The YouTube Files – Anglia Through The Night.

Anglia Through The Night (ITV, 1990)

I’ve enjoyed watching lots of continuity clips on YouTube, but recently I came across one that I thought was so great that I’ve decided to review it here. It was shown on 26 November 1990 in the Anglia region and it was uploaded by Neil Miles who really has uploaded lots of great TV videos so credit goes to him. In this piece I’ll reveal my favourite adverts that feature in this video plus various other things. vlcsnap-00010

Firstly, I do have a soft spot for this era of continuity from the Anglia region because it reminds me of when I went there in the early-90s and got to see some for myself. It’s a shame I didn’t stay up because their overnight service was rather enjoyable. When Anglia went 24 hours in 1987 their programmes were introduced by a live continuity announcer who had to sit there all night. In this clip the announcer is Paul Lavers, who became popular with viewers for his funny comments and being very enthusiastic about the programmes, even at 3:30am when everyone else had nodded off. vlcsnap-00009

There’s also ITN. When ITV went 24-hours they would have regular news updates throughout the night, meaning that a whole wave of presenters came along who never got to do the big shows such as News At Ten. On this night the presenter is Phil Roman, who sounds awfully posh by modern standards and is remembered by most viewers as possibly the most dour news presenter that there has ever been. He’s got plenty to report tonight though as the search for a new prime minister is on. Who could it possibly be? Then Paul introduces the late film Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, CinemAttractions and music show Transmission

The first of my favourite adverts in the video is for Currys. It features a couple who want to buy a dishwasher. It’s easy to now mock adverts which feature old-fashioned technology, but it is amusing to see the them being impressed by microwaves, CD players and TVs with stereo. By the end they’re so impressed they decide to buy about half the store because “they made it all so easy!”. That’s Christmas sorted out then. vlcsnap-00003

Then there’s what is my favourite advert in the video, for HEAT (Heat Electric Advisory Team). It seems that not only will these people fix your boiler, due to their teamwork and skill they might fly through the air for you because they all seem to be acrobats too. This advert also has some very odd music and seems to be voiced by Ray Brooks who is impressed by all of this. There’s also some great early-90s hairstyles on view and you can never go wrong with that. 

There’s also a great advert for Pictionary. This is a board game that I never had myself, but it seems a lot of fun. It features someone who is having some difficulty in communicating the word that he has illustrated which was “take-off”, and his teammates only get it in time after he takes off his shirt too. How odd. vlcsnap-00006

One thing that was popular around this time was adverts for those ridiculous 0898 chatline things. Apparently people across the country are waiting to speak to you and want to have a good time! This one seems to be voiced by radio presenter and Celebrity Big Brother megastar James Whale, and it’s arguably the peak of his career. vlcsnap-00007

Has this ever happened to you? Never mind Rap’Tou, one of the more ridiculous adverts selling “too good to be true” items was Didi Seven, which would remove massive stains in just one second. Of course it did. One tube is yours for just £6.95, what a bargain. Remember, it’s not available in the shops. vlcsnap-00008

One thing to note about this video is that it has adverts at all, you wouldn’t get that on ITV through the night now, and when Anglia dropped in-vision announcers for a generic Night Time service in 1991 a lot of viewers were very disappointed, and I can see why because this video was very entertaining. We didn’t see the last of Paul though because he went on to the bright lights of shopping channels and Haribo adverts, what a star.

Game Show Memories – Take Your Pick.

Take Your Pick (ITV, 1992-1998)

Take Your Pick was one of the first game shows to appear on ITV and it has also gone down in TV history as being the first in the UK to offer cash prizes, and it became one of the most popular game shows of the 50s and 60s, but this piece will be based on the 90s revival. In 1992 which was Thames’s final year on air, as part of their last hurrah Take Your Pick was revived and it was hosted by Stepney’s very own Des O’Connorvlcsnap-00051

The show would work in two parts. First of all, about six or seven people were taken from the studio audience to play the Yes/No game. This was where Des would ask them questions for up to one minute and they couldn’t respond by saying “yes” or “no” which was much more difficult than it seemed. If they did, Des’s co-host, who was usually his wife or that woman who used to be in Neighbours would bang a gong to indicate that their time would be up, although there was a bonus on offer for anyone who could last the whole minute. vlcsnap-00050

In the second part of the game, the four contestants who lasted the longest in the first part returned to play for some prizes. They would be asked three general knowledge questions by Des and if they got them right they could then play for what was in the boxes. They would be asked to take their pick of ten keys, each one hiding a prize inside it, and Des would try to buy the key off them by offering some money. vlcsnap-00150

