Getting to know that Paddy Power advert very well
Hullo again and welcome to another edition of Creamguide and this week we promise not to bang on about Heat magazine and that age thing. Although we notice this week “Sarah Harding – I’m Too Old For Girls Aloud” doesn’t even mention her age until the third paragraph when that’s the entire point of the story. What’s going on here? Er, anyway, this week we can promise you the best night of old telly ever and some other listings as well. Letters, pray, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 12th May
19.30 Dad’s Army
Smiley has written in to follow-up his mention of the great Armando Iannucci’s new US series Veep last week, because he’s now gone and watched it himself and can tell us what it’s like. So… “I’ve seen the first two, and while I can’t give you a decent review as I watched them while unwell in a Helsinki hotel room last week (oh, the glamour of business travel) I was pleasantly surprised – after fearing that it would be shite. There are obvious parallels with The Thick Of It, and some characters, of course – but not a copy either (cast or storylines, and no Malcolm Tucker equivalent) and it looks promising.” Well, good, and Smiley also tells us, “I once appeared on stage with Derek Griffiths AND Brian Cant, during a panto in Guildford, but that’s another story.” Indeed, perhaps you can write in about that a bit nearer to Christmas, around the time we forget to get Little Town by Cliff re-released again.
20.00 The Story of Light Entertainment
This isn’t that best night of old telly ever we mentioned earlier, because we’ve seen it all before, but it’s still entertaining enough if you’re fleeing from Britain’s Got Talent. This one’s about chat shows which inevitably means relentless Parky but he always gets it wrong anyway, because Jonathan Ross isn’t rubbish because he doesn’t ask proper questions, he’s rubbish because he asks stupid questions that always lead his guests down conversational cul-de-sacs.
21.00 I Love 1979
Last one of these repeats which have done really rather well on a Saturday night, helped by the fact they’ve not been repeated for ages, proving there’s still an audience for this kind of thing. It’s all very well slagging off list shows but it depends what it’s a list of, doesn’t it?
22.00 Top of the Pops
In lieu of any better ideas, BBC2 have gone off to BBC4 and asked to borrow one of their Pops 77 repeats, which is all very well but it seems BBC4 have just grabbed whichever one was nearest to hand as this is the Noel-fronted episode from mid-January with Slade doing a flop, Jesse Green dancing like Brucie, Noel staring intently at a video of 10cc and, yes, Gary Glitter. Great fun if you haven’t seen it but for those of us who have stuck with this repeat run week in week out, it’s not one of the best. Not just in terms of music, either, in terms of it being plain bonkers.
Bit of a Parky fest tonight, alas, though this is one of his better moments with Orson Welles, who was so famous (and, indeed, so fat) he even brought on his own chair ten times bigger than Parky’s to illustrate who the senior partner was in this double act.
08.25 The Big Match Revisited
Back in the days before digital techniques meant you could record anything, anywhere, TV shows were often a bit limited in the footage they had available to show, hence why last week we were able to see QPR’s hilariously unspontaneous dressing room knees-up to celebrate their promotion three times in the hour, at the start of the show, during the report itself and then again over the end credits, each time being able to enjoy that pregnant pause when nobody could think what to do next. Intriguingly QPR’s promotion rather crept up on us as we’ve not seen a second of them actually playing on this show, and a check of the fabulous ITV regional highlights website shows they only actually appeared on The Big Match twice that season, and not at all after mid-January. Presumably they were so close to TV Centre the Beeb picked them as often as they could.
BBC Radio 2
13.00 Pick of the Pops
We enjoyed Tony bantering with Mark Radcliffe as part of Radio 2′s 2Day though we’re not sure Tony singing was the best advert for the station. No chance of that here anyway, as he safely sticks to linking the platters that matter from 1971 and 1991.
Sunday 13th May
16.15 Points of View
“Russell Kane – what an idiot!” Letter of the series, that, though it’s not hard given the quality of the rest of them, including one that began “I think you will find”, which is plain bad manners. Meanwhile someone got a film crew out to allow them to suggest more people on telly should take the bus, including in dramas, because everyone being in cars is unrealistic and unfair on viewers who can‘t drive.
