TV Cream

Cream over Britain

Advent Calendar: December 19th

1977: You’re quite right it’s Monday, Play School, and as the start of Christmas week Chloe Ashcroft and Johnny Ball are getting prepared by decorating the tree, pinning up cards on a cork board, making Jemima dance etc. Ashcroft makes a crib, Johnny is a stiff-legged snowman and and Big Ted is flying round a mountain.

1983: In some of its early years The Krypton Factor reinforced its ideals as the apogee of physical and mental toughness with one-off specials featuring people of action and merit. Ranulph Fiennes competed in 1978; this year the contestants were waterskiier Liz Hobbs (making her second appearance on the Advent Calendar), Britain’s greatest female marathon climber, a man who ran the length of the Himalays and a Pacific Ocean rower. The mental agility round is a literal true-or-false round and one of the men ends up with his arse hanging out on the assault course zipline.

1985: Again we’re still in the early, establishing days of the Broom Cupboard, where they’ve taken the opportunity to festoon the set in enough tinsel to distract any continuity announcer. Not our Pip, though, who’s found a diecast model of an early BBC van that someone bought in 1932 (“you can’t even get a service for that these days”) Badge Of The Day appears to be a thing that didn’t last, just like that cardigan. A tempting sight of a Masterteam semi-final follows, as does Jeremy Paxman on London Plus.

1987: This upload of the pre-Christmas Going Live! is what you’d call thorough, given it starts with the Broom Cupboard preview from the previous afternoon. The running theme of the first half hour is Pip trying to call Rick Astley’s carphone live on air while he’s en route from Heathrow, with the expected consequences from a live TV phone call to an early mobile and an unexpected but welcome namecheck for Ruddy Big Pig. Spastley does eventually arrive to join guests the Pet Shop Boys, Michael Buerk in the Hot Seat, Curiosity Killed The Cat, Christopher Biggins in panto dame mode and Double Dare bringing Doc Cox and Sinitta together at last. The London Community Gospel Choir sing out with a not entirely gospelised version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – watch for Pip cutting a rug even if he seems more bothered about reading the words than singing them, and keep an eye out for the moment when he’s clearly just been told he’s on camera.

1987: Part one of Clive James In Japan, preceding the Postcard series but after his journeys in general had begun. This obviously came off the back of his love for The Japanese Game Show Endurance but that wasn’t running so he ends up on Takeshi’s Castle instead amid a very of-its-time grab-bag of Japanese visual cliches, from sake via sumo to geishas and ending with a karaoke rendition of My Way, which seems about right. Part two went out on Boxing Day, so here that is.



  1. Arthur Nibble

    December 19, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Not so much a wedding ring as a mini-knuckleduster there on La Ashcroft.

  2. THX 1139

    December 23, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    They should prescribe Play School episodes on the NHS for patients of a certain age. You’ll never see a more calming programme.

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