The YouTube Files – The Noel Edmonds Show.

The Noel Edmonds Show (ABC, 1986)

Noel Edmonds is someone whose TV career I have followed for a long time, from Telly Addicts to Deal Or No Deal, and much else besides. But I recently discovered that Noel, who has always come across as ambitious, also had an attempt at hosting a TV show in America. Would he be able to have success in the most difficult of markets? I managed to find a couple of editions on YouTube, so this is what happened.

In the summer of 1986, shortly before what turned out to be the final series of The Late Late Breakfast Show, Noel hosted five hour-long late-night shows on ABC, in what would essentially be a variation on what he was doing in the UK. The aim was to present Noel’s style to American viewers, and he would be helped in this by the typically overexcited studio audience who were clearly looking forward to what he had to offer. vlcsnap-01048

Noel also had a big stage with a sofa on it, can you believe it, he was living the dream that’s for sure. Among the various features were interviews with celebrity guests including pop stars and comedians (some of them live via satellite), along with music performances. There was also something that Noel has always seemed to be rather fond of, which was to get some people on stage and make them do some mildly silly stunts while everyone laughs. vlcsnap-01049

There were also some attempts to try and set some unusual world records, all fitting in with Noel’s desire to try out things that are a little different. But was any of this a success though? Well the fact that The Noel Edmonds Show only ran for one week is something of a clue. Noel seemed to have a good time, and hoped that he would be invited back for more, but this didn’t happen, and there were only five editions. vlcsnap-01051

From what I can find, the response from the viewers and critics of the time was exactly what I excepted it to be really, mostly consisting of “who is this guy? Is this what passes for funny in England?”. Not long after, following this disappointment, Noel was back in the more familiar surroundings of the UK, and he went on to further success in the late-80s with The Saturday Roadshow. vlcsnap-01047

However, Noel did eventually return to America, as about a decade on from this show, two editions of Noel’s House Party were made there. These didn’t really go down that well with viewers though, and Noel later felt that doing these specials was a little too gimmicky and expensive, meaning his dream of being a star on both sides of the Atlantic was never really fulfilled.

CBBC Memories – Fudge.

Fudge (ABC, 1995, CBS, 1995)

This is another American sitcom that was shown on CBBC in the late-90s. Fudge is a show that was based on a series of books by Judy Blume that in 1995 were turned into a TV series. The first episode was a 90 minute feature-length special called Fudge-A-Mania. It was supposed to introduce us to the characters, but rather curiously it was shown out of sequence about a month after the regular series launched in this country.

Peter Hatcher is a boy who lives with his family in New York City. When he is at school, he often spends time with the girl next door Sheila, and his best friend Jimmy, and his favourite sport is baseball. However, he is constantly upstaged by his immensely irritating younger brother Farley, who is known to everyone by his nickname “Fudge” (don’t ever actually attempt to call him Farley!). vlcsnap-00423

Fudge was about four or five years old, and everywhere he went with Peter he would carry on as if he was on a permanent sugar rush, constantly jumping around and squealing. Nobody knew what he would do next. What a pain! Also featuring are their parents Anne and Warren who often get caught up in Fudge’s antics too. Most of the stories are told from Peter’s perspective, and he even sometimes addresses the camera to tell us his feelings. vlcsnap-00420

It could be considered that some of the stories in the episodes were a little too sickly sweet for the average young British viewer who might be more used to shows with a harder edge, as things that happened included Fudge auditioning for a TV advert, losing his favourite cuddly toy, or having a birthday party, and that was about it really, how exciting. vlcsnap-00504

Also, occasionally this would be accompanied by some cartoon-style sound effects which was a little odd. It seems that there was also a younger sister in the books, but they weren’t included in the TV series. How Peter managed to put up with Fudge constantly causing chaos wherever he went whilst also trying to get along at school really was a mystery. vlcsnap-00486

There were 25 episodes of Fudge in two series (including a channel switch in America), and it was shown fairly often on CBBC until 1999, a few years after it had actually ended. Although there were some books, as far as I know the TV series has not had a DVD release in this country. It was yet another one of those shows that I remember watching for a while when I was about 12, I’m sure that many others watched it as well.

