We’re parked just over there
Hullo again and welcome to another edition of The Cream Guide. This week we’re going to point you in the direction, again, of www.tvcream.co.uk so you can read about an exciting new addition to the TVC bookshelf which we can assure you is a right rip-roaring read, and for a good cause as well. Why not let us know what you think of it, as long as you think it’s good, by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org? Buy it first, though, don’t just review the cover.
Saturday 10th March
18.30 Dad’s Army
First this week, a letter from Dan Pearce. “I was watching The Joy of Disco on BBC4 hoping for a bit of Yes Sir, I Can Boogie and noting how much Mark Moore looks like Tracey Thorn nowadays, when who should pop up amongst the talking heads but Doctor Who superfan Ian Levine. It is a shame that his appearance wasn’t trailed as I would have got both my telephones ready.” Indeed, not a bad show, that, and nor was the disco compilation after it. We wouldn’t mind seeing the whole of that Jacksons show. Note also the Hues Corporation appearing, not on Top of the Pops, but the Dutch show Top Pop, which Pops could show clips from because it had the words “Top” and “Pop” on the set so it didn’t seem so odd.
19.00 The Story of Light Entertainment
20.00 The Story of Musicals
Whenever we see people discussing Radio 2 on forums it’s always people who hate it, and their big bete noire always appears to be “celebrities” parachuted onto the station rather than solid radio pros, seemingly under the impression that it doesn’t matter how interesting you are, as long as you can operate a fader. As if this is a new thing anyway, given the daytime line-up 25 years ago of Derek Jameson, Jimmy Young and Gloria Hunniford, a tabloid journalist and two singers. This week the former show looks at the people who made the trip in the opposite direction.
21.00 I’m A Pop Star
Last one of these, unsurprisingly looking at the solo artist. As we’re seeing on Pops 77, being a solo artist could be the loneliest job in the world, standing there like a lemon in the middle of the stage, so doubtless there’ll be stories to tell. Let’s hope for a bit about Chesney Hawkes just to marvel at his spectacular fall from grace, with his first single staying at number one for weeks, his second getting to number 27 and his third getting nowhere near the top forty. We’d never seen anyone get so unfamous so quickly.
Last part of this trilogy, where the previous two instalments have had two different theme tunes. Make your mind up! Best clip last week was the ‘rams performing Really Saying Something with everyone in the world, plus Macca, in the audience, which looked fantastically exciting. The reason it was so brief is because they ran the credits over it. In fact that episode, from 6th May 1982, looks absolutely brilliant, as it was the episode featuring the England World Cup Squad, the Scotland World Cup Squad and the Spurs Cup Final Squad, all in the studio, plus every other act – good ones too, like Junior, Depeche Mode and PhD – was in the studio as well, even Macca turned up to introduce Ebony and Ivory, and it was broadcast live to boot which strikes us as incredible. We really look forward to BBC4 showing that in May 2017. Even if they’ve stopped the repeats by then, just show that one.
19.30 Harry Hill’s TV Burp
This week Channel Four have announced their new channel 4seven, which apparently will feature all the best C4 shows from the last week for those who missed them, based on what people are saying on social media, although if it’s based entirely on that, surely they won’t be able to put a schedule in the listings guides, meaning everyone will just miss them again. And if there is a schedule, it’s just a repeats channel, and that’s what More4 already is. The amount of bollocks that comes out of the C4 press office really is unbelievable, but on the plus side, The Mad Bad Ad Show appears to have been dropped.
07.25 The Big Match Revisited
If this gets any earlier it’s going to be post-pub viewing. After Villa vs Watford in the Cup last week, this week it’s Watford vs Villa in the league, though at least this time Watford remembered they were on telly and wore unsponsored shirts, rather than having to tape over the Iveco logo on their usual kit, as explained by Mooro.
22.50 Family Fortunes
Well, don’t get too excited here, but normally when this channel shows Family Fortunes these days, which is all the time, we get Les in charge, which is entertaining enough in its own way as a sturdy quiz, but not the most exciting bit of archive telly. A few years back, though, they showed Monkhouse-era episodes and, it says here, that’s what we’re getting in this slot and in this slot alone, with Les the rest of the week. If it’s right, it’ll be a treat because they’re great fun, but this could easily be a mistake in their listings. So, don’t cancel any appointments for this, we’re saying, but maybe put the tape on.
