For the benefit of those who cannot hear our voice
Hullo again and welcome to Creamguide in the week that Blue Peter isn’t being axed. Again. If you’re getting this via e-mail we’re a little earlier this week purely because we want to go and watch the ace night of telly on BBC4 (apart from the Coldplay concert). If you’re reading it on the site it’s been and gone but it’ll all be on iPlayer and will definitely be worth checking out. As ever, the pleasure of your company is requested via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 19th May
12.50 The Scottish Cup Final (er, Scotland)
We always forget to bill this, but the Scottish Cup Final is a pleasing counterpoint to the English match this year, as it’s quite an exciting fixture, it kicks off at three o’clock, it’s after the league season has finished and, of course, it’s on the BBC.
17.40 Don’t Panic! The Dad’s Army Story
18.30 Dad’s Army
19.00 You Have Been Watching… David Croft
Not a very interesting Saturday night from BBC2 this week, given the former has been on more times than some episodes of the series, and the latter is getting its third showing in less than six months. So instead let’s head to the mailbag and Paul Jones, who says, “Your mention of the Perry Como documentary and Little Town reminded me of another excellent and very underrated Christmas record – namely My Christmas Dream by The Singing Barber himself with the London Boys Choir, whoever they were singing the German bit. Despite also being the theme song for The Odessa File and being written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, for some inexplicable reason it failed to chart when released at Christmas 74. Maybe we’d have more luck persuading RCA to re-release this for Jublympic Christmas 2012. I’d say it’s easily as good as ‘Crackdown Prices/Is it any wonder/at Christmas Woolworths is the place to be’ or ‘Ding dong Ding Dong Ding a Long A ding Dong/BBC 1′s got a lot of things on’.” How did we start talking about Christmas?
08.00 The Big Match Revisited
You could have started last weekend watching Brian Moore tip Manchester City for relegation from Division One and ended it watching them with the Premier League, making this repeat run somewhat timely. Similarly this week Chelsea fans getting up early with excitement regarding their big match tonight can see them desperately trying to avoid sinking into the third tier. Better yet they can see Fulham cock up their promotion bid while they’re at it.
21.00 Stars In Their Eyes
There’ll be much more from this channel later but we’ll draw your attention to this new arrival because… it’s presented by Leslie Crowther! In fact last week was the first ever episode from 1990 and it’s great watching that kind of thing and hearing presenters explain concepts everyone now knows. Such is the evergreen nature of the format it’s not that different to what we were getting at the end (though we were surprised to hear Les refer to their “star guests” as we thought Matthew Kelly started saying that) but the best bit is during the interviews. We remembered they did them in front of a backdrop representing their job, as if to further emphasise how ordinary their lives were (rather spoilt when the second contestant was a full-time singer), but we’d forgotten they had to wear their work clothes as well.
BBC Radio 2
13.00 Pick of the Pops
We think Tony mentioned two other years last week but according to this it’s 1963 and 1977, and if it is watch out in the second hour for spoilers for Thursday nights on BBC4 in a few weeks.
BBC Radio 4
21.00 A History of the Stiff Upper Lip
We think it was Popstars The Rivals where crying on telly really became commonplace, with everything blubbing non-stop during that rather contrived series, especially the blokes. Like explaining editorial decisions on air, it’s something that never used to happen, of course, and here’s a look at when and why the British started to express emotion in public.
Sunday 20th May
16.10 Points of View
The Points of View roadshow was back on the rails last week as Jeremy went to Glasgow and had a nose around BBC Scotland, mentioning every single programme that’s made there along the way. Incidentally one of the programmes they mentioned was a new drama coming soon set in the Shetlands which we know is being produced by ITV Studios – you know, the same ITV that STV are continually opting out of because their output isn’t relevant to Scottish viewers. While STV’s only drama in the last year was made and set in London.
19.00 Tales of Television Centre
Well, obviously we billed this when it first shown last Thursday, but we’re billing it again not just because we know it’s going to be ace and we’d doubtless like to see it again, but also because we know they’ve also made a pre-watershed version which loses the sex and the drugs (mostly from Play School presenters, we note) and replaces it with some rather more wholesome material, and presumably this is it. Which is not only good news for the family audience, but also for the large percentage of the audience who will appreciate this show who get terribly embarrassed about that kind of thing.
