With programmes of information and entertainment that we hope will help us all to resume a normal way of life
That’s right, with that old-time austerity kicking in, Creamguide has never been more important in locating the most suitable forms of distraction from our dire predicament. And make the most of them, because pretty soon the Beeb won’t be able to afford any of this. Perhaps they might merge the afternoons on Radio 1 and 2 again, or close down after the One O’Clock News. Maybe we’ll get some power cuts as well. Just make sure you have a battery-powered radio to hand..
19.45 Dad’s Army
But Britain can take it! Both in the forties and the mid-seventies, as this show illustrates. Also reminding us of happier times is Creamguide’s old friend Jill Hyde, who points out, “The Radio Times has just landed on my doormat, and while browsing with a cup of hot chocolate, and watching To The Manor Born I found the super advertisement for the previously mentioned Classic RT Charity Christmas cards! I too had done the BBC Magazines survey for them, saying ‘why yes of course I would buy them’.” Those years in “full”, then – 1923, 1926, 1927, 1933, 1935, 1940, 1962, 1977, 1981 and 1988, and intriguingly we see that in the seventies and eighties issues they’ve left all the coverlines, so we can see the 1977 card is taken from the Northern Ireland edition. Anyway, if you are buying them, don’t forget to buy the Blue Peter Christmas cards as well.
19.15 Harry Hill’s TV Burp
Rather than the usual quote this week we must take the opportunity to express our concern about the increasingly large amount of smut creeping into this programme, reaching its peak with last week’s Nigella innuendoes, which not only seemed a bit pointless – they’re meant to be innuendoes! – but also would have embarrassed us massively if we were watching with children. There’s no need for it, and it would be perfectly good without it. You’re not at eleven o’clock now, Harry. And the less said about his new single, the better.
BBC Radio 2
13.00 Pick Of The Pops
Dale’s penultimate edition, which we’re pleased about as he seems to be reading our mind. Well, how else do you explain the fact that, for the second week running, one of the featured years is also the year that our random draw came up with for The Time Tunnel? Brrr. It’s 1971 and 1986, we won’t tell you which one is in The Time Tunnel to keep the surprise going for another few centimetres. The good news, we suppose, is that if they’re going to just pick Time Tunnel years we won’t get boring pre-Beatles charts. Also, it’ll be nice to hear the full version of The Wizard on national radio again.
16.15 Points of View
The best thing in the Radio Times, mind, is the hilarious interview with the hapless Bobby Hain of Scottish Television, the world’s most useless organisation, who answers more or less every question with a variation of the sentence “We make Taggart”. And fails to point out that Being Victor, the one other programme he cites, wasn’t even made for STV, and they get it for free. Complaints both there and here about the dropping of the dance-off on Strictly, just the three years after they complained about the introduction of the dance-off, although we’d have more sympathy if they pointed out the results show is not just Tess rather boringly reading off cards but also appears to be edited with a hacksaw. You lose Brucie and the professionalism goes out of the window!
20.00 Attenborough’s Journey
There’s a new Attenborough series coming up soon, and this is something of a taster where David talks about his influences and interests, including a jaunt back to his old family home in Leicester. We’re also promised archivery, both from his various programmes and also from his Beeb mandarin days, perhaps giving another outing for his anecdote about why they were called Hullaballoo and Custard (“Well, that’s just the thing, why not!”).
21.00 Boys From The Blackstuff
A tribute to Joan Sutherland has taken the place of the All Our Working Lives repeats this week, but this does continue with the final episode, although it’s probably the least interesting of the five as it’s basically a long monologue that would be very powerful and moving in its own right, but seems a bit unnecessary given we’ve already seen much of what’s mentioned in the previous episodes. Still shits over most other shows, mind.
16.30 Blue Peter
And immediately after they announce the new target for the appeal, they break that as well, so they’re now on their third target with the aim to get 150,000 cards on the shelves, and they’re well on their way to reaching that as well. Other items of interest last week came from a fashion perspective, including Joel’s impressive knitwear, with a, cough, vibrant pullover on Monday and a Starsky and Hutch-style cardigan on Tuesday, and the filler film flung out on Monday which featured Helen about five haircuts ago, which was so clearly ancient she was even moved to comment on the obvious continuity problems and the low quality of the ‘do when it finished. The moral is always to choose films with the boys in to repeat.
