CANINE AND company for the wind-hewn, welly-bound well-to-do. While bunking off from Television Centre one day, BBC producer Philip Gilbert decided to spend a day attending a pissing-it-down agricultural show in Northumberland. Inspired, it seems, by the sight of an authentic sheepdog trial, he became gripped with the desire to put the whole thing on telly, despite the rituals of the handlers and their faithful Border Collies boasting less dynamism than a still-life painting. So ONE MAN AND HIS DOG was born, with presenting duties handled by bluff, hang-the-bastards countryman PHIL DRABBLE and learned boffin ERIC HALSALL. Buried in the traditionally healthy slot of early Sunday evenings the show flourished and ran for ages. The team mutated through a line-up that included RAY OLLERENSHAW, 12-year Chairman of the International Sheep Dog Society, and GUS DEMODY. Drabble relinquished his role after a marathon 18 years, giving way to latterday anti-licence fee campaigner ROBIN PAGE. It was MARK THOMPSON, in one of his last acts as BBC2 Controller, who called time on the whole ridiculous roustabout, prompting the inevitable hysterical outrage and the ever-reliable wheeze of questions being asked in parliament. For a time it was rumoured Sky One was ostensibly considering launching its own version, titled, inevitably, “Sky One Man and His Dog”. Dermody fumed: “I have had complaints from farmers who have said they could not watch it on a Saturday afternoon because they are working,” perhaps somewhat overlooking the ubiquity of the everyday video recorder. Nonetheless, one-off specials still turn up unexpectedly, like a pile of horse shit in a spotless field.Read More
Posts Tagged With '1976'
JAMES BOLAM laid the memory of THE LIKELY LADS to rest with this grisly 1920s depression-quest. Concerning the struggle of a bunch of Geordie ex-squaddies to earn a crust, a young SUSAN JAMESON put food on t’ table as Bolam’s long-suffering wife, and MALCOLM “OUR JOHN WILLIE” TERRIS propped up the bar with a pint o’ black and tan. Pigeon lofts featured, as did a lot of clothes drying in the back yard and cross-class boundary politics. Cue plenty of clenched-fist-wringing angst. Don’t worry lads, there’s another war on the way.Read More
BY THE KIDS, for the kids! Uber-cheapo medical mirthcom starring the Good Health Talking Feet (two feet with faces drawn on them) and much railing against Blockaboots, depicting fashion-zombie kids going mad for the titular garishly-painted platform-mule-type shoe and ending up with (cuh!) “bad feet”. That’ll learn ‘em.Read More
“PASS THE kettle love, I’ve been up all night.” “You could’ve fooled me, dear”. Sparkling suburbcom shenanigans spun-off from MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE wherein our heroes decide to up sticks from their London terrace and relocate to commuter belt bliss, thereby allowing Mildred to indulge in much Abigail’s Party-mooning about quality of life as typified by textbook middle class neighbours the Fourmiles (“They’ve even got wall-to-wall carpeting!”) replete with bespectacled smartarse son Tristram, who in turn gives professional idler George the runaround (“I tells yer, there’s summat wrong with that kid!”). Whist drives, dinner drives, tupperware parties and coffee mornings ensue. ROY KINNEAR dropped in from time to time, inevitably, as did Sir Dennis off of TERRY AND JUNE (ditto).
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SUBLIME HERALD of the weekend, forever jostling with TISWAS for Saturday morning supremacy, and the best thing EDMONDS has ever done. Everyone knows what this was all about, but the real stroke of genius was giving kids the chance to phone up and talk to the stars. Seems obvious, yet it was fantastic, and for some reason nobody does it anymore. Noel’s comrades were, of course, KEITH CHEGWIN (“He’s packed his bags and gone off with a knowing look – could he be near your place today?!”), MAGGIE PHILBIN and JOHN CRAVEN, along with Posh Paws (Stilgoe-esque anagram of Swap Shop) a purple felt dinosaur with poorly-articulated jaw that did a feeble “roar” whenever some sappy viewer sent him in a homemade waistcoat, and a stuffed toy sheep moved up and down by a crouching Craven. Plus ERIC who operated the TOTP-themed plastic sphere-on-a-string with the competition answers (and got own feeble awards named after him). Edmonds was in full bloom here: shouting, fooling around, obsessing over gadgety stuff, putting callers at ease, chatting amiably with a thousand guests, joking with the crew, and generally making the show a great place to hang out of a morning. Everyone involved seemed to have a great time, and hence you felt the same. Two theme tunes: the first went “SWAP SHOP! Daa-da-da, da-da-da-da, daa-da-dadadadadadadadada-daaaa!” over a squiggly “morphing” animation of the logo; the second, by BA “Kaftan” Robertson, had a sort of steel bandish effect and went “Hello, hello, hello, hello, hellooooo!” a la Smells LIke Teen Spirit. “Offers: Scalectrix (note spelling) 200 track and cars. Wants: Anything to do with Hazel O’Connor.”Read More
MULTI-AWARD WINNING gloves-with-eyes and old jokes fest memorable for cast-of-thousands title sequence, Pigs In Space, John Cleese and tedious waltzing pigs telling each other even more old jokes section. Re-heated version The Muppets Tonight was much anticipated, then when it finally came out, no-one noticed. Lew Grade to discontented ATV staff: “You promised me you would never strike on MUPPETS!”
