TV Cream

CREAMGUIDE: 7th-13th August, 2010



Hullo, and welcome to another Creamguide, whether you’re reading this in e-mail form or on the website. If you’re reading it on the website, you’ll have missed your own name magically appearing in that opening line – and if that’s not a reason to subscribe, we don’t know what is. Never mind HD. And don’t forget, if you’re not on the website, do visit it to check out the latest rounds of TV Cream’s Puzzle Trail. It’s the game everyone is talking about! Well, everyone we know, anyway. Which is basically just people from TV Cream.

We start this week with a letter from Victor Field with regards to Channel Four’s forthcoming Ian Kirkby-starring sitcom Pete Versus Life, which we mentioned last week, what with it starring Ian Kirkby. The gimmick, as we know, is that our hapless protagonist’s life is constantly reviewed by two “commentators”, and as Victor says, “This would be a fantastically original premise for a series if it hadn’t been done by NBC way back in 2001. And it’ll probably be just as successful now as it was then.” Yes, but… Ian Kirkby!

Also thanks this week to Mark Rowan who sent us a fabulous YouTube link but we’re going to sit on it for a few weeks to find a suitable instalment of Why Don’t YouTube to put it in, but it’ll be worth the wait. Do send in anything interesting you find to, that’d be good.



20.30 Dad’s Army
Someone who’s already written in is Adrian Fry, who says, “First, I’m glad Creamguide has stopped going on about the football and moved on to the subject of holiday telly. I only ever pretend an interest in football so as not to be excluded from water cooler conversations, claiming Man City as ‘my team’ just because Mark E Smith supports them and lamely chiming my admiration for John Motson more because of his enthusiasm for Dennis Potter dramas than his statistical soccer geekery. I bet you only champion the sport in a bid to atone for having had to study The Faerie Queen at Polytechnic.” Don’t worry Adrian, the football’s back this weekend, so we’ll have plenty to say about that in the ensuing weeks.


21.20 30 Years of An Audience With…
But anyway, Adrian? “Holiday telly. Now you’re talking! I recall a jaunty passage in the Robinson Crusoe score to which me and my brothers used to sing the line ‘Sixteen weeks in a baobab tree!’. I remember the way the BBC used to run the schedule of holiday morning shows onscreen like a junior test card for ages before programming began (with some characters like Top Cat depicted on the card). I remember thinking the theme from The Flashing Blade the most exciting bit of music on telly without once staying to endure more than five minutes of the programme. I loathed Why Don’t You? – the set and whichever gaggle of kids were occupying it always looked too dirty for me. And if summer mornings were great, evenings were awful, especially those Diddy David Hamilton helmed Summertime Specials on which there was invariably too much dancing and not enough comedy. These were the first shows – but by no means the last – where I felt the people making it were having way more fun than the audience.”

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
1976 and 1986. David Bridgman says, “I share many of the same holiday memories – tedious editions of Why Don’t You?, endless Silas and the horrendous Tales from the Riverbank. Worst of all though was some preachy American drivel called Big Blue Marble which had a nice theme tune but that was about it. As kids we got hooked, worryingly, on creaky lunchtime soap The Cedar Tree which featured Joyce Carey in a full-length Edwardian frock. For me though the sparkling gems of summer holiday telly were those hidden, unannounced trade test transmissions, usually appearing after Play School on BBC2. Quite why the 8 year old me needed to know whether the Emley Moor transmitter was operating at reduced power remains a mystery to this day.” It seems nobody liked Why Don’t You?, especially the Belfast gang, and Joe McNally says, “Believe me, if they annoyed kids in other parts of the UK, the WDY Belfast team were despised in Northern Ireland, mainly for the astonishingly posh accents they affected. They may not have sounded that way to everyone else, but to the natives they might as well have been Lord Poshington ffoulkes-Smythe IV. One of them may have been Kenneth Branagh, although this could quite easily be an urban legend and I am too lazy to check. Hats off to them for inadvertently encouraging youngsters to play in abandoned buildings, though. Not like we didn’t have enough of them around the place at the time.” Thanks for all your lovely letters, especially as it meant we could get through an unbelievably dull Saturday.



21.00 Sherlock
This is more like it, the show seemingly the entire nation is talking about, and that’s all to the good. The last one, of course, but never mind there’s only been three shows, it keeps them special, doesn’t it? Like when Alright on the Night used to be on every two years, because they couldn’t keep to their high standards if they were any more frequent. It’s exactly like that.


