Hello.  Welcome to my blog about British archive television.  This will highlight programmes I’ve been watching whilst my Twitter feed – embedded in the blog and also directly accessable via @archivetvmus71 – contains many more archive treats.

The posts are broken up into categories (by decade and type – comedy, drama, etc).  You can also explore via the tags lower down the page.  Many of the programmes which have multiple posts can also be accessed via the top of the main menu (BBC/ITV/Christmas TV/Doctor Who/Grange Hill).

These top menu options have the posts re-arranged from oldest to newest (WordPress blogs display the newest posts by default).  So if you’re looking to read about, say, The Day of the Triffids episode by episode, then selecting it via the BBC button next to the Home button is the best option – since the posts will be in the correct order!

If you notice any broken links or have any comments or suggestions then please leave a message on the relevant post or drop me an email at archivetvmusings@gmail.com

I also have a theatre related blog at Theatre Musings.

195 thoughts on “About

  1. He didn’t remember the umbrella stand.

    Not long after that episode of The Generation Game was broadcast I went to the cinema to see the children’s film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in which Bruce Forsyth threatens a child with a knife. (The storyline of the film is completely different to the book.)

    There was one series of The Generation Game where in the last edition the conveyor belt broke down, so they had to get the stagehands to carry the prizes. Anthe Redfern was carrying one of the prizes, and the announcer said “Anthea Redfern.”. And when Bruce walked past with a prize he looked at the audience and rolled his eyes as if to say “Fancy doing this for a living.”.

    There was another edition when one of the prizes went past and the announcer said “I don’t know what that is.”.

    But the most notorious incident with the conveyor belt was on his last series in 1977. At the beginning of the programme he read out a letter from a viewer who said that every week they (like my family) would try and guess what the cuddly toy was going to be on the conveyor belt. And the youngest child always said it was going to be a gorilla, but so far it hasn’t been. So Bruce told the little girl to stay tuned to see if it will be a gorilla this week.

    But then during the last game the transmission stopped partway through the Brother Lees’ drag act, and the BBC were unable to show the rest of the programme that night, or that night’s edition of The Two Ronnies, and instead they put on some rubbishy film.

    The rest of the programme was shown on the New Year’s Eve compilation programme, and it was a toy gorilla on the conveyor belt. But what should have happened was Bruce Forsyth would read out the latter at the beginning of the programme and that week’s soft toy would be a gorilla. But the break in transmission killed the joke.

    But that evening there was a music evening at our church. We decided we’d rather stay at home and watch tv, but the tv went pear-shaped, and the following morning my mum found out that we’d missed a good evening at the church.

    The following year my mum went to the music evening with my brother and sister, and my brother said it was dreadful. He said the entertainment was dreadful and the refreshments served in the interval was puke.

    Of course by that time The Generation Game was hosted by Larry Grayson who I thought was better the Bruce Forsyth. Jim Davidson was a disaster.


  2. **** spoiler ****

    Re: the Sherlock Holmes clip. This is an adaptation of the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, first published in Strand Magazine in 1887. Sherlock Holmes investigates the scene of the crime where someone has written “RACHE” on the wall. The police think some was trying to write the name Rachel, but Sherlock Holmes knows it’s the German word for revenge.

    In the first episode of the Benedict Cumberbatch series Sherlock, A Study in Pink, one of the police officers thinks that someone wrote the German word for revenge on the wall, but Sherlock knows it was some trying to write Rachel.


  3. Regarding yesterday’s postings. I was going to ask what the design was on the tv presenters’ tee-shirts. (From the day’s when children’s tv shows were children’s tv shows and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.) I thought it might be Comic Relief tee-shirts but then it was too early for Comic Relief because Sarah Greene’s hairstyle is the one she had when she was on Blue Peter.

    But actually I think the design is the balloon motif that replaced the jigsaw pieces as the BBC children’s television ident before the short lived computer graphics. (And the reason the computer graphics were short-lived was because in the mid-eighties they started doing the Broom Cupboard. Blue Peter ran a competition to design computer graphics for the links on children’s tv, but then they weren’t used for very long because they started doing the Broom Cupboard.)

