“WE’LL BE TALKING TO KIDS AND LOOKING AT THEIR PAINTINGS!”
Try and make it past the first thirty seconds here, however awful it seems. For reasons we’ve never been able to work out, Scottish school holidays are different to those in the rest of the UK, so there was a requirement for additional kids shows to replace the Test Card while they were off. Hence The Untied Shoelaces Show, helmed by Glasgow jock “Tiger” Tim Stevens, and the beginning of this episode from 1984 is absolutely horrifying, the most clichéd noisy kids show imaginable, with way too much shouting and jumping around. There’s also a fragment of Telepaint, the low-tech phone-in quiz, and a Mystery Guest competition with a bunch of kids who wisely aim low in guessing the kind of guest they could entice up. From the same episode, a slightly better quality version of the intro and a band you’ve never heard of, plus the end credits.
“YOU CAN HANDLE A BALLOON WITH A GREAT DEAL OF CONFIDENCE!”
Over at Cowcaddens, the giant STV kids show was Glen Michael’s Cavalcade. The Sassenach Creamguide was always puzzled about what this show entailed every time it was billed in Look-In, so made sure they caught it while on holiday in Ayr, only to discover it was basically a slightly duller version of Rolf Harris Cartoon Time, with Glen introducing cheap cartoons and talking to children who could play the xylophone. In Scotland, though, it was a giant show, because it was proudly and obviously Scottish (apart from all the bits featuring American cartoons, of course, and the fact Glen himself was English). We believe this full episode comes from very near the end of its marathon run in 1993, and it all seems very odd to us, especially as part two features a long bit about England. Here’s something a bit more Scottish, Victor and Barry plugging their panto. Course, if STV were opting out for this now, that would be fine.
“WE’RE GOING TO BE MEETING TWO FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRLS WHO ARE MEMBERS OF AN EXCITING NEW POP GROUP!”
Of course, Scotland didn’t have a monopoly on shoddy local kids shows. Here’s Hey Look That’s Me, which started off as a local show and then became a very rare network production for BBC Southampton. We’re not entirely sure what kids from outside the South made of it, and it must have been a bit confusing that none of the kids seemed to come from anywhere further North than Chatham, but it’s nice to see the regions punching above their weight, even it involved the rather irritating Chris Harris. Oh, and this clip, and the end credits have been nicked off TV Ark, so do watch it on there as well or they’ll cry.
“IT’S A BIT SMALL TO SHOW ON THE TELEVISION!”
Was there ever a more famous regional kids personality than Gus Honeybun? He was even parodied on Victoria Wood, and was so important he was one of the few employees to transfer from Westward to TSW. Here he is giving out bunny hops and so forth in 1987 and yes, it all looks a bit primitive and rubbish, but they were simpler times. Gus was so famous in the South West he even had his own song, here accompanied by a promotional film that took up 90% of TSW’s programme budget for the year. Sadly, even this couldn’t retain their franchise, and after they knew they were on the way out, anything went, as this shambolic affair proves. Three announcers! Anglia had a birthday puppet too, but he was no Gus.
“TELEVISION SIMPLY WONDERFUL!”
We’re going to stick with TSW for a bit because it’s a fascinating station, with its weird scheduling – Home and Away at 3.27pm, the Children’s ITV opt-outs, not showing The Black Hole – and curious network productions like That’s My Dog, let alone its demented logo that nobody can understand. In fact there seems to be a surprisingly large percentage of people talking about old telly on the internet from the South West, we think probably thanks to TSW’s rather bizarre output. You’ll have seen bits of this opening night extravaganza on TV Hell, but this is a longer version including some hilariously urgent graphics and a tantalising cast list – Spike Milligan, Dickie Davies and Classix Nouveaux, together at last! Anyway, it got a bit better, and at least they signed off with a smile.
“TOMORROW NIGHT’S MOVE PRESENTATION HERE ON UTV!”
TSW were nuts on in-vision continuity, as indeed were many stations in the seventies and eighties, but one part of the UK still does it, presumably much to the surprise of any visitors to Northern Ireland. It’s UTV, where Julian Simmons is in charge, and here he is linking into a typically repetitive pre-watershed line-up in 2008. There’s even scope for whimsy like this.
“FIVE THOUSAND INDIV… INDIVIDUAL RATIONS!”
Not quite as whimsical, this, but intriguing enough, here’s Jenni Murray, of all people, introducing in total nine minutes of an episode of South Today from June 1982. As TVC’s Simon Tyers points out, listen for the stumble at 0:48 in part one. Was the edit suite booked?
“BBC NORTH EAST 10, STUDIO TECHNOLOGICAL GREMLINS 0!”
That’s all a bit posh and Southern for our liking, though, so let’s head up to the North East and the mighty Mike Neville, a giant of regional broadcasting thanks to the three decades he spent helming Look North. Mike had a formidable reputation for dealing with cock-ups, although that’s not surprising given that, until 1988, BBC Newcastle were based in surely the most primitive facilities the Beeb could offer, where the entire building was apparently smaller than Studio 1 at TV Centre. But that year they moved to the Pink Palace and here’s Mike and the gang’s house warming celebrations on the first Look North in their plush new surroundings. That’s a bloody awful logo, though.
“SHALL WE GO TO THE PARK, I FANCY A GO ON THE SWINGS!”
For Creamguide, though, home is Granadaland, and here’s a brilliant clip featuring two much-missed North West icons. The sound’s a bit crappy but stick with it and you’ll see Tony Wilson, the video news jockey himself with his mate Richard, introducing a report on the musical exploits of the great Frank Sidebottom.
“A MAN WHOSE BOTTOM HALF HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN ON YOUR SCREENS!”
Finally, quite the worst thing on the internet is the final broadcast from Southern Television, who gracelessly legged it on New Year’s Eve 1981 with an utterly unpleasant and bitter hour, hurling abuse at TVS for having the indecency to land their franchise, never mind the fact Southern originally sent in their application for renewal on the back of a fag packet. Not included is Richard Stilgoe’s Portakabin TV song, but you can hear it here, courtesy of Friend Of TV Cream Applemask, with a nice picture of Richard to go with it.