The YouTube Files – The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon.

The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon (BBC2, 1997)

I recently got hold of some more old TV magazines, and one of them contained a picture of a comedy show that I don’t remember watching at the time but I have heard a lot about it, so I pleased when I managed to track it down on YouTube as I thought it would be worthy of a review (also to my surprise it seems that it has been released on DVD but this’ll do for now).

Steve Coogan is someone who has been on TV since the late-80s as a comedian and impressionist, and by the mid-90s he had gone on to further success with his characters Paul Calf and Alan Partridge along with his BBC2 sketch show Coogan’s Run. So on New Year’s Day 1997 it was time to launch a new character who was sure to be a hit with the viewers… wasn’t he? vlcsnap-00979

Tony Ferrino was the stylish Portuguese heartthrob singing sensation who thought a lot of himself, a star all over Europe who is now bringing his music to the UK with this show, accompanied by some special guests. This was a 45-minute music and variety show that had something of an old-school feel to it, with plenty of top-notch entertainment along the way. vlcsnap-00977

Tony performed some of his songs, and most of the jokes came from his dubious grip on the English language. We also had a look back at his career, including a performance with his brothers in 1970 (who have since mysteriously disappeared), and when he won the Eurovision Song Contest by a landslide in 1980. The first guest was Kim Wilde (I presume that the celebrity guests knew Ferrino was a parody?). vlcsnap-00976

Then it was time for a duet with Gary Wilmot. One of the highlights was “Bigamy At Christmas”, a song which was released as a single in the UK (yes really, it reached no. 42 in November 1996). And finally, having recently recovered from being strangled by an elastic song, Mick Huckhall joined Tony for a rousing performance of “Help Yourself”. But that wasn’t the end, as just two days later there was… vlcsnap-00970

Introducing Tony Ferrino, Who And Why? A Quest (BBC2, 1997)

This was a 30-minute show that was more of a documentary including an interview with Ferrino, giving us a further insight into his remarkable career, along with a look behind-the-scenes of The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon, and a plug for his great new album. Coogan also appeared on TV shows around this time in character including BBC1’s Clive Anderson All Talk, and Comic Relief (where he sang with Bjork). vlcsnap-00973

With a couple of high-profile specials Ferrino really was given a big push, but the odd thing is that he really didn’t catch on with viewers which was rather disappointing (there was also an album released but it wasn’t a hit), by the end of 1997 Coogan was back to playing Alan Partridge with much more success, and Ferrino has just about never been referenced since.

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The Comedy Vault – Rock And Chips.

Rock And Chips (BBC1, 2010-2011)

It’s well known that many people think Only Fools And Horses is one of the greatest British sitcoms, so its story doesn’t need much explaining here, I thought instead that I would look back at one of the other parts of the show. There wasn’t really much left to say in the original version… but viewers still wanted more, so how about doing something different.

There had already been a sequel written by John Sullivan called The Green Green Grass which featured Boycie and his family and ran for four series on BBC1. So how about a prequel! This would also be written by Sullivan, but this time it would focus on Del Boy in his younger years. The first episode was called Rock And Chips and it was set in Peckham in 1960. vlcsnap-00951

This series would be an opportunity to answer some questions about the show, like the identify of Rodney’s father, and we would also be able to meet Del’s mum Joan who had been referenced in a lot of episodes for the first time. James Buckley (best known for The Inbetweeners) was cast as Del, Kellie Bright (later to star in EastEnders) was Joan, and Nicholas Lyndhurst would also feature, but who would he play considering Rodney hadn’t been born at this point? vlcsnap-00955

There was much anticipation about this opening episode that was 90 minutes long and was more of a comedy-drama. As well as Del and his mum, we would also meet his dad Reg and his granddad (whose first name was revealed to be Ted). Even in those days Del (who was about 15 at the time) was mates with the likes of Boycie, Denzil and Trigger, while his relatives were often down local pub The Nag’s Head. Also featuring was Freddie “The Frog” Robdal, a safecracker who had just been released from prison. vlcsnap-00952

