OMNIPOTENT CHILDREN’S odds-and-sods odyssey delivered by three-quarters avuncular quartet of friendly faces, in a split-level-desks-and-shelves-of-stuff format which survived two generations largely unchanged. “The home encyclopaedia delivered to your fireside”, they said. They also said: “Facts become fun as the team lark their way through another fascinating show.” Or better yet: “Facts, fun and mystery in television’s fastest free-for-all of fact!” And fact you certainly got; the sheer conviction with which the original delivered its often charismatically dull factoids (HOW d’ya get a ship in a bottle? HOW d’ya balance an egg on the rim of a milkbottle with only a cork, four forks, twelve feet of cotton and a tampon? etc.) and the sweltering AmerIndian theme plus unseen chief “How” “How!” marked this out for greatness. Participants started off as: FRED “GAMBIT” DINENAGE, of course – the eager but slightly goofy manchild of the bunch; JACK “GNOMIC” HARGREAVES – knowledgable but cosy ruralist pipe man; JON MILLER – science a speciality; and BUNTY JAMES – a lady, therefore craft and cookery were on the cards, plus the token non-stereotypical How for balance. Bunty was replaced by JILL GRAHAM (who was “a player with the Salisbury repertory theatre”) in ’69, and JIM KELWAY and hapless DIY expert BARRY BUCKNELL even did the odd stint replacing Hargreaves. Come 1970, and Bunty was welcomed back into the fold, cementing the “golden age” line-up that would be most strongly identified with the programme. In ’77 MARIAN DAVIES replaced her, for such delights as “How can Fred get rid of his warts? Ideas from Jon, Jack and Marian don’t help – until Fred finds a magical cure.” Behind-the-scenes fact: the final series was produced by NIGEL PICKARD. Later revived by TVS, then Meridian, then Scottish, with the likes of CAROL VORDERMAN and GAZ TOP playing jesters to the court of the evermore regal Fred.
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Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Not been much of interest on Challenge in recent months, as lots of the really old shows seem to have been dropped and they don’t seem particularly interested in buying any more, which is entirely their fault for buying the wrong ones in the first place. We want the Generation Game, not 3-2-1! One old show that does continue apace is Bullseye, however, because it’s such a hit with all the hipsters, and here’s a rare original commission for this channel – and repeated on its sister channel – which pays tribute to this rather bizarre series and the cult that surrounds it. It definitely isn’t coming back, though.
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Points of View
- In 'Horses Galore', Droogie says: "I remember Susan King well. As a kid I had a horse-obsessed cousin called Joanne, and always had to sit through this show if it was on whenever I was..."
- In 'Victor Lewis-Smith', THX 1139 says: "The editing on these shows was quite brilliant, maybe the best thing about it because though it was very funny in places, you couldn’t..."
- In 'Picture Box', Graham Pearson says: "Picture Box was the most memorable ITV schools programme particularly at the time Alan Rothwell presented. He became available for presenting..."
- In 'Wattoo Wattoo: Superbird', Applemask says: "Who’s she marrying? Haven’t you heard?"
- In 'Naked Video', David Smith says: "The end credits for the latter series replaced the roaring Thatcher with John Major as a buck toothed mouse, I recall…"