CREAMGUIDE: 27th October-2nd November 2012

Fireside Issue

Hullo again and welcome to Creamguide’s annual Fireside Issue. It’s no different from a normal issue but it harks back to the Radio Times in the thirties, and then again the seventies, where they’d mark the week the clocks went back as they provided “an extra hour’s darkness for viewing and listening”, which is a lovely romantic idea. No doubt you’ll be watching and listening to much of the stuff we bill on a tablet or a phone in the daytime, but allow us the indulgence. Letters should be addressed to creamguide@tvcream.co.uk.

Saturday 27th October

BBC2

20.15 Dad’s Army
No letters this week about BBC1 showing concentration camp footage at three in the morning, alas (although now analogue telly no longer exists, surely there’s plenty of scope for spreading rumours about what they’re showing on that now), but David Scott has written to say, “You said in your Blue Peter listing that you would take your cans to Tesco or in the case of Northern Ireland to Crazy Prices. Unfortunately Crazy Prices were taken over by Tesco here in Northern Ireland in 1997. I say unfortunately because their ads with Jim McGaw, their manager, were brilliant!” Sadly, Booths aside, we don’t appear to have many regional supermarkets anymore, which is a shame. We’re not sure if we’ve even asked for your supermarket memories but for Creamguide the big shop was carried out initially at Asda, then during a belt-tightening period Kwik Save (where we would of course be sent to look for the good boxes by the checkout) and then Sainsburys when it opened, but our grandparents used to frequent Leos, even though it was miles away from their house, because our grandfather was apparently a big supporter of the Co-Op.

21.30 The Thick of It
“I don’t think the ant analogy is helping… at all!” Last week’s episode seemed to polarise the audience in terms of its make-up, but we thought it was a fascinating experiment and testament to the skill of the writers and performers that an hour in the company of those characters doing nothing but sitting and talking could be so interesting. Nice to have a bit of telly harking back to theatre than pretending to be a film as well. This is what Armando’s referred to as “the last episode of the last ever series”, though that does leave the door open for occasional returns, and it’s a normal half hour and from the billing appears very much business as usual, though doubtless there’ll be a sting in the tail.

22.00 Family Guys? What Sitcoms Say About America Now
We get lots of documentaries about how British sitcoms have reflected social change and now as America flips a coin here’s a look at what’s happening across the pond. With the likes of The Cosby Show, you could certainly say US telly has been quick to tap into changes in the make-up of the average family, and today’s show are happy breaking taboos that not so long ago would have got a network closed down. Remarkable to think that when Channel Four started showing Family Guy it was at six o’clock, a slot they could still use now – as given how much editing they’d have to do it’d fit neatly into the ad break of The Simpsons.

ITV

18.05 The Golden Rules of TV
Well, not really sure what this show entails, we know it’s a clip show narrated, of course, by Robert Webb and apparently it’s going to delve way back into the archives to include clips both classic and crap, so there might be some amusing stuff in here. However, it also features talking heads including P**rs M*rg*n, so tread carefully.

ITV4

07.20 The Big Match Revisited
Technically not The Big Match this week, but rather the networked highlights show for the League Cup Final between Forest and Southampton. With just one match we lose all the extraneous gubbins like Brian reading out people’s full addresses we’ve come to love this show for, but there are some intriguing moments, including Lawrie McMenemey jumping out of his skin when Martin Tyler doorsteps him for an interview and the unexplained presence of Freddie Starr on the Forest bench.

Challenge

20.00 Bob’s Full House
This has now got two ad breaks in it, but it’s not Challenge being money-grabbing bastards, it’s because show one was only half an hour long while the rest are 35 minutes, presumably because, since they’ve established the format, they decided to immediately take the opportunity to have a bit of fun with it, with a host of trick questions including the old “burying the survivors” chestnut, which made the first round go on for ages. Sadly our favourite contestant Geoff, the self-styled “big man in photocopiers”, didn’t make it to the Golden Card Game but another quartet of eighties stereotypes are round at Bob’s tonight.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
Music to clear up fallen trees to in the second hour with 1987, and before that 1975, and we presume Tony’ll go for Funky Moped rather than the B-side, alas.

