Celebrating 15 years of TV Cream - look! - it's CREAMUP! And you'll have to download the images to get anything out of it.
Behold! Turkon!

Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard by Paul Simon (1972)

The only man to contradict the fable that you should never trust someone with two first names spins the sort of bouncy yarn about neighbourhood taboos Damon Albarn would suck all the joy out of 20 years later. For good measure he tosses in the finest 30 seconds of whistling ever committed to vinyl, plus a talking drum that sounds like Frankie Howerd. 

Living for the City by Stevie Wonder (1974)

Seven-and-a-half minutes of urban panning. Burping synths and spoken playlets aside, the sentiments of this groovy, doomy municipal malady will never date. Bits of it seem unfinished but the intention is honourable - a bit like Welvyn Garden City, then. Dystopia you can dance to! 

Watching the Detectives by Elvis Costello and the Attractions (1977)

A satisfying lollop through life's pulpy cliches, dispatched with clip aplomb by a slightly strangulated Elvis and cohorts. The riff sounds like it's by John Barry. The lyrics sound like they're by John Junor.  

Down in the Tube Station at Midnight by The Jam (1978)

All Paul wants to do is get home with his takeaway curry. All some punk rockers want to do ruffle his skinny tie. All London Underground wants everyone to do is mind the gap. The last thing Paul sees before dying is a British Rail poster. Sounds like a decent way to go. 

Take it Away by Paul McCartney (1982)

It's got Ringo on it! And George Martin! And a bit at the beginning that sounds like reggae! One of Macca's very best solo efforts, this was a glorious heralding of the man's early 80s investiture at the toppermost of the snazzily (and, for once, properly) produced poppermost. The record sleeve, meanwhile, is quite possibly the best image in the history of recorded sound. 

Love is a Wonderful Colour by Icicle Works (1983)

A dazzling, preposterous ejaculation of vocal acrobatics, lyrical pomposity and musical pomp that, in another world, perhaps ruled benevolently by a troika of Joan Bakewell, Neil Tennant and Norman St John Stevas, would have spent 13 weeks at number one. 

In Between Days by The Cure (1985)

It's only really got two chords, Robert Smith sounds like he's constipated (as usual) and the lyrics appear to have been written by a eight-year-old prep school pupil. And yet there's something about this song that leaves you giddy with delight, or despair, or better still both.  

Stripped by Depeche Mode (1986)

A pre-devilish, post-dainty Dave gets leery over motorbike revs and a plinky-plonky piano. The others prod machines and whack bits of metal. A blasphemous bloomer from when brassy vocals weren't cliched and "bone" simply meant calcium. Ah, those were the days. Gahan but not forgotten.

Invisible Touch by Genesis (1986)

The smell of a hundred thousand Radio One Roadshow fluffy bugs, spiral hats and Mike Read tee-hee mugs. Entire esplanades echo to this day with cries of "built-in ability". A three-and-a-half-minute manual for rock bands who want to sound like pop groups who want to sound 30 years younger than they really are. 

The Wizard by Paul Hardcastle (1986)

Cursed with the charge of usurping a superior Top of the Pops signature tune, then doubly cursed by underscoring the likes of Bruno "Bungalow" Brookes and Anthea Turner, then triply cursed by helping Tony Dortie and Mark Franklin make pop music seem less exciting and new than at any point since its invention. Having the titular sorceror sound not so much an enigmatic druid and more like Young Mr Grace didn't help. 

Me and the Farmer by The Housemartins (1987)

The fifth best band in Hull (the fourth being the version of the Housemartins from the year before) had the delightful misfortune of enduring not one but two songs that stalled at number 15: this, a rueful rave-up about an agrarian smartarse, and Build, the most soulful ballad ever penned about municipal redevelopment. Both should have been top three smashes. Bastard record-buying public. 

Nathan Jones by Bananarama (1988)

Better than the original. The Supremes of the 80s (Siobhan, Keren, Sara) meet the supremes of the 80s (Stock, Aitken, Waterman) for a fight. Belligerent vocals, armoured basslines and synthesised warfare ensues. Popular music is the winner. Stalin-approved revisionist effort with Jacquie instead of Siobhan is mere canon [sic] fodder. 

Looking for Linda by Hue and Cry (1989)

More trouble on the rail network, this time involving a lovestruck Pat Kane moping endlessly along branch lines in search of an eponymous fare dodger who he once snogged at Paisley station. Best turn the whole thing over to the British Transport Police, mate - that all-line rover ticket won't last forever.  

Our Radio Rocks by PJ and Duncan (1995)

A song with rapping, pretend jingles, references to The Buggles and information on frequency modulation - and it still didn't make the top 10? Damn those wireless snobs at Denton Burn. 

Summertime by The Sundays (1997)

Ah, the summer of 1997: a doomed Radio One breakfast show, the worst Oasis album since the next one, the death of Princess Diana and the birth of TV Cream. But there was also this, a gorgeous ode to the promise of the season and the perils of sunburn. It whirled around the air for an all-too-brief time, like a melodious flying ant, then vanished suddenly, leaving only a gash of nostalgia to be mined shameless for the ensuing 15 years (and counting).  

It's The 8:15 from Manchester!
As the 1980s drew to a close, the nation suddenly went Manchester Crazy.

"Leaving soon!"Just as Tony Wilson had been predicting for absolutely ages, whether anyone asked him to or not, all eyes were on the Hacienda nightclub and the new-fangled 'indie dance' bands that trouser-flared out from it. The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, The Charlatans, The Mock Turtles, 808 State, Intastella, Paris Angels, James, Candy Flip, World Of Twist, Northside, New Fast Automatic Daffodils and many more  you probably think we're just making up were now causing a sensation with guitar-pop-meets-Acid-House stylings, and just in case you thought it was merely a couple of feature writers from The Face getting a bit hot under the collar, the first three of the above launched an alarmingly effective assault on the top 20 literally in the closing days of 1989.

