Tuesday 28 March 2023

What Was It Like Presenting Why Don't You?

As a child, hearing the Why Don't You? theme tune meant two fantastic things: firstly, it was the school holidays and, secondly, that you were going to discover a whole new world of games, activities and crafts to get to grips with. Remember, this was in the days before YouTube and Fortnite (whatever that is), when television was the dominant source of information for children. Anyway, as we all know, the series was built around young presenters, all of whom had incredibly authentic regional accents. But what exactly was it like being a presenter on Why Don't You?

Saturday 25 March 2023

Regional Oddity: Sit Up & Listen

Much like the concept of ringing our friends on a landline for a chat, the TV closedown is another archaic reminder of a very different landscape where the rudimentary constraints of technology limited what was available to us. It was a world which, quite simply, went to bed when the evening’s programming finished.

This all started to change in the 1980s with LWT first pushing their closedown back to 2am in 1983 and then, in 1986, Yorkshire Television experimenting with 24-hour schedules. Before this, however, most channels went off the air around 12.30am.

The BBC would sign off in decidedly patriotic fashion by blasting out the national anthem as any remaining night owls shed a tear of unabashed pride. Meanwhile, many of the regional ITV networks followed a similar suit, often playing the music over a still of the Queen. There was also time, just before the closedown, for ITV regions to slip in a final scrap of programming. These were often peculiar, gloriously British and always low rent. An example which ticks all these boxes is Sit Up & Listen.

Monday 20 March 2023

Book Review: Travel Without the Tardis

Before you read any further, please prepare yourself. A statement which can only be described as a bombshell of epic proportions is about to follow. And that jaw dropping revelation is thus: fans of Doctor Who are a curious bunch. It may come as a shock, but the truth is that spending your days dreaming about grappling with Zygons, heading off for a pint with Duggan and solving the puzzles of the Exillon city are niche aspirations.

To put a positive spin on such a state of affairs would be to point to the clear evidence of a fertile imagination but – to so called normal people – Whovians remain a peculiar crowd. And I can say this without prejudice as I’ve been a lifelong fan of the series since 1986. Little did I know, however, that as I was digesting Gallifrey’s finest for the first time in Trial of a Timelord, one of the most eccentric helpings of Doctor Who merchandise had recently been released. It was a book unlike any Doctor Who book before or since. And that book was Travel Without the Tardis.