20.30 Only Connect
21.00 A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss
22.00 Dawn of the Dead
Just to remind you the first show is still running, then it’s the final part of Hilary Briss’ odyssey, this time moving away from the homespun and grotty British pictures to the ultra-slick and horrible American movies that kept Azad Video going in the early eighties. “Seen, seen, seen, seen, seen, seen, seen, seen!”
17.15 The Sarah Jane Adventures
This series is fast becoming more like a Doctor Who convention than a spin-off, with Sarah Jane this week joined by both Matt himself – for the first time under the auspices of RTD, of course – and also Katy Manning as Jo. What the kids make of all this, we don’t know, but the parents are no doubt amused.
Well, we said the years were being picked at random, and even if we were to have deliberately chosen two years very close to each other to create the illusion and then allow us to do what we want, we wouldn’t have picked them from the early seventies, the very limits of the Cream era. This one hasn’t even got decimal currency in it at the start! But they’re all going to be done at some point during this series (unless we abandon it due to massive derision) so we may as well get them all over with. And 1971 was certainly a big year for telly in terms of momentous new shows starting, as you’ll see…
FA CUP WINNERS: Arsenal
CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE: Benny Hill – Ernie The Fastest Milkman In The West
UK EUROVISION ENTRY: Clodagh Rogers – Jack In The Box
BLUE PETER TEAM: Val, John and Pete
DOCTOR WHO: Dr Who Jon P’twee
RADIO 1 BREAKFAST SHOW JOCK: Tony Blackburn
BIG CHRISTMAS DAY FILM ON BBC1: Arabesque
THE GENERATION GAME (1971-82)
Any entertainer whose career extends over a long period is going to have some peaks and troughs, and as Bruce Forsyth’s career is longer than most, he’s been in the doldrums a couple of times. The most recent, of course, was a decade or so ago before his HIGNFY-derived renaissance, while you could also suggest that his return to The Generation Game in 1990 reminded us of a talent that had slightly lost its way (hence You Bet, the most un-Brucie Brucie show imaginable). But one lost weekend people forget in the late sixties, with his Palladium days long behind him and simply the odd guest appearance – like Gracie Fields’ Yorkshire TV specials – to keep him busy. That was before Jim Moir bought the Dutch format One Out Of Eight, dropped everything apart from the conveyor belt and got Brucie to host it. The pilot went very well but the first show, recorded just a few days before transmission (something that would remain the case for its entire run, for some reason) was a disaster, so in a last minute panic the pilot was haphazardly re-edited and flung out in its place, and even though it was a terribly ragged affair which didn’t make much sense in some parts it was a smash hit. Indeed Brucie was staggered it was so successful as it was being shown at half past five, the earliest he’d ever been on telly. That year’s Christmas show was at one o’clock but was moved to primetime the following year, when the Gen Game had established itself as one of the biggest shows on telly. It’s almost certainly one of the most perfect light entertainment shows of all time, and it was just as good when Larry Grayson took over for the second half of the original run. Brucie’s replacement second time round, though, made a less credible job of it.
DR FINLAY’S CASEBOOK (1962-71)
In the days before All Creatures Great and Small, Dr Finlay was the ultimate in comfy cosy teatime drama. Its success took everyone by surprise, not least the Beeb as they’d only commissioned six shows to fill a gap in the middle of summer, and such was its success they extended the run to twelve immediately and had to hurriedly write and produce some more. Originally AJ Cronin, who wrote the books it was based on, was said to have “written” the scripts here. He didn’t really, but did get to approve them all, and in 1964 wanted them to stop as the scripts weren’t to his liking, but he changed his mind and was now credited as the creator. Although Finlay was the titular hero, crusty old Dr Cameron was the most popular character, to the extent that Finlay didn’t actually appear in several episodes in the late sixties (but then at the same time Doctor Who wasn’t appearing in episodes of Doctor Who, so it wasn’t that unusual). It made it into the seventies, with the final series the only one in colour, but by 1971 the show had reached its natural conclusion. ITV revived it in the nineties for a couple of series, and did a decent job of it, but was so faithful to the original it all seemed a bit pointless.