22.00 Britain Goes Camping
Also on BBC2 tonight is the start of a repeat run of Mad Men, and we like how, in the reports of Sky signing that massive deal with HBO, loads of people said “Ooh, what about Mad Men or Breaking Bad?”, which aren’t HBO shows anyway. What a distinctive output it’s got. Anyway, we doubt it’ll sell many more subscriptions as we don’t a British HBO, because unlike in America you can say “fuck” on the Beeb. And you wouldn’t be able to intersperse it with stuff like this, getting a swift repeat from BBC4.


21.00 The Unforgettable Bob Monkhouse
After ten years of repeating old episodes of this series non-stop, ITV have finally got around to commissioning some new ones, and what a great way to start! We heard plenty about Bob on that Radio 2 documentary last week – including Tom Edwards reading out a lovely letter Bob sent him out of the blue after he’d read Tom was in a bit of a bad way, and Bradley Walsh staying Bob stopped him in the corridor once to say his greatest wish was “to see you and Pasquale get the success you deserve” – but you can never hear enough about one of the greatest entertainers this country’s ever produced. Better yet, we hear that it features some of the newly discovered clippage from Bob’s enormous archive.

23.15 Drama Trails
00.15 Comedy Classics

We also hear that Bob’s enormous archive will be exhumed on BBC4 later this year as well, which is great news. There’s actually three hours of archivery on ITV tonight, interrupted only by – hooray! – the football, but while it’s all very well to see the light channel make good use of its fantastic archive, there will come a time when they’ll have to put something new in that archive or they’ll be really stuck. Rising Damp’s the latter this week, and they’d better come up with some more along those lines if this strand’s getting a second series.



17.15 Weakest Link
Ten years ago this week saw the arrival of possibly the most hyped and expensive game show ever, The People Versus, which turned out to be, before 101 Ways To Leave A Game Show turned up, the slowest and most boring programme ever made and a complete flop, while the following day, a cheap and unassuming quiz arrived with a minimum of fuss on BBC2 and became of the UK’s most successful and profitable formats. And for a time, it was certainly amusing and entertaining, though the joke’s perhaps worn a bit thin in recent years and it doesn’t make BBC1 look good as when they lost Neighbours there was the chance to be way more creative and flexible in this slot and they’ve just shoved this on almost every day for the last two and a half years, which is taking the piss. And Jon Briggs never gets the credit he deserves. Still, it’s an impressive achievement to reach the decade, and there’s a number of specials this week, none of which interest us, and this outing for the first ever episode. Apart from the “The” having fallen off at some point, the only difference between now and then is the rubbish bit in the final when the contestants both had to awkwardly step up to one podium in turn, and to be honest we’re not sure many viewers will even notice it’s ten years old.


23.20 The World at War
We know BBC2’s scheduling for series like this is sometimes a bit iffy, but we can’t blame them for this one as it’s the episode they always have to show much later than the others because it’s about the holocaust and is inappropriate for daytime viewing. As of tomorrow, though, it’s back at one for the rest of the week.

Why Don't YouTube?

Our favourite thing on the internet this week, and for the last few weeks, has been the speculation about the end of GMTV, and specifically the threads on various fora asking “How will GMTV end?”. We’d like to suggest that it ends in the same manner as Blake’s Seven with Fiona Armstrong turning up to shoot them all in a massive bloodbath. That’d be ace.

Anyway, what with that and Breakfast apparently moving to Manchester to tick some boxes, it’s all go in the world of breakfast telly, so this week we’re going to take a look at some of the desperate attempts over the past three decades or so to convince anyone to turn on their tellies first thing in the morning.


We’ll start with the original battle of the breakfasts, and rather brilliantly someone has put online the first five minutes of both Breakfast Time and Good Morning Britain from the same day, 25th January 1984, to allow us to make accurate comparisons. So we start on the Beeb with Frank and Selina – they’re a smashing team on that show, as Kenneth Williams famously had it – with some rather frosty banter, and we love the way they’re a mile apart. Meanwhile five minutes earlier, over in Eggcup Towers, we’ve got Nick and John, back in the days when there was nothing funny about two men presenting together, indulging in that patented TV-am item, Pointing At Pictures Of Princess Diana In The Papers, before Wincey is a bit more repellent than we remember.


This is a great clip for all sorts of reasons. Mostly it’s a clip from Breakfast Time in 1984 (we’re not sure when, possibly the May half term?) featuring an interview with Rik Mayall, Ben Elton and Lise Mayer about The Young Ones, which is entertaining enough, and Frank seems to get on pretty well with them and is quite interested in their work, which is nice to see. But the absolute highlight as far as we’re concerned comes right at the end, with one of our most vivid TV memories which we were so thrilled to see again, Frank introducing the next programme on BBC1, which is Battle of the Planets, and everyone turning around to watch it on the Weather Window. We used to love that bit. Early Breakfast Time was a lot of fun, though, they even brought us Billy Bragg singing live.


