30 August, 2007

TV Cream is 10

Auspicious birthdays don't tend to come around very often; once a year is pretty much the average. Turning 10, however, is a rare occasion indeed, and tomorrow - 31st August - is the day when TV Cream will have notched up a whole decade of existence. In one form or other.

To mark the anniversary, and in lieu of much else happening (or rather, in lieu of anything else happening), here's a rare glimpse behind the giant oak-panelled doors of TV Cream Towers at how "Britain's number one TV nostalgia site of 2001" goes about its business...

1) Local navvies and ex-Bevin Boys unload the daily delivery of correspondence from Michael Parkinson's lawyers.

2) The pressure's on as the kitchen staff hurry to meet the deadline for the monthly inter-floor Nationwide cake-passing competition.

3) A TVC Towers security official ensures a local resident follows the correct procedure for the posting of a petition to bring back Whizzer and Chips.

4) Elevenses, courtesy of Doreen from the canteen. Orange and yellow cheese not pictured.

5) This week's work experience student has trouble sorting through the TVC card indexes of Alison Graham gaffes.

6) The staff enjoy the glitz and glamour of another promotional sponsorship opportunity.

7) A spot of asbestos-stripping forces the TV Cream guv'nor to vacate his penthouse suite for a day or two.

8) Another edition of Creamguide prepares to roll off the production line and into immediate obscurity.

28 August, 2007

Photo clippage #24

Few people embody more of the essence of TV Cream than Rolf Harris, and few things embody more of the jet-setting glitter-bound celebrity lifestyle of what could loosely be called the "TV Cream era" than a publicity photo of somebody getting on a BOAC aeroplane.

Wherever he'd go, through rain and snow, Rolf never let you down and the world always had a happy ending. Here's our man off to charm yet more of the known planet with some podiatry-related palaver:

26 August, 2007

"We're having a slight problem with the machine..."

It really is a long time now since what were, arguably, the National Lottery's glory years on TV.

Here's the draw in its imperial, mid-90s incarnation. Everything is present: bombastic fanfares, guests the likes of Pavarotti and Elton John, a simulcast "live on BBC1 - and Radio 1!", and a massive studio audience, whipped into a fiduciary frenzy by Sir Bob Monkhouse. "I know I'm a sinner - but make me a winner!"

This clip is even better, though, for being the time that the chosen machine, Guinevere, broke down, reducing Alan Deddicoat and Bob to a bit of improvised banter, Bob to wield a ludicrously outdated stick microphone, and Drawmaster John Willan to mumble a stilted lengthy apology.

Did the results turn up during Casualty?

24 August, 2007

Your friend in the north

This month's edition of the TV Cream Update, due to be sent out from the site this weekend, boasts as its main feature a tribute to Tony Wilson. By way of an overture, here's a last look at the man, best browsed while listening to 'Requiem Again' off Vini Reilly's eponymous 1989 album (FACT 244).

1) Tony notices the ceiling and starts to wonder what potent piece of office furniture might be hung there:

2) News breaks that Phil Redmond is once again trying to take over the North West and fill its television screens with 18 hours of community broadcasting a day:

3) Steve reminds Tony of the time he went on record as saying "the thing about Steven Morrissey is I could never work out whether being a cunt was intentional":


22 August, 2007

Campanology corner

As mentioned the last Digi-Cream Times (the last proper one), Big Ben has been silenced for some repairs meaning Radio 4 has temporarily lost, in the words of ITV1, "the bongs". As also mentioned in the last Digi-Cream Times (the last proper one), this is the kind of thing that has previously prompted listeners of both Today and PM on Radio 4 to compose emails suggesting pithy alternatives to fill the silent seconds up to the hour.

Well, the redoubtable Eddie Mair has gone one better and is positively encouraging people to rise to the challenge by way of a Sounds of Summer appeal. Expect wags to have already responded by insisting a) the "bongs" weren't sounds as such, but tones; b) summer has already been and gone (it was on Tuesday a few weeks back); and c) the extra airtime could be better utilised for a few more seconds of Dan Corbett doing the weather.

