TV Cream

CREAMGUIDE: 8th-14th January 2011

Oodles of sunkissed love to you and yours

Hullo. Christmas is officially over now so we have a week of dull workaday programming to bring you instead, but don’t worry, we’ll try and make it interesting. News and views, of course, should be sent to creamguide@tvcreamtest.co.uk.

SATURDAY 8th JANUARY

BBC2

09.00 Dick and Dom’s Funny Business
Well, this is a great way to start the week, Messers McCourt and Wood back on Saturday mornings where they belong. It’s not Da Bungalow, mind, but a new concept where the pair are running a comedy club, and introduce sketches and stand-up in front of a demented audience, including actual proper adult comedy acts like you’d see at The Comedy Store. Of course we’re rather more interested in whether Kirkby, Odoom and Chapman are in it, but it’s good to see the boys back where they belong anyway. It’s not the Harry Batt sitcom though, is it?

ITV

18.30 The Best of Harry Hill’s TV Burp
But never mind that, is ABBA an acronym or not? Now they’re supposed to be getting back together this issue has taken on increased importance, and Clive Shaw says, “Sweden calling to further muddy your ABBA waters. Here in the birthplace of the aforementioned band, ABBA is also a very popular brand of canned seafood cuisine. When the popular quartet formed in the early seventies, there was much humour in the fact that they had named themselves after a brand of canned herring. So much so, that ABBA Seafood AB threatened to sue, but ultimately gave in and allowed the four to continue to use their moniker. As the ABBA in ABBA Seafood AB is not an acronym and they allowed the group to share their trademark, I can only suggest that ABBA the pop group cannot be regarded as acronym either. Incidentally, the prestige website address www.abba.se goes directly to the seafood merchants website, although that means nothing as the more prestige www.abba.com directs to the American Bed and Breakfast Association and that is really an acronym.”

BBC4

21.00 The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse
No apology for billing this again as it was the one of the best things on over Christmas, because as well as proving a definitive overview of Bob’s life is also filled with fantastic clippage, including the last Golden Shot after he was sacked where he spends the whole show slagging off ATV and loads of other amazing rarities from his collection, which as we know he put together thanks to his exhaustive tape lists. Better yet, there’s some footage from the BAFTA screening Creamguide was fortunate enough to attend eighteen months ago and we think you can see the back of our head.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
They did indeed manage to fit the two years in last week, as it actually started an hour earlier than billed. 1963 and 1988 this week, and in the meantime Simon Tyers, as well as pointing out that “the box in which they buried Morecambe and Wise” is the most generic piece of TV criticism ever, wrote in regarding our mention last week of Yarwood not getting his due for beating Eric and Ern in the ratings in 1977, and says, “The Radio 2 Liza Tarbuck-narrated documentary mentioned his higher audience and explained it as ‘indicating that a lot of people settled down early for that evening’s entertainment’. And what better way to warm up for Morecambe and Wise than by turning off immediately before?”

BBC Radio 4

20.00 Breaking The Mould
Facts amazing – before our constituency went Tory in the last election, the only other time in their lifetime Creamguide had not been represented a Labour MP in all the places they’ve lived was the two years in the early eighties when their MP had defected to the SDP. It’s thirty years old this year and, despite having the shittest logo of all time, it actually felt like a real political force at the beginning that was going to spell the end of the Labour party. It never did, but this documentary is going to argue if it inspired New Labour and its significance to the current government, as well as hopefully having a good chuckle at its dying days when David Owen and Rosie Barnes tried to keep it going despite everyone else joining the Lib Dems and massive, massive apathy.

SUNDAY 9thJANUARY

ITV

21.15 That Sunday Night Show
Way back when Adrian Chiles was still within the bosom of the Beeb, one of the shows that he forever seemed to be piloting was The Ten Show, a series filmed in front of a studio audience in which Chiles, his mate Frank Skinner and some other people would idly chat about the week’s news, and for which he was going to give up Friday’s One Show. His defection meant that never happened but, inevitably, here’s exactly the same thing, only with an even less imaginative name, which has finally made it to the air, for which he’s giving up Friday’s Daybreak. To be honest, it all sounds a bit hopeless, but maybe this’ll be the show where we finally remember what kind of appeal Chiles had in the first place. And also, there’s nothing else on today to bill.

MONDAY  10th JANUARY

BBC1

16.30 Blue Peter
Barney – the human, not the dog, and they will have to find a way to work around this problem – is still appearing in panto in Lichfield at the moment so it’s another week of pre-records before the new team can make their debut. A good one, this, though, as it’s the regular show where the team and really big celebrities give gold badges to deserving kids, a concept that appeared on Christmas Day not so long ago, but now doesn’t even get within the entire festive period.

