TV Cream

CREAMGUIDE: 5th-11th February 2011

With a hundred pennies in the new pound

Welcome again to Creamguide country, and before the listings turn up we thought we’d take this opportunity, if you get this via e-mail, or come to the page via Google or something, to remind you that there’s always loads of great stuff on the front page of www.tvcreamtest.co.uk, this week including the adventures of Larry Grayson and some incriminating photographs of Lionel Blair. And it’s updated 365 days a year! Well, the Creamguide Pick of the Day is, anyway. Although it’s the same stuff you see here. But the point is, it is updated quite frequently, is what we’re trying to say. Anyway, listings.

SATURDAY 5th FEBRUARY

BBC2

18.00 Bob Monkhouse – A Bafta Tribute
And what a great way to start, with a Bob double bill. In fact if anyone deserves a theme night it’s Lord Bob, especially as it would be the ideal opportunity to fling on a couple of discoveries from his archive. In the meantime there are two repeats, of which this is the inferior, as it’s the show they made just after he died which, like all the Bafta Tributes, is stilted and boring, but the clippage makes up for it.

19.00 Dad’s Army
We’re sure Bob would have appreciated his shows being interrupted on telly by some classic comedy and here by some more nostalgia for cinema visits of yore. Steve Yately says, “I once read that the travel writer Eric Newby’s favourite place in the world, of all the places he’d been to, was Godshill on the Isle of Wight, but would never revisit for fear of spoiling the perfect childhood memories of the place. I feel similarly(ish) about Streatham Odeon. Apparently it’s got eight screens now, I remember it as having three, so I can only guess they’ve been carved up to make room, but Screen One I remember as being the size of an aircraft hangar, with massive heavy orange curtains that would do that odd little dance of opening partways for the (natch) Pearl & Dean ads, only to close completely then open ever wider for the actual film. Ah, the ads… “Come to Il Caretto, just yards from this cinema” – this restaurant was legend locally for the years-long Elvis impersonator rivalry between it and next door neighbour La Pergola, each trying to outdo the other with their own increasingly elaborate tribute acts. The cinema itself, even when I was dragging my older cousin to take me to see Close Encounters for the second time in 1977, was wonderfully dated in that faux-sixties-sophisticate wall-to-wall orange decor, great big light fittings consisting of varying length orange tubes like an upside-down desk tidy. Wonderful. Once in my teens we switched haunts to the Croydon ABC, again still stuck firmly in the sixties (increasingly more dog-eared, it now being the mid-eighties), but still ace for having a little bar downstairs so that if you passed for eighteen you’d be let past the rope barrier outside and be able to have a pint beforehand. Again, the decor; low-slung easy chairs and spindly bar-stools, all garish reds and oranges, I always half-expected Jason king or Napoleon Solo to be lounging against the formica counter waiting for the last call for Robocop on screen two. Hmm, maybe not.”

19.30 The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse
A hugely welcome repeat for this brilliant documentary from BBC4 the other week, which is not only the story of Bob’s life, but also more or less the story of television light entertainment in its entirety, thanks to Bob’s wonderful archive, of which we see copious extracts from, as well as his detailed video lists and annotated TV Times. A must watch if you haven’t seen it, especially as you can see the back of Creamguide’s head five minutes from the end.

ITV

19.00 Harry Hill’s TV Burp
New series of this, hopefully better than the last one which was a bit weak. We were a bit annoyed that he got Wagbo to collect his Comedy Award the other week too, not just because it’s a bit disrespectful but also because Wagbo is crap, and we wish they’d stop trying to keep it going. The Knitted Character never got this kind of exposure, and he was way funnier.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
A waste of a year with boring old 1958 then the more interesting 1969. Meanwhile here’s an epic from Mike Williams. “Growing up in Linlithgow in the sixties meant you went to the Ritz – a real 1920s art deco place in the high street, complete with one screen, balcony and yes, love seats in the back row. On a Saturday morning, you could take the Barr’s glass bottles and use the deposit on them to pay your 3d entry fee to get in. Then through the curtains, and into the trailers before the main feature. I can remember seeing Return to the Planet of the Apes and The Great Escape there – the latter sticking in my memory because I could not read the subtitles, and realised I needed glasses. The seats were red and stank of whoever had watched the soft porn show the night before if you were in the wrong place, but it was a work of art – which sadly went the same way as many at that time, becoming a bingo hall and then closing completely. After it closed, however, it was a choice – a trip to Edinburgh or the joys of the ABC in Falkirk. It was a four screen cinema in the days when two seemed like a luxury – and the smaller screens had their own red carpet lined lobby with a better equipped refreshment bar than the main one upstairs. I remember seeing Jaws there when it came out, and screaming at the correct points. For a buff like me, however, it was when moving to Newcastle that I found myself in heaven in the eighties. There were two ABC cinemas – Haymarket (as seen in Get Carter) and Westgate Road. The Haymarket had Wednesday matinees for Students, which is where I saw Airplane and ET as well as an infamous all night showing of Scanners, The Brood, Rabid, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, while Westgate Road had a bar for the two screens. There was also a four screen Odeon, as well as another near the station that specialised in soft porn and horror – I remember one screen showing Alien while the other showed The Adventures of Eskimo Nell.” Do keep these coming.