Meanwhile, as also mentioned in the last Digi-Cream Times (at this rate the last proper one ever), some possible replacements are:
a) The Trumpton town clock.
b) The opening bars of the theme tune to Yes, Minister.
c) That doorbell sound effect from the start of Paul McCartney's 'Let 'Em In'.
d) A few bars of 'Portsmouth' by Mike Oldfield.
e) That bit at the end of 'Mr Blue Sky' when the timpani come thundering in and you get one last fleeting glimpse of vocoder.
f) The typewriter bell from the signature tune to Press Gang.

21 August, 2007

Clive Exton RIP

A real loss. And only a few weeks after being mooted as a writer for the next series of Dr Who.

(Mooted by Creamguide, admittedly, but what can you do?)

18 August, 2007

Don't fancy yours much

Here's a particulary notorious breed, known for its distinctive bellowing, dopey expression, ponderous countenance and advanced stupidity. Standing next to it is a plastic cow.

She was at it again this week. How many times has this story done the rounds? On each occasion it's explained away as "tiredness" or "fatigue" or "an illness". You'd think she might have realised by now that if you're hosting an early morning breakfast show on the radio, it might be wise to go to bed early the previous evening, and that if you're ill, don't go in to work at all.

17 August, 2007

Et la terre...fut

Here's a cheery thing: the scariest opening titles ever shown on television, courtesy of Once Upon A Time...Man.

Perhaps realising the complete destruction of the world was pretty hard for a seven-year-old to take, the programme-makers clearly decided to soften up viewers by battering them with the longest sequence of on-screen co-producer idents in history.

12 August, 2007

Stilgoe's on

Friday's edition of The Now Show on Radio 4 was blessed, and that is the right word, by an appearance from none other than the great Sir Richard himself.

Proving he's still got it even after all these toll-taking years, our man performed a fantastic number about David Cameron, prefacing it with a classic here's-what-the-point-of-the-song-is introduction ("Whatever David Cameron does somehow never goes right") and a preamble in which he used the word "newscasters", surely not heard on the airwaves for a good few decades.

Unsurprisingly it was a tour de force, but was followed by Rich asking the audience to suggest six things about which he could write a new song, there and then, on the spot. He then went off and Punt and Dennis and an unfunny David Quantick whiled away another 10 minutes or so, before Stilgoe returned to perform a tune about ear wax, scientology, the Chris Tarrant divorce, a great white shark, "heavens to Murgatroyd" and Lord Lucan. Suffice to say it was superb.

Thankfully the whole programme can be heard again until Friday. The first song comes 9 minutes in, the second 25 minutes. Both are well worth fast forwarding to.

Now why isn't this man on Radio 4 every week?

10 August, 2007

Tony Wilson RIP

Erstwhile regional nabob, music hobbledehoy and professional Phil Redmond-hater.

Here's the man, in his occasional 'Anthony H Wilson' guise, in fine form on Remote Control. "I don't know why you're answering, there's no answer required, it's a rhetorical question..."

09 August, 2007

"Did you see me on Top Of The Pops?"

Here's the Mighty Atom in superb spirits and full-on "Brucie" mode, to wit:
a) terrifying limb-wiggling and prancing;
b) topical gags, in this instance about Gary Glitter ("About as sexy as a Brillo pad...no kids, I'm only kidding, I think he's marvellous - for what he is");
c) a bit of BBC in-jokery by way of a namecheck for "Ronnie Hazelnut"; and
d) doing a running commentary on the song *while the song is taking place* ("It's catchy isn't it? So's the measles!")

You don't get stars releasing records solely off the back of catchphrases any more, which is a shame as some perfect opportunities have been missed. Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell, for instance ("Leave it out, leave it out, you're doing me in, so leave it out!"), or Richard Wilson as Victor Meldrew ("You couldn't conceive it, they wouldn't perceive it, would you Adam and Eve it - I don't believe it!")

