The YouTube Files – Not Another Eurovision.

Not Another Eurovision (BBC1, 2002)

A while ago I was thinking again about one-off compilation shows that looked back at amusing moments from the TV archive. They were shown on BBC1, but they were usually in late-night slots and shown rather half-heartedly a while after they were made, which just makes them more curious to me. Among these was the Not Another… series, which was hosted by Angus Deayton.

I have already looked back at Not Another Awards Show, and I found another one from the series on YouTube. I planned to save the review of this one until it was time for The Eurovision Song Contest in May, but as it looks like that’s now not going to take place this year, I thought that I’d do it now instead. Again, Angus Deayton was the host. But there was just one problem. vlcsnap-00462

The show was shortly after the scandal that led to Angus’s departure from Have I Got News For You after 12 years. Despite the stink that was still around him at the time, BBC1 pressed ahead with showing this one anyway, as it couldn’t really be postponed because it was designed to be shown the day before the contest. At one point he said “I’ve had my share of showbusiness embarrassments” without realising what an accurate statement that would be. vlcsnap-00466

Not Another Eurovision (which was co-written by Deayton and Danny Baker) decided to look back at some classic highlights, it’s an event that is very easy to mock, which is presumably why they did it. The contest really is the chance for countries from across Europe to come together in a chance to see who is the best, or more often, who is the worst at producing pop music. For every Abba that took part, there was a big flop. It’s been providing us with some unusual sights since 1956. vlcsnap-00473

It has to be said that the show didn’t really avoid the usual jokes that surround the contest, including the bemusement at Norway often scoring nothing (although it least this was made long before the UK started to finish last all the time), along with rather bizarre costumes, unimaginative lyrics, and impromptu bell ringing, it’s hardly the funky modern scene. At least it’s only once a year. vlcsnap-00469

Angus did admit though that one of his highlights was a Spanish man getting overexcited by a banjo in 1977, that was shown more than once. And then of course we come to the non-musical elements, including the presentation, the interval acts, and the voting. They can all go wrong too. At least Not Another Eurovision was half-an-hour long, unlike the actual contest which can now go on for about 4½ hours.

The Comedy Vault – The Kenny Everett Video Show.

The Kenny Everett Video Show (ITV, 1978-1980)/The Kenny Everett Video Cassette (ITV, 1981)

When I was younger, I did enjoy the work of Kenny Everett, his rather silly style has always been the type of thing that I have enjoyed in comedy. But I only really remember the last few years of his career, when he often appeared on the chat show and game show circuit (including hosting Brainstorm and Gibberish), along with his show on London radio station Capital Gold.

It wasn’t until later that I discovered his most successful TV work, when a clip was featured on the final show from Thames, a best-of was shown on Channel 4 in the mid-90s as part of a season that featured the best of Thames, there was also a repeat on Granada Plus, along with a few clips on TV Ark. I also heard some of his much acclaimed radio work for the first time when there was a compilation of some of his Capital Radio shows on BBC7. I thought they were inventive, clever, and best of all, very funny, and I was pleased that I enjoyed them as much as I hoped I would. vlcsnap-00473

Cuddly Ken had already attempted to break into TV with a few comedy shows around the late-60s/early-70s, but about a decade later, and courtesy of Lord Thames, The Kenny Everett Video Show was the one that was the biggest success and won plenty of awards, and as the 25th anniversary of his death is approaching, I thought that it was time for a review to rediscover his great talent. vlcsnap-00472

One important word in the show’s title is “Video”, because this made it sound very fresh and exciting, how many people had a video recorder when the show launched on ITV in 1978? Also rather surprisingly looking back, the first series was shown at 6:45 on Monday nights before Coronation Street. It was all written by Kenny, along with Ray Cameron and Barry Cryer. The show would become well-known for many things. vlcsnap-00463

Firstly, it included a lot of the big musical acts from the time, including David Essex, Cliff Richard, Leo Sayer, and many more. And also, it featured a rather bizarre range of characters and sketches. There was no studio audience, it was all played out in front of the studio crew, who were encouraged to laugh, and even get their cameras into shot and everything, how daring. It really does look like the most marvellous fun to have worked on. There was also a lot of clever use of blue-screen technology, often making it seem that Kenny had been cloned several times over. This really was the master at work. vlcsnap-00469

