TV Cream

CREAMGUIDE: 26th March-1st April 2011

A last minute “good idea”

Hullo and welcome to another edition of Creamguide. This week we have the second instalment of our new middle bit, which we hope you’re enjoying. Nobody’s written it to say they like it yet, but nobody’s written in to say they hate it either, which as far as we’re concerned is a ringing endorsement. So why not be the first to have your say at creamguide@tvcreamtest.co.uk?

SATURDAY 26th MARCH

BBC2

18.35 Dad’s Army
19.05 Reputations – Frankie Howerd
20.00 The Story of Variety with Michael Grade

But first, you knew it was coming, everyone’s favourite Creamguide feature, Stuff About Comedy Central Not Showing 30 Rock In Widescreen. We should probably get some sort of heading made up for this. If you sit through this, though, we promise to give you a funny YouTube clip in the next billing. Here’s Peter Thomas, who says, “Not all channels broadcast in widescreen. A lot of the barely known channels like BEN, are 4:3 only affairs. Practically all of ITV3’s output is 4:3. It seems like you’ve got your Sky and telly set up to show all 4:3 content stretched. This is a Very Stupid Thing To Do. I know lots of people do it (even Dixons), but these people are wrong. Everyone looks fat! Why settle for watching Obese-o-vision? It’s like buying a print of the Mona Lisa to put above your fireplace, and then reprinting it on rubber to stretch it across the wall.” Noooo, Peter! That’s not what we do at all! We sit there inches from the screen squinting at 30 Rock in microscopic size with black bars around all four sides because this stupid channel is showing a programme made in 16:9 widescreen in letterboxed 4:3, and we don’t stretch it in anyway because we know it’s against the telly fan law. And yes, practically all of ITV3’s output is 4:3, but when they show a widescreen programme like Rosemary and Thyme, or some adverts, they show them in 16:9, because they show programmes in the format they’re made. And this isn’t some barely known channel, it’s Comedy Central! They’re a massive organisation! We don’t have Sky either. Anyway, readers bored witless by this discussion may be interested to know that this week Comedy Central’s PR person emailed us to promote the fact they’re showing Charlie Sheen’s last Two and a Half Men, so we do now have an “in” at that channel we could ask for an official response from. But, er, we’re too polite to shout at her, so we don’t know if we will yet.

ITV

19.10 Harry Hill’s TV Burp
That is the end of the widescreen stuff for this week. Honest. Here’s that funny YouTube clip, sent in by Joe McNally after we mentioned Sid James last week. “A personal favourite James work is this short on markets old and new from Rank’s Look At Life series. While the weird, rambling and faintly desperate narration with its spurious comparisons between old-style street markets and the newfangled supermarkets is odd enough, it is as nothing beside the fact that at 7:55 a supermarket shopper buys what is quite clearly A TIN OF BEES. From the shelf beside the tins of caterpillars, obviously.”

Sky Arts 1

23.00 Saturday Night Live
Since we mentioned Saturday Night Live last week we should probably mention that it’s actually being shown in the UK, with the curious billing “New – from November 1976”. Ben Baker’s written to say, “Strongly have to disagree with the anti-Saturday Night Live sentiment in the previous Creamguide. While it’s fair to say that shouting and ill-advised movie spin-offs are part of the whole SNL experience, it does down one of the strongest casts since the Carvey/Myers years (both of whom returned for a slightly depressing Wayne’s World reunion the other week) with Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Nasim Pedrad particular standouts. The cold open is always shit, mind. Over the years I can recall SNL being shown on at least five channels – BBC2, MTV, Paramount, Sky One and ITV4, scheduling fans – including a slashed to half an hour middle of the night BBC2 run around the same time they were showing the Wayne’s World sketches as a separate programme during DEF II. But did NBC show In Bed With Chris Needham in return I wonder? No.” We’ve got some TV Times from the early eighties when ITV were showing it, so now including this it’s seven, but don’t get too into it here if the length of the runs on the previous six channels are anything to go by.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
There’s more of Tony later in this week’s Creamguide, you can probably guess where, and in the meantime he’s here with the hits from 1991 and, first, 1974, with Paper Lace at number one. And if you thought the widescreen stuff was boring, we could always get that singing drummers list out again.

