Back in time for TV: 1986 

5 August 2020 tbs.pm/70656

INDEX

I wasn’t the only person in 1986 doing some time travelling as the BBC’s celebrations for 50 years of television took me back to 1960 (again). As I was rather fond of that decade, I also enjoyed revisiting a show from one of my very first time travel trips. 1986’s contemporary programmes impressed me too – everything was either huge fun, very interesting, or both. I got to spend time with another time traveller and overall, I had a fantastic time with this week’s television.

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28th October
Floyd on Food
BBC-2

 

 

I was struggling to see tonight’s edition of Floyd on Food – the last in the series – so I’ve gone with the first episode instead. This cookery programme is presented by Keith Floyd. Over in the 21st century, I was a viewer of Saturday Kitchen for several years, which regularly included clips from Floyd’s programmes. Through these I became fond of Floyd, so was pleased to be sitting down with one of his full episodes.

I tend to associate Keith Floyd with fish and wine because more often than not, he has at least one in his hand, although he doesn’t seem too fussy about the latter and is willing to accept any alcoholic drink offered. I haven’t explored other food shows for Back in Time For TV, but compared to other factual programming, this is a far more relaxed presenting style. Keith is keen to share things with us up close, inviting the audience into his world – put your feet up and grab yourself a drink.

Part of the reason this is possible is that it isn’t really an instructional series. Floyd watches some fantastic creations at a renowned chef’s restaurant, fries various fish at a chippie, then creates a dish in the open for several navy officers. While he does take us through every step, often calling to the director to ensure the audience is shown exactly what he’s doing, in reality most viewers won’t attempt most of this. It’s food porn. It enables a programme to operate at a faster pace with Keith travelling to all sorts of places, unconcerned about the need to present in an actual kitchen.

Keith Floyd’s presenting style does hugely appeal to me. Although it isn’t a proper instructional show and I would argue these types of shows are often enjoyable solely for the sheer joy of watching someone create beautiful dishes, Floyd does present it in a way that makes you feel like you would be capable too. He’s always speaking to the audience on the same level and it can feel like a friend has asked me along for the ride – a friend with very good taste in food and drink. I’m a fan of fish and my mouth was watering by the end of this episode.

 


 

Yes, Prime Minister ‘The Smoke Screen’
BBC-1

 

 

Both Yes, Prime Minister and its predecessor Yes, Minister became part of my life when I was just starting to become aware of politics. As such, they proved a valuable education in how government worked.

The sitcom follows Jim Hacker MP, who has had a rapid rise to the post of Prime Minister following his previous position as Minister for Administrative Affairs. Supporting him are Bernard Woolley, his Principal Private Secretary, and Sir Humphrey Appleby, Cabinet Secretary.

Sir Humphrey in particular spends much of his time scheming to try to get his way. We frequently see him meeting with others, usually in the bar of a private members’ club. He’s generally presented as conservative and he’s very knowledgeable about whose back to scratch to get things done. He gets given long complex speeches, sometimes used to intentionally confuse Hacker, the absurdness of which always guarantee a laugh and I take pleasure in trying to follow the meaning while they are being spurted at great speed.

There are many pleasures in watching Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister, another being the relevance of the politics being discussed. The subjects in the episodes were topical at the time, were still topical when I first watched it and remain topical today. It showed me the cyclical nature of politics, with the same areas often coming around again, just in a slightly different form.

Interestingly, some of the aspects of ‘The Smoke Screen’ are now slightly dated but do still work well. The Minister for Health wants Hacker to support a huge anti-smoking campaign. He wants a complete ban on all forms of advertisement, including at the point of sale, smoking banned in all public places, and progressive tax rises “until a packet of 20 costs about the same as a bottle of whisky.” Hacker’s face comically shows how horrified he is at the prospect of such severe measures – Paul Eddington provides some wonderful expressions. Yet these are all things that have been introduced in some form since, even if a packet has never quite reached the equivalent of a bottle of whisky. Twenty years earlier in the 1960s, the majority of the population were smokers and that’s reduced to around a third. But nonetheless, for Hacker that’s still a sizeable proportion of the electorate and he’s keen to get his second term.

