Fast Forward (BBC2, 1984-1986, CBBC, 1987)
This is yet another rather fast-moving comedy sketch show for children from the 80s, there really were a lot of them, weren’t there. The show’s title Fast Forward was rather fancy for the time, as it was when video recorders were starting to become commonplace. The animated opening sequence also featured a robot voice that actually wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on Transformers (that I reviewed recently).
Various comic talents took part in the sketches, after running on stage at the start of the show to much cheering of course. The cast changed a little over the years, and among them were Floella Benjamin, Nick Wilton, and Andrew Secombe, who’d already worked in children’s TV for a while and would go on to further success. One highlight was a parody of Blue Peter, featuring an unseen pet dog called Tiny, who had an enormous bowl, meaning that he probably wasn’t very tiny at all.
There were also a few regular characters, including the silly spaceman Milton Keenze from the planet Zymatron who would often interrupt sketches whilst trying to find out more about Earth, and there was also the explorer India Rubber Jones. Also featuring was Late Late Laser Link-Up with the window on the world, clips of animals being played backwards for comic effect, The Jokers, where various children were encouraged to tell some of their favourite jokes and stories, and there was even a guest appearance from Phillip Schofield, how nice.
All of this was rather corny, but it was usually accompanied by a lot of giggling from the studio audience, which is just as well, because there was a very long list of writers who probably stayed up all night to write these sketches. There were three series of Fast Forward, the first two were shown on BBC2 after CBBC had ended over on BBC1, the third was shown as part of the main CBBC afternoon strand, and it was repeated until 1988. I don’t think that there were ever any episodes released on VHS though.
The show isn’t connected to the magazine Fast Forward which launched in the late-80s after this one had ended, and was the BBC’s second attempt to make an equivalent of Lookin. Before then, the best magazine coverage a CBBC show could hope for was a feature in John Craven’s Back Pages in Radio Times, which I’m sure was an honour.