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
Next year we should be getting 21 Up 2000, the third instalment of the reboot of 7 Up they did to mark the millennium, although it seems everyone has totally forgotten about it, not helped by Child Of Our Time doing virtually the same thing. Still, fair play to ITV for keeping these spin-offs going, as we make our fourth visit to the kids we first met back in 1992, and reflect on the huge changes in their homeland since.
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Points of View
- In '29) “That’s what I did last night, anyway, here’s Hawkwind!”', Richard16378 says: "I got a lot more of the references the 2nd & 3rd times I watched it,..."
- In '29) “That’s what I did last night, anyway, here’s Hawkwind!”', Rob Free says: "I used to watch this over and over on VHS. I loved the the little cameos from..."
- In '26) “I don’t do French, I do woodwork!”', Richard16378 says: "You are spot on about Victoria Wood being ahead of her time spoofing documentaries. The washed out..."
- In '46) “Radio 1 disc jockey Mark Goodier!”', Richard16378 says: "I really liked The Day Today, most of it has stood the test of time without becoming overly dated, certainly..."
- In '29) “That’s what I did last night, anyway, here’s Hawkwind!”', Richard16378 says: "Possibly Harry Enfield’s finest 45 minutes, a laugh out loud moment..."