I’ve looked at smoking a couple of times and it has gradually disappeared from our screens. It was so prevalent in the 1960s that I was more likely to notice when it wasn’t present, so this slight reduction must be thought about proportionally. UFO had reckoned on people in 1980 still being able to smoke in an underground base. When I did reach that year, I was watching The Sandbaggers, where Neil Burnside sat in Whitehall, permanently enveloped in Embassy fumes. In contrast, only a few years later we rarely see the leads of Yes, Prime Minister smoking and it’s usually an after-dinner cigar with a brandy. Within this time the number of people quitting smoking has overtaken the number of people smoking and the habit is entering a slow decline.

 

29th October
Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends ‘Percy Takes the Plunge’ and ‘Pop Goes the Diesel’
Thames

 

 

Though I have now encountered several children’s programmes from my own early years, the prospect of spending time with Thomas the Tank Engine thrilled me more than I initially expected. The theme tune alone evoked feelings of being small, happy and safe.

Thomas is a blue steam engine who lives on the Island of Sodor. There, many other trains also operate. Some are small like him, while others are bigger, and there are numerous other non-train characters too. Overseeing it all is the Fat Controller, instantly recognisable for his black and white outfit, and of course for being rather round.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched much television aimed specifically at this age group – Watch with Mother now feels a long time ago – so Dungeons and Dragons and Galloping Galaxies! are the closest I’ve got. The most striking thing about Thomas is that it isn’t a cartoon. One might have assumed unrealistic shows like this to have headed that way now, but everything is created with models. This is one of the most brilliant things about the programme as so much of it looks realistic. The sets include beautiful forests and mountains, which the trains move through while puffing out little clouds of steam. There is real water and fire. It feels similar to Thunderbirds as the production adds some great detail. Yet the trains are the real stars here so human characters look rather basic, ensuring the attention is directed in the right place. Each train has a face on the front that can offer many different expressions.

Each episode of Thomas is only five minutes long, which even for children’s television, is a very limited time to tell a story. They are quickly set up so that the plot can start moving. As a general rule, the smaller engines are depicted as more immature. They can be jealous of the important jobs given to the bigger engines and get themselves into trouble when taking risks they aren’t experienced enough for. The larger trains get the biggest and most prestigious jobs. Sometimes this makes them arrogant and overconfident, so they are reluctant to ask for help when they are stuck with a problem. Other trains or the Fat Controller may have to intervene. Overall, it’s an ideal little world where wrongdoers get their comeuppance, fairness prevails, and foolish trains learn their lessons.

Like earlier children’s series such as Mr Benn, Joe and Mary, Mungo and Midge, there is a limited amount of action displayed on screen and the story is driven by the narrator. This develops a closeness for the audience, and I’ve been keener on this idea ever since someone pointed out that not all children have someone at home who can read them a story. For Thomas, the storytelling is provided by Ringo Starr. When looking into the show, I discovered that the US had a different narrator for the series, presumably because they thought kids wouldn’t be able to understand Ringo’s Liverpool accent. I’m not sure what journey Ringo made from being a post-Beatles solo artist to a narrator of children’s television, but I’ll always be glad he did and maybe Thomas is why I’ve always liked that accent.

 


 

Man in a Suitcase ‘The Boston Square’
Thames

 

 

My very first time travel trip for what became Back in Time For TV was to January 1968 and Man in a Suitcase was among the programmes in that week’s schedule. On that day I was watching Granada, who didn’t come on the air for evening programming until 4.50. The only programmes earlier in the day, beginning at 11.05 and closing down at 3.00, had been for schools. With the expansion of daytime television in the mid-1980s, a number of the regions have been filling their afternoon slots with various 1960s’ ITC shows, and Man in a Suitcase is among them.

Back in 1968 the whole population were watching in black and white. There were plenty of ITC repeats for a few years after ITV began colour broadcasting, but most people wouldn’t have had a colour set. For the majority of viewers, this was their first chance to see these programmes in colour.

During that first time travel trip, I decided to watch everything in black and white alongside everyone else – it seemed the polite thing to do. When I later watched episodes of Man in a Suitcase in colour, it felt like there had been a rainbow explosion inside the television. The production takes superb advantage of the benefits of colour and ITC-land often feels a wonderfully bright world. It is a marked contrast to the 1980s’ contemporary shows, where colour is now taken for granted. The 1980s isn’t exactly dull but far more so than when I was watching in earlier years, this multi-coloured overload does make the ITC world look slightly unreal. Viewed negatively, the real world is simply not that bright, yet there remains enough realism that we can easily escape into this glorious fantasy.

