Posts Tagged With 'Millions of other bloody people'

Crown Court

Posted in C is for... by TV Cream | 3 Comments »

Richard Wilson sends another punk rocker downONE OF YOUR MORE credible off-school-with-the-Lucozade viewing options. Different case played out in each three x 30 minutes weekly sittings at Fulchester Crown Court, staffed by the likes of BEN KINGSLEY, RICHARD WILSON and MICHAEL GOUGH. Scum of the earth such as PAULINE QUIRKE (always a single mum caught shoplifting), LIZ FRASER (always an old bat fiddling her pension) or MICHAEL ELPHICK (always a wide boy shifting dodgy motors), took the witness box. Shifty beak looked on. Public gallery fidgeted. “Just stick to the facts, if you please.” Jury retired during commercial break. “Case dismissed!”

Read More

Question of Sport, A

Posted in Q is for... by TV Cream | 2 Comments »

"Emlyn, you're absolutely rrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiwwwwwwrrrrrrrroooorrrrrrriiiiii..."“SPORTING WIT AND BADINAGE”, as Ceefax often had it, which somewhat underplayed the whole quizzing element if you ask us. Avuncular, easily entertained DAVID COLEMAN presided at just the right pace, except when making sure to ask the guests “you had a good season last year, and you’ll be hoping for more of the same with the world championships coming up?” in the middle of a round. BILL BEAUMONT seemingly spent decades at the helm of one team, except for a couple of weeks when Coleman was off with shingles and he took over as a snail’s pace host. Opposite massed a phalanx of overexcitable captains, most notably WILLIE CARSON and EMLYN HUGHES of John Reid-related royal handbagging and ill-fated attempt to make “we think…” a national catchphrase. The Mystery Guest round added “can you recognise this sporting star going for a day’s fishing?” intrigue and hope that it wasn’t someone you were particularly proud of, a tyro RAY STUBBS directing many an example. You knew Christmas was coming when the annual Mystery Guest competition started, the winner picked out in the series finale by the captains from a mound of envelopes dropped from the studio ceiling. Supposedly annual surveys referred to once a series placed What Happened Next? as the show’s most popular round year after year. The score is Emlyn seven, Bill five.

Read More

Play School

Posted in P is for... by TV Cream | 5 Comments »

Time for a bit of gentle educationalism about bobsleds House of fun“A HOUSE,
With a door!
Windows, 1, 2, 3, 4. [rat-a-tat-tat]
Ready to play?
What’s the day?…”

Or, if you’re of a previous generation – “Ready to knock?/Turn the lock…” Not as good, though. A legend in several million lifetimes of Brits from 20 to 40, Play School ran from the late sixties to the early/mid ’80s almost unchanged in format, with only a switch to colour and a radical cosmetic facelift in the early ’80s (to a Teletubbies-dwarfing storm of parental protest).

Basically, each day of the week (carefully identified at the start), two presenters, male and female, chosen from the mindstopping roster below, would say a cheery “hullo”, before swiftly moving on with the day’s business, which would originate from what was “under the clock”. This object would then form the loose “theme” of the show, which went, roughly, thus:

A “make and do” kind of project would ensue, often utilising toilet rolls and “get a grown-up to help you with the” scissors.

This would lead into a song/dance routine in a white studio limbo.

About this time, it was back to the clock for the obligatory time-telling session (“Now, the big hand’s pointing straight up, so that means it’s something o’clock…”).

Then back to that makey thing, and the legendary “real world” link via the round/square/arched window (cue harp chords and patented seventies wobble dissolve). The film shown was nearly always biscuits/cakes/shoes etc. being made in a factory. And mesmerising it was, too.

Then back to the studio, and here’s where we had the Playschool pets (ever-changing out of necessity, but including along the way Bit and Bot (goldfish who, it was terrifyingly revealed to many a five-year old, had no eyelids! “But it’s alright…” No it wasn’t!), Buffy (rabbit), Lizzie (Guinea Pig), “The Mice” and K’Too, the cockatoo who danced to JONATHAN COHEN’s piano and “could live to be 100 years old” (he didn’t).

