CREAMGUIDE: 4th-10th December 2010

The listings guide that knows it’s still not Christmas

Well hello and yes, we have battled our way through almost comical weather conditions to the Creamguide Office to bring you this week’s listings. Well, it’s an important service, isn’t it? It’s mostly all Corrie and Lennon this week, for obvious reasons, but nice to see the North get its moment in the spotlight. Especially as most people there won’t be able to leave their houses this week.

News and views, as ever, to tvcreamguide@tvcream.co.uk, if you would.

SATURDAY 4th DECEMBER

BBC2

19.55 Dad’s Army
And first this week it’s a doff of the Creamguide hat (it looks like this) to Mark of the excellent Broken TV for being the first person to tell us that the music on the goals round-up on Match of the Day 2, which we note is also being used on an iPod ad, is this song from Cake, which is a bit embarrassing for us as it’s from 2002, when we actually followed the charts and liked to think we knew about music. Still an ace track, though.

20.25 American Dream
Last one of these, this time looking at the role of religion in US society, not just featuring various demented televangelists but also the good-time Christian rock stylings of Pat Boone, although whether we’ll hear bits from that bizarre metal album he released in the nineties, we don’t know.

ITV

19.10 The Best of Harry Hill’s TV Burp
But enough of this, is Parky any good or not? That’s what we’ve been asking in recent weeks, and TJ Worthington says, “Unfortunately for Parky, but fortunately for everyone else, Ghostwatch does not score him any respectability points whatsoever, for two very good reasons. Firstly it’s as annoyingly ‘remembered’ by any random person you might care to collar as Bagpuss once was, usually in ways that bear absolutely no resemblance to anything to do with the show itself whatsoever. And secondly, when the rather ridiculous outcry dominated the front pages, did Parky seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put his trademark condescending moaning to good and constructive use and berate the outcriers for being ‘miserable minnies’ or somesuch? No, he clammed up completely, presumably going to ground with Billy Connolly in a special Emu-proof bunker constructed from remaindered Woofits books. No further questions, m’lud.”

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
The Guinness Book Of Hits Of The Eighties slags off 1986 as one of the weakest years for pop music, based on the fact that no record spent longer than three weeks at number one, but surely that’s the sign of a brilliant year for pop music, with great records being released on a regular basis, all jostling to get to the top of the charts, the kind of thing that got Mike Smith banging on about the charts being “very competitive”. Indeed, for proof of the failings of that theory, have a listen this afternoon to Tone playing the chart from 1992, when every record stayed at number one for ages – there were only twelve all year, and Please Don’t Go by KWS, a right stinker, was number one for five weeks. Also this week we’ve got 1969, of which we have no real opinion one way or the other.

SUNDAY 5thDECEMBER

BBC1

16.45 Points of View
Nothing interesting, ie that we can take the piss out of, on this show last week, so let’s instead head back into the postbag, and Stuart Ian Burns makes reference to our mention last week of only knowing one person in university with a mobile phone. He says, “I’m obviously a bit younger than you because there were a few more mobile phones around when I was at university, but still not enough that when one rang in the computer annex or library people didn’t turn around and look at the owner with a mix of disdain (because of the noise it made) and envy (because they knew they’d be queuing up at the phone box in the hall later to try and order a pizza or speak to the parents, whichever seemed to be of the highest priority). I wonder now if most students feel properly away from home since there are about fifteen ways of contacting their family and friends and every city has the same shops. When I was at university, people still wrote letters to each other. In long hand. Sometimes within the same shared house.” Yes, especially as these days everyone’s boringly realistic and pragmatic about university and tend to go to one in their own town because it’s cheaper and more convenient, which seems to us to negate the point of going to university in the first place, because it’s all about going to new places and trying new things. We’ve forgotten everything we learnt in our degree but we still know what pedal pushers are as we shared a house with a load of fashion students – and that’s been invaluable.

BBC2

18.30 Dad’s Army (the film)
Well, we say it isn’t Christmas but it must be if this festive staple has turned up. For what it’s worth, the Christmas TV guides are supposed to be arriving on the shelves as of this weekend, and their imminent arrival is for us the most worrying aspect of this current cold snap. Never mind the liver transplants, we’re waiting with baited breath!