    I didn’t know there was a tv version of Paper Moon. I think it was in colour, whereas of course the original film was, like The Last Picture Show, shot in black and white to give it a period feel. The tv series was shown on tv before the film version. (I think the same is true of M*A*S*H.)

    My brother and I watch the first screening of Paper Moon on British television on the Sunday the week before Christmas Eve 1978 on the black and white television. It was something of a guilty pleasure as it had rude words in it. Paper Moon is fifty years old next year, and is one of the films which I’ve seen on tv but would like to see on the big screen.


  4. Yesterday’s clip of Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore was funny, although the jokes about Sabu were a bit near the edge as the actor had died only a couple of years only. Was this the episode that was broadcast after the Rolling Stones’ appearance. When the Rolling Stones did Sunday Night at the London Palladium they refused to go on the turntable at the end of the programme saying that it was naff and out of date, and the following week Pete and Dud were guests and at the end of the show they went on the revolving stage with cardboard cutouts of the Stones.

    I also enjoyed the Morcambe and Wise clip. As I said before I saw this programme long before I saw Andre Preview’s first appearance on the show, the Christmas 1971 edition, which I think was the one the BBC showed when Eric died. Andre Previn’s third and last appearance on The Morcambe and Wise Show was when he was one of several guests who said how appearing on Morcambe and Wise had changed their careers. He was now a bus conductor.

    Michelle Dotrice was also in an episode of Inside No 9. Elisabeth Sladen was considered for the role of Betty Spencer, and if she had got the part she wouldn’t have played Sarah Jane Smith.

    I always remember The Waltons being on weekday nights (usually Mondays) on BBC2, but in the autumn of 1976 they showed it on BBC1 on Sunday afternoons. I had a great aunt who had a colour tv before we did, and I have two memories of watching her colour tv. We went to see her in the summer holidays in 1976 and we watched Screen Test, and they showed a clip of The Sound of Music (The Lonely Goatherd) which we’d seen at the cinema earlier in the holidays. And later that year we watched The Waltons in colour for the first time, and found out that some of the children had red hair. The second time we saw The Waltons in colour was one week later when we watched it on our own colour tv.

    (It was more of a shock when I saw Crystal **** for the first time in colour and found out she had purple hair.)


    • I was going to say that the last time we saw The Waltons in black and white was the week before we saw it round my great aunt’s but we saw an episode a few years later when we were on holiday.

      Which brings me onto the subject of watching tv on holiday. I went on a couple of holidays in the late sixties and early seventies when the chalets had coin operated televisions, and the programme would go off when the money ran out so you had to put coins in the slot.

      But we only had one holiday where the television was in colour. That was in Easter 1979. When we had black and white tv at home the places where we went on holiday, chalets in holiday villages,converted bungalows, always had black and white television sets. The first holiday we had after we got colour tv at home the tv was not only black and whgite, but it was also an old model where had to use a dial to tune into the tv channels instead of pushing buttons. That was the cheap and nasty end of the holiday market. But the next holiday was the one where they had colour tv, and later that year we went on another holiday (on the Isle of Wight) where the tv was black and white, and we watched The Waltons.

      After that holiday my Mum didn’t think it was worth having the tv on holiday, although I thought it was. (We also watched Hollywood Greats and Top of the Pops.) And the following year my dad got a rubbishy trailer tent and we went on camping holidays, which I didn’t enjoy because the trailer tent was rubbish and I was by then too old to go on holiday with my parents.

      But I would say that in the early eighties most of the holiday villages and holiday bungalows would have replaced the black and white tv sets with colour sets. I could even imagine holiday villages later having video recorders installed in the chalets so people could record their programmes when they went out for the day, and even renting out films on video in the camp shop.

      What do you mean you don’t go on holiday to watch television? There’s always one!


  5. Forty-five years ago today.

    I remember Big John, Little John. Little John was played by Robbie Rist who had previously played Cousin Oliver in The Brady Bunch. There was an episode of The X-Files where Agent Doggett says that he used to like The Brady Bunch, but said it jumped the shark when Cousin Oliver joined the series. The irony being that he himself was a replacement character in a tv series.

    But the real highpoint of the day was Ripping Yarns, the one where the black pudding was so black even the white bits were black.

