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SHEPSHED MCMLXXX

Part 7
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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
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My Eighties TV Hell - notwithstanding Kelly Monteith

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HEAVEN!

No I am not about to reveal my tortured time spent in the 1980's as a TV (Transvestite!), but to out my ten least favourite shows on the box back then (minus Kelly Monteith of course) and some notable exceptions and close contenders.
 

10 – Treasure Hunt – Channel 4 – (1982 – 1989)

 

My Dad absolutely loved this, after all it had Anneka Rice bedecked in a skin-tight yellow jumpsuit and a ridiculously oversized pair of headphones, flying round the country in a helicopter and running round like a woman possessed in search of “clues”. Back in the studio, a nice, un-offensive middle-class couple controlled “Annie’s” movements in search of the booty. Also in the studio was the unbearably smug, stone-faced Kenneth Kendall, a former BBC newsreader (god how I hated this pompous old git, he had the warmth of a gravedigger and I so much preferred Richard Baker reading the news). The TV Weathergirl Wincey Willis injected some much needed humanity into proceedings alongside the stoic Kendall who in my opinion HATED it when somebody actually won! After “Annie” retired (much to my Dad’s dismay but "Challenge Anneka" came to his rescue) there were attempts to continue it with the lovely Annabel Croft replacing Rice, Kendall stayed on until the grim reaper rolled in. Attempts to revive it on BBC2 with Suzy Perry alas failed - I will give it credit for being original in its format.

 

9 – That’s My Boy – ITV – (1981-1986)

 

Oh dear, Mrs Slocombe diverts her affection from “her pussy” towards her long-lost son and accidentally ends up as the live-in housekeeper for a well-to-do London Doctor, who just so happens to be the little-boy she gave up for adoption all those years ago! Even my Dad could not stand this as dear Mollie Sugden or "that woman" had a voice that "went right through him"! - so if even he as a helpless telly addict could not bare to watch it, it must make my flop 10! I cringe about it now, but I was quite fond of it at the time and wanted Molly Sugden as my surrogate nan!

 

8 – In Loving Memory ITV (1979-1986) and Hallelujah (1981-1984)

 

I have nothing against the late Thora Hird, she appeared in one of my all-time favourite films Stan Barstow’s “A kind of loving” and before her death, she became the kind of nasty, embittered old battleaxe I adore! I recall her ranting on about how ghastly her home town of Morecombe was! However "ILM" saw her cast as a  Yorkshire based funeral director alongside Christopher Beeney (who reminded me of my Uncle John for some reason-think it was the ears!). Sadly its success inspired them to write "Hallelujah" for dear Thora, about some daft old bat in the Salvation Army which was bad enough to make a lifelong member of the temperance movement turn to hard liquor.

 

7 – No. 73 – ITV (1983-1988)

 

Its 1983 and TVS have won the franchise to produce TV in the south of England, however this has far-reaching effect nationwide (Shepshed included) because they were selected to make the new Saturday morning TV programme for children. Tiswas had peaked and was no longer. Instead of the delicious Sally James, we got Sandy Tolksveig, an un-outed (back then) uber-lesbian who went by the name of Ethel indulging in inane games in the name of children’s entertainment, such as giant sandwich making competitions – which ironically coincided with growing public awareness of starving Ethiopians!

 

6 – TVAM/Good Morning Britain (1983-1992)

 

Kids, as well as having just three channels (ok by the launch of Breakfast TV it was four!), another new fad was “Breakfast Telly”. Prior to 1983, when both the BBC and ITV launched rival broadcasts, the TV did not really start until long-after we had all gone to school and work, but this innovation saw live programming go on air at 6am – which believe it or not in those days was a whole new thing!

 

It honestly is a case of the lesser of two evils really. The BBC’s version “Breakfast Time” was, I suppose considered more professional, polished and serious. It was fronted after all by Selina Scott and Frank Bough. Bough, in my book, was a first-class graduate of the Kenneth Kendall University of charm and humanity. Shining examples of his hypocrisy includes being astonishingly rude towards the great Labi Siffre in 1987, about his song “So strong” (about the struggle of Blacks in South Africa under the apartheid regime). Bough after all was old-school and it was clearly too-much for him to be civil to a black man (who I since learn is also gay and an athiest) or be sympathetic towards the plight of black South African's pre Nelson Mandela's release. I seem to remember he had the audacity to call Labi’s performance “a load of rubbish” and was very flippant throughout the entire interview. Bough also got somewhat hot under the collar when a car-boot sale was set-up near his country pile and I recall reading his tirade in one newspaper, probably the Daily Express/Mail about how his neighbourhood had been blighted by the ghastly hoi polloi trading the contents of their garages and attics in a field on a Sunday morning near to his magnificent mansion.

