Back to 1982 – 14th August 1982

And so we come to the end of my week in 1982. It’s certainly served as a reminder that August was a month of repeats, old films and cheap fillers. You could usually find something of interest, but the stations did tend to feel like they were in a holding pattern until the new season launches in September.

I can’t source today’s edition of The David Essex Showcase on BBC1, but this half-hour studio tape (from, I believe, the following week) might be of interest to some.

For me today it’s repeats all the way – Kelly Monteith on BBC1 plus Space 1999 and Catweazle on ITV. There’s also another chance to see Early Days by David Storey, starring Ralph Richardson, also on ITV.

Back to 1982 – 13th August 1982

Another day of repeats and old movies. The Laurel and Hardy season continues with Scram (which will go on the list). I might also watch One of Our Spies is Missing (one of the Man from Uncle ‘movies’ which was cobbled together from several tv episodes). The Man from Uncle isn’t a series that I’ve ever felt the need to investigate in too much depth – I’ve always found the occasional dip to be quite sufficient.

Post 9.00 pm, female cops are on the beat both on BBC1 (Cagney & Lacey) and on ITV (The Gentle Touch). The Gentle Touch will be my choice, although these days I find it a slightly sluggish watch (although the P.J. Hammond episodes are always of interest). Hand on heart I find that Juliet Bravo has aged better for me, but maybe today’s episode will kickstart my interest into beginning a complete rewatch.

(Steve Race is today’s eye man).

Back to 1982 – 12th August 1982

Pick of the evening (especially as it’s not a repeat) is Top of the Pops. What were the top pop tunes forty years ago today? Let’s see ….

We’re into the Michael Hurll era, which means it’s almost non-stop party time in the TOTP studio. Well, there’s one little ray of gloom – John Peel, who’s on solo presenting duty today and is his usual phlegmatic self.

Toto Coelo with I Eat Cannibals kick off proceedings. Dressed in shockingly bright colours it’s certainly an energetic start. Thankfully things get a little more moody when the lights go down and the dry ice begins to seep in as Yazoo with Don’t Go take to the stage. Top tune, it has to be said.

It’s now time for a spot of footage of the Boys Town Gang taken from the Dutch TOTP imitator, Top Pop. If you like camp, you’ll love this. Then it’s back to the TOTP studio for The Associates and 18 Carat Love Affair.

A packed show today, as Sheena Easton is next up with Machinery (a song I have no memory of, but since it only peaked at no 38 that’s quite understandable). She’s looking very stylish in a 1982 way.

Time to ramp up the party atmosphere once again with Haysi Fantayzee and John Wayne Is Big Leggy. The lyrics are slightly saucy, but presumably nobody cared (or realised). The Wikipedia page about the song leaves nothing to the imagination though.

Wavelength with Hurry Home. Another one of those songs I have no memory of at all but you have to admit they’re very smartly dressed.

After that slow song, Zoo and a group of Moroccan tumblers (“I never drink from anything else” says JP) are on hand to fling themselves around to Kool and the Gang. Then it’s the Fun Boy Three with their unique take on Summertime

One of the stars of Minder had already had his own taste of TOTP glory. Dennis Waterman, fronting the Dennis Waterman Band (good name), hit the heights with I Could Be So Good For You. Not content with that, in 1983 Waterman would join forces with George Cole for the unforgettable What Are We Gonna Get for ‘Er Indoors?

But 1982, in terms of Minder records, belonged to The Film with their (presumably) unofficial but nonetheless heartfelt Arthur Daley (E’s Alright). Sounding very Chas and Dave-ish, it’s one of those novelty songs I loved at the time and I still love now.

And that just leaves the No 1 – which remains Dexys Midnight Runners and Come On Eileen. A nice performance (dungarees and fiddles to the fore of course) although it’s a shame that the end titles run over it.

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Elsewhere today there’s another Laurel & Hardy (Chickens Come Home) on BBC2 and a couple of ITV repeats – Robin’s Nest and Thriller – that’ll go on the list. The Thriller episode (I’m the Girl He Wants to Kill – original tx 18th March 1974) features a menacing performance from Robert Lang as a silent killer with Julie Sommars as his potential next victim (Tony Selby, Ken Jones and Anthony Steel also feature).

(David Soul is today’s eye puzzler).