In no time at all, 'Madchester' replaced 'Loadsamoney' as the Word That Didn't Actually Make Sense Du Jour. While clued up youngsters donned paisley-patterned hooded tops but never put the hoods up and attempted to cultivate that two-carpet-samples-stuck-together hairstyle (the two may not be unconnected), the BBC were busy looking for an out-of-season substitute for Saturday Morning staple Going Live!. Previous slot incumbents On The Waterfront (the one with the redubbed Flashing Blade) and UP2U (the one with Anthea Turner exploding) employed a combination of semi-fashionable stylings and North West-centric production, leading to BBC Manchester proposing a new show that would indulge in some serious Madchester-skewed bandwagon jumping from their not-quite-Hacienda-neighbouring headquarters on Oxford Road.

And so it was on 21st April 1990, mere months after the charts became awash with wah-wah guitars, funky drummer breaks, Baldrick haircuts and what Smash Hits would dub 'swirly-wirly organs', The 8:15 From Manchester pulled up at, erm, 8.15am on BBC1.

Presented by future daytime schedule-straddler Ross King, then still vaguely hip (in the vaguest possible sense) from a procession of pop presenting duties, and professional northerner Charlotte Hindle, jumping ship from ITV's earlier attempt at Saturday morning zeitgiest-surfing Get Fresh, the show made good on its promise of quasi-hip stylings with a rock video-like studio set and - more importantly - a catchy theme song by Inspiral Carpets, adapted from late '89 almost-hit 'Find Out Why'. Though Clint Boon and company vetoed a suggestion they should appear in cartoon form, the opening titles were similarly modish, complete with subliminal Factory Records reference and not unlike the sort of videos  the Madchester bands were making, albeit about 18 million times more expensive-looking, visually arresting, colourful and indeed actually worth committing to tape in the first place than that original one for The Stone Roses' 'She Bangs The Drums' that they now all try to pretend never existed.

This Inspiral-stamped seal of cred, coupled with the expense involved in persuading bigger names to trek up North, saw to it that the show was largely populated by similarly unlikely-for-Children's-BBC contemporaries such as Blur, EMF, a pre-Fatboy Slim Norman Cook (who remixed the theme live on air), and Candy Flip (who did some alarming arm-waving dancing to the theme live on air), while the studio audience were suitably decked out in appropriate band-related clobber (this was, after all, the age of bands selling more t-shirts than records). This in turn saw to it that the show was watched by as many teenage would-be psychedelic scamps as it was actual members of the target audience, though there was also plenty of room for more traditional Saturday Morning pop guests, among them tedious juvenile close harmonisers Riff and even more juvenile New Kids On The Block offshoot The Boys.

No self-respecting Saturday morning show should be without its regular inserts, and this was, well, the point at which The 8:15 From Manchester came slightly adrift of fashion. The most well-remembered of these was the King-driven 'The Wetter The Better' (seriously, don't try Googling that), a time-honoured kids-vs-teachers set of sub-It's A Knockout games in the appropriately watery surroundings of Blackpool's Sandcastle 'Leisure Pool', with ear-baffling acoustics to match. The main reason for its well-rememberedness is probably that a one-off celebrity edition featured one Betty Boo scampering around in a polka-dot swimsuit, providing an unanticipated additional thrill for all those fringe-expanding adolescent boys.

Other games included confusing Lazer Quest-inspired scaffolding scramble 'It's Tough At The Top', and the lamentable 'Rapattack', about which all of your guesses and presumptions are probably more or less correct.

Elswhere came a problem page-influenced multipart weekly drama strand in which a young Anna Friel and geographical contemporary Rachel Egan (then starring as Lisa in Children's Ward) got caught up in some kind of teen-angsty moral dilemma, occasioning viewers to phone in and vote for which dilemma-resolving outcome they would prefer to see. Bought-in time-fillage came courtesy of second division animated ho-humness Defenders of the Earth ("Defenders!") and Rude Dog & The Dweebs, though there was also room for re-runs of the then-little-seen The Jetsons, and later on, Cream-inspiring Bob Block-centric archive raiding that resulted in rapturously-received repeats of Rentaghost and Grandad.

The 8:15 From Manchester returned for a second run on 28th April 1991, but with Happy Mondays in rehab, Inspiral Carpets in too-weird-for-Smash-Hits freefall, and The Stone Roses locked in a protracted legal debate, the writing was on the wall both for the Madchester 'scene' and for the decidedly offbeat children's show it inspired. By September, it was all over, and there were to be no surprise Saturday morning appearances by Cud, Moose, Airhead or Thousand Yard Stare. Though we do know of at least one present-day BBC employee who's somewhat delighted at the time of the train they have to catch to Media City... .

The Time Tunnel

Technically, we shouldn't be including Bryan Adams' Costner-buoying dirge (Everything I Do) I Do It For You in a special 15-themed celebration of 15 Years Of TV Cream, as its infamous run at the top of the charts actually stretched to 16 weeks.

But that's just on the proper, Gallup-compiled, TOTP-endorsed chart. Over on the Commercial Radio-wrangled Network Chart - from whence, lest we forget, 'The Kid' lifted 'The Lid' - it managed only 15 weeks at number one, and as the faux-Top 40 that inspired The Roxy is basically as Creamy as they come, welcome to a special edition of The Time Tunnel, taking a look at what other soon-to-be-eclipsed elseness was bothering the media when the boreathon began on 7th July 1991.

Sitting behind the craggy-faced chart-hogger when he first hit the top...

10. Color Me Badd - I Wanna Sex You Up
Timid r'n'b workout from arm-jerking foursome and briefly the subject of 'Porn Pop' brow-furrowing by the tabloids along with Latour and The Divinyls.

9. Now That We've Found Love - Heavy D & The Boyz (later no.2)
Third World-sampling rap-pop with top dancing-in-slanty-street video to boot. Later stalled at number two behind La Adams.

8. 7 Ways To Love - Cola Boy
Xylophone-toting cyberpop-hued early chart foray for a pseudonymous Saint Etienne, with future Radio 2 presenter Janey Lee Grace handling the vocals (all five words of them).

7. Rush Rush - Paula Abdul
Not unreasonably forgotten snoozesome 'ballad one' with Keanu Reeves in the video, sadly not in animated cat form.