More TV Memories – Clueless.

Clueless (ABC, 1996-1997, UPN, 1997-1999)

I want to go back again to the time when I decided to set the video for some children’s TV shows in the late-90s. During GMTV’s Wake Up In The Wild Room, there were often trails for Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Clueless, which were shown as a double for a short while early on Saturday evenings on ITV in 1997, around the same time that The Simpsons was on BBC1. They still managed to do well in the ratings, and this might have been a factor in Homer and co. quickly being moved to BBC2.

It seems that Clueless if I dare say it was more aimed at teenage girls, but because I was in my early-teens at the time and in the target audience, and having seen the trails constantly, I thought that I might as well give this a go. Clueless started out as a comedy film released in 1995 that was loosely based on the 19th century novel Emma, with the lead role being played by Alicia Silverstone. vlcsnap-01002

This did well, and in 1996 it was turned into a TV sitcom (made by the same production team). The lead role was recast and now played by Rachel Blanchard. The main character in Clueless is Cher, a rich Beverly Hills teen really into fashion who was living with her dad, and when she wasn’t at school, often confusing her teachers with her rather vacuous observations, she was often talking to hunky guys on the phone. vlcsnap-00986

Cher would set up the story at the start of episodes, and we’d also hear her thoughts on the situation as the episode went along. Also among her circle of friends were Amber and Dionne. Episodes centred around such exciting things as having a new hairstyle, going to a party, or deciding which guy to go out with. It seems that compared to the film, Clueless began to lose its edge, and by the end it seemed to be a little too simple and fluffy for most viewers, it had turned into the thing that it had originally aimed to spoof. vlcsnap-00985

Another link to Sabrina The Teenage Witch is that Melissa Joan Hart appeared in an episode in character. There were 62 episodes of Clueless in three series, and the later episodes were shown as part of SMTV Live. There were also some books released, but as far as I know the show hasn’t had a DVD release in this country, although it went on to be repeated on various channels including Paramount Comedy and Trouble. vlcsnap-00981

After Clueless ended, some of the cast went on to further success. Donald Faison who played Murray, another classmate of Cher’s, was Dr Turk in the long-running sitcom Scrubs. And Rachel Blanchard was in two series of the British Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show, it was a surprise to see her turn up in a rather different comedy show. I’ll also review Sabrina The Teenage Witch soon.

More TV Memories – The Pink Panther.

The Pink Panther (NBC, 1969-1978, ABC, 1979-1980)

It’s time for another cartoon review. This is another show whose history goes back over 50 years. A long time ago there was a series of successful comedy films called The Pink Panther, and this character was then taken and given its own show on American TV that launched in 1969. The opening sequence was live action apart from The Pink Panther who was shown along with various other characters going around in a car.

Every edition normally featured three stories. One would begin with The Pink Panther having a smoke which seems a little odd now, and they didn’t look much like they did in the actual cartoon. Every edition was also just about dialogue-free (apart from the occasional groan, I don’t think that there were any words), and The Pink Panther as far as I remember never actually spoke at all. This was all accompanied by the famous theme music, and some canned laughter too. vlcsnap-00883

Every edition was also about six or seven minutes long, and every title contained the word “pink”. There were plenty of other characters who featured in their own stories too. These included Inspector Clouseau, who also appeared in the films. But the one that I remember most though was The Ant And The Aardvark. This was where a blue aardvark tried to eat a small red ant called Charlie. vlcsnap-00886

He always failed though, but he constantly tried in a Wile E Coyote style, even though everyone knew that he was never going to succeed and he shouldn’t have been bothering really. Then we would have another story from The Pink Panther, who most of the time was rather easy-going, although one thing that would get them flustered was doing the old painting a pole the same time as someone else so they constantly had to go round and round routine. vlcsnap-00885

