Sunday, 22 May 2016

397 Junior That's Life

First  watched : 1  September  1979

Well  I'd  have  said  this  one  was  1980  but  no  I'm  a  year  out.

As  the  title  suggests  this  was  an  attempt  to  produce  a  kiddie-friendly  version  of  That's  Life for  a  Saturday  teatime  audience.  From  what  I  can  recall  it  had   a  very  similar  format   to  the main  programme  just  a  slight  toning-down  of  the  material. Of  course  there  was  a  fair  amount of  hubris  involved; by  having  a  "Junior"  version , it  suggested  that  the  main  programme  had an  adult  gravitas  that  it  didn't  really  possess.

The  junior  version  also  had  the  same  cast  with  one  exception.Cyril  Fletcher's  chair  was  occupied  by  two  schoolboys  who  presented  on  alternate  weeks. One  was  Shaun  Ley  , a  bespectacled , precocious  10  year  old  geek  in  the  mould  of  George  and  Mildred's   Tristan Fourmile  who'd  clearly  been  selected   to  be  as  aggravating  and  unbearable  as  children  can  get  . The  other ,Toby  Robertson,  was  a  more  normal  kid  with  a  cheeky  chappy  appeal.

The  programme  only  lasted  for  6  weeks  and  the  experiment  was  never  tried  again.

Now   Ley  is  a respected  political  correspondent  and  reporter  for  the  BBC  and  there  seems  to have  been  a  concerted  attempt  to  spare  his  blushes  and  erase  this  aspect  of  his  past.  His imdb  entry  makes  no  reference  to  the  show  and  he's  never  been  featured  on  Before  They Were  Famous . I   can't  find  any  footage  or  even  stills  to  show  you  what  he  was  like   although  it  clearly  is  the  same  bloke; I  recognised  him  immediately,  the  first  time  he   re-appeared  as  an  adult . Now  of  course   Esther  Rantzen  wouldn't  want  to  be  reminded  of  a failure  in her  c.v.  so  perhaps  Ley  is  just  an  incidental  beneficiary  of  her  brand  protection  but who knows  ?


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