The YouTube Files – The Bananarama Story Part 2.

Let’s continue the Bananarama story. In December 1984 the ladies were invited to take part in the charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” as part of the Band Aid project, and it was a huge success, being a Number One for many weeks and going on to become the biggest-selling single of the decade. They were three of only four women to take part, the other one was Jody Watley. banana4

In August 1985 “Do Not Disturb” was released which reached no. 31. This one is among my favourites, although it seems that the ladies themselves don’t seem to be too fond of it. They performed this on CBBC’s The Saturday Picture Show, CITV’s Hold Tight and Kelly’s Eye, an ITV comedy show starring Matthew Kelly. 1985 was a fairly quiet year by their standards. However 1986 would go on to be their most successful yet… vlcsnap-00036

In May 1986 their cover of “Venus”, a collaboration with the Stock Aitken Waterman production team, was released, which reached no. 8. However, this song did reach Number One in several countries including America! Barely five years on from their debut single they had gone from unknowns to succeeding in the world’s most difficult singles market, this is still the song that they’re most famous for, and the classic video was frequently shown on MTV. They appeared on CBBC’s Lift OffTop Of The Pops and the cover of No. 1 in June. In July 1986 their third album “True Confessions” was released which reached no. 46. This is also their highest-charting album in America where it reached no. 15. vlcsnap-00037

Now they were at their commercial peak, it is something of a surprise to realise that the follow-up to “Venus” didn’t make the Top 40. In August 1986 “More Than Physical” was released which reached no. 41 (and only no. 73 in America). Even an energetic performance on BBC1’s Wogan couldn’t get people excited. They also had another Lookin cover. It was noticed though that their image was beginning to change, no more dungarees for them. It was also around this time that each video was steamier than the last. vlcsnap-00043

In February 1987 “Trick Of The Night” was released which reached no. 32. There is an interesting story behind this one. In 1987 there was a BBC1 documentary series called In At The Deep End, where a presenter is challenged to learn a skill that they previously had no experience in. Paul Heiney was asked to direct a music video for a pop group, and Bananarama agreed to take part. There was also an article in Radio Times, and the show has been released on DVD. It seems that they didn’t enjoy the experience though and were very disappointed with the end result, so they promptly went off and made a second video with a tried-and-trusted director that they were much more satisfied with. 

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Bananarama along with Paul Heiney appear in Radio Times in February 1987

In April 1987 Bananarama contributed to the charity single “Let It Be” for Ferry Aid which was another chart-topper. In July 1987 “I Heard A Rumour” was released which reached no. 14, and it was also their third and final Top Ten hit in America, reaching no. 4. They performed this on Top Of The Pops, BBC1’s Seaside Special, ITV’s The Roxy, and also on Hold Tight, where they had a really good time. You can all join in with the dance routine! They also had another No. 1 cover and appeared in TV Times. In September 1987 their fourth album “Wow!” was released which reached no. 26. vlcsnap-00051

In October 1987 “Love In The First Degree” was released which reached no. 3 and was a double A-side with “Mr Sleaze”. This is their biggest-selling single in the UK. Also in this month they had their second Smash Hits cover. 

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Where’s my free badge?

In January 1988 “I Can’t Help It” was released which reached no. 20, and would you believe it, this was to be Bananarama’s 16th and final UK hit single featuring Siobhan. After a memorable final performance together at the Brit Awards, Siobhan was off to work on a new project. Of course, I have already told the remarkable story of what she did next, little did she know that she would star in one of the biggest hit singles of the early-90s… vlcsnap-00047

Siobhan was replaced by Jacquie O’Sullivan (born in London in 1960). She had been a friend of Sara and Keren’s for many years, so after Siobhan’s departure she was the ideal choice to maintain Bananarama as a trio. In April 1988 the new line-up’s first single “I Want You Back” was released which reached no. 5. They performed this on Going Live, Top Of The Pops twice, CBBC’s Roland Rat Show, and ITV’s The Roxy. They also appeared on the covers of Just Seventeen and Number Onevlcsnap-00054

In September 1988 “Love, Truth And Honesty” was released which reached no. 23, and they were on Top Of The Pops for the 18th time! This is also their final single to make the Top 100 in America. In October 1988 their first best-of “The Greatest Hits Collection” was released which reached no. 3, which is their highest-charting album in the UK. There was also another VHS released containing the videos for all their hits. Also around this time was their third and final NME cover, along with more Record Mirror and Number One covers. vlcsnap-00055

The 90s are not far off now and there were still plenty more hits to come for the ladies, as we’ll discover in the third part…

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More TV Memories – Room 101.