Joan works at a cinema and has two jobs that are selling the lollies and making the tea. She is also trying to get the family a house in a new block of high-rise flats, and there’s the organising of the first Jolly Boys Outing to Margate. Del has recently left school and decided to try and knock out some pop records down the market, he made himself a few quid and he never looked back. vlcsnap-00956

Joan has something of a fling with Freddie behind Reg’s back, and at the end of the first episode she gives birth to Rodney, and as Freddie was played by Nicholas Lyndhurst, there really was no doubt that he will grow up to look like his father. This episode did do well in the ratings, although it seemed to get rather average reviews from critics, but I do think that it was worthwhile. vlcsnap-00949

The second episode was called “Five Gold Rings” and was also something of a Christmas special that was set at the end of 1960. Del has got hold of some dodgy rings and then tries to go out with every girl that he can so he pretend that he is giving them all some expensive diamond engagement rings. Grandma Violet also turns up to look after the infant Rodney, and Joan decides to dye her hair as if she wasn’t glamorous enough already. vlcsnap-00961

The third episode was called “The Frog And The Pussycat” and set during 1961 and 1962. Del and his mates have now got themselves some fancy mopeds and are trying to impress the girls by taking them out to restaurants. Joan is still carrying on with Freddie who is in trouble again, while wondering if she should leave Reg and trying to keep her job at the cinema and look after the growing Rodney. vlcsnap-00953

I don’t know if any more episodes were planned, as we didn’t get to the point in the story where Freddie killed himself after he accidentally sat on his detonator while trying to break open another safe, Reg walked out on the family, or Joan became ill and died in 1964, because just before the third episode was shown, John Sullivan, the man behind Only Fools And Horses, The Green Green Grass and Rock And Chips (along with other popular sitcoms including Citizen Smith and Just Good Friends) died, he was remembered by many as a great comedy writer.

All three episodes of Rock And Chips have been released on DVD (but they contain no extras). But the story still hasn’t ended there, in more recent years there have been some books released featuring Del Boy’s views on life (written by John Sullivan’s sons), and there is also an Only Fools And Horses musical planned (yes, really), I’m sure it’ll be cushty.

The story so far…

Around this time of year I like to do an update, and recently I did a list of the TV shows that I have yet to review on this blog, so here is a now rather long list of the shows that I have reviewed already. If you like the look of anything that you might find interesting or think will bring back memories, why not take a look at the piece, it’d be great to know what you think!