Sadly it couldn’t last, as Beeb meddling turned it into the rather dull affair we’ve now had for the last 24 years (although it’s OK now because Bill livens it up). The change in 1986 – we recall illustrated in the Radio Times with a cartoon of a workman prising the sun logo off the wall – was big news, and here’s a clip from Open Air moaning about it. Of course it was relentless suits and desks now, but for all its high-minded approach, it was also unbelievably flimsy, and here’s an ill-cast Paxo pissing off at half eight to make way for Laverne and Shirley. The news coverage was alright, we suppose, and here’s a bit of Election 87 you won’t have seen on BBC Parliament, Frank and the gang the morning after, but it was all dead dull. Even worse was to come, though, with the utterly tedious Breakfast News, which couldn’t even be bothered to change the theme tune. It is a nice theme, though, especially the fiddle-dee-dee bit in this extended opener from the Gulf War.


Still, at least stuff happened on the Beeb. The most remarkable thing about looking at clips of TV-am is how most of the time they just chat about nothing, a perfect example being here in 1987 when Caroline Righton, who’s recently failed to become a Tory MP, comes out of the pre-7am bit with some idle banter with Anne and Mike, followed by some more idle banter when the show, such as it was, actually starts. Even when Roland Rat was about, very little actually happened, such as this non-event, albeit with Sweeney and Steen off of CBTV. Still the guests were sometimes ace, like here and here.


An interesting footnote in the history of breakfast telly here, this is a sort of meld of two breakfast shows on a third. It’s TV MAYhem, the Chris Evans-fronted kids show that began in September 1991 and, er, ended in October 1991 when TV-am lost their franchise and immediately axed it (but they still got paid). Watch out for the Big Breakfast-esque hello to the boys and hello to the girls, as well as Me2 which Chris had brought along from his days on The Power Station. And here’s Chris and his mate Gary, who went on to produce The Big Breakfast and then become a telly boss himself, plugging it in front of a baffled Lorraine Kelly.


Of course a year later Evans would be delivering breakfast one button down on the telly, but on Channel Four before that was their original effort at breakfast time. Here, from April 1989, is the extended trailer explaining the delights within The Channel Four Daily, including Paddy “chest nappy” Haycocks and Debbie Greenwood plugging Streetwise, an attempt to make Kickback look like something more interesting than Sue Mott moaning for five minutes, Susannah Simons being possibly the poshest TV presenter of all time and the hilarious Box Office trailer with the most pompous gimmick ever, all ending with the most complicated menu in the history of television. Anyway, here’s how it all arrived on our screens, with some, cough, teething troubles. It has to be said, though, that it’s the best theme tune of any breakfast telly show ever.


Couldn’t last, though, and sadly there aren’t any clips of the latter incarnation when the twenty million studios were replaced by just sticking everyone in one room and doing it all live. But after three tedious years (we recall Smash Hits summing up The Channel Four Daily with the simple summary, “The Channel Four Daily: stock market ‘activity'”), it was replaced by something entirely new, and here’s one of the first trailers for it, before they’d hired either Gaby or moved into the house, with the first presenters available clearly in somebody’s front room. The ‘splits were a major selling point at the start, although after episode one everyone realised why they hadn’t been on telly much for the previous twenty years. But never mind, because we had fantastic stuff like this, like this and, rather excitingly, the whole of the show around midnight in 1992. Don’t eat my turds!


One of the highlights of the Big Breakfast’s golden age (1992-94, and no later) was the 8.30 competition, and in the summer of 1993, when everyone in the world was watching, that meant One Lump Or Two. Here’s the last ever round, which as well as seeing Sebastian Scott in front of the camera also sees a guest appearance from Lord Bob Monkhouse. It doesn’t get any better than that. Of course, Bob presented the show for a bit, and he later admitted he hated doing it because it was the hardest job he’d ever done, but here are two other guest hosts – the first one ever, Andrew O’Connor, playing a round of the original 8.30 game, the Dingbats-styled Guess The Mess (and if anyone knows what the answer is, do tell us), and best of all, the Bake, fronting Stop The Mop. “Or as we remember it around here, the steak knives fiasco!”


