CREAMGUIDE: 12th-18th January 2013

The word unblowuppable is thrown around a lot these days

Hullo again, and subscribers may have noticed last week it took a whopping four words before Creamguide’s first cock-up of 2013. Well, things can only get better, and that’s certainly the case this week with the return of Past Times and a Thursday night staple. You can guess which one that is. If you want to write about anything, not just complaints your name isn’t in this, then do so at once, to creamguide@tvcream.co.uk.

Saturday 12th January

BBC2

12.30 Talking Pictures
Second part of this series, with John Mills. Sadly we didn’t watch the first part as last weekend we were of course watching the CITV anniversary celebrations, which were everything we could have hoped for, really, especially as they seemed to go out of their way to show old idents and select interesting episodes, even if it did remind us that we used to avoid like the plague anything with the names Lee Pressman and Grant Cathro attached, surely the Glen A Larsons of mid-eighties kids TV.

20.00 Dad’s Army
20.30 Fawlty Towers

For what it’s worth, Finders Keepers was the highest rated show on Saturday, and Dangermouse on Sunday was the most watched thing of the entire weekend, which is heartening to see. We see the success of the weekend has already spurred Challenge on to buy more episodes of Fun House, and specifically the first series where we get the show’s real star, Pat’s hair. You know it was only this weekend we actually realised “Let’s re-run the fun!” was there to disguise an edit point.

Challenge

20.00 Bob’s Full House
This must be the only show on telly where you can get a bunny girl and an economics student (from Manchester Polytechnic, no less) side by side, and both prove equally adept at proceedings. Indeed as the extended slot suggested, last week’s was a right marathon – requiring three ad breaks! – as bottom left Marc managed to storm his way back from absolutely nothing halfway through the Mastercard to winning the whole thing. This week we also noticed that the theme tune is composed by the same person who composed the theme to Press Gang. John Mealing certainly knew how to pick ‘em.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
1963 and 1980 here. As Matthew Patton pointed out, “Re: Fraggle Rock, most of the British episodes of the show (ie featuring Fulton Mackay) are lost”, and hence we ended up with two Canadian editions of the show on CITV last weekend, presumably to the bemusement of most of the audience. If you’d like to know more about the ins and outs of Fraggle Rock licencing, why not email how2@stv.scotnet.co.uk? They won’t know either, but you can at least see if that address still works eighteen years on.

BBC Radio 4

20.00 Rural Rides
There’s no time to do it now but in the past, journalists would think nothing of simply nipping off somewhere and spend a few days simply pottering around and finding out what was going on. Indeed when Granada covered the whole of the North of England, their commitment to Yorkshire would generally be to send Parky off across the Pennines every few weeks and tell him to come back with half a dozen films about anything at all, while the likes of Fyfe Robertson would engage Tonight viewers were reports that were little more than thinking aloud. Here’s a look at how this approach spanned the generations.

Sunday 13th January

BBC4

19.00 The Sky at Night
19.15 The Sky at Night
20.00 The Sky at Night

Time for a proper tribute to Patrick Moore in the shape of this evening, starting off with three examples from across the years of what must surely be the last example of the hobby programme on television. First it’s an episode from 1975 which doesn’t appear to be anything special but is presumably one of the earliest that still exists. The second is the 25th anniversary edition from 1982 which examines where they’d gone from day one and ponders what might happen 25 years hence, and finally an edition from 2009 which illustrates Patrick’s legacy as he’s joined by a team of regulars, all of whom were clearly inspired by watching the previous two shows.

20.30 Sir Patrick Moore – Astronomer, Broadcaster and Eccentric
21.00 Sir Patrick Moore Talks To Mark Lawson

Then it’s your chance to record the obituary that went out on the night he died, followed by an interview which, though it’s from 2007, is billed as new here, so maybe it was never broadcast. In any case, though Moore in later life seemed to be sadly a bit of a grumpy git, his whole life is absolutely fascinating, not least as he was wearing a monocle and a whole set of dentures by the age of eighteen. “Dooon’t use flash!”

