CITV Memories – Adam’s Family Tree.

Adam’s Family Tree (CITV, 1997-1999)

This is a sitcom with a fantasy twist that was often on CITV in the late-90s and was rather enjoyable. Adam’s Family Tree was once introduced by CITV announcer Steve Ryde as about a boy who dabbles in unnatural forces, which might be a slight exaggeration, but isn’t too far off really. Adam (Anthony Lewis) is a 12-year-old schoolboy with a great name I must say.

At home he has a magic CD-Rom containing information on his family, going back generations, and indeed centuries (I’m not sure if the title is a play on people who insist that they really can trace their ancestors all the way back to Adam). He puts this into his computer, and once he finds who he wants, he presses the relevant button, and they suddenly appear in the present day to help him out.

So for example, if a magician was planned to appear at his school and perform, but is then unable to make it, he can get hold of an ancient sorcerer from his family to come in and save the day. His friend Jane (a pre-Coronation Street Samia Longchambon) is the only other one who knows that he can do this. Even his parents aren’t aware, although they quickly realise that something rather odd is happening.

And his other schoolmates and teachers including Mrs Copstick, Mrs Rocket, and Mr Blah have no idea either. Curiously, for the third and final series, the actors who played Adam and Jane changed, but his parents didn’t, and they didn’t seem to notice that either. And there were also a large amount of rather well-known faces who guest starred as an ancestor of Adam in one episode each.

These included Bill Oddie, Toyah Willcox, Brenda Gilhooly, Christopher Biggins, and oh yes, Brian Blessed. This shouldn’t be confused with Bernard’s Watch, a CITV series around the same time with a similar idea of a boy who can do something rather unusual. There were 20 episodes of Adam’s Family Tree in three series, and they were all written by Brian Walsh and Neil Armstrong (not that one).

CITV Memories – Delicious.

Delicious (CITV, 1995?)

This is yet another CITV show from the 90s, although I only vaguely remember this one. But as usual, there will always be someone out there hopefully who does remember this and could provide more detail. Delicious was something of an entertainment mix, featuring music, games, and so on. And this was shown on a Friday, in an attempt to create that “it’s time for the weekend!” vibe.

This was also a Planet 24 co-production, who were best-known at the time for being behind Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast, so this meant that there were going to be some rather quirky ideas featured. One of the hosts was Jason Bradbury, who has gone on to have had a rather long and varied career, usually hosting various TV shows about technology.

He has hosted Channel 5’s The Gadget Show for many years, he was a writer for PC Gamer magazine, where he usually reviewed flight simulators, and he also hosted a short-lived game show where it was rather important for people not to frighten any large electronic leporine characters, but he doesn’t really like to talk about that any more. I don’t recall seeing his female co-host on TV before or since though.

Among the features of Delicious were interviews with celebrities, such as people who were in soap Home And Away (and well, they definitely could be classed as celebrities in those days, this was when Australian soaps were all over the daytime schedule and very popular), much to the approval of the young and enthusiastic studio audience (what do was miss more nowadays on TV, Australian soaps or studio audiences?).

There would also be the comedy news segment DNA with some laughs, Words From The Wise offered some advice, and there was also a big pool in the studio, which came in most useful when it was time to play the game Squeeze Your Squid (so called because contestants had to do such a thing to buzz in and answer), which had a boys v girls twist, and plenty of prizes for everyone.

And if that wasn’t enough, pop groups were also happy to turn up and perform their latest single, if they didn’t mind the credits running over them, and being faded out after about a minute. I must admit that I don’t remember how many series there were of Delicious, but it was definitely a rather lively show that got the weekend going with a bang.

CITV Memories – Go Getters.

Go Getters (CITV, 1989-1996)

This is yet another game show that was on CITV. The idea behind Go Getters comes across as something of a combination of Challenge Anneka and Treasure Hunt, as celebrity teams had to work together to complete the tasks given to them. There was no in-vision host, but they still played a role as they announced the progress of the teams, and also judged their performances.

Three teams of three took part, in their suitably coloured attire, the reds, the yellows, and the blues. The celebrities who took part included Bruno Brookes, Craig Charles, Keith Chegwin, and Andy Crane, some people CITV viewers might’ve actually heard of. In the first series, the host was Chris Tarrant, in the second and third it was Dave Lee Travis, and in the fourth it was Loyd Grossman.