BBC Radio 4

20.00 Time Travel – The Politics of Time
Creamguide actually enjoys it when the clocks go back if only because of the nostalgic feel of watching the teleprinter, or indeed coming back from a football match, in the pitch black on a Saturday teatime, and indeed the nights drawing in so you don’t feel guilty about watching telly early in the evening. This documentary takes a look at the numerous issues that have been addressed over the years before we could answer the simple question “what time is it?”, from the various different local times in the past to the constant debates about daylight saving now.

Sunday 28th October

BBC1

16.45 Points of View
A surprisingly positive episode last week – with Vine happy to dump on the Beeb on other platforms instead – though we’ll assume the drama students who demanded more sitcoms on the telly haven’t yet got to the part of their course where they discuss stage presence, such was their dull delivery.

BBC2

18.25 Fawlty Towers
So analogue switch-off in Northern Ireland last week was certainly handled very well by the two broadcasters, although obviously not coming from the province, much of the discussion in the farewell show was completely unintelligible as far as we were concerned. Nice to see Ceefax get the kudos it deserves as well, the final switch-off being slightly stymied by the fact hardly anyone could see it, and that spectacular final moment where Charivari came back from the dead and announced he was the real father of Bambette Boozler.

Monday 29th October

BBC2

21.00 50 Years of Bond Cars – A Top Gear Special
23.20 James Bond – A Bafta Tribute

You may be surprised to learn there’s a new Bond film out and here’s BBC2′s contribution to the cross-channel hoopla. First it’s Hammond alone tracking down and driving some of the most iconic vehicles, meeting Roger Moore and Daniel Craig along the way, then later it’s something that’s not much of a tribute because it’s one of those terribly ropey specials they did a decade ago where Parky droned his way through a dull script and introduced some over-exposed and badly edited clips, with the excitement of all the Bonds together being fritted away by the boring production.

BBC4

20.00 London on Film
Last episode of this and it’s about the ‘burbs, meeting the really life henpecked husbands and gossiping wives that made up 99% of British sitcoms in the seventies.

BBC Radio 4

14.15 Gwynfor vs Margaret
Stuff you’d only get on Radio Four part 2364 – a drama about S4C! Of course it’s the thirtieth anniversary of both that and its English language brother this week but while the current Channel Four, never knowingly interesting, isn’t doing anything about it, it looks like S4C are churning out the clips most nights and showing programmes voted for by viewers – and brilliantly, the schedules all have “subsequent programmes are subject to change” disclaimers, so clearly they don’t know what they’re going to be showing and how long it’ll be. The only English celebrations of this penblwydd hapus are here, which tells the true story of how Gwynfor Evans went on a hunger strike until the Government promised there’d be a Welsh TV channel.

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

20th-26th July 1991

ON THE COVER: It’s the latest we’ve been so far in this series – and probably the latest we’ll ever go, to be honest, but a nice little excursion to a period just a few months after deregulation and the other channels joining the party. It’s still a BBC cover, natch, because Madonna is on the thousandth Wogan, although it wasn’t much of a celebration as it was clearly recorded at some press junket, Madge was bored and all anyone talked about was Tel’s shirt, which is recorded in all its green and brown smeary glory inside. Tel writes, “She gives off no warmth, she doesn’t smile a lot, she doesn’t trust anybody in the whole while world. She’s defensive, tough, articulate and honest. You can see that she’s impatient and quick to anger, but we talk for nearly an hour.” That was on Monday’s Wogan but far more interesting was Wednesday’s episode which was the last show from the BBC Television Theatre, with the likes of Vera Lynn, Val Doonican and Leslie Crowther popping by to celebrate.

ON OTHER PAGES: The summer was always a great time to fling out dramas made ages ago and that’s especially true here as on Sunday ITV are flinging out HTV’s dramatisation of Great Expectations as a new series, and Radio Times is quick to point out it was actually made in 1988, which must have pissed off HTV as apparently it cost four million quid. Topically, though, it starred Anthony Hopkins just at the moment he became really famous as The Silence of the Lambs had just opened, and RT speaks to him, where he says, “In Port Talbot, the local hero was Richard Burton. That was what I wanted to be like, a big Hollywood star with a glamorous life. The funny thing is that now it’s happened, I don’t feel a bit different.” No doubt he was thrilled that on the following page was an article about Tommy Cooper.

