TV Cream

Pot pourri

Is that still going?

News that the pilot of Last Of The Summer Wine almost failed to get made at all has been filed eagerly in TV Cream’s ‘If Only’ box file, next to Richard Stilgoe almost writing a script for Dr Who and Margaret Thatcher almost not winning some crucial byelection or other back in the 1950s.

The box file in question is conveniently (for this blog) adjacent to another one marked ‘Is That Still Going?’, wherein TVC maintains an inventory of those programmes that ran on far past their Best Before date, usually because no TV executives could be arsed to think up something with which to replace them. Currently, the top 10 looks like this:

10) THAT’S LIFE

Esther should have gone the same time as Mrs T.

That weird non-feminine femininity, the hotch-potch of now-here’s-the-good-news, now-here’s-some-more-bad-news, all those bloody hangers-on – it had lost all appeal come the end of the decade.

And the same goes for Esther (ho fucking ho).

Here’s La Passionara with a rather desperate bunch of ooh-it’s-the-90s nancies (note how Doc’s still managing to hang on in there, replete with Jumper Sent In By Thoughtful Viewer).

"Yes, we do employ black nancies too"

9) RAINBOW

Proud sponsors of Britain’s student T-shirt industry.

Seemingly remembered for all the wrong reasons (i.e. for being good, funny, subversive, charming and so on) instead of being remembered for its insufferable boredom and dreary sermonising.

Twee vocalists and crap puppets not pictured

8) JIMMY WILL FIX IT

“It ended because I told the BBC it should end,” remembers Jim, wrongly. In reality ratings had slumped – rightly so, given how fixes such as getting to help the chancellor of the exchequer write the Budget were, in the words of Carter USM, Lamontable.

"Does Mr Robot Dog 'ave something for this young gentleman 'ere?"

7) ARE YOU BEING SERVED?

The most uncommercial, threadbare-looking and least patronised department store in the whole world somehow manages to stay in business for 13 years (until 1985!) thanks to a turnover wholly comprised of references to tits, homosexuals and “sales drives”.

Mr Humphries, a gay man, pretends to be aroused by feeling a woman's breast

6) YES PRIME MINISTER

It just looked wrong having Jim Hacker turn from fallible bumbler with a heart in the right place to pompous preener with no touch of humanity. Especially as Sir Humphrey and Bernard didn’t undergo any personality rewrite whatsoever.

"Another series, Humphrey?" "Yes, prime minister"

5) 3-2-1

The issue here was probably a studied reluctance to move with the times. In other words, Ted Rogers thought it was still 1963 when it was actually 1987.

Hence the old-time variety schtick. Hence the “surprise” guests from decades ago that most of the viewers couldn’t give a toss about. Hence the convoluted parlour game riddlery when most people didn’t have parlours. Hence Ted doing yet another bloody tribute to Danny Kaye. Hence a remote-controlled bin being thought funny.

Ted surveys the morning agenda

4) DIXON OF DOCK GREEN

Any programme that boasts a chirpy whistle-along-with-me theme tune replete with affable talky bit from your titular ordinary copper (“Allo, that boy with the mouth-organ’s back again!”) deserves something of a lengthy run on the box, but perhaps not one that takes it well well past the point that “teddy boys” stopped wanting “their capers to be seen”.

Or, indeed, the point that teddy boys stopped.

The cast of Dixon of Dock Green, yesterday

3) GAME FOR A LAUGH

Now come on. Who ever thought a line-up of Beadlebum, Rustie Lee, Martin “P” Daniels and the other one was an idea worth half a second of anyone’s viewing consideration? Where’s the frumpy one in a big frock? Where’s the gnomic head boy? Where’s the multi-coloured jumper?

Hands up who thinks this show's about to be axed?

2) LOVEJOY

The man’s divvying and all that endless East Anglia scenery might have been palatable for a couple of series, but when it dragged on into the 90s and those dreaded words “Executive Producer: Ian McShane” suddenly turned up on the credits, all charm disappeared as fast as a predictably rare vase at a predictably unassuming car boot sale.

"It seems that once again you were right all along, Lovejoy"

1) CRACKERJACK

The best thing Michael Grade ever did was pull the plug on this noisy, shouty, unfunny parade of gunge, lettuces and mincers.

Fuck knows why Janet Ellis is here; at least she escaped with eardrums and career intact.

"Ooh, I could rip a tissue" "Not if I don't rip seven shades of shit off you first" "Now calm down Janet"

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0 Comments

  1. lucy

    May 17, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    The Generation Game, most notably the last resurrection when Jim Davidson took over from Brucie.

  2. Adrian

    May 18, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I’ve never seen the point of Last Of The Summer Wine, as nothing plotwise ever seems to happen in it.

    There’s a bit of crossover between That’s Life & Are You Being Served, as Mollie Sudgen appeared on both programmes at one point. I came across the following post imperial That’s Life clip from Youtube a couple of weeks ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OfbpHLbFUI&feature=channel_page

    Shame it didn’t feature Adrian Mill’s ‘Spanish’ accent!

  3. Thunderbird5

    May 19, 2009 at 5:56 am

    How could you omit Rentaghost from this list? It went completely tits-up in 78 when two of the original cast – Mr Davenport and Mr Mumford – left, and an appealing little programme with interesting characters and a nicely varied and well-observed take on ghosts and hauntings subsequently dissolved into appalling sub-Mclean/Glaze c(r)apery.

  4. ExtremelyCreamy

    May 19, 2009 at 6:40 am

    So very strange, didn’t Janet Ellis’s husband direct some of the films shown on That’s Life.

  5. creamymuck

    May 19, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    It’s astonishing how long “Served?” went on for. The cast had aged so visibly by the mid-80s.

    The final episode “The Pop Star”- which features Nick Ross as Himself!!- is on You Tube. It’s not a fitting epitaph.

  6. Dave Nightingale

    May 19, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    The guy in the sports casual knitwear on Game For A Laugh – is that Lee Peck?

    (Just checked – it is…)

  7. TV Cream

    June 12, 2009 at 10:56 am

    This just in from Alistair McGown: “I really don’t think that’s Janet Ellis Not Bextor in that Crackerjack photo. Whoever it is is pulling a bit of a face but I am pretty sure it’s co-host Leigh Miles (which, let’s face it would make a lot more sense). This is Leigh now, running her Bums and Tums class. http://www.milesdanceandfitness.com.”

  8. TV Cream

    June 12, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    It’s actually Jan Hunt, as we had the Annual that was the cover photo of.

  9. Glenn Aylett

    June 14, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Rainbow never seemed to move on from 1972, not necessarily a bad thing, but seeing an ageing Geoffrey in flares in 1987 with a haircut that went out of fashion in 1978 always raised a laugh. Rod, Jane and Freddie seemed to be stuck in an Edward Heath era timewarp as well. However, I loved it when I was 6, so did my sister and so did my brother, and it was one of ITV’s most successful kids shows so you can excuse the three day week fashions for that.

  10. Bob V

    September 4, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    This is “Jump The Shark” territory to an extent, and why not?

    1) Only Fools And Horses – Perfect ending mid 90’s after about 15 years…..after that? It’s ending left a gap in the BBC’s Xmas day schedule that Men Behaving Badly could not successfully fill. The result? A return of Only Fools And Horses that was just a travesty.
    2) The Generation Game – Lucy, spot on.
    3) Allo Allo – Jeeez, did it really warrant an 11 year run?
    4) Top Of The Pops – Nuff said.

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