Time to put the final boot into 2022 to fill the gap in the middle of this week’s Creamguide. These days people almost seem to apologise for doing reviews of the year, as if they’ve been so bad they can hardly bring themselves to admit they had quite a good time, all told, but we hope that we’ve offered enough easy, uncritical nostalgia to offer a distraction on Thursday evenings throughout the year. So as is tradition, let’s ask…
2022 – WAS IT REALLY THAT BAD?
JANUARY began with a bit of a blast from the past – Doctor Who at seven o’clock on a Saturday! In Jodie’s farewell tour, the low-key New Year one was good fun, the Sea Devils one wasn’t especially and her final outing was an entertaining end to a consistently inconsistent era. And it’s absolutely back to the future in 2023 with RTD and Tennant and the diamond logo, plus seemingly a million spin-offs in the pipeline. Meanwhile Top of the Pops on BBC4 entered that troublesome year of 1992, though at the start we were skipping several episodes due to Adrian Rose refusing permission to screen any of his. You’d have to say he might have done us a bit of a favour, mind, as an episode featuring Color Me Badd oozing their way through a flop, six minutes of Michael Jackson and a Bryan Adams video that seemed to go on longer than his spell at number one was probably the worst we’d seen since 1976. Saddest news of the month was the death of Barry Cryer, who had a hand in pretty much every comedy show on TV between the sixties and eighties, and also had Creamguide’s dream job, ie mucking about with Kenny Everett.
FEBRUARY saw the return of BBC3 as a regular channel with various people going off in a nostalgic reverie about the likes of Snog Marry Avoid, though if you can remember that it’s not really aimed at you as that’s ancient history to its target audience. Also arriving on Creamguide’s radar was Forces TV with its bizarre line-up including Doctor Who and all kinds of forgotten sitcoms from Oh No It’s Selwyn Froggitt to The Brothers McGregor, and obviously the Creamguide seal of approval saw the channel shut down a few months later. Real life intervened in Creamguide’s usual cavalcade of whimsy with war in Ukraine, with Clive Myrie doing a great job in the early days reporting from Kyiv, yet still finding time to tweet his good wishes to all the Mastermind contestants. What a fine man he is.
MARCH saw the ITV4 repeats of The Big Match Revisited make way for – wow! – Match Time Revisited as we worked our way through the 1981/82 in the company of Granada’s highlights show with Elton Welsby and some rather homoerotic opening titles. ITV also had a bit of a revamp of their early evening schedules, which saw Corrie moved to a permanent hour after sixty years of half hours, which we’re still not sure is a good idea, and the teatime news expanded to sixty minutes, apparently as it was never more important. Although they seemed to forget about that when they dropped it completely on a number of occasions during the World Cup. Meanwhile after a long, long wait, the Pops Story of 1991 doc finally appeared when we were already halfway through 1992, and then we got the entire decade done and dusted within three months. Coming to an end was Holby City, which still seems like a fairly new show but it had actually lasted 23 years, longer than the likes of Z Cars which were a complete anachronism when they ended, and it might have continued had it not taken up a huge chunk of the Beeb’s drama budget that they felt better spent on something made outside the M25.
We spent much of APRIL reliving the nineties (though we’ve stopped listening to Sounds of the 90s as it drives us up the wall), thanks to the Pops docs on BBC2 and sundry other archivery around it, plus a new episode of Rock Family Trees nearly twenty years after the last one which is something we’d like to see more of. This year there’s been more channels screening more bizarre archivery than ever, but we haven’t billed the various archive shows on That’s TV Gold in Creamguide, not least because they’re in pretty ropey quality but also because that channel is the current incarnation of the grand folly that was local TV, as invented by the government a decade ago, and fun though it is to see The Kenny Everett Video Show on telly again, we’re not entirely sure that’s really in the spirit of the whole project. We’re also not especially impressed with their social media presence, retweeting comments from people wanging on about how they’re showing proper comedy rather than woke rubbish, and tweeting they were now showing “cancelled comedy The Goodies” – that famous cancelled comedy that is readily available in its entirety on DVDs which you can buy from major retailers.
MAY brought us something we’d not had for a while, an election all-nighter with Huw and his colleagues, as he always refers to them as (as well as his winning election night catchphrase, “what I’d like to do now is…”) giving us a phalanx of polls from across the UK. In fact all the springtime staples were back in full effect, as it was Eurovision too, which we were quite excited about as we were back in Italy for the first time since the hugely memorable 1991 contest which became very much the continental equivalent of Brits 89. Turned out to be a pretty slick show (apart from one of the hosts fainting during it) and of course Sam Ryder ended it a national treasure, and he did a pretty ace job of seeing in the new year the other night as well (aside from the fact he actually did it on 8th December). Better yet, it was on Cup Final day, and for the first time since 1988 it was BBC vs ITV, but sadly without Cup Final Swap Shop or Cup Final Punchlines, or even a Big Long List of Credits on ITV, for shame.
