SCOTTISH COMEDY export leavened with two southerners when transferring from radio to TV. Birthplace of Rab C Nesbitt, the Baldy Man and, er, Siadwell the spotty Welsh teenager. GREGOR FISHER, ANDY GRAY, HELEN LEDERER, TONY ROPER, ELAINE C SMITH and JONATHAN WATSON were your regulars, recurringly augmented with JOHN SPARKES, RON BAIN, KATE DONNELLY and LOUISE BEATTIE.
OH DEAR. Blatant porn dressed up as mystical quackery, shoved out by Channel 4 when Jeremy Isaacs wasn’t looking (and he complains about the channel being full of filth today). Appallingly filmed, with scratchy 16mm reels of Californian babbling from an aurally bearded man accompanying various failed flower children “losing their inhibitions”, i.e. their clothes, on a beach to various dribbly sub-Krishnarite musical backings. The only thing “uplifting” about it was the speed it up-lifted you out of your chair to change the channel.
TV CREAM SAYS: THE WAY TO THE SOUL IS THROUGH THE ARSE
BLESSED WITH THE MOST exciting opening title sequence in history, with flashing lights, blaring music and over a minute of non-stop applause, this was great fun. Two members of the public, “selected in advance for their knowledge of popular music” and everything, would be challenged by TOM O’CONNOR to identify songs performed by THE ALAN BRADEN ORCHESTRA, the lovely MAGGIE MOONE and Eurovision flops SHEEBA. The bit everyone remembers was the opening round where the amount of cash to be won was determined by a spinning wheel, making a somewhat unsettling nee-naw noise, with another wheel spinning around it to decide if it would be doubled (“Double, double!”). Later came the “I’ll name that tune in four… three… two!” business, although this was often less thrilling as the contestants would normally already have worked out the answer from Tom’s clues. Eventually the winner would be holed up in a soundproof booth and have to identify a tune played by a pianist off some sheet music with the title covered up with masking tape. The usual tellies, fitted kitchens and Mini Metros were on offer. Originally played as part of variety miscellany WEDNESDAY AT EIGHT, its host came with it when it span off into a show in its own right, but when he left for the Beeb, LIONEL BLAIR took over and it was never quite the same. But it was still better than the JOOLS HOLLAND-fronted revival on Channel Five in 1997, which nobody liked and ended up in the middle of the night.
TV CREAM SAYS: TOM WAS SO MULTI-TALENTED HE WAS INTRODUCED AS "YOUR HOST AND COMPERE", WHATEVER THE DIFFERENCE IS
WISELY BINNING off any lingering trace of CARLA “COW GRIEF” LANE, here was WENDY “RIA” CRAIG devoting herself to the titular vocation in “war-torn” London, trundled out in the mum-friendly DUKE STREET/SECRET ARMY slot. Much evacuations, emotional farewells and tear-jerking “tell Daddy you love him” moments ensued, as did nasty sepia art deco pram-centric titles. No children were dropped in the making of this series.
TV CREAM SAYS: IDEA WAS SUBMITTED TO THE BEEB BY CRAIG UNDER HER PERENNIAL PEN-NAME, ER, JOHNNY MARR
FORMED IN 1936 as a propaganda maker, the NFBC has carried on providing state-subsidised films in Canada (both short and feature length) at the rate of hundreds every year, but it’s best known over here thanks to the ones the hard-up Beeb imported for afternoon and evening viewing in the 70s and 80s:
TWO BAGATELLES and NEIGHBOURS (1953) – Two short Norman McLaren films in which animation technique is employed with live actors. In the first, entitled ‘On the Lawn’, a male dancer waltzes to synthetic music. The second is a fast march, ‘In the Backyard’, accompanied by an old-fashioned calliope. ‘Neighbours’ was an anti-war piece originally produced for the United Nations, with two suburban types in an escalating battle over a flower between their two yards; by the end of the film they’ve turned to monsters, destroyed their homes, killed each other and (in a scene cut from the television and schoolroom showings) murdered each other’s wife and kiddies. The flower, naturally, survives.
PAS DE DEUX (1968) – McClaren again, this time multiple-exposing ballet dancers in an oft-imitated tour de force.