And another appropriate repeat to run alongside it. There have been plenty of sketch shows that have involved TV Centre, but we can only think of a few sitcoms that have worked the donut into the plot – Extras, of course, that episode of One Foot where they go to be in the audience of a sitcom and Victor talks about urinating next to Peter Sissons, and this very famous episode, The Lift.
Monday 21st May
A new series! Apropos of absolutely nothing, other than of course the need by BBC2 to fill ten hours up as cheaply as possible. There’s no theme for these programmes, and it’s not marking any particular season or anniversary, it’s just a new series of TOTP2 with the familiar varied mix of the over-exposed and the obscure, and it’s on every night this and next week for an hour at a time. And it’ll make for fine teatime viewing, we reckon.
22.00 Sounds of the Seventies
That said, we get ninety minutes on BBC2 tonight plundering the Pops archive yet still they don’t realise that it might be worthwhile continuing to add to it. Highlights last week were Tony Blackburn’s extremely curious dance to Exile and, of course, the coughing camel, and we are enjoying the playful out-of-context editing of those clips. Good news for Geoffrey Cannon this week as it’s Rock-with-a-capital-R, including Nazareth and AC/DC.
21.00 56 Up
We are indebted to Louis Barfe for pointing out that the only reason Peter has come back into this series was seemingly to get Michael Apted to make a free video for his band. Still, at least he’s in it, and here are some more familiar faces in the second part.
18.00 Family Fortunes
Yes! As hoped for last week, we do indeed have BOB <==== in charge during “the 1983 season”, as he has it, and it’s fantastic. The big differences you notice from later years of ‘fortunes are a) the huge number of spot prizes (including a Melody moped and a writing slope) that are given away, including at the buzzer and on the steal, which they never did under Les, and b) how incredibly hard the questions are. It took six goes before anyone was able to find any answer to “Something you’d love to do but wouldn’t”, which was “rob a bank” and the families were only able to find one other answer between them, failing to get the likes of “SHOOT NEIGHBOUR” and “BELT POLITICIAN”. We also like how verbose Mr Babbage is, as when someone suggested “crying” as something that makes your eyes puffy, it went up on the board as “WEEPING SAD/JOY”. Well worth a watch.
Basically, this is just Blockbusters as it would have been if it had never ended, with a slightly snazzier looking board but the same modest prizes – including the fiver for a correct answer – and the same air of good humour, and we’re very pleased because there should be more amiable quizzes where everyone’s being really pleasant to each other and we can shout the answers at the screen. Maybe a bit flimsy for primetime, but that’s what recorders (and endless repeats) are for.
Meanwhile, after the original episode that brought about the ace “Are you ready, Bobby? ‘E’s pissin’ deaf!” outtake, we’ve now moved onto the 1985 series which we’re saying is the start of the imperial phase with the Bully’s Bus titles, the audience in shot throughout and professionals only competing for the Bronze Bully, though sadly we’ve lost the ITV region announcement. We think it might be the speedboat series too. It’s also the series with the introduction of an incredibly petty and specific new rule whereby if a contestant gets a question wrong, if someone buzzes in to steal and is clearly just buzzing for the sake of it and guessing, they lose £20 for wasting Jim’s time, clearly a rule they decided to bring in after a contestant took the piss. Nobody seems to have fallen foul of this rule yet – with contestants not being penalised if they make a genuine effort to answer, even if it’s wrong – which leads us to wonder why they even mention it and don’t just have a quiet word when the cameras aren’t rolling. This show continues to amaze.
BBC Radio 4
11.30 With Nobbs On
We’re not quite sure what he contributed to the last Reggie Perrin series but David Nobbs remains one of our finest comic writers, and in this series he’s going to be reliving his entire career, and in front of a studio audience to boot. Basically it’s going to be one marathon after-dinner speech, but that’s OK because it’s bound to be highly amusing, and it’s not going to be too self-indulgent as the first part’s about his hopeless early fumblings.
