CREAMGUIDE: 20th-26th October 2012

Some lovely guitar work on that

Yes, it’s Creamguide time once again, and you’re welcome to it. Plenty to get on with this week, including on Tuesday a particularly important moment in the history of British television that you may not have spotted, so, after a quick reminder that creamguide@tvcream.co.uk is open for business as usual, let’s immediately press on with those listings.

Saturday 20th October

BBC2

20.30 Dad’s Army
And we start this week with Adrian Fry in the mailbag. “Secret TV memories? Well, I was at primary school in the late seventies and a story did the rounds in the playground to the effect that if you put the telly on in the early hours of the morning you could catch silent films of Nazi concentration camps. Quite why you’d want to I’ve no idea, but it was something the BBC did (the light channel must have had scruples). Anyway, I determined to see one of these broadcasts, setting my alarm and hardly being able to sleep for fear of it going off and waking Mum or Dad. I got downstairs at 3am and – after a lot of blundering about in the dark plugging in – got the telly on. Nothing. I stared into the snow and white noise for awhile, anticipating Poltergeist by some years, before Dad stomped in saying ‘What the bloody hell is going on?’ I didn’t fully explain, just mumbled that I ‘thought there might be something on.'”

21.45 The Thick Of It
Last week’s episode was a right racket, and perhaps a bit too over-frantic for its own good, but it was intriguing to see Malcolm being a thoroughly unlikable bastard – compared to his usual role as a thoroughly likeable bastard – because he’s so charismatic it’s easy to forget he’s really quite horrible. If you thought there was too much shouting, though, this should be more your scene, and it looks fascinating as it’s an hour long and devoted entirely to the protagonists taking part in that inquiry.

00.30 How The Brits Rocked America – Go West
Last part of this. Adrian also says, “I fondly remember the ITV strike of 1979 and how the apology card was required viewing. I thought you weren’t supposed to watch it, so did. What you mostly got was an unintentional education in funereal Russian classical music, but what stays with me most is an episode of schools programme Experiment ‘shown’ in sound only. Weird and uniquely pointless. There was a story in the press about some technician, I think, who replaced the apology card with a shot of his face for a while one day. I wish I’d seen it, but it wasn’t on in the Harlech area. Like Space 1999, but that’s another grievance.”

ITV4

08.00 The Big Match Revisited
Everyone moans about modern football but we doubt there’s been anything quite as entertaining as ninety minutes of primetime ITV this week being devoted to Adrian Chiles looking out of the window and moaning, which was the case on Tuesday until they finally decided to call off the England match. We much prefer Chiles presenting matches that aren’t happening to those that are, such is his ability to wax a little wry, and we were a bit disappointed when it finally got played, although the 4pm kick-of was a pleasing reminder of the traditional Eastern Bloc teatime kick-off. Here we’re back in the winter of discontent when matches actually were played, and here are two of the FA Cup quarter finals, and the only two anyone saw because the Beeb were supposed to show the other two and were on strike.

Challenge

20.00 Bob’s Full House
Excitingly we’re getting this from episode one in 1984, and Bob was clearly right up for it, punching the set with excitement when he arrived on stage. We like how the contestants had their own physical cardboard bingo card they could keep an eye on during the game, but it’s a testament to the umpteen revisions to the format that it was all there from the start and it was so easy to get the gist of. And the final Full House round is brilliant fun as it goes out at about a million miles an hour, with Bob rattling through the questions. As great today as it’s always been.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
This week’s Radio 2 news is that Mike Harding’s on his way out, apparently because he was told they wanted to do the show live, even though he says he would have done it live if they’d asked, but his replacement Mark Radcliffe certainly knows his folk so we’re sure he’ll make a smashing job of it. On this show last week Tony managed to play a version of World In Union by Kiri Te Kanawa that didn’t have any Kiri Te Kanawa on it, so let’s hope he keeps an eye out in 1962 and 1981.

Sunday 21st October

BBC1

16.35 Points of View
Aargh, for heaven’s sake, they CANNOT show stuff when BBC3 and BBC4 are not on air because they’re showing CBBC and Cbeebies, HOW many times must they point this out? If they need it explaining again, though, get Cbeebies executive Ewan Vinnicombe to do it, whose easy manner in front of the camera was surely just as appealing as his presenters while he was telling us the rules to getting your birthday card shown, including one about not featuring any non-Cbeebies characters to avoid embarrassment.

