Thursday 26 May 2022

What's On These Scotch VHS Tapes?

It's not often I buy VHS tapes off Ebay, or indeed anywhere, as more often than not you're on a hiding to nothing. However, I couldn't resist these four Scotch tapes which recently popped up on Ebay. It's a classic case design, one which is almost certainly in my top three of all time, and also the earliest VHS tape I remember knocking about our house in the mid-1980s. Including postage, they cost £10.00 and they were just about worth it in terms of harvesting footage. But what exactly did I find?

The bad news is that one of the tapes ended up being chewed up by my VHS machine. However, I'd performed an initial scan on one of my other VHS machines and there wasn't anything of note on there - some ballet/opera, an episode of Last of the Summer Wine from 1984 and about five seconds of continuity. No great loss, in the grand scheme of things, and tapes being chewed up is a rare occurrence for me.

As for the rest of the tapes, well, they were a collection of ballet performances and old films, so nothing really juicy to get my teeth into, such as an edition of Pebble Mill at One, but there were plenty of adverts and some continuity from 1984.

20/09/1984 - Channel 4 Adverts

First up are the advert breaks in and around a September 1984 showing of the Almonds & Raisins documentary on Channel 4. Curiously, the very first advert features a female playing a Barclay's cashier who I was convinced was Dee Sadler. As I vaguely know Miss Sadler on Twitter, I sent her a message to see if it was her and she confirmed it was. And then she said it was probably best if I record over it! Other choice adverts include the fashion on offer at House of Fraser stores, a film trailer for Streets of Fire, Roy Kinnear promoting Peterborough and an advert for the new Rowenta Tapmaster iron.

25/11/1984 - ITV Adverts and LWT Continuity

Joan Collins and football aren't exactly natural bedfellows, but, in 1984, ITV decided they were as they trailed their "sensational double bill" for 8th December 1984 where they were pairing a premiere of The Bitch with Liverpool vs Independiente. It's one of the more improbable trailers I've found, but all the more exciting for it. This is followed up with a set of adverts which include an intriguing one for The Trocadero and, most interestingly, an LWT slide for the regional only programme South of Watford (read more about that in the fanzine)

22/12/1984 - Channel 4 Adverts and Continuity

Next up are the advert breaks and continuity around this December 1984 airing of the Don Quixote ballet. A few choice selections here with the first pick being the Spar advert which has the potential for being a children's TV series, although that depends if your idea of entertainment features a barely-capable-of-moving building. There's an interesting advert for Horizon which, on my first glance, I was certain starred Big Daddy, but it's just a lookalike - the other actor, though, I can't quite place him but I know he's someone. The final advert to catch my eye was the McVities one as, quite frankly, who doesn't enjoy a plateful of biscuits?

28/12/1984 Channel 4 Adverts and Continuity

Yes, it's another Channel 4 advert break, but this one's relatively short compared to the rest! And it also features the late, great Richard Briers in top form in an advert for the Ford Sierra. My dad had a Sierra in the early 90s, lovely car it was. This particular find was also interesting as it included some Channel 4 continuity that I hadn't seen before, the bits with the Blade Runner-esque (okay, that's a bit of a push) target shots looking very nice for 1985. There's also a Channel Four slide for Vidal in Venice, but I doubt few people reading this get up in the morning for Gore Vidal's travels.

31/12/1984 - BBC One Continuity

The final find sees us heading over to BBC1 for a brief slice of continuity and, for the TV anorak, it features pretty much everything you could wish for. There's a BBC slide featuring a classic BBC One logo, which had made its first appearance in the late 1970s. Following this is a trailer for The Little and Large Show which features the comedic duo at their Little and Largest, the trailer proclaims that this programme is part of "A World of Entertainment" but... yeah... Anyway, moving swiftly on, we're treated to the green 'Noddy' globe and I dare anyone not to be excited by that.

It's been another intriguing dig through the VHS tapes of the distant past, but I'm sure there's more weird and wonderful pieces of footage crying out to be discovered. As ever, my door is always open for VHS tapes featuring old, old recordings, so please get in touch and we'll try to get more of this ephemera back into the modern age.


  1. Was the complete Max Wall/ Beckett South Bank Show on the tape? If so, that would be a programme of obvious interest.

    1. Yes, the full South Bank Show episode is on there. I'll take a rip of the whole thing at some point and see if I can upload it to YouTube. There's a lot of copyrighted material, though, so it may struggle with their copyright algorithm...

  2. If, despite the Beckett estate, the full recording of this can stay on YouTube for eight years then there is hope! -

  3. the wrestler, initially i thought might be Milton Reid and then maybe pro grappler at the time ,Mal "King Kong" Kirk, but i now vaguely recognise him as an actor but inevitably his name escapes me ,however he sounds and looks dubbed to me by another, probably posher actor. That animated drink ad 's background music has echoes of THE SNOWMAN'S "walking in the air" to my lughole .

  4. Not-Big-Daddy's cornerman in the Horizon ad would be the late Michael Percival, probably best remembered as Mr Mitchell in the first two seasons of Grange Hill