SUNDAY 27thMARCH

BBC4

20.00 Formula One’s Sixtieth Anniversary – Plus Ca Change
21.00 Grand Prix – The Killer Years

We’re afraid we find Formula One an utterly tedious affair, so we’re prepared to admit that, in the past, the drivers certainly exhibited bravery and dedication as there was a better than average chance that they’d die during the course of a season, with Jackie Stewart apparently expressing his concern about the position of some trees on a course which seemed a bit dangerous and being told there was a saw over there if he was that bothered. That era is recalled in the latter documentary, and before that a gaggle of former champions got together last year to talk shop.

BBC Radio 4

11.15 The Reunion
“Whites Invent ‘Rock And Roll’ – Authorities Assure Public That Negroes Had Nothing To Do With Popular Music Form”. Ah, The Onion. Of all the forms of rock and/or roll, surely the one that rocked the least was the homespun British variant, what with it being expressly performed by very polite young men doing what they were told by Larry “Parnes, Shillings and Pence” Parnes. Unfortunately the likes of Billy Fury and Dickie Pride are no longer around to contribute to this show, but Marty Wilde and Bruce Welch are.

MONDAY 28thMARCH

BBC1

09.15 A Hundred Years of Us
Don’t forget to fill in your census form this weekend, and you’ve got to do it on Sunday of course in case any unannounced visitors turn up and decide on a whim to stay the night. Here’s another show to remind you to get it done, with Mike Aspel spending every morning this week doing, basically, what Andrew Marr did last week and review how Britain has changed in the last century. But it’ll probably be a bit more whimsical, not least because the amiable Asp has Phil Tufnell as sidekick.

16.30 Blue Peter
There was more census business here last week too, and that’s all to the good because Blue Peter’s always best when it’s topical and based around the news. That said, our favourite census-related bit of business this year has been Can’t-Be-Bothered Claire, the Bunty-style comic strip that’s been running in Heat the last few weeks, where the titular character has fallen foul of such problems as a lack of buses to take her to her Zumba class because she didn’t bother filling in her form. Anyway, BP got censual as Barney and a bunch of kids illustrated how many people in Britain did this and that using grains of rice, and don’t forget, if you refuse to fill in your form, you’re depriving future generations of that feature.

 

Radio One-Derland

Well, nobody said they hated it, so here’s a second outing for the feature where we review and rate the people who brought the hapy happy sound into our homes. And rather awkwardly for its second outing, the very first…

 

Tony Blackburn

 

LOTS OF SCARS IN THE STY: Tony is so polite and well-mannered it’s hard to imagine him ever being part of the underground, but he was indeed a pirate, and made his name on Radio Caroline and Radio London, the latter apparently the best station he ever worked on. But even there, the doctor’s son was so clean-cut and uncontroversial he was a shoo-in to walk straight into the Beeb and be there on day one, where he was apparently determined to be “as bright and breezy as a hundred Redcoats”.

I LOVE TUESDAYS, DON’T YOU: In the early days of Radio One every show had to have a title, so Tony was in charge of the Daily Disc Delivery according to the Radio Times, although everyone else just referred to it as the breakfast show. That was until 1973 when he was moved to mid-mornings, much to his disgust (although a few years earlier he’d done that slot for the entire summer) and he didn’t forgive Noel for stealing his show for decades. Then in 1977 it was another notch down the schedules to afternoons, when aparently he refused to talk to Simon Bates as well for stealing his show. By the end of 1979, though, he was becoming a bit of an anachronism and he was moved to weekends (not sure if he then started hating Andy Peebles for replacing him), fronting that old chestnut Junior Choice, which he couldn’t stand, and the Top Forty. He gave the latter up at the end of 1981 and, after the Junior Choice branding was dropped, carried on doing a more conventional weekend breakfast show until his departure in 1984.

