1981: One of the great pop years, where the rise of the synths, punk’s fallout, the soul revival, rock’n’roll revivalism, weird European pop, AOR and what we would come to know as New Pop created a fascinating and exhilarating ride. So here’s Ken Dodd on Top Of The Pops, performing his number 44 smash plea for world unity Hold My Hand. This clearly isn’t what Zoo signed up for. From the same show Bucks Fizz did their customary mismatched raid on the clothing rails, though full marks to both Jay Aston for committing to the dance routine in that outfit and to Cheryl Baker for not thinking what she might look like.
1983: The first series of The Late Late Breakfast Show came to an end with the start of a tradition that would last right through the House Party era, that of the crew going out of their way to pull a prank on Noel.
1983: Depending on whatever is most in vogue at the time, The Family was either the first fly-on-the-wall documentary, the first docusoap or the first reality show. Nine years after the Wilkins family of Reading were made national cause celebres, and five years before its most recent full re-run, the subjects sat down with film-maker Paul Watson to mark out The After Years. They mostly went badly, safe to say, and then ends even worse in a post-credits coda.
1983: A lot of Channel 4’s early reputation for cult films, up to and including Jonathan Ross’ work in that field, can be traced back to The Worst Of Hollywood, the late Saturday night ten week series introducing so-bad-they’re-good B-movie schlock. Ironically the series was the first production credit for Stephen Woolley, who went on to produce The Crying Game, Mona Lisa and Interview With The Vampire (and also Absolute Beginners) Once Michael Medved had tied up a showing of Eegah it’s closedown with footage of birds at night.
1986: Christmas on Thames with a skiing snowman and the first of the forgotten Mike Yarwood comebacks – and you can tell how this one faltered – before what you really want in the dead of December, a party political broadcast ending in a long Norman Tebbit monologue.