19) ROY CASTLE
The very definition of ‘multi-talented’, there wasn’t anything Roy Castle couldn’t do, and with bags of charm to boot. Something of a prodigy, he was already an extremely proficient dancer, singer and musician of an early age, touring the nation’s theatres, and his big break came in 1958 when he appeared on New Look, an ITV show devoted to introducing new comic talent, which certainly achieved that aim as Roy starred alongside Bruce Forsyth and was immediately headhunted to appear on the Royal Variety Performance. Adding another string to his bow, he was also a jolly good actor, achieving immortality alongside Doctor Who Peter Cushing in the Doctor Who And The Daleks film and also starring in Carry On Up The Khyber and famously, Dr Terror’s House of Horror. But what we’re most interested in is Record Breakers, which he launched in 1972 by breaking the record for playing the most musical instruments in one song (43) and was tailor made for Roy’s enthusiasm, talent and easy manner with the public, even making the creepy McWhirter twins come across as almost human. Roy was usually try and break at least one record a series – we had vivid memories of the longest tap dance record, from the Trocadero – and famously performed both the opening theme (“The McWhirters, mmm, they would record it!”) and the closing theme (“that’s what you need!”). Also in the seventies came a couple of other kids shows, the fantastic sounding Roy Castle Beats Time, which was just a mass studio sing-off with a mob of schoolkids, and Let’s Make A Musical, which was more or less the same thing but with a bit more of a structure, and in 1975 he was pressed into standing in for an ill Brucie on the Generation Game, which he did with his usual professionalism. Every Christmas for eight years, too, Roy also marshalled all his kids TV colleagues on the All Star Record Breakers cajoling the likes of John Craven into dancing, and Kenneth Williams said Roy’s charm made an otherwise appalling recording session tolerable. Sadly Roy had so many talents, it wasn’t always easy to find a suitable vehicle for him, so he never quite became the big star he should have been, though he was happy enough working with kids and there were a few extra-curricular activities, including radio comedy in Castles In The Air, religion in Castles Abroad and we recall him also hosting Primetime, the magazine show for the older viewer. Sadly, Roy fell ill in 1992, but he continued working with plenty of enthusiasm until he could carry on no longer, and he died in 1994. It was a sad sad passing that left a void in more or less every part of TV.
18) RONNIE CORBETT
Seriously, though, why isn’t it Sir Ronnie Corbett? Surely one of the best loved entertainers in Britain, Ronnie’s still going strong today thanks to his ability to move with the times which meant he was able to get huge ratings on Christmas Day just two years ago. Born in 1930, Ron always wanted to get into showbiz and initially hoped to be a proper serious actor which seemed unlikely given his short stature, not helped by an early job as comic relief on Crackerjack. Some more minor roles followed by an important relationship was with Danny La Rue, as he got a job performing cabaret at his London club, where he was talent spotted by David Frost and booked to appear on The Frost Report, where he first worked with one Ronnie Barker. Frost championed him from then on, giving him his own sitcom in No That’s Me Over Here and taking him over to LWT to appear in sketches on his shows there, again with Ronnie B, and it was a performance while killing time due to a technical fault in the BAFTAs that saw the pair signed up to do a show on the Beeb. While the Two Ronnies formula because extremely familiar in later years, it took a bit of time to get the mix right and in the first series Ron’s monologue was delivered from a number of locations, including while seated at a piano (the audience laughed at “goodnight from him” too, though you forget it was once a new joke). Later he found an armchair and, while the monologue always seemed a bit skippable while you were young, later we’ve come to appreciate Ron’s marvellous delivery. The pair were always quick to point out they weren’t a double act and Ronnie C certainly diversified during the run. Much more at ease being himself, he hosted the chat and variety show Ronnie Corbett’s Saturday Special (later going under the less sensational name of the Thursday Special, then just The Ronnie Corbett Special to make it easier to repeat) and appeared in sitcoms including Now Look Here and, famously, Sorry, which probably went on too long but is a great example of a sturdy, amiable sitcom of the kind British TV used to specialise in, and Ron was great in. When Ronnie B called it a day in 1987, everyone was quick to write off Ronnie C’s chances of continuing his career, and indeed much of his time since then has been spent talking about Ronnie B, but he’s kept himself busy with quizzes like Small Talk and regular guest appearances, and also benefited from being mates with the new breed of comedy star like David Walliams and Rob Brydon which has led to guest appearances on Little Britain and Extras, and his One Ronnie special last Christmas which we thought was a lot of fun. Not bad for a man of five foot one.