COSMIC ZOOM (1968) – Top class rowing-boat magnification antics.
SPHERES (1969) – A play on motion, against a background of multi-hued sky, by McLaren and René Jodoin. Spheres of translucent pearl seem to float weightlessly in the unlimited panorama of the sky, grouping, regrouping, at times colliding like some stylized burst of an atomic chain reaction. This airy dance is set to the musical cadences of Bach, played by pianist Glenn Gould.
THE OWL WHO MARRIED A GOOSE (1974) – Inuit story of avial crossbreeding told in the original language.
MINDSCAPE (1976) – A particularly creative example of the pinscreen animation technique (i.e. pictures made up of thousands of different-length pins in a mind-bogglingly painstaking process), this film is about an artist who steps inside his painting and wanders about in a landscape peopled with symbols that trigger unexpected associations. Escher-type oddness.
THE SAND CASTLE (1977) – Funny man-thing comes out of the sand and builds weird three-legged snake things, which then build a big house out of sand before being blown away by the wind.
BLOWHARD (1978) – Animated tale of J.B. Edwards, an easterner who went west to create a fuel company called Consolidated Dragons. The company’s profits were sorely affected when the supply of dragons started to dry up. A solution had to be found – and was.
CANINABIS (1979) – Story of a Muttley-like drug squad pooch whose hash habit lands him in hot water. Pro or anti? No idea.
S.P.L.A.S.H. (1980) – Army of water droplets go through the cycle from cloud to river to penis. Stood for Sea, Pond, Lake and Stream Headquarters.
THE SWEATER (1980) – An animated version of a short story by Québec author Roch Carrier about a boy hankering after ice hockey players and a Maple Leaf “swetcher”.
THE BIG SNIT (1985) – Famous weirdo apocalyptic cartoon with much Scrabble playing, tooth rattling, eye-shaking fun. And Sawing For Teens.
THE CAT CAME BACK (1989) – Infamous scratchy cartoon (identical animation style to ‘Snit), concerning a hapless bloke’s various doomed attempts to execute, mangle, or otherwise dispose of an unwanted, furniture-ruining cat. Jaunty, perhaps-too-catchy song underpinned the action.
You might also want to see... Cosmic Zoom/Powers of Ten.
TV CREAM SAYS: SINCE WHICH, ALL WE'VE HAD IS DUE SOUTH
SCHOOLS’ GEOGRAPHY show. Explanation of maps, contours, Motte and Bailey castles and the like, blessed with opening titles depicting vertiginous pull-out from girl skipping to entire earth, accompanied by Radiophonic freakout on the “Boys and Girls come out to play” tune plus electronics and that TARDIS scraping noise.
TV CREAM SAYS: DISTURBING
GRANADA’S BIGGEST-SELLING situation comedy. Eli Pledge (JIMMY JEWELL) and Nellie Pledge (HYLDA BAKER) are feuding siblings who have inherited a pickle factory and a workforce which appears to have escaped from a genetic experiment: all old, bent, shortsighted, deformed, scruffy and looking like pre-1914 factory fodder. Nellie was all malapropisms, methodist propiety and teetotal. Eli was all beer, fags, gambling and improbably copping off with girls a quarter of his age. Lancashire setting milked for all it was worth, with the house they lived in looked, to the teak-veneer-contiboard-and-G-Plan 1970s, old and Victorian and dark and damp and smelly. Nellie’s catchphrases: “big girl’s blouse”, “Defective Inspector”, “he knows, you know” “it’s quarter-past – oh I must get a little hand put on this watch” and the eternal “Have you been, Walter?” (to doddering octogenarian husband of Madge Hindle, aka Alf Roberts’ wife-before-last in Corrie). Eli’s catchphrase was “You knock-kneed knackered old nosebag”.
You might also want to see... Not On Your Nellie!.
TV CREAM SAYS: TWO SPIN-OFFS: THE OBLIGATORY FILM PLUS - EEK! - A STAGE SHOW AT
THE GRAND THEATRE IN BLACKPOOL
EVERYBODY NEEDS good ones. It helps to make the perfect blend. And just a friendly wave each morning, or in our case each lunchtime and teatime, can turn them from mere NEIGHBOURS into, ahem, good friends.