 

Through his high-profile roles on BBC’s Nationwide, Grandstand and Breakfast Time, Bough was one of the easily most recognisable TV faces of my childhood.  However being a public-face means you are fodder for the more sensationalist element of Fleet Street and in Bough’s case, his Achilles heel was that as well as having an almost legendary penchant for cardigans, he was also fond of wearing women’s underwear.  Despite him being pompously prickly about car-boot sales and outraged by the kind of scum who visit them, he had no qualms about visiting a notorious S&M prostitute in London.

 

Although I have enjoyed this opportunity to give Bough a good verbal "rubber hosing" (no doubt he would have enjoyed the real thing) the ITV version of “Brekkie Telly” beats the BBC into this top-ten of dubious merit. Why? in two words David Frost, sorry three words...Sir David Frost! Rival TV-AM in the best traditions of the Thatcher recession hit 80’s nearly went bankrupt and relied on a rat called Roland to save its skin from an early, embarrassing oblivion. When you consider that the TV-AM non-rodent representation was led by Frost (who Peter Cook once famously dubbed “the bubonic plagiarist”) is it any wonder people switched off in their droves and only came back to watch the capers of Roland Rat and his mate Kevin the Gerbil?

 

5- Crossroads ITV (1964-1988)

 

You will note in Part Six, I appear to be crying-out for more Midlands based TV and Crossroads was set in the leafy suburbs of Birmingham. I hated it. I could not stand Meg Richardson (Noel Gordon) and her ghastly family, the backbone of an establishment which looked suspiciously like the kind of place an MD would take his secretary to for a dirty weekend. I hated them all! The smarmy, slimy Adam Chance, gossiping old Mary char Amy Turtle, the unbearably sickly Kevin and Glenda. I did not have an ounce of sympathy for wheelchair bound Sandy (Roger Tonge) or the spanner-seeking, village-idiot Benny (Paul Henry).

 

4- The late, late Breakfast show BBC1 (1982-1986).

 

Trust Edmonds to capitalise on the flagging innovation of Breakfast TV and hog a hugely prime and popular Saturday night TV slot! Sorry that should be “Edmonds Arghhhhh”, I can still hear the screams of disc jockey DLT (Dave Lee Travis/Hairy Monster) when he succumb to one of Edmonds silly little school-boy pranks, GOTCHA and really that is what I depict Noel Edmonds as. Edmonds was the annoying little-bastard at school who relentlessly would wind you up and get away with it, no matter how hard you tried to hit him back, he would duck and run away and no matter how audacious his behaviour was, he would still get away with it! However it has to be said that the antics on this show went way beyond any mischievous schoolboy capers involving fake dog turds and upturned drawing pins on seats. Tragically the show would claim the life of Michael Lush. In 1986, a participant on the “Give us a twirl” slot on the show. Mr Lush, a self-employed hod-carrier died when a stunt involving a bungee jump and an exploding box went wrong. The Times’ archive from November 1986 reports that the BBC were warned by the Health and Safety Executive prior to Mr Lush’s tragic death, after a series of stunts had left members of the public desperate for five minutes of fame badly injured. Edmonds did do the decent thing and resigned and to his credit, the only danger to public-health he has posed since has come in the form of Mr Blobby and advocating some daft-religion where you chant to the stars.

 

3- Me and my girl ITV (1984-1988)

 

I am somewhat shocked to note that Richard O’Sullivan nowadays is a resident of Brinsworth House in Twickenham, which is a retirement home for actors and actresses. Its past posthumous residents list includes Dame Thora Hird, Alan Freeman and John Hewer – the actor who played Captain Birdseye in the Fish-Finger adverts of the 1980’s.