Alternatively, we had the toys: Jemima (red-cheeked floppy cloth effort in Laura Ashley frock), Hamble (awful, scary Bjorkesque Victorian porcelain doll thing – ugh! Often the target on in-studio “drawn-on pubic hair” japes), Humpty (the coolest – round, fat green fucker in tartan trews, prone to unsteadiness atop a cardboard wall – did all his own stunts) and Big Ted and Little Ted Bear (from nowhere in particular). Oh, and Dapple, the rocking horse.

Then came the story – something like Barbar the Elephant or The Bears Who Stayed Indoors.

Then possibly, another song, then it was “B’bye!” till next time.


The guv'nors: Johnny... ...and Brian

– We’ve written lots more on Play School here!

Read More

This is Your Life

Posted in T is for... by TV Cream | 3 Comments »

"When he comes off stage, he'll walk to his dressing room, open the door and expect to see his wife waiting with a bunch of flowers. Instead..."ORIGINALLY HOSTED by television’s most ill-at-ease presenter (EAMONN ANDREWS), THIS IS YOUR LIFE was a behemoth of a television programme, an institution that spanned decades, crossed channels, yet stillĀ was never able to surmount that “I’ll just flick over at the beginning to see if it’s anyone interesting” lack of engagement by the watching populace. Each edition would invariably start with that wonderful fanfare, disingenuously called “Gala Performance” (but quite obviously written so that the viewer could accompany that four note opening salvo with a musical rendition of the show’s title). After that, the camera would pan across to Andrews awkwardly hanging around outside a stage door, or just off set, preparing to present his menacing frame in front of one of light entertainment’s leading figures. From thereon Eamonn (and later MICHAEL ASPEL) would recount a highly tweaked version of said celebrities life to date, usually featuring some old school years battleaxe-with-a-heart-of-gold, plus a pre-recorded message from the celeb’s local boozer, in which friends and family not sufficiently interesting to be allowed through the studio door would indulge in a choreographed mass “cheers!” Each episode could also be relied upon to feature a genuinely interesting celebrity guest who we never got to hear from thanks to the fact they were already positioned on the opposing sofa when that week’s subject was corralled onto the stage. Never much more than a super-charged THROUGH THE KEYHOLE, crossed with a dash of SURPRISE, SURPRISE, THIS IS YOUR LIFE nonetheless provided ageing celebs with a platform for the type of hoary old anecdotage previously confined to the AGM of the Grand Order of Water Rats, and for that we should be grateful.

Read More

Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night

Posted in B is for... by TV Cream | 1 Comment »
"Are you receiving me in Grampian?" "If all else fails, tickle the ivories my loves"

OVER TO MICHAEL PALIN for a bit of context here…

“Thursday, June 29th 1978

…Drive through the rain to TV Centre. Terry Hughes disappears, and some time later, when we’ve finally got the BBC video machine to work (this takes four or five people, secretaries, window cleaners etc.), Terry emerges from Jimmy Gilbert’s office and, in an urgent whispered aside, tells us that Bruce Forsyth has just signed for ITV, and that Jimmy is in a state of utter confusion and trying to write a press release.”

Yup, as part of the great Beeb exodus of 1978, Brucie followed Morecambe and Wise to ITV, leaving behind the conveyor belt and the old scoreboard to helm this massive fuck-off Saturday night varietyfest which promptly collapsed faster than a tier of Pink Floyd audience seating. Amidst the wreckage were Cannon and Ball in what was supposed to be their first major television gig, but they kept being bumped from the line-up until, presumably, the producers were convinced they’d thought up more than two gags. The operative word in this programme was ‘big’, and as such each edition was 90 minutes long. Brucie acted as a glorified continuity announcer, promising Saturday night entertainment like we’d never seen before…which turned out to be – gasp! – comedy (a revival of The Worker with Charlie Drake and a TV adaption of the Glums with Jimmy Edwards and Ian Lavender, neither of which anyone under 40 was arsed about). And then there were – yikes! – fun (the Pyramid Game with Steve Jones and Sofa Soccer, later revived on Noel’s House Party, introduced by Anthea Redfern). Plus there was – wow! – music (Sammy Davis Junior and the UK Disco Dancing Championships). Finally there was – erk! – mayhem (regular guests Pam Ayres and Rod Hull and Emu). Inevitably after a few weeks the entire population of Britain had decided to stick the now Larry-helmed GENERATION GAME, and Brucie started using each show to moan about how people had “expected glitter to come out of the set” and take up 15 minutes’ hoofing time to berate people for not watching. Soon shunted to 6pm wilderness, axed after one series and Bruce was handed his cards. Do you see what we did there?