The most memorable characters who appeared in a white void and told us jokes included the rude biker Sid Snot (who also had a Top Ten hit single), Marcel Wave the womanising Frenchman, and Angry Of Mayfair. Sometimes the sketches were incomplete if there were too many outtakes, but if they were funny, they would be shown instead. And if all else failed, they got a laugh from throwing a bucket of water over Kenny. vlcsnap-00460

Among the highlights were Captain Kremmen, the spaceman who alongside his assistant Carla originally appeared in animated form, before appearing as real people in the fourth series, lots of bizarre adverts from around the world, and a rendition of the Thames Television theme from the renowned pianist Igor Blimey. Kenny’s unique take on The Bee Gees was rather great too. There was also Star Quiz, where celebrities including Michael Aspel, Lennie Bennett, and Terry Wogan had to answer an impossible question, or they would meet a horrible fate. And best of all, there was an appearance from Philip Elsmore.vlcsnap-00466

And of course, there was Hot Gossip who did their dance routines that were very naughty indeed to the latest pop hits. There were 32 editions, including three New Year specials. The fourth series was renamed The Kenny Everett Video Cassette, moved to Thursdays, and shown at the same time as Top Of The Pops. After this, Kenny decided to leave Thames and join the BBC for a further five series in a similar style (that will be reviewed soon too).vlcsnap-00476

There was also lots of merchandise, including a Captain Kremmen film, some annuals, and three compilations were released on VHS in the early-80s. Two more were released in 1989, that were then recycled and released on DVD in 2004 as Kenny Everett’s Naughty Bits. But people wanted more, and for a long time there was a hope that the show would be released in full. Then in 2018, Network finally released all four series on six discs to much delight. However, a small amount of the musical content isn’t featured, although it comes with a note saying “we tried our best, and we’re as disappointed as you are”. There are no extras either, but the fact that it exists at all is enough for some people.

The Comedy Vault – A Bit Of A Do.

A Bit Of A Do (ITV, 1989)

This is a sitcom (more of a comedy-drama really) from that is rather interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, it was created and written by David Nobbs, who was also behind other comedies including The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, and The Maltby Collection, an enjoyable BBC Radio 4 show. Also, it features Nobbs’s style of typically eccentric British characters and their sometimes rather bizarre quirks and turns of phrases.

And it also starred David Jason, who at this time was becoming an increasingly popular name on TV, and of course it’s always a pleasure seeing him do his thing (and the first series was shown around the same time as the sixth series of Only Fools And Horses, so for a short while viewers could get a double dose of top-class Jason action). A Bit Of A Do starred Jason as Ted Simcock, the self-styled “blunt, no-nonsense Yorkshireman”, who owned Jupiter Foundry (that eventually goes out of business). vlcsnap-00452

Every episode began with one of the cast saying that they were going to attend “a bit of a do”. These were various social gatherings in a small town in Yorkshire, and whether it was a wedding, a christening, a funeral, or even The Inauguration Of The Outer Inner Relief Ring Road, they all headed to the function room for the opportunity of a gossip, a glass of champagne, and an endless supply of vol au vants. vlcsnap-00453

Ted enjoyed any excuse to put his bow-tie on and mingle, whether the others wanted him there or not. And they definitely were an interesting group of characters, including Ted’s wife Rita Simcock, Liz Rodenhurst and Neville Badger, who was a rather boring solicitor. In the first episode the two rather different families become intertwined when a Simcock marries a Rodenhurst. vlcsnap-00454

It becomes even more complicated when Ted leaves Rita after falling for Liz, before getting involved with more women. Also featuring are Betty and Rodney Sillitoe, who owns a chicken farm and later opens a restaurant, and they only seem to turn up to these parties so they can get drunk (it was a little odd seeing Jason interact with a character called Rodney in a different show). These occasions often show off the difference in the families, and they like to wind each other up. It was amusingly awkward. vlcsnap-00455

A Bit Of A Do was based on a series of books by Nobbs, and there were 13 hour-long episodes in two series on Friday nights. It was a very well-received show, and along with two TV Times covers, it was won several awards, including one for Jason at the first British Comedy Awards in 1990. There have also been several repeat runs, including on Channel 4 in 1992, followed later by Granada Plus and ITV3. do0001

The show has been released on DVD by Network. It does contain a decent amount of extras, including archive interviews with the cast, the 1982 pilot episode of Nobbs’s Dogfood Dan And The Camarthen Cowboy (which got a series on BBC2 in 1988), and a PDF of the Yorkshire Television press release. It is definitely among the many successes of Jason’s career.

More TV Memories – You Gotta Be Jokin’.

