Stealing cake to eat the moon
Hullo again, and welcome to another Creamguide on the day the papers have run their ever-hilarious made-up Christmas TV guides, and the one in The Sun is a cracker, with Strictly on December 30th while they’ve even forgotten to put ‘stEnders on Christmas Day. Or indeed anything. We could have made up a more accurate listing (although we won’t post them on DigitalSpy, natch). As usual Creamguide deals with the fact, not the fiction, so here are some programmes that are definitely scheduled for the next seven days. Any opinion, do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
20.00 Dad’s Army
We start again this week with Why Don’t You Just Stop Reading Creamguide And Go And Do Something More Interesting Instead with a comment from a gentleman (we assume) called Maundervision, who says, “Yes, not that I wish to be a bombarding bore or anything, but I have just about managed to launch my YouTube channel now, with just the one bit of vintage crap for the time being – if I can, I shall upload some more when I get the chance, but just so you know. Glide backwards to the summer of 1983 with HTV Wales.” Clearly he has had the chance, as there’s another bit of business on there now, along with us chipping in to get the dates right. Don’t forget to let us know if you put some assorted interestingness on YouTube as we always like to see it, especially as it takes some of the pressure off us to entertain with words.
20.30 American Dream
Second part of this, this week looking at how the American dream often didn’t extend to minority groups, hence the arrival of Black Power and other counter-cultural movements.
19.15 Harry Hill’s TV Burp
Last in a series which we’re sad to report has been the weakest so far, with relentless smut and innuendo, which we don’t want to hear, as well as a reliance on pretty ropey running jokes like the utterly rubbish Wagbo which is just some midget running around to little effect and is eating up time that could be spent on more gags, let alone the constant irritation that it’s supposed to be a mix of Wagner and Mary Byrne, so where does the “bo” come from? Still, enjoy the Christmas holidays, Haz, and come back suitably refreshed for a better run in the New Year, we hope.
21.05 TV Adverts’ Greatest Hits
We used to pride ourselves on always knowing what was number one in the charts, but thanks to Top of the Pops buggering off, we’re afraid if they’re not on the Radio 2 playlist we only recognise them if they’re on an advert or a montage on football coverage, and to this end, if anyone can tell us the name of the song used to accompany the goals round-up on Match of the Day 2 – not the indie dirge, the one with the trumpet and heavy bassline – we would be much obliged. Here are some other tunes that managed to cross boundaries and appeal to more than just pop kids.
BBC Radio 2
13.00 Pick of the Pops
Sad to say, we haven’t actually got round to listening to this yet since Tone took over, but by all accounts he’s doing a decent job, and here are two agreeable years under the spotlight in 1978 and 1987.
BBC Radio 4
10.30 Me and My Mobile
It sounds bizarre to say this now, but when Creamguide was at university it only knew one person who had a mobile phone – they were also the only person they knew who had a car – and the day they were allowed to borrow it to avoid having to queue up for ages at the phone box while everyone reversed the charges was a very special event indeed. And it wasn’t even that long ago (though in the Cream Era, if you use our most recent definition). In this programme Dom “No, I’m not just living off Trigger Happy TV and I’m in the jungle for intelligent reasons” Joly looks at how they quickly went from status symbols to everyday items, even though Creamguide still doesn’t like phoning people they don’t know on them as they feel like they’re intruding.
16.50 Points of View
We don’t like to play the Dom Robinson-esque “BBC Censorship” card very often, but we were staggered last week when the clip from The Impressions Show was bleeped to remove that appalling swearword “God”. We know it’s just before Songs of Praise, but honestly. The reason we got the clip was not due to complaints about foul language, but so some dickhead could complain that “impressions should be topical and Fearne and Davina are not newsworthy”, which is wrong on so many levels, not just because Davina is the best impression in it by absolutely miles, but because it’s not a satire show so doing impressions of David Cameron is a waste of time as they can’t say anything political and it just ends up being a waste of time. And Mike Yarwood was still doing Harold Wilson in 1983!