The Man in a Suitcase episode I saw in 1968 was my introductory one but I soon sought out more and I’ve become familiar with our leading man, McGill. This episode is one of several that allude to him being expelled from the CIA and as a result, Americans are frequently questioning his loyalties. With few other options, he’s become a freelance detective for hire (with occasional mercenary duties) and spends most of his time in Europe, having London as a base.

Among the regular features of ITC series are the painted backdrops and the fact that most series did minimal location filming so had to be inventive when depicting their many foreign countries. I thought ‘The Boston Square’ did a good job of presenting Corfu and the episode does have a greater challenge compared to others. As well as coastal scenes, a lot take place on the deck of a boat. For the coastal depictions, one set in the evening impressed me most. McGill is chatting to a man in the old town. We can hear water lapping and the man looks away, we cut to a brief shot of the ocean, then we cut back to them. The simple combination of sound effects and a point of view shot enabled the location to be set far more believable than a hotel room with the oft-used painted backdrop outside a window.

I discussed the invincible nature of the ITC heroes when I reached The Professionals in 1978, which seemed such a contrast. I included McGill in that, and I do think it is fair to because many of the episodes still maintain ITC’s usual light, fantasy tone. However, he does seem more vulnerable than other characters. McGill is frequently shown to bleed, bruise, and be broken. In ‘The Boston Square’ he awakes after a fight with a bruised and swollen face that has a noticeable effect on his speech. I don’t think Man in a Suitcase is any more violent than other ITC shows, but there is far more blood on display, adding a layer of verisimilitude to ITC-land as we see our hero as a man who can suffer, both physically and emotionally.

One reason McGill appeals to me is that his outlook is so unlike most of ITC’s other leading men. In attitude, he’s sometimes closer to embittered spy David Callan than fellow global adventurers like Simon Templar. The ITC leads all seem to enjoy their exploits, while McGill can be an angry, frustrated man. He doesn’t always like the people who have hired him but a job’s a job and he takes it because he has no other way to make a living. By the end of the episode, he’s often vented at his clients. The world does not automatically go McGill’s way. There is not always a girl to fall into his arms and his jobs are not guaranteed the desired conclusion or even a satisfying one. People are seen to manipulate him and there are occasions when he ends up trapped or blackmailed. No wonder he often looks fed up.

I find McGill a compelling character. Though this isn’t present in ‘The Boston Square’, the series makes superb use of Swinging London and McGill blends in well. He does in fact seem comfortable wherever his work takes him, walking with a swagger and seeming effortlessly cool. His youthful exuberance combined with his prematurely white hair ensures he moves easily from discos to businessmen’s offices. McGill has morals and principles, he questions the people who are usually the good guys and while still existing in the superb escapist world of ITC, he’s a more realistic character than many of his contemporaries.

 


 

The Equalizer ‘The Pilot’
Thames

 

 

Tonight is the UK debut of The Equalizer after the first season was broadcast in the US last year. Set in New York, it sees Robert McCall advertising himself as someone who can even the odds for people in need of help.

I’ve seen several episodes from this first season and have been extremely impressed. I last met Edward Woodward more than 10 years ago when he was playing the eponymous lead in Callan, a tough secret agent, trapped in a life working for a secret British government department. He’s now slightly portlier and his dark hair is completely white. Looking at this physically older figure, I expected The Equalizer to be a detective series, imagining a New York version of Inspector Morse or A Touch of Frost. But this is not a genteel Sunday night drama.

It is relevant to mention Callan because it’s easy to see the comparisons between both of Woodward’s characters. McCall has recently walked away from his job in the CIA and we swiftly learn that he is an accomplished agent. But he’s unhappy and now wants nothing more to do with his former employers, being left with a certain amount of hostility towards them. Callan similarly longed to leave the Section and was considered their best agent. Yet while Callan probably desired a quiet life painting his model soldiers, McCall intends to carry on working. Instead of following the CIA’s whims, he wants to help people who really need help.

As well as Callan, watching this on the same day as the Man in a Suitcase repeat enabled me to make comparisons there too. Coincidental or not, all three have been provided with similar names. McGill and McCall are white-haired men that have recently left the CIA and are now working on a freelance basis, but after that they contrast a lot.

