Monday, 7 November 2016

532 O.T.T.

First  viewed  :  9  January  1982

Well  panic  over . Thanks  to  my  wonderful  and  talented  sister,  we're  back  up  and  running  more  efficiently  than  before.

We  now  move  into  1982, a  year  that  did  have  its   good  moments   for  me, but  perversely  I  almost  resented  them  for  smudging  the  canvas  of  Gothic  gloom  that  I  was  painting  around  myself  following  the  events  of  the  previous year.

There  was  some  good  television  too  but  O.T.T. doesn't  fall  into  that  category  I'm  afraid. O.T.T.  sprang  from  Tiswas.   A  tour  of  nightclubs  and  colleges  in  1981  convinced  most  of  the  Tiswas  team   that  there  was  a  ready  made  adult  audience  if  they  made  the  break  from  children's  TV  and  did  a  late  night  adult  version  of  the  show. Unfortunately  the  one  member  who  wasn't  convinced  and  decided  to  stay  put   was  Sally  James  whose  plunging  cleavage  was  the  main  reason  adults  tuned  into  Tiswas   in  the  first  place.

The  rather  chunky  Helen  Atkinson-Wood  was  recruited  to  replace  her  as  Chris  Tarrant, Lenny  Henry, Bob  Carolgees  and  John  Gorman  re-appeared  on  O.T.T. at  the  beginning  of  1982. Alexei  Sayle  had  a  stand-up  spot  although  his  brand  of  political-edged  humour  fit  in  like  a  stone  in  a  shoe. As  with  Tiswas  there  were  musical  interludes  and  as  it  was  filmed   by   Central  TV  there  was  a heavy  Brum  bias  with  The  Beat  featuring  and  funk-poppers  Fashion  appearing  twice .

 I  didn't  see  the  first  episode  but  caught  the  furore  over  the  balloon  dance  item  where  three  naked  men  did  a  ( pretty  funny  actually )  routine  with  balloons  covering  their  vitals. At  the  other  end  of  the  year,  I  was  part  of  a  delegation  asking  certain  teachers  if  they  were  willing  to  do  their  own  version  for  the  Sixth  Form  Review. Game  for  a  laugh  science  teacher  Eddie  Robinson  actually  said  yes  but  fortunately  for  his  career  - he  later  became  a  headmaster  in  Bury - there  were  no  other  takers.

After  the  fuss  I  tuned  in  for  the  second  episode  and  was  pretty  disappointed. There  was  plenty  of  smut  but  nothing  very  titillating- the  cartoons  were  the  naughtiest  item - or  very  funny  compared  to  say  Dave  Allen  or  Benny  Hill. In  the  sketches  Tarrant  proved  that  acting  isn't  one  of  his  talents  and  without  his  puppets,  Carolgees  was  nothing .

It  fell  on  Henry  to  keep  the  show  afloat  and  he  was  rewarded  by  the  appearance  of  Bernard  Manning  on  the  show, replacing  Sayle  who  had  a  prior  commitment  to  honour. Lenny  had  to  sit  through  a  fusillade  of  racist  jokes  until  Manning   turned  to  address  him  directly "It's  alright  laughing  Lenny  Henry , it's  alright  for  you  black  people, you  can  walk  home  on  your  own  at  night".

The  show's  run   came  to  an  end in  April  1982  and  under  pressure  from  the   IBA  ,Central  insisted  on  major  changes.  It  returned  a  year  later  as  a  pre-recorded  show  called  Saturday  Stayback  which  I  don't  think  I  ever  saw. It  only  lasted  for  six  episodes  anyway.  O.T.T.  didn't  finish  anyone's  career  ; all  five  presenters  lived  to  fight  another  day  and  still  defend  the  show.

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