22.00 The Lost World of the Seventies
We heard about Sir Walter Walker on Dominic Sandbrook’s seventies series the other week, the paranoid right-winger who set up his own private army to take over the running of Britain if the balloon went up, and here he is again as Mike Cockerell takes a look at Walker and some other larger than life – ie, demented – people like Lord Longford and James Goldsmith who could be trusted to liven up an otherwise mundane episode of Nationwide with their barking mad opinions.
Monday 14th May
21.00 The Seventies
And here is the final part of that series which inevitably everyone’s been picking faults with but we’ve found an entertaining series which was never going to be able to cover ten years in four hours without the broadest of brush strokes. Our favourite bits of the seventies have always been the moments the country is in a right state that we can look at sat comfy on our sofa and we’ll enjoy that again tonight as we reach the winter of discontent.
22.00 Sounds of the Seventies
Incidentally, Watching Ourselves on BBC Scotland has now ended, though the final episode did bring us the treat of more of Miss Scotland 1979, as seen on TV Hell of course, even catching up with Miss Montrose. Back here, this episode is about easy listening and MOR, including DLT’s favourites Captain and Tennille.
21.00 56 Up
One of the low points of the recent history of ITV was when they decided they didn’t want 42 Up and let the Beeb show it, but happily the series is now back safe and sound on the light channel and that’s great to know because it’s such a telly landmark. There are three parts this time, and we hear that Michael Apted and the team have brought together more of the original fourteen than ever before.
18.00 Family Fortunes
Now, we’ve had trouble with this channel in the past but we do believe that, with a bit of luck and a prevailing wind, these could actually be Lord Bob episodes, because we hear they’ve just bought them again along with, of all things, Max episodes as well. They’ve shown the Monkhouse masterclass before on this channel, but that was ages ago, long before it was on Freeview, and the chance to enjoy those wild violins, the pocket watch, the colour photo for the winner and the monochrome one for the losers, the questions on the screen “for the benefit of those who cannot hear my voice” and “Name It!” again means we’re prepared to stick out neck out and bill it again. Although to be honest even the Les episodes are better than the current Family Fortunes, given they blatantly get told to pass so everyone can have a chat with Vernon.
This isn’t that best night of old telly ever we promised either, but there is some good stuff tonight on what we reckon is Sky’s best channel. This is the much-trumpeted new version of this evergreen series, which we know they’ve revived on a couple of occasions before but apparently they’re doing this exactly as it was in its imperial phase (though it’s adult contestants, we think) and Simon Mayo is an ace choice of host. And it’s just good to see a nice quiz back on the box.
And these repeats continue as well. which we’re billing to present this from Simon Reuben. “I have had half an eye on Bullseye, mostly fast forwarding the darts to get to the celebrity throwing for charity, enjoying seeing Ted Moult, Jimmy Greaves, Tessa Sanderson and even a very mental Grotbags trying to win money for what is usually a kiddie’s hospital. The Christmas episode was very strange, and looked like a fix from start to finish. The dart playing was suspiciously consistent in each round and there was what looked like the odd re-shoot here and there. Bully’s prize board had equipment for charities behind them, and all were won but two. These were not the sort of prizes you could give away in a normal week, as I shouldn’t imagine many people would want the set of crash mats that went to a school for autistic children. Therefore I can only imagine what was behind the two segments that were not hit went back to the wholesalers and two charities were very disappointed. The best of the Christmas episodes however was the one that I guess was shown between Christmas and New Year, where upon achieving 101 with six darts the screens parted to show a steel band, banging out the Bullseye theme tune. Jim then awards a holiday prize and invites the audience down for a dance, which amazingly they do, with quite some enthusiasm, the closing credits played over what could have been a scene from the film Party Party. Presumably the steel band also had to learn a slow and sad version of the theme tune that they could play if the contestants had not scored 101 or more, so Jim could shout ‘cheer up, let’s all have a dance instead!’.”
