More TV Memories – The Magic Comedy Strip.

The Magic Comedy Strip (ITV, 1992)

I’ve never really been a huge fan of magic shows on TV over the years, but this is one that I remember watching as it featured a mixture of magic along with some comedy routines. The Magic Comedy Strip was shown on ITV in 1992, around the time of the last gasp of old-style variety shows, there wouldn’t really be room on TV for anything like this not long after.

Following a nice animated opening sequence, we were introduced to the regular group of performers who would take part every week. These were Rudy Coby, an American who could do some rather unusual things with his arms and legs, American David Williamson who would often do clever card tricks, and Jeff Hobson, another American who would often involve studio audience members in his tricks and stunts. Also regularly appearing were the illusionist double-act the Pendragons who usually did some dazzling things, along with a few guest acts from around the world. vlcsnap-00947

The highlight of The Magic Comedy Strip for me though was the regular appearances by Joe Pasquale. This was the first time that I can remember seeing him on TV, and I know that people can find his style rather irritating, but yes, I thought that he was funny. I was eight years old at the time, alright? He had a rather strange voice (“I know a song that will get on your nerves…“) and he could do some silly tricks. And of course he went on to further success including a comedy show with Bradley Walsh and hosting a revival of classic game show The Price Is Right on ITV. vlcsnap-00943

Although it was fun I’m fairly sure that The Magic Comedy Strip ran for only six editions and it hasn’t been seen since (it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry), with the exception of one of Joe Pasquale’s routines turning up in the final programme shown on Thames in 1992, and a few outtake shows also featured one of David Williamson’s card tricks going wrong. He learnt never to work with children or animals the hard way. vlcsnap-00944

Another reason The Magic Comedy Strip might not have returned was because it was shown at 7pm on ITV, a weekday slot which will seemingly feature nothing else but Emmerdale until the end of time, so no other type of show can ever be tried out there now, but there were some talented people taking part and it certainly made Monday evenings more lively while it lasted. strip0001

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The YouTube Files – New Year With Carlton.

New Year With Carlton (ITV, 1998)

Moving on from Christmas, here’s a look at some adverts and continuity that were shown on the last day of the year. Although the video doesn’t go right up to midnight, there is still plenty here that’s worth reviewing. It was shown in the Carlton region on 31 December 1998 (almost 20 years ago now) and it was uploaded to YouTube by “randomVHStat”. As always, here are some of the highlights. vlcsnap-00887

We begin with adverts during Emmerdale (sponsored by Toyota). And I am not even kidding, the first advert in the break is for the DFS sale. Well they didn’t hang about did they? There are lots of adverts for sales beginning on New Year’s Day in these breaks, maybe even more than for ones that began on Boxing Day. There is also the Millennium Experience. This reminds me of when people were going to go on about “the millennium” for the next 12 months, what a time that was. vlcsnap-00890

Courts then tell us that they’re going to be open on New Year’s Day, that’s great. Something else that is advertised a lot at this time of year is partworks. The first issue is always at a reduced price, does anyone continue to buy them after that? Why not collect them all. There are also adverts telling you where you should go for your holiday in ’99, along with the annoying Sainsbury’s advert with John Cleese. vlcsnap-00892

After Emmerdale ends, The Bill is coming next. But before that, there’s a cryptic McDonald’s advert (all will be revealed on Saturday 2 January), and yet more sale adverts with massive savings. There is also a trail for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with Chris Tarrant which is about to return for another series where people can play for “the biggest cash prize in TV history”. So call now, because the contestant who gets the chance to play tomorrow night might be about to party like it’s 1999. vlcsnap-00893

There’s then a Carlton ident (the Christmas look has left the screen by now, these idents were used until September 1999 when the star symbol was introduced) into The Bill (also sponsored by Toyota). There are yet more sales, that “daddy or chips?” advert, Cable & Wireless, and Daz with Michael Barrymore, who is very pleased that there’s 50% Extra Free (“now that’s a bargain worth catching”). vlcsnap-00894

After The Bill ends, there’s a trail. There’s also an advert for Strongbow with Johnny Vaughan, and then an ident going into The Ruth Rendell Mysteries (sponsored by… you guessed it… Toyota). Another thing about these adverts is just how many of them contain what Teletext page you should look at for more information instead of a website. Chris Evans then turns up and tells us who he wants to have a One2One with (groovy, man!), and that’s the end of the video. vlcsnap-00895

The YouTube Files – Christmas With Carlton.

