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.
Top of the Pops
Friday, 19.30, 00.00, BBC4
We know he’s bloody useless at it, but actually quite a lot of the shows from 1982 we’re looking forward to seeing are presented by Simon Bates. It’s not for him, obviously, but he just happened to be hosting episodes featuring cracking line-ups or hugely memorable performances. His first edition of the year isn’t perhaps one of them, especially as a number of performances you’ll already have seen on the clip show, though that does emphasise there are lots of famous songs about.
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 01.00, BBC4
Some great stuff under this banner in recent weeks, we’re sure you’ll agree the Christmas Eve show was an absolute spectacular, with Zoo dancing to Yellow Pearl on the two-tier stage surely the enduring image of eighties Pops. We also love the idea of all the family together on Christmas Eve being confronted by the brilliantly bizarre Ant Rap. Some fantastic clips in the documentary as well, while the clip show illustrated some fine fare we’ve got coming up. Sadly we’ve already skipped our first episode of the year so there’s a lot of familiar tracks here, but on the plus side Kid’s in charge again and there’s also the ever welcome sight of XTC.
The South Bank Show
Wednesday, 20.00, Sky Arts
Lots of Sky Arts and Radio 3 in Creamguide this week, but all the shows we’re highlighting are suitably lowbrow, we’re sure you’ll agree. And we’ll probably be watching football instead of them as well, to be honest. In any case, in this programme Melvyn meets Russell T Davies, who’s always a hugely engaging and entertaining interviewee. We always love hearing about his early career, not least because we used to be very fond of kids shows from BBC North West, though he’s equally good value discussing his current stuff, not least because he’s always candid and is perfectly happy to talk about his flops as well as his hits.
Tuesday, 21.00, Sky Arts
This series began last week but, er, we didn’t notice it. It’s how advances in technology have changed music, as the producer’s role developed from just moving people closer and further away from the microphone to playing a major role in the composition of the song itself. And with Macca contributing and some intriguing Beatles footage promised, they don’t appear to be messing around.
The Earl Grey Whistle Test
Monday, 22.45, BBC Radio 3
Stand to attention, everyone! We’re billing a Radio 3 programme! But don’t worry, because it features eighties pop very prominently. Over the next five nights, we get to enjoy some radio essays from Mark Ellen and David Hepworth, who between them more or less invented the modern era of music journalism, moving away from the earnest nature of the weeklies to the arch irreverence of the monthlies, and certainly for their pivotal role on Smash Hits they have earned our eternal respect. Over the week they’ll talk about journalism, television and the music industry, and we think Mark will be slightly easier on the ear thanks to David’s usual habit on TV shows of shouting all his anecdotes.
Sunday, 18.30, BBC1
Casualty last night, Countryfile this? We know this sounds a bit more like TV Times than Creamguide, but this edition looks particularly intriguing, and not just for Uncle Matt-related reasons. No, it’s because it’s based around that brilliantly Creamy event, the summer of 76! It’s not just an exercise in nostalgia, either, because there’s also a look at how in some ways it changed our environment forever, and a chance to ponder what might happen if we had the same kind of thing again.
Saturday, 21.25, BBC1
Well, bit of an odd way to begin, but we’re including it here, not just because thanks to the football it’s a bit of a quiet week, but because it’s the thousandth edition – and to celebrate we get the triumphant return of Cathy Shipton as Duffy. To be honest, whenever we watch Casualty, like Emmerdale, we always say either “Oh, are they still in it?” or “Oh, are they in it now?”, so maybe you thought Duffy was in it every week, but if you’re a regular viewer we suppose it’s quite big news. However, rather awkwardly, this landmark has been reached right in the middle of the Schedule A and Schedule B business, so it might be tomorrow and many people might miss it completely, so we’re not sure why they didn’t just “accidentally” miscount and say a more conveniently scheduled episode was the thousandth. It’s the thirtieth anniversary in three months anyway, so there’s chance for more celebrations then.
When Ali Came To Britain
Friday, 23.00, ITV
As the obituaries have mentioned, while his home country was often cool towards him, mostly thanks to his views on Vietnam, in Britain Ali was always hugely popular, and he appreciated that as well, coming back as frequently as he could. Often that would be to appear on TV but he also did lots of work to help charities and promote the value of sport, the most famous man in the world thinking nothing of nipping off to a grotty gym or boys’ club to meet his adoring and often unsuspecting public, as this repeat illustrates.
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 02.15, BBC4
Simon Bates plumbing new depths of ineptitude the other week with his reference to “Saturday Swap Shop”. Anyway, on we plough straight into 1982, which we’re really looking forward to because there’s absolutely loads of great records and performances to come over the next twelve (six) months and a wonderful atmosphere in the studio. Maybe not so much on this one, the January lull (and doubtless the awful weather, one of the worst winters ever) meaning not many people can be bothered coming into the studio so it’s mostly videos and repeats. But the most important band in the charts are there, as well as Zoo with a surprising new member which means the first thirty seconds are absolutely hilarious.