BBC Radio 4

10.30 Britain In A Box
Last time we saw Paul Jackson he was standing behind Ronnie Barker wearing an ill-fitting suit, but now he’s back on the wireless with the series that basically just traces the history of a TV show and that’s it. An interesting one to kick off, though, World In Action, which we could never watch as the opening titles terrified us but which did loads of good work, invented 7 Up and for many years was half of that demented scheduling clash on Monday nights when it was on the same time as Panorama, which it normally thrashed in the ratings. And then it was axed at the end of 1998 and nobody noticed, which is a shame.

20.00 Decimal Day – What’s That In Old Money?
For those of us, like Creamguide, who have no memories of life before decimalisation, it’s hard to imagine how the nation even coped with imperial currency as it makes virtually no sense whatsoever. Still, forty years ago this month, decimalisation was surely one of the defining moments in post-war social history, and from our perspective one of the Creamiest as the change was communicated entirely via PIFs, quizzes in the Radio Times and songs by The Scaffold.

SUNDAY 6thFEBRUARY

BBC2

19.00 The Funny Side of Chat
Bit of a curious one, this, as while it was commissioned before this strand got a whole series, as a follow-up to the original Funny Side of the News, it wasn’t actually broadcast until after it, in the prime slot of eleven o’clock on the Christmas Day before last, so you’ve probably never seen it. Good fun it is, too, not least because it features a clip from that most celebrated and mythical of shows, The RDA. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page!

BBC4

21.00 American Idol – Reagan
This is a bit self-indulgent but the other day one of our friends was complaining about the poor quality of the pie they’d purchased which appeared to have none of the advertised meat, during which they said “where’s the beef?”, to which Creamguide, almost unconsciously, immediately said “heh heh heh, no wonder he won Minnesota!”. You don’t get opportunities like that too often. Anyway, here’s a weighty profile of Ronnie, which decides that he was neither a complete moron or a the greatest living American, but somewhere in between, with pundits including Ron Reagan Jr, best known to us for his Record Breakers reports, and Richard Marson, who was directing the show at the time, later said he was the perfect presenter when dealing with authority in the USA as they immediately let them do what they wanted when they heard his name.

MONDAY  7th FEBRUARY

BBC1

16.30 Blue Peter
No Helen in the studio for a couple of weeks because, of course, it’s time for her to carry out another one of her spectacular challenges, which she promoted last week via a live link-up to the “secret location” in which she’s preparing, and it must be far away because the satellite delay was appalling. We’ll find out what it actually involves, er, tomorrow, but we’re mentioning it today because we’re so excited.

Sky Atlantic

21.00 Curb Your Enthusiasm
So here’s our first jaunt to the channel that’s being talked up as the pinnacle of Sky’s amazing new “investment” and “innovation”, but quite how waving a black cheque at HBO is “innovating” we don’t know. It’s funny how everyone talks about how HBO can do all this amazing stuff because they’re a subscription channel, while Sky One is not only a subscription channel but, unlike HBO, also has adverts, and in twenty years has made absolutely bugger all. Anyway, we think existing deals the other channels have made for HBO shows are not affected so the new series of Curb should be on More4 – again, we think – but Sky Atlantic have the rights to the back catalogue and here it is again from the start.

The Time Tunnel

Good news for Tim Wheeler and the gang, it’s 1977 this week, surely the Creamiest year of them all thanks to the three Ss of the Sex Pistols, Star Wars and Silver Jubilee, as well as a spectacular array of celebrity deaths, as we’ll see. But there was also Michael Barratt on a train, aliens taking over Southern TV and the invention of breakfast telly, which is more our kind of thing.

