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Your Wednesday Night In...

Your Wednesday Night In… August 1985

Wednesday, 7th August 1985


What’s this? Well, it’s one of the darkest days in the Beeb’s history, as it should have seen the screening of the famous Real Lives documentary about Martin McGuinness and Gregory Campbell. However, the BBC governers decided, in an unprecedented move and thanks to some unhelpful “advice” from Leon Brittain, that it shouldn’t go out, to enormous uproar. Hence on the day it was intended to be shown, the NUJ called a strike to protest against government interference in broadcasting, observed not just by BBC staff but also every other broadcaster, meaning there was no news on any telly or radio station at all for the entire day, surely for the first time since radio began in the 1920s. And that meant Frank Sinatra’s Concert for the Americas filled the gap where the news and documentary should have been at 9m while at 6pm it’s Bo, Luke and Daisy Duke instead of Nicholas Witchell.


The strike also meant virtually nothing else live went out that day, Wogan slinging on a repeat rather than Tel crossing the picket line, while the potential saviour for all those spare hours in the shape of live cricket was stymied when it was rained off. So in among the films, repeats and test cards, one of the few new programmes on this strike-shattered day was, of all things, a programme of radical agitprop poetry. Specifically, it’s Future Tense, where “four up-and-coming writer/ performers provocatively take on an audience at London’s Drill Hall Arts Centre. Barbara Burford, Jackie Kaye, Deborah Levy and Berta Freistadt explore the new directions they must take to counteract male dominance of their chosen art form.” A classic production of its ilk from the Beeb’s Community Programme Unit, its placing on a day when telly was under greater scrutiny for government interference than ever before is wonderfully apt.

No news on ITV either, with cartoons and repeats of Survival plugging the gap, though there was slightly more entertainment to be had, not least from this most vulgar of kids’ shows. Actually Razz was a pretty important show in its day, as despite its teatime slot it was a vital shop window for bands, so virtually every major name in pop appeared – and there are plenty of clips of the likes of Kate Bush and Gary Numan on YouTube – while the production team at Tyne Tees had masses of enthusiasm and experience so it all looked pretty exciting on screen, even if Alastair Pirrie was a bit of an acquired taste. Around this time it was on pretty much all year round as well. Sadly this episode was presumably a bit less thrilling than usual as it was an American special. Fair enough we had Dan Hartman whose I Can Dream About You was racing up the charts of the time, but we’re also promised Nils Lofgren and, of all people, Phil Everly. Not sure what he was was doing there, but we’re guessing he didn’t join in with a game of Peggy Babcock.

NOT the Granada-produced Game For A Laugh-esque series hosted by Mike Smith, Cheryl Baker and Mick Miller with highly memorable Herbie Hancock-style theme tune. No, instead this is a Thames sketch show, which you’d assume might have had something going for it as Derek Griffths headed the cast – alongside Aiden J Harvey, Derek Waring, Debbie Arnold and Cherry Gillespie – and the scripts were written by Eddie Braben with contributions from Marshall and Renwick. But seemingly not, because nobody can remember anything about it.



  1. Droogie

    August 9, 2018 at 3:10 am

    I vaguely remember The Funny Side. Strange show – it reminded me of a dated 70’s ITV sketch format like Who’s On Next trying to be more contemporary by having new acts like Hale & Pace on as guests.

  2. Droogie

    August 9, 2018 at 3:14 am

    *What’s On Next I meant of course

  3. Glenn Aylett

    August 10, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Just wqndering if this was the last series of The Dukes of Hazzard, as CBS cancelled the series in 1985 due to falling ratings and poor storylines , and the BBC was losing interest. An odd choice to replace the news, as Dukes would normally be shown later in the evening.

    • Richard16378

      August 10, 2018 at 9:51 pm

      I remember The Dukes Of Hazzard being in a similar time slot on Saturdays for many years.

      The show never really recovered from the walkout by the 2 main stars over royalties from merchandising.

      This lead to the odd situation where Bo & Luke went off NASCAR racing for a year, & replaced in Hazzard by their blander near lookalike cousins Vance & Coy who had never been mentioned before. They were quickly forgotten about when the dispute was sorted out, & the original Dukes returned.

  4. Glenn Aylett

    August 11, 2018 at 11:04 am

    @ Richard 16378, the series never recovered from Tom Wopat and Jon Schneider leaving in 1982. Viewers never took to the actors playing their cousins, and when Wopat and Schneider returned, The Dukes of Hazzard was in decline and was cancelled in 1985. Still, both actors had careers as country singers to fall back on when the show was cancelled.
    I always quite enjoyed Dukes in its imperial 1979-82 era as it was a harmless bit of fun and one of the few shows to be made in Georgia.

  5. richardpd

    August 11, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    I really enjoyed it too during that time.

    By the time The A-Team & Knightrider came along it was in decline & these 2 shows were grabbing my attention more.

  6. George White

    August 11, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    Schneider also had a career as a DTV action star for Corman.

  7. THX 1139

    August 11, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Schneider was Superman’s adoptive dad in Smallville, too. Wopat became a sex pest and coke addict (was that case resolved?).

  8. Glenn Aylett

    August 12, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    @ THX 1139, I think Wopat’s case is still ongoing as police found him with a substantial amount of coke. Jon Schneider is more of a good guy with no scandal and was a decent singer. Also James Best, who played Sherriff Rosco P Coltrane, was an interesting character, a black belt in karate, a country music guitarist and painter who lived until he was 89.

    • THX 1139

      August 13, 2018 at 12:46 am

      James Best was a great guy, always respected him for not doing publicity for the DoH movie remake because he rightly realised it was total shite (not that he put it in those words, but you could tell that’s what he meant). Made some pretty decent cult westerns in his younger days too. On the other hand, I believe he was Quentin Tarantino’s acting teacher, but a man’s gotta eat.

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