BBC Radio 4
15.00 I Claudius
It won’t be the same without the snake, of course, but this new dramatisation might be able to get close to the definitive version as Derek Jacobi’s in it, albeit in a different role this time, and it seems the perfect accompaniment to high tea around dusk at this time of year.
16.30 Blue Peter
We’re not altogether certain about Helen’s appearance on Children in Need last week, because it ended up happening around midnight, when we’re not sure the Blue Peter target audience will be watching, and while they showed a few behind the scenes clips on this programme, it doesn’t look like they’re going to do a film about it either, which seems rather a missed opportunity. Anyway, today Helen’s climbing the UK’s tallest spire, which is a bit more like it.
20.30 Only Connect
We’re always happy when we’re slagging off Parky, so we’ll do that a bit more here, although Tim Lawton says, “Surely Parky is special because of Ghostwatch? That must give him some bonus points.” Hmm. Claire Whitfield disagrees, saying, ” No, I can’t stand him either, he’s a miserable, misogynistic old git. He’s not even a very good interviewer (despite having been a journalist as we all know, blah-blah-de-blah..) My favourite Parky moment was when he was interviewing the multi millionaire, billion record selling, clothing magnate Jennifer Lopez and he asked her if she felt she’d missed out in life because she wasn’t a man. I think the look on her face said it all.” Claire also says, “Thanks for the bit in The Time Tunnel on Pebble Mill. I will SO be watching the Pebble Mill documentary on YouTube just to see if there’s any evidence of Marion Foster’s extraordinarily elaborate hair dos which used to fascinate me when I was laid up on the sofa with a cold as a small child, eating Heinz Tomato Soup.” That’s a nice anecdote, although of course the official soup of days off school was Crosse & Blackwell Alphabet Soup in a cube. How did they get all the letters in such a small space?
BBC Radio 4
09.45 Born Brilliant – The Life of Kenneth Williams
“Frank Bough said ‘thank you, you’re a Prince’. They’re a smashing team on that show!” Wes Butters isn’t involved in this new biography about every child’s other favourite Celebrity Ken, but a man called Christopher Stevens has been rooting around his personal effects and the result, apparently, is quite a nice story that’s not all about paranoia and barbiturates, as we’ll hear every day at this time.
Yeah, we know, the whole point of this feature was to mark the extension of the Cream Era back into the sixties and forward into the nineties, and yet all we’ve done so far is bugger around the seventies and eighties, which we’ve always covered. And we seem to be obsessed with the early seventies. But as we said, it’s a random draw, and before this series temporarily finishes for Christmas – to return later in 2011 if we think of a replacement, or the first week of January if we don’t – we can assure you there will be an exciting new Cream-related year to coo over. And in the meantime, it’s, er, the early seventies again. At least it’s a year with loads of strikes.
