Monday, 28 September 2015

250 The Freddie Starr Show

First  watched : Spring  1976

This  seems  fairly  topical  as  Freddie's  been  in  the  news  a  lot  lately  but I  actually  recall  very  little  specifically  about  the  show. Freddie  showed  the  range  of  his  talents  with  singing, impersonations, stand-up, physical  comedy  and  sight  gags and  I  thought  it  was  funny  at  the  time  but , regardless  of  anyone's  allegations, probably  wouldn't  seem  so  now. Freddie  was  pretty  washed-up  and  reliant  on  reality  TV  before  the  Savile  scandal  broke  but  his  time  has  well  and  truly  gone  now.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

249 The Waltons

First  watched : Uncertain

I  can't  remember  exactly  when  we   started  watching  this  though  I  recall  episodes  with  Grandma  ( Ellen  Corby)    before   her  stroke  which  occurred  in   November  1976   so  it  must  have  been  around  76  or 77 .  It's  the  first  BBC   Two  show  I'm  sure  of  watching  since  Play  Away. 

I  do  remember  that  we  started  watching  this  as  an  act  of  rebellion  against  my  Gran  who  declared  it  to  be  "sickening"  with  a  particular  contempt  for  Richard  Thomas's  character  "John- Boy"  the  eldest  son  and  narrator  ( although  the  actual  voiceover  was  done  by  Earl  Hamner  Junior  on  whose  autobiographical  Spencer's  Mountain   the  series  was  based).  The  show  concentrated  on  the  lives  of  a  large  poor  Baptist  family  in  Virginia  in  the  thirties  and  forties.

The  show  is  a  by-word  for  "Mom  and  apple  pie"  values  and  the  oft-parodied  "goodnight"  sequence  at  the  end  remains  toecurling   but,  like  most  people  I  suspect, I  enjoyed  it  more  than  I  let  on. I  mean  come  on  who  wouldn't  want  Ralph  Waite  and  Olivia  Learned  for  their  mum  and  dad  ?    There  was  a  tangible  sense  that  the  cast  were  a  real  family  unit   exemplified  by  Corby's   return  to  the  show  despite  severe  speech  and  mobility  problems  and  the  pain  expressed  on  the  passing  of  Will  Geer  who  played  Grandpa. With  the  exception  of  Thomas  who  didn't  want  to  return  as  a  regular  character  in  the  last  two  series , no  one  had  to  be  replaced  and  they  would  re-group  for  six  TV  movie  sequels  up  to  1997  despite  being  left  to  fend  for  themselves  in  the  intervening  years

My  favourite  of  the  kids  was  Ben  ( Eric  Scott )  who  seemed  to  have  a  bit  more  spunk  than  the  others.  In  one  of  the  last  episodes  I  saw  he  sprung  a  considerable  surprise  on  the  family  by  bringing  a  wife  home  with  him  ; I'm  not  sure  it  was  ever  really  explained  why  he'd  got  married  in  secret. That  wasn't  broadcast  here  until  November  1980  so  maybe  I  am  including  this  too  early.

Anyhow  I  did  see  one  or  two  epiodes  after  that  when  it  was  repeated on  Channel  4  on  Saturday  mornings  some  time  in  the  nineties. One  had  Jennifer  Jason  Leigh  in  it  as  a  young  foxtress  conning  Jim-Bob  into  thinking  he's  made  her  pregnant  which  surprised  me; I  hadn't  realised  the  series  lasted  long  enough  for  her  to  appear. The  other  was  set  in  the  war  years  and  had  Ben  supposedly  in  a   Japanese  prisoner  of  war  camp  but  it  was  set  in  a  clearing  in  the  wood  with  a  couple  of  extras  , like  Ben  dressed  in  jeans  and  lumberjack  shirt,  no  fences  and  a  single  comedy  Jap  guard  who  lets  them  humiliate  him  without  chopping  their  heads  off. Absolutely  ludicrous.

The  maturity  of  the  kids  necessarily  meant  the  fragmentation  of  the  storylines  and  from  1978  onwards  the  show  started  slipping  in  the  ratings.  In  1981  the  show  was  finally  cancelled, the  cast  reading  about  it  in  the  papers  before  they  were  officially  informed. None  of  them  would  ever  be  quite  so  famous  again . Thomas  , the  only  one  who  had  a  reputation  before  the  series  remained  stuck  in  TV  movies  and  serials. Judy  Norton  Taylor  ( Mary  Ellen )   caused  a  stir  in  1985  by  doing  a  spread  for  Playboy  but  after  the  fuss  subsided  she  settled  into  an  average  TV  acting  career. Mary  Beth  McDonough  ( Erin )  also  shed  her  clothes  briefly  in  the  film  Mortuary   ( the  only  reason  to  watch  it  )  but  had  a  long  period  of  ill  health  from  lupus  erythematousis  after  having  breast  implants. She  now  divides  her  time  between  TV  acting  and  charitable  fundraising  for  lupus  sufferers.  Jon  Walmsley  ( Jason )  has  a  low-key  career  as  a  session  musician. Eric  Scott  became  a  courier, and  one  day  had  to  deliver  a  package  to  the  company  that  made The  Waltons  but  eventually  got  to  buy  the  company. Kami  Cottler  ( Elizabeth )  is  a  high  school  teacher  while  David  Harper  ( Jim- Bob )  had  the  odd  minor  film  part  in  the  eighties  but  since  the  last  sequel  has  become  a  bit  of  a  drifter  though  he  does  normally  turn  up  for  reunion  shows  ( not  looking  terribly  good  to  be  honest ) . Amazingly  Ellen  Corby  survived  to  appear  in  five  of  the sequels  ( including  the  last  in  1997 )   before  her  death  in  1999.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

248 Rocky O' Rourke

First  watched :    3  March  1976

In  amongst   the  historical  serials  and  Home  Counties-set  dramas  such  as  Kizzy  and  Jumbo  Spencer , the  Beeb  lobbed  in  this  bracing  four-parter  about  a  gang  of  kids  in  Liverpool.  It  was  adapted  by  Sylvia  Sherry  from  her  own  novel   A  Pair  of  Jesus  Boots   and  produced  by  Anna  Home  who,  not  too  long  after,  commissioned  Grange  Hill  . This   short  series  can   be  seen  as  something  of  a  forerunner  to  that   in  its  realism  and  focus  on  the  urban   working  class.

There's  nothing  but  the  badly  recorded  theme  tune  on  YouTube  and  I  wish  I  could  remember  a  bit  more  about  it. Rocky  was  a  young  lad  on  the  cusp  of  following  his  brother  into  criminality  but  actually  would  prefer  to  play  football  if  only  he  could  acquire  suitable  footwear.  That's  about  it  really.

