You’d think it would be difficult to remember all these programmes from way back when, but it isn’t. Once you start thinking about one thing, something else pops in your mind and then leads you on to somewhere else. The list of programmes I intend to feature is growing daily and the only difficult part is how to space them out into some sort of pleasurable reading matter. Hopefully, that’s what I’m doing! Once again, there are programmes from my childhood as well as a few modern shows that are simply sublime viewing. More of one of those types later, but first…this:
THE PERILS OF PENELOPE PITSTOP (1969-1971)
Sylvester Sneekly is racecar driver Penelope Pitstop’s legal guardian. He disguises himself as the evil Hooded Claw with the intention of killing her for her fortune. Penelope is aided by her Wacky Races co-stars The Anthill Mob who, unintentionally, come to her rescue and foil the Claw’s dastardly plots. Penelope was my first TV crush (long before Sarah Greene and Heather Locklear) and I think that’s why I hold this programme so close to my heart.
WATCH IT FOR: The opening titles (“I’ll get you, Penelope Pitstop!”)
BOB’S FULL HOUSE (1984-1990)
Quiz show based on the very British tradition of Bingo, hosted by the master of the game show Bob Monkhouse. I used to love watching this and I can’t even put my finger on the reason why. I think it probably has to do with Monkhouse who was a master of his art, putting contestants at their ease whilst at the same time holding together a big money game show.
WATCH IT FOR: With thanks to the internet, here’s a full episode for you to enjoy!
SIMON & SIMON (1981-1989)
Another one of those classic 80s American dramas where the two leads couldn’t be more different yet somehow manage to work together. This time, brothers A.J. and Rick Simon run a private detective agency. A.J. (Jameson Parker) is a slick, suited man with a taste for classic cars while Rick (Gerald McRaney) is his less refined older brother with a taste for cowboy boots and pick-up trucks.
WATCH IT FOR: The opening theme tune
NO OFFENCE (2015-present)
At the time of writing, the second series of Paul Abbott‘s No Offence has just come to a blistering end. This is a stunningly brilliant piece of writing, acting and all round production. Set on the wild streets of Manchester, the officers of Friday Street get embroiled in the most dangerous and sometimes not so dangerous crimes while simultaneously trying to keep their home lives stable. The language is strong, sometimes crude, and always witty and on point. If you never see another police drama in your life, you have to see this one. It’s the dog’s doodahs!
WATCH IT FOR: The sublime writing and performances
THE FLUMPS (1976)
Another blast from the past that is probably best remembered for it’s theme tune rather than the content. A family of cute, furry creatures sing songs and read stories. It is simple yet endearing television which, although only 13 episodes long, has lasted in the memory for over forty years.
WATCH IT FOR: That very, very catchy theme tune
HOME AND AWAY (1988-present)
Don’t hate me but this has always been one of my guilty pleasures, the lives, loves and relationships of the residents of Summer Bay. For almost thirty years, this Australian soap opera has tackled every kind of subject matter from teenage pregnancy to religious cults and everything inbetween. Some very famous actors have graced the beaches of Summer Bay and have gone on to have successful careers outside the soap but their loss has never really knocked the popularity on longevity but, like every good soap (and life, for that matter) people come and people go and life moves on…
WATCH IT FOR: Apart from the sunshine? The singalonga theme tune
Harold and Ethel Meaker live in London and run ‘Rentaghost’ where they hire ghosts out to the public. Their next door neighbours hired a private detective and later a psychiatrist because they were convinced the Meaker’s were nuts. Some of the memorable ghosts were Timothy Claypole, a court jester; Hazel McWitch a Scottish witch and Nadia Popov, a Dutch ghost with hayfever. This was broad farce and, at most, a very disruptive pantomime that kept viewers watching for over 50 episodes.
WATCH IT FOR: The brilliant theme tune
Few words go together better and conjour up more memories than Cosgrove-Hall. The masterminds behind some of the best children’s television for a generation. None more so than the greatest detective of them all, Dangermouse (David Jason) and his trusty sidekick, Penfold (Terry Scott). This cartoon had everything. Wit, humour, brilliant characters and, of course, an outstanding theme tune!
WATCH IT FOR: It’s brilliance and also for the amazing theme tune
ALFONSO BONZO (1990)
Billy Webb is a young boy who likes to swap things with his school friends. One day he meets an “Italian exchange student” Alfonso Bonzo (Alex Jennings) who also likes to swap things (a student who exchanges things!) and soon the pair set out on a series of adventures with the swaps having real disadvantages as well as advantages. Is Alfonso all he appears to be? This is one of those curious programmes that you either know or don’t know. I used to love watching it (and it’s Alfonso-less follow up Billy Webb’s Amazing Story) but these days, I only remember the theme music.
WATCH IT FOR: The theme tune (skip to 6:06 to hear it)
RUSS ABBOT’S MADHOUSE (1980-1985)
This was what I think of as proper Saturday night entertainment. Bonkers comedy sketch show from the mind of Russ Abbot, full of bizarre characters and an excellent supporting cast featuring Bella Emberg, Les Dennis, Dustin Gee, Sherrie Hewson and Jeffrey Holland. Abbot’s characters ranged from Brooke Bond (a James Bond-esque secret agent); Cooperman who, along with Emberg’s Blunder Woman, took the mickey out of superheroes whilst allowing Abbot to indulge in a Tommy Cooper impression.
WATCH IT FOR: Cooperman!
There you go, another batch of TV treasures from the vaults. I know not all of them will appeal to everyone, but I’m sure some will trigger some happy memories (or maybe bad ones, who knows?!) like they did for me. Until the next time…don’t change that channel!