McGill’s relationship with American intelligence is downright hostile, while McCall begrudgingly agrees to occasionally assist them because he knows too much to be left to roam completely unchecked. He is lucky in this respect as this factor is the main reason Callan will never be allowed to leave the Section. The British agent is stuck enduring a working relationship characterised by mutual suspicion. Despite his greying/white hair, McGill is still a young man, who punches like one – enthusiastically – and chases after young ladies. Callan and McCall are generally more tactful – in both their methods and their pursuit of women. McGill travels extensively, while Callan is effectively stuck in London and from what I have seen McCall rarely leaves New York City. From my early impressions of McCall, Callan definitely seems the more similar character. However, both McGill and Callan are frustrated by their circumstances, neither feeling entirely in control, and McCall was able to choose his so is therefore much more content.

In this pilot episode, McCall is called upon by a woman who is being stalked. A man has been making phone calls, standing outside her apartment and talking to her daughter through the school gates. He’s creepy and intimidating but as he hasn’t actually done anything, the police tell her they can’t help. Enter the Equalizer.

When I watched Cagney and Lacey, I contrasted the representation of the relatively calm police station with how it is depicted in The Equalizer. Here, it is noisy, busy and overwhelming. Victims, witnesses and criminals all share the same space as they speak to the officers, who seem pressed for time. While they occasionally help McCall, overall, the New York City Police Department’s representation is less than impressive.

New York City as depicted in The Equalizer is not a nice place. It’s grimy, nasty and corrupt. Several of McCall’s clients are women who do not feel safe, but it doesn’t look like a good place for anyone vulnerable – and almost anyone can be vulnerable at some point. For me, it was initially incredibly alien to see New York like this as I had never known it with that reputation. It’s the city of Friends and a beautiful photogenic skyline.

Seeing such recognisable landmarks in among this dangerous atmosphere certainly gave the series greater realism – more so than if it had been a generic US city that was perhaps not even named. There is a car chase along the Brooklyn Bridge and McCall agrees to meet his clients near the United Nations building. Plenty of location filming ensures the show makes the most of its setting so that even a simple scene of conversation and walking becomes more impressive with a recognisable view of Manhattan in the background.

New York clearly needs someone like the Equalizer, which the show reveals is a nickname given to him while in the CIA. The most surprising thing about McCall was seeing what a bloody hard man he is. I though Kojak has looked a decent guy to look after New York in the previous decade, but he’s got nothing on McCall. Although he left the CIA due to some moral contradictions, they don’t seem to have included their methods. Alongside some modern technological skills, McCall doesn’t shy away from drawing a gun and is prepared to intimidate, bully or knock the shit out of people if required. This was not quite what I had expected from a man permanently dressed in immaculate suits who drives a Jaguar XJ6; he looks more like a semi-retired CEO than an absolute badass action hero. I’ve enjoyed having these preconceptions overturned and it does mean that McCall is effective at being inconspicuous while up against people who may dismiss him as harmless.

While watching the very slim Remington Steele, I reflected on how men’s bodies have changed on screen. I’m not sure that television would present us with McCall’s sort of ‘action hero’ in the present day. He looks his mid-fifties age and isn’t as slim as he could be. Certainly in film we have moved towards male action leads looking muscular and extremely fit. McCall isn’t running all over the place though and the emphasis is on his skills and experience. I found it refreshing to have such a different and yet still effective hero.

After several years of seeing action programmes with double acts and multiple leads, returning to a lone protagonist is interesting. McCall’s personal life sometimes seems mixed in with his professional one. Though he has a few local contacts that he can call on for various favours, he doesn’t always seem trusting of people. Watching those other programmes has enabled me to see The Equalizer‘s advantages of having a single lead. We have so much more time to explore stories and characters, including McCall. I find him an interesting character to gradually see more from and it starts with us meeting his teenage son in this episode, whom he hasn’t seen much of in recent years. McCall seems such a lovely, kind person with the people who call him – he doesn’t even charge for his services. Yet every confrontation with the episode’s villains enables us to see a different side to him and makes me wonder what sort of things he was capable of when employed by the CIA.

 


 

Caviar and Cornflakes
BBC-2

This wonderful documentary stood out to me in the schedules as it examines the lives of British diplomats in Moscow. Filmed in the days after the Chernobyl disaster, it was a fascinating snapshot of a period in history that would start to change within a few years following the collapse of communism in Russia.

As well as interviewing the diplomats themselves, we also heard from their wives who were in traditional roles as homemakers, but at least one had support from a nanny. Having travelled to previous postings with their husbands, they were not unfamiliar with diplomatic life, but found the isolation in Moscow a great change. All diplomats live in the same area, so their contact with the rest of the population is more limited. Socialising often seems to mean events with other diplomat families.

