Here we go with another eclectic mix of the great and the good (and the not so great and good!) of television past. This time around I’ll endeavour to recite the You Bet! rap as a special Brucie bonus for you all. Failing that, you could just sit back, relax and take in the sights and sounds of another trip down memory lane. With that in mind, let’s take a little stroll…
WHY DON’T YOU…? (1973-1995)
Why don’t you just switch of your television set and go out and do something less boring instead? to give it it’s full, Sunday name was a magazine-style show for kids that was most often shown during the school holidays and featured groups of children responding to viewers’ letters suggesting games and days out. Usually made up of arts and crafts makes, the presenters would show us how to do stuff to keep us occupied during the long weeks. Some of these presenters would later go on to become household names (Ant McPartlin and Pauline Quirke). The show was perhaps most famous for its opening theme and animated sequence that foreshadowed the anarchy that followed.
WATCH IT FOR: That opening theme
One of those American sitcoms that tried to mix serious issues with comedy. The results were quite often filled with schmaltz but I still remember it with fondness. Most of that is due to Mayim Bialik who plays the title character and who’s teenage life the series revolves around. She lives at home with her single father, Nick (Ted Wass) and her two brothers, Anthony (Michael Stoyanov) and Joey (Joey Lawrence). This show didn’t tax the brain but it was good fun and featured a great theme song by Dr John.
WATCH IT FOR: Theme tune
UNCLE JACK (1990-1993)
A children’s television programme with an environmental twist. Sixties pop star Paul Jones stars as Uncle Jack Green, an environmentalist and secret MI5 agent who, along with his family foils plot after plot of his arch nemesis The Vixen (Fenella Fielding). I remember this mostly because the title character had the same name as my grandfather as well as it being quite cheesy and having a pantomime feel to it all, like a lot of kids’ shows had in the late 80s and early 90s. There were four series with six episodes in each and following a different storyline but still keeping it’s finger on the environmental pulse. I think most people would be hard-pushed to remember this show as, like most of them, it has been largely ignored and forgotten all these years.
WATCH IT FOR: The first episode!
NEW BLOOD (2016)
Sometimes a show comes along that is criminally underrated and cut down in it’s prime before it has a chance to show what it can really do. That’s the case for New Blood, a buddy cop drama with a difference from Anthony Horowitz that was sadly ended after just one brilliant series. Two investigators, Stefan (Mark Strepan) a junior Serious Fraud Officer and Rash (Ben Tavassoli) a trainee Detective Constable are brought together when their seemingly separate cases find a common link. It has a Lethal Weapon vibe with the two leads bickering at first but learning to work together in their unconventional style. I honestly can’t believe it wasn’t renewed for a second series as it was a breath of fresh air in a barren wasteland of bland, copycat cop dramas.
WATCH IT FOR: BBC One trailer
THE HENDERSON KIDS (1985-1987)
The thing I remember most about this Australian drama series is that it featured a young Kylie Minogue. The series sees teenage siblings having to move from the city and forced to live in the country with their uncle when their mother dies. They make friends with the local kids and fight to save the land of their ancestors. A second series followed where the action was moved to a different location and featured a lot of new characters.
WATCH IT FOR: Opening theme tune
GET FRESH (1986-1988)
Here’s another one of those classic Saturday morning shows that often gets overlooked for some reason. Hosted by Gareth Jones, best known as Gaz Top, and Charlotte Hindle who would travel the country in their spaceship, landing in a new town each week. As usual with these types of shows there were guests, games and cartoons. They were joined by their puppet alien, Gilbert (voiced by Phil Cornwell) who had some dubious manners. For decades, both ITV and BBC fought for the most viewers on a Saturday morning with the BBC often taking the lead. Occasionally, though, ITV would produce such gems as this.
WATCH IT FOR: Opening titles and a bit of Gaz & Charlotte
A children’s television drama about the lives of a group of bicycle couriers set in London. It is, perhaps, best known for featuring an early appearance from Andy Serkis who played Owen, the owner of the business. It was a great show, filled with all the drama you find with a mix of colleagues and some great characters. One of my favourites being Troop, played by Garry Roost. It is yet another example of a good programme that has since been forgotten and deserves at least another showing on one of the many channels out there.
WATCH IT FOR: Sadly, I can’t seem to find any clips of this excellent series so if you happen to know of any please let me know!
FRENCH & SAUNDERS (1987-2017)
There are some comedians who make sketch shows that just aren’t very funny. And then there are French & Saunders. Their show capitalised their talent for the absurd and brought us some of the best film and television parodies in recent years. With most double-acts you usually find the straight one who was the set-up and foil to the funny one who took the glory. With Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders they are both just as funny and straight as the each other. Their film pastiches are stuff of legend with Saunders nearly always bearing a remarkable resemblance to whomever she is imitating. Both are just as good apart as they are together and have had very successful careers away from the partnership but its this, and their take on the hit films of the time, that set them apart from everyone else.
WATCH IT FOR: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!
YOU BET! (1988-1997)
A game show where celebrities gamble on the outcome of a challenge or a stunt performed by members of the public. The challenges usually involved feats of memory and recall, stunts and showing off skills. Three celebrities would champion a challenge each and the audience would vote on which way the challenge would go. If the challenge was unsuccessful then the celebrity would have to do a forfeit which would either be done there and then in the studio or filmed and shown the following week. Originally hosted by Sir Bruce Forsyth complete with his own You Bet! rap, the show evolved slightly and was later hosted by Matthew Kelly and finally Darren Day.
WATCH IT FOR: A full episode!
A former model and a smart-aleck detective join forces to run a private investigation firm. The words ‘quirky’ and ‘offbeat’ are often used to describe programmes that you just can’t put an adjective to. Moonlighting is one of those shows. Yes, it’s a detective drama while at the same time being a comedy and romance. But there is a surreal undertone to the proceedings which adds to the quirkiness of things. The real magic of the show, though, is the chemistry between the two stars Cybill Shepherd and a pre-superstardom Bruce Willis. Their will-they-won’t-they relationship kept viewers hooked over five series. Add in one of the all-time best theme songs ever and you’ve got yourselves a massive hit.
WATCH IT FOR: A nice little compilation
We’re rapidly heading towards the twentieth edition of this particular odyssey which means you’ve sat through 190 television programmes that are either long-forgotten (or should be) or current hits. A lot won’t be to everyone’s taste but isn’t that the joy in something like this? It would be dull if we all enjoyed the same things. If, by some chance, you have enjoyed this then please let me know – I’d love to hear from you. Until the next time…
“In my opinionation, the sun is gonna surely shine”