Here we go with another batch of television memories that have, in their own way, made an impact on me. I enjoy looking back through the archives and trying to remember the programmes I used to watch and those that I’d completely forgotten about. There are some great shows here and some that are not so great but I still love them!
THE HIGH LIFE (1994)
The only thing I don’t get about The High Life is how it only managed one series of six episodes. It deserved a hell of a lot more than that. Maybe the surreal humour was a bit too ahead of it’s time back in 1994, who knows? This Scottish sitcom takes us behind the scenes of a fictional small airline where we meet the crew including Alan Cumming, Forbes Masson, Siobhan Redmond and Patrick Ryecart. Like I said, there is some surreal humour and some very funny lines, not to mention the all-singing all-dancing opening title song that will stick in your brain for days (or years, in my case!).
WATCH IT FOR: The magnificent opening title song
Here’s a curiosity from the late eighties that seemed, on paper at least, to have everything going for it. An action/thriller based around secret agents, surveillance and bodyguard protection. Created by Clapperboard‘s Chris Kelly, Saracen is largely forgotten these days mainly due to the narrow range of plot devices and low budget, but it remains one of those obscurities that I remember watching and enjoying. There were rare repeats on cable and satellite television and the whole series (including the feature-length pilot episode with different cast members) is available on DVD.
WATCH IT FOR: Thanks to the internet, this opening sequence lives on
The 1980s brought us some fantastic action shows from across the pond, many of which I’ve already included, and this one is no exception. Richard Dean Anderson plays the title character, a secret agent with a scientific mind and the ability to turn mundane objects into weapons. It had a great attitude and style (MacGyver’s voice over often filling in the blanks on the technical stuff) and, coupled with a spectacular theme tune from Randy Edelman, ran for 139 episodes over 7 series. To MacGyver something has gone into pop culture as the everyman takes a simple paper clip and tries to pick a lock or defuse a nuclear bomb!
WATCH IT FOR: Those opening titles and that theme tune
On his 21st birthday Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) discovers that his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born and now he must serve as a bounty hunter, tracking down evil spirits and demonic souls that have escaped from Hell. Along for the ride are his best friends Sock (Tyler Labine), Ben (Rick Gonzalez) and Andi (Missy Peregrym). Ray Wise plays The Devil, a part he was surely made for. It’s a shame it only ran for a couple of series as this show was really good fun and very funny.
WATCH IT FOR: This original channel promo tells you everything you need to know!
This drama quickly became the television event of the decade thanks to the brilliant writing (Chris Chibnall) and central characters of Hardy (David Tennant) and Miller (Olivia Colman). A seemingly quiet seaside town is rocked to it’s very core when a young boy is murdered and the media whips everyone into a frenzy. The quality is in the detail and we see the investigation from beginning to end, taking in the local community and their secrets. There has never been another programme quite like this. Sure, there are a dozen police dramas knocking around but not on the same scale as this. I used to refer to this on Twitter as #ShiftyLocals because you could bet your bottom dollar that you would be accusing everyone at some point. Its testament to the writing that kept you guessing right up to the end. Quality.
WATCH IT FOR: Hardy & Miller
MORK & MINDY (1978-1982)
The brilliant, and much-missed, Robin Williams plays Mork from Ork, an alien who lands on Earth in an egg to investigate human behaviour and report back to his superiors. He finds himself lodging with Mindy (Pam Dawber) whose life is never the same again. Much of the humour comes from Mork’s fish-out-of-water scenarios and the reaction from people around him. It’s a spin-off from the popular sitcom Happy Days where Mork turns out to be villainous and part of Ritchie Cunningham’s dreams. It was daring, original and extremely funny and needs repeating on television very soon!
WATCH IT FOR: Theme tune
SCARECROW AND MRS. KING (1983-1987)
Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angels) plays housewife Mrs. King who is handed a package one day by a secret agent, Lee Stetson a.k.a. The Scarecrow (Bruce Boxleitner) while he is running from bad guys. He must then track her down before the bad guys do. The majority of the show’s appeal was the inevitable will-they-won’t-they storyline between the two characters which often detracted away from the spy side of things. The two leads are perfect together and I really enjoyed this show when it was on and think it deserves at least another repeat showing.
WATCH IT FOR: Opening titles
DOGTANIAN AND THE THREE MUSKEHOUNDS (1981-1982)
As a kid there were a few cartoon series that seemed to go on forever. Around The World With Willy Fog, Ulysses 31, The Mysterious Cities of Gold and this one, loosely based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas. Basically it’s The Three Musketeers but with dogs instead of humans. I remember very little of this show other than it was shown during the Children’s BBC strand and had a theme song that never really leaves you! I’m not even sure whether I saw it through to the end.
WATCH IT FOR: I make no apologies for this – The theme tune – you’re welcome!
OUT OF THIS WORLD (1987-1991)
I just had a meltdown! This show is thirty years old! THIRTY!! Anyway, this was one of those American imports that used to be shown in the school holidays that I watched religiously. Evie Garland (Maureen Flannigan) who lives at home with her mum, Donna (Donna Pescow), inherits special powers on her 13th birthday due to the fact that her father, Troy, is an alien. She could pause and un-pause time and transfer herself from one place to another. As usual, the supporting characters often just showed up for no real reason – the local Mayor (Doug McClure), Donna’s brother, Beano (Joe Alaskey) – but on the whole it was about Evie getting herself out of the trouble she put herself in.
WATCH IT FOR: Theme tune
THE ENFIELD HAUNTING (2015)
Behind the doors of a seemingly normal house in North London there lies a deeply disturbing and terrifying entity. Based on real events in 1977, this three-part mini-series tells the story of a working class family struggling to deal with whatever is behind these bizarre events. Timothy Spall plays Maurice Grosse, a psychic investigator who is called in when the Hodgson’s experience strange goings-on in their home. He calls in the help of fellow investigator Guy Lyon Playfair (Matthew Macfadyen) and the two of them discover darkness like nothing else. These two give outstanding performances, as you’d expect, but it’s young Eleanor Worthington-Cox who absolutely steals the show and was, quite rightly, nominated for a BAFTA for her performance.
WATCH IT FOR: She’s gone
Another batch of television programmes from years gone by, and some that are a little more recent. Watching some of these clips online have really sparked the memories and I’ve enjoyed re-watching some of them. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen here, please let me know, I really would love to hear from you. Get in touch through this or come follow me on Twitter. Until then, though, it’s time to go…
“Oh deary me!”