A short video we made. Sniff…Read More
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Nul points! All the songs are called Ding Ding Dong! And Norway are rubbish, aren’t they? Ho fucking ho.
It’s time for Eurovision once more, as the pan-continental search for Europe’s songatheyear comes round again. TV Cream likes to eschew the hateful “hey, it’s so bad it’s good” approach to the whole shebang, and for a start, we’d like to point out that they never say “nul points”, because the points system goes down from twelve to one, so no “nul points” are ever actually allocated or referred to. And people are still somehow wringing comedic mileage out of the mere words Katie Boyle! Grrr.
Anyway, now we’re post-Wogan, and hence – in theory – post a few of these Eurocliches. And although Tel’s shadow looms large (as it does whenever the sun comes out), let’s not forget that back in 1967, it was Rolf Harris on the BBC lipmic in Vienna, which seems a bit of a waste.
In 1970, it was David Gell, whoever the hell he was, the following year it was Dave Lee Travis, and in 1972 – Tom Fleming! Bet that was a rocking show. In 1973 it was Terry for the first time, with Pete Murray on the wireless, and in 1974 it was David Vine (“My goodness she sold that well!”)
In 1975 it was the exact opposite that it had been in 1973, as Tel was relegated to the radio, so he must have made a mess of it before, and Pete Murray was on the telly. In 1976 it was Michael Aspel, and Pete was back in 1977, before Tel made a triumphant return in 1978. John Dunn did it in 1979, bizarrely, and Tel wasn’t involved at all, as Ray Moore was on the radio.
But enough of that, because here’s a long list, in the shape of TV Cream’s guide to Ten Great British Eurovision
1969 CONGRATULATIONS – CLIFF RICHARD
Ah, Cliff, forever wriggling around in figure-hugging blue crushed regency velvet in front of that big gold ‘E-U-R-O-V-I-S-I-O-N’ tableau. Penned by Coulter and Martin, responsible for Puppet On A String and, er, Back Home, but pipped into second by Spain’s La La La.
1974 LONG LIVE LOVE – OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN
To Brighton for 1974′s extravaganza, into which these isles pitched Olivia toothily into the fray, in naught but a blue nightie. But we were betting without Abba, and ONJ could only finish a meagre fourth. Pah.
1977 ROCK BOTTOM – LYNDSEY DE PAUL AND MIKE MORAN
Come on, with a title like that, it was asking for it. Our plucky participants sang at it grand pianos facing one another. Europe remained unimpressed. Second. France won.
1978 BAD OLD DAYS – COCO
Despite featuring a nascent Cheryl Baker amongst their number, they could only muster an appalling eleventh with their somewhat tribute to Conan O’Brien. Truly the dog days for Blighty, these. Prima Donna, anyone? Black Lace doing legit?
1982 ONE STEP FURTHER – BARDO
The ‘Do featured Sally-Ann Triplett off of Stu Francis-era Crackerjack, and were endorsed by none other than Neil Tennant in Smash Hits. None of which could help them in the heat of, ahem, Harrogate, and were swept aside by Nicole’s anthemic A Little Peace, which the headmaster of one of the residents of TV Cream Towers used to like to play in assemblies. Seventh.
1984 LOVE GAMES – BELLE AND THE DEVOTIONS
Now we really are getting desperate. Imagine a sort of Dorothy Perkins Bananarama, all ribbons and polka dots and miniskirts. Booed off stage. And seventh again. Sweden take the crown.
1990 GIVE A LITTLE LOVE BACK TO THE WORLD – EMMA
Emma! She was Welsh! She looked a bit like Sonia! She sang a song about world peace and ending starvation! She finished sixth! Italy won with a song about European integration!
1991 MESSAGE TO YOUR HEART – SAMANTHA JANUS
It’s Britain’s great Eurovision maxim: never learn from the previous year’s failure. Hence the succession of overwrought pastel-suited male balladeer flops from the 80s. Another song about starvation (“and every day is a compromise for a grain of corn”) and hence Game On was seen as a step *up*. Tenth.
