WHAT THE SIMPSONS once did for the Clinton decade, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home did for Nixon-era America, as titular dad Harry Boyle, voiced by TOM “HAPPY DAYS” BOSLEY and his wife Irma continually fretted about their three kids (fat frumpy Alice, proto-slacker Chet and annoying brat Jamie) and whether they were shagging around or smoking dope. Bit of a departure for H-B then, being based on the success of All In The Family (the American version of TILL DEATH US DO PART), and their last primetime effort in the States, although more usually to be found here on a Sunday afternoon or just before the News at 5:45. Despite the presence of that singular Hanna-Barbera canned laugh, you didn’t get the jokes when you were seven, apart from the sliding-down-bannister/crockery-smashing incident in the titles, memorable also for Harry Boyle driving along the show’s title in 1970s colourful lettering in the credits, before the roof flew off the family house at the end. Doubtless watched by Matt Groening on more than a few occasions, though the wacky next-door-”neighbor” in this case was anti-Communist nutcase, Ralph.Read More
Posts Tagged With '1972'
FIRST TV show to think that thunderously self-important po-faced analysis of politics would go down a treat at Sunday lunchtime. First TV show of its kind to keep on getting recommissioned despite less than 34 people watching. First TV show to put PETER JAY on camera. First TV show to put BRIAN WALDEN on camera. And, most importantly, the first TV show to get the axe once Greg Dyke took control of LWT. Guitar-heavy theme was Nantucket Sleighride by Mountain, personally selected by John Birt from…the record collection of John Birt.Read More
ADAPTED FROM CATHERINE STORR’S novel Marianne Dreams by TIMESLIP supremo RUTH BOSWELL. The bastards! Of all the many fine examples of latex-’n'-plywood-era children’s telly, this has to be the apotheosis of the noble tradition of shoestring fright. More kids were traumatised by this series of six half-hours than in the entire Jon P’Twee era of DOCTOR WHO.
It’s a no frills set-up – the eponymous Marianne, slightly spoilt daughter of a long suffering patrician mother, is laid up in bed after falling off a horse, and amuses herself drawing a house with a pencil of dubious antiquity. Said house comes to wonky, ominous life in her dreams, containing nothing but stroppy, pyjamaed Mark, who may exist in real life as the bed-bound fellow pupil of Marianne’s private tutor. Cue lots of arguments, tantrums and ill-advised drawn additions to the house making the situation worse: a scribble turns to bars on the window, a radio proves to be all sinister static and Bakelite, and most infamously of all, a row of murmuring, monocular standing stones are slowly advancing up the garden path to the house. Eventually of course, the two kids bury their differences, help each other out, and worthy lessons about co-operation, tolerance, stoicism and not being a spoiled git are learnt. But, we would point out, these effects were all but dwarfed by the amount of juvenile pant-wetting occasioned by the appearance of those stones.
Away from the nightmare house, the drama itself often seems to be drawn with Marianne’s dodgy pencil. The opening horse accident set-up is staged with all the dynamic aplomb of the Play It Safe reserve crew, and the acting’s firmly in the breathy, gosh-posh bracket (pre-Pauline Quirke Italia Conti for the kids, Waggoner’s Walk walk-on for the grown-ups). It’s perfunctory drama for middle school kids right enough, but this was time when even the most basic children’s drama was sprinkled with subtle bits of the real world creep into the script too. There’s a bit of polio awareness, and Marianne’s absentee Dad is “off in Africa” – cue allusions to Uganda etc. But the simple, inexorable progression of the nightmare was what really clicked with the kids.