There were 11 series of The Pink Panther, although the actual title changed rather regularly, and it even moved channels by the end of its run. Its basic idea remained the same though. This was another cartoon that I don’t think was ever shown on the main CBBC afternoon strand, instead it was in various slots. I remember watching on BBC1 on Sunday afternoons around the late-80s/early-90s, by which point most of the editions were about 20 years old. vlcsnap-00887

The Pink Panther remained popular enough for there to be several repeat runs, and then there were some specials and a few revivals, and it seems that one of these was shown in the 90s on Channel 4. There were also plenty of computer games and VHS releases, as there always are with these type of shows. Our pink hero was also used in an advertising campaign for fibreglass for some reason.

More TV Memories – The Jetsons.

The Jetsons (ABC, 1962-1963, syndication, 1985-1987)

Following on from The Flintstones which quickly became a big success, about two years later Hanna-Barbera decided to create another cartoon for ABC featuring a family that was at the opposite end of the timescale, many years (or indeed centuries) into the future. This was a show set in the Space Age. This was also shown in a primetime slot in America and presented as if it was an actual sitcom, canned laughter and everything. Would they succeed again?

I’m not sure if The Jetsons did end up being as fondly thought of by viewers as The Flintstones, but it still did well, and it has a rather memorable opening theme song. The show starred a family who lived in Orbit City. They have a fancy apartment, and they can also travel through the air in their car. The main character is George, who works at Spacely Space Sprockets. vlcsnap-00844

Trying to get the technology working means that he runs into trouble with his boss Mr Spacely and he seems to get fired every other episode. Their main rivals are the neighbouring company Cogswell Cogs and their boss often interferes. George’s wife is Jane, who spends most of the money that he earns on groceries (well that’s what she always insisted anyway). vlcsnap-00151

They have two children. The teenage daughter is Judy who attends Orbit High School and along with her friends is really into rock music. The son Elroy is eight years old who attends Little Dipper School, and he is very clever and well-behaved, sometimes. Also featuring were Astro The Dog, and Rosie The Robot who was a maid that liked to help out with the housework. vlcsnap-00837

Almost six decades on, it is interesting seeing what they thought the future would look like. Would there really be colour televisions? Most episodes ended with George having something of a mishap whilst trying to use the latest of the technologies, which made him yell “stop this crazy thing!” (this was sampled on a hit single by Coldcut). The show was also parodied affectionately (well, probably) a few times by Family Guy. vlcsnap-00842

There were 75 episodes of The Jetsons that were about 25 minutes long in three series, almost 100 fewer than The Flintstones. There were 24 in the original run in the 60s. Then, after a break of over two decades, rather surprisingly there was a revival in 1985 where another 51 were made. After this, there were a few one-off feature-length specials, the last of these being in 1990. vlcsnap-00556

I was also rather surprised when I looked on the BBC Genome which insisted that The Jetsons was first shown on BBC1 in 1990, I thought it would’ve been much earlier than that. Several episodes from both runs along with the specials were shown throughout the 90s in various timeslots, mostly early morning ones, and I remember watching some of these. And of course, there were plenty of books, comics, computer games and so on, along with a few episodes released on DVD too.

More TV Memories – The Flintstones.

The Flintstones (ABC, 1960-1966)

This is a look back at another cartoon, it’s one that was originally on TV a rather long time ago, and this year is its 60th anniversary. I’m not usually so familiar with shows from as long ago as this, but it has been repeated so many times since, meaning that several generations of viewers will know this one. Firstly, it is noted as being just about the very first attempt at an animated show being shown in a primetime slot in America.

