Back to May 1986 (16th May 1986)

The randomiser has taken me back to 1986, to sample a week’s television. What does Friday the 16th of May offer? Let’s take a look ….

BBC1 offers a repeat of Home and Dry, the final episode from Big Deal’s first series (watching this might spur me into attempting a complete rewatch). There’s more repeats on ITV – Me and My Girl and Home to Roost. Me and My Girl isn’t greeted with much enthusiasm by the Daily Mirror blurb writer, Tony Pratt (who also seems unaware that the show had already clocked up three series by this point) but you can’t argue with the combined talents of O’Sullivan, Brooke-Taylor and Sanderson.

Home to Roost isn’t a sitcom that’s ever really clicked with me (which is surprising, since I’ve always enjoyed most of Eric Chappell’s output). Maybe time to give it another go and see if it’s more engaging this time round.

The undoubted pick of the evening is Quo Vadis, Pet, the final episode of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet‘s second series. At the time this seemed to be the final end (although it’s slightly disturbing to realise that the first comeback series aired twenty years ago. Where has that time gone?)

The second series, of course, was overshadowed by the death of Gary Horton – especially towards the end of the run when his absence had to be explained away by a double passing through shot or amended dialogue. Despite this, all of the series’ remaining story threads are neatly tied up and even if the second half of series two did sag a little, I’d have to say it slightly edges the first run as my favourite.

9 thoughts on “Back to May 1986 (16th May 1986)

  1. A Friday, so no school tomorrow and no guilt that I ought to be doing homework when I was watching television. If you were a Londoner this sensation was formally marked by the change from Thames to LWT. The most evocative memories that I have of what it felt like to live in a city with two ITVs are of the Friday handover from Thames to “our friends at London Weekend Television”, with its sense of formal acknowledgement of the week being over (and not having to face school until Monday).

    This ‘loosening-of-tie’ effect was then reiterated by the first original LWT programme of the weekend, The Six O’Clock Show (1982-8). A typically low-quality quirky local news themed chat show, and vehicle for another of LWT’s contracted stars, Michael Aspel, the major virtue of the programme for me was its various opening credits, animations always themed around the appealing theme of Londoners leaving work and becoming free and relaxed (and – less plausibly – hurrying home to watch the Six O’Clock Show).

    Other than that I would have watched ‘What The Papers Say’, quite possibly ‘Bandung File’ (in the C4 slot more often taken by ‘A Week In Politics’) and (I think that I would have been allowed to stay up till 10.35) ‘Did You See…’, which has a high-quality panel that week (“Linda Agran, Alistair Cooke and Raymond Williams review Cagney and Lacey (BBC1), Hypotheticals (ITV) and The Inner Eye (Channel Four).”

    If this was today’s schedule my viewing would go: Wogan, What The Papers Say, Auf Wiedersehn and Did You See…

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  2. The last time you had a random look back at a week you looked at 1977 which had the same calendar as this year (common year beginning and ending on a Saturday). So if you wanted to have a look back to a week in the eighties when the 16th of May was a Monday you would have to go back to 1983 or 1988.

    Thirty-six years ago it was a Friday. It was the last series of Pebble Mill at One, which finished one week later. Michael Grade was to blame. The highpoint of the last series was Ted Chippington.

    Sky Pirates was a Children’s Film Foundation film. Talking Pictures TV have been showing some of the CFF films on Saturday mornings.

    The Six O’Cock Show was an awful programme, especially the editions with Samantha Fox.

    One of my colleagues at the time was shocked when I told him I’d never watched Auf Widersen Pet. And I never cared much for My and My Girl and Home to Roost. The Cosby show was fingers down throat.

    The Old Grey Whistle Test shortened its name to Whistle Test and was given an earlier slot (on Tuesdays) with a late night repeat. At that time it was, along with Channel 4’s Chart Show, one of the few tv vehicles for indie music. More on Whistle Test on the 20th.

    It was probably around that time that I started watching What the Papers Say.

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  3. I have to agree with the author’s comment about the second series of AWP being better than the first. There was a sense of escapism in the second series with the lads descending on different locations, rather than the claustrophobic environment of the gloomy German building site. Also Bill Fraser is a welcome addition as gangster Ally Fraser.

    Gary Halton died very suddenly the previous year prior to several ‘studio’ based scenes still being unrecorded. Therefore, in the last couple of episodes, Wayne is present ‘outside’ (as location work in Spain was shot at the start of S2 filming in the Spring of 1985), but then Wayne is absent from studio scenes in the Spanish bars/villas (that were filmed at Central’s studios in Nottingham).

    There was a very ‘ropey’ sequence where Bomber has to stop Wayne chatting up Ally Fraser’s girlfriend and they used a body double and some recycled Gary Halton dialogue from the first series to make the scene as authentic as possible. However, it is clear the production team are trying their best to rescue the second series by covering over the cracks of Halton’s death.

    Overall, this final episode is a nice send off to AWP as everyone knew (back in 1986 anyway!) it was likely to be the last outing for the famous seven. I never rated the AWP come back under the BBC control in 2002-04. Some of the original magic was missing and the Cuban based episodes were simply dull.

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  4. Another TV show in the schedules back in May 1986 was ‘Big Deal’ with Ray Brookes.

    This was a repeat from either S1 or S2 – the third and final series would be televised in the Autumn.

    Written by the Bill creator Geoff McQueen, it is one of those programmes that was quite popular at the time, but is largely forgotten now.

    Sadly, it is one of many TV gems not available on DVD – the first series was released many years ago but is now long out of print.

    My biggest memory of Big Deal was Bobby Gee’s awesome theme tune.

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