Back to Christmas 1985 (29th December 1985)

YouTube has been able to supply today’s edition of Windmill. Food is the theme with Magnus Pyke joining Chris Searle, whilst there’s clips from the likes of Fawlty Towers, Billy Bunter and Panorama (yes, that spaghetti tree). Like Telly Addicts, this was a must watch series at the time – those archive clips were windows into an almost inaccessible television past.

This afternoon on BBC1 there’s a chance to catch up on last week’s EastEnders‘ episodes. The synopsis for both the 24th of December and 26th of December episodes sound endearingly low key, so clearly the era of high drama for Christmas soaps hadn’t yet begun …

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The BBC has also offered The Adventures of Robin Hood as a Christmas 2021 treat, just like they did 36 years ago. Time has not diminished its 1930’s technicolor charms and Errol Flynn’s hearty, thigh-slapping version of the outlaw is very entertaining (even if many later takes on the character tend to be a tad more sombre).

The last episode of Olivier Twist is on BBC1 at 5.55 pm whilst slightly earlier over on BBC2 there’s another chance to see 1984’s Aladdin and the Forty Thieves. Most of the BBC children’s television faces of the era are pressed into service with Sarah Greene, as the titular Aladdin, proving she’s just as able as Errol Flynn to slap a thigh when required. If needed, it’s on YouTube.

BBC2 and BBC1 have arranged their schedules so the hardy film watcher could go straight from Bridge on the River Kwai to Gandhi (that’ll be nearly six hours of big budget movie fun). I don’t have that sort of stamina, so I think I’ll just go for the River Kwai.

With such a full BBC schedule, ITV doesn’t get much of a look-in today, although I’ll be taping 92 Grosvenor Street (America gave this WW2 TVM the slightly more exciting title of Behind Enemy Lines). As it’s a TVS co-production the most up to date home media format it was released on is VHS (don’t hold your breath for a DVD or BD then). Luckily, YouTube have once again come to the rescue.

5 thoughts on “Back to Christmas 1985 (29th December 1985)

  1. I saw two programmes on this day – ‘Windmill’ and ‘Sixty Tiny Fingers’. The Walton sextuplets were a national sensation in the mid-eighties, and I recall the Michael Aspel narrated programme as presenting a very engaging picture of the demands on the parents of suddenly having six babies to care for. Very unusual for ITV to be screening an independent production (made by Bernard Falk’s production company) at this time. I’d still see both programmes today, plus ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘The Mysteries – The Passion’ in the evening.

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  2. For many years during my childhood in the 1980s and early 90s there was always a few religious programmes dominating the box on Sundays.

    Songs of Praise, This is the Day and Harry Seacombe’s Highway are amongst the TV schedule for the 29/12/1985.

    Its remarkable to think that when you compare the TV listings of 1985 with 2021, very little screen time is given to programmes of worship now.

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    • I was surprised how little there was in the way of religious programmes on tv on Christmas Day, a half hour programme on BBC1 and an hour long church service on ITV in the morning, and a late night slot on BBC2. There would have been more on radio.

      The Christmas religious broadcast that did stand out for me was Carols From Kings, the Festival of Carols and Nine Lesson’s from King’s College in Cambridge. 1985 was the year I started work, and in my old job I always worked up to Christmas Eve and then had the whole week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off, and often the first few days of the new year. And when I came home from work on Christmas Eve and heard the soloist sing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City I knew the Christmas holiday had started.


  3. I did see the last episode of Oliver Twist. We went to my auntie and uncle that day and had set the video for Oliver Twist but then we watched it round their house. We also taped the first British tv screening of Ghandi. Michael Attwell who Bill Sikes also played Bates in the underrated Attack of the Cybermen. When Charles Dickens gave readings from his books one of the most popular extracts was the murder of Nancy and subsequent death of Bill Sikes.

    I remember Windmill, although I thought it started in early 1986. BBC2 did another clips series called BoxPops which was aimed more at children and was shown when BBC2 had a proper Sunday morning children’s slot.

    Aladdin and the Forty Thieves was first shown on New Year’s Day 1984. They used to have The All Star Record Breakers on every Christmas, but after that finished they did a pantomime instead. But this featured a lot of actors from children’s shows as well as the presenters, for example Edward Brayshaw and other cast members from Rentaghost and Clive Dunn from Granddad.

    That day’s Orson Welles film was The Lady From Shanghai, the one with the shoot out in the mirror maze, and the fun house scene reminded me of the dream sequence in spellbound. And The Adventures of Robin Hood is on my list of films which I’ve seen on tv but would like to see at the cinema.


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