BBC Radio 4

19.15 The Stanley Baxter Playhouse
We heard plenty last week about how Stan’s brand of comedy was now too expensive for telly but happily he’s still going strong on the wireless with the start of a new series of sitcoms. There seems to have been some kind of clerical error, mind, as this one features The Queen, but Stan’s not playing her, Phyllida Law is.

Monday 14th January

BBC Radio 4

11.00 Where Did All The Comrades Go?
Along with the smoking, natch, one of the most eye-opening things about watching old elections on BBC Parliament is the amount of Communists standing, especially in Scotland where they were such a political force they were on all the Swingometers and that, like a seventies UKIP (albeit with slightly different policies). They called it a day in 1991 when they decided the wind perhaps wasn’t blowing in that direction anymore, but this documentary will look at their legacy, including how Marxism continued to play a role in mainstream politics.

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

31st December 1983-6th January 1984

And so to the return of this feature where every week we leaf through the pages of what’s surely one of the most famous publications in Britain. To kick off the new series we’re still feeling a bit festive so we alight on an issue from one of those awkward Christmas-at-the-weekend years when the New Year winds up in an edition of its own, mingling with some more familiar workaday fare, and an issue whose contents promise the tantalising feature “Delia Smith uses redundant Stilton”.

ON THE COVER: There’s still a day of 1983 to go but unsurprisingly the arrival of one of the most iconic years of the 20th Century was big news. The Beeb marks this with a series of Arena specials on George Orwell throughout the week in a host of marvellously inconvenient slots – the final episode broadcast on Wednesday 4th January at 5.40pm – and also two nights of Beyond 1984 on BBC2 on the 1st and 2nd, mixing documentary and studio debate chaired by Nick Ross. On the first night, RT’s exhaustive timetable points out that at 7.17pm – the programme starts at 7.15, but you can avoid all the frippery – economist John Eatwell will be arguing “initially the people of Britain are in for a very tough time, but that in the long term we could have a rosy future”, while later Philip Hughes, Chairman of Logica, says that “following the shift from the manufacturing to the knowledge-based industries, the challenge will be how to deal with the unemployment it creates, and how to learn to live a world in which we may only work two days a week or 26 weeks a year”. The next night is suitably Orwellian in tone as Stephen Sedley QC asks, “Is it possible that by 2009 your right to have children be determined by what kind of person you are – that your activities will be monitored by the state?”

RING OUT THE OLD: So we’ve got a few holiday days to have a nose at, though New Year’s Eve isn’t much different from a normal Saturday with SuperStore and Grandstand during the day and Jim’ll Fix It and Little and Large at teatime. Arabian Adventure starring Christopher Lee at 6.30 is getting its first showing on the Beeb, then at eight it’s Frank Muir with the first part of Best of British Comedy. A normal episode of Bergerac is followed at ten, because it’s a Saturday, by Match of the Day. Something very special at 10.45 is the last ever episode of The Good Old Days, then at 11.45 who better to see us into the New Year than Marian Foster and Keith Chegwin at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry to launch Heritage Year. Then at 12.10am Michael Barrymore says At Last – It’s 1984!, with The Shadows and Harvey and the Wallbangers keeping people up. As a Sunday, New Year’s Day is a bit dull, especially in the evening where after Songs of Praise they can only squeeze in The Two Ronnies and the premiere of Fame – the film, not the series – and it’s time to go to bed.

IT’S THE NEW SEASON ON BBC1: And a new season of kids’ shows to boot, with John Craven’s Back Pages most excited about the arrival of Fonz and The Happy days Gang on Thursday, with Henry Winkler himself on the blower to RT. “The scripts have all the atmosphere of Happy Days and the animators are among the finest in the world. I was allowed constantly to adlib so that the Fonz really came across. I played the character myself because I have three children and I wouldn’t want them to have someone trying to imitate the Fonz. It wouldn’t be right!” Grange Hill is back too, and producer Kenny McBain reveals “there’s a head lice epidemic, the computer gets misused and a tragedy involving a newcomer stuns the whole school”. There are returns too for Grandad and Think Of A Number plus the return of Wildtrack, shoved forward to January rather than its familiar springtime slot to replace Animal Magic which has just been axed. And the school holiday shows run right up to Friday 6th, though goodness knows who’s still off school then, with Play Chess and Glasgow gang Why Don’t You.