 

It only seems five minutes ago since Richard was the philandering Robin Tripp in “Man about the House” and latterly “Robins Nest”. In 1984, he was cast as Simon Harrup, a single-Dad to Samantha, a lass who was growing up very, very fast. It had a strong cast, notably Tim Brooke-Taylor and eternal harridan Joan Sanderson as his mother-in-law, I think the reason I did not like it was because none of the girls at school looked like Samantha (Joanne Ridley), who was the real-life sister of 80’s wildchild Emma Ridley.

 

2- Minipops – Channel 4 (1983)

 

I remember my schoolmates raving about this, which I think used to be on late on a Friday afternoon and I tuned in for about 10 seconds. Seeing some five year old smeared in make-up trying to be Cindi Lauper did nothing for me and there were genuine fears that amongst the two-million people who watched, it appealed to an inappropriate audience (eg paedophiles). One media critic apparently dubbed it “Miniwhores”, the last bastion of middle-England the Daily Mail reckoned it had “slayed” childhood and The Observer (27/02/83) described a “chubby blonde girl….thigh high to a paedophile….her black knickers extensively flashed”. Maybe there is nothing wrong with little kids dressing up and miming to pop-songs in their bedrooms but not on TV? Even as an 11-year-old I did not enjoy this and suspected something very sinister.

 

1- Anything with Paul Daniels in – BBC1 (1980-)

 

Whether it be the “Paul Daniels Magic Show”, “Every Second Counts”,

Odd One Out” my suffocating TV memory of the 1980’s is anything with this squeaky-voiced, Teeside-born, wig-wearing midget in it. At St Botolph’s school, our second headmaster during my time there Mr King or “Kingy” was a lovely man, but he had an annoying habit of basing his school assemblies on something Paul Daniels had either said or done at the weekend. Okay, if I was a primary school Headmaster, I doubt my personal interests in the works of Albert Camus or Boėthius’s “Consolation of Philosophy” would strike much of a chord with 5-10 year olds, but Paul Daniels for god’s sake!!!

 

Luckily my Dad was not a fan of Daniels or even the mildly erotic Debbie McGhee, so I was not forced to endure the cringingly rubbish programmes he put out usually on a Saturday night however I was not so lucky come Monday morning assembly at St Botolph’s – cue Kingy: “You gonna like it? – Not a lot! Not a lot!

 

So that concludes my run down, but I must give dishonourable mention to some close-runners in my chart, who for whatever reason just failed to make it into the top-ten.

 

HI-DE-HI

 

In the best political traditions one has to declare a personal interest here. My late Gran once informed me that we are distantly related to the creator of this series Richard Spendlove. I have never met him nor am I ever likely too, but sorry I did not enjoy this or "Oh Doctor Beeching" which elongated the careers of Paul Shane and that utter, annoying dimwit Sooooooo Pollard!

 

THAT'S LIFE

 

As well as having a thing for Anneka Rice, I also suspect my Dad held a small candle for toothy Jewish doo-gooder Esther Rantzen. I mean what other reason could there be to waste so-many Sunday nights back in the 1980’s? watching “That’s Life!” consisting of dross and drivel about odd-shaped vegetables, talking dogs, listening to that prick Doc Cox and there was something very sinister in my mind about Cyril Fletcher and his “odd odes”. The BBC removed it from our screens in 1994 and somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I would argue we would not have needed the Human Rights Act 1998 if it had been allowed to continue, with the formidable Rantzen and her gnashers, Adrian Mills and Simon Fanshawe all eager to fight our corner! The programme did have a serious side, the plight of Ben Hardwick, the liver transplant boy who sadly died in 1985. It has been excluded from making the top-ten on the same grounds of "Last of the summer wine" as they both began in the 1970's and not the 1980's! Those theme tunes though, how I hated them, dreaded audiable indicators that the weekend was done and dusted and it was back to school the next day.

 

THE A-TEAM - macho American rubbish! However I did secretly think that George Peppard, the cigar chomping Col. John "Hannibal" Smith was the coolest man on the planet until Morrissey came along! There was so much more American rubbish ala CHiP's, Airwolf, Knight Rider, Magnum and Quincy ME (again excluded because it was first made in 1976 and I had a secret admiration on how a doddering old fool like Jack Klugman could pull so many beautiful women).

 

 

 

Life in Shepshed, 1980-1986