The Clive James Show (ITV, 1995-1999)
Clive James was born in Australia, but made a name for himself in the UK, where among other things he was a newspaper TV critic, and his views on various shows in a deadpan style meant that he came to be known as an “antipodean wit”. In the early-80s he began to host TV shows himself, some of which looked at the quirkier side of the world.
By the mid-80s he had been established as a familiar figure on the BBC, where along with his travel documentaries and humorous looks at the end of the year, he would also host a late-night chat show in various formats, but they usually consisted of meeting celebrity guests, often in the studio, but also elsewhere thanks to the modern miracle that was satellite technology. He also reached the pinnacle of his career when he played a postman in Neighbours.
By the mid-90s, he decided to jump to ITV to host further shows, including this one that I do remember watching. The Clive James Show was originally shown on Sunday nights, usually in the slot where Spitting Image often featured. It would follow the format that would now be familiar to viewers. There would be plenty of celebrity guests, and these included a comedian who would be invited to take a satirical look at the week’s news.
There would also be interviews with actors, politicians, pop stars, just anyone who had an amusing story to tell. Clive always felt that these interviews would be enhanced by having a huge amount of monitors in the background that all had his big face on them. And there would be a look at some quirky adverts from around the world (this feature would be expanded on in the Clive James On TV series that ran around the same time, that wasn’t to be confused with Tarrant On TV).
Most editions of the show would end with the rather unforgettable sight of Margarita Pracatan, who would play a song on her keyboard and sing along in a rather unique and enthusiastic style, while Clive did a dance once he’d stopped laughing. Later editions ended with a famous pop group from the 60s or 70s getting back together to perform one of their biggest hits.
The last series was moved to Monday nights, and was seemingly hosted in a white void. When the show came to an end in the late-90s, Clive practically retired from TV presenting, although he continued to work on various things such as writing books and poetry, along with the occasional TV appearance, usually now being the interviewee, and he remained a much-respected figure right up to his death last year.