So how did TV Times trumpet the arrival of this televisual landmark? Why, with a WORLD OF SPORT-style “see panel” sidebar all of its own, and a hastily-scribbled invitation to view, penned by some poor hack “in the style of Bruce”, of course…

“Saturday – that’s the day I want you to keep free in future. What do you mean, you do already, for shows like World of Sport? You can still watch that, my loves, and all your other favourites. I’m talking about Saturday evening at 7.25, and the show I’ve called – modestly – Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night. We’re aiming to make it the fastest moving, most fun-filled package on television. You’re going to meet international stars, such as Sammy Davis Jr and Dolly Parton. Then I’m inviting Charlie Drake along every week to repeat his success in The Worker. We’re also recreating The Glums, and the days of wireless – radio, to you. And we’ve the comedy duo Cannon and Ball. What’s that? They’ll go with a bang? Let’s get it straight – I do the gags, you join in with the games, OK? We’ve a number of those, including Teletennis and The 1000 Pound Pyramid, and Anthea is going to help me with them. Also appearing will be the poetess Pam Ayres, and Rod Hull and Emu. And as it’s a family show, we’re inviting the kids to Beat the Goalie, and to play the main roles in Doctors and Nurses, with stars as patients. As you can see, you’re going to do well, every Saturday night…no, dear, it’s not Saturday Night Fever. No, I’m not John Travolta. It’s Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night. And it’s going to be nice to see you, to see you nice!”

"I think the chin could have been a bit bigger, mind"

You might also want to see... Cannon and Ball.

Read More

Play Away

Posted in P is for... by TV Cream | 1 Comment »

Do try this at homeCAMP SONGS and stories for the under-12s, masterminded by incomparable BRIAN CANT. Other participants included all your ‘SCHOOL regulars plus a few guests: TONI ARTHUR, JULIE STEVENS, CAROL CHELL, ANNE-MARIE HACKETT, TONY ROBINSON, JEREMY IRONS, JULIE COVINGTON, ANITA DOBSON, NERYS HUGHES et al. Musical director and leader of the Play Away Players was your man JOHNATHAN COHEN. It really didn’t matter if it was raining, or indeed if it was fine. Just as long as you had time.

Read More

Give us a Clue

Posted in G is for... by TV Cream | 4 Comments »

"Psst - Kenny, wanna help me try and pull off Twelve Gentlemen of Verona?"NOW WE’RE talking. Or not, for fear of eliciting a petulant parb from Asp or Parky’s buzzer. The ultimate in parlour game riddle-me-ree telly, this served many a purpose during its celebrated reign, not least a) filling half an hour on the cheap b) keeping Parky in work after he sulked out of TV-am (not necessarily a good thing) c) keeping any number of equally jobbing light entertainment lackeys in the public eye, or at least in the early afternoon public eye, and d) having the most dementedly overlong here’s-how-the-whole-thing-works theme tune ever. Plus it proved ample inspiration for something to fill dying minutes of last-day-of-term school pissabouts. Original line-up had MICHAEL ASPEL bedded down behind cosy desk “keeping order” as TV Times always used to say over UNA STUBBS and LIONEL BLAIR, who in turn had ostensible jurisdiction over fellow contestants comprising defiantly D-list celebrities and members of the public. Later, more long-running roster comprised MICHAEL PARKINSON in a sweater behind a giant bureau, with LIONEL on his left and LIZA GODDARD on his right supported by a celeb-only back-up. Original theme (Chicken Man, aka GRANGE HILL) also ditched for inordinately long exposition in close harmony singing: “..with Mi-chael Par-kin-son (shot of Parky looking shifty)…Liza God-dard (shot of Liza looking sassy)…and Li-onel Blair! (shot of Lionel looking hyper, mouthing “Hello!” at camera)”. Captains would also introduce fellow comrades during the song. “And on my team today,” cooed Liza, “Maureen Lipman, Janet Brown and Rula Lenska!” “While on my team today,” minced Lionel, “Christopher Biggins, Bernard Cribbins and Brian Glover!” Host would then beckon member of team up to the desk to proffer title of book/play/film etc., displayed on screen for those “not playing along at home”. 90 second or less on the clock. Mime beings. Veterans, especially Lionel, prone to exaggerated slapping of splayed fingers on forearms and pressing of nose-ends when guess was correct. Guess followed by a bonus “When was it made? 1968, 1969 or 1970?” question in which Parky always directed the girls team to the correct answer in a misguided act of chivalry. Amusing 25-word “bit of fun” offering always doled out to Lionel at end of every show. “You swines!” Obligatory changing of seats with each round completed picture of cosy bonhommie, sadly missed.