    At the time I told a friend of mine about Ripping Yarns and he said it sounded “trash”. But the only episode he watched was the only one I missed first time round, and he said it was trash. I finally saw Across the Andes by Frog well over a decade later and it was the weakest episode by far.

    The best Christmas present I bought for my dad in his last years was the DVD of Ripping Yarns.


  6. Danger Mouse started on the same day as Bullseye. Captain Scarlet started on the same day as The Prisoner (a Friday), and Jo 90 (no relation to Basil 40) started one year later (a Sunday).


  7. Hooray! You’ve picked a day when Doctor Who was on. The City of Death was the standout story of the penultimate Tom Baker series. It was the current serial when Doctor Who Magazine started. I bought the first Doctor Who Weekly and became even more of a fan of the series than I already was. The day I bought the second issue I also borrowed a copy of the novelisation of Brain of Morbius from the library. The day the ITV strike ended I was on a family outing and I had a sneak peek at Doctor Who Weekly issue 3 in a newsagents. I was surprised to find out how old Jon Pertwee was.

    Also on that day Swap Shop returned, but was interrupted for an hour for coverage of the Pope’s visit to Ireland.

    Junior That’s Life was a flop but one of the children on the show later became a professional broacaster. I don’t know if any tapes of Junior That’s Life with Sean Ley survive, but it would be a good piece of Where Were They Then.

    Meanwhile BBC2 were doing a season of Jean Renoir films. I haven’t seen The Lower Depths, although I have seen some of the other films in the series, but that’s for Archive Film Musings. (Are there any decent film discussion websites.) The Lower Depths was based on a play by Maxim Gorky. Akira Kurosawa also made a film based on the play.

    La Gioconda is the opera that features Dance of the Hours.


    • There are two notable things about Channel Television. The first is that they didn’t go into colour until 1976, seven years after ITV started broadcasting in colour. Thames/LWT and several other regions started broacasting in colour on 15th of November 1969. The rest of the UK went into colour during 1970-71. But the Channel Islands had to wait until 1976. (I don’t know which ITV region serves the Isle of Man.) But then in 1976 households in Britain with colour tvs were still outnumbered by households with only black and white. It was in 1977 that households with colour televisions outnumbered those with only black and white.

      I don’t know when Channel Islanders got BBC in colour. There was an article in one of the Blue Peter books called Unst Upon a Time. They got a letter from an amateur dramatics society on Unst in the Shetland Islands, the most northerly inhabites island in the British Isles, who wanted some tips of pantomime make-up. And the Blue Peter team had to be aware that there were no colour televisions on the island so they had to make sure the item could be watched in black and white. I watched the programme round a neighbours’ house and their cat was not amused at Lesley Judd being made up to look like a cat.

      And the other notable thing about Channel Telesion is that, because the Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom, they carried on broadcasting during the ITV strike of 1979. But it mainly local news and films. (I don’t know which ITV region serves the Isle of Man.)


  8. When Captain Scarlet was on the cover of TV21 (the comic dated one-hundred years in the future), they did have a Spectrum club. The memberships for the various regions in the British Isles were administered by Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue and other spectrum agents from the tv series. (Captain Magenta did Republic of Ireland.) But some regions were administered by non-existent captains like, Captain Yellow, Captain Orange, Captain Purple, Captain Pink With Orange Spots etc.

    For more about TV21 I can recommend The Ultimate Book of British Comics by Graham Kibble-White.

    Sugar Smacks were a bit like Sugar Puffs, honey coated puffed wheat, not honey coasted heroin. I can remember going on holiday when I was very young and we had a variety pack as a holiday treat, and there was a packet of Sugar Smack with Gerry Anderson characters on the packet. We were very young and my brother and I had half a small packet each. I’m so old I can remember when Kellogg’s variety packs had eight different cereals.

    Sugar Smacks previously featured Thunderbirds on the packets, then Captain Scarlet, then Joe 90, then Star Trek, and then Doctor Who (Jon Pertwee version). Sugar Smacks also gave away a set of Doctor Who badges with the Doctor, Jo Grant, the Brigadier, the Master, Bessie and the UNIT logo. They can’t give away badges and plastic toys in cereal packets anymore because it’s a choking hazard.