BBC Radio 2
22.00 Whatever Happened To Bobbie Gentry?
Well, indeed, given she was once so famous she got her own BBC series but then stopped making records in 1971 and vanished without trace. Here’s what happened next.
22) DAVID FROST
It was Malcolm Muggeridge’s wife, of all people, that well known TV authority, who suggested David Frost had “risen without trace” but certainly he became one of the most famous people on telly very quickly. His first telly appearance had come on Anglia in 1959 but by 1962 he’d become the host of That Was The Week That Was – as second choice after Brian Redhead pulled out – and was a huge star. That mix of comedy and current affairs is a combination Frost enjoyed and went on to use it throughout his career. In 1964 he fronted The Frost Report which launched the career of a number of members of this chart – although watching the repeats, Frost comes across as a bit smug and resistible, like a sixties Jimmy Carr – and when he defected to Rediffusion he championed the likes of Cleese, Barker and Corbett, getting them their own vehicles. Yet his ambition seemed to irritate some of his contemporaries, with one episode of Python having to be re-edited after they put his home phone number on screen to wind him up. In addition to his behind the scenes role, he was also presenting The Frost Programme, a series most famous now for Emil Savundra but it seems a great series as a whole, a format they should bring back now with Frost getting the audience involved, another episode featuring John Betjeman inviting the audience to read poems they’d written, which was apparently very moving. By this point Frost had begun to enjoy work on the other side of the camera and his consortium was awarded the franchise for London at the weekends in 1968, although this turned out to be something of a disaster. Frost wasn’t deterred, though, and was on three nights a week with Frost on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, three shows that showcased all his talents – hard-hitting interviewer, chat show host and comedian – and all three are now out on DVD, the Sunday one being particularly worth getting for a shambolic strike-bound show and the 1970 BAFTAs. Even more remarkably, while this was going on he was also presenting a daily show in the USA, thanks to Frost being perfectly happy to spend his entire waking life either in a TV studio or on his way to a TV studio. He also hosted ITV’s coverage of the moon landings and, after the LWT show had slimmed down to a more manageable once a week, encountered the Yippies (“It’s so pathetic, and it’s so childish, and we’ll be right back!”). In the mid-seventies, though, his career was at a bit of a low ebb and he looked towards an interview with Richard Nixon to put it back on track and the results are on a DVD near you. Interestingly Frost had to virtually set up his own network to get the shows broadcast in the States as the big three weren’t interested so he had to approach the affiliates individually. He gave up his LWT shares to fund it, but, after fronting current affairs shows for the Beeb and Yorkshire, decided he liked the idea of running a station again and set up TV-am, another outfit that got off to an iffy start, not helped by Frost’s rather languid presentational style not really working on weekday mornings – though who knows how long he’d have done that for anyway, with his money. Unlike the rest, though, he stuck it out and soon became established on Sundays with a slot that enticed on heavyweight guests and became a very important platform. But he was happy to paddle in the shallow end, too, fronting umpteen episodes of Through The Keyhole and buying the TV rights to the Guinness Book of Records and often being seen fronting syndicated specials on Saturday teatime ITV. He also added a bit of class to Ultra Quiz. Sadly the 1993 franchise round was a rare misfire for Frost as TV-am’s demise (“I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now!”) was accompanied by his inability to land a franchise for his CPV-TV vehicle, but unbowed, he promptly arranged for his Sunday show to move lock, stock and barrel over to the Beeb, where it stayed for another decade. These days Frost is still a big name, interviewing the planet’s most famous people for Al Jazeera and fronting some entertaining shows for BBC4 on his specialist subjects, including satire and interviews, and he still strides the world like a colossus. “Boutros-Boutros, super to see you!”
