1981: Even the Community Programming Unit has to let its hair down occasionally. Grapevine, “The Self-Help Show”, is still very low-key in its dark studio and occasional mumbling – at one point Jeni ‘You & Me’ Barnett introduces “a film from Telford” with no further details, and we’re still not sure what it was about even after watching it – and its parocchial idea of fun is a screenprinting demonstration, a film made by an animation workshop for kids, a very short piece of juggling and, good god, Doc Cox as Ivor Biggun.
1983: Made by LWT but actually premiering on Channel 4, An Audience With Kenneth Williams was the third in the series, after Dame Edna and Dudley Moore, and came well into Ken’s raconteur phase, featuring many an anecdote passed down the documentary generations. “The fewer viewers the better cos then I can use the material again!” he confided to his diary regarding its 10.25pm start time. His thoughts on its regular repeats in that light are unclear.
1984: Jasper Carrott had this mole… Originating on 1979’s The Unrecorded Jasper Carrott, Central animated the routine and gave it a new lease of life as filler for years to come. It’s also unique as one of the very few 1980s Carrott routines that doesn’t namecheck Doris Stokes.
1986: When Granada goes to sleep, all its friends go to sleep. And at that time of the day and year, who better than Charles Foster, if in a very unseasonal set and suit, to see us off to bed. ITV’s festive branding that year was very blocky. Meanwhile it’s a very Clapton Christmas on Tyne Teeshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy3hz7TouLE, where Annie St John has got dressed up for the season and seemingly casts shade on their own scheduling.
1992: TV-am has just over a week left but they’re putting that prospect aside for now. As it’s the news-based first hour, by now in the hands of Sky News, and nobody’s on strike this doesn’t come across as a franchise packing up for good with as few hands to the pump as possible as you might expect. Stay to the end for Lizzie Webb and Roy Castle, though.