BBC2

18.30 Fawlty Towers
Last week we were so busy billing programmes made in 2012 we completely neglected to bill one from 1975, which is rather the point of us being here, never mind the fact it’s the one of the most famous programmes in the history of television to boot. Still, it’s not like you haven’t seen it before, but it looks like we’re getting the whole thing again. No Radio Times cover this time, though, like in 1995.

ITV

19.00 Surprise Surprise
ITV were planning to bring this back as a one-off but it looks like they’ve had so much fun making it, they’ve turned it into a series instead, and they’ve already sold the format to American telly too. Never mind no Cilla, there’s also no Bob Carolgees or Gordon Burns either, but it’s a sturdy old format and it’s nice they’ve put it in more or less the same slot it had in its imperial phase (though it won’t do much against Strictly). We probably won’t watch it to be honest but we’re quite pleased to know it’s here because we need more warm-hearted light entertainment on the telly that involves people crying tears of joy, rather than sadness.

More4

19.30 A Night in With Fanny
Everyone’s talking about Fanny Cradock! Or at least, there was a round about her on Mastermind the other day and now she’s the subject of this sort-of theme night on More4. It’s not much about her, though, it’s mostly the same shows starring Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey this channel shows every day of the week, but in between Debra Stephenson is going to play the role of Fanny and cook some modern dishes in her own inimitable fashion. We don’t know why.

Monday 22nd October

BBC4

20.00 London on Film
Best one of the lot, this, it’s the story of the East End and it’s full of hilariously stilted newsreels with cheeky chappies unconvincingly relaying tales of Cockney life. “Righto, Guvnor!”

BBC Radio 4

11.00 Earworms
We think Are You Dancing by Hudson-Ford has just about left our consciousness now but here’s Shaun Keaveney to look further at the phenomenon of tunes you just can’t get out of your head, including meeting a woman who has spent the last 25 years or so constantly singing Nathan Jones by Bananarama. Not even a good Bananarama song! Cruel Summer we could understand.

Past Times This week's - ner ner ner -  Radio Times!

22nd-28th October 1983

ON THE COVER: One of our favourite ever covers, this, Lord Bob in his comedy parlour heralding his triumphant return to the Beeb after nearly two decades in the bosom of independent television. Bob’s Full House was to follow but first it was The Bob Monkhouse Show, in the cushy slot opposite Panorama on Monday night BBC2 and the first episode featuring Bob’s hero Bob Hope, whose career had been a real inspiration. “In the early days, the critics really panned me, they didn’t so much savage my game shows as ignore them. I cheered myself up by reading reviews of Bob Hope films. The critics seemed to dislike them all, but he survived. I love chewing the fat with comedy men. I can’t ask the journalistic, investigative question like Michael Parkinson. But I can get a comic response.” And Bob, as he ever would be, was proud of his quizzes – “They’re the only shows, apart from football matches, where people actually shout at the screen, become involved. They’re dramas about human beings and you don’t know how the plot is going to turn out.” At 55, Bob was already a real veteran, and there were good reasons why. “I wanted to be the most watchable host who would go on the longest. I worked on that.”

ON OTHER PAGES: Still a newcomer to comedy, but someone who would become an elder statesman, was Jasper Carrott, back with a new series of Carrott’s Lib. After a nose behind the scenes of the last series – “During rehearsal today, one of the cameraman laughed. First time ever. They sacked him.” – which reminds us that this piece was some ten months in the making, Jasper offers his view on why the show works. “The most important thing about going live is that the audience are live. It’s the difference between electricity and candlelight. What we try to do is, when we’re all introduced, we start the show and then the cameras just come in, and the audience at home joins what’s already going on. That’s why we don’t have a signature tune or any credits. When I come on, I say ‘when we come on air, I want a big laugh so everyone thinks they’ve missed something’. You establish a rapport with the audience. So that what you’re trying to say is, come on, help us out.”