You  might  expect  that  the  young  cast  would  be  full  of  the  usual  Scouse  suspects  - Michael  Angelis, Andrew  Schofield, perhaps  the  odd  McGann  -  but  no  , none  of  the  names  are  familiar. Rocky  was  played  by  Michael  Mills  who  did  very  little  else  and  James  Hoey, Peter  Chan, Eamon  Deery  and   Alan  Pope  are  equally  obscure.       

Monday, 21 September 2015

247 The Flight of the Heron

First  watched :  29  February  1976

This  series  began  on  a  Sunday  I  recall  quite  clearly.  After  going  to  church  in  the  morning,   I  went  into  the  garden  where  I,  along  with  next  door's  kids,  worked  further  on  a  big  hole  we  were   digging  just  to  see  how  far  we  could  get  and  what  we  could  turn  up. We  didn't  find  anything  interesting  but  we  worked  on  it  for  about  3  weeks  and   the  hole  got  to  about  3  feet  deep  before  a  tradesman  altering  our  porch  found  it  a  very  handy  place  to  dump  the  rubble.

After  dinner  I  listened  to  the  radio  because  Jimmy  Savile's  Old  Record  Club  was  now  featuring  1973   which  meant  an  hour  of  hearing  all  the  classics  - Blockbuster, Part  of  the  Union  , You're  So  Vain  -  from  my  first  discovery  of  pop. When  that  had  finished  I  went  with  the  family  next  door  on  a  walk  up  to  Hollingworth  Lake  and  walked  all  the  way  round  it  for  the  first  time  ever. We  went  on  the  playground  at  the  far  side  and  I  somehow  managed  to  slide  off  the  roundabout  while  our  neighbour  was  increasing  the  speed. Fortunately  he  managed  to  stop  it  before  I  scraped  too  much  of  my  back  off  but  I  was  pretty  shaken  up  by  the  experience.  It  didn't  spoil  the  day  though  and  when  we  were  told  to  write  an  essay  about  spring  next  day  at  school  I  submitted  an  account  of  the  day  with  the  odd  reference  to  frog  spawn  and  buds  on  trees  inserted  to  make  it  fit  the  theme.

And  thanks  to  Genome  I  can  now  recall  a  detail  of  the  evening. The  Flight  of  the  Heron  was  a  rather  bleak  drama  based  on  a  novel  by  D K  Broster  about  the  unlikely  and  ultimately  doomed  friendship  between  a  Jacobite  chieftain  and  an  English  captain  during  the  1745  rebellion. Bonnie  Prince  Charlie  himself  featured  as  a  character.  David  Rintoul  and  Tom  Chadbon  played  the  two  main  protagonists. I  enjoyed  the  series  but  never  saw  the  last  episode  because  I  was  hit, for  the  third  time  in  around  four  months,  by  a  virulent  sickness  bug  and  was  too  ill  to  go  downstairs  and  watch  it. My  mum  had  to  tell  me  what  happened; the  Scot  escaped  to  France, the  Englishman  was  killed  by  his  demented  servant.

The  series  has   never  been  repeated.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

246 Zorro

First  watched  : Early  1976

This  took  a  long  time  to  be  broadcast  in  the  UK. Made  in  1957  it  didn't  appear  over  here  until  nearly  two  decades  later  when  it  was  shown  on  Saturday  mornings.  Zorro  played  by  Guy  Williams  was  a  masked  Robin  Hood  type  figure  righting  wrongs  with  his  sword  in  nineteenth  century  California.  I  wasn't  very  interested  in  such   obviously  old  material  and  probably  didn't  see  more  than  a  handful  of  episodes.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

245 Jumbo Spencer

First  watched : 9  February  1976

I've  been  waiting  for  this  one  since  I  started  the  blog. Even  more  than  Here  Come  The  Double  Deckers,  this  nearly-forgotten  five  episode series - my  wife  doesn't  remember  it  at  all - had  a  huge  influence  on  the  course  of  my  life  , and  its  ripples  have  stretched  almost  to  the  present  day.

The  series  was  based  on  a  book  by  prolific  children's  author  and  scriptwriter  Helen  Cresswell  who  was  also  responsible  for  Lizzie  Dripping.  The  eponymous  hero  Jumbo  is  the  "ideas  man "  in  his  group  of  friends  and  one  summer  holiday  comes  up  with  the  idea  of   The  Jumbo  Spencer  Reform  Club  who  would  do  things  for the  good  of  the  village, usually without  clearing  it  with  the  relevant  adults  first. In  one  episode  they  made a  zebra  crossing  ( illustrated  above ) with  an  orange  balloon  tied  to  a  pole  for  a  Belisha  beacon. The  episodes  usually  ended  with  the  Club  getting  a  dressing-down  but  they  scored  a  little  triumph  in  the  final  one  by  successfully  kickstarting  a  village  fete  to  celebrate  some  civic  anniversary.

I  think  you  were  supposed  to  laugh  at  Jumbo's  precocity  , his  over-vaulting  ambition  and  attempts  to  mobilise  adults  into  helping  on  his  pet  projects  but  I  didn't  see  it  that  way.  I  immediately  identified  with  Jumbo's  need  for  recognition  and  suddenly  just  "playing  out"  wasn't  enough  for  me. We  needed  to  "do  things".  For  most  people  who  were  around  at  the  time , the  summer  of  1976  is  remembered  for its  glorious  length  but  for  me  it  will  always  be  the  summer  of  "the  efforts"  when  I  was  continually  suggesting, cajoling, demanding  that  we  ( whoever  was  around  on  Hollingworth  Road, Littleborough  at  the  time )  do  something  that  would  make  a  bit  of  money  or  simply  direct  some  attention  my  way.

My  mum  had  inconveniently   forgotten  to  put  a  diary  in  my  Christmas  stocking  in  1975  but  I  still  have  the  precious  piece  of   A4  paper  on  which ,  towards  the  end  of  the  year,  I  retrospectively  listed  the  "efforts"  and  who  else  was  involved  in  them. I've  not  included myself   perhaps  to  disguise  the  fact  that  I've  listed  one  or  two  that  I  had  no  involvement  in  , those  being  the  brainchild  of  bossy  Carol  Warburton  down  the  road  who  may  not  even  have  seen  Jumbo  Spencer. The  first  half  dozen  on  the  list  actually  pre-date  the  programme ,  at  least  two  of   which  were  Bob-A-Job   ventures  for  the  cub  scouts.