17) SPIKE MILLIGAN
Vivat Milligna! Undoubtedly the most creative and inventive comic mind of his generation, it’s perhaps not surprising that churning out thousands of scripts a year eventually caused him some distress, but he certainly leaves a massive legacy. He was also genuinely multi-talented, with Creamguide’s first exposure to Spike being his collections of children’s poetry which we used to love. However Spike once said his obituary would consist of “Wrote The Goon Show, died”, and the Go Ons certainly dominate any appraisal of his career. Spike had ideas coming out of his ears and wrote umpteen episodes a year, once spending so long chained to his typewriter penning some more episodes he had to send his wife a telegram to get him a cup of tea. Attempts to transfer the Goons to the screen weren’t always that successful – apart from The Telegoons, perhaps – and there were also a worryingly large number of TV appearances that involved him blacking up (though it was always done to satirise racism) but in 1969, Spike was finally able to find a long-running vehicle for his humour in Q5, which also managed to piss off the Pythons when they realised he’d done everything they were trying to do. Q5 and its successors were some of the strangest programmes ever committed to tape, with their half-complete sets, often plain scary costumes and make-up and sketches that often just fell apart halfway through – an acquired taste, but one certainly worth acquiring. They would have been even more bizarre if Spike got his way and directed them himself, and indeed his battles with the Beeb to do what he wanted were legendary, and after his final series – called There’s A Lot Of It About, apparently because the Beeb were fed up with the stupid Q title – in 1982, he went on to say that when people asked him how to get on telly he’d always tell them he didn’t know because he couldn’t get on it either. There were regular guest appearances, though, including a memorable turn on Blankety Blank where he answered every question with the word “truss”, the bit where he called Prince Charles a bastard and the kids show The Ratties, written by his daughter, which he narrated and sung the theme tune for in his own inimitable style. Of course for much of his life his new work had to compete with The Goons, which overshadowed everything and remains repeated to this day. It’s not quite the sensation it was in the fifties but never has any show been so dedicated to being so stupid.
Tuesday 22nd May
Ah, we may as well bill them all anyway. As the original format of TOTP2 dictates – though you forget that in the first year or so the archive clippage was only a small part of the programme – there’s going to be some new stuff on these shows as well, though we don’t think they’ve filmed any new performances, it’s all videos, which at least will give us a further opportunity to hear new music outside adverts and montages on Football Focus.
20.00 The Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final
As entertaining as Eurovision is, we’ve never really felt the need to treble the amount of time we spend with it by watching the semi-finals as well, although we know they have something of a ramshackle charm about them, especially the one the UK can’t vote in. But if you need to study the form, here they are tonight and Thursday.
Wednesday 23rd May
After deciding to bill all these, we’re now running out of stuff to mention, so thank God for Paul Jones. “Looking forward to Joy Sarney on Top of the Pops 1977. There’s no show without Punch! What a strange label John Schroeder’s Alaska was, Ms Sarney providing the only hit they ever had though they did also release Ronnie Barker’s Pispronounnciation monologue and some ahead of/behind their time British rockabilly singles from the Flying Saucers.” The Floral Dance is on this one and we only realised recently that Tel actually performed it on Pops twice, though both performances are more or less the same, especially as he corpses in the exact same moment in both.
19.30 The Unforgettable Dudley Moore
There was that documentary on Radio 2 the other week that reminded us Dud didn’t just play the piano for laughs, he was actually really bloody good at it, a fantastically proficient musician, as well as a highly popular actor and comedian. Sadly all the aspects of his career have to fit into 24 minutes here so there won’t be much depth, but it’s a decent enough nostalgia fix.
23.05 The Unforgettable Hattie Jacques
That one’s new, this one’s a repeat, and again we more or less know everything there is to know about Hat, not just thanks to the BBC4 biopic but also because of her role in the John Le Mesurier documentary the other week. Here she is in real life though.