Christmas With Carlton (ITV, 1997)

Well would you believe it, we have a very late entry for this series, as another video that fits all the criteria was uploaded only a day or two ago. So let’s go to the Carlton region (no, come back, it’s worth reading) on 25 December 1997 (a Thursday), courtesy of “Coldclough” on YouTube. There’s plenty of adverts and continuity worth reviewing here, and as ever here are the highlights. vlcsnap-00864

The first breaks are during the evening premiere of Home Alone 2, and once again, there are plenty of sale adverts. Among them are Allders, Harveys, and DFS (just before their advert appeared in every break on Christmas Day). The highlight of them all has to be the one for Courts with Bruce Forsyth, informing us of their great savings, so be there on Boxing Day, it’ll be a cracker. vlcsnap-00853

Among the few non-sale adverts are SpiceWorld: The Movie. I saw this once, and I still don’t think I’ve ever recovered. There is also an advert for M & M’s that is still being shown on TV this year, and it’s now so old it’s been cropped and looks all blurry and horrible, and also plenty of fancy adverts for Daewoo. The film (which was sponsored by a bag of Doritos) then comes to an end. vlcsnap-00857

There is then a promotion for a competition. If you want more information you can look on Teletext, and it ends with the ITV symbol rather awkwardly turned into a Christmas tree. It also features a website address, which looks a little odd alongside a symbol that was introduced in 1989, which makes you realise how long it was used for (it was finally retired from the screen a year later in 1998). vlcsnap-00860

Then there’s a trail for entertainment coming to Carlton in 1998, including The Brit Awards, and, er, Babewatch. The time is almost 9:45pm and Starting Blocks is next. Then there’s a trail for what is coming later tonight, followed by a nice Christmas Carlton ident (these were also used in 1996 and 1998), which featured things such as the “O” turning into a bauble or a snowman. vlcsnap-00862

Starting Blocks (sponsored by Panasonic) was a one-off show looking back at sportspeople before they were famous that was hosted by Chris Tarrant. There are then even more sale adverts, including one for Uno with the guy off Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (I thought he would’ve preferred to be on Tyne Tees!). Then there’s a trail for McCallum, and next is The Bare Necessitiesvlcsnap-00866

There is also a promotion for Christmas Line (still featuring the reindeer character as late as this), supported by Carlton, LWT (Carlton had better relations with LWT than Thames did), and Capital Gold (instead of Capital FM), which is voiced by Chris Tarrant (is this the best work that he could get in the year before Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?). Then there’s a trail for a terrible-looking drama on New Year’s Eve, before another Carlton ident going into comedy-drama (and what appears to be a knock-off of The Full Monty) The Bear Necessities, at which point the video ends. vlcsnap-00867

I’ll be back with a review of the year soon. Until then… Happy Christmas!

The YouTube Files – Christmas With Meridian.

Christmas With Meridian (ITV, 1999)

This review will probably be the last in the series, but it’s another look back at a bumper-sized continuity clip from ITV on Christmas Day (to make up for it I might go on to review some clips from Boxing Day or New Year’s Eve soon). We’re off to the Meridian region on 25 December 1999, almost 20 years ago now which is rather hard to believe. This video was uploaded by “Coldclough” to YouTube, and here are some of the highlights. vlcsnap-00850

Well I was hoping that the breaks would contain some frequently repeated low-budget local sale adverts, and I wasn’t let down. Although there were plenty for the likes of Homebase, Magnet, PC World, and so on, one that stood out to me was for Landmark that featured a Tony Slattery lookalike getting rather overexcited by their prices. Also being rather old school were Reading Wholesale (no fancy music for them) along with their price promise. vlcsnap-00842

There are also plenty of computer adverts, including Intel who have everything you need for a great internet experience, and Tiny. Also featuring is the famous Werther’s Original “now I’m the granddad” advert (which I don’t remember running as late as this), featuring uncommonly good butter-candy. And yes, there is also the DFS sale, featuring “More More More” (what an unusual choice of song). vlcsnap-00847

