More TV Memories – Space Cadets.

Space Cadets (Channel 4, 1997)

I don’t usually do requests on here, but I was asked recently if I remembered watching this show. I had vaguely heard of it, even if I don’t think that I watched that much of it at the time, but being reminded of it made me think that I might as well give it a review because I am always ready to look back at 90s shows that I think should feature here however successful they were.

Space Cadets (not to be confused with a mid-2000s Channel 4 show with the same name that was hosted by Johnny Vaughan) was a comedy panel game. As there had been successful comedy game shows about sport (They Think It’s All Over), music (Never Mind The Buzzcocks), along with many others, it seemed that someone thought that it would be a good idea to make one of these shows about the genre of science-fiction. vlcsnap-01104

Space Cadets was hosted by High Commander Greg Proops, the American comedian who was best-known at the time for appearing on Channel 4’s comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and, er… those crisp adverts. The team captains were Craig Charles (who by this point had appeared in seven series of Red Dwarf) and Bill Bailey. The name of their team changed every week, one example is “the Things” against “the Blobs”. vlcsnap-01106

They would be joined by two teammates, and the show earned some publicity by having these include people who had appeared in popular sci-fi shows, such as Claudia Christian from Babylon 5, Sylvester McCoy from Doctor Who, and William Shatner from Star Trek. It was a chance to prove that they knew something about the genre they starred in. Also appearing as panellists were various comedians including Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller. vlcsnap-01107

Even though it was another one of those shows that was played more for laughs than points, there were several rounds. These included being shown clips from cliffhangers in not very good B-movies and having to determine what happened next, having to translate phrases in Klingon into English, and trying to guess what a strange alien object is that appeared in a sci-fi show. The final round would be the familiar free-for-all on the buzzer. vlcsnap-01108

The scores were kept by AL the computer (not to be confused with HAL), and Greggles spent most of his time bickering with this all-knowing machine who was trying to deliver the status updates. There should definitely be more sacrastic robots for no reason in game shows. Space Cadets was shown in a primetime slot on Channel 4, but it ran for only one series, maybe it had got a little lost in the big rush of comedy panel games that were on TV around this time, but there were plenty of enjoyable moments before it evaporated from the screen.


The YouTube Files – Time After Time.

Outside Chance (ITV, 1993)/Time After Time (ITV, 1994-1995)

It’s time for another entry in the “were there any decent 90s ITV sitcoms?” series, and here’s why I chose to review this one. When I was younger, I remember watching Brian Conley’s comedy sketch show on TV. I know some people found his routine rather cheesy, but I did enjoy it. By the mid-90s he was popular enough to be given the leading role in a sitcom pilot.

This was called Outside Chance, and it did well enough to return for a full series about a year later, as the re-titled Time After Time (an LWT production for ITV), written by Paul Minett and Brian Leveson. Conley (who also sang the theme song) played Kenny Conway, a cheeky tea-leaf who has just been released from prison, you could say that in the past he was “a little bit waayyy” as the phrase goes, but he is now insistent that he is a reformed character and determined to keep out of trouble, although his family aren’t convinced. vlcsnap-01100

Kenny’s family include his mother and his younger brother Robbie (who was still at school and must’ve been about 15 years younger than him). Also featuring is Kenny’s mate, the dodgy car mechanic Jake (not to be confused with Brian’s other mate called Jake who co-hosted the “Conley’s Car Boot Quiz” feature on his comedy sketch show around the same time as this who just happened to be a robot from the year 3003). vlcsnap-01099

There is also Kenny’s girlfriend Donna who works at a building society and has remained loyal to him during his time in prison, and they plan to get married, what a girl, what a diamond. Hoping to help Kenny along the way is his probation officer Gillian (Samantha “Richard’s daughter” Beckinsale), but things start to get a little complicated, and he becomes entangled in a love triangle. Kenny also briefly gets a job as a car salesman, but he definitely didn’t compare to Swiss Toni. vlcsnap-01096

Time After Time ran for two series on ITV on Friday nights (ITV used to show sitcoms on Friday nights? ITV used to show sitcoms??), but it has not been released on DVD, and it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. I do remember that it was repeated on digital channel Granada Plus though. The first series also won an award for being the best ITV sitcom of 1994. vlcsnap-01095

Time After Time is a sitcom that has been somewhat forgotten now, although all the episodes are on YouTube and it was good to watch them. In more recent years Conley (who first appeared on TV in the early-80s) has gone on to have further success away from sitcoms, mostly appearing on stage in the theatre, and he has also hosted a few game shows on various channels. 