Absolutely
Ad Fab
The Adam And Joe Show
The Adventure Game
The Adventures Of Captain Zeelig
The Adventures Of Sam And Max: Freelance
After You’ve Gone
Alfresco
Alias
All Clued Up
All Over The Shop
Allsorts
The Alphabet Game
Animaniacs
Ant And Dec Unzipped
The Armstrong And Miller Show
Art Attack
As If
Ask The Family
Atlantis High
Auntie’s Bloomers
Babes In The Wood
Backdate
Bad Influence
Bananaman
Bang Bang It’s Reeves And Mortimer
Bargain Hunt
Barking
Beast
Beat The Teacher
Bid TV
Big Break
The Big Breakfast
Big Brother
Big Train
The Biggest Game In Town
A Bit Of Fry And Laurie
Bits
Bitsa
Blankety Blank
Blind Date
Blockbusters
Bob And Margaret
Bob Martin
Bob Monkhouse On Game Shows
Bob Says Opportunity Knocks
Bob’s Fab Ads
Bob’s Full House
Bob’s Your Uncle
Bodger And Badger
Brainstorm
BrainTeaser
The Brittas Empire
Bruiser
Bullseye
Busman’s Holiday
Bygones
Call My Bluff
Catchphrase
Catchword
CatDog
Caught In The Act
CD:UK
Celebrity Squares
Chain Letters
The Chart Show
The Chase
Cheap Cheap Cheap
Chewin’ The Fat
Child’s Play
ChuckleVision
Clockwise
The Common Denominator
Coogan’s Run
Concentration
Cone Zone
Connections
Count Arthur Strong
Countdown
Cow And Chicken
Crazy Cottage
Cross Wits
Crossroads
Cryptogram
The Crystal Maze
Cult Toons
The Dance Years
Danger – Marmalade At Work
Danger Mouse
Danny Baker After All
Dare To Believe
Daria
Dark Angel
The Day Today
Dead Man Weds
Deal Or No Deal
The Dennis The Menace And Gnasher Show
Dick And Dom In Da Bungalow
Dilbert
Dinosaurs
Dizzy Heights
Do The Right Thing
Don’t Blow The Inheritance
Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush
Double Dare
Doug
Dr Terrible’s House Of Horrible
Dr Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop
Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy
Educating Marmalade
The End Of Thames
End Of Part One
Every Second Counts
Everybody’s Equal
The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin
Family Affairs
Family Fortunes
Family Guy
Fantasy Football League
FAQ
Fast Friends
The Fast Show
Father Ted
Fifteen-To-One
Finders Keepers
First Class
Fluke
Football League Extra
FOT
Four Square
Freakazoid!
The Friday Zone
Full Swing
Fully Booked
Fun House
Futurama
Gambit
Gamesmaster
Garfield And Friends
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
The Generation Game
Get Fresh
Get Stuffed!!
Get Your Own Back
Ghost Train
Give Us A Clue
Gladiators
Glam Metal Detectives
Going For Gold
Going Live!
Goodbye To All That
Goodnight Sweetheart
Grandstand
The Great Bong
Green Wing
Hangar 17
Happiness
Happy Families
Hardware
Harry And Cosh
Harry Enfield’s Brand Spanking New Show
Harry Hill
Harry Hill’s Shark-Infested Custard
Harry Hill’s TV Burp
Harry’s Mad
Have I Got News For You
Having A Pop
Headjam
Hey Arnold!
The High Life
Hippies
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
Hollyoaks
Hospital!
Hot Metal
Hotlinks
How 2
Hububb
Ideal
I’m Alan Partridge
In The Grid
Incognito
Incredible Games
Is It Legal?
The IT Crowd
It’ll Be Alright On The Night
It’s A Mad World World World World
It’s Not!
ITV Results Service
The Jack Docherty Show
Jangles
Jem
Jeopardy!
The Joke Machine
Jumble
Just A Gigolo
Just A Minute
Kappatoo
Keynotes
Knightmare
Knowing Me Knowing You
The Krypton Factor
KYTV
Last Chance Lottery
The Last Salute
Late Lunch
Let’s Get Quizzical
Light Lunch
Lingo
Live & Kicking
Live With Chris Moyles
Look And Read
Look Around You
Lose A Million
Lucky Feller
Lucky Ladders
Lucky Numbers
The Machine
The Magic Comedy Strip