In every edition, the teams would be given three rather unusual tasks to complete. They would have a think about it, and then they would have to get in their van, wherever they happened to be in the UK at that point, and they would have to pull a few strings, to have any chance of being able to get these tasks done. There would be extra obstacles as their van would usually break down at a crucial point, and the clock began to tick down.

Every edition covered a day. At the end, the host would give teams a score out of ten based on whether they actually completed the task, and also how creative they were in organising them. The scores then added up over the editions, and presumably there was an overall winning team at the end of the series. And afterwards, Tommy Boyd back in the CITV studio wasn’t afraid of challenging DLT’s verdicts, how could he be so harsh on the yellows!

There were four series of Go Getters. Rather curiously, in the mid-90s, an almost identical idea appeared on Saturday Night BBC1 called Hit The Road, which evolved from a feature on Noel’s House Party. However, this was something of a big flop, when BBC1 were having a rather tough time finding a new enduring entertainment format (who remembers Caught In The Act now? Exactly).

CITV Memories – It’s Torture!/Gunge ‘Em In The Dungeon.

It’s Torture!/Gunge ‘Em In The Dungeon (CITV, 1989-1990)

As part of the second series of the CITV Saturday Morning show Motormouth (or Motormouth 2 as it was indeed called) there was a game show segment, and this was the nearest equivalent to Double Dare that would’ve been on CBBC’s Going Live! at the same time. The host was the rather excitable Steve Johnson. This was a game that was played in various parts.

In It’s Torture! there were three games, and four teams of two took part in all of these, do they know what have they let themselves in for. In the first game, there were contestants stood on the top and the bottom (the ones on top wore a big helmet with a light on top). The questions alternated between being asked to the ones on the top and the bottom.

Get it right, and their opponents are pushed one step closer to the edge, but get it wrong, and they get pushed closer instead. Whoever gets pushed over the edge is out of the game, and is never seen again either. The winning team make the final and get to play the bonus game, The Hot Seat. They are both asked the same multiple-choice question. If they both give the same answer, they win a nice prize.

This is then done again, but the second game featured contestants placed under a crusher that they would be pushed further into, and in the third a box’s lid would slowly close on them, with again the winners going through to play The Hot Seat. The three winning teams would all then go into the final, which was Gunge ‘Em In The Dungeon.

There were more questions asked, and some weights would be moved depending on a right or wrong answer. If a team had all of their weights removed, then well you can guess what happens… and this also results in their elimination. The overall winners win some more prizes and go into the grand final. The winners of this received the star prize which was a signed Brother Beyond album or something like that.

After deciding that pushing children to their oblivion probably wasn’t a great idea, in the second half of the series, this was restructured to only play Gunge ‘Em In The Dungeon, with different rules. The star of this show though was Steve, injecting a remarkable madcap energy into hosting that would’ve probably surprised even the award-winning Peter Simon.

I also remember that one week Steve hilariously (?) got his comeuppance, but this seemed to coincide with a technical fault, so you could hear all the commotion as he went in himself, but this was accompanied by a blank screen, I couldn’t believe it. In the next series of Motormouth, Steve returned to host the rather different but equally enjoyable game Mouse Trap.

CITV Memories – Splash.

Splash (CITV, 1985-1988)

A while ago I reviewed Magpie, even though this was a show that had ended three years before I was born. I felt that this was worth featuring in this series though because this is considered to be a rather important show in CITV’s history, essentially being the equivalent of CBBC’s Blue Peter, and it seemed that you had to come down on one side or the other, you couldn’t like both.

And Tommy Boyd was one of the hosts, so it can’t have been all bad. After this ended, his co-host Mick Robertson went off to laugh his way through the early days of The Children’s Channel. Some of the surviving editions of Magpie were even released on DVD by Network, which was good. So it was rather a surprise when in the mid-80s the format was later revived by CITV in just about all but name.

Splash was shown live, but only once a week (Magpie was twice a week, as was Blue Peter at this point). This was a magazine show, with various hosts. These included Michael Groth (who was also a host on That’s Life!), and Lisa Maxwell, who was well as hosting this, was also a comic actress, going on to her own comedy show on BBC1 in 1991, before later joining the cast of The Bill.