1992 ONE STEP OUT OF TIME – MICHAEL BALL
One step out of time! (doof doof) One reason to put this love on the line! Fresh-faced and clean-cut, Michael was nothing if not Cliff’s spiritual heir, and thus emulated him by finishing second. Punched the air in time with the doof doof bit.
1996 OOH AAH JUST A LITTLE BIT – GINA G
Into the Jonathan King years and hence the Ireland Forever Winning years, as satirised by Father Ted. The last Eurovisioner to make No. 1 in Britain, fact fans, although Gina limped to eighth on the night. Better than Love City Groove, at least.
You’d be forgiven for not being aware of this grand anniversary, given how little is being made of it, not least on the box itself.
Why this week’s BBC4 schedules aren’t filled with choice archivery is beyond us. Heavens, they could even have pretended it was a trial run for when the cuts kick in.
Anyway, here at TV Cream Towers we’re not going to let this occasion pass without suitable commemoration, by which we mean A Very Long List.
Below you’ll find what we’re calling 75 quintessential trend-shaping, genre-justifying, nation-mesmirising, synapse-tingling small screen moments.
Well, we’re not – we’re actually calling them TV Cream’s 75 Memorable TV Moments.
Moreover they’re not THE most 75 memorable of all time, because there’s actually around 75,000 of those, and by the time we’d finished listing all them there’d have already been another 75,000 more.
We’ve also limited our choices to TV hailing solely from these shores.
So perhaps it’s best to treat the following simply as 75 reasons television is one of the greatest things in the world.
Michael Palin returning to London at the end of Around The World in 80 Days to be greeted by, among others, a foul-mouthed newspaper seller (BBC1, 1989)
John Betjeman reaching the end of the line in Metro-land and concluding “grass triumphs – and I must say, I’m rather glad” (BBC1, 1973)
Jack Regan (John Thaw) bellowing “This is going to be a right bastard” in the episode of The Sweeney ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ (ITV, 1975)
Kenneth Williams volunteering the information that he’s “one of the biggest puffs in the business” on All-Star Record Breakers (BBC1, 1977)
John Gordillo and dog walking out of BBC Television Centre to the sound of The Sundays’ Here’s Where The Story Ends during the very last sequence of the very last edition of The RDA (BBC Choice, 2001)
Martin Bryce (Richard Briers) having his itinerary of events for a local old people’s home hijacked by Paul Ryman (Peter Egan) in Ever Decreasing Circles (BBC1, 1984)
The Smiths performing Bigmouth Strikes Again on The Whistle Test (BBC2, 1986)
Tiny Clanger conducting the “music of the spheres” in The Clangers (BBC1, 1972)
Doctor Who (Tom Baker) referring to Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) as “my best friend” in the adventure ‘The Seeds of Doom’ (BBC1, 1976)
Spike (Dexter Fletcher) and Lynda (Julia Sawalha) doing a slow dance to imaginary music at the end of the Press Gang episode ‘The Big Finish?’ (ITV, 1990)
Lionel Blair being Gotcha’d for Noel’s House Party during a performance of Don’t Dress For Dinner at the Bournemouth Pier Theatre (BBC1, 1992)
Millicent Martin duetting with herself on the very last That Was The Week That Was (BBC1, 1963)
Jacob Bronowski crouching in a pool at Auschwitz and scooping up a handful of mud while saying “we have to touch people” in The Ascent of Man (BBC2, 1973)
The twist at the end of the Thriller episode ‘A Coffin For The Bride’ (ITV, 1974)
Philip Marlow (Michael Gambon) and Dr Gibbon (Bill Paterson) playing word games in The Singing Detective episode ‘Pitter Patter’ (BBC1, 1986)
Aztec Camera performing Oblivious on Pebble Mill at One (BBC1, 1983)
Jeffrey Fairbrother (Simon Cadell) reading a letter from Joe Maplin to his assembled staff in Hi-De-Hi! (BBC1, 1983)
The neon bottled, Brian Eno-backed opening titles to every edition of Arena (BBC2, 1975-date)
Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) jumping for joy off a flight of stone steps at the end of the episode ‘The Second Stain’ (ITV, 1986)
The death of Augustus (Brian Blessed) in I, Claudius (BBC2, 1976)
Michael Parkinson being possessed by a malevolent spirit in Ghostwatch (BBC1, 1992)
Alistair Cooke playing a burst of New Orleans jazz on the piano in his history of America (BBC2, 1972)
The Chalk Farm Salvation Army Band arriving in the studio for the Christmas editions of Blue Peter (BBC1, 1958-date)
‘Attitudes Night’ on The Day Today (BBC2, 1994)
The entire TV Hell theme night (BBC2, 1992)
Michael Aspel announcing the end of the world in The War Game (BBC, 1965, not broadcast until 1985)
The Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan) psychologically and literally jousting with another version of himself in the episode ‘The Schizoid Man’ (ITV, 1967)
The death of Lou Beale (Anna Wing) in EastEnders (BBC1, 1988)
Bruce Forsyth struggling to help a non-musical father and daughter join in with a team of professional bell-ringers on The Generation Game (BBC1, 1975)
Richard Dimbleby giving a sartorial guide to all the people working behind the scenes during Election 64 (BBC1, 1964)
The ‘Election Night Special’ sketch on Monty Python’s Flying Circus (BBC1, 1970)
Michael Murray (Robert Lindsay) simultaneously beset by nervous twitches, an angry neglected wife and a Dr Who fan convention in the GBH episode ‘Message Sent’ (Channel 4, 1991)
Chris Evans, Zig and Zag trying and failing to demonstrate how to make the world’s quickest chocolate cake on The Big Breakfast (Channel 4, 1992)
Pet Shop Boys performing Can You Forgive Her? on Top of the Pops (BBC1, 1993)
The first appearance of the dead body of a “demon” in Quatermass and the Pit (BBC1, 1958)
Bob Monkhouse coolly and expertly dealing with a malfunctioning draw machine on The National Lottery Live (BBC1, 1996)
Jamie MacDonald (Paul Higgins) splenetically berating Ollie Reeder (Chris Addison) for making fun of Al Jolson in The Thick Of It (BBC4, 2007)
Kenny Everett producing an oversized “READY” stick before bending Terry Wogan’s microphone on Blankety Blank (BBC1, 1979)
Monique (Angela Richards) singing If This Is The Last Time I See You in Secret Army (BBC1, 1979)
Stephen Fry “killing” Hugh Laurie in a musical misunderstanding over the lid on jar of coffee in A Bit of Fry and Laurie (BBC2, 1990)
Gonch Gardner trying to undercut the school canteen by selling toast in the Grange Hill playground (BBC1, 1985)
Nationwide staging a studio-bound summer fair to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (BBC1, 1977)
The Beatles performing Hey Jude on Frost on Sunday (ITV, 1968)
George Malone (Peter Kerrigan) confessing “I can’t believe that there’s no hope” in Boys from the Blackstuff (BBC2, 1982)
A “fight” breaking out among, in Des Lynam’s words, “our highly professional team” during the opening seconds of an edition of Grandstand (BBC1, 1983)
Damon Grant (Simon O’Brien) breaking down on completing his YTS only to find nobody will take him on for work in Brookside (C4, 1986)
Clive James’s Review of the 80s, culminating in our host jiving to a performance by “woman of the decade” Kylie Minogue (BBC1, 1989)
Margaret Thatcher giving her verdict on record releases, including a favourable review of Beautiful Imbalance by Thrashing Doves, on Saturday Superstore (BBC1, 1987)
The opening sequence of the BBC’s World Cup 90 coverage, and Des Lynam’s subsequent patronage of Pavarotti – “Cue Luciano!” (BBC1, 1990)
Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) breaking down on opening the spectacle case of her recently deceased husband Stan in Coronation Street (ITV, 1984)
Adam Carter (Rupert Penry-Jones) being blown up while driving a car bomb away from a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Spooks (BBC1, 2008)