Read More

Muppet Show, The

Posted in M is for... by TV Cream | 1 Comment »
"Mr Cleese, five minutes! Five minutes Mr Cleese!" "Jeez, frog, the last time I was surrounded by this many animals was at the Republican Convention"

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!”

The best bit of every show: a million Muppets gather round celebrity from out of nowhere and bob their heads from side to side in time with the music Lew Grade's address book comes good once again
"This is Kermit *the* Frog, reporting from...aaaaahhhhh!" Gene Kelly hoofs through puddles from the waist up "And just *what* makes you think *you* are better than *moi*?" "You hum it, dog, I'll tinkle it"
Read More

Peyton Place

Posted in P is for... by TV Cream | No Comments »

STUBBORN SCHEDULE whelk. First US soap to make it “over here”; enduring titular small New England town “not what it seems” schtick guaranteed numerous spin-offs and re-re-re-godawful-re-runs throughout the 70s. Made careers of MIA “MRS. PREVIN” FARROW and RYAN “LOVE STORY” O’NEAL.

Read More

That’s Life!

Posted in T is for... by TV Cream | 13 Comments »

The appeal for people to send in photos of street signs that look like they say the word FUCK is another bumper success Esther meets her people while the nanny holds The Baby; Desmond not pictured "Yes, we do employ black nancies too"

AS NOT THE NINE O’CLOCK NEWS had it: “Bleeding bloody ESTHER bleeding bloody effing bloody RANTZEN bloody woman.” Disambiguously deranged consumer show which lined up cot deaths next to deformed parsnips and DOC COX. Brass band theme. Going out on the street to get OAPs to eat snails/hedgehog crisps etc, and getting arrested in the process. OAPs and assorted freaks playing their false teeth, the top of their heads, the spoons, a garden hose whirled around the head, a garden hose with a kitchen sink attatched to it, etc. The “who can play the Sailor’s hornpipe on a trumpet in the shortest time?” non-contest. Dogs saying “sausages”, “I love you”, “Raymond”, and other words suspiciously similar to a dog’s growl with a little external manipulation of the jaw added. The Red Barrows (ha ha ha). The Get Britain Singing Campaign. German Shepherds drinking from a soda siphon in that pub. Dogs pissing on the rubber plant in the studio. Talented Pets in general (cue endless non-speaking cockatoos, showjumping rabbits, etc.) Hilarious, innuendo-laden shop names. Hilarious, innuendo-laden number plates. Hilarious, innuendo-laden vegetables. Hilarious confusingly-worded foreign pamphlets which were more often than not set to music to make them EVEN FUNNIER. Tedious clip always dragged out of ADRIAN MILLS being crap at a Spanish accent. Doc “out and about” singing George Formby songs on the street about planning restrictions on double-glazing and women being unable to whistle. The line about CYRIL FLETCHER being “The Odd Ode-r in the corner”. The Jobsworth golden peaked cap, and its polar opposite, the Good Neighbour award. Everything-that-happened in-the-show felt-tip-cartoons closing titles. By Rod Jordan. Then on the ‘serious’ Watchdoggy side you had badly-removed tattoos, bad homes for OAPs, bad patio builders, bad holidays, and of course the heart-op tragedy kid and that awful MARTI WEBB Michael Jackson cover version. The second most powerful woman in Britain at the time was backed up, over the years, by GLYN WORSNIP, KIERAN PRENDIVILLE, CYRIL FLETCHER, ADRIAN MILLS, BILL BUCKLEY, GAVIN CAMPBELL, DOC COX, VICTORIA WOOD, JOANNA MUNRO, HOWARD LEADER and GRANT BAYNHAM (that glasses and bow-tie bloke. Looked like Robin Day meets Michael Wood). Early 90s death throes saw MOLLIE SUGDEN perched on a chaise longue reading out misprints and bon mots alongside hated Brighton comedian SIMON “Stripey blazer, funny face, big glasses – oh dear, not a single laugh” FANSHAWE. Best remembered in small doses. And small dozes.