FA CUP WINNERS: Liverpool
CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE: Mud – Lonely This Christmas
UK EUROVISION ENTRY: Olivia Newton-John – Long Live Love
BLUE PETER TEAM: John, Pete and Lesley (and Val a bit)
DOCTOR WHO: Doctor Who Jon P’twee, then Doctor Who Tom Baker
RADIO 1 BREAKFAST SHOW JOCK: Noel Edmonds
BIG CHRISTMAS DAY FILM ON BBC1: Bridge on the River Kwai
IT AIN’T HALF HOT MUM (1974-81)
The classic sitcoms of the seventies – your Steptoes, your Fawltys, your Porridges – are always with us, but if seventies sitcoms was ever a category on Pointless, we reckon this would be a pretty good bet to go for, as despite running for seven years, it’s never really troubled the nation’s collective memories since. Certainly it was a consistently entertaining and popular show in its day, but unlike its obvious precedent – Dad’s Army, also by Perry and Croft – repeats have been thin on the ground in recent years. Invariably it’s been suggested that one reason for this is because of racism, with Michael Bates being blacked up to play an Indian, although Bates pointed out he was actually born in India and spoke Hindi before English, which gave him a head start on the other “Indians” in the cast who were actually from Pakistan and Bangladesh. More likely is probably has massively unsubtle the show was, with Windsor Davies bellowing his lines at the top of his voice and everyone else hamming it up appallingly. George Layton was initially the main star but left after two series, presumably pissed off that despite getting top billing he was overshadowed by Davies and Don Estelle, who were such a popular double act they even got to number one in the charts in 1975. Kids, though, had an extra interest in Gunner Mackintosh, as he was played by Stuart McGugan, of Play School fame, who was once given filming dates that clashed with the ‘school, and was expected to be bought out of his Play School contract but apparently they couldn’t afford it. Despite being fairly predictable fare, there was a little progression during the run, with the concert party moving around India a bit and, obviously, some cast changes following the death of Michael Bates, before they were all demobbed in the final show. Up there with Happy Ever After and Sink Or Swim as a consistent schedule staple without hitting the heights, you do have to admit that “Shuuuut uuuup!” is a fantastic catchphrase.
MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS (1969-74)
Everyone always thinks that Python ran on BBC2, while for most of its life it didn’t, it was on BBC1 – the confusion perhaps coming from the fact it was in colour when it started, though BBC1 was still in black and white. That was until the final series, in 1974, which did indeed move over to the second channel – as part of a number of changes, which saw the series run for just six episodes instead of thirteen, lose the last two words from its name, bring in Neil Innes and Douglas Adams as sort-of semi-Pythons and, probably most notable at the time, appear without John Cleese. Because of that, the fourth series always seems to be considered the worst, but given they never repeat it – after a repeat run the following year we don’t think a single fourth series episode was shown on the Beeb until they showed the last one as part of the thirtieth anniversary celebrations in 1999 – it’s quite hard to judge. Certainly, with Cleese gone, and Chapman not always in a fit state to contribute fully, it meant Palin and Jones dominated proceedings more, with their taste for long, filmed sketches coming to the fore – not that it’s a bad thing, obviously. Clive James, reviewing show three, said “After two dull episodes, Monty Python suddenly became funny again”, and with 45 episodes, we can excuse a little lull from time to time. What we do know, in any case, is that you won’t hear very much about the fourth series anywhere because for some reason nobody’s interested in talking about Python the TV show and just goes on about the films all the time, as if the telly show was some quick training exercise before the proper stuff, and not one of the most influential and famous TV shows of all time.
Everyone’s talking about…
THE THREE DAY WEEK! Which began at the end of 1973, but for the first six weeks of so of 1974 the 10.30 closedowns continued, so Parkinson moved to Fridays at nine on BBC2, Whistle Test moved to Sunday afternoon and Sportsnight was cut to 25 minutes, along with plenty more schedule juggling, wafer-thin issues of the Radio Times and Sunday football.
THE BBC ON STRIKE A LOT! The spring saw a scene-shifters’ dispute that led to Blue Peter moving to the Doctor Who set and a bizarre Top of the Pops where all the bands had to play guitars as they wouldn’t let anyone set up drumkits and keyboards. Then an even bigger dispute in 1974 almost blacked out the World Cup Final and meant no Top of the Pops for seven weeks.
RICHARD NIXON RESIGNING! Tricky Dick had already gone through the Watergate hearings before deciding to jump before he was pushed, with BBC1 staying up til two in the morning to hear it live.
NO MORECAMBE AND WISE ON CHRISTMAS DAY! For some reason, so a fairly weak BBC1 Christmas Day schedule was rounded off with the ridiculously titled Parkinson Takes A Christmas Look At Morecambe And Wise, mixing an interview with archive clips. Sill, five years later ITV would try the same thing in primetime.
BLACK AND WHITE TELLY! A couple of episodes of Blue Peter were made in monochrome this year as no colour studios were available, which we think might be the last ever mainstream national TV shows – ie, not schools programmes or regional news – made in black and white.