JUNE saw the start of the Beeb’s centenary celebrations and Wednesday night became drama night on BBC4 showing all manner of fascinating stuff, from the acknowledged classics like Cathy Come Home and Our Friends In The North to barely seen items like Sunset Song, A Man From The Sun and some Second City Firsts that only existed on a domestic format (and we did enjoy seeing the same people complain about the poor picture quality who spend most of their time demanding BBC4 show every single scrap of Top of the Pops that exists). And it was also the last in the present series of the Jubilee, which went pretty well for the broadcasters with none of the embarrassments of previous celebrations, helped by the weather holding out. Turned out to be quite a useful rehearsal as well.
JULY brought us the sad news of the death of Harry Gration, and the retirement of another long-serving teatime telly chum for so many in Bob Warman, such a momentous occasion he was granted a now-rare non-news regional opt-out, in almost primetime on Central itself and, brilliantly, networked in the prime slot of 3am. The month also included the hottest day ever, though as it was because the world is burning it obviously wasn’t as celebrated as the summer of 76, as marked in a not very good Channel 5 doc. At the end of the month the world came to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games, which we were pleased to see as Creamguide went to university in the city and would happily while away many afternoons reading the Radio Times back issues in the much-loved Central Library before reading and making our earliest contributions to the site from its internet centre, and we went back during the Games and had a great time in a great city. And Neighbours ended too, but now apparently it’s coming back, however that’ll work.
AUGUST continued the Beeb’s centenary season with a surprising but welcome season of vintage Saturday night shows on BBC4 including a 90s Gen Game and even a pre-Blobby Noel’s House Party. Also back was The Big Breakfast, after 2021’s one-off, but this time as a Saturday morning show – another slot where people on the internet say there should be shows like the old days and then promptly don’t watch them when there are some, as was the case here. And then…
SEPTEMBER saw us miss a week of Creamguide for the first time ever, what with the news we’d all been expecting for decades breaking on Thursday teatime. Inevitably all the stuff that everyone said was “definitely” going to happen, like all comedy being banned on the Beeb, never happened, and we think all the broadcasters did a fine job in marking the obviously seismic events while also offering plenty of levity elsewhere in the schedules. Almost as much of an end of an era was the last Steve Wright in the Afternoon, a show Creamguide’s always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with, what with the “non-stop oldies” that would frequently stop, the interviews edited with a hacksaw and the unbelievably inane talky bits, but it absolutely sounded like nothing else on the air and seemingly it’ll back on some other station soon.
OCTOBER was the Beeb’s big centenary month, marked by a special Strictly with Tony Adams doing a Charleston to the Grandstand theme tune. Reith would have been thoroughly amused. BBC4 showed fifty comedy repeats to mark it, including at least three series that we were reliably informed had been “cancelled” and would never be shown again by the BBC, yet here we are. Almost as if they were just talking bollocks for attention. Meanwhile Pops was ploughing through 1993 and the performance we were all waiting for, the Cilla exclusive where she was apparently so awful behind the scenes nobody was interested in making her live vocals sound any good and it promptly missed the Top 40 completely. And as well as the Beeb’s hundred years, we also celebrated half a century of Emmerdale, ITV3 screening a selection box of episodes covering all five decades, including from before the Farm fell off.
Even more archivery in NOVEMBER with some kids’ TV repeats on BBC4, from the sublime in Bagpuss and Vision On to the ridiculous in Crackerjack from 1979, which despite including Sparks and the famous performance of Making Plans For Nigel was a pretty shoddy show all told. Another anniversary on the channel too with forty years of The Young Ones, although while they just showed the half hour edits, there’s also a new Blu-Ray of the series which is an absolute cracker, thanks to some very fine people having unearthed more rare and previously unavailable footage than ever before and much of the cast and crew reassembling for some new commentaries, so well worth a look if you’ve got some Christmas vouchers burning a hole in your pocket.
And so to DECEMBER which we spent most of, oddly, watching the World Cup, which turned out to be a decent tournament on the pitch but still left a bit of an unpleasant taste in the mouth and we think all broadcasters did a fine job in reflecting the issues. The rest of the familiar seasonal fare had to work around it, including Strictly on Friday and Monday, which was a bit of a novelty.
So that was 2022, where we hope we’ve been of some use to you. Who knows what the next year will have in store, but given we had repeats of Noel’s House Party, Think of a Number and 70s Emmerdale Farm on telly in the past twelve months, we can seemingly be assured of even more oddities from the bowels of the broadcasters’ back catalogues. But despite all the uncertainty around the world, one thing’s for certain – that Grange Hill film definitely won’t be made.
By the way…
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