Back to May 1986 (22nd May 1986)

It doesn’t look like a classic Top of the Pops line-up tonight, but it’ll give me a good snapshot of musical tastes from mid 1986, so it’s going on the list.

The Clairvoyant on BBC2 will also be worth a look. The combination of the two Roys (Clarke and Kinnear) promised much and whilst you didn’t have to be a mind reader (sorry) to have predicted that this sitcom wouldn’t have a long run, it’s still amusing enough.

ITV offers Never the Twain. It’s a sitcom which ran for an incredibly long time and was sustained throughout its life almost entirely by the larger than life performances of Windsor Davies and Donald Sinden. They could always be guaranteed to make something out of the most predictable situations.

I’ll round the evening off with the 1983 American TV movie version of A Caribbean Mystery.  I’m rather fond of all the 1980’s US Agatha Christie TVMs and whilst it’s obvious that Helen Hayes was no Joan Hickson, on her own terms she makes for an appealing Miss Marple.

Most of the US Christie TVMs of this era feature impressive supporting casts (for example, the other Helen Hayes Marple mystery has Bette Davis, Leo McKern, Dorothy Tutin and John Mills amongst others) but A Caribbean Mystery is a bit bereft in this respect, although the likes of Bernard Hughes, Brock Peters and George Innes do feature.

10 thoughts on “Back to May 1986 (22nd May 1986)

  1. My evening highlight would be good old Crimewatch UK with Nick Ross & Sue Cook. Those were the days, when a police reconstruction was more gripping than any TV drama. ”…And remember – don’t have nightmares. Sleep well tonight!”

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  2. I remember watching that Top Of The Pops (and then EastEnders), most memorable for a particularly leaden attempt at a live performance of ‘The Chicken Song’ from the Spitting Image puppets. Put that schedule on today and my viewing would go; Crossroads, Top Of The Pops, EastEnders and – the definite highlight – the last episode of King Of The Ghetto. (Happily, King Of The Ghetto is currently up on YouTube).

    Just in case you weren’t aware of it, I heartily recommend Mark Aldridge’s definitive ‘Agatha Christie On Screen’, written with full access to the Christie archive.

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  3. ITV were still showing The Sullivans which had finished a few years earlier in Australia. But it wasn’t worth watching after the mother was killed.

    Professor Popper’s Problem was made by the Children’s Film Foundation. I’m not sure if it was a feature vfilm or a serial, but it was shown on tv in serial form.

    On BBC Genome there is a warning that the listing for Blue Peter contains lamguage that some people may find offensive. It turns out that the listiing said the programme included an item on a teddy bear auction to raise money for the charity which is now known as Scope, but was then known as the Spastics Society.

    Bread was the one Carla Lane sitcom that was a complete dead dog.


    • That clip of The Adventure Game reminded me that I forgot to mention Eureka.

      Before BBC1 moved the early evening news from 5.40 pm to 6.00 pm, BBC2 would show more intellectual children’s programmes such as The Deceivers, Eureka and The Adventure Game while BBC were showing the news. Sometimes they showed repeats of Grange Hill and The Five Faces of Doctor Who was shown in that slot as well. Later the early evening weekday slot on BBC2 was the DEF II slot.


  4. Turning to the increasingly useful Top of the Pops Archive. That evenings line-up was:

    Set Me Free by Jaki Graham
    Rock Lobster by the B-52s
    There” Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) bu Billy Ocean
    On My Own by Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald
    The Top 40 Breakers slot with clips of Sinful by Pete Wylie, Who Made Who by AC/DC, and Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer
    Holding Back the Years by Simply Red
    The Chicken Song by Spitting Image
    Snooker Loopy by Chas and Dave and a load of snooker players played over closing credits.

    The Chicken Song started out as one of many song parodies featured on Spitting Image, but it then became a running gag during the 1986 series. For example the week the King Juan Carlos of Spain visited Britain Spitting Image did a sketch were he came to Buckingham Palace acting like a British tourist in Spain, getting drunk and singing The Chicken Song. And at the end of the series it was released as a single.

    But it almost became the type of record that it was sending up, as it did get played in holiday discos. And the joke had worn thin by the time Spitting Image made an advert for Heineken with The Chicken Song winning the Eurovulsion Song Contest.

    But the 1986 series got repeated a few months after its first broadcast. Not a compilation, but a complete rerun of the whole series, and it was out of date. They showed the sketch where Ken Livingstone as Tweety-Pie gets eaten by Margaret Thatcher as Sylvester which was first shown the week the Greater London Council got closed down. They showed the programme that was clearly broadcast on the eve of the Queen’s sixtieth birthday. And they showed the first programme to feature The Chicken Song long after it had fallen from the number one slot.


    • A few weeks ago we had a look at Thursday the 10th of April 1986. Thhe line up for that evening’s Top of the Pops was:

      C’mon C’mon by Bronski Beat
      Peter Gunn by the Art of Noise and Duane Eddy
      Is Your Love Strong Enough? by Bryan Ferry
      Top 40 Breakers with clips of What Have You Done Lately? by Janet Jackson. and Look Away by Big Country
      All the Things She Said by Simple Minds
      Can’t Wait Another Minute by Five Star
      Living Doll by Cliff Richard and the Young Ones
      A Kind of Magic by Queen played over the closing titles


  5. I have to disagree about Bread being a dead dog. The first few series were great. If you were from the North West, you tended to appreciate it a bit more. I do recall that after around the third series, they recast a couple of the characters such as Aveline and Joey, and one or two supporting characters went. By the time the show ended in 1991 it had gone a bit stale, but certainly the early episodes were worth watching.


    • One man’s civilization is another man’s jungle.

      In Comedy Connections on Bread they spoke to Melanie Hill who replaced Gilly Coman as Aveline Boswell. She said that one day someone recognized her as the actress who played Aveline in Bread and asked for an autograph. Melanie Hill was about to sign when the autograph hunter said “You were much better than the girl who’s in it now, she’s rubbish.” So she wrote Gilly Coman’s name instead.

      (I might tell you the most amusing story about one celebrity being mistaken for another another day.)

      In the late eighties on the BBC’s self congratulatory review of the year See For Yourself they did an item looking behing the scenes on Bread, and the presenter said “The real star of Bread is the city of Liverpool itself.”. Pretentious!

      One of the running gags is bread was the family arguing over who was going to have which cereal from the variety pack. In one episode the oldest son says “Mum, why don’t you just buy cornflakes for everyone?”. Stinking communist!

      In Gavin and Stacey there was an episode where Gavin’s friends came for a visit and stayed round Bryn’s house, and Bryn told Stacey and Nessa that he wasn’t sure what breakfast cereals to get. He said that when he was that age you could just give them a choice of corn flakes or weetabix, but now there are so many other cereals. And Stacey says “Well why don’t you get a variety pack?” to which Bryn replies “I thought about that, but then who would eat the ricicles?”, “Good point, well made.”

      Much better series.


  6. 1986 was an interesting year for British television, but sometimes it was interesting as in the Chines curse “May you live in interesting times.”.


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