BBC Radio 2
13.00 Pick of the Pops
Apparently Tony didn’t seem to think much of 1999 last week, which is a bit of a shame, though at least it’s nicer to have some honest opinion on this show rather than Dale recording a load of links in ten minutes and not even listening to the songs. On safer ground this week with 1968 and 1989.
Sunday 11th March
00.30 Friday Night… Saturday Morning
BBC4 are having a chat season, excitingly, though as you’ll see it takes a bit of time to get going. There’s some interesting stuff in the next few weeks, mind. It’s reason enough to give this another outing, the Python episode they dusted off to show alongside Holy Flying Circus the other month. It’s fascinating stuff, not least because we don’t just get the bits everyone’s seen, but the show in its entirety so we also get an interview with Norris McWhirter and, bizarrely, a cock-up at the start where we get about thirty seconds of blank screen and the audience shrieking with laughter. Why they didn’t edit that out, we don’t know, but we’re glad they didn’t.
BBC Radio 6 Music
12.00 Lamacq’s 6 Music Family Tree
It’s never been the same since Andrew Collins did the TV Cream Trivia Question on his show (we remember the day he e-mailed us in a panic five minutes before the show because it hadn’t turned up) and people started listening to it, but 6 have made it to their tenth anniversary. There’s various celebratory hoopla over the week – and some Adam and Joe repeats on Radio 2 – but we’re highlighting this rather self-indulgent affair where Lammo talks to the various jocks and their links to the records they play, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Monday 12th March
16.30 Helen’s Polar Challenge
This isn’t the last time you’ll see this billed in this week’s Creamguide, although those of us who are sticking with it in its original slot will know Helen’s halfway to the pole now and annoying her team-mate with her relentless cheerfulness. You’ll never guess when the other episode’s on!
BBC Radio 2
22.00 The Wicked Pickett – The Life of Times of Wilson Pickett
Not really sure we needed the subtitle there, we can’t think of any other musical Picketts. Unless people thought it would be about the dark side of Brian Hibbard. Anyway, we’re sure this’ll be a fascinating programme as he was famously a rather volatile character, and apparently hated the likes of The Rolling Stones for ripping him off.
49) ERIC SYKES
One of the elder statesmen of British comedy, Sykes has enjoyed a hugely successful career spanning well over half a century despite spending most of it completely deaf. Sykes began as a writer, penning umpteen episodes of Educating Archie, a giant show in its day, and getting to know people like Spike Milligan, and indeed he helped Spike write some Goon Show scripts when he couldn’t cope anymore. He also penned the first real attempt to bring Goonish humour to television with Peter Sellers in the fantastically-titled The Idiot Weekly Price 2d. By the end of the fifties he’d become a recognisable face on screen as an actor as well as a writer, and at the start of the sixties he got his own starring vehicle in Sykes And A… Here Sykes established his screen persona as a put-upon, harassed bloke hoping for a quiet life but being constantly thwarted by events, which was put to perfect use in this suburban setting which was deliberately light on recurring plot to allow the opportunity to go off on flights of fancy. The masterstroke was casting Hattie Jacques as Eric’s sister, rather than his wife, creating a distinctly different relationship. Lasting for most of the sixties in black and white, in 1972 it was back again, now known as just Sykes, in colour, though most of these shows were simply remounts of the original episodes, always with lots having been wiped, nobody really noticed. While this was all going on, Sykes also indulged in his passion for slapstick comedy, including of course The Plank, originally an episode of Sykes reworked as a film and then a TV special, with its lack of dialogue meaning it could be sold all over the world and repeated over and over again for many years. Less successful was his role in the notorious Curry and Chips, while in the seventies and early eighties he also wrote and starred in a number of one-off specials for ITV, usually involving Eric having to put on a show with Tommy Cooper while battling with numerous backstage problems, usually the excuse for some bizarre sketches. Such was his fame and respect that he even got to be the victim on This Is Your Life on Christmas Day, a guarantee of stardom, in 1979. Sykes eased off the work a bit from the eighties onwards, and his final sitcom The Nineteenth Hole was awful, but he continued to make regular appearances on TV, providing voices for Teletubbies, making the odd cameo in the likes of New Tricks, starring in the film The Hours with Nicole Kidman and penning his autobiography, the brilliantly named If I Didn’t Write It, Nobody Else Will.