  • FA CUP WINNERS: Manchester United
  • CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE: Wings – Mull of Kintyre
  • UK EUROVISION ENTRY: Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran – Rock Bottom
  • BLUE PETER TEAM: John, Pete and Lesley
  • DOCTOR WHO: Doctor Who Tom Baker
  • RADIO 1 BREAKFAST SHOW JOCK: Noel Edmonds
  • BIG CHRISTMAS DAY FILM ON BBC1: Funny Girl

    New thrill!

    THE KRYPTON FACTOR (1977-95)
    Of all the self-consciously intelligent quizzes on telly, The Krypton Factor was probably the only one that kids were in any way interested in, thanks to the hundreds of gimmicks stuffed into each show – the daft sketches, including the likes of Steve Coogan, the flight simulator, the great shot with the contestants all lit in profile (fun fact – Creamguide always though the person on the right would be at a disadvantage as they would be the last to hear the questions) and, best of all, the assault course, which thrilled a generation of kids. The aim, of course, was to find the Superperson of the Year, although you’d think that mythical figure would do more than shuffle some perspex around and slide a down a rope. The first series this year didn’t include Mental Agility but, excitingly, Personality, with the contestants being set creative writing tasks to be judged by the audience. In any case it became a prime time staple for nearly two decades, helped along by Gordon Burns’ fuss-free anchoring (with the dullest ever catchphrase in TV history – “and those points awarded go immediately onto the scoreboard”, in case you thought they might just hang around somewhere) and the pleasing presentation, with scores continually referred to as “Krypton Factors”, the LCD-style text and the ace Art of Noise theme. Such was its junior appeal a kids version ran for two series in the late eighties, but the whole thing came to a sad end in 1995 with an atrocious revamp with an over-complicated format nobody understood. A revival was rumoured for years until ITV finally brought it back in 2009 which was OK but got rid of some of the more interesting rounds for aimless chat, and it’s now been axed again, alas. But for creating, as TVC mentioned, the paramilitary wing of MENSA, The Krypton Factor is a show that demands respect.

    Old thrill!

    DAD’S ARMY (1968-77)
    The old joke about Dad’s Army in the past was that all the cast died almost immediately after it finished, but they were mostly all veteran actors at the time so you’d expect that, and there are enough still hanging around for the clip shows. Famously one of the youngest, James Beck, was the first to die, back in 1973, but the series carried on without him, albeit not quite so good. The whole thing began back in 1968 with the first episode actually beginning in the sixties, with a modern day Mainwaring reminiscing about his experiences in the Home Guard, and saying how important it was, seemingly a response to worries it would be seen as taking the piss out of the war. These days we’re so used to BBC1 having virtually no sitcoms that it’s often surprising to look back at the scheduling of classic shows like this and see them shoved in any available slot – like 6.50pm on a weeknight, as it was in 1973, and festive shows miles away from Christmas Day – but at the time it was taken for granted there’d be great shows every night. It was only the final series that was screened in a slot it seems made for, the heart of Sunday nights, with the final episode, with its toast to the Home Guard, nicely being scheduled on Remembrance Sunday. Of course, since then the work of these wonderful character actors has lived on via endless repeats, and rightly so.

    Everyone’s talking about…

  • PUNK! A greater threat to civilisation than hyper inflation, lest we forget, this was its golden year, with the first punk band on Top of the Pops, we reckon, being The Jam in May, the month before the most famous fix in chart history. If it was a fix, bearing in mind you could never find it to buy it.
  • THE GOD SLOT! Some relief for atheists this year when the slot devoted entirely to religious programmes on both BBC1 and ITV was reduced from over an hour to 35 minutes, although it would be many years before it was dropped completely.
  • ALTERNATIVE 3! Anglia’s spoof documentary about life on other planets was supposed to be an April Fool to the extent its closing credits said it was copyright 1st April 1997. Unfortunately, there was a strike and it ended up going out in June, much to the delight of conspiracy theorists everywhere. Speaking of which…
  • ASHTAR GALACTIC COMMAND! The alien race/bored students who managed to hack into Southern’s transmitters on a Saturday teatime in November to announce to the planet, or at least the percentage of it who hadn’t switched off after the wrestling, that the world was about to end.
  • GOOD MORNING CALENDAR! “It’s a pleasure to be with you, but no pleasure to give you these news headlines!” Bob Warman in a cupboard was an unlikely pioneer as Yorkshire TV experimented with Britain’s first ever breakfast television programme, with its success rather stymied by the fact it started at half past eight.
  • MICHAEL BARRATT LEAVING NATIONWIDE! The founding co-ordinator of the teatime institution called it a day after eight years and was seen off via a regal tour of the country with a specially kitted-out InterCity train stopping at Mike’s favourite places. The ‘wide’s editor would later admit they regretted those shows as everyone assumed it was massively expensive and complained about the waste of money, although apparently it was quite cheap, actually.

