TV Cream

CREAMGUIDE: 30th October-5th November 2010

Fireside Issue

Welcome to our third annual Fireside Issue, continuing the grand Radio Times tradition of marking the weeks the clocks go back, highlighting television just right for drawing the curtains and relaxing into a favourite armchair. OK, so a fireside tends not to be involved these days, but Central Heating Issue isn’t quite as poetic, we don’t think. As usual, though, most of the programmes we end up billing are on in the day, but the thought’s there.

Don’t forget if you have any opinions on the week’s output, we’ll be waiting for your call..



18.40 Dad’s Army
First, though, a mini-return for Why Don’t YouTube, which everyone seemed to love and which we thoughtlessly axed a few weeks ago because there wasn’t enough of us banging on in plain text. Or, to be more precise, a couple of YouTube links. The first is something that’s part of the collection we mentioned the other week, where a gentleman (well, we assume it’s a man, it normally is) called PenarthJam is seemingly putting up every single performance from Top of the Pops in order. The reason we mention it again is because he’s got to March 1984, and the end credits are accompanied by the audience dancing to a very strange choice indeed, which TVC’s Chris Diamond once said was his favourite TV moment ever, and rightly so.

21.45 The Making of Elton John
22.45 Elton John – Electric Prom
23.45 Elton John at the BBC

Reg strikes back with this evening of programmes, the centrepiece of which is his performance at the Roundhouse, which is happening the evening you read this (we know we’re early, we’re going out tonight, thought not to this), and features Elton performing with Leon Russell, with whom he’s made an album which is apparently one of his best ever, it says here. Before that we’ve got a new documentary, which he’s in, as are the likes of Bernie Taupin, and after it an intriguing programme which not only mixes archive performances but interviews and news bulletins as well, although we’re not sure if it’ll feature the time he was on Live and Kicking and swore like a navvy throughout, which they didn’t apologise for because he’s Elton John and he can do what he wants.


19.30 Harry Hill’s TV Burp
Good to know our complaint last week about excessive smut on this show was listened to, as the post-credits gag this week revolved around a piping bag on River Cottage looking like a great big spunking cock. Oh, Harry.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
And so, after ten years – apart from that bit when they axed it and then brought it back – Dale takes his leave from this series. To be honest he’s never really been the most convincing part of it, as he too often sounded like he was just reading the facts out (which he was), while the fact he was clearly churning out the links for the next three months in one marathon recording session hardly made for a particularly thrilling show. Apparently when Tone takes over it’s sometimes going to be live, which might add a bit more excitement to it. Anyway, it’s an underwhelming end to his stint, because it’s got a pointless fifties chart in it, but the ace 1983 will give him a rather better send-off.



17.10 Points of View
Complaints about the weather last week, though sadly not the richly deserved brickbats regarding the imminent departure of Messers McElwee and Avery, but instead questions about that advert for the website which suggests it can tell you the precise weather for a specific street at a specific time, which we thought was a rather dodgy claim they might get in trouble for. Apparently they are putting in more weather stations, but we’re still not convinced.


22.15 Paul McCartney and Wings – Band on the Run
Macca’s best LP was named one of the best ever at the Q Awards this week, a fact completely unconnected of course with its imminent re-release and Paul’s subsequent promotional campaign, which as well as his appearance on Jools Holland the other night also includes this documentary about its making in which we can listen to what the man says (if that’s on it, we can’t remember). It’s in the South Bank Show slot, you’ll note, although in place of Melvyn Bragg we have a rather different interviewer in Dermot O’Leary. Dermot’s not so bad, mind, but he can’t compete on the hair front, that’s for sure.


21.00 Mark Lawson Talks To Julie Walters
Not sure where that repeat run of All Our Working Lives has got to, but here’s Smethwick’s favourite daughter coming under the gaze of Britain’s dullest interviewer.