INITIALLY DON MOSS, then ventriloquist RAY “LORD CHARLES” ALAN, fronted this wordy afternoon quizfest, the latter “aided and abetted” by his glamorous wife BARBIE (hmm). Couples conveyed mystery words to one other, by way of three related clue words (see?) For instance, if the mystery word was Egg, you might say Chicken, Boiled and Cup. Never far from becoming enervating. Adjudicator – Sue Anne Snook.Read More
JUST LIKE the way the Presidency of the EU rotates between different countries, so a script involving posh kids in a haunted house was passed around the ITV regions during the 1970s so everyone could have a crack at it. And here’s Bristol’s turn! Adolescent toffs, haunted stately pile, blah blah – but wait! There’s time travel to boot! Thanks to weird antique carving thing, the posh kids suddenly find themselves in the 18th century where they have to help a black slave (BRINSLEY “ASWAD and DOUBLE DECKERS” FORDE, no less!) return to his home country. Which they do. And that’s it.Read More
BEN “ALIAS SMITH” MURPHY is an invisible man with a strict operating limit of a quarter of an hour. Otherwise he’ll “stay like that”. Ultra-hasty adventures followed.Read More
MORE FROM a decidedly wilting Hanna and Barbera, here reduced to bigging up, erm, a great grape (i.e. purple) ape who wears a baseball cap and rides around on the back of a van driven by a dog called Beagle Beagle.Read More
MEMORABLE BBC Wales comic drama documenting misadventures of a bunch of valleys boys on a trip to Paris to watch the World’s Greatest Rugby Nation (TM) kick the shit out of the French. WINDSOR “LOVELY BOY” DAVIES was the ring leader, accompanied by an assorted ragbag including textbook camper than camp village hairdresser with a soft spot for rugby players (“OOOOH. He’s BRUTAL!”, etc.). Boozing, jeering, trips to a strip-club and a brothel and Davies running through the streets in white underpants and brown slip-ons ensued.Read More
CONVOLUTED MURKY-DEPTHS shooting and shagging melodrama set in the pressure cooker multi-racial atmosphere of Britain’s Second City (that’s Birmingham, by the way, not Norwich). MAURICE “HOWARD’S WAY” COLBOURNE led a small-star cast of several (ELIZABETH CASSIDY, SAEED JAFFREY, ROBERT LEE) as the bodies piled up and the plot drifted away. Came back for a contractual obligation second series but the game was up by the end of the first run. Additional laffs accrued from the irrelevant stand-up comedy snippet at the beginning of each episode.Read More
DAVID JASON lands his first comedy lead and hams it up enormously as eponymous bloke Shorty fashioning himself as a kind of junior Del Boy in order to impress womankind, despite driving a Messerschmet car. Brother, PETER ARMITAGE, more successful at everything. Both ran a plumbing and oddjob business. Punchlines non-refundable.Read More
DOPEY OLD buffer forgets where he’s left his spouses and gets hitched not once, not twice, not thrice, but six times. That the blatherer in question is PATRICK CARGILL and one of the simpering sextet was ELSPETH GRAY renders the whole thing somehow unsurprising. As with most lecherous billy goats of the 1970s, Cargill’s character – Patrick Woodford – was also stupidly camp, as if that somehow explained things. Also had a daughter who was Susan in the Dr Who films.Read More
FORTIES CRIME capers, kind of spun off from the The Sting, with Harold Gould (white-haired chap from the film) as a reformed conman and his daughter STEFANIE “HART TO HART” POWERS as some kind of lawyer. Somehow every week, Gould would have to come out of retirement and con somebody to see that justice was served.Read More
THIS, ON the other hand, was an animated knock-off of the Racquel Welch-baiting original film, with a variety of missions involving a shrinky little sub. None of the original cast – obviously – transferred, although with with an eyepatch-wearing ship’s captain and who needed them? Animation to the usual Filmation standard, ie. pretty stiff and poor.Read More