Time After Time appears in TV Times in March 1994…


… and also in Radio Times in April 1994

The YouTube Files – Easter With Thames.

Easter With Thames (ITV, 1989)

At the end of last year I looked back at some continuity and adverts that were shown at Christmas and New Year on various ITV regions and Channel 4 in the 80s. Now I thought that it would be a good idea to look at some adverts that were shown around Easter. So I was pleased to find some adverts that were shown in the Thames region on Easter Monday (because they wouldn’t be on air on Easter Sunday of course) 27 March 1989 that were uploaded to YouTube by “SaxSells” (a very good account that I definitely think is worth subscribing to). Here are some of the highlights. vlcsnap-01095

Most of the adverts in the video are during an afternoon showing of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I must admit that I have never really been a fan of Star Trek so I doubt that I watched these at the time. Adverts include Peperami, Selfridges, and a rather odd one for board game Pictionary, featuring someone who is having a little trouble communicating his answer. vlcsnap-01084

Then we have an advert for pop compilation “Now That’s What I Call Music 14”, featuring 32 of the hottest hits around, the only one that is referenced by David “Kid” Jensen is Bananarama and Lananeeneenoonoo’s classic cover of “Help!”, but then it is the best track on it of course. Available on double album, double cassette, double CD and VHS. vlcsnap-01085

Thames announcer Peter Marshall informs us that Star Trek: The Motion Picture will continue after the news. Then we have a trail for the big Easter Monday evening film, The Man With The Golden Gun. A James Bond film on ITV, who would’ve thought it. We are then told that Channel 4 are about to show the film musical Calamity Jane, which is delightful. vlcsnap-01090

Now this is an odd one, it’s an advert for the second issue of short-lived magazine TV Guide, which launched before the deregulation of TV magazines in March 1991, when you had no choice but to buy both Radio Times and TV Times as no other magazines were able to publish TV listings, even something as basic as “10pm News” wasn’t permitted, so it seems that this magazine didn’t actually feature any listings, only including some interviews and reviews, but it was the first step to getting the regulations changed. vlcsnap-01086

Also notable is that Steven Hartley is on the cover of TV Guide, who was in EastEnders at the time, before going on to appear in many other things including a few episodes of US sitcom Married… With Children, The Bill, and he has also provided voiceovers for about 10,000 trails on radio station TalkSport. After the news is the conclusion of the film, don’t go away. vlcsnap-01087

Then there’s an unbranded trail for soap Home And Away which had launched on ITV only a month or two earlier and became rather popular in this country, although nowadays it’s at the “is that still going?” point with most viewers. Adverts include the return of that man who isn’t very good at playing Pictionary, and a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Then there is a rather odd advert for Head & Shoulders that has been very badly dubbed and seems to feature a vampire (“brilliant, you look awful!”). vlcsnap-01092

The film has now ended, and we are off to Summer Bay after the break. There’s that The Man With The Golden Gun trail again, and another advert for “Now 14”, which apparently does feature some other tracks apart from Bananarama, we also have big hits from Sam Brown, Roy Orbison, Erasure, Phil Collins and Marc Almond, you’ll find them all here. vlcsnap-01088

There is then another advert for McDonald’s (this time promoting Double Features), Mr Dog has been renamed Cesar, and also TV Times, Britain’s biggest-selling magazine called TV Times. Jason Donovan is on the cover this week, how exciting (there had been a big relaunch of Radio Times about a week earlier). Then there’s a trail for a new series of LA Law on Thursday which like all the others features the booming voice of Bruce Hammal. vlcsnap-01094

Then there’s the famous Thames skyline ident (that had been used in various forms since 1969!) and would remain onscreen for about another five months after this, as Peter Marshall out-of-vision introduces the first showing of the day of Home And Away. The ident wouldn’t really be used regularly in this way until 1988. And that’s where the video comes to an end.

More TV Memories – Moviewatch.

Moviewatch (Channel 4, 1993-1998)

I must admit that I have never really been that interested in films, or TV shows about films, but I do remember watching this one, probably because it was a quirky take on the genre (and it even had an amusing opening sequence featuring someone having a good time at the cinema). I am also fairly sure that it was shown on Sunday evenings for a while, so even thinking about it now gives me that “about to have a bath” feeling.