48) ARTHUR LOWE
After Eric Sykes, here’s his co-star in the film version of The Plank. Don’t say we just throw this thing together. One of our finest ever character actors, Arthur Lowe’s entire career was overshadowed by one role, but it was a bloody brilliant role and he remains much-loved for it to this day. In fact it was World War II that played a defining role in Lowe’s career, as the former factory worker first took to the stage in shows for the troops and, after being demobbed, at the age of thirty, deciding to chance his arm in rep. Numerous roles on stage and screen followed, including very famous films like Kind Hearts and Coronets, but he first became a household name when he joined the cast of Coronation Street, first appearing in its third ever episode in 1960. Appearing as Leonard Swindley, manager of Gamma Garments, he became one of the soap’s most popular characters and, when he grew tired of the schedule in 1965,they gave him his own spin-off, Pardon The Expression, which was an out-and-out sitcom, perhaps surprising given that Granada were always eager to point out Corrie was a serious drama. In 1969 came Captain Mainwaring, a role that fitted Lowe like a glove and has almost certainly overshadowed all his other work, but even when he was appearing in one of Britain’s best-loved TV shows, he still regularly performed on stage. Partly this was because he requested his wife Joan Cooper appeared in everything he did, which was something of a shame as she wasn’t very good and it meant he ended up doing mundane and undistinguished work far below the quality his talent deserved. A more fitting role was his wonderful narration of the Mr Men stories for telly, and after Dad’s Army he remained a popular sitcom star, most obviously in a couple of series of Potter. In April 1982 he appeared on Pebble Mill at One and gave an amusing interview, but within a few hours he died in his dressing room at the Alexandra Theatre. His talent lives on, though, with Dad’s Army still a staple of the schedules.
47) DES O’CONNOR
The best thing that ever happened to Des O’Connor was to get consistently sent up by Morecambe and Wise, with Des correctly realising that every time he showed up for Eric to hurl abuse at him, he confirmed himself as a genuinely nice bloke without a shred of ego. And indeed it’s his relentless niceness and cheeriness that has helped him enjoy such a stellar career, right back to his first appearances on stage where he purposely decided not to adopt a stage name to point out he was just a normal bloke who happened to sing and tell jokes. After working the variety halls, Des’ first telly gig was the quiz Spot The Tune, combining his interest in music and comedy, and then in the sixties he starred in umpteen series of The Des O’Connor Show. This was the trademark Lew Grade ATV mix of comic sketches, stand-up and music, all of which Des was hugely adept at – it was during this period he also enjoyed his greatest chart success. In the early seventies too, like everything else on ATV, an effort was made to flog the show to America with big name US guest stars and American writers and producers engaged, and in fact they didn’t do too badly in the States, although Des found the relentless work required to stay in the public eye tiring and decided not to pursue greater stardom there. There was a long term result of these shows, however, as Des ended up going on a load of US talk shows to plug them, which he enjoyed very much, and his agent asked why he wasn’t so funny on his own shows. Des relished the relaxed and spontaneous approach and on his return suggested to Lew Grade he host his own chat show, but Grade didn’t want to change, so he promptly defected to the Beeb and launched Des O’Connor Tonight. Des proved himself the perfect host of this kind of format, able to get the best out of his guests with his quick wit and charm, and even if most of it was scripted he was generous enough to let his interviewees shine. He had six great years on the BBC before he was poached back by Thames to do the exact same show for ITV. Here it became a Wednesday night staple, and if it was all a bit mechanical – Des blatantly supplying feedlines to the comedians, the finished show being heavily edited – it was never less than watchable as Des lured on all the big names. In fact Des doesn’t get the credit he deserves when people are listing the great chat show hosts, because he did it for years and managed to just about cope with a drunk Oliver Reed, a foul-mouthed Stan Boardman and several appearances with Freddie Starr, as well as ad-libbing an entire interview with Barbra Streisand when the autocue broke and luring Whitney Houston to his sofa even when it had been specifically demanded she only sang rather than spoke (which he did by simply saying to the audience “You want to hear about what she’s doing, don’t you?” and allowing them to cheer wildly). We also loved his old school mannerisms and dedication to showbiz, always announcing his guests were “in town tonight”. By the end of the nineties, alas, the show came to an end as a regular series – though it kept returning for occasional specials – but in 2002 he became the housewives’ choice with the fantastically entertaining Today With Des And Mel, undoubtedly the best thing ITV have shown during the day this decade, thanks to its freewheeling air of gentle fun, and our grandmother used to love it. When that ended due to cost-cutting, Des moved over to be the new host of Countdown, though it was a bit of a waste of his talents and after two years he decided to give it up to go back to light entertainment, making more records and touring the nation’s theatres, though we hear that he’s about to return to ITV to celebrate his eightieth birthday, and we’re thrilled with that because he’s the consummate light entertainer.