6. Always There - Incognito feat. Jocelyn Brown
Dawn-of-Acid-Jazz vocal-adding reworking of Ronnie Laws' unofficial backing music for all mid-eighties ITV schedule rundowns.

5. Thinking About Your Love - Kenny Thomas
Tepid pop-soul from former boxer of easy-confusion-with-Mark-Thomas notoriety. That would have been a good episode of Comedy Product, mind.

4. Chorus - Erasure
Vince and Andy on the verge of shark-jumping, ironically accompanied by a video where they were wedged firmly into a beach. It was no Crackers International EP.

3. You Could Be Mine - Guns N' Roses
Assessment: Waste Of Ammo.

2. Any Dream Will Do - Jason Donovan
Lloyd Weber-instigated career reboot following disastrous I'm Doin' Fine/RSVP doubleheader. Today's Saturday Night TV schedules started right here.

...and a special word for the singles kept off the top by the immovable tirefest - More Than Words, I'm Too Sexy, Let's Talk About Sex, Wind Of Change and Get Ready For This. None of which would really have been too much of an improvement.


The five shows we'd most like to have seen from the week following Bryan's snoreathon-inauguration. In most cases, we'd probably be the first person to actually see them too.

5. Them And Us (BBC1, 19.30 Tuesday)
"Liverpudlian comic Craig Charles hosts another mostly humorous look at viewers' gripes against officialdom". That 'mostly' is key.

4. Hope It Rains (ITV, 20:00 Tuesday)
Holly Aird and Tom Bell star in an Esmonde & Larbey sitcom about a run-down seaside waxworks museum. Apparently this also involved some element of social commentary-type 'culture clash' happenings. We really, really hope it was between the waxworks.

3. Without Walls (Channel 4, 21:00 Tuesday)
Once-ubiquitous arts strand double feature opens this week with Paul Morley trying to conquer his 'fear of all things animal' with the aid of Johnny Morris and Beryl Reid, presumably in the guise of Mrs. Pinkteron-Trunk. After that, Muriel Gray talks to someone who has 'mixed a traditional narrative with extracts from phone chat lines'. It's a long haul from there to How To Look Good Naked.

2. Docurama: Henry And The Tank (ITV, 16:40 Tuesday)
Fly-on-the-wall documentary following a week in the lives of short-lived pre-Lineker lynchpins of Walkers Crisps advertising, Henry Power and Jonathan 'Tank' Walker. What's unbelievable about that?

1. Bellamy Rides Again: The Sulphur Cycle (BBC1, 20:00 Thursday)
No elaboration required.


And if all else failed, you could still go to the cinema and pointedly avoid any hint of popcorn-fuelled seeing of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, by, well, electing to watch something else. Other movies making their UK big-screen debut that week included over-pastiched feminist exploration of women being unable to drive Thelma & Louise,  Bruce Willis in a cappuccino-thwarted dive towards retro-lampoonery box office oblivion in Hudson Hawk, Vanessa Paradis getting her post-Roxy baps out in Noce Blanche, and, erm, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Seen, seen, seen, seen...

In the intervening period between this ish of TV Cream’s soaraway e-mag and the previous number, various members of the Creamup Cru have made attempts to fashion alternative, interim careers.

Some filled the interregnum by coming up with ruses simply to make internet fans of Doctor Who unwittingly produce sentences that included the four disparate words, “bring”, “back”, “Gary” and “Gillatt”. Others have taken to breaking the news of the death of one minor celebrity to another minor celebrity. However Creamup has also dabbled in the business of attempting to invent a television quiz show. And not just one – an actual few in fact.

It’s been a long, and as of yet not 100 percent successful journey. But it has been one with some invaluable life lessons imparted along the way. It turns out there are in fact 15 rules to devising a quiz show. Many of them are obtuse and fiddly, but they are what you need to know if you want to embark upon providing television’s B-list celebs with gainful employment.

RULE 1 - PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE Numbers can be useful, but they are inherently anti-climactic. After all, no one has ever used a number as a punchline to a joke (bar “I’d give her one”), and while their close cousins, letters, have recently become accepted as the most exciting way by which to tell a written story, numbers languish far behind in the interest stakes. As such, should you be attempting to devise a quiz show in which, say contestants accrue monies by providing numerically based answers, then our advice is do one! It’s going to be boring and every self-respecting quiz show commissioner will let you know that at the earliest opportunity.

RULE 2 - WHAT’S MY LINE? It might be fine on Pointless, but TV quiz shows should never seek to put questions to contestants “down the line” (to use industry parlance). The process of asking Contestant A something, then asking Contestant B something, and so on until the final contestant has received a question is considered duller than Rob Curling. Come up with something – no matter how spurious – that lets all the contestants get an equal crack at the whip, just not in sequential order.

RULE 3 - THE BIG IDEA Did you know that recent Nick Hancock daytime quizzer Breakaway is based on a peloton? Apparently this is where a group of cyclists trundle along together until one of them decides to go for glory alone. However, you don’t see the erstwhile La Triviata host bounding onto the Breakaway set bedecked in lycra cycle wear. Nor do contestants peep a bell to indicate their willingness to take on a question. In fact, there is really nothing to connect the show back to its original inspiration. The lesson of Breakway is that coming up with a quiz show format that cannot be explained in purely metaphorical terms is a complete waste of time. Those nabobs who you need to impress can’t stand gaming abstractions, or self-referential stuff about rules and such like. That means you need to be able to describe your new hit series purely in terms of other things that already exist, such as “Ocean’s Eleven as a quiz show” (The Bank Job), or even just “a downmarket Eggheads” (The Chase).

RULE 4 - TIPPING POINT An extension from the previous rule really. Back in days of yore, quiz shows would luxuriate in Contestant A having amassed a whopping 485 points. These days though, those people who commission quiz shows have it in for the humble point (to stretch the point, they just can’t see the point). There are exceptions to the rule of course, but Pointless only gets away with points, because of the fact it’s doing something different with them. In pretty much every other show you’ll see on television these days, you’re playing to amass either cash, some kind of advantage, or simply to avoid elimination.

