Monday, 7 November 2016
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.