I LOVE THE BEATLES, DON’T YOU: Tony had strong views on how a radio station should be run, continually pointing out he had no say in the records he played, nor should he, and that, if he was in charge, they should just play the same hundred records over and over again. But despite his image as the bland and unchallenging face of daytime radio, Tony was a huge fan of soul and Motown and was single-handedly responsible for making I’m Still Waiting by Diana Ross a number one thanks to his continual championing of it. He couldn’t bear punk, though, and still can’t, which is a bit of a shame, it’s more fun than prog, which he didn’t like either.

WHY AREN’T THERE ANY LITTLE GIRLS CALLED WENDY ANYMORE?: Tony’s big gimmick on breakfasts was Arnold the dog, which as the world knows was some Radiophonic Workshop bloke scraping sandpaper, though why Tony didn’t just use a real dog, we don’t know. He also claimes to have invented the timecheck, however you can invent the concept of telling the time. In mid-mornings he invented the Golden Hour and in afternoons he helmed the National Pop Panel, while after Junior Choice was abandoned, many of his weekend breakfast features were aimed at a younger audience, with a panel of teenagers reviewing the singles. Tony was also joined by Cheggers and Maggie Philbin – and their wedding was big news on the show, as you can imagine – although Tony admitted, much as he liked them, at times it felt like he was a guest on his own show.

EUROCRATS, BEAUROCRATS AND OTHER BONKERS-CRATS: Tony’s in the news again for announcing he once got in trouble for telling striking miners to get back to work, although apparently it was only because power cuts were messing up the production of his panto. The bit everyone remembers, though, was when Tony got divorced from Tessa Wyatt and sadly allowed it to affect his programme, crying on air and dedicating appropriate songs to her, much to everyone’s amusement. When he was on Radio London, his contract expressly forbade him from making comments about the news, and he was fired for calling a union leader a fat Scottish git.

WHY DON’T YOU SEND ME YOUR KNICKERS?: At the start of Radio 1, Tony was absolutely the housewives’ choice and when he opened shops, whole town centres ground to a halt. He was somewhat piqued when Noel Edmonds arrived, who was younger and sexier than he was, and then there was that unpleasantness with his divorce, as parodied on Smashie and Nicey, although Enfield and Whitehouse later said they regretted doing those jokes as it was clearly upsetting for him at the time. Anyway, after that, and his interregnum in the playpen, he was very eager to play up the gay bachelor card, inviting his Radio London listeners to get their hands on his twelve incher.

STANDING IN FOR PIP SCHOFIELD IN JOSEPH’S COAT: Like many DJs, Tony tired his hand at the other side of the music industry and released a couple of records with his agreeable but rather bland singing voice. The usual light entertainment gigs followed throughout the seventies, including a spell as the host of Seaside Special, plus the first in a series of a million self-deprecating comedy cameos in The Goodies. And there was that funday at Mallory Park where he zoomed across the river in a speedboat piloted by a Womble.

A BIG HELLO TO ALL YOU TRUCKERS OUT THERE: Well, despite his dismay when he was moving down the daytime schedule in the seventies, Tony said he didn’t really give a toss when he left Radio 1 as he was fed up of doing the kids show and he already had another job of Radio London, so his departure was fairly unmemorable. His stint on Radio London included his filthy mid-morning show and the Soul Night Out where he’d broadcast live from a nightclub in Luton or Romford with his sidekick Dave Pearce, who looked about fifty then. When he was fired, it was OK as he immediately went to Capital Gold on day one, and stayed ther for ages, before his post-jungle fame where he presented a million shows on every radio station in Britain – including a return to Radio London – and now he’s on Radio 2, and it suits him down to the ground.