Apart  from  the  jumble  sales, most  of  them  never  got  much  past  the  drawing  board ,  lasting  only  until  the  lads  decided  they'd  prefer  to  play  football  instead. Some  were  no  more  than  a  single  evening's  diversion; I  think  effort  number  14  the  Bogie  Service  was  just  offering  rides  on  an  improvised  go-kart - the  kids  next  door  had  a  granddad  who  was  a  wizard  with  wood  and  nails. There  were  a  couple  of  plays, fired  by  my  involvement  in  school  drama , which  never  got  beyond  a  few  rehearsals  and  the  Littleborough  Historic  Society  which  involved  knocking  on  the  door  of  an  old  couple, the  Holroyds ,  and  asking  them  to  tell  us  something  interesting. It's  nice  to  record  that  they  actually  did; in  those  more  innocent  times  they  invited  half  a  dozen  neighbourhood  kids  into  their  front  room  and  explained  the  traces  of  the  old  mines  behind  our  homes.  One  or  two  efforts  listed  are  now  irretrievable  ; I've  no  idea  what  "The  Tough  Family "  or  "Social  Reformers"  were  all  about   but  it  can't  have  been  anything  very  substantial.

My  mum  inadvertently  helped  by  deciding  that  the  back  garden  was  a  mess  ( it  certainly  was )  and  banning  us  from  playing  on  the  lawn  while  she  restored  it ; gardening  became  her  main  leisure  interest  for  the  rest  of  her  life. Once  she'd  got  things  in  order  it  featured  in  the  craziest  of  my  schemes  , the  Zoo  and  Botanical  Gardens. For  a  number  of  weekends  I'd  plonk  my  kiddies  blackboard  on  the  wide  section  of  pavement  near  The  Railway  pub and,  with  the  aid  of   that  and  a  few  handwritten  flyers,  try  to  persuade  people  walking  up  the  road  to  Hollingworth  Lake  that  they  should  divert,  first  to  look  at  the  Hursts'  rabbits  and  then  come  up  to  our  house  to  look  at  a  couple  of  goldfish, some  pond  life  collected  from  the  canal  and  my  mum's  efforts  in  the  garden. I  think  I  reasoned  that  we  could  expand the  collection  if  we  charged  10p  to  visitors.  Of  course  my  mum  and  gran  tried  in  vain  to  persuade  me  the  whole  idea  was  bonkers  but  I  wouldn't  be  told. I  don't  think  we  had  a  single  visitor.

 The  scheme  eventually  mutated  into  the  slightly  more  sensible  idea  of  a  museum,  diverting  my  energies  into  collecting  exhibits , one  of  which  was  a  small  piece  of  masonry  from  St  Mary's  Abbey  in  York, a  regular  day-trip  destination  for  me  and  my  dad. Before  English  Heritage  subpoena  me  I  should  say  that   I  picked  it  up  off  the  ground, I  didn't  take  a  chisel  to  the  ancient  monument  and  I  did  eventually  return  it  in  1997  ( on  our  honeymoon  actually )  after  two  decades  of   it   sitting  on  top  of  my  bookcase.

At  the  end  of  that  summer  I   started  at  secondary  school  and  the  impetus  was  lost   but  wanted   a  marker  for  posterity  so  I  wrote  to  the  local  paper,  The  Rochdale  Observer  about  what  we'd  been  doing . This  involved   a   considerable  amount  of  what  two  decades  on  would  be  called  "spin" . I  included  Carol's  bookstall , a  genuine  success  which  they'd  already  covered  earlier  in  the  year , and  a  rock  musical  based  on  Status  Quo  songs  for  which  not  a  word  of  script  had  been  committed  to  paper  though  I  contrived  to  give  the  impression  a  performance  had  taken  place. Worst  of  all  I  wanted  to  include  The  Adventurous  Club  ( see  the  post  on  Here  Come  The  Double  Deckers  )  which  had  had  no  altruistic  angle  at  all so  I  invented  a  complete  fiction  that  we'd  stopped  some  boys  from  vandalising  an  old  house. The  paper  accepted  what  I  wrote  without  question  and  sent  a  photographer  round  ;  I  managed  to  round  up  about  8  of  the   other  kids  for  the  shoot. I'm  sure  I've  kept  a  copy  of  the  article  somewhere; if  I  find  it  I'll  scan  it  in.  When  the  article  appeared  some of  the  other  kids  protested  at  the  deceptions  but  didn't  contact  the  paper. As  a  history  graduate  who  values  truth  it's  been  on  my  conscience  ever  since   and  I'm  glad  of  this  opportunity  to  set  the  record  straight.

That's  not  the  end  of  the  story  though. At  the  start  of   1977  a  poster  appeared  in  a  local  shop  from  Littleborough  Community  Association  asking  for  help  and  ideas  in  co-ordinating  the  celebration  of  the  Queen's  Silver  Jubilee  in  Littleborough. Without  hesitation  I  wrote  to  one  of  the co-ordinators  listed  offering  our  services  as  experienced  organisers  and  she  and  her  husband  came  to  see  me  one  evening  though  my  mum  wisely  sat  in  on  the  chat.  Around  the  same  time  I  joined  Littleborough  Civic  Trust  because  it  ran  fortnightly  walks  on  a  Sunday  afternoon  which would  help  me  prepare  for  a  school  youth  hostelling  holiday . On  an  epochal  train  trip  to  Hebden  Bridge  organised  by  them  in  March  1977  I  realised  firstly  that  the  Civic  Trust  and  the  Community  Association  were  largely  the  same  people  and  secondly  that  the  door  was  open  to  get  involved  in  civic  affairs  for  real  through  these  organisations.

Then  I  got  in  the  paper  again. Just  a  fortnight  later  I  noticed  on  my way  home  from  school  that  the  river  Roch  was  flowing  bright  green  from  somebody  dumping  God  knows  what  in  it  further  up  the  valley. As  luck  would  have  it  I  saw  Keith  Parry  from  the  Civic  Trust  who I  recognised  from  the  train  trip  and  drew  his  attention  to  it. Keith  was  an  interesting  character . He  was  a  former  boyfriend  of  my  mum's  though  now  widely  believed  to  be  gay. He  had  worked  in  London  as  a  journalist  and  broadcasted  semi-regularly  on  Radio Manchester  which  made  him  a    minor  celebrity  locally  . He  also  had  some  modest  local  business  interests  which  never  fully  developed  because  he  was  too  much  of a  gadfly. He  was  an  erudite  and  reasonably  talented  man  but  self-regarding and  given  to  intemperate  outbursts  especially  in  writing. Anyhow  he  had  the  ear  of  the  local  press  and  so  I was  in  the  Rochdale  Observer   again  as  the  boy who  reported  the  river  running  green. I  started  attending  the  Civic  Trust's  monthly  meetings  where  I  was  feted  and  also  its  spin-off  group  the  Littleborough  Local  Historical  Society.