RULE 5 - DOUBLE CROSS Back when Toby Anstis could still see a glittering career stretching out before him, getting contestants to do the dirty on each other was quite the in-thing. Jasper Carrott’s Golden Balls acted as particularly noxious weed killer to that particular quizzing Japanese knotweed. Nonetheless, it’s a gaming principle that still crops up in quiz show development teams. Generally speaking, the proposition is to incentivise players not to answer questions, or deliberately get them wrong, because it somehow creates a problem for their fellow competitors. Sounds like a neat idea, until you realise that the viewer can’t tell if the contestant threw the question for tactical reasons, or because they didn’t know the answer. Unlike Homeland or Midsomer Murders, in quiz shows the motivations of our protagonists always need to be completely transparent to the viewer at home.

RULE 6 - WIN, LOSE OR DRAW One of the easiest ways to make your quiz show exciting is to lose the worst performing contestant at the end of every round. What can be more thrilling than someone fighting for their actual televisual existence? Well it may sound massively exciting, there is one big drawback, which becomes immediately apparent when more than one contestant is tied for last place. Let’s be clear, should this happen in your quiz show – it’s nothing less than a catastrophe. Whereas in the worlds of sport and men’s neckwear, ties might be positively encouraged, in quiz shows they are to be avoided. The rule is simple to follow and when put in writing has the whiff of a cod-Far Eastern aphorism, to whit – some may win, many may lose but none should ever draw.

RULE 7 – BUZZ AND TELL We’re only half way through the rule book and we’ve already ruled out points, numbers and even asking contestants questions in order. Surely then that means that buzzers are where it’s at? Actually, the answer to that is “no”. Buzzers might work for trashy old ITV, but over at the BBC, buzzers are seen as a direct impediment to the viewers at home being able to play a long. Let us demonstrate... “The script for You Only Live…” BZZZZZT “Roald Dahl!”, “Which 19th century British Prime…” BZZZZZT “Disraeli”. Yes a quiz show in which the questions are interrupted by the contestants is a state of affairs to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes it is possible to phrase a question in such a way that contestants can’t possibly have an inkling of the answer until the last syllable has been uttered. And some shows lock contestant buzzers until the full text of the question has been enunciated - but then you end up with endless shots of an irritating know-it-all constantly bashing away, which just looks wrong. (NB: If in doubt on a politics question always give “Disraeli” as the answer as you will invariably be correct).

RULE 8 – THE GOLDEN SHOT Classic Channel 4 quizzer Fifteen To One has become a latter day quiz development mystery. Just how did that work duration wise? The second round relied on all but three of the contestants losing their lives by getting questions wrong, but how could they possibly know how long that would take? That’s why these days it’s rare to see quiz shows (unless they’re a rolling format) in which contestants are trying to achieve specific targets – as you can never know just how long it will take them. Which is just another reason why Fifteen To One was so damn good.

RULE 9 – COUNTDOWN The easiest way to make your quiz show 10 times, nine times, eight times, seven times more exciting is to add a countdown. Everyone loves them, and once it starts you just can’t switch over until that countdown reaches zero. Ironically the only show that (currently anyway) is an exception to this rule is – ahem – Countdown.

RULE 10 – ALL OR NOTHING One of the most beloved quiz show narratives is to have the contestants who make it to the final, play off against each other to win the prize pot that has been built up over the course of the show. It’s a neat idea, and it means that excitement builds as the cash piles up. However, the big problem comes when your format is designed in such a way that it’s technically possible for the players to get through to the final and have precisely no money to play for. This kind of thing can be a real format headache and put the kibosh on any number of exciting quiz show ideas – although not always. In fact, Creamup is pretty sure that The Weakest Link had precisely this problem. What’s more we have it on reasonable authority that the production team never noticed or - if they did -never drew attention to this particular issue within the series’ Bible.

RULE 11 – RANDOM CHOICE We love a bit of strategising in our quiz shows, but there is one time that contestants should never be asked to make gaming decisions about each other – and that’s in round one. They might know who the strongest competitors are from the audition process, or even the bits of the show they played in the green room to warm up, but to us the viewers, any tactical choices they make based on the prowess of other contestants in round one looks totally random, until we, the viewers, have got a little bit into the quiz and have been able to suss everyone out for ourselves.

RULE 12 – ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MINERAL Never ask a buzzer question which has “artichoke” as an answer. After all, do you mean a globe artichoke, a Jerusalem artichoke or a Chinese artichoke. They are all different things, and – well – it just gets too confusing.

RULE 13 – GOING FOR GOLD Creamup was once asked to come up with 12 funny and interesting questions about “bronze” for a big Saturday night game show. We got as far as “Which Australian slang term, meaning ‘good’, is an anagram of ‘bronze’?” and then we gave up. The moral of the story? Never include questions about bronze.

RULE 14 – THE BANK JOB Satirical representations of TV show development often like to suggest that all TV people do is try and come up with programme titles (“Monkey Tennis”, anyone?) And while this is not the whole story, a catchy title can get you surprisingly far down the commissioning road. It is said that the chap who devised The Weakest Link came up with little more than a title that captured the imagination – and now he’s worth almost as much as Anne Robinson. Similarly, 101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow turned out to be a great title lumbered with a rubbish format. For clarification purposes, Four Square is a rubbish title.

RULE 15 – I’VE GOT A SECRET Some quiz shows are pretty banal, but some can be surprisingly profound. Take the end game of ITV’s Golden Balls, for example. Not only is it a metaphor for the Cold War, but it’s also the basic framework by which many scientists make sense of acts of altruism that take place in the natural world. Who’d have thought those killer balls could be so profound, eh quizzers?


A bit of a look at Now 15

 RELEASED: August 1989. We're edging towards the end of Cream-relevance - and some would argue relevance full stop - for the Now series, but this is still a mighty collection of chart-bound smashes which, while lacking the post-New Romantic thrills and spills of earlier volumes, will at least evoke memories of holiday romances conducted to the worked-at-the-time soundtrack of Glenn Medeiros. Or, if raining, CP & Bastard Qwikstitch.

