TV Cream

Cream over Britain

“Switch on to the switchover!” (slight return)

After a short interval, during which a blue screen might well have afforded readers more entertainment than what otherwise appeared on this blog, here is part two of what everyone is starting to realise no-one is calling The Really Big Switchover:

WHEN: 2012
WHERE: Southend-on-Sea
WHO: Fred Dineage, Fern Britton, Christopher Biggins, some Fraggles
HOW: Fred single-handedly sails a giant schooner up the Thames estuary towards an enormous inflatable television set-cum-floating harbour, like the ones they used in the Second World War. He docks, steps ashore and is greeted by a gaggle of Fraggles, who sing a song about multimedia cross-platform integration. Elsewhere on the floating telly, Christopher Biggins (as Queen Victoria) and Fern Britton (as Prince Albert) reminisce about The Great Exhibition and how there’s nothing nicer than the taste of Kent. Then just before a three-hour performance of Don Giovanni, Fred deals a hand of cards which, when turned over, reveal the legend SWITCH TO DIGITAL NOW. “You got a problem there?” Fred hails the huddled masses on the shoreline.

WHEN: 2012
WHERE: Stormont
WHO: Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness, Eamonn Holmes, Gloria Hunniford
HOW: People stand in a row equal distances apart in front of an important looking municipal frontispiece and all cut a piece of ribbon at precisely the same time. Somebody plays a bodhrán in the distance. And that is it.

WHEN: 2010-11
WHERE: Arthur’s Seat
WHO: Nicky Campbell, Tony Currie, Viv Lumsden,
HOW: A million-strong crowd gathers to form the legend SWITCH NOW, co-ordinated by Nicky through one solitary loudhailer. Meanwhile Tony spins some easy listening classics, and Viv does traffic reports.

WHEN: 2010-11
WHERE: The Severn Bridge
WHO: Chris Serle, Shoestring, Michael Praed, Bob Crampton
HOW: Having spent a week in at the deep end working as a television transmitter engineer, Chris gingerly steps up to an unwieldy electrical console to press a button and prevent the whole of the region ever seeing terrestrial TV again. However there is a problem. A circuit blows, and Shoestring has to use his knowledge as a former computer boffin to fix everything before Michael Praed, appearing in the guise of The Spirit Of Ages Past and sporting the colours of HTV Wales (the enemy!), ruins the whole occasion.

WHEN: 2011
WHERE: The ramparts of Nottingham Castle
WHO: Bob Warman, Gary Terzza, Michele Newman and the Children’s Television Workshop
HOW: Special guest Nick Owen appears dressed as Robin Hood and, on the stroke of midnight, he uses a catapault on the castle wall to fire a giant goose into the milling crowd below. At the same time the Children’s Television Workshop wave from a balcony dressed as the characters of Palace Hill, and Showaddywaddy play Under The Moon Of Love under a moon of love, which rises into the sky until visible by an engineer in Birmingham who presses a button and kills terrestrial television for ever.

WHEN: 2011
WHERE: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
WHO: Gwen Taylor, Keith Barron, Anna Walker, Frazer Hines and the Brighouse and Rastrick Band
HOW: Gwen and Keith – in character as Amy and David – arrive back in Britain after a 20-year sojourn on the Costa Plonka. They are confused to hear that their television set will soon be going blank, and have to get Frazer Hines to explain the logistics of the switchover from within a specially-constructed patronisingly-conceived farmyard on the floor of the Crucible. A brass band is heard approaching, and Anna Walker bursts out from the centre of an over-sized snooker table just as they enter the building on the chorus of the Floral Dance. Everyone then sings a special set of lyrics reminding viewers of what to do if they still haven’t got a digital television: “So on with your coat and off the shops/it’ll cost no more than fifty quid tops/a host of shows to view at a glance/all just as jolly as the Floral Dance!”

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