More TV Memories – Charmed.

Charmed (WB, 1998-2006)

This is one last American supernatural series that I want to review, and then that’s all of them. Charmed is a show that centres around the three Halliwell sisters Prue, Piper, and Phoebe (no relation to Geri as far as I know). They turned out to be the most exciting trio since the Sugababes came on to the scene. They live together in a house in Los Angeles that they inherited from their grandmother, and they are in for a surprise.

This is because they discover The Book Of Shadows, and it turns out that they are all from a family of witches. They all have special abilities individually, including being able to freeze time, or see the future. And when they are really stuck in a corner and facing a huge amount of ghosts and demons all at once, they can combine their powers into The Power Of Three, which usually does the job. vlcsnap-01039

There were also plenty of special effects which helped to show off the creative ideas, such as people randomly appearing from nowhere, or turning into mermaids, and so on. It was all rather entertainingly far-fetched and there was plenty of humour added in. But can they be trusted to use their powers properly and not give away their secrets? vlcsnap-01040

Prue left at the end of the third series, which was a shock, and she was replaced by Paige, a long-lost half-sister that Piper and Phoebe didn’t even though they had, but this meant that they could retain the trio of powerful witches, who went on to have many more adventures, and there were plenty of guest appearances from people who didn’t have a problem with entering this rather strange world. The show went on to do rather well and help establish the fledging WB channel in America. vlcsnap-01041

Charmed retains a good reputation, and always features high-up in those endless “77 great TV shows beginning with C from the 90s”-type lists that fill magazines. There was also some merchandise, including a computer game, books and just like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess, there was a monthly magazine for a short while that featured further insight into the show. charmed2

There were 178 episodes of Charmed in eight series. They were shown on various channels in the UK throughout the 2000s, including Channel 4, Channel 5, and LivingTV, but this was usually in an afternoon slot, so they were probably edited, because aren’t they always. I must admit that I don’t remember watching a huge amount of them at the time, but I did enjoy what I saw of them. charmed

All of the episodes have been released on DVD, and that’s a huge 48 discs altogether. There aren’t that many extras, but they do include a look behind the scenes. And in 2018, there was a revival of Charmed, which was a variation on the same idea, although it featured a different cast, and I think a few episodes have been shown in the UK too.

More TV Memories – Xena: Warrior Princess.

Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)

Following on from the likes of Alias, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dark Angel, this is another one of the few TV drama series that I really got into, and this is how I first came across this one. Xena: Warrior Princess is an imported series that was first shown in this country as part of the launch schedule of Channel 5 in 1997. When I watched the preview of what they were going to offer, this was one of the shows that definitely stood out to me.

The show was going to feature as a main part of the Saturday Night schedule, alongside the likes of Night Fever, when Channel 5’s image was aiming to be feisty, fresh, fun, and probably some other words beginning with F. While this is the kind of combination that for most people wasn’t going to lure them away from the likes of Blind Date or achieve huge ratings, I definitely thought that this one was worth giving a go. x1

Xena: Warrior Princess was related to the similar show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (it’s probably not a coincidence that this one was shown in the early days of Channel 5 too). Xena (Lucy Lawless) was a woman who travelled around the world to various places including Ancient Greece alongside her friend Gabrielle (although there were always rumours that Gabrielle was supposed to be more than just a friend), and they are the two main characters. vlcsnap-00332

Xena encountered all kinds of enemies along the way, but because of her attitude and strength, she would simply whip out her sword, and accompanied by some spectacular stunts, she would finish all of them off with ease, this really was some exciting action-packed stuff. The show also usually featured some odd credits about how many people had or hadn’t been harmed in the making of the episode. vlcsnap-00423

Another interesting thing about the show for me was that because it was made on location in New Zealand, a few episodes featured some people who would go on to be main cast members of The Tribe, a Channel 5 show that I was a big fan of, including Amy “Zandra” Morrison in a series 3 episode, and Beth “Amber” Allen in a series 4 episode. vlcsnap-00428

There were 134 episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess in six series, and all of them have been released on DVD in a rather fancy 36-disc boxset. Other merchandise has included books, computer games, and a monthly magazine that ran for a few years. I do remember it being advertised, but I never had any myself. 25 years on, the show retains a big fanbase who still enjoy the thrilling action it has to offer. x2

CBBC Memories – Round The Twist.