Every edition would feature the hosts on the sofa, and there were interviews with pop groups, a look behind the scenes at various TV shows, features on hobbies like skateboarding, and lots more in that area. There would also be competitions, and a chance to have your questions answered, which would usually result in a rather heaving postbag.

There were also some spin-offs, including Splash Special, which was more of a documentary, where various children and their interests were featured, and Splash Summer Special, where the hosts would all go off on a nice holiday. And don’t forget the Splash Lookin Star Awards, where people off CITV shows would be nominated for things like funniest cartoon, and shiniest mullet (probably).

I think that Splash was shown just about all year round, usually on Tuesdays, and this would eventually run for three or four years (still far short of Magpie‘s 12 though). It does look like it was a lot of fun to work on though. But when this ended, there wouldn’t be a third attempt at a show in this style on CITV, whereas Blue Peter continues to this day.

CITV Memories – Follow Your Nose.

Follow Your Nose (CITV, 1992)

This is a game show that I don’t really remember too much from the time, but as it was on CITV in the early-90s when I was a regular viewer, it must have something going for it. The format of Follow Your Nose seems to fall somewhere between Mega Mania and Fun House, two other game shows that were on CITV at the time, although this one was a little less crazy than those.

This one was hosted by Amanda Ross, who is related to Jonathan and Paul, and she was also the devisor of the show. Every week, just like Mega Mania, Follow Your Nose came from somewhere different in the country. Four contestants took part, and they had to play various challenges. Some of these would involve sport, and they would all have to work together to complete them in time, which was usually about a minute.

For every challenge that was completed, they received a letter. If they didn’t succeed though, they didn’t get the letter. They were also given a clue to what the word could be based on some of the games that they played. So the more letters they have, the more chance they had of winning. If they can solve what the word is in time, then they win lots of nice prizes, including bum bags, jackets, T-shirts, and lots more I’m sure.

There was also a competition for viewers where they could solve a word and write in with the answer for a prize too. There was only one series of Follow Your Nose, but most importantly, did this pass the Tommy Boyd test, and get the endorsement of the main CITV host at the time? Well of course it did. Although it would be rather unlikely that he thought it was bad, he did seem to have a fondness for the show, even if he could never solve the words himself.

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After this, Ross went on to have some more success behind the scenes in TV, becoming a rather influential figure. She did devise a few more game shows, including XYZ, which was shown in a daytime slot and was very good, if rather short-lived. And she has also done well with with her production company, which among other things was behind Richard And Judy’s show on Channel 4.

CITV Memories – It’s A Mystery.

It’s A Mystery (CITV, 1996-2000)/Mystery (CITV, 2002)

This is definitely the best CITV show that shares a name with an 80s pop song. There were lots of question marks in the opening sequence, and also in the studio as well, but this wasn’t a game show. It’s A Mystery was all about the supernatural, the unexplained, investigating if there was any truth in famous myths, and how things that seemed to be highly unlikely could possibly have happened.

Was there a chance that these mysteries could be solved? Is there really an explanation for everything? I am not that hugely into conspiracy theories, but I do think that there is a chance that rather spooky things can sometimes happen. Have we really had encounters with aliens? Is there a ghost lurking in the house? Will we ever know who built the pyramids?

There would also be location reports, along with guests in the studio who tried to explain what the possible answers could be, and The Video File, where a viewer told their unusual story, and what evidence they had to prove that it had happened, all accompanied by some sub-The X Files-style music. We would then be told if the mystery had been “solved” or “unsolved”.

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Although I think I only watched some of the early editions, one of the things that attracted me to It’s A Mystery was Neil Buchanan, and this was one of the many shows that he hosted throughout his entertaining 25-year career with CITV. It was always good to see him, and various other hosts throughout the series included Sophie “Ace” Aldred, Gail Porter, and some guy who used to be in Home And Away (when that was very popular on ITV).

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I suppose that this show often asked the question “why” instead of “how” (partly because a different show on CITV at the time did that). There were five series of It’s A Mystery, but it seems that there were some changes, with the title for the final series being abbreviated to just Mystery, and another new hosting line-up following the departure of Neil, but at least he still had Art Attack to get on with.