Suffice to say this is a classic of its form, using the catchphrase as the tagline for four comical verses telling stories about unlikely scenarios involving, respectively, a bus conductor, Casanova, Nelson and a stripper. And the audience - even though there are only a few dozen present - get really into it, especially one woman who even attempts a bit of Brucie wrist-mincing. "Let's go, Ron!"

08 August, 2007

Photo clippage: Lynam special

To mark the man's (inevitable) return to football presentation...

1) Des hooks up with Henry Kelly and the actor T.P. McKenna for a St Patrick's Day soiree at Green's Oyster Bar in London, 1986:

2) A few months later, Brendan Foster, Tony Jacklin and Emlyn Hughes join Des at Wimbledon to launch that year's summer of sport on the BBC:

3) Cher and Meatloaf drop in to the Des Lynam Show on Radio 2, 1998:

4) The Sir Peter O'Sullevan Annual Awards lunch, 2001. "So I said to him, I said, 'Boggy! Avast ye with that tinned chicken! And be quick about it!'"

06 August, 2007

Bring them back now

It's TV Cream's 10th birthday this month, and as part of the commemorations it's chastening to take a look back at another one of the site's doomed attempts to drum up a bit of extra, self-serving publicity.

In 2005, to tie in with the publication of TVC's Ultimate Guide to 70s and 80s Pop Culture, we drew up a list of 20 things we'd liked to have seen revived for present-day enjoyment. The theory was this would generate a bit of media excitement to accompany the book's launch and maybe land a few extra column inches in the press. The reality was, of course, nothing of the sort. There was no media interest whatsoever. There was precious little non-media interest as well.

Anyway, here's that fateful list in full. How, two years on, are things looking?

20) Viewmaster
A perfect antidote to so-called "TV fakery". Michael, it seems like a good idea for the time.

19) 'Laughing all the way to the Leeds'
YouTube gruel.

18) Telex
There's bound to be an email backlash soon, probably around the time Boris Johnson becomes leader of the Tory Party.

17) Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle
Like the housing market, those eBay prices can't stay that high forever.

16) Sapphire and Steel
In no way is this currently being mooted by BBC Cardiff as its next big-budget drama.

15) Shouty punk operas
Does Jerry Springer: The Opera count?

14) Music and Movement
Jamie Oliver's next mission, once he's finished picking herbs from his garden like Geoff Hamilton.

13) Pipkins
It's out on DVD. Seemingly all 2,000 episodes.

12) Action comic
James Brown's next publishing venture.

11) In-vision announcers
As the Beeb slips further into its paranoid past, expect these on screen c. 2012.

10) Instant Sunshine
We found them. We met them. We salute them still.

9) Pebble Mill at One
Now that Neighbours is soon to be no more, there's no excuse.

8) British wine
Why couldn't Nigel Lythgoe have opened a vineyard over here?

7) 'Stars on 45'
On its way in the form of a Joseph Megamix '07. Probably.

6) The Adventure Game
Prospective employment for Matt Baker, Dominic Wood, Moira Stuart and Stefan Dennis.

5) Buzby
Well, there's Digit Al. Plus the new Culture Secretary, James Purnell, recently described the digital switchover as "like doing decimalisation and the North Sea gas conversion at the same time", which was a good sign.

4) The BBC Micro
They worked more often than the iPlayer.

3) The Green Shield Stamp
Due an Independent cover spread in the next six month. "Help break the supermarket cartel!"

2) Whizzer and Chips
A late night panel quiz game on either BBC4 ("wry" highbrow knockabout) or E4 ("wry" lowbrow shoutathon).

1) Nationwide
Success! Well, almost. The One Show is in a near-enough slot, has a similarly affable main host and purports to bring the regions together every night at teatime. It just needs to remember how to talk to interesting people with a story to tell. And find a decent "family" of BBC "faces".