ITV

21.00 The Nation’s Favourite ABBA Song
In recent weeks we’ve heard both Chris Evans and Ken Bruce play Eagle by ABBA (and don’t forget, that’s an acronym so it should always be in upper case) on daytime Radio 2, which is surprising because it’s certainly not one of their best known tracks, although it is a skill song, as it much of their brilliant late period stuff like The Visitors and, natch, The Day Before You Came (blody awful sleeve, though, given the song’s gloomy as hell). We don’t suppose those will appear very high up in this countdown, alas, but they’re all great anyway, as long as they’re sung by Agnetha, Anni-Frid and B’john (thanks to Lesley Judd there), and not by Meryl Streep.

MONDAY  6th DECEMBER

BBC1

16.30 Blue Peter
When a Blue Peter presenter announces they have “news”, you know exactly what it’s going to be, and that was indeed the case last week as Joel announced his imminent departure. We are absolutely devastated by this news, not necessarily because we like Joel so much, although we do find him very likeable, if a little too irreverent at times, but because we’d actually heard it on a forum two days previously and pooh-poohed it as the mad ramblings of an overexcited child, like those wibblings about Andy leaving. Anyway, he goes next week, and that’s a shame, because they’ve got quite a good team at the moment, and also because that must surely be the last programme before Christmas and to finish on December 14th is wrong, wrong, wrong. So don’t hold out for a proper Christmas show this year, yet again.

ITV

20.00 Coronation Street
So it’s fifty years of Corrie this week, as you’ll soon grasp for the rest of the billings, although this is as far as we’re concerned the least interesting part as it’s the first episode again. OK, so it’s exciting to see something in monochrome on prime time ITV, but they’ve already shown it for the thirtieth and fortieth anniversary, and landmark that it is, it’s still a stagey, primitive, fluff-ridden TV show from 1960 that’s certainly not the series at its best. Still, are you a widder woman, all that.

22.35 The Day John Lennon Died
There used to be a fascinating page on the internet which reviewed the episodes of Nationwide, Whistle Test and News at Ten from the night of 9th December 1980 (our time, natch), but it doesn’t appear to be up anymore (and it used to take about a week to load), which is a shame. We’re not going to see any of that here, we don’t think, because this is entirely about what actually happened on the day in New York, speaking entirely to people who were there, including Yoko of course.

BBC4

20.30 Only Connect
Last week we talked about Jack Benny, and about how most of us now only know him for the cartoon where he’s a mouse, and Tom Lawton says, “How about that cartoon that also feature on Rolf Harris Cartoon Time with the owl that was into jazz, didn’t he go on to appear on Jack Bunny’s radio show which had a trap door? Which even at the time I thought wouldn’t be too much of a problem for an owl who would just flap and fly back up again.”

BBC Radio 2

22.00 John Lennon – The New York Years
One thing that Lennon page did point out was a moment on Nationwide when Frank Bough looked at a picture of a bearded, bed-in era Lennon and asked his guest Hunter Davies whether he still looked like that in his last days, emphasising that before he died people didn’t really know what Lennon looked like anymore, as he had been very much a recluse, enjoying life as a house husband in New York, and being well out of the public eye, especially on this side at the Atlantic. Here’s another look at what he was doing.

The Time Tunnel

Yes! This is what we’ve been waiting for, as The Time Tunnel finally reviews a new addition to the Cream Era. For some of our readers, this may be a rather unpleasant appearance given they were probably already long in work by the time 1995 came around, but as we’ve mentioned, telly in those days was probably nearer the telly of fifteen years previously than it is now, fifteen years since. And some of The Great Escape by Blur sounds older and more of-its-time than any other album we own. Besides, if they did I Love 1995 in 2001, we can do this in 2010.

  • FA CUP WINNERS: Everton
  • CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE: Michael Jackson – Earth Song
  • UK EUROVISION ENTRY: Love City Groove – Love City Groove
  • BLUE PETER TEAM: Diane, Tim and Stuart, later with Katy
  • DOCTOR WHO: Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy (well, technically)
  • RADIO 1 BREAKFAST SHOW JOCK: Steve Wright, then Chris Evans
  • BIG CHRISTMAS DAY FILM ON BBC1: Hook

    New thrill!

    THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVER (1995-2006)
    “I’ve had her!” Well, these days it’s the acme of unchallenging, laddish panel games, but it’s easy to forget just quite how amusing They Think It’s All Over was at the start, a series that more or less took everyone by surprise – it was shown after rotten by-the-numbers police drama Backup – and became a smash hit. In fact its journey to the screen was a somewhat torturous one, having began life on Radio 5 in the early nineties, with Des Lynam in charge and Rory Bremner and Rory McGrath captaining, only for Des to pull out of the telly version – apparently he was getting a critical knocking on How Do They Do That at the time and didn’t want to stretch his credibility further – then Bremner deciding he didn’t want to do it, and John Motson trying out as chairman before Nick Hancock was parachuted in at the last minute. The presence of Lineker and Gower as captains gave the show a bit of credibility – although Brian Moore was moved to note how disappointed he was that Lineker was sullying his reputation on such a vulgar show – while the big breakout star was Lee Hurst, who went to enjoy five minutes of fame before messing it up as the useless MC of ITV’s ill-judged Saturday Live revival (“Time for a great mate from the circuit”, that was his catchphrase) and in his role as comic relief on ITV’s Euro 96 coverage. Anyway, it was good at the start, with plenty of great jokes – that Anwar Sadat one the other week, for one – although it was taking the piss a bit to put it on Christmas Day, as they did for three consecutive years from 1997. Sadly, David Beckham becoming famous rather did for They Think, as every single joke revolved around him, while various cast changes saw Jonathan Ross start his tedious ascent back to power and a genuine belief in the comedic arsenal of David “hur hur hur” Seaman. Sort of axed in 2004, it got a reprieve for one last series in 2005, with Lee Mack now in charge, but an era had ended and after two specials in 2006, that was it. However, the whole thing’s been revived on Sky One under the auspices of James Corden, which is no better but it’s HD so it must be brilliant.

    Old thrill!

    COME DANCING (1950-95)
    Always there, year in, year out, Come Dancing’s incredible longevity was even more impressive considering the programme seemed to be on its last legs for decades. Certainly it was never a primetime fixture for years, even back in the seventies it would never normally kick off before ten o’clock while, after a brief flourishing in the opposite-Coronation-Street death slot in the early nineties, it spent its twilight years around the witching hour. It had tried to move with the times, with Rosemarie Ford the final host, and new dances tried out in the quaintly-titled “offbeat” section, with judges including one Leonard Goodman. But by the end, ballroom dancing was seen as simply a bizarre hobby appealing only to a handful of sequinned obsessives, while the London-centric presentation – Home Counties North vs The North – seemed a bit archaic. Still, it had a hell of a run, and some proper TV icons hosted proceedings during the run, including Noel Edmonds, while he was still doing Top of the Pops – and claimed he didn’t care about credibility, he just wanted telly work, any telly work – and Lord Terence of Woganshire, who said he gave it up when he realised nobody remembered he presented it anyway. Although the series proper came to an end in 1995, it returned for a few specials, including a fiftieth anniversary show in 1998 (although nobody seems to know when it actually started). Oh, and then it came back again in 2004 in a rather different form, but you knew that.