BBC 6 Music

12.00 The First Time with Neil Tennant
It’s a shame it’s not Chris appearing in this series that’s basically just Desert Island Discs without the classical stuff as we all know about his classy taste in music, as detailed in Pet Shop Boys, Annually (“the BBC video where she’s in the car is the best video of the year”). Still, we’re sure Neil will be great fun and, unlike when he appeared on Elaine Paige’s show, host Matt Everitt won’t be describing any of Neil’s choices as “dreary”.



16.30 Blue Peter
Temporal time distortion on the Halloween show last week (as well as the obvious problem of them doing a Halloween show on October 26th). First we sped several hours into the future as the garden was surprisingly dark for half past four the week before the clocks go back, not that they recorded it straight after Monday’s, oh no, and then we shot back a few years with another film immediately giving away the fact it was a repeat from years ago by Helen’s hair. We suppose they can get away with the films where she’s blonde, albeit in a different style, but the ones where she’s still brunette, like this one, surely wouldn’t fool the thickest child.


20.30 Only Connect
Back to YouTube now, though, and a massive contribution from a man called Adam. He says, ” I’m sure you’re all well aware that there’s a veritable plethora of original editions of It’ll be Alright on the Night on YouTube, most of them from the collection of one ‘Draxenato’ – however, the newest addition (and in some ways the most welcome) is this one, number two, from 1979. It’s well worth a look for a number of reasons – it was the first time Peter Sellers in the lift was aired, Richard Harris, Glenda Jackson and George Segal all stick their oars in too (the latter two’s contributions stemming from Lost & Found, the unsuccessful follow-up to A Touch of Class, both written and directed by… Denis’ friend, the great Melvin Frank, hence their inclusion here, I’m guessing), there’s a fabulous one of Melvyn Bragg forgetting that Hemingway’s dead, and some lovely old bits of Everett too. All good. There’s also one or two bits of Looks Familiar lurking about too – though not nearly enough for my liking; I only found out about that show on his farewell clips retrospective a few years ago, now what are the chances of ever seeing it again? Pretty bloody slim – my personal favourite of the four I’ve found is this one, but Flanagan & Allen are in one of the others, so check out that one too. This one features some beautifully weird speciality acts from the Variety days, most of which, it almost goes without saying, are rather better than anything you’d see on Britain’s Got Talent most weeks.” Adam also sent another link, which we’ll save until next week when we have more billings to fill.

The Time Tunnel

Hooray, an eighties year. Only just, mind, but an intriguing one to boot. You presumably know the drill by now, we pick a year completely at random – we’ll take a picture of the hat if you want – and focus on a show that started and a show that finished in that year, plus one big show and the rest of the telly news. And this year there’s also a load of YouTube clippage, which is a bonus.

  • CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE: Human League – Don’t You Want Me
  • UK EUROVISION ENTRY: Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up
  • BLUE PETER TEAM: Si, Saz and Pete
  • DOCTOR WHO: Doctor Who Tom Baker, becoming Doctor Who Peter Davidson
  • BIG CHRISTMAS DAY FILM ON BBC1: Loophole, “the new British feature film”

    New thrill!

    GAME FOR A LAUGH (1981-85)
    For such an iconic and successful show it’s perhaps remarkable just how briefly Game For A Laugh ran, but of course it’s been rehashed in numerous other forms. If things had been different, mind, it would have been a Beeb show, as Beadle pitched Gotcha to the Corporation and they made a pilot with Paul Daniels and Pamela Stephenson, but it was considered too vulgar to broadcast (not that it stopped them using loads of clips from it on The Late Late Breakfast Show). So Beadlebum legged it to LWT, and eventually wheedled his way into the presenting team, even though one big cheese said they couldn’t make a successful entertainment show featuring two people with beards. The other one, of course, was Matthew Kelly, who spent the entire first series in plaster after breaking his leg, and the pair, like their co-hosts Henry Kelly and Sarah Kennedy, were more or less complete unknowns, but it became very popular, very quickly, with a Christmas Day outing three months later, while it more or less killed The Generation Game. It was an absolute phenomenon and brought about the Saturday night people show as we know it today, as well as introducing a new breed of light entertainment presenter who hadn’t come from a variety background. Two more massively successful series followed, by then Matthew decided to quit, at which point Sarah decided she couldn’t do it without him and quit too, and then Henry decided he didn’t fancy staying either. So Beadle soldiered on with a hopeless new line-up of Rustie Lee, Martin Daniels and Lee “Who?” Peck in a show which had completely run out of steam, had a new producer Beadle couldn’t stand (with Jeremy under the impression he was purposefully trying to sabotage the show) and was stupidly rescheduled to Sundays, which was utterly wrong. A move back to Saturdays, and the jettisoning of Lee and Peck to make way for Debbie Rix, was a final throw of the dice before it was dropped. The fact is, though, that it was always going to have a limited lifespan, as once you’ve done the gag with the audience thinking a pair of twins is one person, you can’t do it again. Well, they did it twice, actually, but that’s sort of the point.

