So many programmes and not enough time! Well, actually that’s a lie. There’s plenty of time to go through all this, isn’t there? Probably not, so with that in mind, let’s not waste any of this precious time…
This long-running and much loved programme was made with the intention of getting kids more interested in reading. At a length of just 15 minutes, each episode featured a well-known personality of the time reading from a children’s novel, usually sat in an armchair. A veritable who’s-who of entertainment has read to us kids over the 30 years it was on air, most notably Bernard Cribbins, Kenneth Williams and fan favourite, Rik Mayall. It’s such a pity that it ended (despite a short-lived revival on CBBC) as I believe this programme really did inspire more children to read and to write their own stories.
WATCH IT FOR: Rik Mayall’s electrifying reading of George’s Marvellous Medicine
CRAZY LIKE A FOX (1984-1986)
America in the 80s made some great odd-couple style TV programmes and here’s another example. Tough guy private investigator Harry Fox (Jack Warden) partners with his straight-laced lawyer son, Harrison Fox Jr (John Rubinstein) to fight crime in San Francisco. “What could possibly happen?”
WATCH IT FOR: The opening sequence sets it all up
Yet another one of those classic kids TV shows that feels like it ran and ran forever but only had 13 episodes made. Created by Joanne and Michael Cole and narrated by the brilliant John Le Mesurier, Bod was very simple in appearance but has a longevity that few other programmes of its kind can boast. Part of this can probably be put down to the music, so fondly remembered, that was composed by kids TV stalwart Derek Griffiths.
WATCH IT FOR: The very memorable theme tune!
WAIT TILL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME (1972-1974)
Now, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really remember much about this. I seem to recall it being shown (as repeats) during the school holidays but only really know that Tom Bosley (patriarch of the Cunningham family in Happy Days) was the voice of the father and, of course, that theme tune. From the infamous Hanna-Barbera cartoon studios, WTYFGH sees a very conservative father butting heads with his family during a very liberating period of history.
WATCH IT FOR: The theme tune that you’ll have in your head for days (sorry!)
MOST HAUNTED (2002-present)
Let me just start by saying that I LOVE this programme! I’ve been fascinated by the paranormal for many years and seek out any kind of TV show that aims to investigate its existence, one way or another. Hosted by Yvette Fielding, MH investigates supposedly haunted locations around the world, hoping to get that vital piece of evidence on camera. Yvette and her team spend the night at these locations and sometimes, just sometimes, they capture something that can’t be explained. Over the years there have been controversies and changes of cast and crew, but the one thing that remains is the enthusiasm for ghost hunting. Sleep tight.
WATCH IT FOR: Episodes like this one!
EMU’S ALL LIVE PINK WINDMILL SHOW (1984-1986)
“There’s somebody at the door. There’s somebody at the door” – I’m not going to lie, I used to love watching this. Looking back, it’s utter nonsene, but as a kid it was perfect afternoon tele. Rod Hull and Emu were huge and, after a few years hosting Emu’s World, which introduced the world to the wonderful Grotbags (Carol Lee Scott), it was rebooted to include viewer phone-ins and games. As well as Grotbags, the show is probably best known for the stage school kids who sang and danced their way through the windmill and in shopping malls (They have recently reunited for Comic Relief) and aided Rod &Emu with the phone-ins. Thank the lord for the internet as there are episodes available online which fills me with so much joy.
WATCH IT FOR: A full episode, no less! Enjoy…
SPENSER: FOR HIRE (1985-1988)
Spenser is a private investigator, working out of Boston who faces a new crime each week. Based on the novels by Robert B. Parker, Spenser: For Hire starred the much missed Robert Urich as the eponymous hero and Avery Brooks as Hawk, his right-hand man. Like most private eye stories, Spenser uses a first-person voice over which adds to the pulp noir feeling of the show. Its a pity this show didn’t do too well here in the UK, but its not surprising as it was tucked away late at night. I used to love watching it with my mum, who I think might have had a bit of a crush on Urich, and wish someone, somewhere would show it again.
WATCH IT FOR: The opening theme
ASHES TO ASHES (2008-2010)
You’d think, after the huge success of Life on Mars, that we’d seen the last of DCI Gene Hunt. But think again. Ashes to Ashes sees the loud-mouthed copper up sticks to fight the “southern nancy scum” in London. Philip Glenister returns as Hunt who, along with his team, fight crime in the 1980s where we find Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) who has been shot and, in a similar vein to Sam Tyler, finds herself in a coma and thus in this weird world where old meets new and synth pop and shoulder blades are all the rage once more. This show is great fun, not least because of the 80s nostalgia fest.
WATCH IT FOR: The man. The legend. Gene Hunt!
BAD BOYES (1987-1988)
Here’s another curious show from the late 1980s. Based on the book by Jim Eldridge, Bryan Arthur Derek (BAD) Boyes is one of those typical mischievious schoolboys who gets himself into scrapes and misadventures. It lasted for two series and 16 episodes but has since disappeared from the memory of most. Thankfully (as is always the case these days) there are a few scraps available on the internet to remind you.
WATCH IT FOR: This full episode
DEAD MAN WEDS (2005)
This comedy, created by Phoenix Nights legend Dave Spikey, really deserved more love than it got at the time. Sadly, only one series was made and, due to copyright issues, is currently unavailable on DVD. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as per Spikey’s Twitter page, it has recently surfaced on the website couchtripper, where you can watch the whole series and relive the wonderfully quirky and dark humour that made this such a great show to watch.
WATCH IT FOR: Just get to couchtripper and watch the whole series!
And, as the credits fade on another batch of forgotten gems we look forward to the next blog post. There are plenty more where this came from so stay tuned and don’t touch that dial…!