TV Cream

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2017 – was it really that bad?

Yes, we’ve made it through another year, which all and sundry have called the worst ever, but which one hasn’t been recently, eh? We’re sure there have been some good moments, and we only had to repurpose two old Creamguide ‘CV Cream’ features as obits in 2017 compared to three in 2016, so that’s one good bit of news. But before we take on another 12 months, we must again ask… 2017 – was it really that bad?

JANUARY began with the triumphant return of two poptastic jocks to the Beeb in the shape of Tony Blackburn, after he’d had to go away for a bit, and Mike Read with his Pop Quiz revival. Doesn’t look like we’re getting any more of those so presumably he’ll be back hawking it around some channels at the arse-end of the EPG. Both could be seen on BBC4 as the Pops repeats moved on to 1983, the double-headed hosting meaning Andy Peebles got welcomed back to the rota, as well as – at last! – the Rhythm Pals. The thousandth episode of Pointless saw Xander and Richard swap roles and some worthy winners in Trevor and Simon. We’ve got the excitement of the new set this year, or whenever they’ve finished eking out the previous recording block. Meanwhile Talking Pictures’ delve to the bowels of the Southern back catalogue brought us Now For Nookie. On national television in 2017.

In FEBRUARY, Radio 2 abandoned live overnight broadcasting and Alex Lester left as a regular presenter after thirty years, which was a massive shame, though both he and his colleague Janice Long haven’t been wanting for work since. In fact it was all change on the Nation’s Favourite as Our Old Mate Brian Matthew presented his final Sounds of the Sixties, and although we were promised he had a new show lined up, sadly he didn’t live long enough to make any episodes. Meanwhile on ITV The Nightly Show arrived, which turned out to be a grand folly, the throw-enough-mud approach of rotating presenters being more of a burden than an opportunity, but we don’t doubt someone’ll try and make this format fly again in a year or two.

MARCH saw the return of Harry Hill to primetime ITV – and we will go to our grave suggesting Stars In Their Eyes was a good show – with his hilariously low-concept Alien Fun Capsule (“We should probably put some format points in it, in case we want to sell it abroad!”), which may blatantly have been TV-Burp-but-a-panel-show, but what’s wrong with that? And it’s coming back, hooray. Also as good as it’s ever been is Blue Peter and this month one episode went out with none of the planned guests or items because of bad weather, but it was a triumph of improvisation. Biddy would have thoroughly approved. Meanwhile this year’s shakily-conceived charity marathon with Sara Cox’s danceathon on Radio 2 which saw Scott Mills mark his first appearance on that station by calling it Radio 1 in his first link and Gary Davies’ triumphant return to broadcasting, which led to more outings later in the year. And for the first time in thirty year, Filthy Rich and Catflap was repeated!

In APRIL we were inviting you to send in your memories of what you were doing on 31st August 1997. Sadly nobody revealed they were in a white Fiat Uno at the time, which would have been useful, but we spent much of the summer recalling that bizarre and unforgettable week. Peter Capaldi was back in Doctor Who at the “classic” time of the year and it was a good series, with Pearl Mackie a revelation, though it was a bit of a shame the one set in pitch black was broadcast on the sunniest day of the year so we saw more of our reflection on the screen than the actual episode. Meanwhile, with no fanfare whatsoever, ITV reunited the stars of two Saturday morning programmes, with Pip and Saz back together on This Morning, followed by the triumphant return of Ant, Dec and Cat on Saturday Night Takeaway live from Disney World. Eggy Pumps goes stateside! And apparently there’s a fully-fledged reunion to come. Oh, and an election was called, which we all pledged to go to bed early for because these things had become consistently awful.

In MAY, we were delighted that “why don’t they just edit the presenters out?” was no longer the most repeated question on social media while Top of the Pops is on air – yeah, how are they going to bill those, eh? – being replaced by “is that Duncan Norvelle?”, but while we admit that John Goldsmith, for it is he, does look a bit like him, Norvelle was already famous in 1983 and didn’t need to turn up at Pops every Thursday for fifty quid a throw. It was Eurovision time, but any interest we had in the winner rapidly disintegrated when he used his acceptance speech to drone on about, bleurgh, “real music”. Still, surely the most bizarre moment came when the Israeli spokesperson said goodbye forever because they were closing down and everyone drunkenly Googled the current state of Israeli public broadcasting. Meanwhile we started our review of the ITV regions, and controversially decided Carlton were quite good, really. We’ve changed.

JUNE was that election, then, and it turns out that elections are absolutely fascinating again and we’d happily have them every week of the year if they’re all like that. We also paid tribute to Mr Kids TV in the shape of John Noakes, whose BBC tribute later in the year was brilliant, with even Lesley turning up, played by Meryl Streep. Pops moved into the final year of its imperial phase with 1984, although BBC4 edited out Rick Parfitt falling off the stage, the twats, and a few weeks later Hole In My Shoe, of all things. We also got the abortive start of the Ten O’Clock News where the BBC News channel gave us four fabulous minutes of Huw staring at the camera and waiting for things to calm down. Absolutely brilliant fun, and Adam Curtis now has plenty of raw material for his next doc. Plus we had two light entertainment revivals in the same week with Blind Date and The Crystal Maze, both of which the novelty has already worn off.