Everyone’s talking about…
DECIMALISATION! Which meant the Radio Times went from being one shilling (5p) to 5p (one shilling), public information films were all over the telly and the Beeb ran a series of programmes to education the nation on the new money, with questions in the RT billings. So how do you write a cheque for £1.18 1/2?
THE BLUE PETER TIME CAPSULE! Which was buried at the gates of BBC Television Centre in June of this year, only thanks to some inspired thinking in the production office as a planned item had fallen through at the last minute, so it’s no wonder they didn’t think about waterproofing the contents.
THE POSTAL WORKERS’ STRIKE! Which went on for several weeks at the start of the year, leading to the Top 40 being reduced to a Top 30 and the reformation of the juries for A Song For Europe as nobody could post their votes. Eventually Tom Jackson, Creamguide’s favourite union official thanks to his mighty moustache, arranged a compromise and they went back to work.
THE COLOUR STRIKE! Where the ITV companies failed to negotiate acceptable remuneration for staff moving to the then-new colour equipment, so they simply turned the colour off and filmed everything in black and white again for three months, including Val Barlow dying in Corrie and the first episodes of Upstairs Downstairs (where, much to everyone’s confusion, they then refilmed the first episode in colour to flog abroad, with the plots of the other monochrome episodes worked in).
THE OPEN UNIVERSITY! That shit-scary fanfare began putting the willies up several generations with the first programmes going on air from the charred remains of Alexandra Palace.
LOOK-IN! The Junior TV Times made its debut in January and instantly captivated its readers with its fascinating grid of listings of all the ITV companies, leading to millions of kids wondering what the hell Puffin’s Pla(i)ce was.
Oh, and it’s a trick question, because half pennies weren’t allowed on cheques.
Jim Morrison was one of umpteen pop stars to die at the age of 27, while a pop star from another generation, Dickie Valentine, also passed away. Edward Mason, who invented Dick Barton, My Word and a million other radio shows, also died, as did the curiously named cartoon legend Ub Iwerks. It’s a German name, if you’re wondering.
Show of the year
THE TWO RONNIES
A huge number of iconic TV shows started in 1971, Film 71, Parkinson, Whistle Test and Upstairs Downstairs, to name but four. Another one was The Two Ronnies, although the pair had not just been working together for several years but were even known as the Two Ronnies on- and off-screen. This series itself, though, came about as they hosted the BAFTAs and there was some sort of technical problem which led to the pair of them filling for ages, and amazing the assembled telly bigwigs with their talents. The series itself was actually preceded by two special shows featured Messers Barker and Corbett solo, with the other as their guest, before it began in earnest in April. As we know, the first episode was on ITV3 the other year, and it was all a bit odd, with loads more musical and novelty acts, and various experiments in where Ronnie C would do his monologue – including at a piano! Though the bit that seems most odd is that Ronnie B doesn’t laugh at any of the jokes. Oh, and they hosted Christmas Night with the Stars this year too.
Let’s go there now!
Again, visual evidence of the year is a little hard to come by, but a wiped clip from the early days of Parky, and here’s the studio recording from an April Pops.
16.30 Blue Peter
We notice that Steve Wright the other day blithely parroted the “fact” that this month has five weekends and that hasn’t happened for 823 years, which is absolute bollocks but for some reason seems to have appeared all over the internet in the past week. How can that possibly be the case? It’s not even a leap year! Anyway, it means Halloween falls on a weekend, which is always that bit more exciting, but does mean that Blue Peter has to do its Halloween show rather too early. Still, it’s always fun, as you’ll know from the fact we bang on about that 1989 Halloween show every single year. It was ace, though, we even taped the omnibus.
21.00 The Secret Life of the National Grid
It’s another of the Secret Life… series, and after its fascinating looks at the creation of motorway and airports, it’s taking a look at how electricity became available to everyone who wanted it, over three shows. We don’t know if Peter Purves is going to appear, but we do hope so, given his vitally important role.