This is where the show’s famous phrase would come into use, “open the money or take the box?”. Contestants would often decide to open the box, despite Des’s best efforts, and there were some funny moments when Des would try to tempt them by showing them some money and saying “look Doris, it’s £500!”. The risk of opening the box was that although about six or seven boxes contained good prizes, about three or four contained booby prizes that were usually nothing more than an old sock. vlcsnap-00151

They would then open the box to discover what they had won. But there was a further twist. One box would also give access to the key that would open Box 13, which potentially would be hiding the biggest prize of the night. So then there would be another section where they would have to decide if they want to open their box or to gamble for what’s inside Box 13. On most occasions it seemed that there was a booby prize in that box but usually it was a clue to the star prize which was often a luxury holiday. Take Your Pick 14

The revival of Take Your Pick didn’t last as long as the original version, but it still seemed to be popular with viewers the second time around, and with people like me who were seeing the show for the first time, and the 90s version was also often repeated on Challenge.

More TV Memories – Bid Best Bits – Part 5.

Another one of these. Over the years as I’m sure you’ve realised by now, I’ve enjoyed a lot of Peter Simon moments, so I thought that I would now share although it’s a difficult choice what almost certainly could be my favourite auction that Peter ever did on Bid.

When Price-Drop launched in 2003 they were the first channel to have falling prices. A couple of years later Bid adopted this format. Although it was a great shame to see the gavel go, one of the good things about this would be seeing how Peter dealt with a falling price auction, and I wondered if he would get as overexcited doing them as he did with the rising price auctions.

So I was very pleased when he did. Every time the price plunged Peter would use a special catchphrase “it’s an auction avalanche, the numbers will rumble, and then they’ll tumble, how low will we go?”, before the price finally went down and Peter would go into a “NO. Is that right? Grab it!” routine that would become very familiar, but one night he was so overcome by what happened it was really odd and funny.

One year during the Christmas rush, Bid decided to extend their time on air by half-an-hour, meaning that when Peter did the live late-shift he would now be on until 1:30am. For the final half-an-hour every item sold would supposedly be randomly picked and Peter wouldn’t know what it would be in advance, they just wheeled it on and sold it as quickly as they could. This meant that it would often become rather shambolic, with Peter constantly saying “is there a brief?”, and then being unable to read it and explain the item because he’d forgotten his glasses again.

But it was the very last item that Peter sold in this slot before he went away for Christmas (presumably to play the back-end of a horse in pantomime) that really stuck in my mind. I can’t remember what the item was exactly but it went down to £14.99 I think, and Peter seemed to be somewhat thrown by this. He just started doing his “no… no way” routine again, then he did a really high-pitched laugh which concluded with him going really loudly “HA-HA-HAA!!”.

You could tell that the crew in the studio were looking around as if they didn’t know what was going on. We then got a big close up of a rather tired-looking Peter who yelled “it should’ve gone to £29.99!”. He then did another big laugh and said in a rather hoarse voice “unbelievable!”. I have no idea why Peter was so insistent about what price it should have sold for, but when they finally sold out he concluded his shift by just going “ooh, I’m absolutely shattered”. Goodness knows what I was doing even watching this channel at 1:30am but it turned out to be very rewarding, it gave me a great laugh, and it once again proved how amusingly unpredictable Peter could be. You’ve bagged a bargain there.

Another one of these soon. But until then, remember, you might not know it, but somebody somewhere loves you.

The YouTube Files – Wogan’s Web/The Terry And Gaby Show.

Because today would have been his birthday, I started to think about some of the TV shows that I enjoyed that were hosted by Terry Wogan. These include his primetime BBC1 chat show, and also Auntie’s Bloomers, and others including his Channel 4 game show Perfect Recall. I also realised that there were a few shows that he hosted that I don’t remember much that are some of the more curious moments in his long career, so I took to YouTube to discover more about two of his lesser-known TV shows, and here are my thoughts.

Wogan’s Web (BBC1, 1998)

I must admit that I’d never really listened to Terry on the radio, having enjoyed his TV work much more, but in the 90s there’s no doubt that his Breakfast Show was very popular, so in 1998 someone had the idea to take his show and put it on the TV. Wogan’s Web was shown on BBC1 daytime for a few weeks, and Terry brought along his posse from his radio show who included the likes of “Deadly” to help him out.