Larry Grayson attempting – and failing – to master disco dancing on The Generation Game (BBC1, 1979)
One half of Bucks Fizz performing Run For Your Life in Jersey while the other half performs it in London at exactly the same time on Saturday Superstore (BBC1, 1983)
The BBC screening an emergency edition of Dad’s Army when a power failure hit part of Television Centre during Euro 2000 (BBC1, 2000)
The Special AKA, along with The Beat and Elvis Costello, performing Free Nelson Mandela on The Tube (C4, 1984)
Wing Commander Marsh (Michael Bryant) feigning mental illness to be repatriated out of Colditz, but ending up genuinely insane (BBC1, 1972)
Adam Curtis saying the words “but this was a fantasy” on The Power of Nightmares (BBC2, 2004)
Bob Monkhouse announcing the end of the power workers’ strike live during an edition of The Golden Shot (ITV, 1970)
Jim fixing it for a child to appear in an episode of Terry and June, accosting Terry on a cross-channel ferry concerning the smell of his Camembert cheese (BBC1, 1983)
John Lennon and Paul McCartney compering The Music of Lennon and McCartney (ITV, 1965)
Leonard Bernstein throwing a tantrum during recording sessions for West Side Story in an edition of Omnibus (BBC1, 1985)
Morecambe and Wise and assorted BBC faces performing There Is Nothing Like A Dame (BBC1, 1977)
Seven-year-old Nick Hitchon declaring “If I could change the world, I would change it into a diamond” on Seven Up (ITV, 1963)
Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish recreating The Crystal Maze in puppet form for Channel 4′s 15th birthday (C4, 1997)
Radiation-infused survivors of the nuclear holocaust depicted in Threads watching the transmission of an edition of Words and Pictures (BBC2, 1984)
Tony Hart drawing a giant elephant in the sand in Vision On (BBC1, 1964-76)
Derek Griffiths singing Why Don’t You Build Yourself A Word? in Look and Read (BBC, 1982)
Angus Deayton asking teams on Have I Got News For You? to guess the missing word in the headline “I made Thatcher WHAT? boasts Lawson”, and Paul Merton replying, “It is ‘swallow’?” (BBC1, 1992)
Dennis Potter quoting the line “Will there be any stars in my crown, when the evening sun goes down?” while reminiscing about childhood hymns with Melvyn Bragg in his last ever interview on Without Walls (C4, 1994)
The opening titles of All Creatures Great and Small (BBC1, 1978)
Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride) discovering she had been the victim of con-man Phil Jennings (Tommy Boyle) in Coronation Street (ITV, 1997)
Rolf Harris performing Jake the Peg (BBC1, 1969)
Messrs Barker and Corbett conducting overlapping telephone conversations in Sainsbury’s (BBC1, 1981)
John Cleese guesting on The Muppet Show (ITV, 1978)
The BBC’s celebrations for the 50th anniversary of television, including an entire week of archive programmes on BBC2 (1986)Read More
The hook for today’s Puzzle Trail square is the man who’s crossed more channels than P&O.
Having ably demonstrated in that Channel 4 documentary on Wednesday that he’s still fully compos mentis (unlike the rest of Channel 4, which is full of compost mentis), we turn to Brucie for the ninth of our Puzzle Trail clues.
To get today’s grid reference, take the first letter of the surname of Brucie’s female assistant during his return stint on the Generation Game, then couple that with the number of times Brucie has left ITV to work for the BBC. And once you’ve done that, we’ll see you in the bar for a drink afterwards.Read More
Thanks to that unexpected repeat of a 1987-vintage episode of Wogan the other night, it was possible to take a good, hard look at the armoury Tel deployed on telly to such effect for so long.
And what an armoury. Many were on display during that episode, as indeed they seemed to be during every episode. There always was a lot more to old Wogan’s act than merely the “I don’t know what’s going on here but I wish it would stop” stuff.