05 August, 2007

Photo clippage #23

It's 5th February 1989, and gathered for the first day of term at Isleworth are Uncle Rupert along along with Andrew Neil, Sale Of The Century's Peter Marshall, Anglia TV's Alistair Yates, Derek Jameson, Thames TV's Penny Smith, Tony Blackburn, Kay Burley and Breakfast Time US correspondent Bob Friend.

03 August, 2007

Who says

Recent speculation concerning the future of Dr Who, both the identity of its lead and that of the person to take over sitting behind the biggest desk in Cardiff city centre, has had two useful consequences.

First, it means the show can get another mention here again, after all of - ooh - five weeks; and secondly, and more substantially, it allows for a bit of indulgent speculation about alternative writers for the series.

Any new producer should really make it their business to farm out as many episodes as possible to TV veterans, or rather TV writers who haven't spent all their lives writing Dr Who story books or stories to listen to on tape.

As such, likely contenders who should be given a call ought to begin with:

David Renwick
The Doctor wakes up one morning to discover the TARDIS is trapped inside a kitchen cupboard for which it is both logically and practically too small. Unable to leave the time machine, he puts a call out for Captain Jack Harkness and a circular saw, but when Jack arrives he discovers a version of himself already on the scene sipping tea with the Brigadier. To compound the confusion Julia Sawalha arrives expecting to conduct an interview for her local paper with actor Christopher Biggins. Can the real Doctor - whoever he is - unscramble this conundrum before the kitchen cupboard in question is demolished by a passing bulldozer?

Tony Marchant
15 different characters, each with their own storyline, mooch around a council estate somewhere in London, bumping into each other and exchanging homilies on the decline of society in 21st century Britain. One of them turns out to be the nephew of Jackie Tyler. Pretty soon the Doctor is on the scene, weaving together a plot that connects up the loose ends and takes in a syringe, a dangerous dog, extortion, a betting slip, various nationalities and a mouthy kid with all the answers.

Jed Mercurio
A blip in the time-space pulse rate sends the Doctor hurtling into the body of someone called Doctor John Smith working in the accident and emergency unit of Totters Lane General Hospital. When someone gives birth - very messily - on the floor of a corridor, at the same time as a container of offal goes missing from the tatty staff canteen, an inquiry begins led by the shifty-looking Professor Dave Ross. Soon the Doctor is put on trial - for his life. But just what does the Professor want with all those discarded hospital bathchairs?

Clive Exton
Earth in the 1930s. A fashionable hotel on the south coast of England is playing host to a gathering of bright young things during the Whitsun weekend, but a conference of travelling notepaper salesmen has been double booked. Pretty soon there's blood on the morning room carpet, and the Doctor, working undercover as a butler, has to clean it up. What he discovers, however, is a fabric of desperately-repressed mayhem and intrigue that is about to unravel with meticulously-coiffeured timing.

Alan Bleasdale
Earth in the near future. A totalitarian dystopia has come to pass whereby everyone needs an ID card to breathe air outside their homes, mobile phones have been implanted inside people's mouths, and coal mines have been converted into prisons for asylum seekers. Joe McGahey is the only one left who remembers how things were before the dark times came - but he thinks he's going mad and his wife, Sheila, is too busy stuffing envelopes with home gift catalogues to notice. Will the Doctor be able to tap into Joe's working class folk memories to liberate the masses from their oppression, or will he fall foul of one too many peppermint squares? And just who is that jive-talking sideboard salesman with a limp?

John Esmonde and Bob Larbey
Earth in the present day. An ordinary suburban close in an unexceptional English town seems to have been entirely inhabited by residents who believe it is 1983. The Doctor and friends, including a local busybody who purports to know everything about everyone, must get to the bottom of the mystery before the enigmatically-named Polling Day when, by the sound of it, a monstrous epiphany will come to pass. Either that or the shopping precinct will stop half-day closing on Wednesdays!

01 August, 2007

"Nobody's asked me to get physical since 1941"

Aside from "...directed by Sylvester Stallone", this could well be the best Bank Holiday line-up ever. Look out for Terry's little scamper of delight as he nears the front of the stage. And who's that opening his "door" for us right at the end?