Now That's What I Call Music 15DESIGN CONCEPT: Off to the seaside we go, with beachballs and a towel making up the logo but with the "15" represented by an ominously large shadow looming across the sand. Just what was it that made those pawprints though?  

TRACKS: Adhering strictly to the '32 Top Chart Hits' dictat. Comfort over originality every time.

SIDE 1 TRACK 1: Queen - 'I Want It All'. Make no mistake, this is a Now album that was keen to kick sand in faces from the very start. Following it with Simple Minds' unexpectedly pun-friendly 'Kick It In' merely confirmed this.

CHART TOPPERS: Soul II Soul - 'Back To Life', Jive Bunny - 'Swing The Mood' and the charity rendition of 'Ferry 'Cross The Mersey'. The chaotic crazy-paving nature of the record-buying public in 1989 nailed in three songs flat. Just be thankful there was no Sonia.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Plenty of good stuff on offer here. Side one is steadily uptempo fare from Fine Young Cannibals, Holly Johnson and Transvision Vamp, whilst the by now increasingly traditional Side three dance sequence kicks off with the Soul II Soul track and follows it with Neneh Cherry, Bobby Brown, Inner City and D-Mob. Veterans are
well-pocket-money-swindling-represented too with Stevie Nicks, Natalie Cole, Paul McCartney, Gladys Knight's Bond Theme and Cliff Richard's purported 100th Single, although as Richard Marx wrote the song this is sort of forgivable. Ish. Side four is only rescued from distinct ordinariness by the The Cure - their first Now inclusion since the opening volume.

ONE HIT WONDERS: The dreadful, sappy 'Cry' by Waterfront. You could also count 'Norman Cook & MC Wildski' as the future Fatboy Slim makes his first tentative solo steps before realizing he isn't quite cutting the cool mustard under his real name. Oh yes, and the aforementioned Liverpudlian collective, but as the Guinness Book would tell us, they don't count as they had all had hits individually. Gambaccini Rules will always be invoked around here.

BIGGEST FLOP: Norman Cook and his oft Normski-conflated pal, climbing no higher than No.29.

SLEEVENOTES: We are told that Kirsty MacColl's Days is her fourth Top 20 smash and by far the one with the smallest title, that Neneh Cherry is believed to be the first Swedish born act to appear on more than one Now album (we were all counting after all), but shame on the researchers who cared enough to tell us that Donna Allen's Joy And Pain was a cover of "a club classic in the early 1980s" but didn't bother to find out that Maze were the ones who recorded it. Despite then putting their version on Now Dance 89 instead of hers!!

DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: The whole album sequence features some well-defined shape and form, more so than any collection so far. Side 1 is rock, Side 2 mellow, Side 3 dance and Side 4 is the odds and sods albeit with a nice rap montage of De La Soul, Norman Cook and Double Trouble in the middle. Paul McCartney actually ends up on two successive tracks at the start of Side 2, solo with My Brave Face and then on Ferry 'Cross The Mersey. Holly Johnson very nearly pulls off a similar gambit too.

BETTER TRY OXFAM: One of the rarer offerings, it seems, with both vinyl and CD regularly fetching around £15-20 on eBay. Presumably everyone was saving their money for that weird Top Of The Pops album.

Seen on BBC1 from 1969 to 1985, what was generated by the Nexus Orthicon Display Device?


What's the connection between Thunderbird 2 and CSI?


While watching children's TV, Sir Clement Freud used to make his young son Matthew bet his pocket money on which famous one-in-three outcome?


Which BBC Radio 4 panel game was devised on a Number 13 bus while its devisor remembered a punishment his old history master used to inflict on him for daydreaming in class?


To whom did Dawn Airey, the Director of Programmes at the new Channel 5, ask her PA to forward this message: "Tell him that not only is he not opening it, but he will never, ever even appear on it"?


In season two of The Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin discovers that there is another bionic superhuman. What nickname did he have?


The banana warehouse where Jaswinder Bancil, Tracey MacLeod and Sebastian Scott once lightly trod is no more. What building now rests on the site of Network Seven?


What famously appeared in the title sequence of Doctor Who but has not been seen the Eighth Doctor onwards?


Which American late-night chat show host got his first writing job working on HBO's Not Necessarily the News, a spin-off of Not the Nine O'Clock News?


For most of the last 45 years, where could a piece of music called The Awakening, composed by Johnny Pearson, be heard at 10 o'clock?


The youngest ever actor to be knighted, who presented the Christmas Eve edition of Five to Eleven in 1987?


Which R&B group provided the vocals for the famous pinball machine animation on Sesame Street that helped pre-schoolers learn the numbers up to 12?


In the 1980 film Friday the 13th, which featured Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest roles, which of the 11 victims' deaths was real?


Why was it unadvisable to go to Section 14 in the 'choose your own adventure'-style GrailQuest books?


Why did the host of Fifteen-to-One finish one of his 2265 episodes with the words "...it's Gladstone"?