I  can't  give  a  full  account  of  all  my  activities  in  these  organisations; it  would  take  too  long  and  not  be  very  interesting  to  people  unfamiliar  with  the  town. The  important  thing  is  that   it  started  to   influence  my  thoughts  on  politics  and  my  future  career. I'd  go  to  the  meetings  and  regularly  hear  diatribes   from  Keith  and  the  others  against  the  local  council,  particularly  the  planners  when  decisions  went  the  wrong  way  from  the  Civic  Trust's  preservationist  view  and  the  Highways  Dept  who  didn't  seem  anxious  to  take  action when  farmers  obstructed  local  footpaths. The  fact  that  Littleborough  was , since  1974 ,  only  a  constituent  part  of   the  borough  of  Rochdale  which  usually   voted   a  different  way  to the  rest, seemed  an  important part  of   the  problem. I  decided  that  I   should   get  a  job  with  the  council  and  change  them  from  within. That's  laudable  enough  but  what  I  wasn't  really  appreciating  was  that  the  Civic  Trust  was  only   dealing  with  a  small  part  of  an  organisation  that  had  many  facets  nor  when  it  came  to  choosing  my  optional  subjects  at  school  ( and  then  university )  did  I  pick  ones  that  were  particularly  suitable  for  a  career  in  planning  or  highways.

Nevertheless  working  for  a  local  authority  remained  my  aim  after  graduating  in  1986   and  I  fired  applications  off  for  any  post  anywhere  that  advertised  for  graduates  of  any  discipline. The  ones  that  attracted  me  most  were  trainee  committee  clerks  since  they  seemed  to  be  at  the  heart  of  decision-making. However  that  made  them  the  most  highly-prized. I  got  an  interview  at  Hereford  and  Worcester  Council  where  they  had  200  applicants. By  contrast  the  trainee  accountant  posts  were  much  less  fiercely  contested  and in  January 1987, by  virtue  of  being  the  only  candidate  who'd  heard  of  the  forthcoming  poll  tax, I ended  up  in  that  role  at  Tameside  Council.

Though  above  average  in  the subject,  I  never  enjoyed  maths  at  school  and  never  saw  myself  as  an  accountant  but  this  was  the  first  opportunity  of  a  salary  and  I  reasoned  that  once  through the  doors  they  would  soon  recognise  that  my  talents  were  better  employed  elsewhere  in  the  authority. That  never  happened  and  I  stayed  in  public  sector  finance  for  the  next  quarter  of  a  century  until   2012. Long  before  then, 1997  in  fact,  I  had  got  married  and left  Littleborough  and  in  truth  I  had  become  pretty  disillusioned  with  the  Civic  Trust   a  few  years  before  that. I  turned  down  an  offer  of  the  chairmanship  in  1994  and  was  only  going to  the  committee  meetings  for  the  drink  with  my  friends  Lincoln  and Joe  ( both  now  deceased  sadly )  afterwards. I  kept  my  subscription  up   until  they  stopped  putting  out  a  newsletter  last  year.  I  rang  up  and  cancelled  and  not  long  afterwards  Joe, the  last  committee  member  from  my  time,  passed  away. As    I've  never  had  the  slightest  intention  of  getting  involved  in  the  civic  affairs  of  the  town  in  which  I  now  reside,  that  was  the  last  trace  of  Jumbo  Spencer's  influence  being   wiped  away.

Unfortunately  Helen  Creswell  is  no  longer  around  to  read  this  and  know  how  much  she  influenced  my  life, having  passed  away  in  2005. Mark Weavers  who  played  Jumbo  has  long  since  slipped  into  obscurity  with  the  series  being  the last  thing  to  his name. In  fact  the  only  names  in  the  cast  I  recognise  are  the Anglo-Australian  actor  James  Smilie  ( who  was  in  Prisoner  Cell  Block  H  and  Return To Eden )  who  played  Jumbo's   dad   and,  more  surprisingly,  John  O  Farrell  as  one of  the  village  kids  who  were  hostile  to  the  Club's  endeavours  ( like  Hodges  to  Jumbo's  Mainwaring ) . It  turns  out it  is  the  Labour-supporting  comic  writer  and  novelist. I've  read  quite  a  lot  of  his  stuff  and don't  recall  him ever mentioning  that  he  was  in  this.        

244 Winter Olympics 1976

First  watched  :  February 1976

There's  only  one  reason  I  recall  this  and  that's  the  guy  above , John  Curry,  who  won  the  gold  medal  for  Great  Britain  ( though  he  was  largely  trained  in  the  U.S. )   in  the  Men's  Figure  Skating  event  at  Innsbruck . Skating  was  a  consolation  prize  for  Curry  after  his  parents  refused  to  countenance  his  ambition  to  become  a  dancer  but   at  Innsbruck  he  combined  the  two,  blurring  the  lines  between  art  and  sport  in  a  way  that  took  the  world  by  storm. European  and  World  titles  quickly  followed.

Before  the  latter  event  a  German  tabloid  outed  him  as  a  homosexual  but  generally  the  British  media  kept  a  discreet  silence  over  the  matter. There  was  a  kerfuffle  at  a  sportsman's  dinner  later  that  year  when  one  of  the  other  guests,  ventriloquist  Roger  de  Courcey  made  a  joke  which  described  Curry  as  a  fairy.  Curry  was  not  amused.

Curry  turned  professional  in  1977  and  set  up  his  own  ice  dance  company  which  put  on  some  big  shows.  He  also  dabbled  in  acting.  He  was  a  fairly  prickly  individual  and  in  the  mid-eighties  the  company's  operations  were  brought  to  a  halt  when  he  fell  out  with  his  business  managers. In  1987  he  was  diagnosed  with  HIV  and  dropped  out  of  the  public  eye. A  2007  biography  of  actor  Alan  Bates  alleged  that  the  two  men  were  having  an  affair  at  the  time  of  Curry's  death  in  1994.      