We saw the wives in a market with the children, which had become easier once they had learned a bit of Russian. One did say she felt slightly awkward as they came in and were able to buy as much food as they wanted, while the locals couldn’t afford to. They seemed happy with a simpler way of shopping though and one said that during a visit back to the UK she had found the sudden large amount of advertising overwhelming.

One of the diplomats has to manage which members of the press are to be admitted to a meeting of Soviet politicians. Only a set number of passes have been issued and it seems like a relations nightmare to try to decide who gets in. Some of the press are residents, living in Moscow permanently, while others have come from London for the occasion. One of the residents is pro-communism and lives among the locals, speaking good Russian, with her child attending a local school instead of an international one. This was unexpected and I was interested by her remarks about being able to understand the views of the Moscow public better than the other journalists. She feels some of the Western writers are biased and don’t fairly represent the opinions of all Russians. It didn’t seem to occur to her that the locals may only be telling her what she wanted to hear, or what they felt they should say to a foreigner.

On the day of the meeting, all the journalists turn up, hoping to be let in. There is little commentary as we watch part of their wait and negotiations in real time and I liked this, feeling we got a lot closer to reality. Eventually, they are saved when some extra passes are granted. Amazingly, this still only gives them five minutes to observe, film and photograph the meeting, which is entirely in Russian and incomprehensible to the majority of them.

 

31st October
Beat the Teacher
BBC-1

 

Courtesy of Neil Miles

 

Early in my time travel journey, the BBC’s afternoon children’s programmes had come under the Watch with Mother strand. This was then followed by See-Saw, which I haven’t really seen so much from. Last year, some changes saw the launch of the Children’s BBC brand, later to be shortened to CBBC.

Preceding this programme, I got to watch the CBBC link presented by Philip Schofield. I believe this is the first time the children’s strand has had an in-vision presenter and as they later began to disappear, it occurs to me that children’s television is one of the few areas where they still exist today. I’ve always known Philip Schofield as a presenter of This Morning, though had been aware of his earlier career in children’s television.

As it’s Halloween today, the small set – a box room at best – is spookily dressed for the occasion, rather putting a dampener on the idea that no one in Britain celebrated the event before the 2000s. At one point Schofield is replaced by a skeleton. I’m fond of his presenting style in the present day and I like him here too. I like the idea of having the same person introducing programmes each day and tuning in to regularly see a familiar face. Schofield is fairly young here and possibly fulfils the role of a fun older sibling guiding us through the afternoon.

Beat the Teacher is only 15 minutes long and sees a teenager up against a teacher, attempting to answer questions and score points through a game of noughts and crosses. It’s fast-paced and there is a decent mixture of questions that make it fair for both sides. It definitely makes it a fun show to join in with and shout at the telly.

You’ve got to be a good sport to go on this show as a teacher because no one is ever going to be rooting for you. Programme makers must have liked the idea of pitting kids and teachers against one another because Beat the Teacher reminded me of Get Your Own Back, which would come a few years later. This saw children compete for the chance to gunge one of their terrible teachers. In comparison Beat the Teacher seems much more tame – clearly the era of gunge is not yet upon us.

 

1st November
Doctor Who ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ Part Nine
BBC-1

 

 

The last time I visited my fellow time traveller he had the face of Tom Baker but the Doctor now wears the face of Colin Baker. We’re partway through an epic 12-episode story in which the Doctor has been placed on trial by his people, the Time Lords, accused of detrimentally interfering in the affairs of other planets. Though the titles refer to it as one giant story, offscreen it is often split into four smaller ones for easier reference and therefore I remember Part Nine as the beginning of the ‘Terror of the Vervoids’ segment. I’ve recently watched the previous eight parts so am fully up to date on the story.

The courtroom has a giant screen and we watch its contents as the court does. It provides us with a story within a story that is repeatedly paused for the episode to cut back to the courtroom. The previous episodes have consisted of the evidence for the prosecution, led by a Time Lord called the Valeyard. The Doctor now has the opportunity to present his defence so this sees the start of a new story within the story.

After receiving a mayday call in the TARDIS, the Doctor lands on a spaceship with new companion Mel. The Commodore in charge says he didn’t send the mayday, so it becomes a mystery to work out who did. A body is later discovered and it is soon apparent that on a ship in the middle of space, we are perfectly set up for a classic murder mystery story.