The whole world knows about who used to be in this show, so instead here are ten choice historic Ramsay Street escapades:
1) DR CLIVE GIBBONS PERFORMS A TRACHEOTOMY
It was the Montague and Capulet romantic sparring betwixt Scott Robinson and “Lenny” Ramsay that, according to received wisdom, propelled Neighbours into the hearts of a nation’s teens and caused Alison Grade to miss double biology. But this unforgivable piece of Stalinist revisionism shamefully erases the unparalleled contribution of Dr Clive Gibbons. Thanks to his freewheeling attitude and Simon Parkin hair, it was Clive who the kids tuned into see, long before Scott fretted about flunking his HSC. He called his car Bertha. He raised the ire of Max Ramsay with his zany gorillagram agency (although practically everything somehow aggravated Max, whose contract specified he had to storm around in a vest at least once in every episode). He organised a pancake contest at the coffee shop. And he joined forces with Max’s son Shane to form RAGGS – the Ramsay And Gibbons Gardening Service. They didn’t just fling these scripts together, you know. But Clive’s finest 25 minutes arrived when Lucy got stung by a wasp and couldn’t breathe. Armed with just a ballpoint pen, Clive performed an emergency tracheotomy on the Robinson kitchen table to save her life. Don’t hold it against him.
2) LUCY ROBINSON FALLS DOWN A DRAIN
The original Kylie Flinker issue Lucy clearly endured numerous scrapes in the early days, not least when she plunged down a sewer in pursuit of her missing terrier Basil. Robinson Jnr remained trapped in this chasm for days, the outside world oblivious to her adenoidal pleas for help. Eventually freed, Lucy nevertheless temporarily lost her sight as a result of her subterranean ordeal. However, once it returned, Lucy duplicitously pretended to be still blind, as a ruse to distract father Jim from a blossoming relationship with one of his many “lady friends”. Lucy’s comeuppance came when the unfortunate Basil later drowned at the beach, despite Mike’s best efforts to rescue him. Lucy was later packed off on some kind of finishing school grand tour of Europe while the character was being recast, an event that provided plentiful ammunition for the likes of Tina Baker and Alison Graham to make endless remarks about “but why hasn’t anyone noticed her face has changed?”
3) DAPHNE CLARKE BREATHES HER LAST
First spied cavorting in her scanties as a stripper at a Ramsay Street “bucks party”, Daphne Lawrence soon became a reformed character and flitted between the duelling lotharios, Des and Shane. Ensnaring the affable bank manager with her patented recipe for lemon chicken, she agreed to marry Des, only for their nuptials to be halted as a bank robber hijacked her car. Fortunately, the couple did belatedly make it down the aisle, only for Des to strain his back carrying her over the threshold. She ran the coffee shop at Lassiter’s, became a mother figure to brooding leather-jacketed pin-up Mike and even befriended Des’s scatterbrained mother and all-time greatest Neighbours character Eileen Clarke. But the tao of Grundy ensures that no character can be afforded prolonged happiness before the melodramatic incidental music kicks in sooner or later. Left in a coma after a car crash, Daphne opened her eyes one final time to utter a final “I love you, Clarkey” to Des, before suffering a cardiac arrest and dying. The nation wept over its Crispy Pancakes.
4) JANE HARRIS TAKES OFF HER GLASSES
One of the great legends of celluloid states that there are only seven stories, told and retold through the generations. Nobody’s quite sure what the other six are, but we do know that one of them involves a plain, bespectacled, bookish female removing her spectacles to be transformed, swan-like, into a ravishing beauty. Right from the moment Plain Jane Superbrain moved into Ramsay Street to lodge with interfering nan Mrs Mangel, we could see that at some point this plain, bespectacled, bookish figure would, at some point, be removing her spectacles and, well, you get the picture. So it transpired that, with her heart set on a tryst with “spunk” Mike at the annual Erinsborough High shindig, the neighbourhood “dag” underwent a makeover at the deft hands of Daphne and Helen and, yes, took off her glasses. From that moment there was no stopping Jane, as the blonde temptress embarked on a career with the Daniels Corporation and even had a brief fling with Scott, the minx. The quiet ones are always the worst.