22.00 Euros’ Most Shocking Moments
In the last episode of The Seventies, how come all the football clips came from ITV, including Brian Moore describing the Tartan Army’s invasion of Wembley in 1977, despite it being an in-house BBC production? This is probably going to be a bit irritating but at least we’ll get to see the clips with the “right” commentary, including Barry Davies’ ace “Oooooh noooooo!”. And we’ll stop talking about the Euros for now because we’ll bore you to death about them when they’re actually underway.
BBC Radio 2
22.00 Englebert Humperdinck – What’s In A Name
This is supposed to be the last year when the Beeb can sort out our Eurovision entry completely off their own backs because from next year all the competitors have to choose their entry based on a public vote, although presumably they don’t have to make much of an effort. Enge was a bit of a leftfield choice when he was announced but the song’s grown on us and he seems suitably dignified about the whole thing, and to get us further on side here’s a new profile of his entire career.
Thursday 24th May
Nearly there. We hear there’s another attempt to launch a new Top of the Pops in the pipeline as they’ve just filmed (or are about to, we can’t remember) the pilot for a new BBC3 show called The Hit Machine with Radio 1′s Greg James. Much as we like Pops, we’d be happy if this was commissioned and Pops never comes back because we just want a pop show on telly, it doesn’t have to just include records going up the charts and the Top 40 in full so we can write it down in our exercise book, as long as it’s putting pop on the telly. Anyway, let’s wait and see. In the meantime, it’s all Pops, all the time, and straight after this, you can switch to…
19.30, 00.00 Top of the Pops
…for the hardcore viewer, natch. Just the one this week, but it’s one we’ve been looking forward to for ages because it features an incredibly eclectic line-up, from Marvin Gaye to Mud to The Martin Ford Orchestra, plus a particularly memorable Legs & Co routine, which will set Twitter alight and be hugely entertaining, everything you would ever want from this show and the combination you would never see anywhere else, even TOTP2 would baulk at its range. And who better to helm this cavalcade of the brilliant and the bizarre but Jim?
17.45 Blue Peter
And so to the ten trillionth Blue Peter Axed story, which even made it to the front page of the Daily Mirror, despite the fact nothing of the sort is happening and the announcement this week was simply a rubber-stamping of a decision that was announced months ago and will make no difference to kids at all, the only people upset are people with no kids who wish telly was the same as it was in 1975. One show that has been axed is Doctor Who Confidential – which is no great loss as we never felt the need to watch the making of every episode five seconds after we’d just seen it – so Blue Peter now takes up the mantle of the kids’ Write A Who Story competition, and we’ll see the results here.
BBC Radio 2
22.00 From ABBA to Azerbaijan
It’s not on Cup Final day this year, alas, and it’s opposite an England match to boot, but this year’s Eurovision will of course give us the chance to see what Azerbaijani telly looks like – although it normally looks exactly like every other country in the world because it’s so professional these days. Most of this documentary was made in 2006 but they’ve added a whole chunk of new stuff with Graham and Enge.
BBC Radio 4
11.30 Follow Up Albums
The Great British Public agreed with The Reynolds Girls in 1979 – we know they didn’t sing it until a decade later, but you know what we mean – by leaving Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk festering on the record shop shelves and just listening to Rumours again instead. Here’s why.
Friday 25th May
Last one of these for the week, but it’s on all next week as well, and we’re pleased to have it back because there’s normally always at least something worth seeing on it, including Jilted John this week, and we don’t know why they don’t just run it as a regular weekly series. If only because this is really going to take up space on our PVR like this as we really don’t like having too much on there as it starts to overwhelm us a bit and feels like a chore having to watch it. But then, we’re nuts.
21.00 Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
22.00 A Pink Floyd Miscellany
One of the few music shows on the Beeb this week presumably not to include clips from Top of the Pops, as the Floyd were far too important for that kind of thing. The former is new and tells the story of that seminal album, the latter is a repeat of a clip show.
And that’s it for this week, a bit Pops-heavy but we can only bill what’s put in front of us. More of that kind of thing next week and if you fancy that, subscribe here