“OH, I MUST say, Princess Diana looks really scrummy in that picture, don’t you think so Nick, really gorgeous.” Main, indeed for a time only, plank in ITV’s half-built semi-bodged creaking edifice of a breakfast television service, responsible for making household names of ANNE “TODAY’S NUMBERS ARE 3, 15, 26…” DIAMOND, NICK “…27, 33 and 45” OWEN, WINCEY “AND SO IS WINCEY WILLIS” WILLIS and a host of other day-glo undesirables. Whole thing almost sank with all hands after a mere two weeks on air thanks to original boss PETER JAY’s demented policy of ultra-earnest mithering, having the weather forecast at 7.52 and 13 seconds precisely, and letting fellow investor DAVID FROST do interviews that went on for five hours. Frostie was one of original “Famous Five” supposedly destined to piss all over rival BREAKFAST TIME business thanks to “sexual chemistry” of ANNA FORD, ANGELA RIPPON, MICHAEL PARKINSON and ROBERT KEE. Only chemistry evident on screen was that of rapidly combusting careers and evaporating viewers. GREG DYKE showed up to save the day, not before JONATHAN “HE LIED AND LIED AND LIED” AITKEN had sacked Anna and Angela (big news) and made Robert quit (nobody noticed). Parky hung about sulking for a year before pissing off. In came Anne, Nick (promoted from sports presenter), Wincey, ROLAND “RUN VT!” RAT, GYLES BRANDRETH, JIMMY GREAVES, CHRIS TARRANT, HENRY KELLY, JAYNE IRVING, MIKE MORRIS, RICHARD KEYS, ULRIKA JONSSON, LORRAINE KELLY and, over in the kids corner, TIMMY MALLETT, TOMMY BOYD and MICHAELA STRACHAN: basically your entire gamut of harmless mid-80s ITV faces who could hold their own on a shit-brown coloured sofa for as long as necessary going on about a) which members of the royal family were in the tabloids today b) the weather c) what happened on telly last night d) where they were going for their holidays e) Gyles’s knitted jumpers. And people watched in their millions. Genuinely ace opening titles had GOOD MORNING BRITAIN spelled out by pigeons in Trafalgar Square, crew of a Royal Navy ship, load of people on the Bristol Downs and so on. Loads of memorable stuff ensued: Rat On The Road, Tarrant going round the resorts, John Stapleton reporting on the Brighton bomb in a call box, industrial action every other week meaning endless repeats of FLIPPER and BATMAN, Anne quitting, Anne coming back, Anne quitting again, the eggcup copyright slide at the end of every programme, Mallett’s Mallet, After Nine, Mad Lizzie, Commander Philpott doing the weather, GORDON HONEYCOMBE doing the news… Party came to an end when Mrs Thatcher decided GMTV would do a better job of things, except she had second thoughts and wrote BRUCE GYNGELL a letter saying how sorry she was. Too late! Fell off the air on New Year’s Eve 1992 with Mike Morris blubbing to the sound of ‘Simply The Best’.
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Friday, 19.30, 00.30, BBC4
Yes, again, though while this one doesn’t match in quality last night’s episode, it’s certainly fascinating because there’s another strike on! That means again we wheel out the videos and repeats, though it’s been intriguing to see how the links have progressed, from Peter Powell out of vision in a toilet through to Simon Bates with the Rubik’s Cube and some fake applause. This time we make use of the magic of CSO to make it look a bit more like Tommy Vance is standing in a proper studio, though it’s still quite obvious, especially when we’ve seen more or less all the clips several times before. Still, a bit of a novelty, isn’t it?
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Points of View
- In 'Potty Time, Michael Bentine’s', Scott McPhee says: "The obligatory Christmas episode. Jingle Bells parody; “Oh what fun it is to ride in a super sonic sleigh.”"
- In 'Play School', George White says: "Yes, that’s right, he is. Australia is a small world."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard Davies says: "It sounds like it’s worth writing a feature on the rise of stand-up comedy over the last 20 or so years."
- In 'Play School', David Smith says: "Don Spencer is also, in one of my favourite pieces of telly trivia, Russell Crowe’s father-in-law."
- In 'Play School', George White says: "Don Spencer is “Australia’s No 1 Children’s Entertainer” A. Because he took permanent residence in Australia. B. He’s..."