When we first see the ship, it’s from the outside as a model near to an orange planet it is leaving. Cutting to pan across its name, ‘Hyperion’, on the ship’s side, the camera then moves up and we are looking down on a bustle of activity in a main room as the ship prepares to depart. As the camera pans across this, we can see the edge of a gangway with feet walking on it, then we see the owners of them make their way down a spiral staircase. The camera begins to slowly zoom inside the ship as Honor Blackman walks into shot and says her opening line. This single shot going from the outside to the inside of the ship is magnificent and we are left with a sense of scale that would not otherwise have been possible.

I adored the sets in this episode and it is great to have so many of them. The flight deck is full of black and silver, feeling modern and futuristic. I was thrilled to realise that above the controls there is effectively a giant windscreen looking into space, and the stars are moving towards us. It was too large to have been a television screen or monitor so must have been done with a computer effect. It is such a small aspect that isn’t necessarily needed, so I love that the show has done this. It’s one of those background items that people actually shouldn’t pay attention to as it just makes sense – of course the stars should be whizzing towards you in a spaceship. Only a few years earlier, I don’t think this kind of attention to detail would have been possible for a show with Doctor Who‘s budget.

On the rest of the ship, as well as the main reception room mentioned above we see a basic gym and a small cabin. What I loved most was the decor, evident in the main room and particularly in the corridor. The 1930s’ art deco style looks marvellous and makes a refreshing change from sci-fi’s usual attempts at guessing future trends – tastes often have a renaissance. It’s also a subtle nod to the plot’s murder mystery theme, further emphasised when we see Honor Blackman’s character reading Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.

I’ve recently been having a personal reappraisal of Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor. I remembered him as loud, brash and after becoming extremely fond of Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor, I think it was just too much of a change for my young self. While this is an accurate description of the Sixth Doctor at times, especially in his earlier stories, by this point it’s been toned down. Even Mel comments on this when they arrive on the ship, mentioning that he normally charges in all “gung ho”. I’m now finding I like his occasional humour, the concern he has for his companions, and his probably-blagging-it confidence when confronting people.

This episode impressed me far more than I was expecting. In part, this was down to the lack of courtroom scenes. After eight episodes of ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’, I was getting fed up of the interruptions and had begun to find them somewhat repetitive – surely the Doctor must eventually run out of puns for the Valeyard’s name. These scenes only feature at the beginning and end of this episode, which enabled them to have more impact. Michael Jayston is cracking as the Valeyard, being wonderfully nasty and refusing to have any sympathy after the Doctor is shook up from learning former-companion Peri’s fate. Though more familiar with her from All Creatures Great and Small, I have also started to really enjoy Linda Bellingham, who as the Inquisitor is overseeing the trial.

I think this is an excellent opening episode to the story within a story and I was gripped as the mystery started to unfold. We’ve met all the main players on the ship, seen some of them acting suspiciously, and the plot for the Doctor to solve has fallen into place. The cliffhanger is fantastic as we witness another death and I jumped, finding it shocking.

 

2nd November
Juke Box Jury
BBC-2

 

 

As part of television’s 50th birthday celebrations, this evening the BBC are broadcasting an episode of Juke Box Jury from 1960. I’ve always been intrigued to see an episode of this music programme so was glad to finally catch one. The show features four famous guests as the jury, overseen by a host, who listen and vote on various records, predicting whether they will be a ‘hit’ or a ‘miss’.

I was surprised that each single is played in full for the viewers as I’d presumed this would have been cut down. It certainly seemed odd to spend two minutes watching the jury and the audience nodding along, tapping their feet and/or listening intently for each record. I expected the audience would all be teenagers but while undoubtedly mainly in the young side, there is still a spread of ages present. If this is really all television viewers had before Top of the Pops, then that truly was something of a revolution.

I did enjoy the show, despite disagreeing with the jury the majority of the time – there was a lot of shouting at the television. This week the jury included David McCallum, who I’ve seen during Back in Time For TV in The Man From UNCLE and Sapphire and Steel, however, I wasn’t aware that he had had any degree of fame as early as this. He’s sat with Jill Ireland, his wife. Also on the jury are Nina and Frederick, a married singing duo.

I’m curious to know how the records played on the show are selected. I’d thought they would be picked from the top section of the music charts, but then realised this wouldn’t work; the jury can’t guess hit or miss if something is already in the charts. I wasn’t familiar with most of the records, though there seemed a variety of genres. Tonight’s artists included Johnny Tillotson, Lonnie Donegan, and Pinky and Perky.

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