THE GREAT SUMMER OF SPORT: The Open Golf comes to a conclusion this weekend and for all those who suggest the Beeb are no longer committed to sport, you may be interested to know Saturday coverage begins at 12.30 and is continually interrupted for Racing from Newbury. ITV coverage of the AAA Championships at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on Friday (continuing on Channel Four, as was the style of the time) sees RT spotlight Darren Braithwaite, in Jim Rosenthal’s view “all set to take over at the top when the years catch up with Linford Christie”, though he never quite made it. Brian Johnston is the subject of My Kind Of Day to coincide with the Fourth Test – “Everything stops for Neighbours. If anyone rings between 1.30 and 1.50 I say, ‘sorry, I’m watching Neighbours’. I found Dynasty and Dallas stupid, but I like Neighbours because they’re all so nice to each other – and when they’re not, they apologise.”

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES: Two of the least distinguished comedy series of the decade make their debut on Saturday night. Roy’s Raiders, a Michael Aitkens-penned sitcom about motorcycle messengers, is flung out on BBC1 at 6.30, while on ITV at half ten it’s a new series from Richard Digance, called, boringly, Richard Digance, a massive comedown from his previous series which went under the brilliant name of Abracadigance. The dog days of variety are upon us with the last series of The Les Dennis Laughter Show currently running, Cannon and Ball’s Plaza Patrol on Monday nights and Russ Abbott about to start his final series, and various attempts to freshen it up aren’t really going anywhere, a la The Lisa Maxwell Show which starts on Thursday at 8.30, “filled with the kind of impressions and sketches that have delighted audiences of the Les Dennis Laughter Show and the Russ Abbott Show”.

NOT A REPEAT: Just as variety is breathing its last, so too is the single play and on Thursday at 9.30 is the final series of Play On One, a strand that dated back to the old days of The Wednesday Play. Alan Plater kicked off this final run with his own adaptation of his novel Mysterioso, before everyone in television decided they wanted to make films, not plays. ITV on Sunday are also running Stephen Gallagher’s memorable thriller Chimera. Mostly it is all repeats, mind, though we recall the repeat run of Butterflies, currently running at 7.15 on Sunday night BBC1, was quite big news in our house as it hadn’t been on for ages and it was fairly new to us (though we got bored when they stopped doing the bit with the cars in the drive), while Saturday night repeats of One Foot In The Grave are currently cementing itself in the affections of the public and there’s a run of Dear John starting on Monday at eight as a tribute to Ralph Bates who’s just died.

TANTALISING-SOUNDING PROGRAMME WE’LL NEVER SEE: Well, we certainly won’t see this for a long time, not do we want to at this moment, but on Wednesday afternoons at three BBC1 are showing Jim Fixed It, repeats from about five years or so ago, which seemed a strange thing to repeat at the time, and even more so now. And it wasn’t like a handful, either, it went on for months. This week it was the one where Peter Cushing asked for a rose to be named after his wife. One thing even less likely to appear on TV now is James Randi Psychic Investigator, which ITV are running on Wednesdays at nine, and this week he looks at the world of astrology “with help from comedians Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie”.

ROB BARKER’S ADVERT SPOT: All car ads here, including the Mini Neon, where “Not for Mini the current vogue for sober hues. No. Mini Neon is a glorious, dazzling unashamedly electric blue. So with its chrome bumpers, door handles and tail-pipe finish, plus black wheel arch extensions and Neon graphics, it certainly cuts a dash”. You’ll have to take their word for it, though, as RT are still printing ads in black and white. This is an era, though, when the Fiat Panda can be billed as “a design classic that’ll run and run”, which is clearly a case for the Advertising Standards Authority as out auntie had one and it was like roaring down the road in a Quality Street tin. It’s also a time when the word hatchback could not be used without the word “hot”, and that’s how the RT describe the Vauxhall Nova GSi, the prize in their latest competition fronted by Derek Jameson.