Round The Twist (Seven, 1990, ABC, 1993, 2000-2001)

Following on from Just For The Record that I reviewed recently, this is another Australian show that was imported to this country and shown in a children’s TV slot, this time on CBBC. This was a sitcom, and it was a rather odd one that ended up running for over a decade. The early episodes of Round The Twist were based on the series of books by Paul Jennings. There was also a rather memorable opening theme song that was later used on an advert.

The show starred the Twist family (another convenient sitcom surname alert!), consisting of the three children Linda, Pete, and Brosnan, along with their widowed dad Tony (their mum had died four years earlier). They move into a lighthouse on the coast, and they then start to encounter a rather large amount of strange things, including ghosts in the toilet, scarecrows coming to life, dragons that breathe fire, and clones. These were often accompanied by some clever visual effects. vlcsnap-00898

Nobody else seems to believe them though, including nearby neighbour Nell, Mr Gribble, and the children’s teacher Mr Snapper, but they insist that these things are happening to them, is it possible that the lighthouse they have moved into is haunted? I also spotted in an episode that Linda had a poster of Bananarama on her wall, so of course she is terrific. vlcsnap-00901

There were 52 episodes of Round The Twist in four series. Rather curiously, there were some big gaps between series, including a three-year gap between series one and two (along with a channel switch), and a seven-year gap between series two and three. This meant that because of the children ageing, the main parts were frequently recast, meaning two actors played the dad, and three played the children. vlcsnap-00912

This was a show that definitely became popular on CBBC in the early-90s, and I remember watching the early episodes and quickly realising that this was one of the more unusual sitcoms that was around at the time, and there was a rather wide range of enjoyably strange moments. Some episodes were shown in the UK before Australia, there were rather a lot of repeat runs, including one in the mid-2000s on Five, and it has also been shown around the world where it retains a big fanbase. vlcsnap-00899

Rather pleasingly, unlike most other CBBC shows (imported or otherwise) from this era, all of the episodes of Round The Twist have been released on DVD in a boxset (and they are also on YouTube in full), and they are much recommended, if like me you enjoy strange comedy shows where you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

More TV Memories – Bring Me The Head Of Light Entertainment.

Bring Me The Head Of Light Entertainment (Channel 5, 1997-2000)

This is yet another 90s comedy panel game where the jokes were more important than the points, there really were a huge wave of them around this time following the success of the likes of Have I Got News For You. One reason I was interested in this one is because it was part of Channel 5’s launch schedule, and it was usually shown fairly late at night following The Jack Docherty Show, where several other comedy shows were tried out.

Because it was shown long past my bedtime, I decided to set the video for an edition or two to discover more. Bring Me The Head Of Light Entertainment was originally hosted by Graham Norton, in some of his earliest TV appearances (along with his contributions to Father Ted of course). The team captains for the first series were Lee Hurst (taking some time off from They Think It’s All Over and his comedy club near where I live) who also devised the show, and Fred Macaulay. vlcsnap-01134

Every week they would be joined by a fellow comedian (usually Bill Bailey) to take part in various rounds. My memory is a little vague on what most of them were, but one thing that I definitely do remember was Graham laughing at everything (well I know that he was supposed to really, but he barely stopped). And once the panellists had finished bickering with each other, they’d then bicker with the studio audience who were able to ask questions too. Who wants to appear on Channel 5 at gone midnight? Come on, don’t be shy. vlcsnap-01137

There was also much humour wrung out of the fact that the show’s acronym almost spelt out “bumhole”, that was the kind of level of humour that we’re dealing with here. This show was among Graham’s earliest TV presenting work, and he even unexpectedly won an award around this time for his time for filling in as guest host on Jack Docherty’s show, Jack was not best pleased. Not long after Graham went off to Channel 4 to launch a very successful chat show of his own. vlcsnap-01136

Bring Me The Head Of Light Entertainment eventually ran for five series, just about outliving all of the other comedy shows in the original late-night slot that vanished rather quickly. Graham left as host after the third series to be replaced by Sean Cullen, and by the final series the team captains were Paul Thorne and Adam Bloom, but it carried on in the usual style for the whole run really.

More TV Memories – Dappledown Farm.

Dappledown Farm (TV-am, 1990-1992, Channel 5, 1997-1999)

This is just about the final children’s show that I want to review that was shown in a breakfast slot. I remember that this one was shown at the weekend on TV-am, and it was rather an area of calm compared to the much more fast-moving and noisy shows that also featured in the strand that I enjoyed including Wide Awake Club and Top Banana.

