"…in your pocket, or purse, or in your bank…"

Tuesday 30th October 2007

You might have already spotted this, but on Sunday 18th November BBC Parliament is doing another of its as-it-happened themed anniversary evenings, this time remembering the devaluation of the pound on the same day (at 9.30pm precisely!) 40 years ago.

Feature-length archivery is promised from the likes of Twenty-Four Hours, The Money Programme with William Davis and Alan Watson, an Our Money special – whatever that was – with Robin Day, and highlights from Budget 68, with future DG Ian Trethowan “and team” examining Roy Jenkins’ attempt to save the British economy by taking £923 million out of it.

Best of all, though, is the fact the whole evening is being introduced and linked by the Beeb’s star face of current affairs and every single massive television event of the mid-late 1960s…Cliff Michelmore! Back on the box! It must be his first foray onto the small screen for nearly two decades.

Has there ever been a more becalming TV face than Cliff? If anyone can reassure the nation that everything’s going to be all right, let alone stop housewives, navvies and costermongers from fretting about “prices”, it was – and still is – surely he.


The Macca video jukebox: epilogue

Sunday 28th October 2007

By way of a farewell to this never-before-attempted and rarely-read-since feature, Chris Hughes has unearthed Paul holding forth on Aspel And Company in 1984 about metric conversion (“I’m not going decimal, me uncle Joe and me”), impersonating Michael Jackson, promoting a Buddy Holly painting competition, bantering with Tracey Ullman (“She plays this bird who cries all the time”) and joining in with a mass serenade at the end. “I never knew you could sing, Michael!” “Neither did I!”

Part one…

…part two…

…and part three:

Four score

Friday 26th October 2007

To continue the theme, back when Channel 4 turned 10 in 1992, Broadcast magazine drew up a list of what it believed to be the station’s 50 most significant programmes to date.

They were the ones that supposedly “defined” the channel and most typified its achievements during that first decade.

Given C4 was supposedly at its most groundbreaking during its, ahem, formative years, it’s doubtful even a half of this list would – or should – make it into a similar inventory to mark C4’s 25th birthday. But anyway, here’s the 50, together with a few pithy observations from Broadcast. Any takers for The Big Company? Or What If It’s Raining? Or Centrepoint?

After Dark
Alter Image
As It Happens
Ask Dr Ruth
The Bandung File
Behaving Badly (“Dame Judi Dench plays a devoted wife ditched over the turbot for a bit of young stuff”)
Berlin Alexanderplatz
The Big Company
Black On Black
Brookside (“Had to resort to sensationalism of late to cling on to its dwindling audience”)
The Camomile Lawn
Club X
Diverse Reports
Don’t Miss Wax
Drop The Dead Donkey
The Far Pavilions
The Last Resort
The Manageress
Manhattan Cable
Mapp And Lucia
Max Headroom
The Media Show
The Nation’s Health
Network 7
One Summer
Out On Tuesday
Porterhouse Blue
The Price (“Peter Barkworth played the businessman whose greed cost his wife a finger, if not an arm and a leg”)
Rear Window
Saturday Night Live
Tandoori Nights
Treasure Hunt
The Tube
A TV Dante (“TV designed to be watched over and over again. If only you could be bothered”)
A Very British Coup
Watching The Detectives
Watch The Woman (“Cosmo for couch potatoes with Tina Baker”)
What If It’s Raining?
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
The Wine Programme
Zastrozzi, A Romance (“Shelley’s unreadable novel transmogrified into unwatchable TV”)

Dropping a word in the nation’s ear

Wednesday 24th October 2007

The Today programme is 50 years old on Sunday, and to celebrate their website has rightly gone to town. Of particular note amongst the variety of clippage is the time Jack de Manio was late for an interview because he got locked in the toilet, and John Humphrys skewering a hapless Norman Lamont the day after Black Wednesday.

Best of all, however, is something half-heartedly referred to on the site only as ‘The Today Song’ but which, on listening, appears to be a musical skit written and performed by none other…than Richard Stilgoe!

Meanwhile here’s Jack de Manio and John Timpson back when the Today studio was seemingly furnished with curtains, baize tables and sofas.

Gray matter

Monday 22nd October 2007

Hello! I’m Muriel Gray. You might remember me from such Channel 4 hit shows as Switch, The Media Show and The 100 Greatest Family Films.

Well now. I really can’t believe my old stamping ground and home from home is about to turn 25 years of age. So many memories! I’ll never forget the time I was presenting The Tube when I opened my dressing room door to find my dear friends Paula and Jools introducing the programme right outside! Whoops! I uttered a mild profanity – live on air! – then had to run outside, round the back of the Tyne Tees building, to reach the place I was supposed to be! I’ve been laughing about that incident non-stop for almost 20 years. Lordy lordy.

Anyway, I’m here to remind everyone to take part in the special TV Cream Channel 4 anniversary poll, which is being held to determine once and for all when were C4’s greatest years. You’ll need to be signed up to Yahoo, but then if you’re subscribed to Creamguide that will nae be a problem.

Oooh! I can barely contain myself at thinking what the result might be! As Scotland’s first lady, I must try and keep my composure – but as soon as I hear the theme tune to Right To Reply, I’m off! Mercy me. Anyway, happy voting, and here’s to Channel 4: let’s hope it continues to grow old *dis*gracefully!!!

Photo clippage: C4 birthday special

Saturday 20th October 2007

“And for the most of the country, it all starts on the 2nd of November: all right?”

1) The launch of the Channel 4 Daily, 1989. Michael Nicholson, Carol Barnes, Garry Rice, Debbie Greenwood, Dermot Murnaghan, Susannah Simons and Richard Whiteley get used to not having enough chairs, saucers and audience to go round.

2) The boss, 1994. Mike celebrates the opening of C4’s new Horseferry Road office with a leftover Channel 4 Daily teacup.

3) Dark times, 1996. Rick Adams arrives to “save” The Big Breakfast.

4) Blustery times, 2001. Finnegan and Madeley indulge in an old-fashioned over-sized ident-wielding photo opportunity.

5) Jeremy Isaacs looking pissed off, 1982-87.

6) An ideas session for Channel 4 News, 1990.

7) The Queen passes death sentence on Jimmy Corkhill (sadly later commuted), 1995.

8) The boss, 1992. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Alan Coren RIP

Friday 19th October 2007

Here’s the great man securing royal patronage for the drawing of big heads on little bodies.