5) HENRY RAMSAY FALLS IN THE SWIMMING POOL
Every Neighbours obsessive knows that the show began on Channel Seven in Australia before being axed, only to be audaciously revived by the Ten network a few months later, prompting a whole new set of opening titles. The original sequence had been a primitive reel of footage featuring Max looking over his fence and Paul Robinson dressed as a baby. The new era brought a complete overhaul, each episode now heralded by a whimsical tableau involving a Robinson family cricket match that ended in Paul hitting the ball through Madge’s window. Now, as characters came and went, they re-edited the titles to keep pace with the cast, even Bouncer getting in on the act eventually. But the best was yet to come when the cricket was replaced by a poolside Ramsay Street barbecue. Scott and Charlene now hurled a beach ball at shaggy loafer and resident comic foil Henry Ramsay, who promptly fell backwards into the pool. The combination of Andy Crane’s teatime introductions (“Now it’s time to meet those antipodean… Neeeeeigh-bours!”) and this iconic image came to somehow represent imperial phase Neighbours. It even survived the departures of Minogue and Donovan, the beach ball lobbing duties now falling to Bronwyn and the annoying Sharon. But shamefully, when Craig McLachlan jumped ship for Summer Bay, they kept the falling in the pool bit, but now with Matt Robinson. Things, it was clear, would never be the same again.
6) PAUL ROBINSON MARRIES GAIL TO IMPRESS MR UDAGAWA
The hub of the Erinsborough business community was the shadowy Daniels Corporation, a blue-chip international conglomerate boasting financial interests in Hong Kong, New York and a small-scale chauffeur operation, operating from a cramped office in a suburb of Melbourne. Led by the thrusting, unscrupulous, double-dealing tycoon Paul Robinson, it had frequent dealings with mysterious Japanese businessman Mr Udagawa. They used to go on about him a lot. It seemed that, with a crucial deal hanging in the balance, Mr Udagawa prized family values and favoured doing business with married men. Enter Gail Lewis, secretary and old flame of Paul, who married him in a shock ceremony that amazed their unsuspecting friends and family, not least Gail’s dad Rob Lewis, Erinsborough’s leading jalopy-racing mechanic. Impressed by Paul and Gail’s charade, Mr Udagawa signed on the dotted line and inevitably Paul and Gail’s marriage of convenience became the real thing. Perhaps the couple’s finest moment came during the cast’s ensemble performance at the 1988 ROYAL VARIETY SHOW, where Paul greeted Gail’s entrance with the immortal line, “I didn’t hear a Gail warning!” Oh, and Fiona Corke’s wardrobe was by Kamizole. That’s very important, that.
7) THE FAMILIES FEUD OVER THE STREET’S NAME
The eternal jousting between the ancestral houses of Robinson and Ramsay fuelled plenty of storylines in the early years of Neighbours, the infuriatingly righteous Jim Robinson clashing frequently with the laidback Max Ramsay and his clan. The feud ignited once more when Scott discovered that it wasn’t Erinsborough pioneer “Black” Jack Ramsay after whom the street should have been named, but Jim’s grandfather, who had been cheated out of the honour in a card game. Todd and Katie escalated the hostilities by changing the street sign to Robinson Street. Scott and Henry resolved to settle the dispute in another game of cards, Henry upholding the Ramsay family’s honour by winning, thanks mainly to Charlene fiddling the cards.
8) MRS MANGEL MURDERS LEN
Mrs Mangel’s husband Len was one of the great unseen characters of soap, until Neighbours ruined everything and he turned up during the nineties. But on one occasion, a bizarre chain of events led to the Erinsborough super snoop mistakenly believing that he had died, resulting in her attempting to commune with him via a rosebush, as a rumour swept Ramsay Street that she had killed him. Mrs Mangel had fallen off a ladder and lost her memory, forgetting that she had been divorced from Len. Jane tried to avoid upsetting her nan and told her he had gone away on business, but things got out of hand when Mrs Mangel noticed all of Len’s clothes had gone and insisted he must have died. Meanwhile, Bouncer had unearthed a bone at Lassiters, prompting the residents to suspect her of murder. Mrs Mangel then said she had to see Len’s grave, so Jane continued to play along and told her that he’d been cremated and his ashes scattered under the rosebush in the garden. Inevitably, Mrs Mangel started chatting to the plant, to the bemusement of her suspicious neighbours.