The Missing Persons Story – Part 1.

Recently I have done some pieces about quirky singers and pop groups from the 80s. I was wondering if there was anyone else who could be featured here. I don’t get too excited about the modern wave of pop stars, the last ones I had an interest in came on to the scene about a decade ago now such as Paloma Faith and Lady Gaga. I did wonder if there was anyone who could fit the description of being “the Lady Gaga of the 80s”, and I was pleased when I discovered someone who definitely could.

The group is Missing Persons, and it’s always good to discover that a group that I had previously barely heard of and realise that they had an interesting story in the 80s. Their frontwoman is Dale Bozzio (I can’t recall ever coming across a woman called Dale before). Dale Consalvi was born in March 1955 in Massachusetts. Before getting into music she appeared in some rather naughty magazines, and went on to collaborate with Frank Zappa. db66

In 1980, Missing Persons were formed, they could be put into the New Wave genre. They were a quintet, and along with Dale, other members included drummer and Dale’s husband Terry Bozzio (they married in 1979), and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo. Although they didn’t have any hit singles or albums in this country, I wondered if they had made any UK TV appearances, so I went on YouTube, and I was pleasantly surprised. As always, this piece won’t be 100% accurate or comprehensive, but here are some of the highlights of their story. vlcsnap-00005

Dale was the definition of small but perfectly formed, with a very distinctive look, including her hair, which was sometimes red, or even – yes! – blue, and plenty of make-up. She also wore what were often described as “fishbowls” containing some foil. It seems that she was rather pleased with her looks and followed the old phrase “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”, and if she had half the chance she would probably have worn nothing at all above the waist on stage. Dale was also known for having a squeak in her singing voice. I very much doubt she’s been to any pubs near where I live, but I’ll let her off because she made some great songs. vlcsnap-00017

In 1980 the “Missing Persons EP” was released, which reached no. 46 on the US album chart, and they appeared in the 1981 film Lunch Wagon. But it was during 1982/1983 that they had their biggest success. In 1982 their first single “Mental Hopscotch” was released. It wasn’t a hit, but there was a video made. There was also a video made for “Noticeable One”, but that wasn’t a single. vlcsnap-00015

But next up in 1982 was “Words”, and this is arguably their most famous song. The video has had 6.6 million views on YouTube, making it their most popular. This reached no. 42 (their equal-highest placing in America), and it also reached no. 10 in Australia, which I’m sure is their first and only Top Ten placing on a singles chart anywhere in the world. This one contained the lyric “I think I’ll dye my hair blue“. Please do! Also in this year, their first album “Spring Session M” (an anagram of “Missing Persons”) was released, reaching no. 17 (their highest-charting album in America), and no. 40 in Australia, where they loved it. vlcsnap-00025

Then in 1982 the next single was “Destination Unknown”, another one of their more well-known ones. This also reached no. 42 in America, and no. 89 in Australia, their final hit there. This one had a video, and I know that I shouldn’t take too much notice of YouTube comments, but the amount of people who have said “Lady Gaga stole her look from Dale” is remarkable. They performed this one on various shows including TopPop in the Netherlands. vlcsnap-00011

And in October 1982, they made what I’m sure is their first UK TV appearance, when they performed “Destination Unknown” on CITV’s Razzmatazz! They weren’t exactly the first group that I would expect to appear on the show, but the youngsters loved them I’m sure. Dale also had a rather unusual hairstyle by her own standard at this point. I doubt it’s all her own work. I don’t think they played “Peggy Babcock” though. Missing Persons were now doing well, suddenly Dale was being invited to awards ceremonies, and plenty of people were taking notice of them. vlcsnap-00030

In 1983, “Windows” was released, which reached no. 63 in America. I couldn’t find a video for this one, but they did perform this on shows in various countries. And in March 1983, Missing Persons made another UK TV appearance when they performed a few songs on Channel 4’s The Tube. There was the slight problem that they provoked almost no response at all from the studio audience who seemingly had no idea who they were. vlcsnap-00033

Also in March 1983, Dale appeared on the cover of Sounds, which I’m fairly sure is their only UK weekly music magazine cover, where they were tipped to be the next big thing. Dale is someone who also gave good value in interviews. And although they didn’t feature in an article, an advert for “Words” (which was released in the UK in this month) appeared in Smash Hits. db10

Watch out for more in part two…

CITV Memories – Supergran.

