Christmas With Thames (ITV, 1986)
As Christmas is coming (when isn’t it), I thought that I would take a look back at some Christmas continuity clips. So I was very pleased when I found on YouTube (courtesy of “TVSProductions82”) 15 consecutive clips of adverts and continuity that were recorded in the Thames region on 25 December 1986 (when I was three years old) which was exactly what I was hoping for. Here are some of my highlights from what’s featured.
The first adverts are during the film Swiss Family Robinson. You would think that Christmas Day would be a prime slot to advertise in when many people are watching, but it’s not really because as nothing is open, and as the stores aren’t beginning their sales until Boxing Day, there is little else to promote, there aren’t many big budget efforts on show here. But one good advert is for the Blockbusters board game. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’ve got this one myself, but unfortunately it doesn’t feature Bob Holness saying “that’s the one!” or fidgeting with his glasses.
Then there are more sale adverts, Allied, Debenhams, Furnitureland, Selfridges… just about every store is at it on Boxing Day and everything has been reduced to clear. The sale adverts that stood out to me the most included the brightly-coloured MFI (which also seemed to be voiced by Tommy Vance), and Rumbelows, who simply wanted to say Happy Christmas to us instead of going on about their bargains.
One advert that I did enjoy was for Whiskas, featuring some woman telling us why her cats (including a big closeup of a miserable-looking one) are fond of their food. Seeing this reminded me that earlier this year the two cats my parents had both died, although they were almost 16 years old by that point and they were looked after, and these two just reminded me of the days when they used to be stroked and have their dinner and everything.
Then there is an advert for Colgate featuring someone before they were famous but I can’t remember who it is, Denise Van Outen or someone like that. After Swiss Family Robinson ends, there is a trail for the premiere of Dumbo, and “some really exciting pop musical entertainment” is promised next. There is also that amusing Vicks Sinex advert, before the first of many promotions for Christmas Line with Victoria Wood, in association with Thames, LWT and Capital Radio (and still going a decade later with Carlton involved), which apparently you’re welcome to call if you’re “a bit fed up”.
And after a trail for Adrian Mole’s new series coming in January, we see the announcer Tom Edwards who is in a specially decorated studio, he hopes that we’re having a good day, The Rock Show is next. After yet more sale adverts, Edwards puts on his poshest voice as the clock indicates it’s 3pm and time for the Queen’s Speech. After all that, we now have to fasten our seatbelts for Dumbo.
Adverts include Leslie Crowther telling us why we should come on down to the star-studded Boat Show, Weetabix, Tunes, etc. One thing that I have noticed about the sale adverts is that they don’t seem as small time as the ones in other ITV regions, there’s no cardboard here! Also turning up is Ronald McDonald, have a tasty afternoon. After Dumbo ends, there’s a trail for the premiere of not-James Bond film Never Say Never Again.
Next is Strike It Lucky, the game show which only started earlier in the year, but is already popular enough for there to be a 35-minute Christmas special and there’s the chance to win £2,000. After that ends, the news with John Suchet is next and Edwards (I wonder how he felt about having to sit in the studio all day, maybe he went off and had some turkey while the film was on) has gone and is replaced by Philip Elsmore, as the snow starts to fall and we enter the evening with another Christmas Line plug.
After the news, Elsmore voices the local weather, and informs us that there is a pantomime coming next. I wonder if he hung around until closedown. Adverts include a sale at Magnet Southerns (you’re just making them up now), and those Whiskas-loving cats again. Smile, Tabatha, you’re on TV! And at this point, being in Christmas 1986 with Thames for about four hours comes to an end, it was very enjoyable to be transported back there again.