Another post and another batch of TV memories. This is getting difficult to choose what programmes to feature and which to leave out. I suppose, depending on how long I keep going with this, I could feature every programme I’ve ever seen but, relax, that isn’t going to happen. Instead, here’s another ten TV programmes that either have fond memories for me or are currently unmissable viewing.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? (2004-present)
As a hobby, I’ve enjoyed researching my family history so when this programme began I was immediately hooked. Following well-known celebrities as they trace their own genealogical roots has proved to be must-watch television. From the very simple and common family stories to being related to kings and queens of old, WDYTYA never fails to impress. Even when some of the celebrities taking part don’t interest me, I’ve always found their journey (and that of their ancestors) enjoyable to watch.
WATCH IT FOR: Powerful moments like this one
SIMON AND THE WITCH (1987-1988)
Sometimes, when I’ve been researching these programmes I’m genuinely shocked at just how long ago they were shown. Take this one, for instance, it’s thirty years old! THIRTY! How is that even possible? Anyway, I used to watch this all the time purely for the fact that The Witch in question (Elizabeth Spriggs) was just so funny. Its your standard kids entertainment from that time but with a little added magic.
WATCH IT FOR: A theme tune you won’t be able to get out of your head for days!
ON THE WATERFRONT (1988-1989)
One of those fillers for when Going Live! was on a break, On The Waterfront is a strange beast. Its a Saturday morning kids show but its also a sketch show-cum-stand up show. Hosted by Andrew O’Connor, Kate Copstick, Bernadette Nolan and Terry Randall it boasted sketches, musical guests and, arguably its most memorable feature, a dubbed version of The Flashing Blade.
WATCH IT FOR: The Flashing Blade
THE GOLDBERGS (2013-present)
Oh man, I can’t tell you how much I love this show! Its full of nostalgia, pop culture references and lots and lots of laughs. Its nineteen-eighty-something and Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone) is documenting his family’s ups and downs, armed with a video camera, against a backdrop of one of the most important decades in history. The whole cast is perfect from George Segal‘s Granddad, Wendi McLendon-Covey‘s smothering matriarch to Jeff Garlin as dad, Murray who tries his best with his ‘moron’ kids Barry (Troy Gentile) and Erica (Hayley Orrantia). All this, and a wonderful voiceover from ‘future Adam’ Patton Oswalt. It is, quite simply, a joy to watch and packed full of humour.
WATCH IT FOR: Only the very best of the craziest family!
LIFE ON MARS (2006-2007)
“My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident, and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet. Now, maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home” – And so began one of the most original and exciting BBC dramas in recent years. A genius mix of cop show mixed with sci-fi and time travel, Life on Mars tapped into the viewer’s appetite for nostalgia by transporting our modern-day hero, played by John Simm, back to the 1970s, one of the most turbulent decades in history. There, he meets his new guv’nor Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) a bullish, stereotype of a seventies TV cop who drinks, smokes and is a bit friendly with his fists. The pairing is immaculate, as is the supporting cast of historic coppers. Life on Mars is a work of art, a piece of genius from beginning to philosophical end.
WATCH IT FOR: The Gene Genie
SO HAUNT ME (1992-1994)
Here’s another curious BBC sitcom that appeared to do pretty well but isn’t that well remembered. Which is odd because I loved it, especially the premise of a haunted house! A suburban family find out that their new home is still haunted by its previous owner, a middle-aged Jewish woman who died while choking on a chicken bone! The show, created by Paul Mendelson, starred Miriam Karlin as Yetta, the deceased previous owner who haunts the family of George Costigan and Tessa Peake-Jones. Its a shame So Haunt Me hasn’t been repeated as I think its one of the funniest sitcoms of the nineties.
WATCH IT FOR: Karlin’s performance stole the show, and thanks to the internet, there are episodes available online. Here’s a taster…
KNIGHT RIDER (1982-1986)
There is probably no more iconic vehicle from the 1980s than the sleek, black Trans Am KITT (voiced by William Daniels) from Knight Rider. David Hasselhoff might have been the lone crimefighter taking on the bad guys but the car was the star. In much the same vein as the other iconic 80s action shows Street Hawk and Airwolf, Knight Rider relied on the state-of-the-art technology to help solve crimes aided, of course, by a human to do all the leg work. Complete with one of the best theme tunes of the decade, Knight Rider has stood the test of time, even if some of the human acting hasn’t!
WATCH IT FOR: That iconic theme tune
Every now and then a song pops into your head, a little earworm that takes you all the way back to your childhood. I get that with a lot of pop music but the kind of tune that takes me right back is the theme to a cartoon like this one. I still know all the words and have woken from a slumber many a time with this tune lodged in my brain. Scrooge McDuck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie basically protect Scrooge’s fortune from ne’er-do-wells with the aid of pilot Launchpad.
WATCH IT FOR: The best sing-a-long you’ll have today!
WIN, LOSE OR DRAW (1990-1998)
As daytime game shows go, Win, Lose or Draw was right up there with, say, Lucky Ladders and CrossWits. It was entertaining fluff and it kept me watching, which I suppose is the idea, right?! Originally hosted by Danny Baker then Shane Richie, Bob Mills and, one of my personal favourite incarnations of the show, Liza Tarbuck who hosted a late night version. Two teams, made up of celebs and a member of the public (male vs. female) would take it in turns to draw clues against the clock for their teammates to guess. I think its about time for a revival!
WATCH IT FOR: Look! A full episode online. God bless you, internet!!
Just thinking about this programme makes me laugh. The late, great and much missed Victoria Wood knew how to write people. Normal, everyday working people like the ladies who worked in the canteen of a busy factory. The conversations were never groundbreaking but they were real and very, very funny. Everyone knew somebody like Bren, Dolly, Jean, Anita and Twinkle. The comedy was warm and sometimes broad, especially when Bren’s mother (played to perfection by Julie Walters) turned up. Every single character worked and had the best lines, a talent of Wood’s to share the quality of her work with her ensemble. The world is a poorer place without her but all the more rich for her being here and creating such masterpieces.
WATCH IT FOR: Sublime writing and wonderful characters
There you go, another batch of ten TV memories to ponder. Hopefully I’ve included a broad mix of genres which is what I grew up watching. I’m off to delve into the vaults for more examples of lost gems and TV gold. Until the next time, don’t touch that dial…