You Gotta Be Jokin’ (BBC1, 1991)

I am bending the rules again a little here, because usually I only like to feature shows if I can find at least one full edition on a tape or online, because I have found only about ten minutes’ worth of this one, and I was rather surprised that there was that much around, so as I do remember watching it first time round and I think that it has a story worth telling, it’s worth a review.

As I have said before, 1991 was a rather interesting year in TV comedy, perhaps even a crucial one. This is because it was just about the very last gasp of old-school variety, featuring some shows that could’ve been considered to be rather naff and cheesy, but were rather popular. This meant that Little And Large were finally pensioned off after over a decade, and it was also time to say goodbye to the long-running shows that starred Russ Abbot and Les Dennis, even if they were still doing fairly well in the ratings.

This meant that this show would be just about the last chance by BBC1 to establish a Saturday night sketch comedy show for all the family. You Gotta Be Jokin’ (no “g”) was a fast-moving show featuring a quintet of fairly new talent to TV as a wide range of characters. They were Maddi Cryer, Annette Law, George Marshall, Billy Pearce, and Shane Richie. vlcsnap-00333

Now the significance of this show for me is that it was the first time that I can remember seeing Shane. I thought that he was rather amusing (stop it, I was only seven years old at the time), and I have followed his TV career ever since. This wasn’t his TV debut though, he had already appeared on a few other shows including 3-2-1 in 1987, and the similar BBC1 sketch show Up To Something in 1990. vlcsnap-00335

Every show would begin with the cast coming on to the stage by sliding down a pole for some reason. There were a few regular characters including Richie as a lager lout, Law as the four-year-old Trudi, and Cryer as Madeline Leader The Dog Breeder (who also did some impressions of various singers). Marshall did some impressions too, with Sean Connery being his best-known one, and not to be outdone, Richie did a memorable one of Larry Grayson. The show would end with the cast all sat together as if they were on Copy Cats or something. vlcsnap-00435

There were only eight editions of You Gotta Be Jokin’ in one series, and it probably had no chance to return for a second because by 1992 this style of show had been just about outmoded, Saturday night TV would never be the same again. There has been no DVD release and the show has no Wikipedia entry either. Some of the cast did go on to further success though. vlcsnap-00340

Richie’s career grew very quickly, and less than a year later he hosted the “camcorder calamities” show Caught In The Act, before going on to CBBC’s Run The Risk, which led to many other things including EastEnders of course. Marshall went on to host daytime game show XYZ in 1993. I do remember it, but there are no clips of the show online. And Pearce went on to appear in lots of pantomimes.

The YouTube Files – Loved By You.

Loved By You (ITV, 1997-1998)

Let’s have another entry in the “were they any decent 90s ITV sitcoms?” series. There aren’t that many left to look back at now, but here’s the story behind this one. In the 90s, ITV decided to adapt popular American sitcoms into British versions, including Brighton Belles (The Golden Girls) and Married For Life (Married… With Children). When these turned out to be rather big flops, it didn’t stop ITV from trying again.

Mad About You was an American sitcom about a newlywed couple that launched on NBC in 1992 which eventually ran for seven series, and it was shown in this country on the Paramount Comedy Channel. After this became popular, it was decided to launch a British version that was renamed Loved By You. I wanted to find out more and I have found an episode or two on YouTube. vlcsnap-00081

The show starred John Gordon-Sinclair (who appeared in a few other sitcoms in the 90s) as Michael, a documentary maker for a TV channel that provides wholesome entertainment who is hoping to break into the film industry. Also featuring is his wife Kate (Trevyn McDowell), who is having a successful career in PR, and the episodes follow how they deal with all of this. Also among the main cast are some of Michael’s friends, and Kate’s sister Becky. vlcsnap-00202

One interesting thing about the show is that the scripts were recycled from the American series. I managed to track down the original American versions of the episodes that I watched, and it was rather strange as the dialogue really was just about word-for-word the same. The first series was shown on Tuesday evenings, but there wasn’t that big a response from viewers. vlcsnap-00072

However, ITV seemed to keep its confidence in the show, and a year later it returned for a second series, with a hope that the format would finally gel and become a hit. And yet, despite the first episode featuring a guest appearance from supermodel Caprice, incredibly this didn’t win the viewers over, and the show was quietly moved from Tuesdays to Thursdays to finish off its run, seemingly a sign that ITV had admitted this had turned out to be yet another flop. vlcsnap-00212

It seems that the general opinion was that the actors didn’t particularly do anything wrong, but it had already been done in the American version, and much better too, so why should viewers accept any imitations. There were 13 episodes of Loved By You, and there hasn’t been a DVD release or any repeat runs. However, Mad About You was actually revived for an eighth series last year after a gap of two decades. They’re probably not newlyweds now though.