21) TOM BAKER
A man who once said his ideal woman was one who smelled like a bonfire is well worth further study, and would have been even if he hadn’t been responsible for undoubtedly the most iconic portrayal of TV’s most iconic character. Scouser Tom wasn’t a complete nobody when he got the job of Doctor Who but the work had dried up to the extent he was working on a building site, but he immediately found his character and was surely the most popular man ever to step into the TARDIS, especially as in real life Baker always seemed to be not of this world in any case, a genuinely eccentric character who was very pleased when they started sticking gags into the show. Concurrently he was also hosting The Book Tower on ITV, much to the confusion of kids but doubtless helping inspire a love of literature. Baker left the Who role in 1981, though, and for a while he seemed to resent the role, refusing to appear in The Five Doctors a few years later, but later he said it was the best job he ever had and he was a madman to give it up. He did other stuff instead, though, including playing Sherlock Holmes and having a long-running role in Medics, plus excitingly narrating the Lee and Herring-penned radio show Lionel Nimrod’s Inexplicable World. One other role everyone seems to have forgotten about is in the remake of Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, which was a huge show in its day – the first episode got over ten million viewers – and could be seen as a dry run for the Who revival. Happily in recent years Baker seems to have fallen back in love with Who, attending conventions and appearing in audio dramas, much to fans’ delight. His somewhat bizarre private life always makes easy copy – like buying his own gravestone and constantly writing in the date of death – but Baker remains one of the most charismatic actors we’ve ever had.
20) TONY HART
And into the top twenty with the friendly face of art and surely one of the most mild-mannered people in TV history. Tony Hart was always interested in drawing when he was growing up, though he got sidetracked by the war when he joined the Ghurkhas, but eventually set himself up as a professional artist. His big break came when he attended a party where he met a BBC producer and showed off his talent by drawing very quickly on a napkin, and with the embryonic kids TV shows after simple ideas for items, he soon became a regular on a host of low-concept series passing on tips and coming up with some rudimentary animations. There was a bit of multi-tasking too, with Hart sticking his hand up the latter half of Ray Alan’s vent act Titch and Quackers. He was a regular on Blue Peter in its early days, even presenting a few episodes, and in 1962 was called upon to design a new logo, which became one of the most famous illustrations ever, and Tony spent the rest of his life kicking himself he didn’t press further to get 1d for every use rather than accept a hundred quid flat fee. Eventually Hart found a vehicle of his own, though, as a series previously baldly referred to as For Deaf Children was revitalised as Vision On, with design obviously an integral part of the mix and Hart coming up with numerous innovative ideas for art projects kids could do at home, as well as creating large scale spectaculars and soliciting entries to the gallery. After a decade or so, Vision On was dropped but Tony stayed on our screens with Take Hart, a more conventional art programme, but which kept much of the visual imagination of Vision On, much of it of Tony’s invention, with others thanks to a huge number of tiny cottage industries like the embryonic Aardman. When the Saturday morning shows began Hart was also a regular guest where he’d often be challenged to draw to order. In the early eighties a lot of the familiar faces and formats in kids TV were looking a bit old hat and some famous names were out the door, but Hart knew the value of innovating so Take Hart became the funkier Hartbeat, with Tony joined by some young people with some new ideas, and a greater emphasis on design, as well as the comic exploits of Mr Bennett, which doubtless helped extend Tony’s career to another generation. A decade on it was time for another change and when Hartbeat became Smart Tony didn’t come with it this time, but not to worry because his gentler approach was just right for younger children so he carried on in a number of smaller scale shows like The Art Box Bunch and Smart Hart with the wonderful Kirsten O’Brien. By now he was in his seventies and, despite still being much loved, decided it was about time to call it a day. Sadly, Tony suffered from very poor health in his later years which led to him being unable to draw, and there was genuine sorrow when he died in 2009. Happily, though, he inspired thousands of people who went on to great success so his legacy lives on. Not sure what he did with all those gallery entries though.
Tuesday 15th May
BBC Radio 2
22.00 Perry Como – The Singing Barber
Well, Jimmy Young certainly seems to have settled his differences with the Beeb because he’s back on Radio 2 again to present this special. Never as fashionable as Bennett or Martin, or as charismatic as Sinatra or Crosby, Perry Como certainly sold records by the truckload and apparently didn’t give a toss if people slagged him off for being bland and unexciting on stage. What we’re perhaps most interested in is his Christmas shows, including the fabulously cliched Olde Englishe Christmas, which the Beeb ripped off to the letter for Val Doonican.