9) BOUNCER HAS A DREAM
Neighbours has a rich tradition of dream sequences. The first was the surreal Christmas fantasy that Clive envisaged after he was accidentally knocked unconscious while refereeing a boxing match between Mike and Shane, in which Charlene became some kind of clockwork doll, Paul was an evil moustache-twirling baddie and Mike and Shane became Tweedledum and Tweedledee, while Clive himself was Santa Claus. But nothing before or since could quite match the genius of the episode when the screen gradually dissolved into Bouncer’s dream, in which Ramsay Street’s super intelligent mascot hound imagined himself in a bow-tie marrying Rosie, the dog owned by Dorothy Burke’s alcoholic father, before the happy couple were depicted in a kennel surrounded by lots of little Bouncers.
10) CHRIS LOWE ASKS FOR DIRECTIONS
The tradition of pop star cameos in soaps is not a glorious one. Robbie Williams in EASTENDERS. Noddy Holder in CORONATION STREET. It’s a story littered with embarrassment and discomfort for everyone involved. The omens then were not auspicious when Sir Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys agreed to appear in Neighbours in 1995. Essaying the natural brand of acting he’d exhibited in It Couldn’t Happen Here, Chris screeched into Ramsay Street in a white Porsche convertible, perhaps in homage to the BBC video for I Should Be So Lucky he’d enthusiastically endorsed years before. “I’m a little lost,” he informed Helen Daniels and Marlene Kratz, “I’m looking for a recording studio which is round here somewhere.” Exactly why Neil hadn’t told him where it was isn’t clear, but Marlene soon put him right, not before Helen had perceptively deduced he was from England and in a band. “Yeah, the Pet Shop Boys.” “I’m sure you’re destined for big things one of these days,” replied Marlene. Chris drove off in search of the studio, as Annalise scampered into the street to discover the identity of their star visitor. “Some band from England, er, the Pet People,” replied Marlene, obeying the law of soap which decrees that anyone over the age of about 30 must be totally confused by pop culture to “humorous” effect.
TV CREAM SAYS: INCIDENTAL MUSIC SUPPLIED BY MUSHROOM RECORDS
HYSTERICAL HARBINGER of that STREET-PORTER-led microphenomenon that was “yoof TV”. Programme was thought up on the hoof by Janet and Jane Hewland on the way to Channel 4. It showed. Each “episode” hailed from a shitty Docklands warehouse, wherein dwelt walking and occasionally-talking beings looking like front covers of The Face whose job was to introduce factunaimnent. Because entertainment = news and news = entertainment, don’t you know. Head boy was MURRAY BOLAND, head girl was dead-looking atrophied-eyed know-nothing deb MAGENTA DEVINE. Others, such as SANKHA GUHA, JASWINDER BANCIL and SEBASTIAN SCOTT, wore giant suits and dwelt in caravans. No beards, white coats or green allowed. Swoopy cameras piled around the premises, while endless pointless captions (“Temperature in studio – 32°”) flashed pointlessly. Reports covered yoof crime, yoof racism, yoof bands, yoof drugs and, most famously, yoof cash machine diddling. Whole thing went out – implausibly – on Sunday lunchtimes, ensuring maximum outrage and minimum viewers. But it ushered into living rooms a genuine new TV “genre”, albeit one that dated before it was even aired, and hence from here onwards flowed CLUB X, THE WORD and DEF II.
TV CREAM SAYS: "TELEVISION!" FUCK OFF.
PRE-CAMBRIAN SITCOMMERY involving a now virtually extinct “sit”: a tailoring partnership. Loads of etho-jokes thanks to the coatmaker being Irishman Paddy Kelly (JOE LYNCH) and the trousermaker being Jewish Manny Cohen (JOHN BLUTHAL). Most memorable aspect about it was the theme tune, as subtle as the gags which ensued: a Yiddish violin melody played over tin whistle Irish jig.