As Wogan’s Web was live it was a fully interactive show, with viewers being encouraged to send in their faxes and emails on the chance that Terry might read them out. Terry would also be joined by guests and discuss all the latest news. Although Terry encouraged his old geezers and girls to join in, the show wasn’t that big a success and it ended after only 15 editions, but it was a good try at something different. vlcsnap-00039

The Terry And Gaby Show (Five, 2003-2004)

Terry also once had a go at hosting a show on Channel 5, oh yes he did. The Terry and Gaby Show was a live daytime show in front of a studio audience which was produced by Chris Evans’s production company, and Terry was teamed up with Chris’s old The Big Breakfast co-host Gaby Roslin, and this was long before Chris replaced Terry as the host of the Radio 2 Breakfast Show. This was a clear attempt to create a This Morning-style show. vlcsnap-00031

From what I can make out from the clips that I’ve seen, it was the usual mix of special guests in the studio, and also various features. These included a regular slot where viewers’ questions were answered by Johnny Ball, who is of course the cleverest man in the world. At some point in the series though he was replaced by none other than Danny Baker. vlcsnap-00035

Now to see two of my favourite TV (and radio) personalities appearing on a show this small-time seemed something of a waste, and Danny summed up the situation when he once said on the show “we’d only sold 11 tickets for this show, then it started to snow and now we’ve got a full house”, and he probably wasn’t even joking. Eventually, The Terry And Gaby Show ended after 200 editions having made little impact with viewers. They tried but they failed.

The Comedy Vault – Milton Jones Live.

It seems that Milton Jones has appeared on TV since the mid-90s, but the first time that I can remember him making an impact in a programme was when his severed head starred in the 2000 sitcom The Strangerers. He has also been successful on radio, around the time that digital station BBC7 launched I noticed some of his award-winning The Very World Of Milton Jones series were being repeated which I didn’t hear first time round, but I thought “I remember that name from somewhere” so I thought I’d give them a listen and I became a big fan.

It is rather difficult to describe Milton Jones’s style of comedy. I suppose that he does enjoy his wordplay and silliness in a similar style to Tim Vine, although his observations are more surreal (and Welsh) than dear old Tim’s. One of his jokes that is a good example of what he does is: “about a month before he died, my grandmother covered my grandfather’s back in oil. Well, after that he went downhill very quickly.”

Although I am not really a big fan of stand-up comedy, when Milton released some DVDs of his live act it was an easy decision to make as to whether I wanted to watch them, and there have been three released so far. The first one was called The Live Universe Tour, where we find out about Milton’s adventures and the world, and it also features a very funny observation about Birmingham. He also wears a nice shirt. vlcsnap-00045

The second DVD was called The Lion Whisperer. Although there are no lions involved, there are still lots of great moments, and we also have a lovely turn from Milton’s granddad who introduces himself as “hello there, my name is Milton Jones’s Grandfather”. We are also treated to a slideshow which features some of his Milton’s terrific artwork. Can you believe that he really drew those things himself. vlcsnap-00046

The third DVD was called On The Road. As well as the usual fun, there’s a triumphant return for Milton’s granddad, and we see some more of his terrific artwork alongside yet another bunch of weird and very funny jokes. It’s more of the same really but in this case that’s certainly no bad thing. It’s just so totally daft, and we really wouldn’t want him any other way. vlcsnap-00048

It is a shame that Milton Jones isn’t a bigger comedy name because of some of his shows are terrific. He is probably best known nowadays for his contributions to shows including BBC2’s Mock The Week, and he also did a pilot episode of a sitcom on Channel 4 a few years ago which was great but nothing more came of it unfortunately, and he continues to be a success on Radio 4, with more series including Another Case Of Milton Jones, and Thanks A Lot Milton Jones, the most recent series of which aired this year. I don’t know if there are any plans for any more live DVDs to be released but I really hope we’ll see some more from this fab funnyman one day.

Game Show Memories – Jumble.

Jumble (ITV, 1991-1992)

Jumble was yet another one of those 9:25 daytime game shows. Just like another regular show in that timeslot Lucky Ladders it was an Anglia production for ITV and it was hosted by Jeff Stevenson who usually worked behind the scenes on shows as a warm-up, and as it was the early-90s of course he used to host the show wearing various brightly coloured waistcoats.