Friday, 18 September 2015

243 And Mother Makes Three / Five

First  watched  : Uncertain

Another  post-Corrie  sitcom  which   I  only  include   because  I  know  I  saw  Wendy  Craig  in  something  before  Butterflies  and  it  must  have  been  this . It  started  out  as  And  Mother  Makes  Three  in  1971   about  a  widowed  mum  bringing  up  two  boys  then  became  And  Mother  Makes  Five   in  1974   after   she  married  a  widower  with  a  young  daughter. It  finished  in  1976

Interestingly  both  series  were  written  by  a  quartet  but  only  Richard  Waring  was  a  member  of  both. Craig  herself  wrote  some  of  the  latter  series  under  the  pseudonym  Jonathan  Marr  before  going  on  to  play  in  The  Smiths  ( maybe  I've  got  that  last  bit  wrong ). One  of  the  original  quartet  was  Carla  Lane  and  the  similarity  of  the  premise  to  Butterflies  is   probably  what's  obliterated  my  recollections  of   this  earlier  venture.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

242 Man About The House

First  watched  : Uncertain

This  is  another  case  of  staying  on  the  channel  after  Coronation  Street  so  I've  no  real  idea  when  I  first  saw  it  but  probably  it  was  towards  the  end  of  its  run  which  was in  April  1976.

Man  About  The  House  was  considered  rather  risque  in  its  day  with  its  premise  of  a  young ( ish ) guy  sharing  a  flat  with  two  attractive  young  females  and  I  was  aware  of  the  frisson  around  it  without  understanding  why  it  was  there. Richard  O  Sullivan  played  Robin  Tripp  the  shaggy-haired  student  shacked  up  with  Chrissy  ( Paula  Willcox )  and  Jo  ( Sally  Thomsett ) and  not  getting  off  with  either  of  them. He  also  has  to  deal  with  the  mean  landlord  George  Roper  ( Brian  Murphy )  who  is  under  the  thumb of  his  sexually  frustrated  wife  Mildred  ( Yootha  Joyce ).

In  actual  fact  the  comedy  was  fairly  standard  sitcom  fare  with  George  by  far  the  most  amusing  character  and  there  wasn't  that  much  for  Mary  Whitehouse  to  get  in  a  tizz  about. The  series  lasted  for  three  years  and  gave  rise  to  two  spin-offs  and  a  poorly-received  film.

We'll  come  back  to  George  and  Mildred. O  Sullivan  remained  a  big  TV  star  for  the  rest  of  the  decade  but  succumbed  to  drink  in the  eighties  and  became prematurely  aged. He  lives  a  reclusive  life  in  a  home  for  retired  performers. Wilcox  is  still  a  working  actress  , mainly  in  comedy  with  a  recent  guest  part  in  Still  Open  All  Hours . Thomsett   on  the  other  hand  found  hardly  any  acting  work  after  the  series  finished   though  she  appeared on  panel  shows  in  the  eighties   before  emigrating  to  the USA  for  a  time. She  remarried  in  the  mid-90s  and  had  a  daughter  at  46  which  kept  her  out  of  the  limelight. She  recently  re-emerged  in  pantomime  and  contributes  to  nostalgia  shows.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

241 Spider-Man

First  watched  :  Uncertain

Nowadays  you  can't  turn  on  the  TV  without  at  least  one  option  of  some  superhero  action  but  back  in  the  days  when  I  was  actually  buying  Marvel  comics  this  cartoon  series  was  the only  opportunity  to  see  it  on  screen. It  was  broadcast  on  holiday  mornings  on  ITV   and  I  rarely  got  to  see  it  whether through  Dad  watching  cricket  or  being  pulled  out  for  shopping, dentist  etc. I  remember  one  visit  to  the  old  Littleborough  clinic  at  the  top  of  Barehill  Street  where  I  sat  fretfully  watching  the  clock , hoping  to  get  back  home in  time  to  watch  it  but  to  no  avail.

Spider-Man  was  made  over  three  series  between  1967  and  1970. The  first  series  was quite  faithful  to the  comics  featuring  familiar  villains  but  thereafter  the  budget  was slashed and  Spider-Man  had to  fight  generic,  cheaply  drawn  aliens  and  the  episodes  were  padded  out  with  footage  from  an earlier  series  called  Rocket  Robin  Hood.  I  loved  it  just  the  same.

Monday, 14 September 2015

240 Ivor the Engine

First  watched :  January  1976

I knew  this  one  must  be  coming  up  soon. Ivor  the  Engine   was  the  first  programme  produced  by  Oliver  Postgate  and  Peter  Firmin's  Smallfilms  in  the  late  fifties  and  hadn't  been  broadcast  for  years.  The  BBC  asked  them  to  remake  it  in  colour  with  modified  storylines  to  fit  the  five  minute Magic  Roundabout   time  slot.

Like  Thomas , Ivor  had  a  mind  of  his  own  and  actually  more  independence  of  movement. I  can't  really  remember  any  of  the  stories  but  it  was  my  introduction  to  the  ( exaggerated )  concept  of  Welsh  people  only  having  half  a  dozen  surnames  to  go round  so  everyone  had  to  be  identified  by  their  occupation - Jones  the  Steam, Evans  the  Song ,  Dai  the  Station  and  so  on.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

239 Kizzy

First  watched : 21  January  1976

I  still  remembered   individual  scenes  from this  punchy  little  six-part  childrens'  serial  on  a  Wednesday, adapted  from  the  Whitbread  Prize-winning  novel  The  Diddakoi  by  Rumer  Godden. Kizzy  ( Vanessa  Furst )  is  a  an  orphaned  gypsy girl  who  has  to  adapt  to  life  in  a small  village  when  her  grandmother  becomes  too  old  to  move  on  and  then  dies. Predictably  enough  the  village  girls  led  by  the  ghastly  Prue  ( Melissa  Docker  )  don't  make  life  easy  for  her  at  school  and  neither  the  authorities  nor  the  other  gypsy  families  are  particularly  sympathetic  in  their  handling  of  her.

Watching  Kizzy  again  on  YouTube,  it  is  a  bit  ponderous  at  times  and  the  childrens'  acting  leaves  a lot  to  be  desired  but  it  has  a  gentle  charm and  it's  particularly  nice  to  watch  the  episode  where  Kizzy  is  nursed  back  from pneumonia  by  the  all-male  household  of  Admiral  Twiss ( John  Welsh  ) without  any  sinister  subtext. As  an  introduction  to  themes  of  intolerance,   bereavement   and  resilience  it  could  still  be  recommended.

Vanessa  Furst  was  the  daughter  of  Batman  set  designer Anton  Furst  and  did  not  pursue  a  career  in  acting. She  was  last  heard  of  studying  to  be  a  doctor  in  microbiology  and  genetics.