    Old thrill!

    BLAKE’S 7 (1978-81)
    It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. In 1980 the third and final series of Blake’s 7 was produced, ending with a titanic final scene which involved the entire set being blown up and most of the cast killed off. Filming was completed and everyone went home and watched it on the telly, only to be amazed when it was announced at the end of the show that it would be back next year – apparently at the request of Bill Cotton, who had enjoyed it so much he phoned up continuity and told them to say it. Hence a fourth series followed in 1981, with some extreme lateral thinking required to continue the story, to the extent head writer Chris Boucher suggested it should be considered a completely new show. The theory for many years was that the Beeb had deliberately commissioned a half-arsed series with a tiny budget to ensure it would flop and therefore prove there was no audience for science fiction, although the show was used to limited production values – indeed the first series had been a straight replacement for Softly Softly, inheriting its studio time, crew and budget, which was something of a challenge as Softly Softly was one of the cheapest shows on the Beeb, and while the budget was suitable for a studio-bound plodding police series with three sets and a load of talking, it wasn’t quite so useful for a gigantic space epic. Nevertheless, the utterly loyal fanbase continued to watch in their millions – especially remarkable given it was up against Corrie – and the definite final episode, where everyone was purposely killed off in the most graphic and climactic manner possible, led to the BBC Duty Office receive one of its biggest postbags of the decade, mostly from parents complaining their kids were utterly traumatised as it was only four days before Christmas. The clamour for another series started about ten seconds later and continues to this day, with Sky One announcing a potential remake recently, which they’ve just said is now not going to happen. And it never will.

    Everyone’s talking about…

  • THE NEW BBC1 GLOBE! Which saw the big bold BBC1 logo replaced by that double line affair, which you’d think would be a piece of piss to do, but somehow involved about nine months of fiddling to get it right, as it veered all over the screen and turned up in the wrong colour.
  • SOUTHERN, WESTWARD AND ATV CLOSING DOWN! Although ATV and Central were virtually the same thing, and TSW were already running Westward for the last few months of its life, so it wasn’t quite the shock that it could have been. It was in the South, though, as Southern were utterly pissed off and spent their entire last night slagging off incumbents TVS in the most unpleasant and bitter hour of television ever made. Why did Stilgoe get involved?
  • THE NEW LOOK LOOK-IN! The telly comic had its first rival in TV Tops, but apparently that had nothing to do with its first ever relaunch, it was just considered time for a freshening up. In any case it was goodbye to the smashing floating heads illustrations and hello to boring photos instead.
  • THE NEW LOOK TV TIMES! Look-In’s adult stablemate got a refresh at the same time, including a hideously pedantic rebranding as TV Times Magazine, as if to pretend anyone bought it for anything other than the listings, as well as rendering all the text in one of the ugliest fonts imaginable.
  • TARRANT LEAVING TISWAS! And John and Lenny and Bob, natch, to start working on OTT, while the ‘was staggered on with a hopeless new line-up including Gordon Astley trying too hard, Den Hegarty and Fogwell Flax, who hated kids anyway. It was also shown on Tyne Tees for the first time, and most kids in the North East must have wondered what the hell all the fuss was about.
  • NOELE GORDEN GETTING THE SACK! ATV hated Crossroads and were desperate to get rid of it, so axed Meg Richardson in the hope everyone would stop watching. A million death threats later, it carried on, even worse than before.
  • GONE WITH THE WIND! “The most famous feature film of all time” finally mde it to the telly after forty yers, being screened in two halves on BBC1 on Boxing Day and December 27th. Apparently Alan Hart lavishing so much money on the rights was the reason we only got Loophole on Christmas Night.


