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.