    • And then of course there were the Doctor Who freebies in Weetibangs.

      The first was a set of cardboard figures given away in 1975. This was very early in the Tom Baker era so most of the monsters were from the Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee eras. I had a tee-shirt with the pictures used in the Weetibangs card, but it wore out too quickly because the material was too thin. But it was great design.

      In 1977 they did another set of cardboard figures, but these were meant to be slotted into a set of four board games printed on the backs of the boxes. So the Dalek figures would have the instruction “Get exterminated by Daleks. Miss a go.”. The four games would be fitted together with a Tardis console in the middle.

      Weetibangs did a set of four board games in 1983 featuring the Weetibangs characters Crunch, Dunk, Brains, Bixie and Brian. In the bovver boy days before they got trendy.


  9. Saturday Superstore started forty years ago today. Exactly six years after Swap Shop.

    There was a children’s programme called Take Two, a sort of Junior Points of View, where children discussed tv programmes, and just after Swap Shop ended they asked the children who they would like to see hosting Swap Shop’s replacement. Rather bizarrely somebody suggested Lenny Henry, but there was one name that kept popping up, and on the last edition of Take Two it was announced that Radio One’s Mike Read would be hosting Saturday Superstore in the autumn.
    Saturday Superstore is underrated. On the Five Doctor’s DVD there are clips of Doctor Who items from BBC Breakfast, Blue Peter, Nationwide and Saturday Superstore. And the best item was the phone-in on Saturday Superstore. I saw the interview with We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It from the last series on the internet, and that was rather good as well.

    (There was one time on Swap Shop where Noel Edmonds met Prince Charles who said that he’d be interested in being a guest on Swap Shop, but it never happened.)

    It’s best remembered for two guests on the last series, Prince Edward who appeared on the penultimate programme, and Margaret Thatcher. Neil Kinnock had already been on the programme, and David Steele was a guest later, so there was no political bias. Much has been made of the housewife who asked Margaret Thatcher an awkward question about the Falklands War on a Nationwide phone-in, but it’s not nearly as priceless as when the prime minister went on Saturday Superstore and a girl in the studio audience asked her where she would be in the event of a nuclear war.

    ITV’s alternative to Saturday Superstore was The Saturday Show, which was to have been Big Daddy’s Saturday Show but the wrestler Shirley Crabtree pulled out at the last minute. In 1981-82 Larry Grayson and Isla St Clair decided to leave The Generation Game, and the BBC decided not to continue with The Generation Game (which was losing viewers to Game For A Laugh (an abomination)), Noel Edmonds decide to leave Swap Shop, and the BBC decided to end Swap Shop, and Sally James decided to leave Tiswas, and ITV decided to end Tiswas. So that left the BBC with slots to fill on Saturday Mornings and Saturday Evenings, ITV with a slot to fill on Saturday mornings, and Noel Edmond’s and Isla St Clair looking for other jobs on tv. BBC replaced Swap Shop with a programme with the same format but different name and different presenter. BBC replaced The Generation Game with a vehicle for Noel Edmond’s called The Late Late Breakfast Show, BBC’s answer to Game For A Laugh. And Isla St Clair got a job on ITV’s new Saturday Morning show.

    I saw an interview with Gordon Astley, Sally James’ co-presenter on the last series of Tiswas. (Oddly enough before he was on Tiswas he was one of Keith Chegwin’s assistants on Cheggars Plays Pop.) There was an interesting parallel between Gordon Astely and Mike Read. When Chris Tarrant and co left Tiswas to do OTT they got some new people in to do Tiwas and it lasted for only one more series, and when Noel Edmonds left Swap Shop the BBC ended Swap Shop and started a new series with the same format but different name and different presenter, and it lasted for five years. In the interview Gordon Astley said that when he did Tiswas he realised that radio was his medium rather than television, and Mike Read was better on radio as well, although he was very good on Pop Quiz and Saturday Superstore.

    I was going to say that today was the fortieth anniversary of the first Saturday Superstore anyway, but then you On This Day cycle reached 1982. So far you’ve managed to pick the day the Sex Pistols made their tv debut, the day that Randall and Hopkirk was first broadcast, and the day that Saturday Superstore started, so that’s not bad going.


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