Friday, 11 September 2015

238 Poldark

First  watched : 11  January  1976

My  wife  is  currently  watching  the re-boot  of  this  series  but  I  prefer to  stick  with  my  memories  of  the  original.  I  mentioned  a  few  posts  ago  that  I  had  become  fascinated  by  cast  lists   and  Poldark  running  on  a  Sunday  night  for  16  episodes  from  the  autumn  of  1975  had   the  biggest  of  them  all. Unfortunately  for  most  of  the  time  it  was  running  against  the  final  series  of  Upstairs  Downstairs  on  ITV  and  so  I  only  got  to  see  the  last  two  episodes. Strangely  enough  I watched  them  on  my  own;  I  don't  know  what  my  mum  and  sister  were  doing  instead  but  I  got  them  interested  when  it  was  repeated  the  following  year  before  a  second  series  in  the  autumn.

Poldark  was  adapted  from  a  series  of  novels  by  Winston  Graham  set  in  the  turbulent  Cornwall  of  the  late  eighteenth  century . The  Poldarks  headed  up  by  impulsive  young  squire  Ross   ( Robin  Ellis )  are  trying  to  uphold  their   long-established  social  position   by  squeezing  the  last  deposits  from  a  waning  set  of  copper  mines   while  pursuing  a  feud  with  the  arriviste  family , the  Warleggans. Extra  spice  is  added  by  saturnine  villain  George  Warleggan  ( Ralph  Bates ) marrying  Ross's  original  sweetheart  Elizabeth   ( Jill  Townsend )   after  Ross  is  forced  to  make  a  shotgun  marriage  with  his  kitchen  maid  Demelza  ( Angharad  Rees ).  

The  series  was  good  knockabout  bodice-ripping  stuff  with  a  good  selection  of  colourful  characters  including  Christopher  Biggins  of  all  people  as  a  randy  vicar. His  roving  eye  alighted  at  one  point  on  the  naked  rump  of  Julie  Dawn  Cole , my  first  sighting  of  such  a  thing  on  TV. It  was  pretty  raunchy  all  the  way  through  as  I  remember. Perversely,  I  sided  with  George   and  always  wanted  him  to  come  out  on  top  in  the  confrontations.

It  came  to  an  end  because  Graham  couldn't  keep  the  pace. The  two  series  were  based  on  his  seven  existing  novels  and  the  next  one  wasn't  published  until  1981 by  which  time  things had  moved  on. In  the  meantime  there'd   been  a  flood  of  imitations,  with  Penmarric  the  most  obvious  example,  as  testament  to  the  series'  appeal.

Poldark  was  the  high  point for  most  of  the  cast  although  Kevin  McNally  who  played  Demelza's  fiery  young  brother  is  still  a  very  busy  actor. Ellis  is  now  semi-retied  and  living  in  France; inevitably  he  was  given  a  cameo  role  in  the  new  series. Angharad  Rees  chose  to  concentrate  on  motherhood  rather  than  build  on  her  success. She  died  in  2012  of  pancreatic  cancer  , the  same  thing  that  killed  Ralph  Bates  at  the  tragically  early  age  of  51  after  his  success  in  playing  a  remarkably  different  character  in  the  comedy  Dear  John.

237 Happy Ever After

First  watched  :  Early  1976

This  series  first  ran  in  1974  but  I  don't  think  I  saw  it  until  it  followed  Top  of  the  Pops  on  a  Thursday.

The  series  stemmed   from  a  Comedy  Playhouse  pilot  and  starred  Terry  Scott  and  June  Whitfield  as  a  middle-aged , middle  class  couple  whose  two  daughters  have  left  home  which,  in  those  days  of  student  grants,  left  Terry  free  to  pursue  some  harebrained  schemes  while  June  looked  on  in  mildly  sceptical  disapproval, (  a  comic  persona  that  sustained  Whitfield  for  decades ). Her  sister   Lucy  played  by  Beryl  Cook  moved  in  with  her  mynah  bird  to  add  to  the  mayhem.

I  remember  it  as  actually  being  pretty  funny  and  I  recall  getting  caught  out  for  re-cycling  one  of  the  storylines  (  I  can't  remember  what  it  was  )   in  a  school  essay  the  next  day. Unfortunately  I  hadn't  really  factored  in  that  teachers  watched  the  telly  too  !  

The  series  ran  aground  in  1979  when  writer  Eric  Merriman  fell  out  with  the  BBC  but  refused  to  be  bought  out  with  regards  to  the  format. The  BBC  then  decided  to  uproot  Scott  and  Whitfield  to  a  new  location , ditch  the  rest  of  the  family  and  re-brand  as  Terry  and  June   since  Merriman  could  hardly  lay  claim  to  the  actors'  real  names.

Terry  and  June   went  on  for  another  eight  years  and  became  a  bit  of  a  byword  for  safe, unchallenging  and  stale  viewing  in  the  age  of  alternative  comedy. It's  a  shame  that  that's  prevented  much  appreciation  of  the  original  series.

The  partnership  was  finally  broken  up  in  1987  when  Scott  was  diagnosed  with  cancer  although  he  lived  on   for  another  seven  years  and  continued  voicing  the  character  Penrose  in  Danger  Mouse  until  1992.  The  seemingly  indestructible  Whitfield  turns  90  later  this  year.      

Thursday, 10 September 2015

236 The Ellery Queen Whodunnit

First  watched : January  1976

Here's  an  interesting  entry. Ellery  Queen  was  the  creation  of  two  American  crime  writers  Frederick  Dannay  and  Manfred  Lee,  a  writer  and  amateur  detective  who  helps  solve  the  crimes  which  are  confounding  his  father, a  New  York  City  police  inspector. In  the  States  it  became  a  massively  successful  franchise ; this  was  the  fourth  separate  TV  series  to  feature  him  over  there.

However  it  meant  curiously  little  over  here  where  this  was  the  only  one  of  the  adaptations  to  be  broadcast. It  was  made  by  the  team  behind  Columbo   and  followed  a similar  format  of  an  unconventional  detective  solving  a  complicated  crime  then  announcing  his  deduction  to  the  assembled  suspects. The  unique  feature  of  the  series  was  the  eponymous  hero  played  by  Jim  Hutton  turning  to  the  camera  with  ten  minutes  to  go  and  breaking  the  fourth  wall  by  asking  the  viewer  "Do  you  know  who  it  was  ?"  ( which  I  invariably  didn't ).

I  thought  it  was  OK  but  it  failed  to  live  up  to  expectations  in  its  Tuesday  early  evening  slot  and  was  pulled  after  only  12  episodes  had  been  broadcast. Three  more  were  used  to  fill  a  gap  in  the Monday  schedule  in  August   then  it  disappeared  for  good  with  no  repeats  and  seven  of  the  episodes  never  broadcast  here.

