1971: Opportunity Knocks’ big discoveries in 1971 were Little & Large, but despite making the All Winners Show they weren’t in contention for the Variety Club of Great Britain trophy. Twelve year old Neil Reid was, as he won the previous week, and he flowered very briefly as a pop act afterwards until everyone realised what they were doing. The true gold here is at the end of the show, as after “the fellow with the mellow bellow” Stuart Gillies – stop shouting “encore”, audience, you know how the show works – Hughie introduces the two people working the two big Christmas shows in Birmingham that year, “Frank O’Carson” and Les Dawson. There’s also a third guest, not that one of them knows it until they arrive with a special present.
1973: For all our efforts, it feels sometimes like certain clips don’t need any further explanation. So: Frank Spencer on rollerskates…
1979: …and Kenny Everett with Wogan’s microphone. Those around him look genuinely shocked. Ken’s other prop from that week gets forgotten, as understandably does Roy Kinnear’s version.
1980: Over to ATV land, where after Gary Newbon has coped manfully with a bad voice, there’s a sighting of a very brief but very glorious cartoon festive ITV sting featuring what looks in passing like Danger Mouse’s Space Hopper before Stanley Baxter’s Christmas Box. In the adverts from that show we find a couple of ‘ATV Telespots’, local businesses advertising entirely in stills and job lot voiceover and muzak. “Be seen, be bright”? That’ll never catch on.
1984: Blue Peter is three crown lights down, and to mark the approaching occasion Simon went to turn on the Christmas lights in Mousehole in Cornwall, and before that actually help put them up on the harbour – the reason he went seems to be an unspoken connection to the lifeboat appeal. Back in the studio there’s some radio controlled toys, Janet makes some tree decorations and there’s a distinct sense that Michael Sundin is, three months into his tenure, already being given as little to do as possible.