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
Saturday, 21.25, BBC1
Well, bit of an odd way to begin, but we’re including it here, not just because thanks to the football it’s a bit of a quiet week, but because it’s the thousandth edition – and to celebrate we get the triumphant return of Cathy Shipton as Duffy. To be honest, whenever we watch Casualty, like Emmerdale, we always say either “Oh, are they still in it?” or “Oh, are they in it now?”, so maybe you thought Duffy was in it every week, but if you’re a regular viewer we suppose it’s quite big news. However, rather awkwardly, this landmark has been reached right in the middle of the Schedule A and Schedule B business, so it might be tomorrow and many people might miss it completely, so we’re not sure why they didn’t just “accidentally” miscount and say a more conveniently scheduled episode was the thousandth. It’s the thirtieth anniversary in three months anyway, so there’s chance for more celebrations then.
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Points of View
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard16378 says: "I’ve been hoping the BBC4 repeats would get to 1982 even since the started. This is mainly because it’s when I started to watch TOTP..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Palitoy says: "Also worth noting – to reiterate a point made in one of the Cream Amigo’s recent (and great) commentary-casts – is that the..."
- In 'Sons and Daughters', Scott McPhee says: "Ally Fowler, who starred in Sons and Daughters, is still acting and performing. She sings in a pop group called The Chantoozies."
- In 'Monkey', Scott McPhee says: "“Steamroller schoolboy cult due to then-novelty kung-fu scenes, bonkers narrative, that theme song, and magic-summoning blowing-on-fingers..."
- In 'Bottle Boys', THX 1139 says: "I just watched that One Good Turn episode too, and the fact that it features both Robin Askwith doing a Bernie Winters impersonation and Bernie Winters..."