Man Stroke Woman
Married For Life
Married… With Children
Masterchef
Mastermind
Masterteam
Me, You And Him
Mega Mania
Men Behaving Badly
Midas Touch
The Mighty Boosh
Mike And Angelo
Mind The Gap
Miss-Takes
The Mitchell And Webb Situation
Monkey Trousers
Monster Cafe
Motormouth
Mouse Trap
Move On Up
The Movie Game
Mr Bean
Mr Don And Mr George
The Music Game
My Wonderful Life
Name That Tune
Nathan Barley
Ned’s Newt
The Nelly Nut Show
Never Mind The Buzzcocks
NHS Loto
Night And Day
Night Fever
No Win No Fee
Noel’s House Party
The Noise
Not Going Out
Not With A Bang
The O Zone
Odd One Out
The Office (ITV)
One Foot In The Grave
The 100 Greatest TV Adverts
100%
One To Win (BBC1)
One To Win (Channel 5)
Only Connect
Only Fools And Horses
Our Hero
Ox Tales
Parallel 9
Parallel Playback
Pass The Buck
Peep Show
The Pepsi Chart
Perfect Recall
Perfection
The Peter Serafinowicz Show
Pets Win Prizes
Phoenix Nights
Pinky And The Brain
Play Your Cards Right
Playing For Time
Pointless
Police Squad!
Pop Upstairs Downstairs
Potsworth And Co.
Press Your Luck
The Preventers
Price-Drop TV
The Price Is Right
A Prince Among Men
Punt And Dennis
The Pyramid Game
A Question Of Pop
A Question Of Sport
Quiz Call
Quizmania
Radio Roo
Rainbow
Raise The Roof
Reactive
Ready Steady Cook
The Real Ghostbusters
Reboot
Remote Control
The Ren And Stimpy Show
Robot Wars
Rock Profile
Rocko’s Modern Life
Room 101
Round The Bend
The Roxy
The Royle Family
Rugrats
Run The Risk
Runway
Sale Of The Century
The Saturday Roadshow
Scratchy And Co.
Scrubs
Seinfeld
Sharp’s Funday
Shooting Stars
The Simpsons
The $64,000 Question
The Sketch Show
Skull
Smack The Pony
Small Talk
The Smell Of Reeves And Mortimer
Smith And Jones
The Smoking Room
So What Now?
Sometime, Never
Sooty And Co.
The Spa
Space Ghost Coast To Coast
Space Vets
Spaced
Spatz
Spellbound
SpongeBob SquarePants
Sporting Triangles
Sportsmasters
Star Test
Stars In Their Eyes
Steal
The Steam Video Company
The Strange World Of Gurney Slade
The Strangerers
Strike It Lucky
Stupid
Sunnyside Farm
Supermarket Sweep
Swiss Toni
Take Your Pick
Takeover Bid
Talk About
Talking Telephone Numbers
Tarby’s Frame Game
Taz-Mania
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
Tell The Truth
Telly Addicts
Tellystack
Tenable
Tenball
Terror Towers
The Terry And Gaby Show
TFI Friday
That Mitchell And Webb Look
That’s Life!
That’s Showbusiness
They Think It’s All Over
The Thin Blue Line
Think Tank
30 Years Of LWT
This Is 5!
This Is Your Life
3-2-1
Through The Keyhole
Tickle On The Tum
Time Gentlemen Please
Timekeepers
Timeline
Tiny Toon Adventures
Tipping Point
To Me… To You…
Today’s The Day
Top Banana
Top Of The Pops
Topranko!
Touch Me, I’m Karen Taylor
The Tribe
Tricky
Trivial Pursuit
Turnabout
TV Heroes
TV Mayhem
TVGoHome
TV’s Finest Failures
2DTV
Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps
Two Stupid Dogs
The UK Top 40
University Challenge
Vic Reeves Big Night Out
Videotech
Virtually Impossible
Wake Up London
Watching
We Know Where You Live
The Weakest Link
What’s Happening
What’s My Line?
What’s Up Doc
Wheel Of Fortune
Where’s Wally?
Whittle
Who Dares Wins
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
The Wide Awake Club
Win Beadle’s Money
Win, Lose Or Draw
The Winjin’ Pom
Winner Takes All
Winning Lines
Wipeout
Wizadora
Wogan’s Web
The Wolvis Family
Wordplay
The World According To Smith And Jones
World Of Pub
You Bet!
You’ve Been Framed!
Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It
Zzzap!