TOPULARS OF THE POPULARS: One of the new recruits who started doing the show when Radio 1 began, Tony was the only one who seemed in any way comfortable in front of the camera and, by 1970, was one of only two regular presenters, alternating with Jimmy Savile. No wonder, with his pleasingly awkward presentational style, as exhibited here, or here, where he tries some topical stuff with Anne and Mark. We’ve also got two variations, here and here of the ever-popular “Crickey, Nicey’s just read my mind!” “gag”. Anyway, by the end of the seventies he’d left the rota, but when the show became a double header in 1983, he presented a handful of shows, with his final episode being this one in October, where we’ve mentioned before he gets the name of the band wrong, and also seems to have a stroke midway through the intro.

Jakki Brambles

 

LOTS OF SCARS IN THE STY: Jacqueline Brambles spent many of her formative years in remote parts of Scotland, including the Isle of Arran where she was later to take the Radio One Roadshow. Straight out of school she managed to talk her way into West Sound in Ayr as general dogsbody, including toilet cleaner, before wangling herself a job on air. She then came down to London, firstly on Capital, before joining Radio 1 at the age of 22, one of the station’s youngest ever DJs.

I LOVE TUESDAYS, DON’T YOU: Jakki was fortunate enough to arrive at Radio 1 at a time when they were actively looking for more female presenters, and indeed on most of her jobs they managed to spin the line she was breaking new ground as a woman. A bit of swingjockery was followed by her landing the early morning gig in 1989, where she was heralded as their first ever female DJ in a daily slot, a role she combined with doing the travel on the breakfast show – which wasn’t too big a workload as the early show only lasted an hour and a half in those days. In 1990 she was promoted to teatimes, again being heralded as the first ever female DJ in a proper daytime slot, although it was hardly a challenging gig, lasting ninety minutes from Monday to Wednesday and just an hour on Thursdays when they simulcast Top of the Pops. Finally in 1992, Gary Davies finally relinquished his grip on the Bit In The Middle and she became lunchtime host, again heralded as the first ever female DJ in the main daytime sequence instead of just bolted on at the end, which was enough to get her on Woman’s Hour on her first day.

I LOVE THE BEATLES, DON’T YOU: Brambles had fairly bog standard musical tastes, banging on about the likes of Sinead O’Connor and Oleta Adams on air and in her column in Number One magazine. Later in her career she started to play a bit more grunge but you always knew she was more at home with the likes of Phil Collins and Wet Wet Wet.

WHY AREN’T THERE ANY LITTLE GIRLS CALLED WENDY ANYMORE?: We’re not sure what she used to do on the early show, but on teatimes her features were perhaps aimed more at a younger audience than the rest of daytime Radio 1. When they stopped simulcasting Pops, she did Brambles’ Breakers on Thursdays at seven, which was basically an audio versions of Pops, and we dunno why anyone wouldn’t just watch it on the telly. She also did the pilot fro a panel game called Bob Says What, with Bob Mortimer, which never made it to the airwaves. At lunchtime she counted down the album chart, like Gary Davies used to, and also had regular phone calls from American correspondents and, bleurgh, P**rs M*rg*n in his Bizarre column days. Sadly for Jakki, though, the most memorable moment on The Jakki Brambles Show was when she wasn’t there and John Peel filled in for a week, taking off Chris Isaak records and playing The Fall.

EUROCRATS, BEAUROCRATS AND OTHER BONKERS-CRATS: Did Jakki have an opinion on anything? She more or less kept it straightforward, although interestingly she was the only DJ on Radio 1 who refused to sit down during her programme and always broadcast standing up, apparently to exert more energy into her performance.

WHY DON’T YOU SEND ME YOUR KNICKERS?: A woman on daytime Radio 1? You’d think Jakki would have been all over the papers and be asked to take part in all manner of demeaning photoshoots, but she never really seemed to be much of a sex symbol and nobody seemed that interested in her. And she replaced Gary “Young, Free and Single” Davies, too! She did appear on the cover of the Radio Times, though, playing Ginger Rogers to Davies’ Fred Astaire to promote the long-forgotten Trading Places fundraiser Radio 1 was going big on.