Dappledown Farm, was, as the title suggests, set on a farm. Well, it said it was, it looked suspiciously more like it was a TV studio with a set made out of cardboard to me. Now I didn’t live anywhere near a farm at the time (and I still don’t now), so this show was a chance to find out more about the various animals that lived there, what they did, and what noises they made! vlcsnap-00752

The show was helped out by being hosted by Brian Cant, someone who was a veteran of children’s TV by this point, who of course presented many other memorable shows over the years including Play School and Bric-A-Brac, so it was rather clear that this was going to be good. Also in the studio (I mean farm), there were various animals, but they were all puppets. vlcsnap-00760

They included Dapple the horse, Mabel the cow, Columbus the cockerel, and Stubble and Straw, a pair of mice who were just great. There were also some features including meeting some animals, as Brian took the opportunity to tell as more about happens on a real farm. There would also be stories told that were accompanied by illustrations, and viewers could also send in their pictures. Most of them seemed to come from viewers about five or six years old, which gives you an idea of the age group the show was aimed at. vlcsnap-00613

We were also shown how to make things. This led to the show having an unexpected moment of exposure on It’ll Be Alright On The Night, when Brian’s attempt to make a dinosaur went all wrong, much to the upset of the mice. Brian realised at that point that never mind the old saying that you should never work with children or animals, you should never work with toilet rolls either. Well any publicity is good publicity I suppose. vlcsnap-00644

Dappledown Farm did well enough for there to be some highlights released on two tapes. Then, rather curiously, about five years after it had originally ended on TV-am, the show returned on Channel 5 as part of the early-morning Milkshake! strand. It seems that these were new shows, meaning that Brian was back, all of the puppets had to be dusted off, and it picked up where it left off really.

More TV Memories – Popular.

Popular (WB, 1999-2001)

This is just about the last show that I have to review that I first saw as part of Channel 5’s weekend afternoon schedules that were aimed at teenage viewers about two decades ago now. I’m not kidding when I say I discovered a lot of great shows in that slot that I’m still fond of to this day, including Daria, Harry And Cosh, Our Hero, The Tribe, and I hope I’m not the only one, it was such an unexpected source of entertainment back in those years, and I’ve very much enjoyed being able to share my memories of them.

Popular is an American teen drama series that was first shown in this country on Sky One, but I saw it on Channel 5 in the early-2000s. Now I am not usually a fan of shows in this genre, such as Dawson’s Creek or One Tree Hill (“high school is such as serious thing, these problems matter“), but this was more of a comedy-drama which wasn’t as serious as those others, and it was sometimes compared to Clueless (that I also reviewed recently). p1

The show also made stars of Leslie Bibb and Sara Rue (what do you mean, “who?”). Popular was set the Kennedy High School in Los Angeles (and you must look beyond the fact that like in most of these type of shows most of the cast were actually well into their 20s) where it really was the most important thing to be popular, it caused a lot of angst for everyone, including their teachers and families, and it was all soundtracked by some fancy pop music. vlcsnap-00006

There were a variety of characters. Among the main ones were Brooke McQueen and Sam McPherson, who are at opposite ends of the popularity scale, but then Brooke’s dad then ends up marrying Sam’s mum, which is rather awkward, as despite their differences they’ve now got to get to know each other and become closer. It’s going to be weird to potty (sorry, that’s the second Family Guy reference I’ve sneaked into this piece, I’ll try and stop now). vlcsnap-00004

For some reason, one episode that I remember standing out was when all the blondes dyed their hair brunette, and vice versa, as they tried to challenge some stereotypes. Honestly, the way that people carried on in the days before Facebook, however did they do it? There were 43 hour-long episodes of Popular in two series, but I don’t think that any of them have been released on DVD in this country. If you’re not familiar with it, I would definitely recommend it.

More TV Memories – Cleopatra 2525.

Cleopatra 2525 (2000-2001)

This is a show that I don’t remember watching that much at the time, but I have decided to review it because because it’s another one that fits into an area of TV scheduling that I have found interesting, which is the Channel 5 on weekend afternoons slot in the late-90s/early-2000s that featured various enjoyable but little-remembered shows for teenagers including Harry And Cosh and The Tribe that I feel deserve more recognition.