"Now I many of you...recognise...ONE OF THESE!" "A woman in Crawley encountered a most perspicacious shop front imploring her to COCK HER WAY TO A MAN'S HEART" Not a practicing GP
Read More

Bob Monkhouse Show, The

Posted in B is for... by TV Cream | 1 Comment »

AT LAST: the first hurrah for the great Sir Bob in this A-Z. And what a performance. From inside a bizarre studio boutique, half-resembling a suburban parlour with framed portraits of comedy “greats” lining the wallpaper, our man welcomed to BBC2 those viewers bored of Panorama and World In Action on the other side. Then, after a few neat opening topical gags (“I said to my tax inspector, ‘have a heart!’; he took it”), Bob would settle back on his L-shaped sofa for interview, anecdote and cross-talk with assorted British and American comedy luminaries.

Of the Yanks, BOB HOPE was undoubtedly the prize catch, joining Bob M for a duet riffing on his theme tune (“Thanks for the memory/I’ll lay down the line, being on your show is fine!”), with SID CAESAR coming in second. JOAN RIVERS made an impact, as did similarly “waspish” veteran PHYLLIS DILLER. DOM DELUISE turned up to mug, blow and recall being sorely tempted to pinch Burt Reynolds’ arse during the Silent Movie shower scene. KELLY MONTEITH was urbanely dry as ever, RITA RUDNER was, well, Rita Rudner, and specialist comedians such as Professor Irwin Corey (the US equivalent of STANLEY UNWIN and inspiration for Bubba Bear in HELP IT’S THE HAIR BEAR BUNCH), nasal pianist PETE BARBUTTI and impressionist RICH LITTLE were oddly fascinating.

Bob created a regular spot for then-unknown US comics. STEVEN WRIGHT was an obvious hit here, as was EMO PHILLIPS. SANDRA BERNHARD and improv duo MONTEITH AND RAND didn’t translate so effortlessly, and JIM CARREY (still firmly in his “we couldn’t afford Steve Martin” phase) and VICTORIA JACKSON (who did, er, handstands) fell rather flat. Still, the occasional gem only the likes of Monkhouse would know about, such as soft-spoken radio parodists Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, or musical whimsyologist Martin Mull (the nearest America’s likely to get to Viv Stanshall) snuck through often enough to prove this was no “book whoever’s in town” knock-off.

British comics made up the bulk of the guests, and were consequently very variable. A rare appearance for RONNIE BARKER was a draw (with plenty of ‘Gentleman’s Relish’), and Monkhouse got a lot out of VICTORIA WOOD and an ascendent MICHAEL BARRYMORE.

Some were disappointing; PETER COOK’s heart wasn’t in it that night, and other guests stuck to tried and tested routines – let’s face it, JIMMY CRICKET was hardly going to provide a wealth of comic analysis. CHARLIE DRAKE recounted that tale of him being knocked unconscious by a stageweight which shouldn’t have been left in the middle of a collapsible bookshelf on live TV again, and WARREN MITCHELL did the old “no mate, we’re having a go at YOU!” bit again.