Jim  Hutton  died  of  liver  cancer  in  1979  and  didn't  live  to  see  his  son  Timothy's  Oscar  triumph  the  following  year. Both  Dannay  and  Lee  are  long  since  dead  although  the  publication  they  founded  in  1941,  Ellery  Queen's  Mystery  Magazine  is  still   published  monthly  and  is  only  on  to  its  third  editor.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

235 Rentaghost

First  watched  : 6  January  1976

This  is  another  surprise  ; I'd  have  put  this  one  at  least  a  year  later.

This  slightly  macabre  childrens'  comedy  show  was  the  brainchild  of  writer  Robert  Block , previously  known  for  Pardon  My  Genie  and  this  was  fairly  similar  in  tone. A  recently  deceased  loser  Fred  Mumford  ( Anthony  Jackson )  sets  up  an  agency  for  renting  out  ghosts  for  various  purposes  with  his  still-living  landlord  Mr  Meaker  ( Edward  Brayshaw ) . His  two  supply  phantoms are  a  Victorian  gentleman , Davenport  ( Michael  Darbyshire )  and  a   camp  medieval  jester  Claypole  ( Michael  Staniforth ) . Later  in  the  series  some  more  colourful  spooks  were  added  to  the  cast  but  I  think  I  only  stayed  with  it  while  the  original  trio  were  in  place. Darbyshire  died  in  1979  and  Jackson  declined  to  continue  without  him  so  Claypole  became  the  central  character  in  future  series.

It  hasn't  left  a  great  impression  on  me  to  be  honest   but  it  ran  for  eight  years  so  it  must  have  been  doing  something  right. Jackson  continued  in  acting, latterly  in  a  company  specialising  in  the  works  of  Samuel  Beckett,  until  his  death  in  2006. After the  series  ended  in  1984  Staniforth  went  into  Starlight  Express  for  a  time  but  died  of  AIDS  three  years  later.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

234 Paddington

First  watched  : Early  1976

Pddington  was  quite  slow  in  coming  to  TV  given  that  Michael  Bond  had  written  the  first  book  about  him  in  1958  , way  before  he  first  came  up  with  The  Herbs.  Nevertheless   it  was  enormously  popular  and  another  triumph  for   animator   Ivor  Wood  who  came  up  with  the  distinctive  3D/ 2D  blend  of  characters  for  the  show. Paddington  took  over  the  Magic  Roundabout  slot  and  the  stories  were  amusing  and  clever  but  somehow  I  remember  feeling  it  was  too  late  in  the  day  for  me  at  eleven years  old , that  this  was  something  for  the  younger  children  and  I  had  no  real  business  watching  it.

The  original  series  ran  from  1976  to  1978. Another  series  was  made  by  Hanna-Barbera  in  conjunction  with  CITV in  1989  and  then  another  shown  on  CITV  in  1997. A  film  was  released  last  year  and  another  is  said  to  be  in  the  works.

Monday, 7 September 2015

233 The Prince and the Pauper

First  watched  :  4  January  1976

This  followed  The  Legend of  Robin  Hood   as  the  Sunday  teatime  serial.  After  supporting  roles  in  Heidi  and  Anne  Of  Avonlea  this  provided  Nicholas  Lyndhurst  with  his  first  starring  role  in  the  parts  of  Prince  Edward  ( later  Edward  VI )  and  Tom  Canty, the  lookalike  pauper's  son  he  encounters  and   changes  places  with  for  longer  than  he  bargained.

The  series  was  an  adaptation  of  the  novel  by  Mark  Twain, a  popular  work  of  historical  fiction. And  fiction  it  certainly  is ; far  from  the  kind , resourceful  and socially  concerned  young  prince  depicted,  the  real  Edward  was  a  ghastly  bigoted  prig  who  acquiesced  in  his  uncle's  execution  and  would  probably  have  been  as  monstrous  as  his  father  had  he  lived  to  adulthood. Nevertheless  it's  a  good  yarn  as  proved  by  the  number  of  adaptations  since  its  publication  in  1881.    

A  British  film  version  came  out  the  following  year  and  I've  often  wondered  if  news  of  one  influenced  the  production  of  the  other. Ironically  while  Lyndhurst's  career  advanced  significantly  after  this,  his  film  counterpart  Mark  Lester  ( who  was  too  old  for  the  role  anyway )  gave  up  acting  after  scathing  reviews  and  became  an  osteopath.    

Sunday, 6 September 2015

232 Charlie Brown

First  watched : Early  1976

Charlie  Brown  was  a   series  of  television  specials  based  on  the  long-running  American  comic  strip  Peanuts.

I  was  familiar  with  some  aspects  of  American  culture  from  buying  Marvel  comics  but  this  was  my  first  insight  into  what  children  may  be  like  across  the  pond. That's  not  to  say  a  knowledge  of  baseball  and  Thanksgiving  Day  was  necessary  to  understanding  what  was  going  on  here. The  themes  of  insecurity,  cruelty  and  the  grim  truth  that  much  of  our  life  consists  of   melancholy  failure  are  pretty  universal.

Charlie  was  a  pretty  ordinary  good  natured  kid  but  his  vulnerability  made  him  prone  to  bullying  particularly  from  the  ghastly  Lucy  despite  her  possessing  no  talent, intelligence  or  physical  attractiveness  herself. The  other  kids  didn't  treat  him  so  badly,  and  Peppermint  Patty  ( above  ) actually  had  a  crush  on  him, but  could  have  done  more  to  stand  up  for  him. As  I  was  becoming  conscious  of  the  fact  that  I  was  not  attractive  to  girls  this  cartoon  struck  a  painful  chord.  The  only  gripe  I  had  with  the  series  was  the  amount  of  screen  time  given  to  Snoopy's  adventures   which   always  seemed  to  me  a  silly  childish  distraction  from  the  real  drama.

Illness  forced  Charlie's  creator  Charles  Schultz  to  discontinue  the  strip  in  1999  and  he  died  the  day  before  the  last  one  was  published  in  February  2000. He  didn't  wish  anyone  else  to  continue  it  and  so  far  that  wish  has  been  respected. Some  more  television  specials  have  been  made  but  they've  been  based  on  Schultz's  strips. A  movie  is  due  out  later  this  year.

Friday, 4 September 2015

231 Super Sonic

First  watched  :  Autumn  1975

This  was  the  only  ITV  pop  programme  I  made  a  point  of  watching. It  wasn't  one  of  Muriel  Gray's  productions  at  Granada  but  an  LWT   effort  presented  from  his  console  desk  by  producer  Mike  Mansfield , noted  for  his  snowy-white  hair  and  camp  voice. He  would  cue  the  acts  from  the  gantry  rather  than  presenting  to  camera  in  keeping  with  the  show's  "peep  behind  the  curtain"   approach  of  showing  backstage  operations.  It  had  a  certain  ramshackle  charm.

