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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A few years back we received an email from the local Chamber of Commerce reminding us the clocks were going forward, though we really think that if you’re relying on the Chamber to tell you, you probably don’t have the wit to make a success of your business. The title of this show is another reminder, heralding a documentary presented by Stephen Fry on why we do it and if we still should.
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Points of View
- In 'Red Hand Gang, The', Ged Burke says: "I rememember this show well when I was a kid."
- In 'Clangers, The', Richard Freeman says: "IT RETURNS!!!!"
- In 'Dangermouse', Richard Freeman says: "Penfold was a hamster not a mole. It’s coming back by they way, new series this year with Kevin Eldon as Penfold and Alexander Armstrong as..."
- In 'Words and Pictures', Graham Pearson says: "Watch the episode of Words and Pictures in which Henry tells the story of a pumpkin scaring members of the public until a pig thwarted him...."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard16378 says: "You did mention this a few days ago, it was one show I was too young to click with when it was first on. The titles & music do feel like..."