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES: And for the young and the young at heart, there’s the return of Doctor Who, during its brief sojourn on weeknights and yet again rescheduled by hopeless BBC1 controller Alan Hart so it now runs on Thursday and Friday nights. The enthusiasm exhibited by the Beeb to the series can be illustrated by the billing for episode one – “6.40 DOCTOR WHO starring PETER DAVISON in Warriors of the Deep. First of a four part story by Johnny Byrne”. That’s it. The night before there’s new drama with seaside saga Cockles, starring James Grout and Joan Sims and after the news Whicker’s World starts a new run with Alan spending three months voyaging on the QEII. Alan tells RT readers, “If you have always longed to experience the dreamtime escape of the pools winners, we shall be cruising the Pacific on Wednesday nights during January.”

NOT A REPEAT: We assume a live transmission of Die Fledermaus from the Royal Opera House was pretty exciting if you’re into that kind of thing, and BBC2 devoted four hours of New Year’s Eve to it so it must be good. The World Darts Championships come throughout the week from Jollees Nightclub, Stoke, and on Friday night at 7pm is a mildly historic occasion as Newcastle vs Liverpool is the first ever live FA Cup third round tie. Though the big attraction for us is Aladdin and the Forty Thieves, a panto on New Year’s Day afternoon, replacing the All Star Record Breakers as the big pan-CBBC festive entertainment. Sarah Greene plays the lead, and other highlights of the cast are Terry Nutkins as Wishee Washee, Brian Cant as the Emperor of China, Carol Chell as Mrs Chow Mein, Kenneth Williams as, ahem, Mustapha Drink, John Craven as, natch, “Newsreader” and the thieves being a motley line-up including Gary Wilmot, Barry Took, Mat Irvine, Howard Stableford and Jonathan Cohen.

TANTALISING-SOUNDING PROGRAMME WE’LL NEVER SEE: A Kick Up The Eighties seems to have been completely forgotten about now, even the Kevin Turvey stuff, but it was a very popular show in its day and it was back for its second series on Tuesday at nine. And like its stablemate Not The Nine O’Clock News, it had its way with a billing. “A dramatised re-enactment of the Second World War. Filmed entirely in and around the Arndale Shopping Centre, Leeds. 1: Hitler annexes Dewhurst Butchers and WH Smith. Chamberlain tells him to stay out of Tesco. Hitler’s 8th Panzer trolleys invade Tesco. Chamberlain declares war and sends in task force across the car park and into Burton’s Outfitters. Japan makes a surprise attack and bombs Woolworths. Next week: America fights to regain Safeways.”

ROB BARKER’S ADVERT SPOT: “A Ford Granada L for £7094?” It happened! In fact, “It actually costs as little as some other cards with smaller engines. Yet the Granada L has all the refinement and all the engineering features you expect of such a car. It’s a Granada through and through. It gives such a successful balance between comfort and driving satisfaction that it once prompted Car magazine to comment ‘The Granada now out-rides and out-handles some of the best cars in Europe’.”

THE SO-CALLED GOLDEN AGE: When 2nd January is a Bank Holiday nobody seems very excited about coming up with special programmes for the fag end of the holidays, so it’s a half-arsed Monday on BBC1, the imported The Grinch Grinches The Cat-In-The-Hat followed at 5.40 by all two and a half hours of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. That’s followed by the second part of Best of British Comedy, which no doubt would churn out some ace clips but which is the third clip show in primetime in eight days, the first part on New Year’s Eve being preceded on Boxing Day with Lenny Henry’s Laughing Matter.

