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Part Six

Dedicated to..
About me
1980 4 idiots
Shpshd 4 dummies
Press Release
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23
Part 24
Part 25
Other work by Mark!

"The idiot box"


My own children find it hard to believe that little over a quarter of a century ago, there were just three channels on the TV. Nowadays there are hundreds of channels, broadcasting 24/7. Ad they are glued to “Jetix” or “Cbeebies”, I tell them that they would not have coped back in the 1980’s with just three-channels and….a black and white TV (our actual TV set from the 80's is pictured left!) They aren’t paying any attention to me of course! they are glued to "the idiot box" (Peter Kay in 24 Hour Party People 2002).


My Dad bless him, was the same and even though there were just three channels and our set was an old black and white manual one (eg no remote), he still found loads to watch! I remember I got into big trouble at once over my reading and really it was his fault. You had to take a book home and read it to your parents. They would then sign it off as read. One Monday night, I got my reading book out, can’t remember what it was called (so it obviously made a big impression on me) and read to my Dad. I soon realised he was paying no attention to me whatsoever because he was glued to the TV, so I started skipping out the odd paragraph, then pages, then whole chapters and just before bed I got him to sign my book to say he had heard me read it - which he did without even averting his gaze from the TV. My teacher went ballistic the next day and challenged me on how I could read such a long book so quickly, so I had to do it all over again the next night. My Dad however escaped similar censure for falsifying my reading record, Tuesday night was one of his "Curry nights out with the lads" - off he would go, normally with his pals Dave Breeze, Jamie from Long Whatton (a Carpenter by trade who was fond of Chicken Korma or "Whippet Diarrhea" as my Dad and the lads called it) and Pete Hewitt (a copper). So whilst he was out with his mates having a good time, my mum had to listen to me do it again and she made sure I read it properly from cover to cover!


He was back then, in every sense of the word, a “Telly Addict”. He could watch and listen to absolutely everything. I remember once my mum querying why he had come home with a “Swan Lake” cassette, fundamentally he was into Motown! His explanation was it was on offer in WH Smith in Loughborough for 49p and it was “something different” – I was with him at the time he bought it so obviously had to vouch for him.


In the evenings, our little house on Blacksmith’s Avenue was the idyllic suburban scene. Usually on a Monday or Wednesday, he would clutter the coffee table up with his paperwork and invariably get distracted by the time Crossroads came on. My mum would be out on those nights, Monday was her college night (she did a catering course at Loughborough College) and on Wednesday night she would go out with her “girly pals” or be working shifts at the White House in Kegworth. The paperwork would be forgotten and soon his feet would be on the table and inevitably, when he stopped laughing at the TV I knew he had gone to sleep and it would be a case of watching and waiting for his feet to start to twitch, he suddenly would wake up and realise News at Ten had finished and I should have been sent to bed hours ago!


There was some awful rubbish on the three channels back then! BBC One, BBC Two and ATV, which later became Central was your lot! Not all of it was bad though, I enjoyed Minder and still like to watch the repeats on the digital channels. Other favourites of mine included Auf Wiedersehen Pet (the first series that is! Funnily enough my Dad used to go out on Friday nights when it was on at 9pm) and he hated Coronation Street. One thing he did let me stay up and watch and something I also enjoyed was M*A*S*H (BBC2, Wednesday nights, 9pm). Usually I don’t do American programmes, my idea of torture is being forced to watch stuff like Seinfield, Fraser and Friends. However M*A*S*H was the exception and much to my annoyance, now Sky have got hold of it, the dreaded “canned laughter” has been added to the repeats. Canned laughter works fine in Scooby Doo, but in M*A*S*H it has ruined my memories of those warm summer Wednesday nights in Blacksmiths Ave.


However one thing my Dad loved and I was not so fond of was “The Kelly Monteith Show”. Kelly was a Missouri based comedian who the BBC snapped up and somehow decided to commission not one but two series. I think my Dad was the only person on the planet who watched it on a Monday night. I recently visited Kelly’s website convinced he had died years ago, but he is alive, well and a quarter of a century later he still seems bitter at the Beeb’s decision to axe his show. I don’t blame them, after all they are entrusted with public money through the licence fee and there was no justification to keep a programme on air just because a factory-floor manager from Shepshed enjoyed watching it.


According to Kelly’s website, the tapes from his show are gathering dust in the BBC archive. Hopefully some work-experience student will have accidentally wiped them before they do something silly and re-release them on DVD! I got into huge trouble once for accidentally taping over my Dad’s copy of the film “Trading Places” with “Match of the Day”, so much so I had to go out and buy him an original copy with my pocket-money (just so he could freeze frame and rewind the bit where Jamie Lee Curtis gets her two bob bits out – one suspects!). Admittedly even a cracking cup-tie involving Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham is no match for the nubile charms of Jamie Lee Curtis playing a tart-with-a-heart.


But sorry Kelly Monteith, wherever you may be nowdays, I have no sympathy or any desire to see you return to my screens because whilst you were on, your one and only fan (my Dad) would stay awake and I would have to go to bed on time!


As a result, I was denied the opportunity to watch things like the brilliant Kenny Everett Television Show (I know he was a Thatcherite but he had something the majority of people on TV these days don’t have eg talent!) and The Young Ones – I was just about the only kid in school who was not allowed to stay up and watch this! Therefore to save face, I branded it crap, which earned me even more ridicule from my class-mates than I would have got had I just admitted the truth and said I was not allowed to stay up and watch it!


However today (21/06/2009) I read in the Sunday Mirror that Ade Edmundon who played Vivvan can't stand watching it either and reckons it's boring, so after all these years I am redeemed!



"Nowadays one appreciates that Match of the Day is not a patch on Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places"

Life in Shepshed, 1980-1986