The Hand of God – 30 Years On
Wednesday, 22.15, ITV4
If England have gone out of the Euros by the time this show is on it might enjoy a slightly cooler reaction than it could have. We’ve seen so many documentaries about Euro 96 it’ll be quite odd to recall another football tournament, but here’s a look back at Mexico 86. England did OK but haven’t been as celebrated as other successful England outfits, possibly thanks to most of them going on to be appalling managers. From a telly perspective, the tournament itself enjoyed rather ragged coverage, not helped by an earthquake in Mexico that destroyed the media centre and meant in the early days pictures and sound regularly went missing, and the poor direction saw Brian Moore suggest that by the end of it Maradona was probably the only player anyone would recognise, mostly thanks to his antics in this match where he wasn’t distracted by the giant spider hovering over the pitch.
Born on the Same Day
Tuesday, 21.00, Channel 4
This week the series rewinds back to 19th September 1949, a birthday shared by among others Twiggy. Everyone’s forgotten Twiggy’s disastrous spell as host of This Morning in 2001, although for a while there it looked like the show was going to be axed. Nevertheless, given how early in her life she became famous it’s hugely impressive she’s managed to enjoy success in a number of fields to this day. Here she looks back at the twists and turns of her career alongside some people who were elsewhere while London was swinging.
Cunk on Shakespeare
Monday, 22.00, BBC2
Not much on this week other than football and politics, hence the appearance in here of this repeat from the other week, though if you don’t like either, Simon Farquhar has pointed us in the direction of BBC Store’s new Prejudice and Pride collection of programmes, which includes a fascinating selection of Plays for Today and other notable series and one-offs, many of which haven’t ever been available to buy and indeed watch for many years, if ever. In fact there’s loads of other great stuff on BBC Store which is worth a couple of quid, from the bowels of the archive as well as stuff that’s recently been on TV. And yes, you may have already paid your licence fee, but they never used to send you free VHS videos, did they?
Plastic Revolution – 50 Years of the Credit Card
Sunday, 13.30, BBC Radio 4
It’s half a century since the first people in Britain gained a flexible friend, and in the past we always found the likes of Access and Visa impossibly glamorous, and looked forward to the day when we could ask a shop to get out the unwieldy machine that processed the whole business. Of course, these days they’re totally ubiquitous and take seconds to use, which though highly convenient is perhaps a bit of a shame.
The Liver Birds
Saturday, 19.20, BBC2
Sad to hear of the death of Carla Lane recently, as while some of her later work wasn’t very good – and her complaints the BBC wouldn’t let her do what she wanted sounded a bit daft – she was a hugely popular and important writer in the seventies and eighties, doing loads for women in comedy. Creamguide used to love Butterflies when we were young – although we went off it a bit when they stopped the bit of business with the cars in the drive – but her longest-running and most cherished series is probably The Liver Birds, so in tribute it’s an imperial phase Beryl and Sandra episode from 1974 followed by Comedy Connections, which sadly now only appears for obituary purposes, from a while back.
Top of the Pops
Friday, 19.30, 00.00, BBC4
After the excitement of yesterday, sadly we’re not getting Christmas Day for obvious reasons, but it’s all on YouTube and is worth a look because it’s got a fascinating line-up including loads of synthpop and Laurie Anderson. What we do get, though, is the second festive programme, first shown on New Year’s Eve, where Mike Read presents all the number ones of the year. He does this via repeats and videos, and of course in the early screening we won’t even get them all, but it’s an effective whistle-stop tour of an interesting year, and best of all it means another outing for The Giant Simon Bates. But that’s not all the Pops-related excitement tonight! Yes, we plough straight on into a new year and launch it in the traditional manner, although it seems a bit odd not having these on the first Friday of the year. Still, we’re delighted to see it, because everyone knows pop achieved perfection in 1982, it’s a scientific fact! You know how these things work by now, and though we probably won’t get anything as fantastic as 1981’s behind the scenes footage of the title sequence, we’ll doubtless enjoy a host of amusing anecdotes and fascinating clips in the documentary at ten, followed by the usually hugely enjoyable compilation at eleven.
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 01.10, BBC4
So how come Boy George in the audience hasn’t been plundered for thousands of clip shows over the past thirty years, instead remaining unknown until just the other month? But enough of that because we’re absolutely delighted to get this far in the run as we are prepared to suggest it’s possibly the greatest episode of Top of the Pops ever made – even though we never expected to see it at this time of year. Christmas Eve was a Thursday in 1981 and Pops was on such top form at the time it continued as usual, but for the occasion they absolutely threw the kitchen sink at it, broadcasting live and with a ton of neon and streamers, and it’s absolutely the essence of eighties Pops, an absolute spectacular. Add to that Kid Jensen on top form and a chart that includes some of the shiniest, most exciting pop songs of the decade, and it’s the most thrilling forty minutes or so (so get that late one recorded) of music television you’ll ever see. If you only watch one Pops repeat this year, make it this one.