    RIP

    1977 was a bad year for icons, the most famous death obviously being that of Elvis, followed exactly one month later by Marc Bolan. In addition to that, we also saw the passing of Groucho Marx, Bing Cosby and Charlie Chaplin, surely three of the most famous people on the planet. In the USA, a particularly shocking death was that of Freddie Prinze, a big TV comedy rising star who shot himself, apparently accidentally, at the age of 22. Also dying this year were Peter Finch, Ted Ray. Joan Crawford, Zero Mostel and Gary Gilmore, later immortalised in song by The Adverts, and much closer to home, Horace “Keynsham” Batchelor of Radio Luxembourg infra-draw pools method ads “fame”.

    Show of the year

    THE SILVER JUBILEE
    Yeah, so John Lydon and the gang wanted to get rid of it, but even they can’t argue with some of the top telly we got when Her Maj celebrated a quarter of a century on the throne. First there was a variety gala held in a big top outside Windsor Castle with Brucie skipping and scampering into the arena and announcing, “This is a very special day! Jubilee! The breeze took the clouds all away! Jubilee! It swept the sky like a broom! Jubilee! And got ready for a very special day! Jubilee! Jubilee!”. ITV got into the spirit of things with A Royal Night Of A Hundred Stars, featuring Kenneth Williams, much to his surprise as he assumed he’d be cut out, but as Patrick Allen was quick to reassure him, everyone was going in as, “It’s a very good line-up for the TV Times!”. Sadly, ITV were unable to cover the actual day’s festivities as there was a strike on, so much like the Coronation the nation turned to the Beeb, and specifically the Nationwide team, who held their Jubilee Fair in the studio, with an actual merry-go-round stuck in the middle of Lime Grove Studio D, Mike and Frank in shirt sleeves (so it must have been a special occasion), Valerie Singleton judging cakes and armies of viewers performing their own self-penned songs, including a group of schoolkids joined by a mutton-chopped butcher, and some bloke in an ill-fitting suit hollering “Ba-bumba-ba-bumba-ba-bumba! They’re doing the Jubilee rhumba!” Which is a lot nicer than “they made you a moron, a potential H-bomb”, we’re sure you’ll agree.

    Let’s go there now!

    Quite a lot of Top of the Pops online, here’s the episode from 7/7/77 which we’ve included before because we love the idea of ten million people wondering what the hell the opening track is, and do search out the record version of that as it’s fantastic, rather than this rather iffy live version. We also have Peter Powell’s first show in November, with some punk, and another debutant presenter in December, although why they got him in we don’t know, they never used guest presenters in any other week of the seventies and he doesn’t get to do bugger all, apart from introducing this fabulous performance. We also have this, which is slightly dodgy in terms of content but we feature it because it’s just turned up from an episode which has since been wiped, the last ever Pops to suffer that fate, in fact. Nice blouse, Kid. Elsewhere, here’s the ultimate Creamy clip, a textbook Saturday night from December, just seven days after this terrifying affair.

  • TUESDAY  8th FEBRUARY

    BBC1

    16.30 Blue Peter
    While we wait for Helen to do something brilliant, here’s a letter from Mark Rowan about something else. “I enjoyed Wogan’s Ireland, it was a bit shamrock postcard but how could you resist Terry’s whimsy. Watching him with Gay Byrne was a bit like Frost/Nixon, two legends of our time, round here anyway, going head to head. Just to advise anyone thinking of retracing Wogan’s route, the number ten bus on which he carried bags of money to the bank in Dublin was discontinued last month. How quickly these things move on.”

    BBC2

    22.00 How TV Ruined Your Life
    “Killing cats!” At some points in this show we start to wonder if Charlie should even have bothered writing a script because we get a bit distracted by the soundtrack, which has to be one of the best ever on telly. Surely BBC Records and Tapes could get a spin-off album out before the end of the run. Last week we also got the great Kevin Eldon doing what Kevin Eldon does best, fantastic physical comedy, and the joke about never-ending shit BBC3 sitcoms was all the funnier by BBC2 promoting never-ending shit BBC3 sitcom Coming of Age at the end. Oh, and Charlie’s in it too, in case you’ve forgotten.