THE SO-CALLED GOLDEN AGE: So, repeats, repeats, repeats and surely the worst is Little and Large from last year on Fridays at 7.40 on BBC1, which would be hopeless at any time and especially so just after the Beeb had announced they’d been axed. They didn’t edit the bands out, either, so an eighteen month old single by Living In A Box gets another airing, though you can imagine Syd and Eddie’s intro to it. Straight after that is a repeat of the Paul Daniels Magic Show, so a grim evening all round. Sunday’s just as bad with Butterflies followed by Around The World In 80 Days and a dull Australian mini-series, but ITV aren’t much better, serving up a Saturday night line-up where, aside from Bob’s Your Uncle, everything’s a repeat in primetime, including The A Team, The Two Of Us, Poirot and a Quincy TV movie from 1976 at nine o’clock.

WOULDN’T HAPPEN NOW DEPARTMENT: Ooh, good news everyone, it’s regional variations on primetime ITV! One of the last times that ever happened, we think, and it means that on Wednesday at eight, Granada and Central are showing Magnum (and different episodes to boot), while HTV and Yorkshire opt for Island Son, whatever that was. Central also move the Tommy Cooper compilations everyone else is showing on Tuesdays at 8.30 to Thursday (replacing Wheel of Fortune, which they shift to Sunday afternoon) to fit in long-forgotten regional Asian soap Family Pride. Of course the overnight schedules are a brantub wherever you are, though familiar favourites like Donahue, Videoview, Pick of the Week and CinemAttractions are all in place. We’ve got the North West edition here and Granada’s regional programming spans all the genres, and on Thursday at 11.35 is Visual Search, “which selects the best new film makers from the north west, honouring them with the Granada Film and Video Awards, chosen by celebrity judges Terry Christian and Peter Richardson. Film entries are form students at Liverpool Polytechnic and Altrincham Grammar School for Boys”. Ah, polytechnics.

HOUSEKEEPING: A typically threadbare summer Saturday night on BBC1 gives us 5.20 The Royal Tournament (though normally it would be The Flying Doctors), 6.30 Roy’s Raiders, 7.00 The Les Dennis Laughter Show, 7.30 Columbo, 8.45 One Foot In The Grave, 9.15 News with Michael Buerk, 9.35 Casualty (repeat), 10.25 Paramount City, 11.05 Film: Hotline with Lynda Carter, 12.35 Charlie Daniels’ Homecoming, “with new country stars The Judds and Dwight Yoakam, and veterans Pat Boone and Carl Perkins”. Holidays abound on daytime Radio 1, now just having moved to 24 hour transmissions, with 4.00 Neale James in for Gary King, 6.00 Simon Mayo, 9.00 Simon Bates, 11.00 The Radio 1 Roadshow with Steve Wright (Great Yarmouth, Clacton, Margate, Eastbourne, Southsea), 12.45 Paul McKenna in for Gary Davies, 3.00 Gary King in for Steve Wright, 5.30 News 91, 6.00 Jakki Brambles, 7.30 Mark Goodier’s Evening Session, 9.00 Features including Out On Blue Six and The Man Ezeke Sunshine Show, 10.00 Nicky Campbell, 12.00 Bob Harris. Blue Peter are on their expedition of course and Mark Goodier is counting down the days until Pops’ rubbish revamp in the autumn.

THEY’VE HAD LOTS OF LETTERS: Robert McGlynn of Shipley writes, “On 26th June I was watching BBC2′s coverage of Westminster. It was one of those great and rare House of Commons occasions. Mrs Thatcher was speaking and we had the mouth-watering prospect of Edward Heath replying. Suddenly Vivian White explained we were leaving the debate to go back to Wimbledon. Were we really leaving the debate to watch some unimportant early matches? No, we were going to watch highlights of an old final between Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe!” Alan Yentob, Controller of BBC2, puts his hands up. “The BBC is serious about covering Parliament and I think our record up to tise point speaks for itself. In this particular instance we made something of a hash of it. The programme was inserted in the schedule at the very last minute and had to be accommodated within a Wimbledon timetable made very uncertain by bad weather. On this occasion we made the right decision to put the speech into the schedule but the wrong decision to leave when we did.”

THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY: “If you can’t reach a TV or radio, you can dial the latest BBC News from 5am to 8pm on 0839 500800. Calls are charged at 34p per minute cheap rare, 45p at all other times.”