The problem with telly programmes these days is that a lot of them are too bloody long. On a Saturday night, for example, by the time you've had a quiz and a talent show it's already past the watershed and you end up with ridiculous things like Family Fortunes at half past nine. In the past telly shows knew their place though and some of the best were small but perfectly formed, and here are 15 shows that came on, did what they had to, and then buggered off.
The ultimate short but sweet television programme, as far as we're concerned the golden era was with Anne "them upstairs" Robinson after Dallas on a Wednesday but of course it goes back over 50 years. The first few of those certainly sound great fun, as on the debut show Robert Robinson demanded that our letters be completely disrespectful and the show itself was not averse to writing their own letters if the point they wanted to make didn't arrive in the post. Under Kenneth Robinson it got sillier still, before it was taken off in 1971. But it was back in 1979, originally only in London before getting back on the network the following year with Barry Took in charge, then after Anne it all went a bit rubbish with Wogan overdoing the blarney and the irritating current version with Jeremy Vine allowing correspondents to talk rubbish about things that don't matter.
The 1960s spin-off, with Bob Robinson in charge again, which caused controversy around TV Centre when they parodied Blue Peter and to save on the cost of a third actor Pete Purves was portrayed by a cardboard cut-out which led to Biddy Baxter complaining about their implication that Pete was boring. Things got even more heated when they stuck the cardboard cut-out in their office window and the security office got frantic phone calls reporting a suspected suicide attempt by Purves.
Another 1960s production from TVC's favourite ever BBC department, Presentation Programmes, who made odds and sods to fill gaps from the tiny Pres B. Produced by later Beeb big cheese Will Wyatt, this recalled the pre-Cream decade via archive and recollection, Wyatt once asking Huw Wheldon to talk about the Festival of Britain but it would have to last exactly three minutes. Turning up at Wheldon's office, Wheldon told Wyatt he'd not received his note and knew nothing about what he wanted, but he'd have a go and promptly delivered on the spot a perfect monologue that lasted three minutes on the dot. What a coincidence.
"The moment Deryck Guyler was born, he had a moustache, a deep voice and was fifty five years of age!" Danny Baker's finest ever television work? Well, maybe, but these ten minute profiles of iconic figures were perfectly-formed pieces of telly, mixing hilarious archive footage (in the days before they were recycled on every other clip show) with Dan's wonderful turns of phrase, paying tribute to the likes of the Top of the Pops audience, Bob Harris and that man again Pete Purves, inventing TV Cream in the process.
A BBC Enterprises production, we think, and based on one of the very first BBC Videos, this BBC2 filler from the early 1990s compiled vintage Beeb out-takes ("Yes, that egg's definitely been jumped on") with a Norden-esque narration by the droll John Pitman. Shoved out whenever there was a hole in the schedules (the equivalent of Coast, really), TVC remembers putting the tape on for an episode at four in the morning during the 1996 Olympics, and being a bit disappointed when the basketball overran. Good job we didn't stay up.
There were loads more fillers based on the archives in the 1990s, including the unappealing Clarkson's Star Cars, and even later we recall bits of I Love The Seventies being recycled in three minute chunks, but this 1994 sporting bloopers show presented by Jo Brand is particularly notable as only one episode was ever broadcast, further editions turning up in alternative schedules that were never followed during the World Cup. Wonder how many there were?
"Why can't Five To Eleven be extended to 10 or even 15  minutes?" So asked Mrs MR Hood of Wallasey in the One Day In The Life Of Television book on a day when "Patricia Routledge reads three salutary poems by Elisabeth Jennings about animals trying to come to terms with the human world". Basically an adult version of Jackanory, the only interesting aspect of this series is that it was the only daytime show that carried on during the school holidays, where kids read the poems and it was accompanied by a dub version of the theme tune. And inevitably, we have to say it was better than Loose Women.
Talk about BBC overmanning, this ten minute monthly show required two presenters. Growing out of the standalone charity appeals, in the mid-1980s it became a fully-fledged programme with Cliff Michelmore and a succession of female sidekicks highlighting the latest fundraising initiatives and introducing a celeb to rattle the tin for a charity close to them, on Sunday teatimes and then - where TVC most remembers it - repeated before CBBC one afternoon. It's still going too, still once a month on Sunday afternoons, but now the celeb doing the appeal fronts the whole thing, even though that surely undermines all the other appeals in it.
BBC1's Sunday 6.15pm slot was home to all manner of adult education series over the years, the successors to On The Moov, like the Savile-fronted Play It Safe, A Way With Numbers with Carol Vorderman and Craig Charles trying to interest us in meteorology in Weather Watch. But we're highlighting this series about better communication from the early nineties, because it sparked off umpteen complaints to Points of View about it being, rather ironically, completely unintelligible.
More edutainment, this time later in the evening, as Alexei Sayle fronted this series of short sharp shocks to make us safer on the roads, basically by just shouting at us for ten minutes. If you're keeping a record, he was bearded in this series. The concept was repeated in later years with Greg Proops' memory-training Unforgettable and the majestic Get Fit With Brittass.
You knew where you were with Newsround in the 1970s and 1980s to the extent that when John Craven stopped saying "Hello again" at the start, he had to bring it back after hundreds of complaints from parents whose kids were distraught they couldn't say hello back. But occasionally John would get out of the studio and every Friday for the first three months of the year, the slot would be devoted to long-form reports on a topical issue, the most famous undoubtedly being one of the very first on Rollermania - "It's just a gimmack, innit!"
Natch, and of course up until the early 1980s they were on all three channels at once, so there was no escape, and even when they stopped doing that in 1981, Labour were still allowed to have half theirs simulcast because they specifically requested it. From Tony Benn in a swivel chair to Jimmy Savile interrogating Jeremy Thorpe via Leo McKern promoting UKIP ("Why, thank you, Mr Sked, I for one am very impressed!"), no matter what ideas they threw at them they were always rubbish, and these days we only ever get the bare minimum, just one or two before polling day, although they are back on BBC1 and ITV at the same time again (although it's five to seven and they just chop the end off the regional news so nobody notices). However in America they still allow the President to speak on all channels for anything up to an hour in primetime and it's remarkable that US telly has become massively commercial in every aspect but still shows a deference for politics last exhibited this side of the Atlantic in the days of Harold MacMillan.
Of course the Beeb were most in need of short programmes as an American hour only ran to 50 minutes once you took the adverts out, but the other channels sometimes had a go. When ITV had exclusive rights to the Football League in the late 1980s, highlights were old hat and live games were where it was at, but given they had the footage, for a few weeks they whacked out the goals in a brief ten minute burst on a Saturday night with a quick voice over. No, it was not more interesting than Alan Shearer on Match of the Day, you're just trying to sound cool. Note also the shoddily produced Goals Extra shows flung out by most of the ITV regions on Saturday teatimes stitching together haphazard clips of the afternoon's local football. Still coming home from the match at 5.15? Tough.
TSB had its Rock School while its soon-to-be purchaser invited kids with too much time on their hands to write and direct their own short films for a screening on Channel Four in the early nineties. TVC recalls the first was a terrible monologue about how shit parents were by future sitcom scribe Susan Nickson which particularly annoyed us as we were doing that kind of thing in our diary and utterly resented Nickson for getting the chance to do it on the telly. Then she wrote Two Pints of Lager and  a Packet of Crisps. The nightmare continues.
Well, you all know what this is ("The apparatus is then dismantled… and destroyed!") but our favourite thing about the original 10-minute series is that when it was shown on American telly it had an ad break in it.


