“Hey TV Cream,” people ask us. “Where do you get your ideas from?” Actually, no-one’s ever asked us that, because it’s quite clear that any chunks of genuine wit and wisdom with our name attached to them are lifted clean as a whistle from one of two sources: the sainted Clive James on the one hand, and on the other, this marvellous collection of Callaghan-era celebrity profiles.
The commission for this slimline puff piece came from TV Timesland, but the tyro hack landed with the unpromising task of collating details of the great and good was none other than a young Jonathan Meades. As a result, blandness is kept to an acceptable minimum, and the bizarre truth seeps out from under the showbiz formica all over the shop. Where else would you find out about Bob Langley’s ‘King of the Road period, riding the boxcars of mid-west America? Penelope Keith’s dues-paying years playing ‘cockney whores in courtroom dramas’? Or Derek Nimmo’s time as part of a roller-skating dance troupe?
Inside its garish My Lovely Horse jacket lies the entirety of late-’70s showbiz in a 120-page time capsule. Assuming the mantle of deadpan deference, Meades celebrates the strange, subtly skewers the hopeless, and almost single-handedly invents the sort of smart, ironic showbiz journalism that Guardian writers wrongly imagine they’re carrying on to this day. Meades, of course, went on to greater things. We, of course, didn’t. So whenever inspiration flags at TVC Towers, the call goes out for a copy of This Is Their Life, a pair of nail scissors and a tube of Gloy. This site doesn’t write itself, you know.