ALL THIS AND ANDY ROONEY TONIGHT ON SIXTY MINUTES: The disastrous teatime current affairs show had its first appalling episode on Monday this week, but editor David Lloyd was very hopeful, saying “The first thing to say is that it makes much more sense of the components of early evening viewing. It provides an organised hour of international, national and regional news and current affairs in logical order.” Except, of course, it was nothing of the sort as the regions demanded to go on at six, right in the middle of it. Lloyd says, “The programme will be very lively, faster in pace and surprise you more often, But it will not be trivial or irrelevant. No glamorous grandmothers or nurse of the year competitions.” In fact it had nothing to do with Nationwide, because Lloyd was more interested in the old Tonight programme. “I remember that Cy Grant and Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor sang a funny song, a comment on the day’s events. It’s not intended as a copy but we will have sketch writers and performers. We aim to leave viewers at 6.40 with a wry smile, sometimes even a belly laugh.” Mostly at ITV, it appears.

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES: As well as those three we’ve just mentioned, there was plenty more new stuff about as the clocks went back this week so the ratings shot up. The big night was Tuesday where, after Record Breakers at teatime, with new host Fiona Kennedy, at 7.40 was the first ever Don’t Wait Up. “Having just come through an acrimonious and expensive divorce, Tom Latimer, a hard working GP, now lives alone in a flat while his ex-wife has their rather lovely house. To add insult to injury, he had to pay her rent to use his surgery. All in all, he can well do without the news his father brings.” Then at 8.10 Dallas “blazes back to the screen” to use RT’s rather melodramatic phrase. On Thursday at ten, meanwhile, Question Time is back with John Selwyn Gummer, Ken Livingstone, Claire Brooks and Clive Sinclair. There they are, and here we go.

NOT A REPEAT: Just before Question Time the first highly successful series of Just Good Friends is on, while it’s a big moment on Sunday at 8.40 as, apart from a final fling at Christmas, it’s the last regular episode of The Good Old Days, with Duggie Brown, Marti Webb and Jan Hunt among those bringing down the curtain. On Wednesday afternoon it’s the fondly remembered Seaview, starring Yvette Fielding, and her performance so stuck in the memory of Biddy Baxter, four years later she was rooting through old contracts to find her details to offer her the job on Blue Peter. This is a repeat but The Family is getting another run on Saturday nights on BBC2, with a new episode at the end of it, though rather less memorable is Penelope Keith’s long-forgotten post-Margo-and-Audrey sitcom Sweet Sixteen, where the plot of her going out with a teenager was considered in rank bad taste.

TANTALISING-SOUNDING PROGRAMME WE’LL NEVER SEE: Riverside on Monday at 6.30 on BBC2 presents its usual eclectic line-up, including “a studio performance from The Glove, recently formed by Steve Severin of The Banshees and Robert Smith of The Cure”. There’s also “a quick look at the latest Vivienne Westwood fashions plus video and interview from Phillip Glass, recently described as ‘the thinking man’s pop musician’.” And we’re pretty sure that would now look more outdated and archaic than anything else the Beeb were showing this week.

ROB BARKER’S ADVERT SPOT: It’s National Teletext Month, and as well as Radio Times having tellies to give away, everyone’s flogging their flatter squarer tube models. Philips have even invented a new teletext system, “appropriately called Supertext. Because it stores page numbers, it’s much easier to use. And thanks to its Beambooster circuitry, it’s much easier to read.” Never mind Beambooster, give us Bamber Boozler. Sorry. ITT, meanwhile, have come up with Quartz Tuning, “a system which utilises the incredible accuracy of quartz and digital technology with a tuner capable of checking and resetting itself up to a thousand times every second. It guarantees a crystal clear picture that won’t drift from day to day.” A bigger selling point is that Creamguide’s dad was working at ITT around this time, maybe he’d helped to make the set on offer. Ferguson have roped in Andrew Preview to plug their sets, announcing “It’s sharper, brighter and has the richest colours I’ve ever seen. I’d say it’s the best picture of all time.”

THE SO-CALLED GOLDEN AGE: Two contenders for TV hell in this issue, not just Sixty Minutes but also, on Wednesday at 8.10 on BBC2, Bookmark’s notorious coverage of the Booker Prize, ineptly fronted by Selina Scott, who for many years complained “some wally” would always bring it up, as well they might given she asked chair of the judges Fay Weldon if she’d read all the books, then the famous novelist Angela Carter who she was. On Saturday BBC2 also present the final of their week of Photo-Assignment, judging the best photos sent in by viewers (a few weeks after the rest of the shows, to give them time to develop), presented by that obvious dignified BBC2 figure, Dave Lee Travis.

