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
The Mercury Prize has flitted between the Beeb and C4 in recent years, but it’s back on the Beeb now and this year’s result will be revealed live tonight. What we especially like about the prize is obviously that it’s still named after the defunct company that originally sponsored it, and we even wonder how many younger viewers even realise that it even was a sponsor and not just a fancy name, a bit like the Britannia Stadium and the Liberty Stadium. Anyway, after it’s announced we’ll be able to enjoy some previous winners, and decide whether it’s a great honour or a poisoned chalice.
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Points of View
- In 'Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings', THX 1139 says: "When I was very little I was enchanted by this programme’s catchy theme tune, and would consider it a “life..."
- In 'Indoor League', THX 1139 says: "In most episodes you’d be lucky to see who won the matches, so easily distracted was the director. Judging by the amount of beer flowing, maybe..."
- In 'Horses Galore', Trev says: "Yep. Definitely Susan King (ah…tight jodhpurs,and sweaters!) The show had something to with horses, apparently. “Drake is a well developed..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Des E says: "And let’s not forget one2one, which was set up by Mercury in 1993 and whose ads used that glorious telephoney-rubber bandy tune by the Penguin..."
- In 'Indoors Outdoors', George Lennan says: "It was 50s telly cook Zena Skinner in the kitchen not Barret. She was an old bird then, but still alive as of November 2015! In the Garden was..."