Two teams of two took part, consisting of one non-famous contestant alongside a celebrity, usually someone along the likes of Tom O’Connor or Carol Vorderman. The idea was that they had to solve cryptic anagram puzzles to win some money, and looking back, it could be said that Jumble is something of a cross between Catchphrase, Countdown, and maybe All Clued Up too. vlcsnap-00040

A cartoon would appear on the board and there would also be a clue given to what the phrase is that it is showing. Then a jumbled word would appear. The contestant would then have 15 seconds to rearrange the little magnetic letters into the right order to create the word, being assisted by their teammate (and described on the show as “the speller” and “the yeller”). All of these words were connected to the main puzzle. The letters that were on red squares would then be transferred by Jeff over to the main puzzle, and the team would then be asked to solve it. vlcsnap-00042

If they did then they would win a bonus, but if not, another word clue would have to be solved before they could have another chance to guess, and they could do this up to four times. It was at this point that I was reminded of the comment in the review for this show on the UK Game Shows website that it could it rather frustrating watching the contestants struggling to solve the rather straightforward anagrams. At the end, the highest-scoring team go through to the final. vlcsnap-00043

In the final the idea was the same but it was more fast-paced. There was another word puzzle, but this time there were six jumbled words that needed to be solved, and there were 60 seconds on the clock. Again, the letters on red spaces are transferred over to the main puzzle. If they can solve it in ten seconds, they add another £200 to the money that they have already won and they are declared the show’s winner. vlcsnap-00044

Jumble ran for a couple of series, and although it wasn’t as great as Lucky Ladders, it was still a decent enough game to watch for that time of the day. It isn’t a show that is remembered too much now though and its Wikipedia entry is so short that it might as well not even be there, but even 25 years on I definitely remember watching it. And again I’d like to thank Oliver Ashmole who recently uploaded an edition online of Jumble which helped to me to put this piece together.

More TV Memories – Daria.

Daria (MTV, 1997-2002)

Beavis and Butt-Head was an animated sitcom that became very popular in the mid-90s when it was shown on MTV and later Channel 4, and one of the characters on that show went on to get their own spin-off series which was also great. Daria launched in 1997 and it would always began with the distinctive opening theme music “You’re Standing On My Neck”.

Daria Morgendorffer is a girl who isn’t necessarily unhappy in herself, but she is someone who is very cynical about the world and she doesn’t really seem to get on with anyone else, having what would now be called an “it’s not me, it’s you” outlook on life, and she does struggle to get through her teenage years, but it helps that she also has a deadpan retort in her monotone voice for everyone who tries to deal with her. One thing that Daria does like though is her favourite TV programme Sick, Sad Worldvlcsnap-00032

We also meet Daria’s family. Her parents are Helen and Jake, they seem to be a pair of workaholics who don’t have much time to listen to Daria, and her younger sister Quinn comes across as much more confident and she is be able to express herself well and make friends instantly. In the first episode we see the family move to their new place called Lawndale. vlcsnap-00033

When Daria starts school there the only person she can get on with is a girl called Jane Lane, an artist who is also thought to have low self-esteem, and she becomes Daria’s closest and possibly only friend for the entire run of the series, and in later episodes we also meet some of Jane’s family including her brother Trent who is in a rock band. We also meet fellow students in Daria’s classes including the rather dim Brittany who aspires to be a cheerleader and not much else, and her friend Kevin. vlcsnap-00026

Daria also has to deal with the teachers at her school. When I was watching some old episodes recently, I had one of those “oh wow, I haven’t thought about that for years, I used to really like that” moment when I saw Daria’s history teacher Mr DeMartino again. It is a safe bet to say that he is the perfect example of the old sitcom idea of “wrong person, wrong job”. He is a permanently stressed individual who shouts and places the emphasis in the wrong place on words, and one of his eyes looks like it’s one the verge of popping out of his head. Needless to say, he became popular with viewers including myself and he really is a terrific character. vlcsnap-00027

By contrast, Daria’s English teacher Mr O’Neill was also memorable because he was a stark contrast and the exact opposite to Mr DeMartino. He was very softly spoken, he also wasn’t strict, was prone to random outbursts of crying, and he had great difficulty remembering the pupil’s names and faces. When I realised that these two characters were voiced by the same actor I was very impressed. And as the episodes go by we meet several more outlandish people who interfere in Daria’s world. vlcsnap-00038

Another unusual thing that I used to like about Daria was the end credits sequence, which featured various characters from the show but dressed as famous figures, maybe in film or TV or in history, and a lot of these were rather far away from the actual personality of the character, for example Daria appearing as a character from Baywatch or Jane as an ancient Egyptian. There were lots of these used over the series and they were all very creative and made the show stand out. vlcsnap-00034

Daria eventually ran to five series and two specials, and the first series was recently released on DVD in this country, and I hope that the rest will follow really soon. I remember watching Daria regularly on Channel 5 on Saturday afternoons when I was a teen in the late-90s/early-2000s. They really did have a terrific schedule then, with other shows including The Tribe and Harry and Cosh also being among my favourites from that time, along with a few others including Popular and The Pepsi Chart. It’s a shame that Daria isn’t as well known in this country as other animated sitcoms including Family Guy and South Park which launched around the same time because it’s definitely up there with them.