Two giants of American telly died this year, Jack Benny and Ed Sullivan. Sadly for most people in the UK, Benny is most famous for that cartoon where he’s a mouse, which needed a lot of explanation when it was on Rolf Harris Cartoon Time, but both he and Sullivan were watched in their millions across the pond. Since his death, Samuel Goldwyn appears to have become more famous for his quotes than his day job, but he was quite important. Also passing away this year were James “MacTaggart lecture” MacTaggart, Duke Ellington and Raymond Glendenning, but the most shocking death with American local news anchor Christine Chubbuck, who shot herself live on air. No, it’s not on YouTube.
Show of the year
Well, such were the political wranglings in 1974 that Alastair Burnet probably appeared on telly more that year than the Test Card Girl. And in those days, the Test Card Girl was on telly a lot. Burnet was spending his brief spell at the Beeb after defecting from ITV, but covered more upheaval in eighteen months or so than most presenters do in a career. The first election, in February, was called all of a sudden – there’s no mention of it in the Radio Times until the week of the poll itself – and was a terribly gloomy affair, with David Butler panicking that there was “only three weeks worth of coal left” and Robin Day referring to us being in “an economic 1940”. Still, at least Mike Yarwood showed up to do a few impressions, with made Al laugh. Nobody could work out what the result meant, so we were all back in October for another go, this time including Sue Lawley showing some leg (although she only did the London bits, so most viewers probably wondered what she actually did other than look a bit sexy in the titles) and a groovy, doomy theme (which sounds a bit like the intro to Do Anything You Want To by Thin Lizzy), as well as Alastair seeming a bit pissed off about the whole thing and not being very entertaining. Still, for giving us hours and hours of confused returning officers, people smoking and lots of lots of shakily conceived live televisions, 1974’s elections were great fun. And we never ran out of money after all. Well, until now.
Let’s go there now!
The obvious place to start is with this Saturday night menu, with invariably comes from during the election campaign, which doesn’t narrow it down much, we appreciate. More election news here, albeit in appalling quality. So it’s onto Pops, then, and this oddity, which is a very brief clip from that bizarre episode with the scene shifters’ strike, hence the multiple guitars. Watch it quick, though, the last version got taken down after a week. After the strike and the long hiatus, Pops returned in August like this and the following week relocated to the TV Theatre as part of a week of Osmond-themed programming, hence this rather odd-looking affair, and here’s Christmas Day, which like many of the seventies Christmas shows doesn’t have an audience. Dunno why, it looks bloody awful.
16.30 Blue Peter
Jason Durello, another current pop star we’ve never heard of, turned up here last week and Joel presented an intriguing feature which talked him through how busy he was on his flying visit to London, discussing how he also appeared on This Morning and The Xtra Factor, although they didn’t make reference to the picture of Konnie they used to illustrate that. Even we’ve heard of JLS, though, and they turned up to demonstrate how to make a snood, as seen on every player in the Premier League, and if you’d like more information on that make, Caron Keating does it in Book 23. Now all we’re waiting for is those comic strip belts Lesley made to come back in fashion.
21.00 Turn Back Time
This series seems to have been running for months, although it does tend to merge into all the other similar shows we’ve had recently. Nevertheless we’re alighting on it again as they’ve finally reached the Cream Era (new definition, again) as it’s the sixties, which means the arrival of self-service and – gasp! – the supermarket.
BBC Radio 4
13.30 Stevie’s Wonder Men
Specifically, two blokes called Malcolm and Bob who invented a synthesiser in the early seventies and made a record with it that didn’t sell any copies but Stevie Wonder thought it was brilliant, so got them in to help make all his brilliant imperial phase albums like Innervisions which contain some of the greatest songs ever recorded, all backed by the so-called Tonto. A rubbish name, but it sounded ace, as Stuart Maconie will demonstrate.
