Scene: a Stanley Baxter ITV Christmas special in the mid 1980s. The expensive film parody is The Jewel in the Crown. Posh Old Empire Duffer (Stanley Baxter) confronts an Indian mystic (Stanley Baxter, plus dubbin). “I say, what’s your name?” “Please sir, my name is Page!” “Page? Odd name for a soothsayer, what?” “Oh, yes. I am Page the Oracle!” That’s how far the advertising slogan of ITV’s Ceefax-beating text service had penetrated popular consciousness. Paging the Oracle (the name supposedly stood for Optional Reception of Announcements by Coded Line Electronics, but if that’s not a classic case of retro-fitting words into a nice-sounding acronym we don’t know what is) brought you the wonders of magazine show Live at Five, teen section Buzz (featuring Debbie’s Diary!) and the semi-legendary endless text soap opera Park Avenue. Oh, and endless flashing double-height captions urging you to book a Thomas Cook holiday while places last. Until, that is, it was canned at the end of 1992 to make way for the imaginatively titled ITV Teletext.
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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.
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Points of View
- In 'Duncan Dares', Richard16378 says: "Peter tried driving a modified VW Beetle at sea (can’t remember if it was the Channel or the Irish Sea) but it sunk on the way."
- In 'Duncan Dares', Marc Ricketts says: "I remember Duncan dares. Whats this bit he drives a car at sea. And it didin,t work out?"
- In 'Butterflies', Glenn A says: "The Liver Birds had reached its natural conclusion by 1978, so the BBC wanted a successor from Carla Lane. Butterflies was actually quite good in a..."
- In 'Telebugs, The', Applemask says: "I am still waiting for the opportunity to unveil my modern-day re-imagining of these guys."
- In 'Open University', Richard16378 says: "With an interesting combination of “Very British” things the OU jingle can be heard in the Wallace & Grommet film The Wrong..."