Film… (BBC1, 1971-2018)
As you might know, I am not really a huge fan of films, and I have never considered myself to be that much of a cinemagoer. So I am not a film buff (I don’t know why the word “buff” is always used to describe people who are knowledgeable about films though). But I thought that I would review this, because this is the long-running show that was considered to be the authority on what was currently happening in the film business (and yes I know about the famous theme music too). And there were hundreds of editions, hundreds and hundreds of them!
Film… (for some reason, like with the Holiday… series, the year was always attached to the title) had various hosts at first, before about a year or two in settling on Barry Norman. He had already been successful as a writer, and he became known for his straight-talking and opinionated views on films and how they were made. Yet he always managed to retain a relaxed and informative style (and Terry Wogan very kindly let him borrow his hair for the evening).
His views became respected, even though he was aware that ultimately they carried no more or less value than anybody else’s. Most editions would feature reviews of the latest films that were going to set the box office alight most probably, plus a look behind the scenes, and if we were lucky, even an interview or two with an actor or director. There would also be special editions that speculated on who might triumph at the Academy Awards, and the annual review that selected the films of the year.
As time went by, Norman also worked on several other projects, including writing a column for Radio Times, hosting documentaries and panel games, and even being part of the team of Channel 4’s coverage of the 1988 Olympic Games. And by now he was also in the rather awkward position of never actually having said what was considered to be his catchphrase. But things began to change.
Following the introduction of satellite channels in the 80s, viewers could see film premieres long before they would be on terrestrial television, and Channel 4’s Moviewatch was offering a fresher take on the business. Then Sky came along and dangled a cheque with a nice big number on it under Norman’s nose. So after over 25 years in the chair, he decided to defect. This caused rather a stir at the time, being the equivalent of one of those “Des Lynam joins ITV” moments.
They carried on though, with a new host taking over. Jonathan Ross might’ve had a more “in your face” style than Norman, but he clearly knew his stuff. It was just a shame that this was now being shown too late at night, and repeated too early in the afternoon. After his departure, Claudia Winkleman took over. And then after she left, the whole thing descended into guest hosts and irrelevance, and that was the end after almost five decades.