BBC4

20.30 Only Connect
A celebrity special! Coming up in a moment is the Creamguide Middle Bit, and Jonathan Haw writes to say, “I’ve had an idea which I think you’ve not done before – theme nights! I know they’re ten a penny these days and many are pretty half-arsed affairs, but they used to be a real event. When done properly, they felt like a new one-night-only TV channel with their own presentation and identity. The first I can remember was the brilliant TV Hell with Paul Merton and Angus Deayton – still the best theme night ever in my opinion. We’ve also had Lee & Herring’s Monster Night which was better than it needed to be, Channel 4’s TV Heaven series with the luscious tones of Frank Muir, Radio One Night, Sitcom Weekend, Granadaland, At Home With Vic & Bob, the second best theme night ever… Plenty of material there, I would have thought. What do you reckon?” That is a good idea, Jonathan, and we might use it a bit later, but we’ve got a Middle Bit for the next few weeks that might surprise you. If you’ve got a very, very short memory, anyway.

BBC Radio 2

22.00 Val Doonican Rocking But Gently
Inexplicably we neglected to bill the first part of this documentary last week, because we love Val, but there’s still plenty of chance to wallow in his relentless niceness and hear from the likes of Jim Moir and Val himself, who’s still alive and has no problem not being on the telly anymore because he thinks other people deserve the chance. In fact it’s remarkable to think that he was still on the telly in 1988, albeit that his last full series was in 1985 and for the last few years he only appeared via Christmas shows, like an annual for a long-folded comic.

The Time Tunnel

As you can see, Father Christmas failed to bring us a new feature on the 25th, so for the next few weeks at least we return to The Time Tunnel, and that’s good news at least for Brian Sutherland who wrote to say, “I really enjoy Time Tunnel – keep going with it!” Because he can pick out typos and cock-ups in it which make him look clever, no doubt. Anyway, if you’ve only joined us recently, each week we take a year at random and highlight a series that began that year, one that ended and one that was in its imperial phase, as well as reviewing the year’s telly news.

  • FA CUP WINNERS: Arsenal
  • CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE: Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall
  • UK EUROVISION ENTRY: Black Lace – Mary Ann
  • BLUE PETER TEAM: Lesley, Si and Chris, then Si, Chris and Tina
  • DOCTOR WHO: Doctor Who Tom Baker
  • RADIO 1 BREAKFAST SHOW JOCK: Dave Lee Travis
  • BIG CHRISTMAS DAY FILM ON BBC1: The Sting

    New thrill!

    BLANKETY BLANK (1979-90)
    There are some programmes that, when they arrive on our screens, appear to have arrived from a different planet completely. The Price Is Right and Stars In Their Eyes both bewildered viewers when they arrived – despite the latter becoming one of the most loved light entertainment shows, when it first appeared the format seemed demented – but probably the most shocking was Blankety Blank. Indeed apparently half of TV Centre was staggered by the arrival of this brash and colourful new show, and the Beeb themselves were quick to leap to its defence and refer to it as “harmless fun”. Despite the hang-wringing, though, it became very popular, very quickly, with the first series being extended mid-run and a second following just a few months later. Much of the early success was down to the presence of Lord Terence of Woganshire, who felt that for the first time he was able to do the kind of thing he enjoyed on the radio – although he initially turned it down when he saw the Australian version, which he thought was crap, and was only convinced when they showed him the American version, which was much more to his liking. Tel was quick to pay tribute to the likes of Paul Daniels, Patrick Moore, Beryl Reid and of course Cuddly Kenny Everett for helping make the show a success, although apparently he couldn’t stand one front middle guest who tried too hard to upstage everyone (we never found out who, though we always thought it was Lennie Bennett). Eventually the Beeb mandarins realised the wit and whimsy that Tel brought to proceedings and it became a much cherished series, not the least because it was dead cheap to make (even more so from series two when they brought in the low-tech ready sticks). It was also one of the few shows that proved equally as successful when it changed hosts too. It probably carried on too long and Les had to work with some hopeless panellists at the end – way too much Gary Davies – but it was never less than light entertainment at its lightest. And we got through all that without mentioning Peter Powell falling arse over tit on the stairs.

    Old thrill!