A classic bit of kids’ telly it may be, but let’s tot up those psychological war crimes for the record: the eerie first appearance of the imaginary house, the spooky humming over the closing credits, the liberal use of two slightly distorted echo units, the one-handed grandfather clock, the dankly lit minimalist house interior (especially when the lighthouse gets going) and those trauma-inducing one-eyed rocks, whose scarring mental legacy lives on. All psychiatrist’s bills to be forwarded to L Grade, ATVLand.Read More
THAT FAMOUS theme tune was called “Approaching Menace”, but we reckon it should have been “Fanfare for the Common Man”, as this teatime slice of austerity was television’s greatest ever platform for spod-u-likes and nerd-do-wells. Never before had an obsession with Polish pottery circa the 1930s been so richly rewarded. Presiding over the interrogation was fearsome question master MAGNUS MAGNUSSON, a man of gravitas and oft-spoken Nordic roots. His famous catchphrase “in my homeland of Iceland” featured less in MASTERMIND than most programmes in which he appeared, but he still made for a memorable, if overly formal questionmaster. Ironically, given the show was broadcast from a different educational institution each week, MASTERMIND’s most iconic element was its stark “set”, catalyst for many sketch-based “started so I’ll…” chicaneries. Most remembered champs are, naturally, men of the people: cabbie FRED HOUSEGO and engine driver CHRIS HUGHES. Latterly revived by the peerless JOHN HUMPHRYS.Read More
SKIVVY CANADIAN live action “drama” about a bunch of kids who decide to “help out” a middle aged beachcomber (hmmm….) Memorable episode saw one of the guys get trapped under some logs as the tide was coming in and his mate, with a bobble hat and a lumberjack jacket, had to get help. Title sequence was a helicopter-shot pan of the beach intercut with action from the series, logs and all.Read More
WORTHY ADAPTATION of the book Minnow on the Say written by Philippa “TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN” Pearce. Basically a treasure hunt by two boys, David and Adam, in the canoe “Minnow” on the River Say (hence the title of the book). Set in Cambridgeshire. David and Adam were played by Andrew Balcomebe and Justin Swan.Read More
CUE EXTENDED cymbal roll – it’s LORD MICHAEL WINSTANLEY “championing your rights” in this nightly North West-only five-minute consumer bulletin which pre-dated WATCHDOG by, ooh, at least half a century and got broadcast every weeknight between NEWS AT 5.45 and CROSSROADS. No expense spared titles: show’s name written out in military stencilling typeface. Always mixed up by six-year-olds with THIS IS YOUR LIFE. Later joined by sister programme “for our Asian viewers”, Aap Kaa Hak on a Sunday morning.Read More
DR LEW GRADE re-opens the ATV medical wing, mothballed since EMERGENCY WARD 10. Lo and behold, everything still present and correct, including manky metal-framed beds, manky janitor with metal mop and pale, manky canteen with brown and orange plastic chairs upon which brown and orange plastic cups of coffee are drunk, and manky patients. Only this time boasting a profusion of facial hair. Harmless fare, ironically, which idled away many a drizzly weekday afternoon. Plenty of heroes and villains to swoon/swing for, including LYNDA BELLINGHAM, TONY ADAMS, LEWIS JONES and JUDY BUXTON.Read More
ANOTHER OFFSPRING of ITV’s Mystery Movie strand (see MACMILLAN AND WIFE, if you dare), here came DENNIS “GENTLE BEN” WEAVER swapping his airboat for a horse as the eponymous New Mexico lawman using cowboy chicanery to lassoo hoodlams in Harlem. Literally rode into town in opening titles. Behind it all: that cowed husk of a hotshot who we haven’t heard from for all 50 seconds…GLEN A. LARSON!Read More
THAT’S JOHN CRAVEN’S Newsround. Not the parade of non-threatening blandalikes in trendy haircuts who came afterwards. Original ‘Round presented real news in a pre-CSE digestible manner (VAT, energy crisis, Rhodesia), child-friendly trivia (domino toppling, Gossamer Albatross) and the TONIGHT-style “humourous” And Finally story which now forms ninety per cent of ITN’s evening bulletins. John had reliable uncle role down to a tee with copious wardrobe of chunky-knit sweaters to match. Frantic xylophone/percussion theme Johnny One-Note icing on the cake. One of the best programmes ever made.Read More
IN A brave attempt to push kids-costume-drama conventions to a dangerous extreme, this languid effort (based on book by Ray Brown) opted for the titular Victorian engineering construction as basis for familiar mystery/family-ties brooding. Plucky bunch of kids try to prove that one of their relatives helped build Stephenson’s Rocket, decide to knock through a wall in an old house, find a full size steam engine, which improves relationship ‘twixt lad and stepfather. Etc.Read More
DUTCH POLICE inspector played by BARRY FOSTER in a coat, but no-one cared about that. Number one catchy/irritating theme “Eye Level” was what dug hooks into the memory, courtesy of The Simon Park Orchestra.Read More
