Well, here we go folks with another batch of nostalgic gems from TV gone by (and some from not so long ago!) I really have enjoyed delving into the memory palace for these programmes and, rest assured, I will return to the TV stuff periodically along with My Life In Film… I can’t stop now, I keep remembering stuff that should have been included, so with that in mind, let’s get cracking…
Created by Stephen Volk who brought us the wonderful Ghostwatch, this supernatural drama stars Lesley Sharp as Alison Mundy, a medium and Andrew Lincoln as Robert Bridge, a university lecturer and sceptic who becomes involved in Alison’s life when one of his students commits suicide. What sets this programme apart from most other supernatural dramas is it’s setting in a gritty reality and focus on the human story and sometimes fractured relationship between the two leads. Its a gripping, creepy thriller with outstanding performances, most notably Lesley Sharp who is simply brilliant. If you can, seek it out because you will not be disappointed.
WATCH IT FOR: Lesley Sharp‘s mesmerising performance
This brings back memories of weekday afternoons with Philip Schofield and Andy Crane in the Children’s BBC “Broom Cupboard” hosting the links between programmes and occasionally singing along with the theme tunes! Willy Fog is an animated version of the famous Jules Verne story Around The World In 80 Days and seemed to go on forever (much like Dogtanian and Mysterious Cities of Gold). All I can remember now though, of course, is that damn theme tune (see below) which you will all be singing to yourselves for the rest of your life!
WATCH IT FOR: THAT theme tune!
CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (2000-2015)
For a while, this was America’s number one show on television and it’s not hard to see why. Giving us a glimpse of the science behind the investigation, CSI was at once ground-breaking and familiar with characters you could instantly associate with. An elite team of investigators work the night shift in Las Vegas where the weird and wonderful come to life and death. This show was so successful that it became a brand. Over the coming years we were given numerous spin-off shows set in different cities: CSI: Miami, CSI: NY and the far inferior CSI: Cyber, each using a different song by The Who. By the time the series came to an end it had seen better days but still remains one of the best.
WATCH IT FOR: The theme tune, performed by The Who
“It’s Friday. It’s five to five. It’s Crackerjack!”
Depending on your age you will have different memories of this juggernaut of a kids’ TV programme. For me it was the Stu Francis era. My abiding memories of this show are celebrities of the day (mostly The Krankies) wearing tracksuits and being covered in different coloured gunge and Stu Francis whipping out another of his catchphrases: “Ooh, I could crush a grape!”; “Ooh, I could wrestle an Action Man!” and, oh you get the picture.
Like many of the best remembered programmes from ‘back in the day’, there were only ever 13 episodes of this classic stop-motion animation made. From Smallfilms, the genius team behind The Clangers and Ivor The Engine, Bagpuss was a simple tale of a baggy old, saggy old cloth cat who sat in the window of a shop that sold old and broken things. Alongside him were Professor Yaffle; Madeleine, a rag doll; Gabriel the toad and the mice on the mouse organ who sang their way through life. It’s a beautifully charming programme than remains a favourite to this day.
WATCH IT FOR: Want a full episode? Here you go…
MAID MARIAN AND HER MERRY MEN (1989-1994)
Here’s one of those programmes that crossed the generational divide, being liked by kids and adults alike. The true story of Sherwood Forrest is that Marian was the brains behind the outfit and Robin was merely a cowardly tailor. Twisting the legend on it’s head with brilliant humour and musical numbers, complete with performances from Kate Lonergan as Marian, Adam Morris as Robin and the brilliant Tony Robinson as The Sheriff. Rightly so, this has become a bone fide cult classic.
WATCH IT FOR: One of the many, wonderful musical numbers
PIGEON STREET (1981)
It’s only when you research these old shows that you realise just how much they must have been repeated on a daily basis. Pigeon Street is another one of those that only had 13 episodes made but made to feel like there were more due to the constant airing on television. This is, right so, another cult classic thanks to its delightful animation, catchy theme tune and songs.
BLUE PETER (1958-present)
The world’s longest-running children’s television show has seen many changes over the years, most notably it’s roster of presenters and pets. Admittedly, I’ve not watched it for a good few years so can’t comment on how it compares to previous years but what I do know is that when I watched it during the eighties and early nineties, it was probably at it’s peak. Yvette Fielding, Caron Keating and Mark Curry being the stand out presenters of my viewing years. You’ll have your own, no doubt, like a favourite James Bond or Doctor Who.
WATCH IT FOR: State of the art reporting!
Co-created by Supermarionation genius Gerry Anderson, Terrahawks is set in 2020 where Earth is under threat from Martian androids who want revenge on the human race. Featuring all the usual suspects you’d expect from an Anderson production, Terrahawks is, perhaps, best known for it’s theme tune and it’s main protagonist, Zelda who is intent on conquering Earth. I think what adds to this programmes cult status is it’s lack of repeats, virtually disappearing from memory altogether. Still, it’s a tremendous edition to the Anderson canon and deserves more respect than it’s had.
WATCH IT FOR: The theme tune
NOEL’S HOUSE PARTY (1991-1999)
Now, here’s the thing. I really enjoyed Noel’s House Party. Sure, it wasn’t groundbreaking but for a short time it was a behemoth of Saturday night television with it’s anarchic set-up and live broadcasts. For a while, Noel Edmonds owned Saturday nights. Set in the fictional town of Crinkly Bottom (I know!) Noel hosted the show from his manor house and welcomed many big name celebrity guests to his ‘home’ where they were often the butt of jokes and quite often gunged all the name of light entertainment. Then, of course, there were the Gotcha’s. Celebrities would be the victims of increasingly elaborate pranks and then invited onto the show to collect their ‘award’. Nobody was safe, not even Noel himself who would often find himself at the whim of the production crew at the end of a series. All in all, NHP was pure entertainment at it’s best. I loved it. I miss it. I wish there was something even remotely close to it’s class still on TV. I might be in the minority, but I don’t care.
WATCH IT FOR: Noel getting caught out! You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
And that, as they say, is that. Another smattering of memories of television past. Some good, some not so good. All fondly remembered by me so it doesn’t matter what you think! But, seriously, if you like what you’ve seen then please drop me a line or come find me on Twitter. I’m leaving the TV countdown alone for a bit and returning to My Life In Film… so stick around, if that’s your thing. Also, I’m toying with the idea of a podcast so let me know what you think.