    GEORGE AND MILDRED (1976-79)
    Everyone always says that we should do sitcoms like Americans, but most of the conventions of American telly were hear in the UK in the seventies – Doctor In The House ran for six months of the year every year for ten years, the likes of Bless This House featured a huge number of writers, and Man About The House enjoyed a double helping of spin-offs. George and Mildred was the most popular and, perhaps surprisingly given the show it span off, also enjoyed something in the way of critical acclaim and was almost subtle. Much of the appeal was doubtless thanks to the fantastic double act of Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce, who were great friends off camera – and apparently had a bizarre effect on recording equipment together, with the pair having to warn interviewers that on dozens of occasions, they’d recorded interviews and the equipment had malfunctioned and nothing came out, thanks to some sort of curse. George and Mildred wasn’t actually planned to finish in 1979 as, after they did the crap film version they were all ready to do another run, but Joyce fell ill – Murphy did another series The Incredible Mr Tanner, which writers Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke had written ages before but never got round to making, with his mate Roy Kinnear, while he was waiting, before Joyce’s death saw the permanent end of the series, so the final episode was shown, rather appropriately on Christmas Day 1979. Brian Murphy paid tribute to Yootha Joyce the day she died on the telly… and then had to do it again because the recording equipment malfunctioned and nothing had come out.

    Everyone’s talking about…

  • THE ITV STRIKE! Television’s best ever strike, which knocked ITV off the air (except in the Channel Islands of course) for ten weeks, meaning everything on the Beeb got massively inflated viewing figures. When they came back, too, the light channel’s schedules were all over the shop and had to show 3-2-1 twice in three days.
  • THE BBC STRIKE! Not quite as exciting as the ITV strike, because they kept broadcasting throughout, but the Beeb endured an autumn of industrial turmoil with numerous episodes of Top of the Pops, Swap Shop, Blue Peter and Crackerjack being hauled off the air or replaced by hastily-compiled compilations, while the Doctor Who story Shada was abandoned halfway through.
  • BLUE PETER BEING RUBBISH! With Noakes, Purves and Judd all leaving in quick succession, the new Blue Peter team took some time to find their feet, especially the appalling Chris Wenner, leading to the show gaining something of a notorious reputation for cock-ups, although the highly successful Cambodia appeal was a bit of a fillip for this rather ropey trio.
  • 24 HOUR RADIO 2! This was supposed to happen in 1978 but there was a strike and it was delayed. Eventually, come February, Radio 2 became the first national network to be on the air around the clock, while Radio 1 also finally finished its never popular Radio 2 simulcasts and broadcast all day, filling in its mid-evening gap. Meanwhile BBC2 also began opening up at half five rather than seven.
  • MAINSTREAM! Flop of the year by some distance, this arts version of Swap Shop was a disaster from day one when the editor resigned before the first episode had even been transmitted, and its hopeless attempt to “whizz around the country with the arts” was met with absolute derision.

    RIP

    The most shocking death of the year was that of Richard Beckinsale, who died suddenly at the age of 31. Another comedy favourite who passed away was Peter Butterworth, while from the other side of the Atlantic we lost Ted “Lurch” Cassidy. Pop stars dying this year were Sid Vicious, Jimmy McCulloch from Wings and Van McCoy, while from the establishment Airey Nieve and Lord Mountbatten were both killed. Joyce Grenfell and Gracie Fields died in 1979, as did one of the most famous people on the planet, John Wayne.

    Show of the year

    MASTERMIND
    The ‘mind had begun back in 1972 but by 1979 it had certainly reached the zenith of its popularity, helped, like much else, by the ITV strike. As the world and his wife knows, the ‘mind – billed as “a new brain game” – began as a late night affair, gaining unspectacular ratings at half past ten with a mid-afternoon repeat – before the Leslie Phillips sitcom Casanova 73 was considered too rude for half past eight and hurriedly rescheduled to a post-watershed slot, with the ‘mind being parachuted in to fill its slot. It instantly became a smash hit, despite its rather dull presentation, the fact nobody could ever answer the questions and the complete lack of personality. By the end of the decade it had become one of the most famous and iconic series on TV and despite its record rating of 22 and a half million this year being artificially inflated by the ITV strike, the following year it was still pulling in nearly twenty million viewers. Compared to the current ‘mind, the most obvious change aside from the lack of chat is the fact the contestants did their second round in the same order as the first, which strikes us as being a complete anti-climax, and to be honest we really don’t know why it became such a smash, but it was, and everyone knew about it. “One’s a trade unionist and the other’s a member of the cabinet!”

    Let’s go there now!

    Well we always feature this, but here it is again, the return of ITV on 24th October, and the News at 5.45 from straight after. While the strike was on, you could enjoy stuff like this and, better yet, stuff like this on BBC1. And if you want to know exactly what was on at 9.15pm on Sunday 17th February, here’s Jasper to show us. Invariably the 1979 Christmas Pops is no longer available but most of the performances are up individually, including ace ones from Buggles, Cliff and Racey who we don’t much like but they’re not in it much. And here’s a complete episode from October, during the strike of course, and we love the idea of millions and millions of people watching XTC. And Andy Peebles’ spectacular arrival in part four.