Room 101 (BBC2, 1994-1997, 1999-2007, BBC1, 2012-present)

This is the show where celebrities take part and try to get the minor things that irritate them in life banished to “Room 101”, and they have to argue that the world will be a better place without their choices, which ranged from the straightforward to the strange. There have been four different versions of this format, the first being on BBC Radio 5 in 1992 which was hosted by Nick Hancock, but I don’t remember ever listening to it.

But because it was a success, in 1994 it transferred to BBC2 where it was still hosted by Hancock (about a year before he went on to host BBC1’s They Think It’s All Over). Mostly comedians took part, with the guest on the very first TV edition being Bob Monkhouse. In each edition the guest made six or seven choices of items that they didn’t like and then gave their explanation for why they had to go. Whether they actually went into Room 101 or not was entirely the decision of the host (although they did occasionally consult the studio audience on tricky ones). vlcsnap-00606

If they were successful, the entrance to Room 101 would open, and we would see the item go along a conveyor belt and disappear. If a guest got the majority of their choices in, they could choose a bonus one to put in too. Any rejected items they would have to take home with them, but on a few occasions a guest managed to get all their choices in. Every edition would also end with a rather cheesy song from the archive that had long since been banished. I would have to say that this was my favourite version of the format. vlcsnap-00640

After Hancock left in 1997, there was a brief break, and Room 101 was then revived in 1999 with Paul Merton as the new host. The only real variation in this version was that there was a different set design, and Merton would pull a lever to open a trapdoor and banish items. There were lots more series made, and this version carried on until 2007, but it doesn’t end there. vlcsnap-00643

After a break of five years, Room 101 was revived again, this time on BBC1, and with another new host who was Frank Skinner. This time there was a different format as it had been turned into a comedy panel game, as now every week three guests took part, all trying to beat one another to get their choices in, leaving Frank with a lot of tough decisions.

Room 101 is still a popular show and earlier in the year the 18th series came to an end. It is regularly repeated on channels including Dave (also including some extended versions called Extra Storage and best-ofs also featuring previously unseen material), although they only ever seem to show the Skinner version, it would be good to see some editions from the 90s again.

The YouTube Files – The Bananarama Story Part 1.

I’ve written a lot about Bananarama on here recently, so I’ve decided that it’s finally time to take a look back at their hit singles. In 1979 Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward (both born in Bristol in 1961) who have been friends since the age of four met Siobhan Fahey (born in Dublin in 1958) at the London College Of Fashion, they realised that they had similar tastes in music and they decided to form a group. This will be a look back at their singles and TV appearances that I have tracked down on YouTube from 1981-1993 and it will be in three parts. Bananarama were very popular during this time and made a large amount of TV appearances, so it’s not really possible to put together a comprehensive list, so instead I’ve decided to pick out some highlights. banana3

In September 1981 Bananarama’s very first single “Aie A Mwana” was released, which reached a rather lowly no. 92. It was something of an unusual debut, as it was a cover of a 70s disco song that was sung in Swahili, and it seems that there was no video made for it. Despite this modest start Smash Hits remained confident that they would be the next big thing. At this point these ladies really did have no idea of just how much success they would go on to have around the world over the next decade or so… 

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The first article about Bananarama to appear in Smash Hits way back in October 1981

In February 1982 Bananarama had the first of their ten UK Top Ten singles when their cover of “It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It” reached no. 4. This was a collaboration with Fun Boy Three after their frontman Terry Hall was impressed by their debut single and wanted to work with them. They performed this on the first and second of their 21 appearances on BBC1’s Top Of The Pops throughout the 80s and 90s, and also on ITV’s Jangles (which I reviewed recently) and OTT (much to the delight of Lenny Henry). They also appeared on the cover of Melody Maker. The song or video doesn’t feature on any of the compilations that I have unfortunately as it seems to have got stuck in some rights hell. 
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In April 1982 they worked with Fun Boy Three again on their cover of “Really Saying Something” which reached no. 5. They performed this on Top Of The Pops and CBBC’s Cheggers Plays Pop (which is their earliest entry on the BBC Genome). Also in this month they had the first of their three Smash Hits covers. vlcsnap-00009

