Wednesday, 7th August 1985
PICK OF THE DAY
6pm THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, BBC1
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.
7.35pm OPEN SPACE, BBC2
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.
4.45pm RAZZMATAZZ, ITV
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.
8.30pm THE FUNNY SIDE, ITV
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.