If there's one thing we like here at TVC Towers - apart from writing books about KP Wickers, being retweeted by Benedict Cumberbatch, and shouting into a cheap microphone about Saint Etienne - it's trawling YouTube for increasingly esoteric Cream-era clippage. While there's still no sign of Buzzfax or Georgie Fame doing the full-length Morph song on Blue Peter, here are a handful of our favourite anniversary-related extracts. Some of them even featuring the number 15...!

So how do you celebrate the 10th anniversary of Doctor Who? With Jon Pertwee droning on about his vanity-built tricorn-hat-on-wheels, that's how. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acAS8ZrISoo (first half only due to BBC copyright zeal) 
Five years later, and here's the current Doctor and companion sat on the Nationwide couch, each pretending to know who the other actually is. 
Still with Doctor Who, and the surviving incumbents of the title role went into promo-appearance overdrive for the impending 20th anniversary special 'The Five Doctors'. First up Troughton and Davison on Breakfast Time (looking casual there, Russell Grant); then Pertwee, Troughton, Davison and inagural producer Verity Lambert on Nationwide; and finally Davison and Hurndall rolling up on Blue Peter in a Variety Club Of Great Britain Sunshine Coach. Careful not to have anything within punching distance when he says "...and greetings to you from the Time Lords!". 
In a risible moment of not-realising-what-was-just-around-the-corner-ness, only UK Gold really made any effort for Doctor Who's 40th. Here's the Steve Berry-fuelled profiles of Doctors 1-7 from their Who @ 40 Weekend.

Spooling back to Blue Peter and their own 25th anniversary, the centrepiece of which seems to be a party popper-stalling Simon Groom film on an elephant orphanage from their expedition to Sri Lanka, but eventually there's a parade of former presenters before the inevitable celebratory balloon release. No Noakes or Judd but they got a moustachioed Chris Wenner. 
Then, BP at 35 - a sofa full of previous hosts, the Bootleg Beatles (where's Val wandering off to as they start?), Tina Heath's daughter, what might well be Leila Williams' last appearance (she's not in the 25th anniversary show either, facts-we-missed-out fans), and a weird link where they get all the guests to pretend to row a dragon boat. 
Children's BBC rifling through their 10th anniversary, which literally restricts Simon Potter and Debbie Flint to it-was-ever-thus walk-ons at the end. "You can tell he used to work for ITV!". 
A bit more time for clips on the occasion of the CBBC Channel-only 25th anniversary, featuring Anstis, Ball and at least one montage cribbed from YouTube itself. 
On the other side it's the CITV 20th anniversary special, with Matthew Kelly, an off-script Roland Rat, Grotbags, Jeanne Downs, Elizabeth Estensen in rare 'non-T-Bag' guise, Gary Terzza and, maybe giving away how few people they could actually get, the presenters who'd joined four years earlier, though one is Arthur 'Tom' Darvill. Also, a good indication of why Michael Underwood never became the star he was touted as becoming. 
25 Years Of Top Of The Pops, starting with a reconstuction of the start of the first show the BBC now like to pretend is the actual footage, and featuring a very 1988-89 vision of 'sixties' lineup - Status Quo, the Swinging Blue Jeans, the Tremeloes, Cliff, David Essex, and inevitably Lulu. Also, cameos by Moira Stewart and Eddie Edwards. 
Two-thirds of the Wogan Radio 1 20th anniversary special, with first Peel and Blackburn, then Mike Smith in the studio with comedy lookalikes, Bruno with his jingles especially on CD, and "Radio 1's first pregnant DJ" Liz. Sadly the third part - where Ed Stewart, Pete Murray, Dave Cash and David Symonds essentially promote their independent local radio stations over the top of each other - hasn't been uploaded. 

And the 25th anniversary of the station had a prominent, landmark-worthy chat slot too - Lynn Parsons on Parallel 9
And when Radio 1 turned 15... this happened. Favourite bits: Jimmy pointing across the studio to "some of my colleagues" followed by a cut to the other stage on which Jimmy is in the centre of shot, and Tommy Vance at 1:37. 
And while we're about "the armchair genie", Andi Peters talks down to everyone - literally so when the sportspeople come on - hosting 20 Years Of Jim'll Fix It 
Marking an ad-hoc pretender to the throne of the 20th anniversary of Saturday Morning shows on the BBC, here's the entirety of the fab Multi-Coloured Saturdays. No room for Zokko!, mind. 
And finally, Grandstand's 40th anniversary, live at Ascot where they seem to have erected a marquee just for BBC Sport staff. Chats abound with Peter Dimmock, David Coleman, Frank Bough and Des Lynam, while the second clip is a Football Focus special with Bob Wilson, Jimmy Hill, and at the end Lineker getting back at Mick Channon for mispronouncing his name throughout ITV's 1986 World Cup coverage. 


So what are the 15 Creamiest things ever?

Well, we had no idea, so we asked our readers... who all voted for different things and we ended up with a big huge fab list but no tangible results. So we asked within TVC Towers, and got an even bigger list that took in such well-known totems of popular culture as Nibbit Wheelz, Comrade Dad, Just Ask For Diamond, The Mac Band Featuring The McCampbell Brothers, Woddis On, a BBC Midlands Spiral Paper Hat and, inevitably, Those Spidery Octopus Things That Rolled Down Windows.

Clearly we were onto a loser here, so a special committee was convened to draw up a list of those things that, whether we're all bored of actually writing about them or not, say 'TV Cream' louder than anything else. Blowing dust off an 'In Case Of Emergency' cardboard file with a drawing of Andrew Collins on the front, we found a Radio Shack 100 In 1 Electronic Project Kit, a 'Pop-A-Matic' dice shaker, and some scrawled instructions about The Right Kind Of The Wrong Kind Of Nostalgia, and set to work. Here's what we came up with!

