Back to Christmas 1985 (31st December 1985)

The BBC offers a selection of films today – I did briefly consider Gone With The Wind, but decided I didn’t have the stamina at the moment so I’ve gone for The Magnificent Seven instead. Prior to that, I’ll catch EastEnders.

The Browning Version (Ian Holm, Judi Dench, Michael Kitchen, John Woodvine) is an obvious drama highlight. Were it available, I’d no doubt spend the evening dipping into BBC2’s Whistle Test, but alas that’s off limits.

Later on BBC1 there’s a Comedy Classic (i.e. repeat) of Steptoe & Son. It’s the 1974 Christmas Special which was the last episode made, so there’s always a sense of poignancy when revisiting it.

ITV offers The Freddie Starr Comedy Express. There’s the usual random collection of guests you’d expect to see in a programme of this type (Frank Bruno, Burt Kwouk, Glynn Edwards) and it probably won’t surprise you to hear that Nazi uniforms feature. Apart from his barnstorming performance in an early seventies Royal Variety Performance, I can’t confess to having seen too much of Starr over the years, so it’s probably about time I discovered what he has to offer.

6 thoughts on “Back to Christmas 1985 (31st December 1985)

  1. I think that I saw quite a lot of the ‘Live Aid’ repeat during the day and can remember watching the return of Mark Fowler in ‘EastEnders’ in the evening. My parents held a New Year party (the last time that they ever did), and my best friend and I kept out of the way for part of the evening watching the Steptoe repeat on the black-and-white portable set upstairs (we both thought that episode was great). When my father switched on the main set at a few minutes to twelve for the countdown and Wogan’s face came up some of the assembled throng of revellers groaned.

    If I were watching this today the sequence would go: Crossroads, EastEnders, Brookside, The Browning Version.

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    • The rest of my family went out to a New Year’s party while I stayed at home and watched tv. I saw a bit of Whistle Test which included clips of Live Aid, and viewers were able ro ring in to donate to the charity. But I put on a tape of The Great Rock n Roll Swindle, so that was the last thing I saw in 1985.

      At least Steptoe and Sun finished before midnight. One year my family went to some friends for New Year’s Eve, and my brother and his friend were watching a horror film, and partway through the film the hostess came in and switched the tv over to hear Big Ben striking midnight. It’s not even the real clock-face I went to an exhibition on television at the Science Museum and they showed the model of St Stephen’s Clock Tower that the BBC show every New Year.

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  2. David Scarboro who played the original Mark Fowler was a troubled young man off screen just as much as his Eastenders screen character.

    He was part of Eastenders original cast, but he had to be written out very early on in production because of issues he had with the production scheduled.

    This NYE episode of Eastenders was the first in a handful of ‘return’ appearances for David, but sadly he took his own life in 1988.

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    • David Scarboro was treated appallingly by the tabloids. And people still buy these papers, so they haven’t learned the lessons.


  3. I saw Gone With the Wind for the only time (so far) on New Year’s Eve 1985. The first time it was shown on British television (forty-two years after it was made) was during Christmas 1981. It was shown in two parts on two consecutive days. One of my friends said he had a really boring Boxing Day. He had some relatives round, and they’d decided not to have the tv on, and after sitting around getting bored, someone said that they’d never seen Gone With the Wind and everyone else realised they never had, so they put it on. But it had already been running for a while and they couldn’t understand it, so they switched it off and went back to sitting round getting bored.

    Some years ago I passed up the opportunity to see Gone With the Wind at the cinema to see another film, and then the other film got cancelled when the cinema’s projector played up. Although I did see the other film the following week.

    I’m not sure if I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that time, although I have a feeling I have seen it twice. I saw it when it was first shown on tv, on New Year’s Day 1977. My godmother was going to take my brother and myself and her daughters to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when it came out, but there was an electricity workers’ dispute on at the time and there was a power cut on the day we were going to see it. And we later found out that the cinema had their own generator and the screening went ahead. And five years later I saw the film on tv, and I didn’t like it. The Tim Burton version is much better.

    The Magnificent Ambersons was the first film I saw at the National Film Theatre. I saw it on the same day that I made my last visit to the Museum of the Moving Image.

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  4. You asked about Freddie Starr. He had his own series in the autumn of 1979 called Freddie Starr’s Variety Madhouse. The supporting cast were Russ Abbott, Mike Newman, Norman Collier, Toni Palmer and Bella Emberg, all of whom went onto appear in Russ Abbott’s Madhouse. In the last programme he did an impression of Fanny Craddock and threw the ingredients at the audience.

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