Also, it’s another one of those shows that is so well known that it’s difficult to know what angle to take because people will already know its story. For example, The Flintstones is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that was set in Bedrock a rather long time ago in the Stone Age and featured the adventures of a family and their friends. But you already knew that. In fact I know you already knew that. vlcsnap-00828

This is because once on the daytime game show Pointless, I remember a moment where a contestant gave an answer that scored 100 points, meaning that everyone in the survey knew the right answer, the opposite of what they are supposed to achieve. So that must mean that it’s a piece of knowledge that literary everyone knows, and should be put on a list of the only things in life that are really worth knowing. I say all this because there was a question about who the main character in The Flintstones was, and all 100 correctly said Fred, so if you all know that already, what else can I say? vlcsnap-00815

You probably know too that Fred’s wife is Wilma, and their next door neighbours are the Rubbles. The show’s characters were loosely based on the sitcom The Honeymooners. It’s  a show that I’ve not ever seen much myself, but it was one of the most successful in helping to establish American TV in the 50s, and it was shown in this country on BBC2 in the late-80s/early-90s. vlcsnap-00816

Here’s something that you won’t know about the show, which is how I got into it. I first remember watching The Flintstones in the late-80s, when it was shown after CBBC ended (I don’t think that it was ever shown as part of CBBC itself) and although I wasn’t that old I do remember enjoying it. After a while though, the repeat of Neighbours was put into this slot and the ratings soared, so it moved off to various other timeslots, and everyone had a yabba-dabba-doo time. vlcsnap-00835

There were 166 episodes of The Flintstones in six series, and this total wasn’t surpassed by a primetime animated show until the The Simpsons about 30 years later. And since the show ended in 1966, there have been a huge amount of spin-offs almost right up to this day, along with two live-action films that did rather well. The show has often been parodied in Family Guy, and a while ago there was a rumour that Seth Macfarlane was working on a revival, but this didn’t happen. vlcsnap-00834

I also remember when I had Cartoon Network they often dedicated rather a lot of their schedule over to showing various original episodes and spin-offs, and they were still enjoyable to watch all these years on. And of course plenty of episodes have been released on DVD. After The Flintstones was a big success, Hanna-Barbera decided to launch a new cartoon about a family that was at the other end of the timescale, way into the future, which was The Jetsons, and I’ll review that one soon too.

CITV Memories – Beetlejuice.

Beetlejuice (ABC, 1989-1991, Fox, 1991)

Here’s a look back at another cartoon that was on CITV rather regularly in the early-90s, there really were a lot of them, weren’t there. Having been interested in rather spooky shows over the years, it seems fairly obvious that I would take an interest in this one. In 1988, comedy horror film Beetlejuice starring Michael Keaton was released, and it was a big success.

Because of this, there was determination to do some more. A sequel never happened though, instead it was turned into a children’s cartoon, under the watch of the film’s director Tim Burton. The format was changed a little, but the basic idea was the same. I must admit I’m more familiar with the cartoon version than the film. Beetlejuice was a ghost, who wore a striped suit, had a purple face, and bright green teeth. He could also change shape, his head often span round, and he liked to eat bugs. He also liked to play pranks on people. vlcsnap-00781

One day he befriends Lydia Deetz, a girl who is in her early-teens and likes the spookier things in life. Lydia would say Beetlejuice’s name three times, at which point he was summoned and they would go on their adventures. Together they like to explore the Neitherworld, which contains all kinds of strange things, including ghosts, monsters, and zombies. The show is set in the fictional town Peaceful Pines. vlcsnap-00784

Lydia’s parents Charles and Delia can’t really believe what she has caught herself up in. And neither can their long-suffering cat Percy. We also meet some of Lydia’s friends that attend Miss Shannon’s School For Girls, who include Bertha and Prudence. She definitely wasn’t fond of Claire though, who thought she was rather marvellous. This was a cartoon that was packed with lots of quirky ideas. vlcsnap-00780

There were 94 episodes of Beetlejuice containing 109 segments. The fourth and final series which moved from ABC to Fox ran for a whopping 65 episodes, they just couldn’t stop themselves, and some later episodes included parodies of other films. There were lots of episodes released on VHS and DVD throughout the years, and plenty of books and computer games were also released based on the show. vlcsnap-00785

Beetlejuice was first shown in this country in 1991 as part of the Saturday Morning show Motormouth, and by 1992 it had moved to the main CITV afternoon strand. I also remember that around this time when the show was on CITV, there was a big poster on the wall behind Tommy Boyd in the studio, and as you should know by now, any show that got Tommy’s endorsement was definitely worth watching. bj1

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Tommy loves a bit of Beetlejuice action!