It's been a rocky ride for poor old Carole Hersee and her strangely disquieting cloth pal, switching almost overnight from cornerstone of the original TV Cream vision to something that, well, we wished would just sod off. It's still prone to overuse in unfunny parodies, of course, but they just don't 'do' TV as context-adrift weirdly as they used to, and it never came weirder nor indeed more context adrift than this.

Tape-fiddling mainstay of pre-Bannisterisation Radio 1, armed with an entire battallion of comic characters - most of them jobsworth ticket inspector types - and the sort of DJ that would breathlessly count down the minutes until the next time he told you what time it was. This is what we want, not earnest mumbling about tour dates for the bland guitar band you've just heard on the 'Live Lounge'!

Dimly-yet-widely recollected slab of late seventies puppets-on-a-black-background lunchtime obscurity, so wide of the cultural radar that even TV Cream didn't know the proper title until a couple of years back (and even then we spelt it wrong). Alright, so maybe more people reading this remember Ring-A-Ding than remember the titular rabbit, but here at TV Cream you'll get deleriously obscure and you'll like it!!

Let's face it, nobody much cared for them during the actual Cream Era, not least when they were palmed off under the Friday Film Special ripoff banner by the BBC. It was only later that their accidental genius came to light, and indeed one of the first ever pages on TV Cream was an overview of their ouvre - the first one ever, as far as we know. And, what do you know, it later inspired a book...

Delinquency, up-to-the-minute technology, exotic soft drinks that people who'd been to America spoke legends of, and the lingering frazzled remnants of the idea that all young males would be interested in the 'Wild West', all combined in a rootin' tootin' sharp-shootin' catalogue-coveted game you were never allowed yourself but lucky bastard older cousins were. TV Cream Toys is still available for the Kindle, you know...

There were so many comics we could have gone for - after all, someone not a million miles from here once wrote a book about the lot of them - and we're likely to get a smattering of Twitter-frowns for overlooking Action, but the revived photostory-festooned Eagle combined the traditional thrill of comics with the illusion of the exciting new world of technology, plus it had Doomlord in it as well.

High watermark of the eighties fab for 32 Hit-filled double-album Various Artists compilations, marking the moment where many a Cream-era youngster's tastes started to become more sophisticated; Side 1 angular pop, Side 3 classy balladeering, Side 4 rocking but very politely, and Side 2 the bollocks they couldn't fit anywhere else. From here, it's Inner City 12"s all the way.

Let's face it, we could have filled this entire list with game shows - Gambit, Bob's Full House, Winner Takes All and so many more - but it's Noel's refinment of the formula that he almost got right with Time Of Your Life that takes the honours, for reasons we've banged on about so many times before. In short, it was pretty much the only window on the Cream Era in the days before you could get stuff on DVD. Don't splash him!

Joystick-knackering - or, if raining, keyboard-hammering - computerised representation of sporting pursuits that were singularly unsuited to computerisation, available across the only platforms that ever mattered, and responsible in no small part for the fact that anyone involved with TV Cream got 'into' computers in the first place. Daley deserves a gold for indirectly inspiring that 7 C's Of Wry article alone.

Pre-Blockbuster jaunts to the local independently-owned punningly-named maze of shelves groaning under the weight of chewed-to-fuck Cold War-weighted action thrillers, knocker-promising zany comedies, sweary standup sets, 'Nasties' that everyone else in school had seen, and the underachieving cinema-swerving mainstream comedy that you inevitably got out, were more of a hallmark of the Cream Era than visits to the cinema ever could be.

Livid green four-flavoured New Romantic-plugged futuristically-tinged carbonated soft drink of notorious short-livedness, just edging out our original choice of KP Cheese Dip. And if you want to know more about its curious history, then The Great British Tuck Shop by Phil Norman and Steve Berry is available at an Amazon near you from September. Squirt?! Be off with you!

Home Taping never actually did kill music, but all the same it did introduce an entire generation to the concept of making your own cost-free compilation, rivalling even the Now That's What I Call Music series for value. Record button dexterity and and C90-length-related time management were all that was needed to make your own snapshot of the pop scene as was. Your iTunes shower don't know they're born, frankly.

In a reasonably school-evoking comic strip whirl of spinning punchups, PE smackdowns and confiscated, um, comics, viewers were left as baffled as the goggle-eyed pupils by the forceful presentation of an airborne banger, presumably the result of the world's least effective bully somehow contriving to give his intended 'victim' some extra food, ready-mounted on a fork. Not even Booga Benson was that dense!!

A sort of Renaissance Man of Spangle-remembrance, straddling the diverse worlds of avant-garde comedy, home computing, Bran Flakes-promoting and - but of course - singing Penny Lane with Little Ted as the fireman. Not to mention the star of the first ever photograph uploaded to a fledgeling TV Cream. He's an artist - how is he expected to work with these amateurs?!

Motheaten sarcastic puppets act out surrealist morality plays replete with fourth-wall-breaking addresses to camera from newsreader-style surroundings (and, at one point, existentially-taxing 'filming themselves' opening titles gambit) for three hundred lunchtime-bound episodes, most of which no longer exist anywhere outside the collective memory. This should be at the top of every chart ever, regardless of subject.




1) The 'mirror globe' ident.

2) The characers Virgil Tracy and Gil Grissom are both named after Virgil 'Gus' Grissom, one of the Mercury space program pilots.
3) Which window would be used on that day's episode of Play School. Young Freud eventually worked out that the episodes used the windows in sequence and took his dad to the cleaners.
4) Just a Minute. The punishment was to recount everything the teacher had just said within a minute, without heistation or repetition.
5) Richard Whiteley, who was desperate to repeat his claim to fame of being the first face seen on a new channel.
6) The Seven Million Dollar Man.
7) One Canada Square, aka the Canary Wharf building.
8) The Doctor's face.
9) Conan O'Brien.
10) At the start of ITV's News at Ten.
11) Sir Laurence Olivier.
12) The Pointer Sisters.
13) The snake's - a real snake, really killed.
14) Your character would die (and be resurrected by Merlin).
15) In response to a viewer's letter who had asked what the middle initial of William G Stewart stood for.