    The most famous star to pass away this year was probably Jack Warner, star of a trillion episodes of Dixon of Dock Green and undoubtedly telly’s most famous copper. Behind the scenes it was goodbye to Who music man Ron Grainer, Dr Finlay creator AJ Cronin and Carry On scribe Talbot Rothwell, while Benny Hill sidekick Rita Webb also died. We also lost two fifties icons in Bill Haley and Natalie Wood and one of the most famous names in broadcasting during the war years, Alvar Lidell. Blue Peter viewers were of course informed of the death of Joey Deacon, while the most newsworthy death had the happier side-effect of inspiring our favourite ever joke on They Think It’s All Over, to wit, “Emile Heskey’s middle name is Ivanhoe as his dad was watching that on telly when he was born. The same is true of his sister, State Funeral Of Anwar Sadat.”

    Show of the year

    There had been Royal Weddings before, of course, but this was the biggest by some distance, by far the most publicised piece of broadcasting for years. ITV got in first on the day itself, while BBC1 was still clearing its throat with Bugs Bunny, as we know, but the respective breakfast shows were intriguingly fronted by people who, within eighteen months, would start the day on the opposite sides, with Angela Rippon on the Beeb and Selina Scott on ITV. This was perhaps the first time that ITV were considered the winners for a big event, with Alastair Burnet’s commentary coming across as a bit more down to earth than Tom Fleming’s actorly ways on the Beeb. ITV also had the bonus of shots from the Goodyear Blimp, overseen by Alastair Stewart who got the job as all of ITN’s other reporters were too tall to fit. If you wanted too you could watch it on BBC2 with hilariously garbled live subtitles. In the evening it was either The Sound Of Music or Saturday Night Fever, before you could relive the whole thing in the million-page special editions of the papers the following morning. “Hats!”

    Let’s go there now!

    We’ve featured some of this stuff before, but it’s always worth another look, starting with a complete News at Ten from June. And before you ask, there was a Party Political Broadcast on before it. From a week earlier, teatime on BBC1, and to complete the news splurge, here’s a theme you won’t have heard for a while. The first day of the new BBC1 globe also meant the first ever News After Noon.On a more frivolous tip, here’s a snazzy trailer for Sunday night on LWT, here’s the charts from August and here’s the first part of a complete episode of Pops from February, in rather iffy quality but worth a look as Kiki Dee does Star in it.



    16.30 Blue Peter
    We know that none of you actually watch this show, despite our continual billings, so basically we’re using this as an Appeal News Update at the moment. So this week’s headline is that they’ve broken yet another target, with 150,000 cards now collected, and apparently they’re now abandoning all targets and just seeing how many they get – for which read, we can’t afford to sort out yet another totaliser. As for this week’s show, yesterday’s came from Buckingham Palace, while today they’re sending viewers’ messages into space to try and bring the BP ethos to as yet undiscovered territories.

    21.00 Turn Back Time
    It seems that every week now there’s a new documentary series involving people reliving the past, to the extent that some towns may have more houses where it’s 1975 than where it’s 2010. Here’s another one, the twist this time being that they’re setting up shops to examine how the Great British High Street has changed over the years. We’re way out of the Cream era to start with – even given our recent shifting of the boundaries – as it’s the Victorian era, but it’s the sixties later in the series, so that’ll be fun.

    23.55 US Midterm Elections
    Well, this is something of a novelty, as we can’t remember the Beeb ever giving these the full-on all night coverage before, although we suppose it’s more to do with efficiency reasons as it just involves them simulcasting BBC World for six hours. American elections as we know are rather dull affairs – after we’ve grown up on hopeless returning officers, watching the presenter simply say “And Obama has taken Pennsylvania” is a bit of a comedown – but a telly marathon is always worth watching, Matt Frei is an engaging enough presenter and we get another outing on British screens for Ted Koppel, who actually is British, albeit he left when he was very young and never came back. And is a robot.


