Hello there! Why Don’t YouTube? here, popping in from next door where all year we’ve been collating and contextualising clips over at @whydontyoutube We’re already quite busy with our own countdowns over here, but when our neighbours asked if we had anything we could share for this year’s festive season countdown we delved into our bookmarks and came up with a selection of videos, five per day, from each day in Cream-era telly history up to and including Christmas Eve. It’s better than some taste-free, slightly melted chocolate, we’re sure you’ll agree. Let’s start, logically, on the first of the month…
1976: “Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Brahms have all died…” “They’re all heroes of ours, ain’t they?” Surely by now every schoolchild in the country knows every detail about the Sex Pistols on the Today programme, from Freddie Mercury’s emergency dental work requirement leaving a hole in the running order to Jason Holmes, a 47 year old lorry driver from Waltham Forest, being so angry he kicked in the screen of his new TV. The best part, apart from when they all start dancing to the Moog version of Windy at the end, is of course Bill Grundy trying to butter up Siouxsie Sioux, part of the accompanying faction from the infamous Bromley Contingent (here also represented by Steve Severin, Simon Barker and Simone Thomas, fact fans) and Steve Jones going all Steptoe on him. What chance did Grundy have after that? Nothing. A rude word. Next video.
1976: Everyone knows the kind of stock images that TV producers reach for when trying to summarise a certain period in British pop-cultural history, which makes it weird to realise that two of them aired within around an hour of each other. Today finished at around 6.30pm, then about 7.30pm you could have turned over to BBC1 for the pan-European version of Superstars and seen the blessed Keegy Keegle fall off his bike. What’s little remembered is despite all the lacerations from the cinder of Bracknell Leisure Centre he insisted on a re-run, finished second overall, then won the closing steeplechase (the cycling had been the penultimate event of the day) to win the heat. Then on the way home he fell ill and ended up on a hospital drip for two nights suffering from the combined effects of a stomach infection and delayed shock from the accident, and after recovering his schedule meant he couldn’t take part in the final after all. Why does this change from video to film after a few seconds?
1977: There’s a great joy, as much from performer as spectator, to John Otway on Top Of The Pops, letting Wild Willy Barrett do the difficult bits as he approaches his hit song with wild blunt force, especially when he misses the chord Father Ted-style before his grand climax. Two weeks later Otway and Barrett were invited back on a show hosted by Elton John, and a penny for the thoughts of the Emotions who can be seen waiting on the other stage.
1979: Little now looks as “of its time” than a lot of late 1970s/early 1980s mainstream comedy. Freddie Starr’s Variety Madhouse, a LE footnote now after Starr walked out after one series and lead support Russ Abbot took over the franchise, is no exception. Yes, he does Hitler. Yes, he does Elvis. Mike Newman, Norman Collier (go on, guess which routine he works in), Toni Palmer “and introducing Bella Emberg” – she’d already been a TV actor for more than a decade – are his other supports, as seen in the borderline inexplicable YMCA “parody” with which it opens.
1988: Remember children’s newspapers? Actually you don’t have to, First News is the UK’s highest circulation children’s publication, but it doesn’t have anything like the wider publicity reach that the spate of publications around the late 80s into early 90s did. On today’s Blue Peter the focus was on the launch of Early Times and Scoop, but before that Mark Curry strips to his shorts just to get into a spa bath with a swimmer – wisely Yvette changes into her swimming cosume off-camera – while Tony Robinson turns up later to read some kids’ poetry and there’s big news on the bring and buy sale appeal for Kampuchea. As a special bonus, presumably from the new links for the Sunday omnibus, rushes of Caron Keating enjoying herself on a crane camera.