We have no idea why Yesterday appear to start all their series on a Tuesday, but nevertheless this is a welcome repeat run, every day at this time, because for one of the most iconic dramas of the seventies, it barely gets an outing these days. We very much enjoyed Charlie Higson’s article on this in the Radio Times where he talks about watching Python after it, which is exactly right as the first series of this and the third series of Python did indeed follow each other on Thursday nights in the autumn of 1972, while the second series was shown at the beginning of 1974, right in the middle of the three day week and hence the last thing shown on BBC1 before the enforced 10.30 closedown, which is somewhat appropriate for its rather intense and gloomy setting. And hence almost as appropriate now, no doubt.
22.45 Sports Mash
We’re billing this again, even though we don’t much like it, as regular correspondent Smiley has written in to say, “I have to agree that the bowls sketch in episode one was laugh-out-loud funny (you can’t beat a knob gag, can you?). I also have to disagree with you, as I loved the Lord Bath Pools Panel sketch too. However, these were the only two with that kind of impact, and the rest was just amusing… ish. The second and third episodes were similar, but the Steve Davis Pool Challenge sketch was the best of this week.” It’s amiable enough, we suppose, but can’t we have The Big Match Revisited as well? Incidentally, congratulations to former Broom Cupboard alumni Simon Potter who’s been appointed as Head of Programmes at ESPN, where one of his jobs will apparently be to create stronger links between ESPN and ESPN Classic, which according to Broadcast will involve showing relevant archive Premier League matches on Classic before live games on ESPN itself. Despite the fact they already do that, and his time would be better spent renegotiating that now-expired BBC deal so we don’t get Jim Proudfoot (born 1965) pretending he’s actually at the 1972 European Cup Final.
BBC Radio 4
11.00 The Ghost Trains of Old England
At this very moment, the Digi-Creamguide Editor is enjoying a rail tour of the North of England, using the pleasingly Creamily named Freedom Of The North West Rail Rover, although he won’t be able to visit our favourite station of all which sadly closed down the other year, which is of course Oldham Mumps. This fascinating sounding documentary is going to look at nooks and crannies of the timetable at those stations that are still there but technically don’t exist, and where people sit in a deserted waiting room being haunted by ghosts of irritating posh kids who appeared in supposedly “definitive” (i.e. crap) creaky old programmes like Freewheelers and The Changes. Or something like that.
21.30 Reggie Perrin
Alexander Armstrong’s joined the cast of this series now, who’s also appeared in a Simon Nye sitcom before, the much underrated Beast. Along with Susan Earl, who was in Hardware, you can’t argue with the quality of the performances in here, so it’s a shame that, like the last series, it’s just not funny enough.
19.00 The Culture Show
Keith Richards has just published his autobiography, much to the interest of the papers as he apparently comes across as a misogynistic and reactionary old git throughout, although quite why that’s a surprise, we don’t know. He’s interviewed here, although they probably won’t ask him why the Stones haven’t had the decency to pack it in years ago.
We very much enjoyed Ross Noble’s impression of a superhero who excretes mucus last week, as well as his ideas of what comic strip adventures it could get involved with – basically removing children who had their head stuck in railings and adding a bit of body to some particularly runny gravy.
One of our favourite bits of sports broadcasting, which doesn’t appear to be on the internet, is from the Grand National in the fifties where the owner of Aintree banned the Beeb from covering it and got their kids to do the commentary instead, with hilarious results. In fact the history of the Grand National is a strange one, as everyone watched it and it was so iconic, yet Aintree was forever being threatened with closure and every single race right up to the mid-eighties was billed as potentially the last ever. Someone’s talking about it tonight, someone else is doing Richard Pryor.
21.00 Classic Albums: Black Sabbath – Paranoid
22.00 Heavy Metal Britannia
23.30 Anvil! The Story of Anvil
The first is a new programme which features reminiscences from all the major players, including the possessor of the world’s most metal name, Geezer Butler. The other two have been on several times before, but you knew that.
That’s it from now, and don’t forget to send the paper you used this for salvage, as it is a precious resource in these tough times. And careless talk costs lives. Next week the clocks go back so it’s our Fireside Issue, which we’re sure you’ll enjoy. If you can afford a fire. To subscribe, click here