Back to 1982 – 11th August 1982

When skimming through the August television schedules of the past, it quickly becomes clear that it tended to be a pretty dead month. The new season in September was still weeks away, although its myriad delights would have begun to be trailed both on television and in the newspapers.

Few new dramas or comedies tended to be launched in August (you could almost guarantee that any which did were embarrassments or failures, quietly aired in a month where fewer people than usual were watching).

All of which preamble suggests that there’s not a great deal to get the pulse racing today – but since I’m keen to continue to sample this era of British television that’s not too much of a problem. Honest ….

BBC1 devotes a large chunk of its early evening schedule to Elvis on Tour (1972). Along with Laurel and Hardy on BBC2 that’s about all for me and Auntie today.

Since HTV was my local ITV network, I’m able to watch the Stingray crew investigate the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster (the local Scottish colour is an absolute hoot). Later there’s the delights of Coronation Street and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which isn’t perfect, but a cast list which includes Anthony Hopkins, Derek Jacobi, David Suchet, Tim Piggott-Smith, Lesley-Anne Down, Robert Powell, John Gielgud and Nigel Hawthorne can’t be all bad).

Back to 1982 – 10th August 1982

The repeats continue to come thick and fast. First I’ll be tuning in for Hi-De-Hi! (Lift up Your Minds) in which Jeffrey Fairbrother decides to expand the camper’s minds with a selection of classical music. This, as you might expect, doesn’t go down well ….

Simon Cadell always gave exquisite squirm, and today’s episode is a prime example. I’ve no doubt said this before, but most Croft/Perry and Croft/Lloyd sitcoms tended to run on too long, with their later years weakened by a number of departures/recastings. Hi-De-Hi! was never the same post-Fairbrother, even though Clive Dempster was a decent character (and thankfully wasn’t designed as a Fairbrother clone).

Next is the final episode of Private Shultz. Jack Pulman’s script is a delight as are the central performances of Michael Elphick and Ian Richardson (this episode also features Billie Whitelaw and Cyril Shaps amongst others). Next job is to track down the novelization.

There’s another Laurel and Hardy (Hog Wild) on BBC2, so that’ll go on the list as well. Not too much else I can access (Streets of San Francisco, maybe). If I could choose anything, then Turns with Jimmy Perry on BBC2 and Playhouse: The Glory Hole on ITV both look intriguing.

(Today’s mystery eyes belong to Arthur Negus – bit of an easy one that).

Back to 1982 – 9th August 1982

Not a lot that’s sourceable on BBC1 today. I might watch tune into Doctor Who and the Monsters for nostalgia’s sake – even though Earthshock is one of those stories that really grates on me these days (the plot, such as it is, is full of holes that I find hard to ignore).

BBC2 is a happier hunting ground. There’s tea-time Laurel and Hardy whilst later a repeat of The Paul Daniels Magic Show will definitely go on the list. Today Paul welcomes Reveen the Impossiblist with his Chess Magic, Mr Electric (the magician who beat the Energy Crisis) and Ray Dondy with his crazy diving skills. If that’s not entertainment then I don’t know what is.

Moving to ITV, an afternoon Van Der Valk repeat is a possible. VDV is a series I’m always surprised to find that I don’t enjoy more – all the building blocks are there (good central performance from Barry Foster, the usual roster of familiar faces guesting) but often the stories are just a little humdrum. Maybe today’s effort will surprise me though.

The blurb for this evening’s Coronation Street (courtesy of Stan Sayer) sounds intriguing. Alf Roberts off to watch a blue film? I’m in.

I’ll round off the evening with Arthur Lowe in A.J. Wentworth B.A. Broadcast after Arthur Lowe’s death in April 1982, the series always had a melancholy feel for that reason. It’s certainly not Lowe at his best, but I felt obligated to watch it forty years ago out of respect, so I think I’ll honour that feeling again today.

(And for those wondering, the eyes belong to John Alderton).

Back to 1982 – 8th August 1982

I’ve fired up the randomizer again and it’s taken me back to August 1982 for the next seven days. As before, I’ll peruse each days listings and select my viewing choices (but they have to be programmes that I have access to, rather than simply a wishlist of what I would watch had I the opportunity).

The 1980 Classic Serial of adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities continues its repeat run – today it’s episode six. These adaptations had been Sunday tea-time staples for so long that it seemed they’d run for ever – but that wasn’t to be. They’re good for a few more years, but eventually their cheap and cheerful style (VT for interiors, film for exteriors) would fall out of fashion as  big-budget all-film productions became the norm.