TV CREAM SAYS: "OI'M A MICK AND YOU'RE A YID"
UP IN the first 11 of ITV’s all-time ITV-esque sitcoms. For which read: 1) two studio sets 2) two squabbling protagonists 3) interfering relatives 4) one-upmanship 5) it ran for bloody ages 6) every episode had the same plot and 7) it had a fantastic parping theme tune. WINDSOR DAVIES (Oliver Smallbridge) and DONALD SINDEN (Simon Peel) were your maestros of mithering, jousting for business as next-door neighbour antique salesman and raging lotharios. Both are divorced/widowed; both have one offspring who, inevitably (in the very first episode!) fall in love and want to get married. But east is east and west is west and there are 67 episodes to be eeked out of the same premise, hence the roaring, blasted red faces and all round mayhem – with priceless heirlooms thrown in for good measure – had to go on. And probably would have gone on forever had Thames not lost its licence. Oh, and HONOR BLACKMAN was the posh bit of stuff both our heroes oogled when not oogling Queen Anne’s drawers.
You might also want to see... Bagpuss.
TV CREAM SAYS: "MMMMMMMARRRRGGGHHHHHHH!"
DEFINITIVE GLAM movie, miles better than Slade In Flame AND Stardust. Fact. The idiot premise had ex-Double Decker PETER “DOMINIC HYDE” FIRTH trawling the country (well, the Midlands) in a “group detector van” gathering bands for a concert. Van driven by cumudgeonly old “Mr. Rockbottom” who hated “rock” and preferred Silver Bands, the old square! Bands located included The Rubettes performing “Sugar Baby Love” on the back of a trailer, and Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band. Teriffic! Finale was the classic “Bless My Soul, It’s Rock ‘N’ Roll.” They don’t make them.
TV CREAM SAYS: HIGHLIGHT WAS A CUSTARD PIE FIGHT IN A LITTLE CHEF: GRITTY SOCIAL COMMENT.
ASIDE FROM that misleading moniker (in what ways were they New?), this was faultless frippery for long summer holidays off school, as endless as the river upon which Huck and pals went about their robbin’ and gallivantin’. Majored in lazy, steamboat-driven nostalgia, knickerbocker and waiscoat pranks, and general old timey boyhood shenanigans (the word is, for once, appropriate). This was the all-live action version, not the ’60s Hanna-Barbera special with cartoon backgrounds superimposed when the boys go through a cave into a standard “magical fantasy land etc.” Tall tales of note included Tom’s fence-painting con-trick and the ‘collect tokens and win a Bible’ debacle. “Come back with them eggs, ya thievin’ varmints!” Theme tune was the dreamiest bit of lolloping Americana ever.
TV CREAM SAYS: "TRY LOOKING BACK/ON DAYS THAT WERE SLOWER..."
“OOH, IT’S nothing like Amis”, quoth purists of this CLEMENT-LA FRENAIS update of the Kingsleyan rambunctions, moved this time to “Swinging London” (original ’60s version). KEITH “AMY!!!” BARRON was the fortunate fucker.
TV CREAM SAYS: FURTHER ADVENTURES CAME IN 1982, AGAIN BY C-LA F, WITH ENN "MOG" REITEL AND GLYNIS "MAKEPEACE" BARBER
YOU DON’T mess with a hit, runs the old showbiz lore. Apart, that is, from when your lead actor is clearly past it, you think kung fu is the latest “with it” thing, and you run out of money half way through and have to move to Canada. There are redeeming elements to The New Avengers, but few of them have much to do with THE AVENGERS and none of them are New. JOANNA LUMLEY did a decent Diana Rigg turn. PATRICK MACNEE could at least drop the pretence it was him doing all the fight scenes. There are some nice shots of Britain in the midst of its “prices”-obsessed orange-and-brown-hued hinterland. GARETH HUNT, though, was and is beyond parody. Ditto those dastardly athletes who could deflect bullets with a twitch of their pectorals. Nifty lion-meets-Union-Jack logo, though.
TV CREAM SAYS: "IT'S HIDEOUS! IT'S OBSCENE!"
