TV Cream

Your Wednesday Night In...

Your Wednesday Night In… March 1995

Wednesday, 22nd March 1985


We’d love to see a breakdown of the viewing figures for an episode of This Is Your Life, to see the huge audience for the first two minutes while you found out who it was, followed by a mass switch-off if they turned out to be boring, especially if it was, zzz, a member of the public. No chance of that this week, though, as the fantastic reveals that, with the codeword “thread”, it was Bill Cotton in the spotlight. Among those turning up were many of his Cotton Crew including Ernie Wise, Mike Yarwood and Lord Terence, though Brucie was only on tape, alas, as well as the likes of Paul Fox and Michael Grade, while it also featured the last ever telly appearance of the legendary showbiz agent Billy Marsh. This was the first series of the ‘Life back on the Beeb, and it was on a decent run of form, also including one of our favourite episodes with Danny Baker, who later reflected it was a wonderful experience if only because it was one of the only occasions where all your friends and relatives were obliged to applaud when you entered the room.


And it’s a Thames simulcast at seven o’clock with two of their old warhorses going into battle. In fact a few weeks earlier it had been a Thames triplecast with The World At War being repeated on BBC2 at the same time, the company enjoying almost complete domination of the airwaves, not bad given they’d stopped broadcasting themselves two years ago. This show lasted almost as long as This Is Your Life, and it’s still in pretty much its familiar form here with Judith Chalmers hosting from New Zealand. She was joined by her regular sidekick John Carter, reporting from Jersey, although his rather formal style was going out of fashion a bit and he’d soon be off (Victor Lewis-Smith: “The pupils all enjoyed Mr Carter’s lecture on his holidays and only wish he would go away for a bit longer next time”).

More holidays here, but in a rather different style, and it’s easy to forget what a big show this was in its day, pulling in enormous audiences. The concept involved holidaymakers being given camcorders to record their trips away, with that nice Gaby Roslin introducing the highlights back in the studio. Intended as the most democratic holiday show on TV, giving you a warts-and-all guide to various resorts, most viewers didn’t really give a toss about the places they visited and instead just tuned in to have a nose at the families involved and their often rather cliched Brit abroad antics, at least one report in each show involving copious drunkenness. Still, it was engaging enough for a while – and was later joined by companion series Moving People in which John Peel linked films of MOTPs, er, moving house – before Channel 4 commissioned 10 million episodes and a dozen spin-offs and ran it into the ground, like every other successful show on the channel.



  1. Richard16378

    March 21, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    I remember the last few years of This Is Your Life was a mixed bag, many good ones & some odd ones, Maureen Rees getting a few moans from the press from what I remember.

    Wish You Were Here was one show I tended to watch just for the titles unless it was visiting an interesting place.

    Somehow THE REAL HOLIDAY SHOW managed to pass me by, maybe because there were a lot of other travel & video diary shows on at the time.

  2. Glenn Aylett

    March 22, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I remember the Bill Cotton This Is Your Life and it was a decent tribute to the man who’d made BBC light entertainment so great in the seventies. Very nice to see Ernie Wise again, who rarely appeared on television after the death of Eric Morecambe and who obviously had made it up with Cotton after relations became frosty when Morecambe and Wise defected to ITV. I do remember a year later, though, in a 60th anniversary celebration for BBC Television, Ernie looking quite frail.

  3. George White

    March 22, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Yes, Ernie lived in the US for a bit, did an ep of Keep it in the Family remake Too Close for Comfort/The Ted Knight Show

  4. Richard16378

    March 23, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    I remember in 1994 Ernie Wise doing the links for a series of clips shows featuring the best of Morecambe and Wise, which was my first chance to see some of the classic sketches.

    • Glenn Aylett

      March 24, 2018 at 10:44 am

      However, Ernie did little new material after his co star died. I do remember him doing a shortlived sketch and music show on Radio 2, which was a bit flat, but nothing much else new. Begs the question, though, about a more recent duo, could Declan Donnelly cope on his own if Ant Mc Partlin decides to leave showbusiness as I doubt Dec on his own would cope without his more lively partner?

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