  • TUESDAY  11th JANUARY

    BBC1

    16.30 Blue Peter
    Last week Helen illustrated that, yet again, there’s nothing she can’t do with her storming appearance on Celebrity Mastermind, where she was in the lead after the specialist subjects but was just pipped by Stephen Mangan on general knowledge. We do hope that a BP film crew was around at the recording and we get a feature on it, who wouldn’t want to see John Humphrys on Blue Peter? Months ago Helen also went to the Youth Olympics and they’ll be showing some of that today in a special programme counting down to 2012.

    WEDNESDAY  12th JANUARY

    ITV

    19.30 The Unforgettable Pat Phoenix
    It is a dull week, we’re afraid, but if you want to pretend it’s still Christmas (and it is still technically the twelfth day of Christmas for another few hours), you may be interested to know that Christmas Logs, everyone’s favourite bit on our defunct sister site Offthetelly, have now made it over to TV Cream, including a brand new log for this Christmas just gone. Incidentally we recently acquired the 1976 BBC Handbook which admitted the 1974 Christmas schedule “had to be greatly amended for economy reasons”, one of a number of cutbacks they had to make after rampant inflation turned a £800,000 profit into a £19 million loss. Another cut was that a planned twice-weekly drama set on an InterCity train had to be abandoned despite scripts having been written and actors being cast, which is a shame, as we might have had something even sillier than Triangle.

    BBC4

    21.00 The Modern Age of Coach Travel
    Ooh, there’s a follow-up to last week’s documentary, which looks at the period after whole streets went on holiday together, and instead embarks on school trips, football away trips and the only time Creamguide ever uses one, the rail replacement bus service. No doubt Neil Hannon will get a few royalties too.

    22.00 The Secret Life of the Motorway
    All three, back to back. “I hate coming here!”

    BBC Radio 2

    22.00 The Story of Funk
    For what it’s worth, Channel Five didn’t edit out Jonathan King from the 1985 Christmas Pops, and they could easily have done so too, because all he did was link into a video montage and introduce Paul Young, and given Five stuck an ad break immediately before it, they could have chopped it out and just faded it up during Paul Young’s intro and nobody would have noticed, and you’d only be left with him standing with all the other hosts at the end for the goodbyes, where he didn’t say anything. So well done to Five for allowing us to see it uncut, although more than likely it was because they couldn’t be arsed doing anything but the bare minimum of work on it. Meanwhile, this reaches the seventies with Parliament, Stevie Wonder and The Bassist And The Gang. We’ve said it before, but who names a band after the bassist?

    THURSDAY  13th JANUARY

    BBC1

    21.30 Not Going Out
    Nothing else on today, so we’ll remind you that Lee and the team are back with a new series of this, the first episode of which has just finished going out by the time you get it. As we know it was reprieved from the axe, and rightly so, because the last series was the best yet, with all dramatic pretentions cast aside in favour of jokes by the truckload, and the more Tim Vine – who incidentally has a new DVD out which is just as ace as the previous two – on the telly the better. We know it sounds like it only got better when The Collins stopped writing much for it, but that’s not the case, honest. Look, he’s back on the credits tonight.

    FRIDAY  14th JANUARY

    BBC1

    20.30 QI
    Last one of these. Also on tonight is Fast And Loose, which we must point out is not the Bob Monkhouse and Denis Goodwin vehicle, which would be good to see, what with Bob pretending to faint at the end of show one because they hadn’t written show two yet, and Bob blowing off part of Charlie Drake’s ear with a prop gun, with Charlie still coming back on at the end for the goodbyes, wearing a hat at a rakish angle to cover it up. But it’s not that, it’s that new series which is clearly Whose Line Is It Anyway even though they’re pretending it’s not, and apparently it’s awful because it’s rather obviously heavily scripted, therefore making it simply Mock The Week without the topical stuff – ie, Mock The Week.

    BBC2

    20.00 Mastermind
    As well as Super Skelts, the other celebrity shows have been great fun too, including the excellent show on New Year’s Eve where Rhys Thomas broke the celebrity record with 21 points on Queen, dressing as Freddie Mercury to do so, while Kirsten O’Brien answered questions on Reeves and Mortimer and Adam Boulton did quite badly, which amused us no end. Among the subjects tonight, meanwhile, are Iron Maiden and seventies football.

    And that’s it, we’re afraid, and we do hope the New Year telly livens up a bit in the next few weeks. Don’t worry, though, as there’s plenty to enjoy on www.tvcreamtest.co.uk. And if you want to get this the minute it’s published, join the club here

    1 Comment

    1 Comment

    1. Des Elmes

      January 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      1979? Blue Peter?

      That also meant the introduction of Mike Oldfield’s version of the theme tune.

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