WOULDN’T HAPPEN NOW DEPARTMENT: Sport sport sport in the schedules this week, in the period when it was making up about a quarter of BBC2’s line-up for 2% of its budget. There’s a snooker tournament on so that’s all over the place, but it’s not one of the big championships but the State Express World Team Classic, a contrived format between ragged national teams. We’ve got the Welsh edition here so you can watch Wales vs Japan on Saturday afternoon, opting out of Grandstand, see the highlights on Sunday afternoon on BBC Wales’ imaginatively-named sports show Sports Line-Up and, if you don’t like rugby, switch over to BBC2 and watch, er, the same match on Rugby Special. One BBC in full effect. Although actually that might not have happened as on Friday night was supposed to be the first ever live league football on BBC1 between Watford and West Ham – a few weeks after ITV had shown the first live league match ever – but it had to be cancelled because of a strike.

HOUSEKEEPING: Saturday night on BBC1 brings us 5.20 Hi-de-Hi (repeats), 5.50 The Late Late Breakfast Show, 6.40 Blankety Blank (from the top, Norman Colier, Gloria Hunniford, Joe Brown, Lynsey de Paul, Danny La Rue, Wendy Richard), 7.10 Juliet Bravo, 8.00 The Paul Daniels Magic Show, 8.40 News with Jan Leeming, 8.55 Remington Steele, 9.45 Match of the Day, 10.35 Carrott’s Lib, 11.15 Late Night Horror: The Beast Must Die. On daytime Radio 1 it’s 6.00 Adrian John, 7.00 Peter Powell in for Mike Read, 9.00 Simon Bates, 11.30 Mike Smith, 2.00 Steve Wright, 4.30 Janice Long in for Peter Powell, 7.00 David Jensen (“with three hours of music – plus!”), 10.00 John Peel. It’s Si, Pete and Janet on Blue Peter and on Pops it’s DLT and, for the last time, Tony Blackburn.

THEY’VE HAD LOTS OF LETTERS: Mrs HM Carpenter of Bridgwater says, “My two great nieces, aged six and two years six months, have been obsessed with monsters, which I could not understand. I now do. Having had the younger one to stay with me over the last week, and watching all the tots’ programmes, I am astounded at the number of times monsters are mentioned on both channels. I am sure that many mothers would be a lot happier not having to cope with over-imaginative children’s nightmares and daymares, which I am convinced are not helped by presenters bringing in the horror aspect to their very excellent programmes.”

AH, WOULD THAT IT WERE: Martin Knopp of Totnes writes, “Robert Robinson’s desperate determination in Brain of Britain to avoid the simple and straightforward should not have led him to describe the audience as ‘stentorian’. Stentor achieved his reputation with his voice, and not his hands.”

Tuesday 23rd October

BBC1

REGIONALIA!
22.35 The Magic Box (Northern Ireland)

And so to that big moment in British TV we mentioned earlier, as tonight analogue television finishes for good after nearly eighty years. For many people, of course, this moment will pass them by because the switchover has been and gone, but Northern Ireland have the honour of seeing it off for good. BBC2 went the other day but tonight the rest are off, and so honoured is the province that not only are BBC Northern Ireland showing this special programme… but so are UTV simultaneously! Unsurprisingly for such cross-channel dominance, Eamonn Holmes is hosting, but hopefully he keep his links to a minimum in this history of Norn Iron telly in particular, and analogue telly in general.

Wednesday 24th October

BBC4

21.00 Voyager – To The Final Frontier
Space travel certainly captured the imagination in the Cream era, not just in July 1969 but also throughout the seventies and early eighties, when the exploits of the Space Shuttle were big enough news to justify Newsround specials and live inserts into Saturday SuperStore. It’s 35 years ago that NASA sent up the Voyager spacecraft to take a closer look at the universe, the result being a host of fascinating images, and here’s how they did it and what it ended up telling us.

BBC Radio 2

22.00 Barbara Windsor’s Ladies of Song
Here’s Babs with a new series looking at leading ladies of the past, this time turning her attention to those of a muscial persuasion, beginning with Alma Cogan. Very much the epitome of Radio 2 in its eighties and nineties Radio Quiet era, her ubiquity disguises the fact she was only 34 when she died, but she certainly churned out the recordings, this programme including some that have never been heard before.