Game Show Memories – Game Show Marathon.

Game Show Marathon (ITV, 2005-2007)

In 2005, there were several shows to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ITV. It was decided to include some game shows as part of this, so that resulted in the Game Show Marathon. This was shown on Saturday nights and was originally hosted by Ant And Dec. Every week a different game show that had been on ITV would be featured. Every edition would include the show of that week’s original opening sequence (along with the ITV company that produced it’s ident too!).

There would also be a quick look back at history of the show, including contributions from fans and the original host. The first series began with The Price Is Right, as some of the celebrity audience were invited to “come on down”. They returned to take part in other games throughout the series, until there were two remaining. The climax was Family Fortunes, where the two finalists Vernon Kay and Carol Vorderman appeared alongside their families to determine the overall champion. vlcsnap-00473

Also featuring in the first series were Take Your Pick, The Golden Shot, Sale Of The Century, Play Your Cards Right, and good old Bullseye. Any money and prizes that were won were put into a fund, where viewers could enter a competition to win them. Seeing some of these shows return to TV went down rather well with viewers, so two years later there was another series, with Vernon Kay moving from contestant to host. vlcsnap-00460

Another group of celebrities took part, and this time the shows included The Price Is Right, Blankety Blank, The Golden Shot, Name That Tune, Mr And Mrs, and Play Your Cards Right. But among the highlights for me in this series were Bullseye (which was also revived on Challenge around this time), where the celebrities teamed up with professional darts players, because all these years on you still can’t beat a bit of Bully. vlcsnap-00476

And there was also one of the many revivals of Blockbusters. It’s always a pleasure seeing this show, and among those playing and taking their place on the hot spot was Ben Shephard (before he hosted a few game shows of his own including Tipping Point). There was also £50 for a correct answer which was rather generous, it was only £5 in the original version. vlcsnap-00477

Even though the second series had one extra edition, it retained the knockout format. In 2006 there was also an American version of the Game Show Marathon, and this was shown on ITV2. There have also been some rumours that there might be another series, meaning that it’ll be a revival of a revival. Will it include what will be about the 17th different version of Blockbusters? Maybe we’ll find out soon.

The Comedy Vault – The World Of Lee Evans.

The World Of Lee Evans (Channel 4, 1995)

Lee Evans is the stand-up comedian who has become known for his rather odd observations on life that were delivered in a very energetic style (of course he was usually referred to as “the rubber-faced funnyman”). By the mid-90s, he had become popular enough to be given his own series on Channel 4. While Lee’s later BBC1 sitcom So What Now often relied on his physical performance for laughs meaning it earned comparisons with Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, this show contained very little dialogue, making it seem rather close in style to Mr Bean.vlcsnap-00462

The World Of Lee Evans(a Granada Production for Channel 4) featured six stories (that were all written by Lee himself), and most of them featured him getting into some rather awkward situations, which was a cue for plenty of comedy falling over (his character in every episode was called “Lee” too). But even if it is just a show that consists of Lee making silly faces for half-an-hour, then that’s still fine by me. There was also a great support cast, even though they had to be content with taking second place to Lee’s performance.vlcsnap-00463

These included Caroline Aherne, Phil Daniels, Sean Lock, John Thomson, and Jo Unwin. There was also a brief appearance from Mark Heap, which is always a good move if you want to get me to watch. Lee would cause trouble wherever he went, whether it be at an all-night garage, trying to meet the parents of his pregnant girlfriend, making a train journey, or picking up a strange hitchhiker. vlcsnap-00471

There were just four editions of The World Of Lee Evans which were shown on Friday nights, and although it received a mixed reception, it was nominated for a Bafta. There has been a DVD release, but it doesn’t contain any extras, and I don’t remember there being any repeat runs in more recent years. Lee definitely kept working hard throughout this period though, as his status continued to increase on the stand-up circuit, to the point that he then broke into film. vlcsnap-00472

Lee appeared in various successful films including Mouse Hunt and There’s Something About Mary. Following on from this, a lot of his stand-up tours have continued to do well and have also been released on DVD (maybe he could be classed as a “fall-over” instead of a stand-up, ha-ha). And then in 2001, he returned to the sitcom format with So What Now (that I reviewed a while back).