But of course the reason everyone in the world watched The Big Breakfast was for Zig and Zag, the funniest comic characters in television history (apart from when they came back for the last one ever and were shit). Yet another item on our long list of Things That Surprisingly Aren’t On YouTube is the chocolate cake, but this is almost as good, Agony Alien, taken off the video that’s long been deleted but worth buying if you ever see it in a charity shop. Also here is one of their fabulous songs, the whole of their encounter with Patrick Moore (during the school holidays when they were on at ten to nine, fact fans) and never mind Take That, the other guest that day was Max Bygraves. “I did flush!”


As well as The Big Breakfast being brilliant, the other reason the ratings were so huge was because GMTV was bloody awful, Here’s how it began on New Year’s Day 1993, followed by this extended introduction to the entire team, most of whom had been dumped by the end of February. Proper programming didn’t get underway until Monday 4th, where on that revolting set (Greg Dyke: “The set was horrible, they had that bloody fire!”), Fiona and Mike, who nobody had heard of, illustrate that F Factor that worked out so well. And who needs Zig and Zag when you’ve got Simon Parkin buggering about in front of some crap CSO?



21.30 Shooting Stars
Great to see the return of Bob’s Noel Edmonds last week, not just because it’s a great impression but also because it means he wears a wig and we don’t have to get depressed about how bald he’s getting, we know he’s in his fifties and he’s still impeccably turned out but we remember when he and Vic were the thrusting young bucks of comedy. At least he’s aging more gracefully than Ulrika, though. Sadly we have to report that tonight’s episode will be the worst of the series, thanks to the charisma-free zone that is the dreadful Tim Lovejoy on the panel, who we simply cannot bear, but hopefully they’ll make him look really stupid.

BBC Radio 2

22.00 Les Paul – The Final Words Of A Pioneer And A Guitar Legend
That’s the worst title we’ve ever heard for a documentary, it’s unbelievably clunky and long-winded. What’s wrong with just a respectful and simple “Les Paul” if you can’t think of anything snappier? Anyway, the final words that are mentioned come from an interview he gave very shortly before his death a year ago, and various other icons will be paying tribute, not least our host Duane “look at all these Duane Eddies!” Eddy.


BBC Radio 2

22.00 Pirates and Pensioners
We’ve said it before, but we can’t stand those people who complained about Chris Evans getting the Radio 2 breakfast gig, before the show even started, for being a drunken oaf, while simultaneously demanding Johnnie Walker get the job, as only one of those two has ever been suspended by the BBC for six months after being caught breaking the law. Walker was famously the only big name to stay with Radio Caroline after the government made it a criminal offence to take part in pirate radio, making a suitably rebellious speech on air, and in this programme he’s going to meet more of his contemporaries who were rallying against The Man in the sixties, and have since actually become The Man themselves.



19.00 The Culture Show
Not much else on today, so we’ll alight on the first of this series’ jaunts to the Edinburgh Festival, previously the territory of ten million post-Newsnight episodes of Edinburgh Nights but now at the heart of dinnertime. Among the items of interest are various comedians talking about their Edinburgh debuts, which reminds us of that old Channel Four series that used to follow comedians around the Festival, including one particularly unfunny stand-up called Cathy Dunning, who seemed to die most nights but probably doesn’t care anymore as she also invented some quiz show or other called The Weakest Link, which we were talking about earlier. We don’t just throw these billings together, you know.



21.00 The Great British Home Movie Roadshow
Not seen this yet, but as well as the usual sepia shots of the Great British Public walking really really fast, there’s also going to be a celebrity connection throughout the episodes, and this week Terry Jones will be working through his video collection, though some inmates of TVC Towers will doubtless be disappointed that they’re mostly of the Pythons at work and not of his home town of Colwyn Bay.


21.40 Ray Davies at Glastonbury
22.40 Brothers In Arms
23.40 Pop Britannia

We almost went through a week there without BBC4, but it makes it in right at the death. Friday nights on BBC4 are currently running to a consistent pattern whereby footage of an act at Glasto is followed by various repeats of any programme that’s in the slightest bit connected to them, which in Ray’s case is a documentary about siblings in rock and the episode of the prestige series about the beat boom. Let’s hope we get Rolf at Glasto soon as there’ll be loads to go at in the archives.

And of course there’s the football, and we’re all dead excited about whether Sky will have some new graphics and put Alan Parry in vision again, and about the fact we’ll get to see ESPN’s lovely Rebecca Lowe again after too long. But we’ll talk about that elsewhere. Anyway, if you are reading this on the website, and want to subscribe to receive the mailout every week, go here.

That's about all from CREAMGUIDE. See you next week!
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. TV Cream

    August 6, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    And here’s the third edition of Creamguide now online. At some point we’ll work out a better way of announcing these. Or just stop announcing them.

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