Cleopatra 2525 is a post-apocalyptic science-fiction show which looking back had a daft idea and could be classed as rather trashy, and it’s not really clear if everyone is playing it entirely seriously. The show was made in Auckland (by the same company as Xena: Warrior Princess) but was an American production, where it was shown in syndication, before being imported to the UK on Channel 5, where it was usually shown on Saturday afternoons around 2pm. c1

There wasn’t a huge amount of publicity for the show, mostly because of its not very high-profile timeslot, but I do remember seeing an article in a TV magazine including a picture of the cast and thinking that’ll be something I should watch. The show begins in the year 2000 where Cleopatra (Jennifer Sky) who is an exotic dancer is having cosmetic surgery that goes wrong, leading to her being put into suspended animation. vlcsnap-00792

Then, 525 years later, Cleopatra is awoken, and it is now the year 2525 (and, yes, the show’s theme music was indeed a variation of the chart-topping single “In The Year 2525”). It is fair to say that things have changed somewhat since. Cleo joins Helen and Sarge to create a team who often have to fight against the Baileys, powerful armed flying machines that now control Earth, meaning that all the humans (and robots and everything else) have been driven underground. vlcsnap-00803

Helen is also assisted by The Voice, who often gives advice in her ear. Our trio have to try and save people and encounter all kinds of villains throughout the episodes. It is clear to the others that Cleopatra is somewhat out of step with everyone else with her rather outdated phrases and constant screaming, and we see her as she tries to adjust to 26th century life, including the huge advances in technology. Will the future really be like this, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be taking all this seriously. vlcsnap-00807

There were 28 episodes of Cleopatra 2525, and most of them were about half-an-hour long. The show ended rather abruptly at the end of the second series. It might have been a good idea at the time to conclude with a big cliffhanger, but we’ll never know what happened next. I think that a few episodes were released on DVD, but that was about it for merchandise, where were the figurines and computer games.

More TV Memories – Tibs And Fibs.

Tibs And Fibs (Channel 5, 1997-1998)

Let’s go back to the world of comedy panel games again. When Channel 5 launched, after The Jack Docherty Show (which was going to be their main late-night hit, honest), there would be a comedy show. I have already looked back at sketch show We Know Where You Live, and I was also planning to review comedy panel game Bring Me The Head Of Light Entertainment, which was originally hosted by Graham Norton.

But there don’t seem to be any editions of that online at the moment, so for now I’ll look back at this one instead (I’m fairly sure like with many other shows I set the video for this once out of curiosity of what Channel 5’s late-night comedy strand was like). There seemed to be a lot of comedy panel games around at this time covering various subjects, and this one was all about medicine and health.

Tibs And Fibs was hosted by Tony Slattery, who knew a thing or two about these type of shows by this point (and devised the format himself), and it was produced and directed by Mike Mansfield, how marvellous. The team captains were Dr Phil Hammond and Tony Gardner, who had also been in a medical-themed comedy double act called Struck Off And Die. vlcsnap-00577

Every week they would be joined by two guest panellists (usually someone along the lines of Craig Charles), and some of the answers would receive additional comments from the hunky breakfast TV Doctor Hilary. Now if you are thinking that this means the show was just an opportunity to make crude jokes about people’s most intimate body parts, well you are right really. vlcsnap-00622

If you expect people to try and be tacky and vulgar on these type of shows then there was plenty of that here. There were several rounds played, most of them weren’t highly original, they were just a chance to mess around. And there wasn’t much track kept of the scores either because as ever making people laugh was the priority, but it was good to discover if the panellists knew their fibulas from their phobias. vlcsnap-00615

Rounds included every panellist being asked a question individually, and having to guess where something was in the body. After the break (which always included an advert for Super Attak, that’s the way to glue things), there was a public information film from the archive shown and questions had to be answered on it, having to mime various things against the clock, having to identify what a mystery item would be used for, and finishing off with the usual quickfire buzzer round. vlcsnap-00580

Tony would also finish with a lovely joke such as “Doctor, doctor, I feel like a bridge. What’s come over you?”. Tibs And Fibs was not exactly highbrow stuff, but it did have plenty of laughs and it was still more entertaining than what is usually on TV at midnight nowadays, it might have even stretched to a second series, and I think that it was shown on the Paramount Comedy Channel rather late at night too.

The YouTube Files – Billie – Girl From The Future.

