Happy new year to all my reader. Take your place at Miss Sophie’s dinner table.
To close the festivities, we return to Marty Feldman, aided and abetted by Tim Brooke-Taylor, in a Punch and Judy show. After this, Marty pays tribute to the unsung heroes of the BBC. About time that someone did, too.
Nearly there. The penultimate selection in this year’s advent calendar is a festive selection of items from the Fishguard news desk, staffed by Hugh Pugh, a man with an abrasive manner and a microphone that’s never plugged in. Watch out for the table of Jesus-related artifacts. Re-watching that bit earlier caused the inhabitants of the Cheeseford living room to burst out laughing in a manner that bordered on indecent.
From Danny Baker’s appearance on the TV version of Room 101 (Get well soon, Candyman), here’s a devastating critique of consumer shows. “Heh heh. Old Joe…”.
As it’s Christmas Eve all day and gremlins have hitherto prevented me opening some of the windows of this advent calendar at the correct time, we end with a bumper rollover jackpot of clips, chosen largely out of pure selfishness. We kick off with Martin Alan Feldman and John Junkin with the George Mitchell singers, rewriting ‘The Whiffenpoof Song’. My good friend Gavin Sutherland showed me this sketch during a mammoth session of port and brandy at his luxury Wanstead penthouse flat over a decade ago, and it’s been in my pantheon of TV greatness ever since. Not least because the end credit is sung. Take it away, ladies and gentlemen.
Here we see Les Dawson getting a curiously muted response to one of his gags. What’s wrong with this audience? Don’t they appreciate quality? What’s wrong with the audience is that there isn’t one. Any laughter you hear is the crew in studio D at the BBC’s Elstree centre at the stagger-through for the 1990 live final of Opportunity Knocks.
Take two grown adults arsing about on a hillside in fake slow motion, an election slogan that we can all stand by and Frank Ricotti’s wonderful arrangement of ‘On a Clear Day You Can See Forever’, and you have my favourite closing credit sequence of any programme ever: the end of the last episode of The Beiderbecke Affair. Alan Plater was a great man and, on the one occasion when I met him, everything I hoped he would be. Funny, interesting and kind. He’s missed already.
Apologies for radio silence (my favourite station) over the last couple of days. I have been away from home, and had unexpected trouble uploading various goodies at various points. So, here’s a bumper package. Firstly, the fruits of a recent fact-finding mission in the environs of the remains of ATV Centre, B1 2JP.
Above, we have the back end of this fine edifice. Why does it say ‘Accident and Emergency’ over the ramp? Ah, well, the derelict building was used as a location for the remade Survivors. Then, slightly to the left, we have some fetching octagonal planters, the honeycomb being very much a motif used in the building’s construction.
Meanwhile, the only visible signage linking the concrete hulk with its illustrious past was on the door of the electricity substation by the scene dock doors. Maybe one day, when Uncle Lew’s pile is finally demolished, a blue plaque will be erected on the replacement saying “Crossroads was perpetrated here”.
The reason for being in the West Midlands at the time was one of the always-excellent Kaleidoscope shindigs in Stourbridge, after which the following artifact was brought forth by one of the revellers and snapped. Layzengennelmen, I bring you a genuine LWT mug. (Bottle Boys something something, the punchline writes itself).
This is not the only item of London Weekend merchandise we’ll be featuring in this parade of jollification. Oh noes. Be patient, dear anoraks. Tomorrow will bring hither the one item that everyone should be wearing to the office Christmas party.
At the risk of peaking too soon, let us go back to BBC1 on Saturday 25 September 1993. The show is Danny Baker After All. The guest is Bob Monkhouse. This was about the time that Monkhouse was emerging from years of being dismissed as just a game-show host, and being recognised as the serious comic contender that he really was. It’s Baker, it’s Monkhouse. It’s Baker and Monkhouse. There’s your top of the shop right there.