“TO BE HONEST,” they would proclaim, “the fuss that is sometimes made when we’re playing the theatres scares us. It’s like The Beatles.” The Bootleg Beatles, that is. Walking (just) embodiment of what went wrong with comedy in the 80s, now born-again Christians but still happy to lap it up at the Blackpool Winter Gardens. Enjoyed astonishing exposure off the back of amusingly failed appearances on BRUCE FORSYTH’S BIG NIGHT doing sub-sub-sub Morecambe and Wise variety with a curly-haired noisy little sod with braces (“Rock on, Tommy!”) and tall dull stooge. Own show weirdly mutated into a sitcom for a bit, then ended up – oh god – Cannon And Ball’s Casino with a young Steve Coogan cashing his chips. Not the nadir, though; that was spin-off film The Boys In Blue, done ten years after ITV spin-off films had a) stopped being funny and b) just stopped. An appearance in 2000 on J** D*******’s Generation Game was arduous: Cannon sings song “for all the ladies and gentlemen here tonight”, Ball accompanies on toy trumpet, Cannon gets gradually more agitated with Ball’s erratic behaviour, audience sympathises with Ball… They hadn’t learned.
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Wow! Another intriguing episode here that we’re delighted to have reached. There was a substantial amount of industrial action at the Beeb in November 1979, the strike that put paid to the Doctor Who story Shada as well as many other shows, the only programme emerging unscathed during the fortnight or so being an episode of Blue Peter the union were prepared to let go ahead as they were launching the appeal. They did manage to put out Pops but in extremely diminished form, and this episode – one of two, but we won’t see the other – is therefore made up entirely of repeats and videos and Peter Powell links it all out of vision. Not much we won’t have seen before, then, but absolutely fascinating for all that.
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