More TV Memories – The O Zone.

The O Zone (BBC2, 1989-2000)

The O Zone was a show all about pop music. It didn’t feature live performances, but it did feature interviews, music videos, and news about everything that was currently happening on the scene. Hey, it’s just like Smash Hits on the TV! Originally it was shown as part of CBBC, with the presenters mostly coming from that lineup, including Andy Crane, Andi Peters, Zoe Ball, and so on, and it would eventually run for over a decade. vlcsnap-00443

Every week there would be features on the show including a look behind the scenes of the latest music videos (I remember Andi Peters seemed to interview the Pet Shop Boys on the set of their latest innovative video every other week), and the hottest news, so you’ll never have to wonder when Ant And Dec’s next single is out again. As the years passed and genres changed just about every major group from this era was interviewed. vlcsnap-00448

In the mid-90s the show was relaunched with two presenters who were fairly new to TV, Jayne Middlemiss and Jamie Theakston (who would both go on to host Top Of The Pops). By this point the scheduling of the show was rather erratic. It was usually shown on BBC2 in the evenings but the timeslot changed frequently, and editions ranged from 10 to 20 minutes, although there were occasionally extended specials focusing on one group.

In later years the show had a couple of spin-offs, The Pop Zone, that was usually shown on CBBC (although I’m not really sure what the difference was), and The Phone Zone, a live show on great long-gone digital channel UK Play where viewers could phone in to request music videos (just like MTV’s Select), and presenters included Vernon Kay. However, by 2000 the format had become a little tired, so after 11 poptastic years The O Zone came to an end. phone0001


CBBC Memories – Clockwise.

Clockwise (CBBC, 1989-1991)

Nothing to do with a film starring John Cleese, Clockwise was a CBBC game show I remember watching in the afternoon, but the final series was actually shown as part of CBBC’s Saturday Morning show Going Live! when seemingly they had run out of editions of Double Dare. There were two versions of Clockwise that had slightly different formats that packed a lot of gameplay into its 15-minute timeslot.

The first version was hosted by Charlotte Hindle who had also appeared on CITV’s Get Fresh a few years earlier. Three teams of two took part and the show was based around time and numbers. In the first round questions (including some multiple choice ones) were asked on the buzzer, with five points for each correct answer, and the round ended when the first team gave six correct answers to score 30 points. vlcsnap-00461

In the second round each team was shown a grid that contained various numbers that corresponded to an answer. They then had 45 seconds on the clock to match the numbers with the answers, with five points scored for every correct answer. This was followed by a physical challenge-style round where the teams had to complete a task against the clock, with five points on offer for the first to do so. vlcsnap-00463

The next round was similar to an earlier one, but this time it was a free-for-all with one more grid of numbers shown which was open to all teams on the buzzer, with again five points for a correct answer. At the end of this round, the lowest-scoring team was eliminated and they took away the consolation prize of a pen, how exciting. vlcsnap-00468

In the next round the two remaining teams had a scale that had ten notches on it. After they buzzed in and gave a correct answer, they could decide to either move up two notches for ten points, or move their opponents down one notch and have five points deducted. The first team to reach the tenth notch at the top went into the final, with the eliminated team taking away a pen and also a clock. vlcsnap-00469

In the final, there was a clock with twelve lights on it at every five-second interval. There was one minute on the clock, and for every correct answer one of the lights came on, and the more lights that were on when time ran out, the more prizes they won. And the three highest-scoring teams came back at the end of the series to compete for even more prizes and the chance to be the overall series champion. vlcsnap-00472

The second version of Clockwise featured some changes, the biggest being a new host who was TV newcomer Darren Day, and he would go on to host further game shows in the 90s including the final two series of ITV’s You Bet! Although the main gameplay element was the same, other changes included a new set design, the physical challenge round seemed to feature more gunge, and the final round was renamed The Time Tunnel. vlcsnap-00477

In this restyled final, the winning contestants again had to answer questions correctly with one minute on the clock to win as many prizes as they could, but this time whilst doing so they were travelling down a spooky track whilst being sprayed with silly string and the like and just generally being distracted. Clockwise ran for three series and was good fun. vlcsnap-00476

CBBC Memories – Radio Roo.

Radio Roo (CBBC, 1991-1993)

I think I have said on here before, but in the early days of digital TV something rather strange happened. Around 2000 the channel BBC Choice launched a strand called CBBC On Choice, but although the links from the presenters were new, there were no new programmes, and everything they showed seemed to be from around the late-80s/early-90s making it a sort CBBC + 10 Years channel, and it was great seeing shows from those days again, so here’s a review of a show that I remember watching first time round, and then again a decade later.