    Everyone’s talking about…

  • DIANA! And her Panorama interview, which was the highest rated programme of the year, and got about twenty times the audience of the average Panorama. This was also the year they couldn’t show a Panorama interview with John Major in Scotland because it was the local elections there and there were accusations of bias, and they also couldn’t show it in the North East or Northern Ireland in case anyone on the border was able to tune in.
  • CRACKER! Undoubtedly the most talked about drama of the year, one notable footnote was that the first episode had to be rescheduled for Monday to Sunday as it was 75 minutes long and the ITC demanded they couldn’t move News at Ten. Truly, another age.
  • BRITPOP! “Blur, Oasis, Echobelly, Pulp – they’re the four main indie bands, aren’t they?” British pop was booming in 1995, and Stuart Maconie later assigned the exact moment Britpop began as 6pm on Monday 14th August when Blur vs Oasis got on the news, the same week BBC2 got in on the act with the Britpop Now special, with Blur and Pulp rubbing shoulders with the likes of Marion and Powder.
  • ROBSON AND JEROME! Except of course the real pop stars of the year were this pair, who thanks to Soldier Soldier (which completely died on its arse when they left) and Simon Cowell shifted records by the truckload. They released a triple A-side, for heaven’s sake!
  • THE INTERNET! The first desperate attempts at interactive programming arrived with BBC2′s tedious political talking shop Westminster Online, Five Live’s risibly titled Entertainment Superhighway, kids shows Reactive and TIGS and youth magazine Watch This Space, with guests quizzed by people they couldn’t hear at the other end of a videophone.
  • 24 HOUR BBC2! The Beeb’s hopeless experiments in subscription television, BBC Select, were abandoned this year with the likes of British Medical Television and other favourites joining forces with the OU and schools programmes to populate the Learning Zone from midnight to morning.

    RIP

    Three giants of comedy died in 1995, all of whom had enjoyed somewhat chequered careers but were all much missed – Larry Grayson, Kenny Everett and Peter Cook. Marti Caine also died, as well as a genius in the field of animated comedy, Friz Freling. Dean Martin died on Christmas Day, while we also said goodbye to two former Prime Ministers in Harold Wilson and Alec Douglas-Home, and two great actors in Paul Eddington and Jeremy Brett.

    Show of the year

    HEARTBEAT
    Heartbeat first arrived on our screens in 1992, but at the skin of its teeth, with Yorkshire requesting ITV bury it in a ropey slot – nine o’clock on Fridays – as they weren’t very sure about it. In fact it became a smash hit, moving to Sundays the following year and then becoming an absolute ratings juggernaut for ITV, thrashing everything the Beeb put against it – having killed Lovejoy the previous year, in 1995 the Beeb managed to euthanize Challenge Anneka by flinging it there – and regularly making it to number one in the ratings, one of the few non-soap shows to do so in the nineties. Quite why Yorkshire were so unsure is a bit of a mystery, with a cast full of familiar names, a lovely nostalgic setting and the presence as Head Writer of Johnny Byrne, who’d previously written umpteen episodes of the equally enduring All Creatures Great And Small. OK, so every episode was exactly the same, but it was all carried off with plenty of swagger and panache, and is a textbook example of how to carry on a series when the main star leaves, as when Nick Berry went virtually nobody switched off. OK, so it dragged on a bit, and it was forever 1969 at the end, but the ‘beat was undoubtedly one of the biggest shows of the nineties and you’ve got to hand it to a series that managed to be a success in the multichannel era despite having Bill Maynard as its lead actor. Bill Maynard!

    Let’s go there now!

    Here’s the Christmas Day news, with a rather topical top story, although we’re thinking that snow is rather piss-poor compared to the stuff Creamguide’s been battling through this week. That slotted into a schedule that looked like this, and earlier in the day, there’d been Pops, of course, seen here in massively diminished form, and here’s as near as dammit a full episode form that summer of Britpop, with Cast and Supergrass present and correct, while the people you don’t recognise at the start are The Outhere Brothers, who had two number ones, not that anyone remembers them. We do however recall Andi Peters asking them to sing their song Pass The Toilet Paper on Live and Kicking, clearly unaware of what that song was actually about. Did they have to spell it out for you, Andi?

  • TUESDAY  7th DECEMBER

    BBC1

    16.30 Blue Peter
    Before he goes Joel’s choosing his favourite films, making for some highly cost-effective programming in the lead-up to Christmas, and also giving the team a bit of a breather while Helen’s off in Uganda, filming for Comic Relief. In the meantime Joel did find the time to have a keepy-uppie competition with Tinchy Stryder, with Jonathan Pearce turning up to commentate.

    21.00 Turn Back Time
    Last one of these, which reaches the seventies, although if they’d hung on a bit they wouldn’t have had to do much in the way of set dressing, what with spiralling inflation, shortages and endless strikes on the horizon. They could even still mount the street party this series ends with for Will and Kate.