In July 1982 “Shy Boy” became their first hit single by themselves which reached no. 4. This was also their first single to make the Top 100 in America. They performed this twice on Top Of The Pops and also Cheggers Plays Pop and BBC2’s 6:55 Special, and they were parodied by Tracey Ullman on BBC2’s Three Of A Kind. Also in this month they had the first of their three NME covers. vlcsnap-00012

In December 1982 “Cheers Then” was released which ended their great year with a little disappointment when it only reached no. 45. Around this time they appeared on Channel 4’s The Tube. Also in this month they performed “It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It” on the Top Of The Pops Christmas special, and appeared on the cover of Record Mirrorvlcsnap-00014

In February 1983 “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” was released which reached no. 5. This was another cover and they performed this twice on Top Of The Pops, and they also appeared on The Tube, CBBC’s Saturday SuperStore and Kenny Everett’s BBC1 show. Also around this time they appeared on more magazine covers including Jackie and Melody MakerIn March 1983 their first album “Deep Sea Skiving” was released which reached no. 8 and is their only album of original songs to make the Top Ten. vlcsnap-00015

In July 1983 “Cruel Summer” was released which reached no. 8, and it was also the first of their three Top Ten hit singles in America, reaching no. 9. I have to say that this one is among my favourite singles of theirs. Again they performed this twice on Top Of The Pops, and they also appeared on the cover of Lookin. Also around this time all four members of Bananarama (including the one that we’ll meet in part two) appeared in the video for “Who’s That Girl?” by the Eurythmics. vlcsnap-00023

In March 1984 “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” was released which reached no. 3, their equal-highest chart position in the UK. They were very lucky to meet the man himself and he was thrilled by their success. They also appeared on Saturday SuperStoreTop Of The Pops, BBC1’s Pebble Mill, and the cover of magazines No. 1 and NMEIn April 1984 their second album “Bananarama” was released which reached no. 16. vlcsnap-00025

In May 1984 “Rough Justice” was released which made no. 23. This led to yet more appearances on Top Of The Pops and Cheggers Plays Pop, along with Channel 4’s Ear Say. The video featured a guest appearance by the veteran news presenter Peter Woods. By this point they had done a lot of interviews on TV, but the first question that they always seemed to be asked was “where did you get your name?” vlcsnap-00027

In November 1984 “Hotline To Heaven” was released which reached only no. 58. Again they appeared on various shows including CITV’s Hold Tight and Ear Say, and they also had another Record Mirror cover. Also around this time a VHS was released called And That’s Not All…, containing all the videos that they had made so far. In December 1984 they performed “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” on the Top Of The Pops Christmas special. vlcsnap-00061

Things will pick up for the ladies though when we join them again in part two at the end of 1984 as they are about to contribute to the biggest-selling single of the decade…

The YouTube Files – HTV Night Club.

HTV Night Club (ITV, 1988-1991)

A while ago on here I did a series called “Round The Regions”, where I looked back at the histories of various ITV regional companies. This was followed by reviewing a specific piece of presentation from various regions. And having having already featured the Thames, LWT, Anglia, and TVS regions, it’s time to go a little further across the country to the HTV region.

When HTV West and HTV Wales went 24 hours a day in August 1988, they introduced an overnight strand which was their equivalent of TVS’s Late Night Late, and it was called Night Club. Now thanks to YouTube I have been able to watch some videos of this strand for myself. It was such a big deal that when they launched there was even a feature on the local 6pm news! vlcsnap-00635

HTV still had in-vision continuity at the time of the launch, so most of the announcers along with a new wave of presenters were there on the big sofa to keep viewers company throughout the night right up to the start of TV-am and introduce the various shows that would now fill the small hours, which included the seemingly never-ending Australian soap Prisoner: Cell Block Hvlcsnap-00631

This was never really going to be something that would be watched by a huge amount of viewers, but there was a small but loyal viewership and they were encouraged to write in (although I don’t think there were ever any phone polls to determine what they showed like TVS), and there were also a few competitions to win prizes. There were even some guests who were interviewed in the studio. vlcsnap-00636

