TV Cream

TV: M is for...

Man Alive

UNREMITTINGLY GRIM this-is-real-life-so-you-better-get-used-to-it strand launched as “flagship” current affairs output of still-teething BBC2. Stamping ground for many a Beeb ego, with early years dominated by terrifying DESMOND WILCOX/ESTHER RANTZEN two-headed hydra. In-house gag dubbed the show “Desmond’s weepies” due to regularity of episodes featuring grubby-faced women (usually prostitutes) blubbing uncontrollaby while the camera zoomed up their nose. TREVOR PHILPOTT and JOHN PITMAN regular contributors. Earnest adherence to “ordinary people” agenda offset by seminal jazzy waltz theme by Sir TONY HATCH – replete with finger-clicks from, who else, finger-in-every-pie Wilcox.



  1. Glenn Aylett

    May 5, 2019 at 10:53 am

    I can remember a joyous one from 1981 on BBC One that was made up of car crashes, the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt, allowing kids to sit in the boot of estate cars, and jaywalking. Such fun not, but the alternative was an awful sitcom on ITV, so you ended up watching what one wag at school called Man Dead. Man Alive was the sort of PSB that fizzled out in the Grade era.

  2. Droogie

    January 9, 2021 at 2:02 am

    I love the Tony Hatch theme tune to Man Alive. It was the same kind of jazzy Dave Brubeck knock-off you also got with Farmhouse Kitchen and the soundtrack to Julie Christie’s opening scenes in Billy Liar.

  3. THX 1139

    January 10, 2021 at 10:15 am

    But did the exclamation “Man alive!” meaning “My goodness!” come before or after the TV show?

  4. Richardpd

    December 12, 2023 at 10:48 pm

    Upcoming singer Darren Burn was the subject of one programme, hoping to be a British David Cassidy or Donny Osmond, but never made it in spite of being the son of an EMI executive.

    The footage from the above show on car crashes was reused many times in programmes about car safety, once I got in trouble for laughing at one clip of a child sized dummy flying through a windscreen.

  5. George White

    March 1, 2024 at 11:56 am

    They weirdly bought in a few eps from the US, NBC news specials, CBS Reports and George Plimpton’s specials for ABC.

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