Tuesday 13th March
21.00 Frost on Interviews
So the chat season starts in earnest, accompanied by “classic interviews” on the red button, apparently. The main attraction is this new show, though, a follow-up to Dave’s special on satire a while back, where he reviews the history of the chat show with a host of stellar contributors and Parky. Frost is a bit of a caricature of himself these days but he was a fabulous interviewer in his day, Emil Savundra being just one example, so if anyone’s qualified to do this, it’s probably him.
22.00 Mark Lawson Talks To Frank Skinner
We mentioned Des O’Connor being an underrated chat show host up there but Frank Skinner never really gets the credit he deserves, it ran out of steam a bit at the end but for a while his chat show was hugely entertaining and he was actually a bloody good interviewer, getting loads out of his guests. What a shame the Alan Hansen Ribena discussion isn’t on YouTube. His books are also excellent so we don’t doubt this will be a hugely intelligent and thoughtful interview, if Lawson can shut up.
BBC Radio 2
22.00 Songwriting Partnerships
So it’s Englebert for Eurovision, though we enjoyed the wild speculation on who it would be which seemed to reach a crescendo with every single pop star on the planet being suggested, based seemingly on misinterpreted tweets or just the fact they had nothing on in May. Enge’s biggest hit, in any case, was The Last Waltz, penned by Barry Mason and Les Reed, who are the subject of this show tonight. Yeah, we knew where we going with that.
Wednesday 14th March
BBC Radio 2
22.00 Desmond Carrington’s Icons of the Fifties
Though this subject is out of TVC’s jurisdiction, Des and JY are certainly in it, and most of those featured were light entertainment staples for most of the Cream era as well. It’s certainly the case with Lionel Bart, what with his work with Cliff, Matt Monro and Tommy “England’s answer to Alex Harvey” Steele.
Thursday 15th March
22.35 For Better For Worse
We’re mentioning this otherwise run of the mill light factual show because it’s based on a series ITV first showed back in 1999, we recall it being broadcast during the first few weeks of the post-News at Ten schedules, where they met up with a handful of married couples and promised to keep in touch with them over the years. And they’ve kept that promise, even though presumably nobody remembers the original series, but it’s nice to see them making the effort. Not long til 56 Up, anyway.
19.30, 00.00 Top of the Pops
The Noel episode two weeks ago was a cautionary tale of what happens when you let Noel pick the acts, the snoozesome MOR no doubt to his liking but utterly tedious from a modern perspective, especially as BBC4 promptly edited out on the primetime screening two of the three songs that moved along faster than an arthritic snail, leaving only Heatwave to add a bit of oomph. The Sky at Night week off has rather conveniently coincided with another wiping, which means yet another outing for Kid Jensen and a slightly more uptempo selection, but then even the test card music would have been a step up.
17.45 Blue Peter
Last week’s Book Awards show didn’t include the gang in suits and frocks, which we always like to see, but did at least offer a touch of class by being broadcast from the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester, which looked very impressive on screen, though it didn’t sound very good as both their mikes failed. We also enjoyed the American winner of the Book of the Decade referring to “The Blue Peter Show” in his speech, but then, we would.
Friday 16th March
20.30 Helen’s Polar Challenge
Yes! Blue Peter in primetime again! OK, so it’s simply a re-edit of the nine-part series we’ve been watching on CBBC into half an hour, but we’re just thrilled to see Helen get more attention. We’re not sure about it revealing the outcome before the series, mind, especially if kids aren’t allowed to stay up to say the end.
Someone’s answering questions on Harold Wilson tonight and, even more excitingly from our perspective, Seinfeld! Question one – What’s the deal with airplane peanuts?
21.00 George Harrison – Living In The Material World
A fairly easy way to fill up the Friday night music slot this week, as Martin Scorsese’s definitive documentary about the lovable one is shown in one huge three and a half hour chunk. Well, that’s what a PVR with a pause function was made for.
BBC Radio 2
20.00 Friday Night Is Music Night
If we must have more repeats on Radio 2, far better to get an imaginative series like this than just some documentaries from five minutes ago, although how much is in the archives we’re not sure. This week we’re back to 1983 when the show celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, reason enough to churn out the popular classics.
That’s it for this week, but there’s more of this kind of thing in seven days if you want it. And you can if you subscribe here