Friday, 5 June 2015
First watched : Uncertain
I haven't the faintest idea when I first watched this dreadful programme which breached the gap between the tea time news and the evening schedule. It started in 1969 and ran through to the middle of 1983. It incorporated a twenty minute to half an hour local news section where the broadcast would be handed over to the regional studios, rather testily by growly anchor man Michael Barratt with the words "Now, news and views from your own area as we go Nationwide !"
Despite Barratt's surliness that section would often be more interesting than the anodyne magazine programming that followed. It was like a televised version of the Reader's Digest and came to be defined by the awkward links between serious and trivial subject matter. The only time I ever deliberately tuned in was when they did preliminary features on possible candidates for the British Rock and Pop Awards. The most famous feature of all was when they allowed in a stupid old man to demonstrate his claim that he could jump on an egg without breaking the shell. The sixtysomething guy , in short shorts and muttering to himself , had four or five trial "attempts " before claiming he'd clipped the egg with his heel on the fifth go. It's still hilarious to watch for the hostess's aghast response : "That's it is it ? That's the jumping on the egg ?". She knew immediately it was going to haunt them.
Critics uniformly derided the programme and it was savaged by both Monty Python and Not The Nine O Clock News , being the subject of one of Rowan Atkinson's rants from the audience in the latter. For all that, nearly all the presenters lived to see another day on TV, some of them still prime time faces today . It was finally axed in favour of the more sober Sixty Minutes in 1983 not long after its signature presenter Frank Bough had decamped to Breakfast TV.