor health for much of his life so although he tried numerous comebacks over the years they often had to be abandoned and he was only 42 when he died. A rather sad story, then, but with some incredible highs.
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 00.00, BBC4
Seems like ages since the last one, although that illustrates how much we’ve been spoiled this year as we used to have gaps like this all the time. Obviously nothing else this year is going to top the giant Simon Bates clapping along to Shaky to gritted teeth, though being trapped on stage during the Legs routine comes a close second, and both these embarrassing performances helped distract from his endless cock-ups. When the arrow’s pointing up it’s going up, Simes, Tommy Vance explained that last year! Maybe he was thrown by the joint number 27. We’ve skipped another week here so there’s a bit more repetition but we do also get Cliff’s best ever record. And that’s official!
Wednesday, 22.00, Gold
Last of the series, and the one we’ve been waiting for the most, as it’s the story of Cuddly Kenny Everett. Ken was always great value on chat shows, usually managing to derail them completely, though not always on purpose – he was once watching an episode of After Noon Plus at home when he was surprised to be announced as the day’s guest because he’d forgotten he was supposed to be on it, and arrived at the studio ten seconds before the show ended. Alright, so he was often too busy messing about to take anything seriously, so we might not learn much about him from these clips but they’ll all be lovely.
Europe – Them or Us
Tuesday, 21.00, BBC2
Since last week Creamguide has received its leaflet from the government, which we’ll faithfully file alongside their previous communications regarding terrorism and decimalisation. Here’s the second part of Nick Robinson’s primer into our relationship with our allies overseas, speaking to every living Prime Minister along the way.
The Business of Music with Matt Everitt
Monday, 11.00, BBC Radio 4
We all know the record business has changed completely in recent years, although the chart now is probably the most accurate record of what people are actually listing to it’s ever been, and bands are able to enjoy huge success without signing their lives away to massively unfair contracts. Matt Everitt saw plenty of the largesse of the industry when he was in Menswear, and now he’s a very good journalist he’s going to trace the recent history of pop and ponder if the industry could have done things very differently.
Jim Carter – Lonnie Donegan and Me
Sunday, 22.20, ITV
This looks very much like an episode of Perspectives but for some reason or other it’s not going under that banner. Still worth a look, anyway, rather nearly dovetailing with the Beeb’s fifties season. It sounds rather daft now but in the fifties skiffle really was massively influential because it was probably the first form of music that could actually be replicated by kids at home, and Lonnie was very much at the vanguard of it. Jim thought he was great, as too did many of the people suitably inspired by him to form their own bands, hence why he gets to speak to two Beatles.
Working Class Heroes And Poverty Porn
Saturday, 20.00, BBC Radio 4
A couple of bands got together because they thought that music or football were the only possible ways to better themselves, and certainly the working classes have made a major contribution to the arts over the years with many musicians and actors coming from less privileged backgrounds, and posh pop stars like Genesis very much the exception to the rule. A bit different now, and here’s Stuart Maconie to look at what role the working class have to play in entertainment these days, often very much the butt of the joke.
People’s History of Pop
Friday, 21.00, BBC4
No Pops this week, but still something of interest on BBC4, with the start of a new occasional series that looks at the history of pop from the perspective of the people without whom the industry wouldn’t exist – the fans. That means the Great British Public have been rooting through their collections to unearth some treasured items and offering a new perspective on some famous moments. We start here in 1955 as Twiggy meets some of those presence at the dawn of fandom when people stopped just listening to bands and started looking at them as well.
BBC – The Secret Files 2
Thursday, 21.00, BBC4
This was an entertaining – and no doubt extremely cheap – programme last time round, so it was a no-brainer to have another rummage through the Beeb’s written archives and invite Penny Keith to introduce some fascinating letters, memos and contracts revealing behind the scenes wrangling and patronising dismissals of some of our most beloved entertainers. This time round we’ve got Tony Hancock quibbling over the size of his billing in the Radio Times and a new double act called Morecambe and Wise touting for telly work.
Wednesday, 22.00, Gold
Once more when The Graham Norton Show returns for a new series we ask yet again why Brucie has never been on it, and demand he does, because he’d have a great time and we’d love to see him baffle a Hollywood star who’s never heard of him. Here he is stealing the show on various other programmes and while we’ve all heard the stories umpteen times before, he delivers them so wonderfully.
Europe – Them Or Us
Tuesday, 21.00, BBC2
We enjoyed Callaghan Night, especially the edition of Tonight clearly taken from a domestic recording, not just because it was an interesting moment in politics but because it was a rare chance to see John Timpson, the hugely respected radio broadcaster, during his brief and unhappy spell as a television presenter. The next few months are great fun for everyone who loves voting, what with local elections, assembly elections and mayoral elections, leading up to the referendum in June. The build-up’s already started but while we’ve still got time to make our mind up, here’s Nick Robinson with a leisurely look at our relationship with the rest of the continent over the years, tonight harking back to the days of the Common Market and the last time we were invited to give our twopenn’orth on it forty years ago. “Europe is fun! More work – but more play too!”
Sounds of the 50s
Monday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2
Of course there used to be a Sounds of the 50s on Radio 2 in the early nineties, at 8am on Saturdays followed by Sounds of the 60s at nine, before Our Old Mate Brian Matthew expanded to fill the whole two hours, at which point it shuffled around the schedules a bit and was then axed. It’s back now, and indeed started last week but we didn’t have an awkward gap to fill last week. It’s also worth mentioning here because on Thursday we’ve got Radio 2 50s popping up on DAB for a few days as part of the Beeb’s fifties season.