Back to May 1986 (19th May 1986)

The repeats just keep on coming, although many of them (like The Rock ‘N’ Roll Years) are very welcome. It’s difficult to articulate today quite how magical this series was back then – when history (news, music, entertainment) wasn’t available at the click of a button, these half hour digests were windows into vanished worlds.

Today’s episode, 1963, was – of course – notable for the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but for a generation of young Doctor Who fans it meant we could enjoy a clip from An Unearthly Child. With the Five Faces repeat from 1981 a distant memory and the VHS release still four years away, it was like gold dust ….

Moving over to BBC2, there’s another chance to see The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. And on ITV’s there’s a re-run of Edward and Mrs Simpson, now stripped over three evenings. As it was originally broadcast in seven parts, it looks like it’s been trimmed down to fit six one-hour slots.

Rather like, Winston Churchill – The Wilderness Years, it has a supporting cast to die for. If the likes of Nigel Hawthorne, Peggy Ashcroft, Marius Goring, Cherie Lunghi, Kika Markham, John Shrapnel, Maurice Denham, Geoffrey Lumsden, Patrick Troughton, Patricia Hodge, Wensley Pithey, Gary Waldhorn and Hugh Fraser doesn’t get the pulse racing then you’re probably reading the wrong blog …

7 thoughts on “Back to May 1986 (19th May 1986)

  1. The evening’s episode of The Rock n Roll Years was in fact the one looking back at 1960. You might have got the election of President Kennedy mixed up with his assassination. This was a repeat run of the first series, originally shown the previous year, which covered the period from 1956 to 1963, and the repeat run was immediately followed by the second series looking at 1964 to 1971. But The Rock n Roll Years wasn’t a patch on the radio series 25 Years of Rock.

    Interestingly University Challenge was a daytime programme in those days. Blue Peter included an item on Dame Nellie Melba. Peachy. It was Simon Groom’s last series, and the other presenters were Peter Duncan who’d returned for a second stint, and Janet Ellis.

    I usually wasn’t home in time for Blue Peter (and was glad when the Sunday omnibus editions started later that year), but sometimes I left work early and caught Rolf Harris Cartoon Time. This week’s edition included Fresh Airedale which doesn’t seem to be available on YouTube. It’s about a dog who’s a total ****.

    I remember Michael Heseltine appearing on Wohgan just after he resigned from the cabinet. He said he regretted the decision but had no doubts. He also said that he’d seen Spitting Image and thought the puppets were brilliant but the scripts were terrible. (He was one of sever politicians who wrote to Fluck and Law asking for the model they made of him, but they’d already used the clay to make another sculpture.) Another guest was Neil Dickson who came on to promote the film Biggles, which flopped and was sadly Peter Cushing’s last film.

    ITV repeated Edward and Mrs Simpson because the Duchess had recently died. It was a controversial decision to repeat the series at that time.

    But I was watching BBC2. After the repeat of the first series of Reginald Perrin the previous year, they showed the second series.

    I hated Naked Video, except for the Shadwell sketches (and then I hated the last two). But then I didn’t like A Kick Up the Eighties except for Kevin Turvey.

    I saw a bit of Just Another Day. One of the staff of the Natural History Museum said that at weekends she looks forward to coming back to work on Monday morning. I read a book about the Natural History Museum by paleontologist Richard Fortey. During his research for the book he said he watched a 1970 edition of Horizon which weent behind the scenes at the museum. The staff talked about the importance of preserving things. The BBC did preserve that programme, but there’s so much that trhey didn’t.

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    • The last time we looked back at 1986 I was surprised at how little I watched that day. This day it’s surprising how much I did see.


  2. Regarding Neil Dickson on Wogan – I vaguely remember the Biggles film being released in 1986. Because of it’s appear towards children, it did get some publicity on Saturday Morning Superstore and Blue Peter, where Janet Ellis visited the location shooting in Northamptonshire.

    Biggles had actually been shot over a year earlier, but it’s release was postponed so it didn’t clash with ‘Back to the Future’ that was the summer blockbuster of 1985 – they have similar time travelling themes, so clearly they were reluctant to have both films competing at the cinema.

    Biggles was a complete flop which was a shame as it did have something quite likeable about it despite some cheesy scenes and the odd wooden actor.


      • When it was shown n tv Radio Times film guide gave it a one star rating. But the listings magazines shouldn’t give films star ratings, they should let the viewers make up their own minds.


  3. The Rock ‘n Roll Years was quite lightweight and obvious – but it did need to cover some very serious news events. I was quite impressed by the good judgement the programme makers used. The example that has stuck in my mind was the news film about the appalling Moors Murders in 1966. It was shown in complete silence, then faded to a black screen. The programme then faded up to David and Jonathan singing “Lovers of the World Unite”. Dignified.

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  4. Odd to see ‘Winston Churchill – The Wilderness Years’ chopped up into a half-hour episode. I think that the only thing that I would have watched at the time would have been ‘The Rock & Roll Years’.

    Looking at that schedule now – and assuming that I had already seen all of the many repeats – then my viewing would go; Crossroads, Coronation Street, Brookside… And later on Open The Box (a pioneering attempt to bring key concepts of Television Studies to a non-Open University timeslot, with a decent accompanying book.

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