23.20 The RTS Huw Wheldon Lecture
Whenever we bill this we always ponder exactly what the Royal Television Society does, as while it certainly sounds a brilliant thing to join, and their awards always seem to pick the right winners, whenever they actually appear on the telly with their one show a year, it’s normally a load of moaning about how rubbish telly is these days. This year it’s being delivered by Brian Cox who’s going to talk about science on the telly, and we reckon Brian would be perfect for a new pop-science show in the manner of James Burke where things explode in front of a studio audience, which is a genre we used to have loads of on telly – not just the Burke Special, but also the likes of Don’t Ask Me, Bodymatters and obviously the work of Johnny Ball – and we don’t have any at all, and that’s a real shame.
14.45 The 2018 World Cup Bid
We’d love to see the World Cup come to England, it’s much bigger than the Olympics and we’d do a bloody good job of it, but if it involves sucking up to Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner, two of the most objectionable human beings on the planet, and the hideous FIFA, we might not be desperately broken-hearted if we don’t get it, especially as Milton Keynes are one of the planned venues and they can sod off (no slight on the good people of that town, of course, just that bellend Pete Winkleman and his horrible franchise). Anyway, here’s where we’ll find out, and of course if we lose it’s all the Beeb’s fault and not because of corruption or anything, obviously.
We’re really enjoying The Trip on telly at the moment, there have been some wonderfully funny moments in it, and what we really like is that it’s made by a distinguished director, has been beautifully shot and is even being released in the cinema, yet at its heart it’s simply Steve and Rob doing their brilliant impressions for 25 minutes. And they are fantastic, if Rob wanted to he could be the biggest impressionist on the planet. He’s funny when he’s playing himself, too, and not the character “Rob Brydon”, as he’ll prove again on here tonight.
You know how this billing normally works, but Rich Goodall says, “would you mind not listing the contenders’ specialist subjects as I like to guess what they’ll be answering questions on as I watch. I record Mastermind so that I can fast forward through the intro so as to miss their subjects. I mean, who knew that woman with the pink hair would be a massive Belle and Sebastian fan the other week? I suppose there must be massive Belle and Sebastian fans out there, I just never thought they’d have pink hair.” Surely loads of them would have pink hair, the band’s appealingly twee pop is surely tailor made for those kooky girls with dyed hair, glasses and floral frocks who you admired from afar in the sixth form common room? The ones who would drive a Beetle and maybe do some artwork for the school paper? Possibly they’d be quite ditzy, too, and keep on leaving their handbag behind so you’d chase after them with it, in the hope that would be an ice breaker and the conversation might keep flowing from there? Hmm, maybe we’ve thought about this a bit too much. Anyway, of course that Mastermind contestant stormed it, as we knew she would as she’d also slayed them on University Challenge last year. Just for you, Rich, we won’t mention the subjects this week, but there are no bands involved so it doesn’t really matter.
22.30 Krautrock – The Rebirth of Germany
23.30 Quincy Jones – The Many Lives of Q
We don’t think many girls in the sixth form common room were very interested in the former, if ever there was a genre liked exclusively by boys it would probably be this one, although that’s not to say it wasn’t worth listening to, and rather this than the tedious prog rock the UK was producing at the time. Then from the coldest and most unemotional music ever made to the man who produced some of the most infectious and exciting records ever made, but we like both so that’s OK.
BBC Radio 2
20.00 Friday Night is Music Night
But here’s Creamguide’s favourite genre of all – theme tunes! Tony Hatch, somewhat inevitably, is involved here, as part of a celebration of soaps, and apparently he’s going to be conducting the orchestra to some of this themes, including Neighbours, which will be a treat to hear in that form. They also go way back to the likes of The Grove Family and boring old Dick Barton, but don’t hold out much hope for Hollyoaks, especially in its current tuneless form.
That’s it for this week. We’re now at the time where TV guides come out thick and fast to get them out of the way for the Christmas one, but we’ll return next week to guide you if you’re getting confused. And, if you want to subscribe, click here