There’s no shortage of familiar faces – Paul Shelley, Nigel Stock, Ralph Michael, Judy Parfitt, Stephen Yardley, Harold Innocent, David Collings – appearing and Michael E. Briant is a typically strong behind the camera presence so I think I’ll be tuning in.

Prior to the new series beginning in September, the previous run of The Chinese Detective was given a repeat run – today it’s S01E04 – Income Tax. With the DVDs long deleted and no television station yet to pick it up, The Chinese Detective has rather faded from view. A pity, as there was a lot to appreciate over its short run – from David Yip’s engaging lead performance to Ian Kennedy Martin’s scripts (the fact he wrote most of them suggests he was very invested in the series). The always reliable Lee Montague guest-stars today, which is another plus in this episode’s favour.

Over on BBC2 there’s a Jane omnibus. For a myriad of reasons it’s a series you’d never see today – the overdose of CSO for one (I miss programmes that had the sheer nerve to go full-on CSO) and the mild (very mild really) titillation for another.

Not a great deal available on ITV, but Holding the Fort is a possible. It’s a Marks and Gran sitcom that has rather sunk without trace, even though the cast (Peter Davison, Patricia Hodge, Matthew Kelly) were more than passable. Possibly its low profile is due to the fact it’s an ITV sitcom that Network never got around to releasing on DVD. But the episodes are up on YouTube (click here) if you wish to investigate.

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.

Back to May 1986 (21st May 1986)

The first series of Jossy’s Giants comes to a conclusion, and as it’s the big cup match I might tune in. Written by Sid Waddell, it was always an entertaining watch with Jim Barclay giving an engaging performance as the eponymous Jossy, the new manager of the Glipton Grasshoppers (a youth football team that prior to his arrival seemed doomed to remain at the bottom of the league). My previous thoughts on the series can be found here.

Later also on BBC1 there’s a repeat of Lame Ducks. A P.J. Hammond sitcom, it’s always piqued my interest for that reason if nothing else. But you can’t grumble about the cast (John Duttine, Lorraine Chase, Tony Millan, Brian Murphy, Cyd Hayman) and it’s one of those forgotten series (not repeated in decades, never released on DVD) that’s considerably more entertaining than its low opinion suggests. Even so, I think Hammond did the right thing by concentrating on drama ….

Undoubted pick of the evening is the first episode of A Very Peculiar Practice on BBC2 (which I’ve written about elsewhere). Whilst the first series of AVPP hasn’t had a terrestrial repeat since 1990, it’s a programme that still seems to have a profile today. The DVD release has helped of course, but it’s interesting to remember that although it was well received at the time, ratings-wise it only attracted modest figures.

Some programmes, despite average ratings, seem destined to endure whilst others might top the charts but are forgotten soon afterwards (although of course, the reverse can also true). For further reading about neglected television drama, I can’t do worse than point you in the direction of the Forgotten Television Drama blog.

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.

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 …

Back to May 1986 (18th May 1986)

Peak time BBC1 repeats of Hancock’s Half Hour (or, strictly speaking, Hancock) are almost impossible to credit now (or indeed, even just an off-peak BBC4 slot). Although some channels (Talking Pictures TV, say) are content to play monochrome material, there’s still a wide assumption that “the masses” just wouldn’t accept it.

But back in the eighties I don’t recall any particular revulsion against these HHH re-runs. Although that’s possibly because back then colour television was still a relative novelty. It might have been introduced in the UK during the late sixties and early seventies, but many would have stayed with black and white until later in the 1970’s (or possibly even into the 1980’s).

Anyway, tonight’s episode, The Radio Ham, is a must watch. I’ll have my tray of bread pudding and the results of the Daily Herald brass competition to hand ….

When rifling through these schedules it’s very noticeable how many repeats there were in primetime. Along with Tony Hancock, there’s another chance to see the second and final episode of Miss MarpleThe Moving Finger. This is a swifter re-run than the Lad’s effort though (originally broadcast in February 1985).