Another update…

Here is a list of the classic TV shows that I still plan to review on this blog. Hopefully I will get round to doing all these one day…

Aaahh!! Real Monsters!
Absolutely Fabulous
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Alan Partridge’s Mid Morning Matters
ALF
Alvin And The Chipmunks
American Dad
Andy Capp
Angela Anaconda
Around The World With Willy Fog
Ask No Questions
The Baldy Man
Beavis And Butt-Head
Bertha
Biker Mice From Mars
A Bit Of A Do
Black Books
Blackadder
Blandings
Blue Peter
The Bob Monkhouse Show
Body Heat
Box Clever
Boyz Unlimited
Brian Conley This Way Up
Bucky O’Hare
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Bug Alert
Button Moon
Carrott’s Commercial Breakdown
Catterick
Charlie Chalk
Charmed
Chip ‘N’ Dale
Chockablock
The Cleveland Show
Colin’s Sandwich
Count Duckula
Cradle To Grave
The Creatives
The Crystal Cube
Defectors
Defenders Of The Earth
Dennis The Menace
Desmond’s
The Detectives
Dexter’s Laboratory
Didn’t They Do Well
Do It
Doc Martin
Dogtanian And The Three Muskehounds
Duck Tales
Dumb And Dumber
Earthworm Jim
Ed Stone Is Dead
Extras
The Family Ness
Famous People, Famous Places
Fanorama
Fast Forward
Fawlty Towers
Fireman Sam
Fist Of Fun
The Flintstones
FLIP
The Frank Skinner Show
French And Saunders
Fudge
Gas
Gavin And Stacey
Get Fit With Brittas
Gibberish
Gimme Gimme Gimme
Girls On Top
Gordon T Gopher
Grange Hill
Green Claws
The Grimleys
Hale And Pace
Harry And Paul
Harry Enfield And Chums
Harry Enfield’s Television Programme
Harry Hill’s Fruit Fancies
He-Man
Henry’s Cat
Hex
Hitman
Holding The Baby
House Of Fools
Housemates
The Hurricanes
I Am Weasel
In Bed With Medinner
The Inbetweeners
Inspector Gadget
Interceptor
It’s Anybody’s Guess
James Bond Jr.
Jeeves And Wooster
The Jetsons
Jimbo And The Jet Set
Johnny Ball Reveals All
Johnny Bravo
Just For The Record
The Kenny Everett Video Show
King Of The Hill
Kingdom
The League Of Gentlemen
Let Them Eat Cake
Little Britain
The Magic Comedy Strip
Maid Marian And Her Merry Men
The Mask
Melvin And Maureen’s Music-A-Grams
Model Millie
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Mr Majeika
Naked Video
New Girl
Nighty Night
Noel’s Comedy Luxury
Not The Nine O’Clock News
Now You See It
The Office
Open All Hours
Out Of This World
Outside Edge
Ovide
Palace Hill
Paris
Password
Paul Merton The Series
Penny Crayon
People Do The Funniest Things
Pigeon Street
The Piglet Files
Pingu
The Pink Panther Show
Pirates
Playdays
Pob’s Programme
Pop Quiz
Popular
Popworld
Postman Pat
The Powerpuff Girls
Press Gang
Puddle Lane
Pushing Up Daisies
QI
A Question Of TV
Quiz Bowl
The Raggy Dolls
Red And Blue
Red Dwarf
Rentaghost
The Riddlers
Rock And Chips
Roger And The Rottentrolls
Roland Rat
The Ronn Lucas Show
Rosie And Jim
Samson Superslug
Saturday Night Takeaway
Scooby-Doo
Sesame Street
The Shane Richie Experience
Simon And The Witch
Sir Bernard’s Stately Homes
Sitting Pretty
Smart
The Smurfs
Sonic The Hedgehog
South Park
Spitting Image
The Spooks Of Bottle Bay
Still Game
Stop That Laughing At The Back
The Sunday Show
Super Mario Brothers
Supergran
Superted
The Sylvester And Tweety Mysteries
Tale Spin
Tales From The Poop Deck
Tarrant On TV
T-Bag
They Came From Somewhere Else
This Morning With Richard Not Judy
Thomas The Tank Engine
Three’s A Crowd
Thundercats
Toast Of London
Tots TV
Transformers
The Trap Door
Treasure Hunt
Tricky Business
Two Point Four Children
The Two Ronnies
Upstart Crow
The Vicar Of Dibley
Victor And Hugo
Wacaday
Wake Up In The Wild Room
Whoops Apocalypse
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
The World Of Lee Evans
The Worst Week Of My Life
Worzel Gummidge
WYSIWYG
Xena: Warrior Princess
XYZ
You And Me
You Gotta Be Jokin’
Your Number Please
Zig And Zag’s Dirty Deeds

