Jangles (ITV, 1982)
I am always on the lookout for unusual TV shows on YouTube that I may or may not remember watching first time round that I can review on this blog, and this is a great example of coming across a show that I previously knew almost nothing about and finding it interesting enough to share on here, so firstly here’s the story of how I discovered this one.
I like to look at a website called Transdiffusion which chronicles the history of British TV and radio over the past 60 years or so. Every Wednesday they have an article featuring a look back at an old TV schedule from an issue of Radio Times or TV Times. Recently they reviewed an ITV schedule from March 1984, which included a show called Jangles. I wasn’t familiar with this show, but I was intrigued by its description as it said that it featured Hazel O’Connor.
About a year ago when I started to review the careers of some quirky female pop stars from the 80s and 90s that I like on here, I got a reply from someone who said that they had enjoyed reading the pieces and asked if I was going to feature anyone else in the future, suggesting that I could take a look back at the hit singles of Hazel O’Connor. I must admit though, although she had three UK Top Ten hit singles in the early-80s, I’m not really familiar with too many of her songs.
I decided to ask my mum if she knew any of Hazel’s singles and she said that she liked “the one with the saxophone” (presumably referring to “Will You” which reached no. 8 in 1981), so I said as you seem to know more about her career than I do maybe you should write the article about her on here instead, ha! It did keep Hazel’s name in my mind though, so after I saw that she had appeared in this TV show called Jangles, I hoped that I could discover more.
So I did the usual “that’ll never be on YouTube, will it?” routine, and I was pleased to discover that all seven episodes are on there in full so I had an opportunity to see it. Jangles (an HTV West production for ITV no less) was originally shown in 1982 (there was a repeat run on Children’s ITV in 1984) and is a mixture of music and drama, coming across as a mildly surreal cross between Top Of The Pops and EastEnders, and Hazel did some singing as well as some acting (she also starred in a film called Breaking Glass in 1980, and appeared on the cover of Radio Times in 1986).
Hazel played the main character in the show, a singer called Joanne who performed at a downtrodden nightclub called Jangles, and she was hoping to leave school and dreamed of getting a record deal. Her boyfriend Steve (played by Jesse Birdsall fully a decade before he starred in flop BBC1 soap Eldorado) was having some trouble holding on to a job. As well as the story, most of the scenes featured the young nightclub crowd having a boogie to some the hits of the time including “To Cut A Long Story Short” by Spandau Ballet.
Making this show all a little more unusual was a character called Herald who would occasionally turn up to explain what was happening in the story, and he seemed to have a robotic voice and was accompanied by some fancy visual effects that looked rather good for the time. Every episode would also conclude with Joanne performing a synthpop-style song on stage.
Episodes of Jangles would also feature groups from various musical genres who performed live on the nightclub’s stage, and well would you believe it, the sixth episode only has Fun Boy Three performing their hit single “It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It” alongside none other than Bananarama in what must have been one of their earliest TV appearances!
There isn’t much information about Jangles online. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, and there has been no DVD release (presumably because of the large amount of musical content, or more likely because no-one’s really that bothered), but I found it to be a very interesting show from the early-80s. All these years later Hazel is still around and performing, and I’ll definitely investigate more of her music.