WOULDN’T HAPPEN NOW DEPARTMENT: As well as preparing for a new series of the Oxford Road Show on Friday, on Wednesday on BBC1 Peter Powell finds time to nip to the Birmingham Powerhouse for the Team Disco Dance Championships, at 6.40 on BBC1. Organised by Mecca Leisure and arranged by Ernest E Smith, the teams all represent the National Association of Youth Clubs with cabaret coming from Bucks Fizz. Then after that at 7.10 is So You Think You’re Switched On, the very last in the long-running series of quizzes with Cliff Michelmore that had been running on and off since 1965, and a real when-worlds-collide experience as Lenny Henry and Toyah team up with Esther Rantzen and Barry Cryer to answer telly questions posed by the likes of Steve Race at the piano and The Barron Knights.

HOUSEKEEPING: We’ve already done Saturday night on BBC1 but just to point out that on Radio 1 it wasn’t Adrian Juste at midnight doing his “show that lasts two years” gag but instead The Classiest New Year’s Eve Disco Party with Gary Davies. After the holidays the daytime line-up was 6.00 Adrian John, 7.00 Mike Read, 9.00 Simon Bates, 11.30 Mike Smith, 2.00 Steve Wright (but Gary Davies on Friday because Wright was on Sunday as well), 4.30 Peter Powell, 7.00 David Jensen, 10.00 John Peel. Si, Pete and Jane are on Blue Peter, still on Monday even though it’s a Bank Holiday but inelegantly shoved in at 4.25 between Final Score and the rest of the Grandstand. The Rhythm Pals are presenting Pops and a momentous edition too as the show celebrates its twentieth anniversary and introduces a band who are “very 1984″, and THAT Frankie Goes To Hollywood performance.

THEY’VE HAD LOTS OF LETTERS: The Five Doctors had attracted a bumper postbag. Graham Cruddas of Dudley was suitably inspired to suggest, “I hope the popularity of the Doctor will cause the BBC to repeat some of the earlier episodes from the archives. Does anyone remember when the original Doctor was trapped in a kitchen sink? Or the insect Zarbi, Peter Butterworth as a renegade Time Lord, the Yeti in London’s underground, the Doctor attacked by a trimphone, robophobia? Please show some of the old series again – after all, you have a new audience now.” Not everyone was so pleased, though, Jennifer Saunders of Liverpool saying, “The amount of time Tom Baker was given was disgraceful. He was one of the best-liked and longest acting of all the Doctors and was my personal favourite.”

PRONUNCIATION UNIT ASSEMBLE!: Ronald Ransom of Cheltenham asks, “Why had the BBC turned Grenada – presumably named after the Spanish town – into ‘Gren-ay-da’ and Dominica into ‘Domin-ee-ka’? And can we now expect to hear someone playing the ‘harmon-ee-ka’?” So, what’s right? RT says, “Some editions of Radio Times recently carried an advertisement placed by the Grenada Tourist Office which took the trouble to confirm the pronunciation ‘Gren-ay-da’. ‘Domin-ee-ka’ is the recommended pronunciation which appears in a pre-war BBC booklet of place names, so there has been no recent change. This Windward Island should not be confused with the Dominican Republic (stress on the second syllable) which, along with Haiti (pronounced ‘Hay-tee’) is situated on the island of Hispaniola. The origin of the name Grenada, by the way, remains obscure.”

Tuesday 15th January

Gold

21.00 Yes Prime Minister
A new series! We hear much about how The Thick Of It is a Yes Minister for the 21st Century but Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn reckon the Yes Minister for the 21st Century could actually be Yes Minister again. So here’s the first of six new episodes which perhaps unsurprisingly aren’t, apparently, as exciting or outrageous as the originals, but if it’s witty and engaging we’re sure it’ll be a welcome enough addition to the schedules, helped by the presence of the excellent David Haig.

21.40 Yes Prime Minister Re-Elected
That said, Jonathan Lynn can bugger off really with his moaning that the Beeb requested a pilot and they said no “because there are 38 pilots on DVD”, because we’re sure they wouldn’t be the only broadcaster who might have suggested a series that hadn’t been on for 23 years and whose two leading men are both now dead could do with a quick run-through to see if it still works. Anyway, if it turns out this new series is rubbish, here are some old clips to soften the blow plus chat from famous fans.