Of course, because all of this went out live, this meant that there was often a chance that things could go wrong, and one of the most famous moments was when one of the presenters seemed to get rather confused as to whether it was time to go to a news report or not, and they always had to be on standby to fill in case America’s Top Ten fell off the air so no dozing off now. vlcsnap-00637

Just like what happened with the overnight strands in the Thames, Anglia, and TVS regions, there was much disappointment in 1991 when Night Club came to an end to be replaced by a generic service shown in several regions with out-of-vision announcers. I must admit that I’ve not been to the HTV region myself, although I can clearly see that they put in some effort and late-night viewers would’ve enjoyed it. vlcsnap-00632

Just to finish off, thinking about these ITV overnight strands does remind me that I once visited some relatives in the Anglia region in the early-90s while their Through The Night strand was going, but because I was rather young at the time I didn’t see any it. Now I realise that I had the chance to watch this, I probably should’ve sat there with the video recorder running at 2am to preserve some for everyone in the future, shouldn’t I?

Game Show Memories – Countdown 2000.

Countdown 2000 (Channel 4, 1997)

Having looked back at many variations of the classic Channel 4 game show Countdown… it’s time to review yet another one. In 1997 Countdown had been going for 15 years and celebrated reaching its 2,000th edition with a special show (although it is now not far off its 7,000th edition, and by some distance it holds the record for the most editions of a UK game show, with over twice as many as the show in second place which I’m fairly sure is Channel 4’s Deal Or No Deal with 3,001).

Countdown 2000 came from the Greenwood Theatre in London in front of a live studio audience and was hosted by Fifteen-To-One‘s William G Stewart (who also hosted the 1997 Christmas special). This edition was a little like This Is Your Life as Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman were joined on stage by various celebrities and fans who shared their memories of the show (coincidentally, Richard and Carol were both subjects on BBC1’s This Is Your Life in 1997, the year of this show). vlcsnap-00632

Highlights included a look at the Calendar Countdown series that was shown on ITV only in the Yorkshire region in 1982 (which evolved from the 1981 unaired pilot that I also reviewed recently) which led to the show being picked up Channel 4, some memories of the earliest series where along with Carol, Richard had so many co-hosts it almost came across more like The Price Is Right (Carol didn’t become the sole co-host until 1989), and also some of the most famous Dictionary Corner dwellers including Gyles Brandreth and his jumpers. vlcsnap-00633

There was also a look back at some of the most successful contestants and the famous parody on BBC2’s A Bit Of Fry And Laurie. The show ended with Denis Norden (of ITV’s It’ll Be Alright On The Night fame) taking a look back at some of the best cock-ups on the show, including the time when Richard accidentally called the 1,500th edition “the 15,000th”, said that the next series coming in 1996 would be “in 1966”, and when he almost fell asleep during a numbers game. vlcsnap-00631

This was an enjoyable edition which really did show how fondly thought-of this long-running game show is, although a lot has changed in the 20+ years since, and there is still plenty to explore. When Countdown reached its 3,000th edition in 2001, there was another special made looking back at the history of the show called 3000 And Counting and I might review that soon too. vlcsnap-00635

Game Show Memories – Bullseye the revival.

Bullseye (Challenge, 2006)

Bullseye is a fondly thought of long-running game show that was on ITV for 14 years. After it ended in 1995, it was often rumoured that it would return to the screen. In 2005 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of ITV there was a special series called the Game Show Marathon, where each week a classic game show was revived for a one-off edition with celebrities as the contestants.

These included the likes of Blockbusters, and also Bullseye, making it the first new edition for a decade. This was rather well received, so maybe it was finally time for a full series of a revival. And in 2006, game show channel Challenge decided to bring it back! Well, it was what we wanted wasn’t it? This was back in the days when Challenge made some original programming along with showing repeats. Dare I go near this one, as it seems that most fans would rather forget that it happened?