Silly season news story of the year came in JULY when the Mail (and then some other papers, including bizarrely the NME) suggested that a recent episode of Blue Peter got no viewers, despite the fact it was the third repeat of an episode, with sign language, at two o’clock in the afternoon. For heaven’s sake. The new Who was announced and we enjoyed reading Americans on Twitter asking if ESPN were going to announce it during their Wimbledon coverage like the Beeb were. We got that odd period of Pops broadcast from a broom cupboard because of a strike, which also featured Breakin’ Down by Julia and Company, which, having not got a copy of Now 2, we’d never heard before – not least because it’s seemingly impossible to get hold of anywhere – and thought it was ace. Put it on Spotify, whoever owns the rights! Meanwhile our regional roustabout reached the Channel Islands and the wonderful Channel Archive gave us some exclusive clips, for which we are much obliged. Wishing you renewed vigour in 2018!

AUGUST was a big month in TVC Towers as we celebrated our twentieth anniversary with our Anniversary Cassette and a host of features both on the website and in Creamguide. Here’s to another twenty, if spared. Sadly though it was overshadowed by the day we hoped would never come as Brucie died, and with it the last link to even pre-war television. We’re sure he would have been delighted to know that he was so famous he got a newsflash and everything. In terms of living legends, of all the baffling decisions Channel Four have made in recent times, surely the oddest is standing by Noel Edmonds, despite him being a total liability, and Cheap Cheap Cheap was very much an acquired taste. We’ve told you, Noel, hurry up and write your autobiography! We don’t mind if 99{30e2395aaf6397fd02d2c79d91a1fe7cbb73158454674890018aee9c53a0cb96} of it is unreadable bollocks as long as we get Swap Shop and House Party secrets.

SEPTEMBER brought us an amazing three days of broadcasting in the shape of Radio 1 Vintage, which had raided the C90s for all kinds of stuff that hadn’t been heard for years, with so much obvious affection for what was being broadcast clear for all to hear. For producing the tribute to Kevin Greening we’d always wanted, we reckon this is the best thing that happened this year, and the return of the old record show on Radio 1 itself to mark it was so popular it’s now a regular thing. We also enjoyed BBC4’s Glam Rock at the BBC, because we hadn’t seen Tiger Feet and the like on telly for ages and forgot how great they all were. Sadly, William G Stewart died, a Creamguide regular in our early days, as we loved his bits of business like the Senior Citizens Board and his regular discussions about the minutiae of the game. Go away, enjoy heaven and come back and see us in the afterlife, Bill.

OCTOBER saw the return of both Saturday morning telly and pop music on BBC1, and though both were fairly muted they seem to have done well enough to continue into 2018. On Five Live, Adrian Chiles devoted an hour of his show to a Going Live reunion, and a few weeks later did the same for Ghostwatch, not that this station is now being run by a bunch of thirty- and fortysomethings wanting to relive their childhoods, honest. Points of View is still annoying the arse off us, but we did enjoy the bloke invited on to express his dismay at the non-appearance of regional news on HD repeatedly referring to his local programme as Look North West, a name it hasn’t had for thirty-three years.

In NOVEMBER, the Pointless and Strictly combo was certainly doing the business on Saturday nights at the moment, though we also enjoyed the Sunday Strictly not least because its 7.15 start time is such a classic Sunday night slot, and Countryfile before it even has a bit of a Songs of Praise vibe, making it even more nostalgic. Shame we couldn’t listen to the Top 40 before it starts. The Pops repeats started going a bit rubbish with that revolting new font and nasty rearrangement of Yellow Pearl, although the charts in 1985 certainly won’t help. In Creamguide we started our quest to find out once and for all whether the BBC or ITV are the best, and we won’t rest in 2018 until we find out, so please keep on sending your suggestions.

And so to DECEMBER which saw the return of The League of Gentlemen, Alan Partridge and Vic and Bob to our screens, and we’ll see more of all of them in 2018. Sadly there won’t be any more of Keith Chegwin whose death shocked us all, and meant Tony Blackburn seemed to spend most of his time this year contributing to obituaries. And then it was Christmas, with we think some enjoyable telly, and we all got to 31st December delighted we were all still here. And unless this is finally the year when doing this drives us mad, we look forward to documenting the next 52 weeks. Who knows what 2018 will bring?

By the way…

This feature comes from Creamguide, our weekly ’emag’ detailing the best in TV and radio. If you’d like to receive it – it’s free, there are no ads, we don’t sell on your address, you can unsubscribe whenever; we’re basically soppy like that – then fill in your details below.

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