Back to May 1986 (20th May 1986)

Once again, the number of prime time repeats rather surprises me. My recollection of this era tended to confine re-runs mostly to July and August (a dead couple of months,  which saw the impatient viewer counting down the days before the exciting new season launched in September).

One Arabian Night is the Terry and June episode on offer. Written by Colin Bostock-Smith, it’s a politically incorrect half hour – Derek Griffiths guests as an Arab Prince who takes a shine to June and offers to buy her for fifty camels.

We’re on firmer ground with Juliet Bravo (The Day The Circus Left Town). The Kenny Everett Show is also worth a look – it’s a re-run from the third series, so the strike rate is still pretty high (the show tended to tail off somewhat during the next few years).

Over on ITV there’s Duty Free – a series that was incredibly popular at the time (even displacing Coronation Street at the top of the ratings) although didn’t seem to generate an equal amount of love. Even today, it’s seen as a lesser part of the Eric Chappell canon – but I’ve always loved it. Very studio-bound, it has the feel of a stage farce which is one of the reasons why I’ve always found it appealing. When the Christmas Special went to Spain for location filming it seemed to kill the comedy stone dead, which suggests that the artificiality of studio VT work can sometimes be a positive.

And if there’s time I’ll catch a bit more of Edward and Mrs Simpson.

8 thoughts on “Back to May 1986 (20th May 1986)

  1. Let’s not forget….Miami Vice is on at 9.55pm. I was never allowed to stay up late in 1986, so my dad would always tape me the latest installment of Crocket & Tubbs on the Beetamax.

    And of course Magnum with Tom Selleck was on. If I recall, by 1986 the series had started to lag a little with some lame plots. Still, like Miami Vice, it did have a little bit of escapism which is always welcome for a dreary weeknight.


  2. Children’s tv looks mixed up. I think by this time the BBC only showed Play School in the morning. Main children’s tv kicked off with The Amazing Adventures of Morph which was originally shown at the end of children’s tv. Next was Pigeon Street which was one of the lunchtime programmers for younger viewers. (That never did have the same ring to it as Watch With Mother.) Pigeon Street was the best of the eighties lunchtime children’s shows. At lunchtime there was Fingermouse. This was the later series presented by Iain Lauchlan who din’t wear a glove when he operated the Fingermouse puppet so it looked as if Fingermouse was in the nude.

    I remember Bernard Holley reading Johnny Briggs on Jackanory in the seventies. But I only watched the drama series when it was repeated on Sunday afternoons on BBC2 in the nineties. When BBC2 were showing Johnny Briggs someone wrote in and asked if they could repeat a show they used to watch from the same era called Jossy’s Giants. It made me feel old hearing people reminiscing about old children’s programme which I didn’t see because I wasn’t home from work in time.

    Cartoon Time included the Droopy cartoon where he was a matador and in the last scene he was superimposed over live film of the actress Lina Romay.

    I probably did see The Kenny Everett Show, either that broadcast or the first one. Although his BBC shows were better than the ITV series, the series was getting a bit state. Kenny Evereet said that he wanted to do a sitcom instead, but the BBC wanted more sketch shows. Lenny Henry’s sketch show on the other hand was still funny, but he got fed up with doing them and wanted to do a sitcom instead, and he was allowed to do a sitcom and it was feeble.

    I would have recorded The Comic Strip Presents. I missed them the first time because we couldn’t get Channel 4.


      • BBC2 were doing a season of Australian films. That night’s film was Tim, which is an insipid film, but there were better films in the season such as Picnic At Hanging Rock, Summerfield, Australia’s answer to Unman, Wittering and Zigo, starring Nick Tate from Space 1999. (One of my colleagues told me not be stupid when I said Mel Gibson’s best film was Chicken Run.)

        One Austrailian film from the seventies that was not included in the season was Wake in Fright which was unavailable for a long time. A restored version was released in cinemas in 2014.


    • Jossy’s Giants was a forgetten TV gem I did watch at the time. I often wonder what became of actor Jim Barclay who played the leading role. He was also a comedian in the 1980s, but by the 1990s his career had dipped and he was appearing in TV adverts.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Blast it! I forgot to mention Whistle Test. According to the listing Public Image were among the guests. But I have a feeling that this was the programme where they had to pull out. However Richard Skinner did have a telephone conversation with John Lydon on the programme. He pointed out that it was nearly ten years since they first met when he interviewed him and Steve Jones on Radio One’s Newsbeat.

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  3. Excellent point about the intimacy of studio-bound comedy and how it is sometimes lost on location, or in a cinema adaptation. Funny, whenever I see a picture of the real Edward VIII I’m always slightly surprised that’s it’s not Edward Fox – Edward and Mrs Simpson I think was as close as you could get to 1930s society and government without a time-machine. The casting is about perfect, even for supporting characters. They really don’t make ’em like that any more.

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  4. I think that the only thing that I saw that evening would have been EastEnders… Put that schedule in front of me now, though, and I’d have to wait until the Sunday omnibus this week because the (rather early) live Whistle Test with sets from PiL and The Smiths is the obvious highlight. The only other thing that I’d definitely watch would be Brookside, though if I was sufficiently awake I’d probably end up seeing Film ’86 and the Eusebio programme.

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