And along with all that, I am always on the lookout for things on YouTube, and I also plan to review more things including adverts, pop music, computer games and so on. So if anything on the list looks like something you might be interested in, why not spread the word because it’ll be great to get as many people as possible have a look at these pieces.

2018 In Review.

It’s time to take a look back at the year. It’s rather odd to think that 2018 has now happened and been consigned to history, as I still think that it’s about 25 years into the future. Four years on from starting this blog I am satisfied with what I have achieved. I feel that I have settled in and I have now done almost 700 pieces, including about 150 this year, here’s a look at some of my highlights of the year. 2018

There was plenty of excitement in pop music as the story I told about Bananarama on here that I think will always be my favourite blog piece took some further twists this year. Firstly, I found a picture on Instagram of Siobhan in a pub that I know that surprised me (and she was alongside Brix Smith who definitely had an interesting music career in the 80s too). I still honestly can’t believe that I have walked the same path in life (I don’t mean our careers of course, I mean literally the same Bethnal Green streets) as someone who fascinated me (along with many other people) with their chart-topping single back in 1992. brix1

Not long after, a picture appeared of Siobhan alongside Marcella from Shakespear’s Sister, by all accounts the first time they had seen one another for 25 years which was really something unexpected. That all of this has actually happened still makes me happy. It’s good to know that she’s still out there but I haven’t looked at Siobhan’s Instagram page for a while now because as you see I usually get more than I bargained for… ss1

I also did a three-part series looking back at Bananarama’s hit singles, and I reviewed Keren and Sara’s appearance on BBC1’s Pointless Celebrities. Well five years on they appeared on the show again, and managed to maintain their unbeaten record as they reached the final and this time they won the money! They made great records in the 80s, they’ve been to Bethnal Green, they win TV game shows… what’s not to admire? And it seems that there’s a new tour and album on the way too, I don’t think Siobhan is involved in these though, but who knows maybe I’ll see her in the pub one day. banana0005

I was also surprised by just how many 80s pop stars had their 60th birthdays this year. Siobhan was one of them in September, and 13 days later another one was Danielle Dax. To celebrate this I decided to do another piece about her career because I thought that her work was fascinating and there should be more about her online, and this received a positive response. After completing it I found another article about her in Number One magazine in 1984, with a full-page colour picture and everything. I also found an interview from the same time where she said that one of her icons was Cruella de Vil and I honestly don’t know if she was being serious or not. dax1

Oh, and remember when I found a picture of Danielle from a year or two ago at a gig in Dalston where I said she had bright blue hair which I thought was odd, but I teased people by using a picture of Stormer from great 80s cartoon Jem instead? Well recently when searching online I found a picture captioned “Danielle Dax, 2018”, which is the best post-1991 picture that I have seen of her. So if you really do want to know what she looks like nowadays… dax2

I also looked back at the hits of 80s music stars Haysi Fantaysee and Hazel O’Connor. Not long after I received a tweet from the woman herself who also retweeted the link to the piece, making it become my most-viewed blog piece that I did this year, I was thrilled and it made all the work I put into it worthwhile. I didn’t tag her in the link so there’s the positive side of vanity searching I suppose, what an endorsement. Well it’s more than Kate Garner did. Hazel