Moviewatch was the first TV show that I can remember seeing Johnny Vaughan (who I share a birthday with) host, and I did enjoy his style, so I was pleased that he went on to further success and hosted some more shows on Channel 4 in the 90s including The Big Breakfast (where he was particularly entertaining) and Here’s Johnny (the less said about his sitcom the better though). vlcsnap-00796

The format of Moviewatch changed a little over the years, but originally the idea was that every week the show would be in a different place in the UK, and four people (usually oh-so crazy youngsters) would be invited to review the latest films to have been released at the cinema, which was the highlight for me. They would sit in front of a video wall and give their verdict, and we would also see some clips from the film. vlcsnap-01076

Four films would be reviewed in every edition, and at the end the critics would give their score out of ten, and this would be indicted by them waving around a big number, the higher the score, the glossier the number was. Sometimes the opinions could differ somewhat. These would then be added together to give the final score out of 40. The film that had the highest score would be declared the Moviewatch Recommendation Of The Week! vlcsnap-01077

There would also be various features in Moviewatch, including Vaughan’s interviews with various actors and directors about the hottest films around, along with reports from America about what was happening stateside. By the later series things were a little different as the reviewers were all now in the studio alongside Vaughan to give their verdicts as a round table discussion (and Vaughan would say “marvellous” too often). The later series were also made in widescreen, a few years before this became the norm on TV. vlcsnap-01080

I even remember that there was at least one edition of Moviewatch with a celebrity panel, and who wouldn’t want to know what that bloke off that thing made of the film scene? After Moviewatch ended, in the late-90s Vaughan went on to host another series about films called The Johnny Vaughan Film Show that was also shown on Film4. I did enjoy this show, but it’s the kind of thing that you don’t see much of on Channel 4 nowadays.

The YouTube Files – Sitcom Weekend Spoofs.

Sitcom Weekend Spoofs (Channel 4, 1997)

In May 1997, Channel 4 had a special weekend devoted to sitcoms over three days (it was a Bank Holiday) that featured episodes of British and American sitcoms, along with film versions of sitcoms and some documentaries. Also featuring throughout the weekend were four five-minute long spoofs of various styles of sitcoms. These were notable as they featured some early TV appearances from soon to be big names who went on to various successful comedy shows including Little Britain and The League Of Gentlemen, along with a few others including Rebecca Front, Bob Mortimer and Paul Putner.

All of these spoofs were written by and featured Matt Lucas and David Walliams, and they were also repeated on the Paramount Comedy Channel. I don’t remember watching them first time round, but I have wanted to see them, and the good news is that all four of the spoofs are on YouTube, so let’s take a look at what happened in all of them one by one.

I’m Bland… Yet All My Friends Are Krazy! A spoof of the American sitcom Seinfeld, which featured an ordinary man and stand-up comedian called Jerry who tries to get through life but is surrounded by wacky comic characters and too much canned laughter. That seemed to be the idea anyway, but some critics felt that there wasn’t much point in trying to spoof one of the greatest sitcoms of its era, and it soon went off in an entirely different and rather bizarre direction. vlcsnap-00764

My Gay Dads. A spoof of the rather cliched and saccharine American sitcoms about family life that were around at the time, featuring too much moralising and hugging, such as the rotten My Two Dads. Kimberley invites her boyfriend round her house, but her gay dads are planning something, which mostly involves playing “In The Navy” by Village People rather loudly. vlcsnap-00765

A Puppet Lives In My House. A spoof of the rather odd and far-fetched sitcoms where one of the main characters is a non-human, such as ALF. Holden and Laverne are expecting their boss to come round for dinner. They very much hope that the wisecracking sock-puppet that lives with them won’t cause chaos. What could possibly go wrong? vlcsnap-00772

Only Jerks And Horses. A spoof of Only Fools And Horses being re-imagined for an American audience. Del Boy is now a stock market trader, and Roderney (who has been imported from the British version) isn’t sure about his new money making scheme, but he is soon written out as he is unpopular with the viewers, and Uncle Albert has been replaced by a robot. This was considered to be the best of the spoofs, indeed you could say that it was “nice jubbly!”. vlcsnap-00781

More TV Memories – Games World.

Games World (Sky One, 1993-1995, 1998)

When I began my Game Show Memories series on here a while back now, I told an anecdote about Games World. I thought that I would now revisit this show and give it a full review. Following on from The DJ Kat Show that I reviewed recently, Games World is another show that was regularly on Sky One in the 90s, but I do remember watching this one first time round. How is this possible?