SHODDINESS INCARNATE made bearable by the gantry of gripe that was the “celebrity panel”, dispatching pith and petulance in short order courtesy from the likes of TONY HATCH, TED RAY, ED STEWART, MICKIE MOST and NOEL EDMONDS. Winners who managed to notch up those all important Presentation, Content and Star Quality points included VICTORIA WOOD, LENNY HENRY, GARY WILMOT and… others. DEREK “THAT’S MY DOG” HOBSON shovelled the fledglings off for the adverts. Revived in mid-80s with MARTI CAINE as ringmistress and NINA MYSKOW barking from the gallery.
Here’s a selection of those wonderful act names:
Fair Cop, a Peterlee folk group
Bollards, a Bristol comedy trio
Monopoly, a five-piece group from North London.
Hooker, a four-piece group from Birmingham
Shaneda, a four piece group from Bodmin
Harmony and Slyde, a vocal/instrumental duo from Exeter
Curley, a sIx-piece group from Markfield, Leicester
Piggleswick, a four-piece group from Oxon
Brother Kip, a seven-piece soul group from Letchworth, Herts
Distinction, four girl singers from Merseyside
Mardi-Gras, a five-piece group from Hessle, near Hull
Why Not, four-piece group from Stoke-on-Trent
Teapot Brown, a five-piece group from London
Soul Direction, a five-piece group from Birmingham
Railout, a six-piece group from Dudley, West Midlands
Peter Collins and Style, a four-piece group from Norwich
Heritage, a five-piece group from Grays, Essex
TV CREAM SAYS: "HE JUST AIN'T GOT NO TOIMIN' SEE?"
SATURDAY TEATIME American bollocks milking the old castaways-as-microcosm-of-humanity cliche. Shipful of college kids marooned on unused nuclear test island after a plane crash, conveniently fitted with buildings, cars and the streets peopled with dummies. No proper grown-ups (crew etc.) from the ship for some contrived reason, and no amount of love beads, flared loons and long hair could stop them repeating the errors of the outside world, including memorable hot-rod crash.
TV CREAM SAYS: BRINY
GROTESQUE GALUMPHING cartoonery about a sub-SCOOBY DOO gang of kids (with a fat, Hawaiian-shirted git – see PLASTIC MAN – in the comedy Shaggy role) and a white shapeshifting blob who could turn itself into various useful shapes, e.g. key, rope, ink blotter. The “new” appellation was apparently to distinguish said amorphous critter from Al Capp’s ‘Lil’ Abner’, long-running American newspaper comic which mocked Arkansas and its ways via a cast of characters including the Schmoo: an animal so cute, so obliging (it would turn itself into a steak if you confessed to being hungry) and downright good that it was rendered extinct by humanity. Not that anyone on this side of the Atlantic was any the wiser, but at least Will and Joe were being particular. Particularly irksome, that is.
TV CREAM SAYS: "IT'S THE NEW SCHMOOOOOOO/THEEEE - INCREDIBLE NEW SCHMOO!" BAWLED THAT OBLIGATORY CLOSE-HARMONY "CHOIR"
RIK “I WAS PAUL SQUIRES!” MAYALL ruled the late-Sunday, pre-Bragg ITV slot in this harsh, tasteless and often fantastic politicom as Alan B’Stard, a Conservative MP who was a crook, an extremist, a liar, a shit, a scumbag, an adulterer and a sadist all rolled into one. MICHAEL “MELLISH” TROUGHTON was his feeble, in-the-womb sidekick/punchbag Piers Fletcher-Dervish, and real life toff MARSHA FITZALAN played the equally vile ‘wronged’ wife, who spent the money and shagged about rather a lot too. Terrific, brutal Commons lobby and office scenes often resulted in blackmail (“Chief Whip, you’ve just made a terrible mistake!”) or violence (“hand in the drawer, Piers!”), while ripping heads off teddy bears; hanging babies out of eighteenth floor windows; kicking over one-legged Falklands veterans and bringing back hanging in public (featuring DICKIE “JIGSAW” DAVIES as the anchorman of the TV coverage) were all brazenly present and incorrect. Inevitable STEVE NALLON cameos as Maggie when required, with other real Tories (Archer, Parkinson, Tebbit) all getting mentioned in unflattering context. Ace chest-beating patriot’s theme courtesy of ALAN “COUNTDOWN” HAWKSHAW, with Mayall surrounded by union flags.