I also came across two shows this year that I previously had no knowledge of that I really enjoyed. The first of these was ITV’s drama and music series Jangles which starred Hazel O’Connor (I also noticed recently that one episode features another early-80s singer who was Honey Bane of “Turn Me On Turn Me Off” fame). I must admit that I really became fond of the bizarre character Herald (“obliging those who wish to blow their minds…“) and he is now one of my unsung TV heroes. vlcsnap-00567

The other one was BBC2’s The Wolvis Family, an early-90s sitcom about a rather bizarre family that was described by the Radio Times Guide To TV Comedy as “a forgotten gem”, and that’s a statement I can’t argue with, it definitely deserves a DVD release. And the character of Mr Wolvis became another one of my favourites. Other long-forgotten comedy shows I enjoyed reviewing this year included BBC2’s It’s A Mad World World World World, ITV’s Not With A Bang and Channel 5’s Hospital! vlcsnap-00436

As for game shows, I decided to review Quizmania as Greg Scott and Chuck Thomas who were among the hosts are both following me on Twitter and I hoped that it might catch their attention. I was very flattered that they both approved of the piece, with Greg saying that he was pleased by how many people still remember the show so long after it ended and Chuck giving it a like. vlcsnap-00073

I also reviewed the revivals of The Crystal Maze and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (who knows, maybe they’ll revive Blockbusters one day…), along with some American versions of classic game shows including Cross Wits and Play Your Cards Right. Also this year we had to say goodbye to some familiar faces, including game show hosts Jim Bowen and Dale Winton, and children’s TV stars Barry Chuckle and Geoffrey Hayes. Thanks for lots of great memories. vlcsnap-00722

I also looked back at a few other interesting shows including ITV’s Wake Up London, BBC Choice’s Hotlinks, the news coverage of the death of Diana, I admitted that I did admired the ITV Weathergens, and it was also enjoyable reviewing lots of old adverts. CBBC and CITV shows that I reviewed included Radio Roo and Mega ManiaThere are plenty more reviews of classic TV memories planned to come in 2019. vlcsnap-00694

My blog has had over 41,000 views this year. All that it remains for me to say is thanks for reading wherever you may be, and special thanks to everyone who liked and commented, it is much appreciated to know that you enjoy what I do!

The Comedy Vault – Educating Marmalade/Danger – Marmalade At Work.

Educating Marmalade (CITV, 1982-1983)

Here’s the story of how I came across this one. Not long after I started doing this blog, someone contacted me and asked if I was planning to review Educating Marmalade. I said that I wasn’t because I had never seen it, “before my time” and all that. They seemed to be rather surprised by this, as if they thought that I knew about every 80s and 90s TV show, which is something I should be flattered by I suppose.

The only clip that I was familiar with was where Charlotte Coleman (who would have been 50 this year) hosted a month of Children’s ITV in character (just about) in April 1983, and caused something of a stir in the comments section because she called someone a “schmuck”. After I discovered that both series had been released on DVD, I thought that I might as well give it a try.

The character of Marmalade Atkins was created by Andrew Davies, who first appeared in a series of books before coming to CITV in 1981 in a one-off 25-minute show called Marmalade Atkins In Space as part of the Theatre Box series. I hoped that the episode would feature some random red-haired women and now rather bad-looking special effects, and I wasn’t disappointed. I thought to myself, this has the potential to be rather interesting. vlcsnap-00874

The first series of Educating Marmalade launched on CITV in 1982, and the theme music was provided by Bad Manners. Marmalade Atkins can be described as the worst girl in the world, and every edition began with a “bad girl warning”. She has been expelled from every school that she has ever been to. Every week social worker Mrs Allgood sends Marmalade to a new school, much to the despair of her long-suffering parents (Mr Atkins was played by Rory Bremner’s mate John Bird). vlcsnap-00883