    22.35 Imagine
    One of our least favourite Christmas songs is Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Bruce Springsteen, we forget who said it sounded like more of a threat than a promise the way Bruce sings it, but that’s exactly right, although we’re willing to admit that he recorded way more interesting material than a whimsical knock-off they did on stage for a laugh. One of them is the album Darkness on the Edge of Town, but although he made it in 1978, only now are we able to see this footage of its conception and production.

    ITV

    21.00 Coronation Street – 50 Years, 50 Moments
    We mean, it’s all very well showing the first episode again, but that’s always the only repeat they ever show, where for most viewers it’s ancient history and what turned them onto Corrie in the first place was the likes of Stan, Hilda and Eddie Yeats, and they’d have been better off showing some seventies and eighties imperial phase stuff. Still, there’ll be plenty of that here in the first of two clip shows.

    BBC Radio 2

    22.00 Yoko In Her Own Words
    We’re not entirely sure why this interview with Yoko is carried out with Nina Myskow, as we seem to remember her spending most of her career slagging off Bobby Davro, rather than chronicling rock royalty, but Nina’s spoken to Yoko regardless and here’s what she’s got to say. Will Macca be her Wally of the Week?

    WEDNESDAY  8th DECEMBER

    BBC4

    22.00 Lennon Naked
    23.25 TOTP2

    No surprise that BBC4′s commemoration of the anniversary is simply the drama they showed the other month, though it is jolly good, and then that Pops 2 again, albeit again in half hour format when it actually lasted 45 minutes first time round and surely they’ve got time to screen it all. We hear, by the way, there’s two episodes of TOTP2 this Christmas, one on BBC2 and one, bizarrely, on Channel Five, and how that’s happened we do not know.

    THURSDAY  9th DECEMBER

    ITV

    20.00 Coronation Street
    21.00 Coronation Street – 50 Years, 50 Moments

    Because it’s a big anniversary, it’s a live episode, and it’s a shame these things have become almost routine these days. The last one, ten years ago, was a hugely self-indulgent affair, with a visit to the set by Prince Charles cheekily worked into the plot, Liz Dawn spending it all in a coma as they knew she’d forget her lines if she had any and Noddy Holder coming on at the end to bellow “Iiiit’s Chriiistmaaaas”, just for the hell of it. This one follows the tram crash earlier this week, though, so it’s likely to be a bit more intense and a bit grimmer. Then after that, it’s more clippage.

    CHANNEL 4

    21.00 The House That Made Me
    Creamguide can’t really enjoy the Proustian rush that comes from visiting their teenage home as their parents still live there so they still visit fairly regularly. And they’re still not sure why they seem to put up far more Christmas decorations now than they ever used to when they were living there full time. Anyway, here’s a new series where four famous faces will return to their adolescent haunts, starting off with Boy George.

    FRIDAY  10th DECEMBER

    BBC1

    20.30 QI
    One last missive this week, and it’s from Victor Field about last week’s Friday Night Is Music Night, as he says, “Mentioning Dick Barton – Special Agent reminded me of The Devil’s Galop (that’s the theme’s actual name) being used extensively in an episode of 30 Rock, of all places. Sadly not included on the show’s soundtrack album.” No, so we’ll search out Some Bastard Who Is Presumably Responsible to find out why.

    ITV

    21.00 Coronation Street – The Big 50
    No Mastermind this week so no need to worry about us spoilering the specialist subjects. But the quizzes are right here instead, with Paul O’Grady hosting this affair which is likely to just be the cue for extended banter and silliness, including “musical collaborations”, which reminds us of that appalling album they released in 1995 with Percy Sugden singing Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, all that. And it won’t be as good as the Corrie business we’re running on TV Cream over the next few weeks, you can be sure of that.

    BBC4

    23.00 Folk at the BBC
    Bit of a poor week on BBC4, we’re afraid, and this is all they can rustle up on the usually jam-packed Friday night. Still, nearly Christmas. But not yet.

    No, because there’s still one more weekly Creamguide to go, and you’ll see that next week. If you want to see it first, click here

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