SATIRE, EH, never as good as it blah blah blah. But this, another of the Beeb’s long procession of post-TW3 late-nighters, was well above average, thanks to somewhat stellar writing/presenting team of CLIVE JAMES, JOHN WELLS, WILLIE RUSHTON and KENNY EVERETT. Legendarily last-minute affair, with scripts knocked up hours before totally live transmission, sometimes not at all, plus sufficiently “laid back” running order so team could drop or cut short anything they got bored with. Which was pretty much everything. Regular guests also showed up, who were basically the gang’s best mates, which made for even more spectacular line-up, including JOHN FORTUNE, ERIC IDLE, RICHARD MURDOCH, MAX WALL, IVOR CUTLER, BARRY HUMPHRIES and VIVIAN STANSHALL in special “Up Christmas” edition as a pissed-up Santa, appearing out of a giant-sized festive hamper, brandishing a pint of Bloody Mary at the camera, before falling over, cutting his hand on the glass and bleeding all over the plain white studio floor.Read More
NOWADAYS THIS is shorthand for everything that was shit about the 1970s, but in reality there was worse to be had in the likes of IT AIN’T ‘ALF HOT MUM and SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM; at least this didn’t pretend it was anything other than bombastic bar-room bigotry. JACK SMETHURST and KATE WILLIAMS lived next door to RUDOLPH WALKER and NINA BADEN-SEMPER for 56 episodes. Offensive misunderstandings ensued. Biggest crime was that it just wasn’t fucking funny.Read More
HOORAY! ANOTHER BBC thriller uncovering dark secrets in the Cretan underbelly (see THE APHRODITE INHERITANCE, THE DARK SIDE OF THE SUN). This time it’s IAN HENDRY and missus WANDA VENTHAM who are blithely running their cosy taverna nestling in balmy Mediterranean slopes until fate intervenes and Godly forces take control, in the form of a bristling MAURICE DENHAM, a shimmering CAROL CLEVELAND and a frumpish SYLVIA COLERIDGE. Titular munching goes on. Community begins to fall apart. Hendry was actually a recovering alcoholic (obvious choice to run a bar), or perhaps not, and had been accused of the murder of a 15-year old schoolgirl, or maybe not; Ventham was, perhaps, a “sleeper” secret agent, briefed to marry and investigate Hendry, only to fall in love with him, or did she, etc. When another girl gets murdered, things drift off into choking fog of complete confusion.Read More
SEMINAL KIDS pursuit caper from pen of N.J. “DIXON” CRISP and starring ubiquitous SIMON “IT’S GREEN CROSS CODE MAN!” TURNER and JAN “JUST GOOD” FRANCIS endlessly on the run from a motorbike straddling DUDLEY SUTTON. Eponymous “chase” was a very long one, seemingly stretching across the country and over 13 episodes. Kicked off when Simes (John) got wise to his dad working for Shadowy Organisation. GLYN HOUSTON provided little help as Friendly Bobby On The Beat; BOB PECK piled on the menace. Memorable incidents included: Austin Maxi driving over the side of a cliff in slow motion; black-gloved professional shooting VIP at Edinburgh Castle, only for fake ambulance to whisk stiff away; kids nearly drowning while canoe sank in Lake District; terrifying scramble across Dartmoor pursued by rabies-infested mongrel; and boat chase denouement in North East fishing village of Hopeman.Read More
A TEENAGE TINA HEATH of Blue Peter pregnancy fame dons a bad blue anorak and converses with one very scary witch that pops up from behind hedges on the way home from school, causing children across the nation to shit themselves. Based on the Helen Cresswell books. Witch turns out not to exist but is merely “an amalgam of Lizzie’s ennui” or something, which is always daring her to piss about, like the rabbit in Donnie Darko.Read More
MORE FUTURISTIC folly, this time involving space rebel types hooking up with present day kids and, well, transplanting their dying leader’s mind into the kids’ dog until they can return home. Seems obvious when you think about it. Extra points scored for unannounced appearance of MOLLIE SUGDEN, and episodes called “The Man Who Could Walk Through Doors” and “There Is No Duncan”.Read More
EARLY EVENING Cluedo-based antics with first EDWARD WOODWARD then JON P’TWEE as chairman. Two celeb teams would be shown clips introduced by WILLIAM FRANKLYN about a murder and the panels would have to guess, err, who did it. Best remembered for slightly jazzy flute music theme tune and the fact PATRICK MOWER used to be a guest every week until the producers had to take him off as he was always working out the murderer correctly. To compensate him they let him introduce the programme when P’twee quit.Read More
“MICK JAGGER visiting a laundrette? It would probably be something…like this…” Oh good lord. Bastard blueprint for the likes of COPY CATS, scripted by DICK VOSBURGH and BARRY CRYER, but bollocks all the same. Up-against-the-wall cast consisted of FREDDIE STARR, PETER GOODWRIGHT, FAITH BROWN, JANET BROWN and LITTLE AND LARGE. Guest turns, turn being the operative word (i.e. to another channel), came from, among others, LES DENNIS, DUSTIN GEE and MICHAEL BARRYMORE.Read More