STANDING IN FOR PIP SCHOFIELD IN JOSEPH’S COAT: And similiarly you’d have thought Britain’s first national female daytime DJ would have been all over the telly, but during her spell on Radio 1, the extra-curricular work was fairly unexceptional. She had her Number One column, and was Going Live’s pop correspondent for a series, but that was about it. She also accompanied Matthew Bannister onto the Live and Kicking Hot Seat upon his arrival at the station to talk about the new Radio 1, even though Jakki would have virtually nothing to do with it.

A BIG HELLO TO ALL YOU TRUCKERS OUT THERE: Apparently Jakki asked after the first Bannister revamp if that was all the changes, and was assured that was the case, only for Jakki herself to leave Radio 1 just three months later, with her final shows over Christmas 1993. We’re not sure if she jumped or was pushed, as she was still only in her twenties and seemed a world away from the dinosaurs, but off she went to the USA, where there was vague noises about her becoming Radio 1’s US correspondent, but that never happened, and a few years later the papers reported she was reduced to waiting at tables. Happily she later found work as GMTV’S US correspondent and, on her return to the UK, spent a while as host of the awful Loose Women, although she’s left now. And she spelt her name the proper way.

TOPULARS OF THE POPULARS: Jakki joined the Pops rota very early in her Radio 1 career, most likely because they wanted a woman, any woman, so she was in the right place at the right time. She was a regular host for a few years, and here she is counting down the charts and introducing a Jason Donovan flop in 1990. We’ve also got an entire show, in the weird pre-year-zero-with-no-audience-in-the-links-and-the-charts-scrolling-along-the-screen era, which we think was her last outing before the DJs all got the sack.

TUESDAY 29th MARCH

BBC1

16.30 Blue Peter
There’s more topicality on Blue Peter this week, as Helen’s going to help move the clockface of Big Ben (because that’s only the name of the bell, natch) forward an hour. Well, they couldn’t do it any other week. Today’s programme is rather special, though, as the whole thing’s going to be shot in 360 degrees and you can go online and look all around the studio at any point in the programme. We noticed some bellend seriously cite this online this week as a further example of the Beeb wasting money, despite the fact they’ve almost certainly got the camera for free.

BBC4

21.00 Sex and the Sitcom
There seems to be a scholarly look at how sitcoms featured the sexual revolution every five minutes, and here’s another, though we’ve never worked out why it demands such analysis as you can hardly apply the theory to every sitcom, and of course some shows are going to take their cue from the real world, that happens in every genre. Anyway, apparently this one’s got some good clips in it, so that’s OK.

BBC Radio 4

11.30 The Original Playboy
And here’s another look at the sexual revolution in the media, albeit this time bolted around the fact Hugh Hefner is 85. Oh, let’s just quote from The Onion again. “What kind of a man reads Playboy? A man who is urbane, yet sporting. A man who appreciates fine wine and smooth cigars. One capable of savouring the delicate subtleties and deft turns of phrase in the finest contemporary fiction being published today. He is also a man who appreciates the sight of a robust pair of glistening naked tits.”

WEDNESDAY 30th MARCH

ITV

19.30 The Unforgettable Diana Dors
One of the best clips we saw at Kaleidoscope’s Bob Monkhouse event the other year (you remember, the back of our head, all that) was the ad Bob and Denis Goodwin did to promote the use of postcodes, where they illustrated the importance of the numbers and letters that help the postman with a scene where Bob’s love letters to Diana Dors went astray as he didn’t include it. Sadly it all ended rather sadly for Di, while she was also fired from her last telly job on TV-am for product placement. If only she was still alive now, she’d be coining it in.

THURSDAY 31stMARCH

Sky Arts 2

23.05 Tales of the Unexpected
We don’t know why this has turned up on Sky Arts, especially the self-consciously snootier Sky Arts 2 which is usually home to the endless classical music and opera. Still here it is, with double bills every night, and it must be brilliant because it’s against the law to slag off Sky Arts because they’re investing in the arts, don’t you know, and they’re so innovative and enthusiastic. And evil, of course.