Radio Roo was a sitcom that had a rather odd idea. It starred Dennis who runs a radio station with his mate Clive… who just happens to be a kangaroo puppet! Well of course he is, not that old story again! Radio Roo was written by Wayne Jackman who also starred as Dennis (although he’ll always be Jiffy from CITV’s Allsorts to me), and Clive the kangaroo (who had inherited the station) unsurprisingly had an Australian accent that was provided by Ian Tregonning. vlcsnap-00442

Radio Roo was set in a place called Brigtown and according to the opening sequence it seems that most of their listeners were people with parrots on the shoulders, or roller-skaters, and the set-up seemed to only consist of a microphone and a turntable. Just how legit was this station? Dennis and Clive spent most episodes bumbling around, and when Dennis wasn’t trying to run the station he often tried to attract the attention of Margaret who usually got caught up in their adventures. vlcsnap-00440

It seems that Radio Roo wasn’t the only place that we saw Dennis and Clive. Around 1989/1990 they also hosted Saturday Starts Here, a CBBC strand that was shown on Saturday Mornings where they would introduce the various programmes, which would usually conclude with Going Live! Presumably someone thought that they were funny enough to have their own series. vlcsnap-00439

Radio Roo ran for three series and every episode was 15 minutes long, and although it does seem to be little-remembered now and there has been no DVD release, it was fun enough compared to other CBBC sitcoms around at the time like Bodger And Badger (which I will review here soon too), and watching a couple of episodes again recently brought back memories of when I watched the show in both the 90s and 2000s. G’Day! vlcsnap-00438

CITV Memories – Danger Mouse.

Danger Mouse (CITV, 1981-1992)

London. Home of the Cockney, the winkle stall, the Thames Gas Board, and the world’s greatest… vlcsnap-00139

…detective of course, it’s Danger Mouse! This was the cartoon with a distinctive animation style produced by Cosgrove Hall that featured the adventures of the super secret agent Danger Mouse (voiced by David Jason, who deserves to celebrated as much for his cartoon voice work as he is for his sitcom work), and his hapless hamster sidekick Penfold (voiced by Terry Scott). They both lived in a secret postbox somewhere in Mayfair. vlcsnap-00144

Whenever there was a problem anywhere in the world (or beyond) they would be contacted by the rather bumbling boss Colonel K who gives them their instructions and then they would be on their way in the Mousemobile because seemingly they were the only ones who could come to the rescue for all of us because we were reassured that wherever there is danger he’ll be there. Crumbs! vlcsnap-00147

The baddie in the show was the hoarse-voiced Baron Greenback who was always planning something. He was accompanied by an odd little furry caterpillar-type thing that sat on his desk (once again, it’s strange how things like that stay in your mind) which it seems was called Nero, and his useless henchman Stiletto. Also occasionally appearing in the show was Count Duckula who would get his own spin-off cartoon on CITV which was equally enjoyable and I’ll review that soon. vlcsnap-00145

Danger Mouse eventually ran for ten series over a decade and it became one of the most popular shows in the history of CITV, and it was also shown across the world. Throughout the 80s there was also lots of merchandise released featuring the characters including comics, games and books, and DM even appeared on the cover of Lookin, what an honour that is. vlcsnap-00146

I only really remember watching the later episodes but I found them to be very enjoyable and still fondly remember them. I recently got the DVD boxset of Danger Mouse which is great because not only does it contain every episode over ten discs, but there are also a few interesting extras, including behind-the-scenes looks on how the show was put together on CITV shows CBTV and Splash, and also the unaired pilot where the characters are voiced by different actors! In more recent years our hero donned the old eyepatch again for a revival, this time on CBBC, with DM now being voiced by Alexander Armstrong. Although I haven’t watched this version myself, it’s good to know that our hero has won over a new generation of viewers.

CBBC Memories – The Movie Game.

The Movie Game (CBBC, 1988-1995)

I must admit that I don’t really have a huge interest in the world of film, but I do remember watching this CBBC game show. The Movie Game was hosted for the first three series by Phillip Schofield, and then Jonathon Morris hosted the next three series, followed by John Barrowman who hosted the final two series. The basic idea of the game was the same throughout the entire run, and it was played in two parts. phil0002

Three teams of two take part and in the first part of the game there are various rounds about films, such as having to answer observation questions. There was also a round where they would be given a prop and a sound effect and had to perform with it, and the studio audience would rate how well they did. There would also be a quickfire round with questions on the buzzer, and the lowest-scoring team at this point of the game would be eliminated, although they did take away some consolation prizes. I have also noticed that this is a show where the teams had a lot of mascots with them. vlcsnap-00038

The two remaining teams went into the second stage of the game which was the part that I always found the most interesting. The teams would now stand on a board which had about 16 squares on it, and they could play to answer questions worth two, three or four moves. However, they could only play for a four-move question once which was known as a “fast forward”. vlcsnap-00037

If they landed on one of three highlighted squares they could play a bonus game. This would usually be something like having to complete a challenge against the clock, or having to act out a scene in a various film genre, so this part would usually come across as a cross between Double Dare and The Generation Game, and various points would be awarded on how well they did. A celebrity guest would usually take part in one of the games too. The team that reaches the end of the board first is declared the winner, regardless of if they actually scored more points or not than the other team. vlcsnap-00042

The highest-scoring teams then returned for the grand final at the end of the series, which Phillip always saw as a good opportunity to put his best bow-tie on. The overall series winners would usually win a big star prize, such as the chance to visit a film studio in Hollywood and meet various famous actors and directors, and I’m sure they all enjoyed the experience. vlcsnap-00039

The Movie Game was something of a success for CBBC and eventually it ran for eight series.