Wednesday 16th May
19.30 The Unforgettable Noele Gordon
It wasn’t all Meg for Nolly, as her TV career actually started before the war, and she even appeared in the early colour telly experiments mounted by John Logie Baird himself. Later she became “women’s programme adviser” at ATV which wasn’t the desk job it sounds but more or less a golden handcuffs contract that saw her present myriad chat shows and ad-mags in the early days of ITV, before 1964 saw her appear in some soap or other where we hear her schoolboy son wasn’t much use and she was expecting a Spanish cook. Here’s all of that, but mostly Crossroads, in 22 minutes.
Thursday 17th May
19.30, 23.20 Top of the Pops
So away we go with, as promised, The Best Night Of Old Telly Ever. The audience on the last show with Tony were comically unimpressed with what was going on, never better illustrated when they were invited to sit down and look even more bored while Legs and Co were prancing around, never mind Lynsey De Paul’s doomed attempts at audience participation. At least Travis might be able to bully a smile out of someone.
20.00 Blue Peter
Bloody hell! A complete episode from Monday 4th November 1974! It’s Petra’s birthday, too, making it particularly iconic, though the reason we’re getting it now is because also included is a look behind the scenes of Television Centre, which we’ll see more of later this evening. And this is the kind of show we thought would never ever be repeated so we’re absolutely thrilled.
20.30, 00.00 Top of the Pops
We were wondering why they took a break for The Sky At Night last week given there’s only four wiped episodes this year and we’ve already missed four weeks, but that means we can get back on schedule with a double bill! Hooray! So we zip forward to 5th May with Noel in charge and if anyone at Twitter HQ is wondering why it’s completely crashed at about twenty to nine it’s because the remarkable Joy Sarney’s on it. And as you can see both these episodes are as usual shown in full later on.
21.00 Tales of Television Centre
We have no hesitation in suggesting that this will be the best programme about old telly for absolutely ages, maybe since TV Hell. For a start, it’s produced by former Blue Peter editor and all round top Creamer Richard Marson who absolutely loves old telly and has come up with hundreds of obscure and amazing clips. It’s a luxurious ninety minutes full of anecdotes and stories about the greatest building in Britain, and never mind the papers just picking out the rude bits, it’s going to be fantastically evocative and entertaining viewing. We can’t wait. And if you can’t, don’t forget it’s also being premiered at the BFI on Tuesday with loads of the contributors attending.
17.45 Blue Peter
The second most interesting episode of Blue Peter on today, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be great fun in it’s own way as the gang tell us how to hold a Jubilee street party, surely the ultimate Blue Peter item.
BBC Radio 4
11.30 Follow Up Albums
This series isn’t just about That Difficult Second Album but any LP that needed to live up to a best seller, starting in grand style with Don’t Stand Me Down by Dexys Midnight Runners, which is now considered a fine piece of work but which, after their previous LP had sold millions, baffled and bemused the general public to such an extent it may as well have been glued to the shelves at HMV.
Friday 18th May
21.00 Barry Manilow at the BBC
22.00 One Night with Barry Manilow
Used to be that Manilow’s fans were famously the most loyal in the world. always ready to send hundred page missives in green ink to any journalist or DJ who uttered anything that even sounded like it might not be a hundred percent positive about their hero. Not sure how big his fanbase is now but he’s had a decent enough career to justify a BBC4 retrospective, followed by a concert from 2004 which we remember being on Saturday night BBC1.
Bit of a low-key way to end this week’s edition but we’re sure you’ll agree next Thursday on BBC4 is absolutely fantastic. Next Thursday is also when the next issue of Creamguide comes out (though we’re going to put it all together before those ace shows come on so we won’t spoil any of it for you), and if you want to get it then, subscribe here