Supergran (ITV, 1985-1987)

This is another show that was popular in the 80s. Who would’ve thought that some old woman could turn into someone so powerful that they could rival Superman? Well that’s what happened in this one. Supergran was based on a series of books, the first one was published in 1978, and the TV version launched in 1985. The show also had a memorable opening animated sequence, and the theme music became a hit single.

One day, a granny is walking along in the quiet town of Chisleton, and is accidentally hit by a magic ray from a machine being used by Inventor Black. And now, despite being about 107 years old, Supergran can jump high and run quickly, and becomes an unlikely hero! Now that’s impressive. The main villain in the show is The Scunner Campbell along with his useless team, whose plans never succeed. vlcsnap-00547

Every episode also featured a rather deep voice that introduced the story, the kind that you’re more likely to hear on those “critics are saying that if you don’t think that this is the greatest film ever made then you’re a total moron”-style trailers. Also featuring were a few children, including Supergran’s grandson, and there were some vehicles too that could fly, accompanied by some fancy special effects. vlcsnap-00589

These heroics definitely caused a big stir, leading to lots of fame for our tartan-wearing star, including appearances on the covers of Lookin, and more impressively, the Chisleton Bugle. The show was also enhanced by a huge amount of guest appearances from famous faces, including comedians such as Spike Milligan, along with many pop stars and sportspeople joining in. vlcsnap-00590

There were 27 episodes of Supergran in two series, including an hour-long Christmas special in 1986. The show was originally in a Sunday afternoon slot, although it seems that there were some episodes later repeated on CITV. There was also an episode shown as part of the Old Skool Weekend, and Supergran took control of the CITV spaceship in May 1985. vlcsnap-00657

There were some plans for a third series, but Tyne Tees only had enough money to make this or some more editions of Chain Letters, and well, people just can’t get enough of their daytime word games, so it was bad luck. There was also an annual featuring Supergran released, along with more books, and some computer games that weren’t very well received. All of the episodes have been released on DVD by Network.

CITV Memories – Toksvig.

Toksvig (CITV, 1988)

This is yet another CITV show from the late-80s that I don’t remember much about from the time, but after seeing some online recently, it’s another one that I feel deserves to be featured here. Sandi Toksvig had appeared on CITV since the early-80s, being best-known as Ethel on Saturday Morning show No. 73, and would often host the excitement of The Sandwich Quiz.

By the late-80s, the diminutive Dane was given a show of her own on CITV, and it is rather rather difficult to describe. TV Times had a go by saying it was “the magazine programme for young people”, and it featured several things, including a fancy opening sequence, comedy sketches, educational features, debates, and poetry, it really was all rather bizarre. vlcsnap-00578

So for example, Sandi would take part in a rather silly sketch (usually assisted by the useless Marion), and then not long after she’d be discussing conspiracy theories about unexplained things like flying saucers and spontaneous combustion, so get ready to learn something. Viewers were also able to write in to test the big team of researchers with their tough questions. And teenagers would also talk about various things too. vlcsnap-00579

And there was also some poetry written and performed by Joolz from what seemed to be an abandoned warehouse. Being another mysterious strange-haired woman from the 80s, I just had to find out more about her. It seems that Joolz was not someone you would expect to appear on CITV, being an angry woman from Bratford who performed some of her work to music and released lots of singles and albums, even earning some coverage in magazines including NME and Smash Hits, and she is not to be trifled with. vlcsnap-00685

There were nine editions of Toksvig in only one series, produced by TVS and shown on Wednesdays, goodness knows what viewers at the time made of it, but I would definitely like to see more, it’s just about like no other CITV show that I’ve seen from around this time. There was even a guest appearance from Urban Strawberry Lunch, can you believe it! I mean, no! vlcsnap-00682

Not long after this Toksvig managed to break out of CITV and get on to the alternative comedy circuit in the late-80s, including contributing to Whose Line Is It Anyway, and starring in Channel 4 sitcom The Big One. In more recent years, Toksvig has gone on host various game shows at the more cerebral end of the scale including the revival of Fifteen-To-One and QI. vlcsnap-00692

Oh, and there was a talking donkey as well.