    21.00 The Secret Life of the National Grid
    The papers seem to be suggesting that we’ll be looking forward to some power cuts this winter, what with the predicted freezing temperatures and iffy industrial relations, which would be pleasingly nostalgic for many people we’re sure. We don’t suppose they’ll pin up the cuts rota in the electricity showroom, though. We don’t have electricity showrooms anymore, for a start. Here’s the second part of this, examining the huge growth in home entertainment when we all got hot and cold running electric.

    BBC Radio 2

    22.00 Bay City Babylon
    The Bay City Rollers song they never play anymore is Keep On Dancing, which was a top ten hit, but features none of the Rollers we grew to know and love, and does feature thirteen Jonathan Kings. Indeed Tam Paton went through hundreds of Rollers before he hit upon the winning quintet, and here’s their story, which all ends up a bit grim but was a hell of a ride when it lasted. “It’s just a gimmick, innit?”

    BBC Radio 4

    13.30 Beat It – The World of the Modern Drummer
    We won’t get out our list of bands where the drummer sang again, much as we enjoyed compiling it, so we’ll just say that this discusses why nobody likes the drummer, speaks to the likes of Phil Collins and Kenny Jones and is introduced by Phill “I nearly quit Buzzcocks because they were booking guests just for Simon to take the piss out of and this week I’m on the show with Jedward” Jupitus.


    BBC Radio 4

    11.00 Doc Martens at 50
    We used to have a pair of Doc Martens, albeit from the AirWear range and we were such a sap we’re surprised we were even allowed to wear them. Here’s a look at their iconic nature, with talking heads including Pete Townshend, Madness and, perhaps surprisingly, Tony Benn. Dead comfortable for marching in, apparently.



    21.30 Reggie Perrin
    This show seems to be excelling in hiring fine comedy actresses and then giving them absolutely nothing do, as after Fay Ripley’s continual role as Reggie’s feed, Jasmine has had about three lines in the entire series, although we suppose it’s to be expected as the cast grows bigger by the week. Apparently Grot is going to be featuring in this series at some point, although while it’s pleasing it’s not slavishly following the path of the original, it might be nice if it was actually going somewhere.



    20.30 QI
    John Lloyd’s on the panel tonight, who of course invented the whole thing, although we’re not sure if many people will recognise him as his work in front of the camera has been very sporadic. It may not have been the case if Have I Got News For You had been, as planned, John Lloyd’s Newsround, before Lloyd pulled out, or indeed if he’d turned down the producer’s chair at Not The Nine O’Clock News and went for the other job he’d been offered, one of Esther’s nancies on That’s Life.


    20.00 Mastermind
    We know someone’s done The Smiths on this show before, because we recall John announcing “they were a miserable band”, though sadly we’ll be deprived a repeat of that now they’ve got rid of the banter, which is a real shame.


    21.00 Sir John Dankworth at the BBC
    22.00 Legends – The Dankworths
    23.00 Jazz 625

    Johnny’s greatest contribution to the Beeb was undoubtedly his fantastic theme tune for Tomorrow’s World, but he did perform in front of the cameras as well – many times, in fact, with the clippage in the first show spanning from 1958 to 2007. He and Cleo are both subjects of the repeated documentary in the middle, and then it’s the pair and their peers be-boppin’ an’ scattin’ to round it off.

    That’s it from our Fireside Issue, which we hope you enjoyed, and don’t forget the immortal words of Jimmy Hill on Saturday night. And, if you want to subscribe, click here

    1 Comment

    1 Comment

    1. Des Elmes

      December 28, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      And even when they did get that BBC1 globe “right”, South Africa had a pointed end.

      Could it be possible that when they discovered that, they decided they just couldn’t be arsed playing around with it any more?

      Also, News After Noon was part of a complete new look for the Beeb’s television news output, which also meant the end of the theme tune used since the mid ’60s, and John Humphrys becoming the Nine’s main presenter.

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