The  acts  were  lip-synching   and  often  placed  in  highly  incongruous  settings  for  their  music . Ronnie  Lane  did  his  ruralist  fantasy  song  The  Poacher  with  a  machine  blowing  detergent  bubbles  at  him. Most  performed  their  current  chart  hits  as  you'd  expect  but  some  of  the  older  acts  performed  hits  from  the  past  such  as  Jethro  Tull  and  Arthur  Brown.  

The  show  lasted  a  couple  of  years.  

Thursday, 3 September 2015

230 Don't Ask Me

First  watched : Uncertain

This  ITV   popular  science show  was  basically  BBC's  Stump  The  Scientist   with  more  genial  hosts  and   regular  tele-friendly  experts. David  Bellamy , Rob  Buckman  ( like  Jonathan  Miller  a  doctor-cum-comic ) and  Miriam  Stoppard  were  three  of  them , the  latter  causing  a  stir  with  her  practical  demonstration  of  the  principle  that  babies  could  instantly  swim . All  of  them  were  overshadowed  though  by  Dr  Magnus  Pyke  who  became  an  instant  star  and  impressionists'  dream  with  his  wild-eyed  enthusiasm  and  manic  gesticulations.  He  became  everybody's  epitome  of  the  mad  scientist  and  in  the  early  eighties  became  an  unlikely  MTV  star  with  his  appearance  on  record  and  in  the  video  for  Thomas  Dolby's  She  Blinded  Me  With  Science.   

The  show  ran  from  1974 to  1978  with  the  host  changing  regularly. I  think  it  was  the  last  TV  gig  for  Austin  Mitchell  before  becoming  the  long-serving  Labour MP  for  Grimsby. It  was  re-branded  as  Don't  Just  Sit  There  in  1979  and  lasted  another  year  but  I don't  remember  that.

 Bellamy  and  Stoppard  are  both  still  around  campaigning  and  writing,  on  environmental  issues  and  women's  health  respectively. Buckman  , who  ironically  was  seriously  ill  himself , emigrated  to  Canada  in  1985  and  dropped  his  comedy  career  in  favour  of  militant  atheism  before  dying  mid-flight  between  London  and  Toronto  in  2011.  Pyke  , one  of  science's  great  populists,  was  actually  sceptical  of  the  benefits  of  using  science  and  technology  to  advance  material  comforts. He  died  in  1992  aged  83  , four  years  after  coming  off  worst  in  a  tussle  with  a  burglar.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

229 Runaround

First  watched :  Autumn  1975

This  ITV  children's  quiz  show, based  on  an  American  model  which  hadn't  actually  worked  very  well , was  much  more  fun  than  the  likes  of  Brainchild  on  the  Beeb. The  contestants  had  to  run  across  the  studio  floor  to  answer  a  multiple  choice  general  knowledge  quiz  by  standing  in  one  of  three  circles. If  they  got  it  right  they  went  back   to  their  starting  places  with  a  yellow  ball ( worth  1  point )  unless  they  were  the only  one  getting  it  correct  in  which  case  they  had  a  red  winner's  ball  worth  2  points. If  they  got  it  wrong  they  went  into  a  dungeon  until  the  red  ball  was  collected. To  thwart  tailgaters,  kids  were  allowed  a  couple  of  seconds  to  jump  into  an  adjacent  circle  at  the  last  moment. The  kid  with  the  most  points  got  to  pick  a  prize.

The  show  was  gruffly  compered  by  comedian  Mike  Reid  after  his  profile  had  been  raised  earlier  in  the  year  by  an  unlikely  hit  single  with  The  Ugly  Duckling ( I  remember  him  getting  his  verses  the  wrong  way  round  on  Top  of  the  Pops  ) . Because  the  show  was  recorded  pretty  much  live,  he  needed  to  keep  a  tight  rein  on  proceedings  and  treated  kids  who  shouted  out  the  answers  as  he  would  hecklers  in  the  clubs  where  he  performed. He  briefly  left  the  show  in  1977,  allowing  short  stints  to  Leslie  Crowther   and  Stan  Boardman , but  was  back  in  place  a  year  later.  The  show  ended  in  1981  when  its  creators  Southern  Television  lost  their  franchise. Reid  kept  himself  busy  with  roles  in  things  like  Minder  and  appearing  on  panel  shows  before  Eastenders  came  calling. 

There  was  apparently  a  spin-off  show  called  Poparound  in  the  mid-eighties  with  Gary  Crowley  posing  questions  about  pop  music  but  I  don't  recall  it  so  I'm  wondering  if  Granada  ever  screened  it.  


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

228 Get Some In

First  watched : Autumn  1975

I  don't  think  I  saw  very  much of  this  ITV  sitcom  but  I  do  recall  one  episode  which  ended  up  with  someone  being  de-bagged, me  being  of  an  age  to  find  any  sort  of  nudity  highly  amusing.

Get  Some  In  was  very  obviously  ITV's  attempt  to  get  itself  some  military  comedy  action   along  the  same  lines  as  It  Ain't  Half  Hot  Mum  and  Dad's  Army. Talfryn  Thomas  from  the  latter  appeared  in  the  first  episode. It  worked  too  with  the  series  getting  a  Christmas  Day  Special  in  its  first  year.

The  series  was  set  in  the  mid-fifties  and  followed  a  group  of  young  men  doing  National  Service  in  the  RAF  who  find  themselves  under  the  bullying  Corporal  Marsh  ( Tony  Selby )  who  also  has  a  nice  line  in  homophobia  and  racism. He  is  in  turn  bullied  by  his  wife Alice  ( Lori  Wells ) . The  recruits  include  Smith  ( Robert  Lindsay  then  Karl  Howman  when  Lindsay  got  Citizen  Smith )  a  rebellious  teddy  boy, Lilley  ( Gerard  Ryder  ) a  namby-pamby  vicar's  son   and  Richardson ( David  Janson ) a  smart  grammar  school  boy  whose  relationship  with  Marsh  closely  resembles  that  between  Sgt  Williams  and  Gunner  Graham  in  It  Ain't  Half  Hot  Mum. 
A  number  of  notable  TV  stars  made  one  episode  appearances  in  the  series  including  Paul  Eddington, George  Baker, Roy  Kinnear  and  Simon  Callow.

It  was  written  by  John  Esmonde  and  Bob  Larbey,  the  duo  behind  Please  Sir ! and  the  contemporary  The  Good  Life  and  lasted  for  5  series. It's  never  been  repeated  in  full  but  it  all  survives  and  has  been  released  on  DVD.