TV Cream

Cream over Britain

Advent Calendar: December 21st

1981: Westward Television celebrated its 20th anniversary, eight months after the actual date and ten days before the franchise closed. Hey, better late than never. Jan Leeming has Gus Honeybun round, David Vine has escaped to Hong Kong and it transpires the Diary beat Morecambe & Wise to it by four years by having Angela Rippon appear in a bikini in 1972, although this is the region where according to Roger Shaw swearing and nudity on regional news was “part and parcel of programmes” by airdate.

1982: Russell Harty’s Christmas Party set up shop in London’s Greenwood Theatre with a proper all-star cast – Nicholas Parsons, Shaw Taylor, Sarah Kennedy, Matthew Kelly, Esther Rantzen, Shelley Winters, James Burke and what the RT billing refers to as “an all-party choir of MPs”. On top of those, the clip we have features Doctor Who Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson as Cinderella and Buttons non-respectively, giving it everything.

1985: Here’s something we’ve genuinely never seen before through years of news skeleton staff and scene-shifter’s strikes – industrial action by electricians actually affecting the quality of the onscreen output. Ruth Anders peers through the gloom for LWT, one of five regions affected, followed by Night Thoughts with Viscount Tonypandy. As this is LWT there’s another inventive Christmas Line trailer and a festive message from… some child.

1987: Let’s play! Angela Rippon in a different unnatural habitat, the final of Masterteam, the pub quiz team Olympiad which would also be the last ever Masterteam as the Neighbours repeat took over its 5.35pm slot from the first week of January. Yes, Pot Pourri does come up as a Spotlight subject option, and what’s more it gets chosen as befits the occasion; sadly, the show was clearly so established by now that Angela doesn’t feel the need to go into her “tough general knowledge” spiel or question whether anyone really knows what we’re going to get.

1991: Jason Donovan on Going Live!, despite his being under the weather and with a Joseph matinee ahead. Pip took over his role three weeks later, hence Sarah dropping him in it with the hint of a future behind the scenes film. If you’re not distracted by the remarkable set of guests listed on the credits, see if you can work out what Pip’s gesticulations on the festive chorus are trying to tell us.

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