Before we got Sky One in my house, I used to visit a friend in the evening who had satellite TV, and we usually watched Games World (other Sky One shows I remember watching around this time were Australian soap E Street and American sitcom Full House). This was a show that was all about computer games that was shown every weekday and was essentially Sky’s equivalent of Channel 4’s GamesMaster.

Every day featured something different on the show, and as I have been into computer games for many years (although I’ve never been that great at playing them) I did enjoy watching. One of the features to start the week off was The Eliminator, where various “puffy jackets” (as they used to be called) competed against one-another in various games and were gradually knocked out until one remained. vlcsnap-00761

This was hosted by Bob Mills, who also hosted In Bed With Medinner and Win, Lose Or Draw on ITV around the same time, and in more recent years he has presented on the radio. Bob would commentate on the games being played (one of the regular ones was Cash Dash) along with a writer from a games magazine. There were also special editions where the magazine writers were the contestants. vlcsnap-00758

All throughout the week Games World would feature things like news and reviews of the latest games, and there would also be plenty of chips and teats… or tips and cheats as some call them on offer (also featuring in some of the earliest TV appearances was David Walliams, isn’t that terrific). This was another show featuring an interactive element that was rather similar to a later CITV mid-90s show called TIGSvlcsnap-00755

This all built up to the climax at the end of the week called Beat The Elite, this was where contestants who survived The Eliminator would compete against a “Videator”, a group of characters who thought a lot of themselves and claimed that they were tough to beat. These included posh schoolboy Master Moriarty, and the most famous was Big Boy Barry, a rather rotund young gentleman who was fond of his games. The contestant then gambled the points that they had won in the final round, and the overall series winner received a big fancy arcade machine. vlcsnap-00763

One of the reasons this show means a lot to me is because once I was actually in the studio audience for Beat The Elite, and it was a great experience. Never did I think when I watched the show about a year earlier I would actually be seeing these people for real, and it should tell you something about me never really wanting to meet celebrities however much I’ve admired them that even being in the presence of Bob and Barry left me somewhat starstruck. After a break of a few years, Games World returned in 1998, but it was rather short-lived, in this case the original was definitely the best.

The YouTube Files – The DJ Kat Show.

The DJ Kat Show (Sky Channel/Sky One, 1986-1995)

This is a show that I don’t remember watching at the time, this is because it was on Sky One and I didn’t have that channel myself until the late-90s. But when I looked through TV magazines a long time ago, I do remember being curious about what the show was. Did the title refer to a DJ as in someone who plays records? Well thankfully there are more than enough clips on YouTube for me to finally discover what it was all about.

The DJ Kat Show launched in September 1986 on Sky Channel which was available across most of Europe, and at the time it was produced in the Netherlands. This was essentially Sky’s children’s programming strand, their equivalent of CBBC and CITV, and it was one of the few things you would find on the channel in its early days, along with repeats of old imported sitcoms, and endless editions of Sky Trax with Pat Sharp. vlcsnap-00543

But who exactly was DJ Kat? This was the host of the show, who was a leather jacket-wearing cat puppet with attitude who I suppose was their equivalent of a Gordon The Gopher/Scally The Dog-type character who introduced various cartoons, usually during the afternoons and school holidays (he also did a rap in the opening sequence). DJ Kat would also be assisted by a human co-host, and there were many of these over the years. vlcsnap-00548

In the earliest days this was Linda De Mol, whose brother was behind the production company that launched Big BrotherIn 1987, an American version of the show launched on a few TV channels, with our feline host picking up the accent from somewhere, but this was rather short-lived. After the relaunch of Sky Channel in 1989, The DJ Kat Show moved to the UK, and Linda departed, to be replaced by Steffanie Pitt. vlcsnap-00588

By the early-90s, DJ Kat’s sidekick was Catrina Hylton-Hull, and among the shows featured were such goodies as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Then in the mid-90s, DJ Kat was joined by Joe Greco (of CITV’s Spatz and Mega Mania fame), and features included interactive games that viewers could play at home using their touch-tone telephones for prizes (a lot of children’s TV shows included this feature around this time). vlcsnap-00753

There were also a few comedy sketches including a parody of EastEnders. However, despite still being rather popular with viewers, after almost a decade the show was beginning to run out of steam a little, and it came to an end in December 1995. A new children’s strand launched on Sky One in January 1996 but it was very short-lived and much less successful. Having now seen some of it, I think that I would’ve enjoyed watching The DJ Kat Show when I was younger, and it seems that a lot of people still remember all this fondly.