TV Cream

Cream over Britain

“Lady Di looking particularly lovely there…”

There was a select group of individuals whose forward march through the red-tops continued pretty much unabated throughout the 1980s.

This same group, however, tends to fall out of any popular history of that decade, and they’re certainly not likely to merit any rehabilitation at the hands of David Cameron, Nick Clegg and their newly-appointed cultural tsar, Philip Glenister.

TV Cream’s brain has gone a bit scrambled thanks to the heatwave, so forgive us if some of the following doesn’t stand up to scrutiny in conditions below 20 degrees Celsius.

First there was, of course, the – MISDIRECTION ALERT! – princess of the decade, the nation’s favourite blushing bride, girl-next-door and blowsy-mum all at the same time.

That’s right, we’re talking about ANNE DIAMOND, and a tabloid saga that ran pretty much unchecked from 1983, through Dowdy Anne and Earthy Anne to Pregnant Anne and Pregnant-Outside-Marriage Anne to Strikebreaking Anne to Quitting Anne and back to Dowdy Anne Except Suddenly Much Older.

Longevity gave her a prominence that exceeded her immediate rival, SELINA SCOTT, whose tabloid appearances, if memory serves, were chiefly confined to observations on how tired she was looking. As Michael Grade himself admits, a entire programme was invented for Selina (The Clothes Show) after she quit Breakfast Time in order to stop the tabloids making anything of the fact she was being paid for doing nothing.

Then there was LADY DI herself (never Diana, or Lady Diana), Anne’s favourite topic of the 8.10am post-news slot (“Turning to page five, there’s a lovely picture of Di wearing what looks to me like a sort of designer tunic and plimsolls – she’s done it again!”).

For a time Di had regal competition in the guise of the present day Earl of Wessex, otherwise known in the 80s as BACHELOR BOY PRINCE EDWARD.

The seventh in line to the throne did not exactly make things easy for himself – although he did make things very easy for the tabloids – screwing up his A-levels, quitting (sorry, “flouncing out of”) the Royal Marines (Edward never walked anywhere, he always “flounced” or “sashayed” or “strutted”), uttering a hopelessly mild swearword at the press conference after The Grand Knockout Tournament, and turning up on his first day as best boy (tee-hee) for Andrew Lloyd-Webber carrying a box of teabags.

Lest we forget, all of this was infused with one massive and unspoken implication: that Edward was an idiot.

Does anyone know how long he actually stayed at the Really Useful Company? Apparently one of the things he did there, aside from making the tea, was commission that much-remembered and oft-acclaimed Webber/Rice musical, Cricket, for his mum’s 60th birthday. Cue gags about Edward trying – and failing – to bowl a maiden over.

Anyway, there was one other tabloid obsession that we can think of for the time being, and that was IAN BOTHAM. Whether emulating Sir Jim’ll in “walking on for hospice care”, admitting to smoking cannabis or falling out with the entire cricket establishment, Beefy fed as much on the tabloids as they did on him.

We especially like the occasion when he was so pissed off he declared he was quitting the country to start a new career in Hollywood. Or so we read in the papers.

There must have been more red-top reliables of the 80s.

Simon Bates seemed to be heavily involved, but this may be retrospective wishful thinking.



  1. Chris Hughes

    June 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    There was a baroque variation on ‘Lady Di’, of course, in the form of ‘Lady Diane’.

    For “the most famous woman in the world”, an awful lot of people seemed to get her name wrong.

  2. Glenn A

    June 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Are you forgetting Queen Joan of Collins, who was never out of the Sunday magazine of the News of the World when Dynasty was a ratings hit? Blimey she was such a big feature- think the way The Daily Star has Katie Price on the front cover every day- in News International’s tabloids that some people thought she was royalty. Also not forgetting Sam Black Belt in Karate Nowadays Fox who was in nearly as much as Queen Joan.

  3. paulus - bangkok

    June 29, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Sam Fox… how can you miss this icon of the 80’s headlines.
    I dont think she went ‘lesbo’ until the late 90’s though… didnt see the headline for it either

  4. TV Cream

    June 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Ah, but that was different. For most of the 80s she was paid to appear in the tabloids.

  5. Ian Tomkinson

    June 29, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Of course, for a period in the early 80s, a tabloid mention of Prince Andrew was bound by law to also include Koo Stark.

  6. Chris Hughes

    June 29, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    ‘Randy Andy’, sir!

    Of course, he also had a prominent liaison with one Catherine Rabett (or ‘Katie Rabbit’ as Jasper Carrott hilariously insisted on calling her), who went on to appear in You Rang M’Lord and, it says here, Fresh Fields.

  7. grimwig

    June 30, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    a similar thread occurs: celebrities mentioned in mid 80s LE shows purely for laughs. as a purely random (ie most recently listened to) example, an episode of roy hudds 1986 radio 2 show huddwinks (nb not news huddlines) gives us:

    sam fox, roland rat, keith harris, robert maxwell, rupert murdoch, esther rantzen, jimmy wheeler (well, it is roy hudd) cliff richard, barbara cartland, joan collins, bob monkhouse, brian tilsley from coronation street, mark phillips, stanley unwin, yoko ono, prince charles, bruce forsyth, paul newman and charlton heston.

    is it just me or can you work out the structure of the gag with most of them purely by the celeb mentioned ?

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