Well firstly, Jim Bowen wasn’t invited back to host. Instead, Dave Spikey hosted the revival. He was best known at the time for appearing in Channel 4 sitcom Phoenix Nights, and he did have some experience in game show presenting, as he was one of the hosts of ITV’s Chain Letters. However, they did bring back scorer Tony Green to join in. I remember one critic saying at the time something like “they brought back Tony Green but not Jim Bowen, the mind boggles”. vlcsnap-00617

The revival begins with the opening sequence which is a reworking of the famous one that was used around the late-80s/early-90s, along with a different version of the theme music that everyone claps along to. It all seems a little cheap compared to the ITV version, although that could be said about just about all the elements of the show. As ever, three teams of two take part to show off their darts skills and general knowledge. vlcsnap-00628

Now we were in the era of big money game shows, it is something of a surprise to discover that the money on offer actually went down in this version, with £150 for hitting a bullseye in the first round instead of £200. All other money values stayed the same. This was followed by the Pounds For Points round, although usually the round’s highest score was around 41, there weren’t many 180s on display here. vlcsnap-00620

At the end of this round, the lowest-scoring teams were eliminated, but don’t worry, they did get their bendy Bullys along with plenty of other consolation prizes. After the break, it was time for the charity throw, but just like in some of the early series of the original version, the shows alternated between a professional darts player such as Phil Taylor and a celebrity taking part. vlcsnap-00622

Then it was time for Bully’s Prize Board. There were nine prizes on offer as ever, but some of them seemed to get laughs from the studio audience which was a little harsh, the prizes weren’t that bad were they. Then it was time for the gamble, to score 101 or more in six darts to win the star prize, maybe it could be a fancy new car, just as long as it’s not another speedboat! vlcsnap-00626

The revival of Bullseye lasted for 30 editions in one series, although it is still repeated on Challenge all these years later, but usually at around 2am, and there have been no plans for another revival. This version wasn’t as popular as the original series and overall it was a little disappointing, the format was 25-years-old by this point, maybe its moment had passed, but if ITV had given it a go and it had a bigger budget it possibly could have done a lot better. Maybe that could still happen one day.

More TV Memories – The 100 Greatest TV Adverts.

The 100 Greatest TV Adverts (Channel 4, 2000)

A long time ago back in the early-2000s (it’s very odd to think of the early-2000s as “a long time ago” now but that’s another story) there was a brief craze for shows on Channel 4 looking back at various things compiled into Top 100 lists. These shows aimed to determine the greatest in genres including pop music, news, sport, comedy, and so on, and viewers were encouraged to vote for their favourites (I’m fairly sure that I voted in one or two myself). They also did one about TV adverts, and what with this blog being about nostalgia and me being an old adverts fan, you’d think that I’d be all over this one, right?

Well yes, I do remember watching this show at the time and being very interested in it. The reason that these list shows briefly became popular was because they wanted to cause debate with viewers who were keen to see where their favourites ended up (and causing lots of frustrated “it can’t believe that was only at Number 36 on the list, it was great”-type moments), and because they seemed to go on for hours and hours. vlcsnap-00608

The 100 Greatest TV Adverts was a show that fondly reminisced about some of the most memorable adverts, and as advertising on British television launched in 1955, at the time there were 45 years worth to choose from. The show was hosted by Graham Norton, and it also featured a lot of what very quickly caused the genre to lapse into cliche, including several contributions from Stuart Maconie who famously appeared on just about all of these type of shows, telling us his “ooh I remember that”-type memories, and Peter Kay also turned up to take a look back at some of the more unusual adverts that didn’t make the list. vlcsnap-00612

As the hours progressed, we saw a lot of the most famous adverts from over the years feature, including the Milkybar kid, PG Tips, the Smash robots and so on, and the stories behind them from the people in the know. As it turned out, the winning advert was for Guinness, it was very impressive but I wonder where it would be on the list nowadays? I remember about a year or two later this show was repeated with an update, including a few more adverts that had made an impact with viewers in the time since the original showing. 

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This famous advertising campaign finished high up the list…

As enjoyable as it was, the nostalgia lists genre seemed to tire rather quickly (and this is before I have even got into BBC2’s similar I Love… series looking back at the trends of the 70s, 80s, and 90s that was shown around the same time as these Top 100 shows), but along with Ad Fab and Bob’s Fab Ads which I reviewed a while back, I do think that this was a very enjoyable show celebrating the bits between the programmes. 

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…unfortunately, this one didn’t