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Your Friday Night In… January 1984

The Zodiac Game
Friday, 6th January 1984


Sorry, we got that title wrong. Of course it’s <vocoder>”THE ZODIAC GAME!”</vocoder>. Twas here Tom O’Connor launched his astrological quizzer pitting celebs and plebs together, by dint of them sharing the same star sign. Tonight! Faith Brown and Frank Carson! Tom gave press interviews at the time, fretting folks would forget his comedy roots, but resident astrologist Bernard Fitzwalter foresaw only positives for him: “Tom’s stars point towards him having a very good year indeed.” What Bernard didn’t predict – ho ho! – was that he’d be replaced by Russell Grant come series two.


A one-off presented by – and we can’t stress this enough, even italics don’t give it quite the emphasis – father-of-three Frank Bough. A studio full of “real mums, dads and kids” commune to reflect upon their own familial set-ups. With the ‘help’ of a fictional family, The Hargreaves, created by Alan ‘Plater’ Plater.

Or as it was starting to call itself, ORS ’84 – making it another exponent of that ’80s obsession for tagging the ’80s year onto franchises. Peter Powell presents, and possibly penned this presumptious prose for the Radio Times billing of the day: “Just when you thought it was safe to turn the TV back on, channel 2’s live electronic magazine returns.” Yes, that said, “electric magazine”. And also, “channel 2”. Guests: Aswad, Jean Jacques Burnel, Steve Levine, Marilyn, Nick Rowan, Thompson Twins and Dick Witts. More of that billing: “Description defied. Satisfaction guaranteed. Inspection recommended.” Dazzlement deferred.

9.00pm DREAM STUFFING, Channel 4
The arrival of the short-lived, never-loved comedy about two women (Mo and Jude, played by Rachel Weaver and Amanda Simmons) sharing a hi-rise flat and subsisting on the dole-line in Thatcher’s Britain.  By 1984, sitcoms were becoming more valued for their provision of a handy bolthole for Britain’s final few punk rockers. With Ray Burdis as The Gay Neighbour.



  1. RobJ

    January 6, 2017 at 9:17 am

    I’m wondering if the Zodiac Game was shown at different times around the network? Cos I always associate it with coming home from school at lunchtime on a cold day and tucking into my Invaders and Meteorites.

  2. Applemask

    January 6, 2017 at 10:49 am

    At least there was a Kirsty MacColl theme song and a three legged cat called Tripod.

  3. Glenn A

    January 7, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Surely missing out Auf Wiedersehen Pet, which was THE programme to watch at the time, is unusual, though I suppose seeing what the other stations were offering at the time was interesting. I know Pet was originally scheduled against the less than stellar Dallas spin off, Knots Landing, which was fatally wounded and moved into day time after Oz and his mates appeared, but had forgotten about this BBC1 experiment opposite Pet. Possibly because everyone I knew, being from the North East, was watching ITV at 9.00.
    Also as a bit of a ratings anorak, the winter of 1983-84 was a dark time for BBC1. Its audience share fell 20 points behind ITV and the press were keen to point out that only American imports like Dallas and The Thornbirds were giving the first button huge ratings and their other shows were stalling. Fortunately the useless BBC1 controller, Alan Hart, and BBC Director of Television, Aubrey Singer, were given their marching orders in the spring and the Grade era came in to save BBC1.

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