Anyway, TV Cream has sallied forth, as the great man himself would say, unto the technological interface that is the screengrab in order to assemble an anatomy of a Wogan.
First, the opening gambit:
Note how our host doesn’t simply walk on set; rather he engages in some visual badinage with his first musical guests, simultaneously acknowledging and patronising them with a mock-bow. Cheeky, but charming. Then instead of walking to the front of the stage, our man gambols and skips into position, gently tickling the conventions of chat. Once in place, the gurning can begin:
Two examples of how to pull off the tricky task of engaging with the camera, yet not actually looking into it. Tel looks a little undignified to begin with, but soon finds his poise, hands clasped in front, ready to discharge another peroration. Time to look the viewer straight in the eye:
Now we’ve stepped up a gear and are witnessing Wogan’s wheezes at full pelt. First we have the nonplussed shrug of the shoulders, deflating whatever pomposity was evident in tonight’s line-up. Note the slight tilt of the head – we’ll see more of this shortly. Second, the wide-eyed stare of delightful desperation. Old Tel’s up to his old tricks again! But wait, there’s more:
Wogan cranks up the corn still further, essaying first a worried glance to the heavens, then a toothy explosion of hilarity. Phew! Now that the climax has been reached, our man can move to the conversation area and deploy his next battery of whimsy…
…whoa! Wogan goes for not simply a tilt of the head but an entire body swerve. This is masterful stuff, coupled as it is with feigned gestures of falling asleep at the prospect of meeting tonight’s guests. Speaking of which, let’s introduce the first batch, with a little kick of the leg to reassure viewers that he is actually enjoying things after all. Tch! Once the music is done with, it’s time for the chat. Let’s examine two examples of the Wogan-as-questioner pose:
First, a tightly-framed shot of the man at ease with his surroundings and supplicants. His interlocked hands rest on crossed legs, to help put his guests entirely in a state of good grace. In the wide shot we see Tel is resting his hands on the arm of his swivel chair, legs splayed in front in a manner that seems to have disarmed Messrs Peel and Blackburn completely. Note the shiny shoes – every inch of Wogan seems perfectly groomed for early-evening telly. Finally, two examples of Wogan testing the BBC Television Theatre to destruction by virtue of a bit of multi-media magic and some good old-fashioned prop silliness:
Smitty and Bungalow are totally upstaged by our man, even though he’s barely a couple of inches high. Then, for good measure, Tel pretends an ordinary garden rose is some kind of joke flora that is about to emit a stream of water. The ideal note upon which to bid viewers farewell.
And there you have it: an anatomy of a Wogan, where all aspects of the man – expression, appearance, pose (both standing and sitting) and presence both alone and in company – are functioning in harmony.
Hope you were taking notes, DG.
Next week: Anatomy of a Jameson*.
*No it isn’t.Read More
DAPPER, ARCHIVE-DIPPING return to BBC1 for a rejuvenated BRUCIE, part of a two-pronged reconquest of Auntie, the other – STRICTLY COME DANCING – to prove more durable than this sadly one-series jamboree of Forsychology. Still, it was fun while it lasted: our man twirled and twinkled his way round a shiny-floored studio comprising giant TV sets a la SATURDAY NIGHT CLIVE, grilling members of the public with general knowledge questions asked not by himself but – brilliantly – by hosts and hostesses from the Beeb’s vaults. “Let’s release those quizmasters!” Brucie would cry, and a pixellated parade of everyone from Henry Kelly to Cuddly Ken to Angie Rippon would materialise on the towers of tellies, bearing a tasty nugget of riddle-based archivery. Brucie catchphrase quotient was respectfully high: “Do you want to try for cash, or build up your stash?” “Did you enjoy that round? Well, let’s do it again!” “Where I go, my Bonuses go!” and of course the programme title itself. There was even a dash of melodramatics – “Confirm!” – whenever Bruce instructed the clips to disclose the answer to a “guess who?” question. The show’s regrettably short shelf-life can either be explained by a) Brucie’s unwillingness to interrupt his golf on two non-consecutive occasions each year or b) the commissioning of The One Show.Read More