BBC Radio 4

18.30 So Wrong It’s Right
Not much else on today, as you can see, so we’ll bill again Charlie Brooker’s radio show, which we do enjoy, and which last week gave us a particularly entertaining moment where, in a section where the guests discussed the wrongest thing they’d ever laughed at, Jon Richardson asked if anyone had seen the Bobby Davro clip and Charlie immediately said “Oh God, no, that’s horrible!”. The clip he was referring to is that out-take on YouTube – we’re not linking to it, find it yourself if you must – from Bobby’s flop series Public Enemy Number One where, as an end of series “gag”, Lionel Blair, Jim Bowen and Cheggers lock him in some stocks, pull his pants down and dance around a bit, before the stocks promptly collapse and Bobby plunges head first onto the studio floor. The highlight of the whole discussion, though, was Frank Skinner announcing “I will still have my coat on when I get home and look at this!”

FRIDAY 1stAPRIL

BBC2

20.00 Mastermind
Brilliant! This episode must feature the most fantastic array of specialist subjects with almost all the contestants picking some lowbrow culture, including Ronnie Barker, Burnley FC, Calvin and Hobbes and, best of all, John Shuttleworth. Such a shame the other contestant brings it all down by talking about Aphra Behn.

BBC4

20.30 Big Hits – TOTP 1964 to 1975
It’s finally here, the moment some of us have been waiting for since they used to slaver over the listings for UK Gold in its early days (of course, by the time we actually got UK Gold, it had become BBC1 + six months), a Top of the Pops repeat run! And that’s great news, because we want to see Pops in its original form with the DJs and the chart rundowns and the performances that never get repeated because they only got to number 39 in a slow week. Inevitably, the actual episodes look a bit weak, but never mind, it’s a Top of the Pops repeat run! And it’s heralded with a night of programmes! The first of which offers The Rolling Stones and Procul Harum, which would suggest it features the millionth screening of some very overexposed clips indeed, but we’re also promised Stealers Wheel and Queen, and we know they feature in recently discovered clips from long-wiped episodes, so there might be some interestingness here.

22.00 Top of the Pops – The Story of 1976
Then there’s this new documentary, which takes a closer look at the state of the show, and music on telly in general, during 1976, when Pops was probably at its lowest ebb, and the charts themselves were an utterly bizarre mix of bubblegum pop, showtunes, balladeers, disco and the very early days of punk. It should be an intriguing programme, not least because Paul Morley’s involved.

 

22.50 Top of the Pops
But this is the moment of truth, an actual episode of Pops itself, from 35 years ago to the day. In fact it looks like, as this run continues, we might be getting them from the corresponding week 35 years ago, which is a simple enough idea though we fear it might get very boring very quickly, and as we suggested, we think the reasoning for alighting on 1976 alone in this repeat run is that it’s the earliest they can go without mass wipings and most shows that year were half an hour long so they’re easy to schedule. In any case, this is something of a novelty for now, and by mid-seventies standards it’s a decent enough show with Fox and Sailor.

 

23.20 Top of the Pops – The True Story
Incidentally our favourite ever letter to TVC Towers came from an American who came across the piece on TV Cream about Fox, thought they sounded amazing from our description and went and sought out their records based on that alone, and told us he was absolutely nuts about them now and was probably the only Fox fan in America. That’s more interesting than this 2001 show which doesn’t tell you anything new and has been shown ten million times, the only concession to originality being that they reunite Legs and Co and not Pan’s People.

 

00.20 When The Stranglers Met Roland Rat
This is better, though, the history of pop on kids TV, where even narrator Fearne Cotton is tolerable as David Quantick’s written her script, and it’s just an excuse for loads of entertaining clips from Swap Shop. In fact, now we’ve got Pops repeats, we’d love to see a whole episode of Swap Shop again. “We’re going to have the end credits over Graham Parker!”

 

If only they’d started the repeat run with shows from thirty years ago, that would have been way better. Still, if everyone watches these repeats, they might carry on forever, so fingers crossed. See you next week, and if you want to subscribe, click here

 

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