In the first episode Marmalade attended Cringe Hill (a parody of CBBC’s Grange Hill), and among the unruly pupils was future Lananeeneenoonoo member Kathy Burke. Also appearing in a few episodes as a schoolgirl before they were famous was Julia Sawalha. Most episodes ended with an exasperated teacher saying “Marmalade Atkins… you are expelled!”. vlcsnap-00871

Marmalade also had some personality quirks, such as having a blonde streak in her hair about 15 years before that woman from Friends, reading comics including 2000AD and The Beano rather than get on with any work, she had a talking puppet dog in her bedroom, and she was also rather fond of addressing everyone as “cock” (is this why it received a 12 certificate despite being shown on CITV I wonder?). The show was popular enough for there to be a second series with a slightly different format… vlcsnap-00869

Danger – Marmalade At Work (CITV, 1984)

For this series, Marmalade had now left school and had a new social worker who was Wendy Wooley after Mrs Allgood had finally had enough. Marmalade remained a total menace and every week she would have a different job such as a chef, spy, air stewardess and so on. There was also an episode where she joined the army which featured a guest appearance from Windsor Davies practically playing the same character as he did in sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mumvlcsnap-00877

One of my favourite episodes in this series was a parody of Fame, set at the New York School For Show-Offs And Big Heads, which featured some song and dance routines, and among the cast was Danny John-Jules (about five years before Red Dwarf), and future Blue Peter presenter Michael Sundin. For this series Marmalade also sang the closing theme (“jobs, I’ve had a few, and most of them, were pretty grotty-ah!“). vlcsnap-00878

21 episodes were made altogether (and were a Thames production for ITV) and they have all been released on DVD by Network, the only extras included though are photo galleries. Along with the books, there were also some annuals released in the 80s that celebrated “television’s horrible heroine”. This series definitely had a lot of amusing and anarchic moments, it was good seeing lots of guest stars joining in, and I enjoyed it a lot.

CBBC Memories – Bodger And Badger.

Bodger And Badger (CBBC, 1989-1999)

Here’s a look back at yet another CBBC sitcom, and this one endured more than most. Bodger And Badger centred around a rather unusual double-act. There was the odd-job man Simon Bodger (Andy Cunningham, who also created the show and wrote the majority of the episodes) who was accompanied by a puppet badger (voiced by Cunningham thanks to some ventriloquism). They first appeared on CBBC’s Saturday Morning show On The Waterfront in 1988 before the got their own series in 1989.

And as always happens in these shows of course, there are some very odd situations. But for some reason, Badger was really rather fond of mashed potato, and it would often go everywhere. Bodger And Badger and for nine series, and the situation often changed. In the first series, Bodger worked in a restaurant, and from the second series, in a school, and he often had to hide the fact that he had a talking badger along with him, as he could have found that rather difficult to explain to people. vlcsnap-00690

By the fifth series a new regular character was introduced, a small puppet mouse called Mousey who would often interact with Badger. By the ninth and final series, Bodger was running a B & B by the seaside, and most episodes seemed to climax with Bodger getting covered in mashed potato, but it still seemed to be funny every time. Other regular characters who got caught up in all of this throughout the years included Mr Troff, Mrs Trout and Mrs Bobbins. vlcsnap-00691

Bodger And Badger eventually ran for 125 episodes that were 15 minutes long over almost a decade (the only sitcom to run for longer on CBBC was ChuckleVision), and it became one of the more popular CBBC comedy shows of its era. The show gained a lot of fans of all ages but there are still no plans for a DVD release, many people still hope that there will be one eventually. I’d definitely buy it. vlcsnap-00694

Bodger And Badger was also frequently repeated, including being shown as part of the CBBC On Choice strand (which I always enjoyed watching), and it was also on repeated on BBC2, the CBBC Channel and CBeebies for many years after the final episode in 1999. Indeed, after the show left the screen the characters still had a big enough following for the show to be toured across the country (and one of these shows has been released on DVD), and Cunningham continued to perform at various events up until his death a couple of years ago. vlcsnap-00697