RICHARD MADELEY would often double your agony on precious days off school by appearing twice. At least on THIS MORNING you knew Richard would say something embarrassing or that Judy would get the shakes. Here our man simply smarmed his way through this bog-standard Granada-only (for a while) gameshow with spurious holiday theme. Odd bits included the introduction of the contestants with a little graphic of their passport and personal details listed (age was concealed, for it was one of the rounds, “guess your opponent’s age”, leading to usual Madeleyisms – “Thirty-three? You’re older than thirty-three, aren’t you? Well you look it…”) and the biggest ever rotating structure on a TV show – contestants and host perched on giant turntable, which turned at regular intervals for apparently no reason whatsoever, complete with overhead shot. Final was usual “illuminate lights on titular runway by answering questions” schtick.Read More
TAKE A WORD. Change a letter. Er, do it again. And you got [sic] a chain! Yup, one of the finest ever this-is-how-it-works theme tunes ushered in this linguistic wisp of a show, hosted, of course, by… “Here’s Beadle!” Our man claimed, with his usual modesty, that with this programme he invented the notion of contestants standing rather than sitting. But who are we to quibble. From within a CATCHPHRASE-esque “Wow! The inside of a fruit machine! Futuristic!”-style set, Beadlebum guided his minions through a parlour game annointed one of the centrepieces of ITV’s first ever weekday morning schedule. Ignominy came when Jeremy was replaced quickly by ANDREW O’CONNOR and a million others, at which point proceedings got terminally worse.Read More
PAN-CONTINENTAL LATE 80s joke, mainly thanks to ludicrously ambitious Euro-harmony raison d’etre, and much-derided sub-Wogan compere HENRY KELLY. Original incarnation offered holiday to Seoul Olympics as first prize (cue animation of Olympic mascot swirling a ribbon thing on his head), later series strained to maintain golden theme, hence much ballyhoo about trips to pan for gold in the Australian outback, mentioned by Kelly about seven times a show (and repeated the next morning). Bland as hell, how-many-cliches-can-we-fit-in theme: “The heat is on, the time is right, it’s time for you, for you to play the game, people are coming, everyone’s trying, trying to be the best that they can, when they’re going for, going for GOLD!” The hapless Kelly usually blathered about the 28 nations taking part (handily splitting Britain into England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle Of Man) but no-one ever seemed to mention that the Brits had the built-in advantage of having English as their mother tongue. Perennial, never-changing format as follows: seven multi-national contestants span round on rotating desk for elimination round, perched behind seemingly metaphorical mushroom-shaped buzzers. Klaus from the Cafe Hag commercial (“Ah, Henry Kelly! Schmells good!”) turned up every day. First four contestants to get a question right progressed to the “first round proper” (eh?), the detritus spinning off to try again tomorrow. Inevitable Wednesday afternoon battle for final place between two remaining contestants invariably cast xenophobic “come on Malcolm, beat the kraut/wop/frog” air across living room/hall of residence/sixth form common room. Four qualifiers bantered uneasily with host: “I am big fan from Imran Khan” quoth one Eastern European cricket fan, while Kelly vouchsafed that “Going For Gold is so popular in Belgium”. Quite. Remaining contestants answered questions worth one, two or three points, with first three to eight progressing to one-minute “specialised subject” round: “I am not so good with the geoh-graf-ey!”. Best two went”head to head” in absurdly complex final, featuring celebrated “Where am I? I am a river in northern Africa” questions as time ticked away “in the big four zone”. Daily winners went on to Friday final, and the whole thing went on for months and months and months. Shown as part of Reg Grundy double bill after NEIGHBOURS in early daytime schedules, while no-doubt huge airfare bill for BBC was mitigated by pathetically cheap perspex trophy for daily winners. Effect on European brotherhood deemed negligible. Kelly went on to mispronounce composers’ names on Classic FM before being ousted by Simon Bates and his gossip network.Read More