SPIKE MILLIGAN regaled us with yet another version of that ancient “man shits self, buys trousers, changes on train, finds ladies’ pink Cashmere sweater in bag” shaggy dog story (though in this case improved somewhat with an ending wherein he actually dons the garment around his nether regions, sticking his bowler hat into the gap left by the neckhole, thus leaving him with “a sort of brown felt rupture”).

LES DAWSON did the usual piano routine, a couple of old club anecdotes, and his celebrated “facially-deformed honeymooning couple trying to blow out a candle” bit.

DENIS NORDEN and RAY ALAN were surprisingly good value, sticking to a wealth of anecdotes rather than doing a routine per se – ditto KENNY EVERETT and eternal stooge-to-the-greats LIBBY MORRIS.

PAUL DANIELS blotted his copybook by performing an extended George Formby impersonation (The Lancashire Toreador, for the record) which made PETER SELLERS’ similar turn on Parky seem the essence of brevity by comparison.

SU POLLARD recreated her first showbiz job, belting out a whimsical ditty for spot cream (“It doesn’t shrink the pimple one little bit/It brings the rest of the skin up level with it!”) A sonorous performance, to say the least.

PAMELA STEPHENSON destroyed the polystyrene set to Bob’s feigned chagrin.

GARY WILMOT impersonated American singers doing cockney songs – e.g. Randy Crawford singing Knees Up, Mother Brown. Oddly memorable, that one.

DEREK GRIFFITHS did plenty of mime, including a fateful stint in panto miming an old woman taking her clothes off (kid in upper circle: “You’ve forgotten the bra, granny!”)

The odd musical comedy turn – Kit and the Widow, Fascinating Aida, Cosmotheka (a sort of folksy, banjo-strumming Chas ‘n’ Dave who brought their own gypsy caravan onto the stage – don’t ask) – broke up the proceedings with minimal effect.

Some acts were obviously going nowhere – while the great vent act SENOR WENCES (“S’alright?” “S’alright!”) was still going strong, RONN LUCAS and cowboy puppet Billy grated on the nerves, no matter how clear his plosives. ROY JAY in his prisoner’s uniform and “Slither! Spook!” routine was clearly on a swift path to one TV advert and sod all else. MURRAY LANGSTON, aka The Unknown Comic, wore a paper bag on his head and arsed about manically on his way to ending up as a remaindered VHS languishing at the back of Woolies. DUNCAN NORVELLE failed to get Bob to chase him.

Other nationalities included Ukranian comedy juggler YAKOV “IN SOVIET RUSSIA…” SMIRNOFF and TOMMY COOPER-esque French cock-up magician MAC RONAY. Throughout, Bob was the consummate host, genuinely fascinated by all, and though many shows sagged when the guests weren’t exactly top notch, Bob’s enthusiasm – as great for just-commissioned, soon-to-vanish impressionist KAREN KAY as for FRANKIE HOWERD – was undeniably infectious. It may have been more of a compendium of old stagers’ best bits than the in-depth comedy workshop it’s often remembered as, but for all that there’s yet to be a more enjoyable chat show on British television.

Read More

Blue Peter

Posted in B is for... by TV Cream | 4 Comments »

“AND I think I can just hear the sound of the Chalk Farm Salvation Army brass band coming up the hill…”

Read More

Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show/You’ll Never Get Rich

Posted in B is for... by TV Cream | 1 Comment »