    WEDNESDAY  9th FEBRUARY

    ITV

    22.35 I Was There… When The Beatles Played The Cavern
    It’s fifty years to the day that the artists formerly known as the Quarrymen first played The Cavern, although obviously there’s no film of that so this documentary basically uses it as a starting point for various people to talk about The Wackers in general, among them Pete Best. When The Beatles Anthology came out, John Peel said that surely the one Beatle we could all identify with was Pete Best, and for that reason, “I hope there’s a lot of money coming Pete’s way and that he has a great time with it”.

    BBC Radio 2

    22.00 Song Stories
    More Fifth Beatles here, in the shape of Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger, as the first in this series on pop standards tells the story of Without You, a song that was famously considered to be cursed, because not only did Ham and Evans, who wrote it, both die in tragic circumstances, but Harry Nilsson had a fairly terrible time after he recorded it as well. No effect on Mariah Carey, mind.

    THURSDAY  10th FEBRUARY

    ITV

    19.30 Tonight
    For many of us of a certain age, the biggest shock of the whole Countryfile ageism scandal was that among the other presenters dropped for allegedly being “too old” was Michaela Strachan, which was a chilling reminder of how long ago it was when she first appeared on our screens. Anyway, here’s Miriam O’Reilly’s big telly comeback, and it’s about, unsurprisingly, ageism, where she meets other people who have apparently been cast out into the telly wilderness.

    BBC Radio 4

    11.30 I Heart Milton Glaser
    Sadly we don’t send enough text messages to remember how you render the heart symbol in plain text, but this is the story of the man who designed the I Heart NY logo, which started off looking cool, then became the height of bad taste and then, probably for that reason, it became cool again. He also designed a load of other stuff too, including the DC Comics logo.

    FRIDAY  11thFEBRUARY

    BBC2

    20.00 Mastermind
    We’ve just been re-reading The Nation’s Favourite by Simon Garfield, and as well as once again pondering again who “Tom Clay” was – we think he’s switched the sexes and it’s Charlie Jordan, “Clare Jones” is definitely Emma B, but if you have any other ideas, do write in – we also enjoyed the bit where Trevor Dann says he had a free hand to sort out the music policy as Matthew Bannister knew nothing about music, and the only conversation they had about the playlist was when Bannister asked for Frank Zappa and Richard Thompson to go on it. And there’s another Richard Thompson fan here.

    BBC4

    21.00 Reggae Britannia
    22.30 Reggae Britannia at The Barbican
    00.00 The Old Grey Whistle Test
    00.45 Rock Goes To College

    Another in the series of outstanding BBC4 music documentaries, this one is about the very British form of reggae that was imported here in the sixties – one of our favourite albums when we were young was The Wonderful World of Reggae, a compilation on the Music For Pleasure label our dad had bought in 1970, which, as you can see, promised “twelve great tracks for only 14/6” and introduced us to the likes of The Israelites and Long Shot Kick The Bucket – and then influenced a generation of acts, including both Aswad and Steel Pulse, and later The Police and Culture Club. That’s followed by, not the usual compilation of clips, but a new show recorded specially for BBC4 with the likes of Ken Booth, Janet Kay and Ali Campbell, then more or less the same idea but recorded in Edinburgh in 1973, and finally The Specials at Colchester Institute in 1979.

    The other thing we remember about that LP was that the tracks on the album were in a different order to that given on the sleeve, and they had to put a sticker on the back to correct it. Well, they were simpler times. Maybe you’ve got a favourite record bought by your parents that was your musical education, we’d like to hear from you. And if you want to know the results the second they’re published, subscribe here

    1 Comment

    1 Comment

    1. Alphonze

      February 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      Great write up, always good to hear different versions of The Wailers story. However I stumbled across a website and marvelled at the photos of Pogus Caesar, he’s alerted me to a wealth of new reggae artistes and music. so now I am reading up on the likes of Dennis Brown – bob Marley’s favourite singer. the conviction of Burning Spear’s politically charged music and of course the contribution that Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry made to The Wailers early sound. Great reference pics!

      http://media.photobucket.com/image/muzik%20kinda%20sweet/PogusCaesarPictures/Pogus%20Caesar%20Muzik%20Kinda%20Sweet/DENNISBROWN.jpg?o=8

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