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 ?