Saturday 27 August 2022

News at Twelve

Most children, at some point, pretend to put on their own TV show from within the junk-filled confines of their bedroom. At least, that's what they did in the pre-internet age. These days, all they have to do is jump in front of a webcam and, before they know it, they're broadcasting to millions and putting my lifetime earnings to shame by the time they're seven. As you can tell, I'm not remotely bitter.

Anyway, back in the late-1980s, there was, in fact, a minuscule chance of a bedroom broadcaster succeeding. Well, as long as it was based within the realms of fiction. And that's exactly what News at Twelve is. Wait a minute, News at Twelve? What on EARTH is that? Are you sure you're not thinking of News at Ten? You know, on at 10pm, the iconic bongs of Big Ben and Trevor McDonald's cooler-than-a-cucumber charm? Nope, I genuinely and ABSOLUTELY mean News at Twelve.

But I wouldn't blame you for thinking I was cracking up, for News at Twelve is perhaps one of the most obscure programmes this blog has covered (and, boy, have we covered a few). It's yet another programme where footage is hard absolutely impossible to find online, but, yet again, I've gone the extra mile for you and watched a few episodes at the BFI.

And, better yet, I've even tracked down the star of the show to dig up some deliciously insightful insights regarding News at Twelve.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Erasmus Microman

Ah, Erasmus Microman! Now there's a television programme I've been meaning to watch for years and years and years! Somehow, despite my love of time travel based sci-fi programmes, I completely missed it when it aired on ITV at the tail end of the 1980s. But what's life without a few mistakes, eh? Anyway, I've been determined to cover it for several years, and it was destined to appear in one of my books on children's TV, but this never quite happened. Redemption, though, is finally here, and it's time to tell you all about Erasmus Microman.

Tuesday 9 August 2022

Random Episode: Our Backyard (19/06/1985)

In this edition of Random Episode, Ben Ricketts sniffs out an elusive episode of the mid-1980s lunchtime children's programme Our Backyard.

Produced by Granada Television for ITV, Our Backyard ran for 52 episodes over the course of two series between 1984 - 85. And yet, despite a healthy a number of episodes airing, very little is known about the programme. All that exists online are a handful of vague recollections and the opening titles on YouTube. But surely I, with my curious memory, remember Our Backyard and have a rich set of memories with which to expand on its story. Well, no. Although it's plausible I sat in front of the TV and watched it, I can't remember a single thing about Our Backyard.

Curious British Telly, however, doesn't like to leave its readers bereft of hard evidence and insights regarding forgotten shows. Therefore, I decided it was high time I dug deep and presented something on Our Backyard. Unfortunately, footage is scarce, very scarce. But not non-existent. I have, in fact, had contact with someone directly involved in the production, and they've confirmed they still hold copies of multiple episodes. At the moment, though, no copies have exchanged hands, but there's a chance something will happen in the future. Thankfully, the BFI hold a single episode in their archives and, yesterday, I headed down there to watch it.

Saturday 6 August 2022

Square Deal: Consumer Rights Advice from EastEnders in 1991

I've encountered some curious offshoots of British television in the last 10 years, but one of the most unexpected oddities to land on my desk is easily Square Deal. Produced by the Office of Fair Trading in October 1991, it was a publication put together with the aim of empowering the average consumer with a comprehensive look at their consumer rights. On it's own, it's far from a scintillating subject, but the Office of Fair Trading had an ace up their sleeve: they would sweeten the pill by roping in the cast of EastEnders.

Monday 1 August 2022

10 Hours of the Chock-a-Block Theme

I was rather bored yesterday, it was Sunday after all, so I decided to do something productive with my time. Not surprisingly, it resulted in a 10-hour video loop of the theme tune to Chock-a-Block. And, as I think you'll agree, the result was more than worth it.