The Moving Finger might not be Christie’s most baffling mystery, but it’s always been a favourite of mine. Julia Jones’ adaptation treats the source material with respect – she makes changes along the way (Miss Marple, for example, only made a fleeting appearance in the original novel) but Christie’s voice remains clear. Some recent writers who have tackled the Dame’s work and twisted it almost out of recognition, should take note …

And with direction from Roy Boulting and an excellent cast (Michael Culver, Richard Pearson, Sabina Franklyn, Hilary Mason and John Arnatt) you can’t really go wrong.

Back to May 1986 (17th May 1986)

There’s not too much available that’s appealing to me on the BBC channels today (Sorry! is a possibility though, if I’m really desperate).

ITV’s a happier hunting ground – with Robin of Sherwood and C.A.T.S. Eyes. Robin of Sherwood has reached series three – which means that Jason Connery is now the hooded man (he’s not many people’s favourite RH – most seem to favour Michael Praed – but, given his inexperience, he gives the role a decent fist).

Today’s episode is Cromm Cruac (or, as the Video Gems VHS inexplicably called it, Cromwell’s Crusade). This means that Richard O’Brien returns as the cackling Gulnar, with Ian Redford, Larry Dann and Graham Weston also featuring.

C.A.T.S. Eyes is a very odd series. Taking a character (Maggie Forbes) from a straightforward police series (The Gentle Touch) and plonking her down in the middle of a glossy adventure show was such a strange move. Today’s episode, Freezeheat, was written by series creator Terence Feeley and features Daniel Peacock and Tony Doyle. I can’t confess to having a great deal of love for C.A.T.S. Eyes as it was just a little too bland for my tastes (ITV would continue for a while to churn out series with a similar formula – eventually ending up with the deeply unloved Saracen).

Undoubted highlight of the day is Mapp & Lucia on C4. The episode in question is Lady Bountiful, which sees Lucia drop a bombshell when she announces her engagement to Georgie. Au reservoir!

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.

Back to May 1977 (1st May 1977)

Rounding off my week in 1977 with a skim through Sunday’s schedules.

The Good Life is an obvious pick – tonight’s new episode is The Weaver’s Tale.

It never fails to give me a twinge of amusement when somebody comments on Twitter about how selfish Tom is – why has it taken them so many decades to work this out? Tonight’s episode is a perfect example of his working methods – Tom spends his and Barbara’s hard earned profit on a loom without consulting her. No surprises though that everything works out in the end.

London ITV has an afternoon repeat of The Protectors whilst the Midlands plumps for Space 1999. I think I’ll go for The Protectors (partly because Space 1999 has never really interested me and partly because The Protectors, although far from perfect, rarely outstayed its welcome at 25 minutes).

I’ll stick with ITV for a repeat of Edward VII and (from a variety of regional films) Two Way Stretch.

If I had access, then both Jubilee and She would be on my list. Maybe they’ll surface sometime in the future, fingers crossed …

Back to April 1977 (30th April 1977)

First up this evening will be Wodehouse Playhouse on BBC2. A repeat of an episode from the first series (Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court) originally broadcast in 1975, this is one of the stronger efforts (even though John Alderton’s wig is very distracting). I’ve always found Wodehouse Playhouse to be something of an uneven watch, but maybe it’s about time to give them all another try.

Then it’s over to BBC1 for Kojak. The Daily Mirror synopsis of Lady in the Squad Room (Kojak has to suffer a woman as a colleague) slightly chills the blood, but the episode isn’t quite as forbidding as this suggests.  It’s obvious what the plot will be (feisty female battles male resentment before proving that she’s just as good as the men, honest).  Even given this clichéd material, Joan Van Ark is very good as Det. Josephine Long (a pity she was just a one-shot character).

I’ll then round things off with Bob Williamson at the Wheeltappers. Williamson was a folk/comedy performer who had a similar style to the likes of Jasper Carrott, Mike Harding and Billy Connolly, and his turn makes for a pretty convivial half-hour. If you haven’t got it, then I can recommend the sixth and final series of the Wheeltappers on DVD.  Not only for its decent line-up of shows like this one, but also for the studio tape of an unaired edition (which might not offer too much in the way of entertainment, but is a fascinating spotlight on how shows like this were put together).

Back to April 1977 (29th April 1977)

Drawing a blank with the BBC channels, but luckily ITV is a pretty happy hunting ground today.

First, there’s a repeat of The Ghosts of Motley Hall. You can’t fault the cast (Arthur English, Peter Sallis and Freddie Jones amongst others) plus you’ve got scripts from Richard Carpenter, so we should be set for an entertaining half hour.