More TV Memories – Sonic The Hedgehog.

Sonic The Hedgehog (ABC, 1993-1994)

Well just when I thought that I had reviewed all of the cartoons that I remember watching in the 90s for now, I suddenly remember that there’s at least one more, so let’s look back at that one. Just like Super Mario Brothers and Earthworm Jim (that I reviewed recently), another computer game that was enough of a success to be turned into a TV cartoon was Sonic The Hedgehog.

A show about the adventures of a talking blue hedgehog? Well of course. There were several Sonic games around this time that were released on various Sega consoles, and I still remember the first time that I played one myself and could finally try and capture those rings, it was a rather exciting moment. The show launched in America in 1993 in a Saturday Morning slot, presumably between lots of adverts for sugar-filled breakfast cereals. vlcsnap-00537

Sonic The Hedgehog was set on the planet of Mobius, which has been taken over by the rather nasty Dr Robotnik who was the main antagonist, and it is now a rather grim place to be. But was Sonic going to stand by and let all of this happen? Of course not. He formed The Freedom Fighters, along with his friends who live in the woods including Tails the fox and Princess Sally Acorn the chipmunk. vlcsnap-00516

Sonic always has a plan on the go and uses his abilities including being able to run very quickly and magical gold rings to come to the rescue. Sonic’s uncle Chuck also appears, and he really is rather proud of him. There were 26 action-packed episodes of Sonic The Hedgehog in two series, and these were followed by two more cartoons, The Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic Unleashed. There were also lots of episodes released on DVD. vlcsnap-00535

This is yet another show that I remember watching as part of Channel 4’s weekend mornings strand in the mid-90s, they really did show as many great cartoons as CBBC or CITV around this time. And it was a lot more exciting than what gets shown in that timeslot now. Again lots of great voice talent took part. The number of shows that Charlie Adler has contributed his voice to really is remarkable, was he in every 90s cartoon? vlcsnap-00501

Along with all these games and cartoons, there was also Sonic The Comic, which launched in 1993 and was published fortnightly, and I remember that it was rather frequently advertised in Buster. This contained even more Sonic stories, along with lots of news and reviews of various other Sega games. It ran for 223 issues before closing in 2002. Three decades on from his launch, Sonic remains a popular figure in gaming, and as recently as this year there was a film version featuring a mix of computer animation and live action.

More TV Memories – Dumb And Dumber.

Dumb And Dumber (ABC, 1995-1996)

This is a review of yet another 90s cartoon. In the mid-90s, Jim Carrey became a big success as a comic actor, and not one or two but three of his films were turned into cartoons. They were Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb And Dumber. All of these launched in 1995, and it was odd seeing three different versions of Carrey’s characters, put together by three different teams, and voiced by three different people.

I do remember watching all three of them to some extent, but I thought that I would pick out just one to review, and it may not be that much of a surprise to realise that it was the silliest of them. Dumb And Dumber was a cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera that continued the adventures of Lloyd (played in the film by Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels), and it picked up where the film left off as they travelled around the country in their dog-shaped van. vlcsnap-00459

The only other regular was their pet beaver Kitty, who seemed to be smarter than the pair of them. Not too surprisingly, most episodes consisted of Lloyd and Harry doing some rather dumb things, often leading to them saying “well I’ll be a gorilla’s nephew”. How will they get out of this one! Some episodes featured one story, and some had two or even three. When watching a few episodes again recently, it did remind me a little of the cartoon Two Stupid Dogs (that I reviewed recently), but if it was with people… instead of dogs. vlcsnap-00458