“PLAAA-TOOOON, HIYAAAAH-HA!!” UPA-style cartoons introduced one of the very very best sitcoms in the world…ever, the tales of a scheming motor pool master sargeant in an isolated US army post. PHIL SILVERS created a legend as the scheming, fast-talking, womanising, gambling Ernest Bilko, ever with the eye on a get-rich-quick ploy. The scripts, though often predictable in form, were packed with enough one liners (part scripted, part improvised) to blast along at a pace miles faster than any other comedy of the same era. The plots were formulaic, all right: Bilko, aided by corporals Henshaw and Barbella, and usually enlisting the ramshackle motor pool platoon (including loverboy Paparelli and legendary doughy feeb Dwayne Doberman) would alight on a scheme to either a) con wodges of cash out of fellow sergeants Grover, Pendleton and Zowici (and later Ritzig, played by Hanna-Barbera cartoon fave JOE E “Ooh! Ooh!” ROSS) via some suitably nutzoid scheme; b) impress/woo/get back in the good books of his sweetheart, typing pool sergeant Joan Hogan; c) con, avoid, rip off and generally pull the wool over the eyes of Colonel John T Hall (the excellently bumbling and gullible PAUL FORD). Ensemble playing was brilliant, the scripts tight enough to paper over the odd cock-up, but the star was Silvers, managing to make a workshy, disreputable, manipulative soldier a sympathetic figure. NAT HIKEN created and wrote most of the show’s 70-plus episodes, working more or less continuosly for years on end to incredibly high comedic standard. Still props up BBC2 daytimes today, in both this and alter ego guise of BOSS CAT, with MAURICE “Doberman” GOSFIELD as Benny the Ball.

Read More

Comedians, The

Posted in C is for... by TV Cream | 2 Comments »

KEEPING THE OLD SCHOOL of British comedy in pocket for the best part of decade was this does-what-it-says stand-upathon, wherein the likes of TARBY, BERNARD MANNING, CHARLIE WILLIAMS, JIM BOWEN, MIKE REID, TOM O’CONNOR, KEN GOODWIN, JIM DAVIDSON, ROY WALKER, FRANK CARSON and DUGGIE BROWN did their best patter in front of what looked like a stained glass window. Not fondly remembered now, but then people laughed at PETER KAY once, y’know.

Read More


Posted in P is for... by A to Z | 10 Comments »

ONCE UPON a long ago, this was the finest chat show of them all, helmed by a man who was very much “one of us” albeit with an address book that boasted the phone numbers of the greatest stars in the world. Raconteurs, conversationalists, learned specialists, Hollywood legends, articulate politicos, inspirational artists, genius musicians: they all took a turn strolling down the steps to take their seat on Parky’s raised brown daius. Then the man fucked off to TV-am on the promise of loads of money, got sacked, did ALL-STAR SECRETS and GIVE US A CLUE, moaned a lot, did some gardening, went to Australia loads of times and finally revived this, to no great acclaim in the late 90s, whereupon he revealed himself to have become a) a grouch b) a fogey c) a sycophant d) prone to slagging off anyone who wasn’t “a journalist” e) the most boring man on the planet. Defection to the other side sealed his fate, where he spent a few insufferable seasons playing host to ITV Z-list celebrities, before bowing out to spend more time with his biography. Which he’s writing himself, of course, because he’s “a journalist”.

Read More


Posted in W is for... by TV Cream | 4 Comments »
"You! How dare you lay hands upon this fine BBC hand-woven apparel!" "Officer! Unhand me this instant!"

LIVE FROM the verdant pastures of Shepherd’s Bush Green, this was light-touched and louche chattery at its most imperial – and we won’t hear otherwise. Born out of El Tel’s Saturday night PARKY-replacement stints, Terrence took up residence at the BBC Television Theatre the same week as EastEnders began as part of Michael Grade’s grand plan for beating the shit out of ITV. And for a time it worked. Millions tuned in, knowing there’d always be somebody of interest on Wogan’s sofa, or if not then a topical reference to something that’d been on telly earlier (“I see they’ve changed the Six O’Clock News set again!”) or later (“so why not join me, for the first in a new series…of DALLAS” cooed Tel, introducing the show via a massive monitor on the wall behind him). There was talk of it going five nights. “I am but my master’s keeper,” quoth Terence. Some of the gloss started to come of, though, c.1988 when the guests started becoming all newsy and topical instead of glittery and glamorous. Stand-in hosts dropped from the calibre of KENNETH WILLIAMS to BEN ELTON. Then the show started getting dropped whenever the Beeb could find a reason, like when there was a football match on and, instead of Tel popping up for five minutes just to reassure us he was still there, he was nowhere to be seen. Big budget stunts like meeting Madonna just looked hammy and contrived. The final insult was being axed in 1992…for something infinitely worse (i.e. ELDORADO). Much missed.