DREARY STUDIO-BOUND ancient Mexico-based romp through curses, secret passages and much shaking of sticks at angry Gods. Skirt-wearing evil priest PATRICK TROUGHTON brought much havoc upon heads of wise peaceful civilians including permanently chilly-looking DIANE KEEN.Read More
JULIA MACKENSIE, playing herself, is a divorced teacher living next door to IRENE HANDL, also playing herself. Neither can leave well alone.Read More
SUPREME ROSSITER-ITIS. From the top: bored commuter (Len) lives in ghastly suburban bliss with wife Elizabeth (PAULINE YATES) and cat Ponsonby on Poet’s Estate. Hapless lifeskill-lacking army brother Jimmy ‘Major James Gordonstoun’ Anderson (GEOFFREY “LAMB” PALMER) constantly pops round for sugar and the like (“bit of a cock-up on the catering front”). His daughter Linda (SALLY-JANE “NEWCOMERS” SPENCER) lives in profoundly revolting wedded bliss with pipe-smoking, winemaking hippie liberal Tom Patterson (initially TIM “PORTERHOUSE BLUE” PREECE, latterly LESLIE “JOHNNY BRIGGS’ DAD” SCHOFIELD) instilling sickmaking Guardian values in their two small children, Adam (“I done biggies!”) and Jocasta. His dropout other son (DAVID “SHANG-A-LANG” WARWICK) thankfully drops by only fitfully, looking for handouts to support his eternally fledgling acting career in a “Wedgwood Benn for Pope!” t-shirt. Len commutes every morning to the dilapidated confectionery empire Sunshine Desserts, run by bullet-headed, cliche-spouting go-getter Charles ‘CJ’ Jefferson (JOHN “DOOMWATCH” BARRON), with awful, Tony Blackburn-alike colleague Tony ‘Great!’ Webster (TREVOR “PROFESSIONALS” ADAM), even more awful, drippy colleague David Harris-Jones (BRUCE “STRANGERS” BOULD), lazy, hypochondriac company medic Gerald ‘Doc’ Morrissey (JOHN “HOT METAL” HORSLEY) and vivacious temptress of a personal secretary Joan Greengross (SUE “RENTAGHOST” NICHOLLS). What to do in this repetitive hell, after a disastrous safari park excursion, an abortive affair with Joan, a dinnerless dinner party with the boss and dodgy uncle Percy Spillinger (“I say, what a lovely pair!”) and numerous disturbing hallcinations, but to fake one’s own suicide (in flute-led Brighton front titles) and, after a brief stint on a pig farm, return as bearded, long-lost relative Martin Wellbourne (having spent time in the Amazon basin), and woo Elizabeth all over again, while earning a menial wage at a sewage farm as bucktoothed Donald Potts? Plan soon uncovered by first Linda, then Elizabeth, and Reggie returns as himself once more. Sacked by CJ, he returns to the pig farm. Elizabeth gets a job at Sunshine Desserts. CJ comes onto her, clumsily. Reggie gets sacked. So does Elizabeth. Out of desperation, Grot, a shop selling 100% rubbish (square hoops, Tom’s wine, his dentist’s pictures of the Algarve), is born. It’s a success. Ex-Sunshine employees are poached. In fact, everyone. Including CJ. Having built a success from nothing, Reggie is intent on destroying it again. He fails. Back to where they started, again, Reggie and Elizabeth go off to Brighton, and return as Mr and Mrs Gossamer. The novelty, again, wears off. The idea of Perrins, a commune for the disenfranchised suburban middle-classes, is born. Jimmy, Tom, David, Joan, Doc, CJ etc. are predictably employed. It, predictably, becomes a success. It angers the local community of, er, suburban middle-classes. Violent attacks force it to close. Reggie gets a job at Amalgamated Aerosols, run by suspiciously familiar FJ, alongside the suspiciously familiar Muscroft (“Marvellous!”) and Rosewall (“Teriffic!”). Back where he started, again, again, what else is there to do, but… A case of diminishing returns, to be sure, but repetitiveness was, of course, the point, and in present age of would-be “dark” sitcom bollocks, it’s worth remembering how this ace DAVID NOBBSfest created an incredibly depressing world (many of the early episodes end with Rossiter, alone, screaming in despair – hardly an audience-rousing “you have been watching” punchline) out of the archetypal cheery, harmless sitcom cliches, a feat only equalled by the similarly exceptional EVER DECREASING CIRCLES. 1996 Rossiterless revival was, naturally, appalling, ditto the bizarre 2009 MARTIN CLUNES remake-that-wasn’t-a-remake.Read More