At 7.30 pm on London there’s an episode of Backs to the Land (Alarms, Excursions and Day Trips). This DVD’s been sitting on the shelf for a while, so this is a good opportunity to dust it down and take a look (David and Michael Troughton featured in the first series playing – not surprisingly – brothers).

After Hawaii Five O, the main drama of the evening will be Raffles. Mr Justice Raffles is tonight’s installment – John Savident (on excellent form as an odious moneylender) and Charles Dance guest in an episode from towards of the end of the series. Like the majority of the episodes it was adapted by Philip Mackie, which is an extra incentive to watch (two of Mackie’s previous serials, The Caesars and An Englishman’s Castle, are currently sitting on my tottering pending rewatch pile).

Back to April 1977 (28th April 1977)

There’s pretty slim pickings on offer today. Thanks to the Talons DVD, I can watch how to make a model Dr Who theatre courtesy of Blue Peter. It looks rather complicated though, so I don’t think I’ll bother ….

Later also on BBC1 there’s Top of the Pops. The Punk wars might be raging on the streets of Britain but at this point the TOTP studio felt hermitically sealed off from that sort of thing – middle-of-the-road fare is what you can expect today.

Hosted by an uncomfortably grabby DLT, the show isn’t without interest though. There’s the likes of Contempt with a catchy ditty called Money is a Girl’s Best Friend. I also rather enjoyed the new 10cc video (Good Morning Judge) and goggled at the outfits worn by Rags (performing Promises Promises).

The undoubted highlight was Billy Ocean’s Red Light Spells Danger.  With a live vocal and enthusiastic backing from the Pops Orchestra and The Ladybirds, it’s a very entertaining performance (even if he’s stuck at the back of the studio behind two very bouncy dancers and forced to sing to an audience who seem less than enthused).

Anglia offers Paul Daniels At The Wheeltappers. Given that this final run wasn’t networked, it’s possibly not a surprise that the series rather spluttered to a halt and didn’t return after these 1977 shows aired. A pity, as I’m rather fond of the At The Wheeltappers format – a half hour show with just the one turn (provided, of course, that they were a good one) gave them plenty of time to present a decent showcase – something that the earlier series didn’t always manage to do.

Back to April 1977 (27th April 1977)

First stop is The Peacemaker, an episode from the third and final series of Survivors. Written by Roger Parkes it was the first of three scripts he contributed to series three (having already penned two episodes the year before). Parkes had an interestingly varied career – beginning with ITC series like The Prisoner and Man in a Suitcase before plying his trade during the seventies with the likes of Doomwatch, Crown Court, The Onedin Line, Blakes 7 and Z Cars (amongst others).

The M*A*S*H boxset has been sitting on my shelf for a number of years, so I might as well dust it down in order to enjoy a repeat of Check-Up.

Over on ITV there’s a repeat of Bless This House. The Frozen Limit is the episode in question (in which Sid and Jean buy a fridge freezer with the inevitable hilarious consequences).

For more light relief there’s Coronation Street. In today’s episode Alf, Fred, Renee and Mavis go fishing and have a day to remember. Renee ends up in the river (the stuntperson performing an athletic forward roll) and Mavis gamely jumps in to save her.

Back to April 1977 (26th April 1977)

First up today is Z Cars. Transit is an episode from the series’ penultimate run and like a fair number of the seventies episodes I’ve sampled, it’s reasonable enough fare (although far less compelling than the series’ early sixties heyday).

Having caught up with the Play for Today repeat yesterday, tonight it’s the sequel – The Country Party. Again written by Brian Clark and starring Peter Barkworth, this one isn’t as memorable as The Saturday Party, but there’s plenty of familiar faces in the cast (such as Tom Georgeson, Donald Pickering and Malcolm Terris). Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson share the screen together, possibly the first time they did so (they had earlier both appeared in several episodes of You Must Be Joking! but I’m not sure if they were on screen at the same time).

Following the recent announcement of Eric Chappell’s death, I’ve been dipping into his back catalogue during the last few days, so tonight’s series three episode of Rising Damp is just the ticket. Rigsby takes Miss Jones for a spin in his new sports car (with the inevitable hilarious consequences).  Tonight’s episode features a nice guest turn from the always reliable Derek Francis.