Tuesday 30th October

BBC4

21.00 Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss
We got a bit nervous the other week when Reece Shearsmith did that documentary on Radio Four, but his mate Mark is back to take up his mantle as the media’s go-to guy for all things horrible, here marking Halloween (just about) with this special looking at frights from the continent, much of which appears to be absolutely demented.

Wednesday 31st October

CHANNEL 4

23.10 Frankenstein – A Modern Myth
Twenty years on from Ghostwatch (which of course isn’t being repeated), Channel Four take up the witching hour to profile one of horror’s most iconic characters – and their monster, as well, because as every child knows it’s the name of the scientist, like Doctor Who is the name of the series. Everyone from Boris Karloff to Benedict Cumberbatch is featured in this, though perhaps not Frankie Stein from Monster Fun.

BBC Radio 2

22.00 Barbara Windsor’s Ladies of Song
Up there with Lulu, Cilla and Sandie in the sixties, and like them having her own TV show to boot, Kathy Kirby never managed to move on from swinging bird to established family entertainer, seemingly thanks to her manager dying and leaving something of a chasm in her life. It’s an intriguing story, as Babs will explain.

Thursday 1st November

ITV

20.30 Emmerdale at 40
For some reason Creamguide used to find the old sepia Emmerdale Farm titles absolutely terrifying, thanks perhaps to the typeface of the logo being in the same font as the numbers on a clock at our grandmother’s house we found a bit unsettling. Funny the associations you make, isn’t it? No danger of being scared by this, not least because most of the clips appear to come from the last decade or so.

BBC4

19.30, 01.05 Top of the Pops
If you didn’t know they were showing these in order you’d think the DLT episode was chosen entirely to stitch him up while the papers are sniffing around the antics celebs got up to in the seventies. Never mind that, though, we enjoyed Leo Sayer inventing that bit in Seinfeld where Jerry goes to the seaside to make an important decision (we like how they didn’t get the vagrants to move) and the lead singer from Stardust’s inability to defy gravity meaning you could hear him land back on the floor with a thud a fraction of a second before the chorus began. Noel tonight with The Steve Gibbons Band already with a new single five seconds after the last one, but it won’t be on as much as it was a massive flop.

CBBC

17.45 Blue Peter
So to the appeal, once again for Children in Need, where the gang are inviting viewers to get sponsored to wear pyjamas in public. As we mentioned, not something grown-ups can do (if you don’t want to get arrested, anyway) but we’re sure the target audience will have a lot of fun. The way the calendar’s worked out meant they can’t really celebrate Halloween or Bonfire Night properly, so they’re going to sort of do both at the same time tonight in a general Stuff You Do When it’s Dark Around The Beginning Of November Special.

BBC Radio 2

22.00 Madness at the BBC
A consistently fantastic band, whether that’s their early stuff that everyone on the planet knows the words to, the mid-eighties records that didn’t sell as well but are very thoughtful and interesting and even their recent stuff which loads of people reckon are just as good as anything they’ve ever made. Apart from that brief period they were banned from Top of the Pops, they’ve always been happy to pop into the Beeb for a song and a chuckle, and here’s the proof.

Friday 2nd November

BBC4

21.15 Weller at the BBC
Weller’s now certainly found a style – and a haircut – that’s he’s comfortable with, which is a bit of a shame given what a musical magpie he was earlier in his career, flitting across the genres by mixing rock with soul, and then even bemusing his own record label with his jaunts into further musical horizons. In between all that he still found time to write some of the best pop songs of the seventies and eighties, as well as the worst lyric – yes, “donkey’s car-ROT” – and we’ll hear some of that here.

23.15 Bee Gees – In Our Own Time
Not really sure if this is the most appropriate accompaniment to the Weller stuff, but we’re sure Paul appreciates their songwriting craft. And it’s a better bet than Channel Four who are doing absolutely nothing to mark their thirtieth birthday, other than showing one of the worst shows in its history in the form of Baggage.

So in the immortal words of Jimmy Hill, don’t forget to put your cocks back, though we’re sure someone else will remind you before you have to. Join us again in a week and an hour’s time, on the dot if you subscribe here

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