There were also a lot of rather silly sound effects (all the usual ones, but they never get old), and among the cast providing voices were Tom Kenny and Jeff Bennett, before they went off to further success with SpongeBob SquarePants and Johnny Bravo among many others. This all amounted to a rather silly show, but it might’ve been a little too silly for some viewers, as it only lasted for one series and 13 episodes. vlcsnap-00488

Ace Ventura and The Mask fared a little better though, both lasting for three series. They were both shown on CBBC, but Dumb And Dumber was another one that was shown as part of Channel 4’s weekend morning strand, I remember that I set the video as it was shown rather early, and I felt that it was a good decision because I was rather rewarded as some of the stories made me laugh. vlcsnap-00496

As far as I know, there hasn’t been a DVD release, but the story didn’t end with the cartoon. About a decade after, there was the prequel Dumb And Dumberer (great title), which showed how the young Lloyd and Harry met each other, and this was followed about another decade later by the sequel Dumb And Dumber To, where Carrey and Daniels reunited and got back in their van for even more silly adventures.

The Comedy Vault – Kath And Kim.

Kath And Kim (ABC, 2002-2005, Seven, 2007)

It is surprising to realise just how few Australian comedy shows have been shown in the UK, most of the imports have come from America. I think that there might have been one sitcom shown on Carlton Select, and maybe one or two very late at night on Channel 4, but this has got to be the most successful one of them. And well, Neighbours was never like this!

Kath And Kim was a sitcom that centred around the lives of a mother and daughter who lived in Melbourne. The show was created and written by Jane Turner and Gina Riley, who had previously worked together on other comedy shows in the 90s including Big Girl’s Blouse. The opening theme was “The Joker” (which was co-written by Anthony Newley) and sung by Riley. kk1

Kath (Turner) is the mother who likes to use exercise machines and is about to marry Kel, a butcher who is always trying to make sausages. Kim (Riley) is the daughter who is rather lazy but thinks she is stylish and describes herself as a “hornbag”. She has left her husband Brett, who works at a computer shop and moved back in with her mum. Her friend is Sharon (even though they bickered all the time), who always has an ailment, liked sausages, and played various sports, especially netball. vlcsnap-00221

The show was almost made in a documentary style, because as the episodes played out, Kath and Kim offer their thoughts on the situations in a voiceover, and most episodes ended with them discussing various events. The first series centred around the build-up of Kath’s wedding to Kel, and the second around Kim giving birth to a daughter. They also played two women who worked in a homewares store. vlcsnap-00231

The show also became famous for its rather bizarre turns of phrase, and its most popular catchphrase was Kath’s “look at moy, look at moy… now I’ve only got one word to say to you”. Kim would also often say things like “that was my last fat free Fruche!”, “I’m going to get my nails refilled”, and “what about sugared almonds?”. The popularity of Kath And Kim led to there being lots of guest star appearances in later episodes, and just about every famous Australian took part, including Barry Humphries, Kylie Minogue, and Shane Warne. vlcsnap-00274

I think that Kath And Kim was first shown in this country on Living. Then not long after, it was shown on the Freeview channel FTN, where the first two series seemed to be repeated endlessly for a while, this is where I first saw them. Then in 2005, the early series were shown on BBC2 where they finally gained a much-bigger audience. I do have a memory of the yellow “2” ident introducing an episode, which changed to the announcer appearing in-vision as Kath and Kim in character were stood behind them, I’m fairly sure I didn’t imagine that. vlcsnap-00333

There were 32 episodes in four series of Kath And Kim, and there were also two films and a short-lived American version. Only the first two series have been released on DVD (or “doy-voy-doy” as Kath would say) in this country though, which is rather frustrating. I definitely enjoyed watching it though, and it’s proof that Australian TV can do more than soaps.