Thursday 25th October

ITV

20.30 Emmerdale at 40
We’re sure when news of the England match being postponed arrived in Leeds there were some furrowed brows wondering if they’d have to reschedule the entire live Emmerdale at the last minute, but they got it out and it seemed to all go very well. What was perhaps most surprising was that ITV didn’t make more of a night of it, all being done and dusted by eight, and given how many times they’ve wheeled out the first ever Corrie, it’s perhaps surprising they elected not to show the first ever Emmerdale, especially as it has the advantage of being in colour. But no, just these clip shows instead.

BBC4

19.30, 01.35 Top of the Pops
Here’s someone we haven’t seen for a while, Stewpot, last seen on this channel almost exactly a year ago inviting us to get a pencil and paper ready to write down our suggested names for their new dance troupe. He’d done another episode since then but we didn’t see that because it was wiped, and this is his last hurrah before concentrating on the juvenile end of the market. Unfortunately we don’t get any punk, which is a shame as we’d love to see how he’d have dealt with the likes of The Adverts, but we do have Donna Summer’s trillionth single of the year.

CBBC

17.45 Blue Peter
We’ve not seen last week’s episode yet but we do more or less know what this year’s appeal will involve, and we can report that sadly it’s not something older viewers can join in with directly, which is a bit of a shame because we’d have happily collected cans or stamps and taken them down to Tesco (or Crazy Prices in Northern Ireland, of course). Presumably now everything’s reycled as a matter of course they’ll never be able to do appeals like that again, so it’s to their credit they’re able to come up with new ideas year after year.

Friday 26th October

BBC2

20.00 Mastermind
The Waltons is one of the subjects this week, which rather happily gives us the chance to mark the passing of T4, being axed at the end of the year, because when it began fourteen years ago the big controversy came from the fact The Waltons were included in the line-up – which certainly wouldn’t happen now, and came about as the strand enveloped the entire morning from 6am – and they got thousands of complaints from Waltons fans about the maassive DOG. In fact, Creamguide almost appeared on Right to Reply to put the boot into T4 in general, although we got replaced at the last minute by Andrew “625 Television Room” Wiseman, which is for the best, because we don’t care about DOGs anymore and we had a rather ill-advised haircut at that point which we’re glad was never committed to film. In any case, soon after they streamlined T4 to start after The Waltons and remove all the other non-teen stuff and the rest is history. None of this will be mentioned here, obviously.

BBC4

21.00 Chas and Dave – Last Orders
22.00 Jools Holland – London Calling
23.15 London Songs at the BBC

Chas and Dave were always written off as a novelty act, but of course they were proper time-served musicians who had spent many years as session men for virtually everyone in rock, and their songs are great as well, not least Ain’t No Pleasing You which is a genuinely beautiful song. This new documentary will presumably mostly be about the music, though we hope for some mention of the ITV shows they did, including their special on Christmas Day 1982 most notable for the fact LWT built a Cockney boozer in their studios that was accurate in every way, including serving proper drinks, apart from the fact it didn’t have a toilet. As they realised after they’d served the first few pints. After the new stuff is some suitable repeatage from the other month.

BBC Radio 2

22.00 Magical Mystery Tour
23.00 Paul McCartney at the BBC

Well, Magical Mystery Tour didn’t make much sense on the telly so let’s see if it’s any more coherent in audio form. This documentary seems a bit after the Lord Mayor’s Show given the Arena special the other week, though it’s produced by Wackers expert Kevin Howlett so we’re sure it’ll be well worth hearing, then after that it’s various clips from the bonny one’s jaunts to Broadcasting House.

That’s it for this week, and we do hope BBC NI and UTV’s farewell to analogue will be as dignified as the end of 405 lines. Remarkable to think it took 21 years to move everyone over to 625 lines while we’ve migrated to digital in just over a decade, and with remarkably little fuss, it appears. Apart from our parents’ PVR consistently switching from North West to Wales, but then we had twenty years of grainy Channel Four pictures so it’s no great hardship. If you have any memories of telly closing down, starting up or just generally broadcasting in a funny way, do let us know. Or if you want on this list, click here

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