Wednesday 16th January

BBC2

21.00 Funny Business
This sounds absolutely fascinating, and we’d be recommending it even if it wasn’t produced by absolute top Creamer Richard Marson, of imperial phase Blue Peter and Tales of Television Centre fame. It’s a three part look at the serious side of laughter making, with this first episode looking at corporate comedy, from adverts to after-dinner speaking, and the creative and credibility challenges that brings about, with a stellar list of contributors including the likes of Cleese and Cryer.

BBC Radio 2

22.00 The People’s Songs
Ah, go on. The last year that nobody on Desert Island Discs chose a Beatles record was 1963 and that, along with Richard Dimbleby assigning a low turnout in Liverpool in the 1964 election to voters being “too busy thinking about The Beatles”, illustrates just how quickly they became part of the establishment. Certainly they were important enough for She Loves You to justify its place in Stu’s list.

Thursday 17th January

BBC4

19.30 Top of the Pops
Hooray! Not sure why the resumption of this repeat run made the news this week when it was already billed – there’s no late night screening but it’s only half an hour anyway – but in any case however much soul-searching went on, we’re continuing the repeat run into a third year and that’s great news. Despite our misgivings about Lulu from Legs and Co’s hair. Indeed as the rather good clip show proved last week, it’s a fascinating year for music we’ve got ahead of us and though there’s clearly plenty of rubbish around, the arrival of new wave means that we’re more or less guaranteed something really great on every single show. That’s certainly the case here, with a slightly less manic Peter Powell in charge and, alongside a very memorable performance by someone unused to this kind of thing, we also have the first knockings of power pop, surely the shortest lived genre of the decade.

CBBC

17.45 Blue Peter
Such was the torrent of Pops episodes before Christmas, then the long gap, there’s been loads we haven’t mentioned, right back to that Tony Blackburn episode with him rolling his eyes at Generation X, though Sir Billiam Idol remains Britain’s least threatening punk. You may be unsurprised to learn that The Banned, with their singing drummer, was a prog act trying it on. Elton John seemed a bit ill at ease but you may have noticed that, uniquely among the presenters, he didn’t have a microphone, which would have given him something to do with his hands, but we’re thrilled he liked Otway and Barratt. Once seen, never forgotten. Christmas Day was a bit dull, as Christmas Day tended to be, though the Star Wars-inspired end credits and the Kenny Rogers video with weird ambient noise raised an eyebrow.

BBC Radio 4

11.30 Cornershop
Brimful of Asha just about sneaks into the end of the Cream era – as far as we’re concerned anyway, because we were nuts about the big beat scene at the time. Sadly Cornershop never really made it big with their other stuff seemingly a bit too esoteric for popular consumption, despite follow-up Sleep on the Left Side not only serving as Mark and Lard’s backing music for six years but also being performed on Blue Peter. We’ve always had a soft spot for them as well, not least for releasing the only song to mention the TSB Rock School (“the soft rock shit”), and this documentary will profile Tjinder, Ben and the gang and examine just how much of an Asian invasion there was in the charts.

Friday 18th January

BBC2

20.00 Mastermind
Anyone who watched a lot of BBC4 over Christmas gets a head start this week with Marilyn Monore one of the subjects, alongside Swallows and Amazons.

BBC4

21.00 Glen Campbell – The Rhinestone Cowboy
22.00 An Evening with Glen Campbell

You sometimes forget how big country music was in the seventies and eighties, albeit still with the “and western” firmly attached, with not only Wogan tapping a sturdy brogue to the likes of Kenny Rogers every morning but also Sing Country being a regular BBC2 staple for many years, which gains extra Cream points by being recorded at a festival sponsored by Silk Cut. Here’s the story of one of the scene’s major players, than a jaunt to the Royal Festival Hall in 1978.

That’s it for this week, though don’t forget there’s plenty to be going at on www.tvcream.co.uk including our tribute to Alisdair Milne. And if you want to subscribe, click here

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