CBBC Memories – Parallel Playback.

Parallel Playback (CBBC, 1992)

Way back in the summer of ’92, 25 years ago, I enjoyed the first series of the CBBC Saturday Morning show Parallel 9, and one of the features was the game show Parallel Playback, which was hosted by the terrific Spam Ululux, who kept something of a tight hold on the production of the show. Not only was he the host and the creator, but he was also the producer, the executive producer, and the executive executive producer!

Every week the reverse rulesmaster would be joined by his glamorous keyboard-playing assistant Skynette, and two contestants took part. The idea was that everything was done backwards, so they already had their prizes and they had to give them back to win the game! The first round (or was it the final round) was called Backfire which always brought the show to an exciting finish. vlcsnap-00806

In this round contestants were asked various questions such as having to spell words backwards and identifying things in negative pictures and if they got them right they could give five prizes back. Remember, if they gave a right answer, they got a song, but if they got it wrong, they got a gong. Our host also often liked to say “that is!” when a correct answer was given. vlcsnap-00817

The second round was Rewind, and now they could give back ten prizes for correct answers. Questions included having to identify famous people from hearing some speech of them played backwards, and there would also be backwards archive TV clips accompanied by a breathless commentary as things such as long jumpers tidying up all the sand by jumping out of the pit, and a cup of tea that appeared to spit out a sugar lump happened. Again, questions would be asked about what they had just seen. vlcsnap-00811

The final round was Back ‘N’ There, where up to 25 prizes could be given back. This was a round which featured an obstacle course which again was played backwards, which made things rather awkward as every race would end in a tie, so instead prizes were given back judged on how well the obstacles were tackled, such as building a sandcastle and unpopping some balloons. vlcsnap-00820

After this, the host would ask one final time “how did they cope?”, and the final scores would be revealed, and it would be very exciting as a contestant could win the show by the margin of just half an empty shelf. The overall winner could pick as their prize two board games from a selection on offer, while the runner-up could choose one, I’m jealous, I wish I had The Crystal Maze one. Then the show would end at the start with a lovely song. vlcsnap-00821

Why on earth did I even watch this? Parallel Playback was a rather silly game show, and a similar idea about playing games in reverse was put to better use in CITV’s Crazy Cottage a few years later. As far as other Saturday Morning game shows go, it’s not really up there with classics such as Double Dare and Run The Risk, and even though it doesn’t have an entry on the UK Game Shows website, never mind Wikipedia (there is a reference on the BBC Genome though so there), I’m classing this as a legitimate game show because I did like it and it really did happen.

CBBC Memories – Stupid.

Stupid (CBBC, 2004-2007)

Stupid was, as you might have guessed from the title, a rather silly comedy sketch show. It was first shown on the CBBC Channel before it was repeated on BBC1. The show starred comedian and non-smoker Marcus Brigstocke as King Stupid (oh really?), and in a moment when I wasn’t looking it seems that he turned into Phil Cornwell for the later editions. vlcsnap-00672

The idea of Stupid was that while in his castle the King likes to keep an eye on people around the country in whatever situation they are in case they suddenly do something stupid, and when they do we are shown what happens in the form of a sketch. The King also had a purple servant called Goober who was rather useless and they were always arguing about everything, the King often concluding that Goober is a “bog house rat”. vlcsnap-00669

There were some various characters who appeared in Stupid. Among my favourites were Makeover Mandy, and Jeff the chef who would make rather odd meals, but there were lots of others, with various scout leaders, dinner ladies, ice cream salesmen and the like all suddenly turning stupid. Perhaps the most famous sketch features a boy whose finger seems to be possessed, and he would suddenly shout “devil finger!” before losing control and making a scene. This sketch also oddly became an internet phenomenon about 12 years after it first aired, I suppose it revived interest in the show. vlcsnap-00674

Among the cast in Stupid was Miranda Hart, who seems to have appeared in a lot more TV comedy shows than I first realised. At the end of every edition, the King would make some comments on the credits as they went by, and I couldn’t help but notice (partly because for a change you could see them) that among the writers were none other than Trevor and Simon. It was good to see that they were still contributing funny stuff to children’s TV long after they left Live & Kickingvlcsnap-00668

Stupid was one of the last CBBC shows that I remember watching regularly, and two series were made, and although there isn’t much online about the show it seems that a lot of people remember it fondly. A few years after Stupid ended it seems that Brigstocke appeared in another silly CBBC comedy sketch show called Sorry, I’ve Got No Head but I don’t remember watching that one.