That opening night line-up in full Tel with Vikki Watson, our Song For Europe in 1985 "You hum it, JY, I'll sing it"
Read More


Posted in J is for... by TV Cream | 3 Comments »

November, 1978: Ken reads 'The Dribblesome Teapots'RAMSHACKLE READING-IS-FUN RELIC wherein a Famous Person would sit on a chair with a pretend book and ponderously recount the contents of your local mobile library. Everyone who was anyone had a go, and everyone saw it. LEE MONTAGUE raised the curtain courtesy of a handful of fairytales in ’65, and ALAN BENNETT took the final bow with The House At Pooh Corner 31 years later. Along the way king of ubiquity was BERNARD CRIBBINS who turned in 17 tales, closely followed by KENNETH WILLIAMS on 12. Numerous Dr Whos looked in, namely PATRICK TROUGHTON, JON P’TWEE, TOM BAKER, PETER DAVIDSON and SYLVESTER MCCOY, as did future nobles of the realm JUDI DENCH and MAGGIE SMITH plus “resting” actors JEREMY IRONS (various Paul Gallico yarns, 1982), PATRICK STEWART (Annerton Pit, 1977), IAN MCKELLEN (The Moon in the Cloud, 1978) and HELENA BONHAM CARTER (The Way To Sattin Shore, 1991). Elsewhere Scots artist JOHN GRANT upended the format by drawing his stories of caveboy Littlenose live in the studio, ditto QUENTIN BLAKE and The Adventures of Lester. INSTANT SUNSHINE went out on the road to Search For The Source Of The M1, while GEORGE MELLY a-bipped and a-bopped his way through Tales From Beatrix Potter. The less said about those viewers-competition-winning-stories the better, likewise PRINCE CHARLES mithering on about the Old Man Of Lochnagar. Brought back in all but name by CBeebies, then with name on BBC1 in 2006.

Read More

Lord Mayor’s Show, The

Posted in L is for... by TV Cream | No Comments »

ANNUAL INTERRUPTION to your favourite (or Live And Kicking) Saturday morning entertainment. Noel, Mike or Phil would jovially pack up early in order to allow an archaic metropolitan perambulation to take to the airwaves, and you watched because there was nothing else to do. Cue numerous marching bands, indistinct “carnival” “costumes”, obscure celebrities waving desperately, ceremonial carriages, and – best of all – dementedly decorated municipal floats from the likes of the local dairies, gas works and electricity board. And the likes of MIKE SMITH and ALAN TITCHMARSH amidst it all, hooting hysterically.

Read More

Love Boat, The

Posted in L is for... by TV Cream | 2 Comments »

LOVE, EXCITING and new. Come on board. We’re expecting you! Good old Aaron, serving up another long-running format purely in order to shoehorn famous faces into the same programme for almost ten years. Staple afternoon ITV filler, with GAVIN MACLEOD, FRED GRANDY and BERNIE KOPELL setting a course for adventure, their mind on a new romance. JACK JONES crooned the, as you can see, unforgettable theme.

Read More

Miss Marple

Posted in M is for... by TV Cream | 1 Comment »

SPRIGHTLY SPINSTER gets invited to a weekend in the country with second cousin/uncle/vicar’s nephew/any number of landed gentry types. Death ensues, usually in the middle of the night in a thunderstorm in the library with the lead piping. Local coppers (who are all stupid) haven’t a clue. Old woman keeps own counsel and pesters her hosts for another barm cake. A few days pass. Someone else cops it. Old woman seen walking around village green/posh garden/reading newspaper and looking gnomic. Everyone gathers to find out the ending. Old woman discloses suspect’s name while sipping lime cordial. Local coppers strike heads in bemusement. Evil-doer led away. “Where you’re going, you’ll have no need for garden shears/sawn-off shotguns/tarot cards,” cackles local stupid inspector person. Old woman returns home to rest before being invited to nearby grand niece/sister-in-law/bellringer/tropical explorer tea party in the next episode. Tootling theme and line-drawings bring the curtain down.

Read More