Billie – Girl From The Future (Five, 2004)

One of the reasons I decided to launch this blog (rather a long time ago now) was to look back at some shows that I remember that there is little about online. One of the best examples of this was Harry And Cosh, shown for a short while on Channel 5 on Saturday afternoons in the strand for teenage viewers, and it was great to realise that many other people enjoyed it.

I noticed that around the same time the same production company made a few other shows, including CBBC’s Cavegirl (that I reviewed recently). However, there were also a few others, but I don’t remember watching them, so I thought that having liked those ones, I should go and give these a try. I decided to track this one down, and thankfully there were a couple of episodes on YouTube (credit goes to the uploader “GMTV GOLD”). vlcsnap-00376

Just like Harry And Cosh, Billie – Girl From The Future, was created, written and directed by Daniel Peacock (who was in an 80s episode of Only Fools And Horses), and he also played one of the main characters in this one. The show was a mix of comedy-drama and science-fiction, and it was a spin-off from Morris 2274 (that was shown on Five about a year earlier, I don’t remember watching that one either). vlcsnap-00526

The idea is that a teenager called Billie (Fay Morgan) arrives at a family’s house in London, befriends their daughter Jane, moves in with them, and starts to go to school. But what they don’t know is, she’s arrived from the year 2274. And she does find it rather hard to adjust to early-21st century life and often stands out. We also hear her thoughts about what being a complete stranger in the year 2004 is like. vlcsnap-00528

This means that we see her being unable to grasp basic present-day concepts such as  technology and food. Where she is from, everything runs on animal gas, and there are no wars. Also, Miss Spackman from Harry And Cosh was her teacher. After having to put up with the likes of Harry, Cosh, Lucinda and the others for so long, dealing with a girl who is a time-traveller from 270 years in the future should be no problem.vlcsnap-00507

Billie – Girl From The Future was shown on Five in a Sunday morning slot, and it was shown again about a year later (although I think this was a repeat run), which means that there could’ve been as few as four 30 minute episodes made. This was from the time when Five were still putting some effort into making home-grown programming for teenage viewers (although I was 21 by this point, and probably in bed too, which might explain why I don’t remember it). I did enjoy it though, another forgotten good one.

More TV Memories – Home And Away.

Home And Away (Seven, 1988-present)

It’s Australian soap time. When Seven dropped Neighbours after a short while, only to see it picked up by rival channel Ten where it became a big success, they began to regret the decision, and decided that it was about time to launch a new mainstream soap that would fill the gap. So after some thinking, Home And Away was created, and much to their relief it did become a hit.

The show was set in the fictional town of Summer Bay in New South Wales. It originally concentrated on the foster home that was run by Pippa and Tom Fletcher. They took in various children who were tearaways or orphans and so on. Of course, they would then move on and be replaced by some more youngsters. This meant that the main core of the cast could always be about 16 years old, meaning that the show would always appeal to teenagers. vlcsnap-00486

So even though I watched it for a while, it probably isn’t a coincidence that I remember enjoying it most when I was in my mid-teens, and for about a year or two I did find the stories of characters including Shane, Angel, Shannon, Jack, and so on all rather interesting, I still remember them all these years later. This also meant that a pub wasn’t a regular feature, you’d be more likely to see people having a milkshake at The Bayside Diner. vlcsnap-00490

There were a few older cast members of course, including Mr Fisher who was the headmaster of the local school, and Alf, who was very grumpy, and is the only character who has been there since the first episode (which is now over 30 years, a record for an Australian TV series). Home And Away was shown in a primetime slot in Australia, the theme music was performed by Karen Boddington and Mark Williams (not that one) and was released as a single in the UK in September 1989, where it reached No. 73. vlcsnap-00488

The show came to ITV in an afternoon slot about a year after the launch in 1989, and the aim was clearly hoping that it would become their equivalent of Neighbours, even showing it twice a day. For a while it did succeed, with very good ratings, earning TV Times covers, and a few episodes were made on location in the UK. It’s a difficult choice to make, but this is among my favourite of the imported soaps from the 80s and 90s. There were also annuals released, along with a few classic episodes on DVD. annual0001

By 2000, ITV had been showing Home And Away for over a decade, and interest had begun to wane. It was then poached by Channel 5, who showed their first episode in July 2001, and it remains there to this day. There have now been over 7,000 episodes. There were also repeats on UK Living and ITV2, where some mid-90s episodes were shown around 2000 for some reason, but it was good seeing my favourite era again. five0001