This video comes from about a month or two after the launch of the second ITV corporate era (and also from the early days of Digital TV, but I don’t think that many people had an OnDigital box at that point). After A Touch Of Frost ends, there’s a preview of the next episode, followed by a rather complicated Yorkshire endcap, and also a trail for the next series of London’s Burning that’s coming soon to ITV. vlcsnap-00848

Then there’s a brief promotion for “Spirit Of The South”, a slogan that had been used ever since the launch of Meridian at the beginning of 1993, featuring the excitement of ice hockey players in Basingstoke. After a trail for Bank Holiday Monday, we then get a heart-filled generic Meridian ident (not sure who the out-of-vision announcer is). It seems that it isn’t a special Christmas variation, and it reminded me that LWT thought that these we so dull by comparison to their previous looks they dropped them after a few months. vlcsnap-00849

The ident is introducing Who Wants To Milk A Franchise To Death… er, I mean Who Wants To Be A Christmas Millionaire with Chris Tarrant (sponsored by Jacob’s Twiglets), which was at the peak of its popularity as this point and was returning for its third edition of the evening. Jim from Beckenham is in the chair. Just who is the comedian with the chunky glasses? It’s for £8,000. However, this is the point where the video comes to an end. vlcsnap-00851

The YouTube Files – Christmas With Central.

Christmas With Central (ITV, 1988)

Let’s continue this look at what some of the ITV regions had to offer viewers on Christmas Day in the 80s. It is about 3:55pm on 25 December 1988 (a Sunday) in the Central region and they are about to show the premiere of The Empire Strikes Back, although I personally don’t have much interest in the Star Wars films. To see what adverts and continuity featured, thanks goes to “thesearethedays” on YouTube, and here are some of the highlights.

We begin with the Central ident. In-vision announcers had long-gone from this region by this point, to be replaced by the fancy computer-generated “cake” symbol which would be used for almost a decade more until 1998. This isn’t a special Christmas variation though. As Central is one of the bigger ITV regions, I imagine that they won’t have much trouble filling their breaks, especially during a much anticipated film like this! vlcsnap-00798

Will there be any epics? Well, adverts include Kaliber with Billy Connolly, Scotch VHS tapes, and a McDonald’s advert featuring the man himself Ronald! And yes, there are some sale adverts. These include MFI, but you’ll have to wait to grab the bargains until Boxing Day. We also get a Ronald-free McDonald’s advert, another one to feature a pre-fame Denise Van Outen if I remember correctly. vlcsnap-00803

One advert that really brings back memories is for Quavers, featuring Colin, who likes all of the curly flavours. Whoever thought that bacon flavour Quavers would catch on though. Whilst watching these breaks I was rather surprised by the lack of Enn Reitel, as based on most of the videos that I’ve seen online he seemed to voice every other advert on TV around this time. vlcsnap-00804

Then there’s a great advert for Philips. Having helped to develop the sound quality of the CD, they have decided to go one better and add pictures too. This means that when you want to watch the video for “Misfit” by Curiosity Killed The Cat (directed by Andy Warhol, fact fans), Ben will jump out of the screen and be in the room with you! That’s modern technology. vlcsnap-00805

And then, we’ve waited a long time for it, but there’s an advert for the DFS sale! Everything is just £129 it seems. Sale starts 10am Boxing Day, ends probably around mid-June. There are also adverts for sales at Allied, Dudleys, the excitement of The Holiday And Travel Fair ’89, and a memorable one for KitKat with a pop group that are not very good… they’ll go a long way! vlcsnap-00815

Then after The Empire Strikes Back ends (or the credits are cut off at least), when get an animated Central endcap (also used on various shows at the time including Bullseye), followed by a trail for Boxing Day’s James Bond film Octopussy, featuring the cake in a nice Christmas scene. Adverts include Brooke Bond with what appears to be John “Boycie” Challis (without a moustache?), an annoying Walkers advert, and Texas’s end-of-year sell out. Then as we start to go into the evening, the video ends. Merry Christmas! vlcsnap-00825

The YouTube Files – Christmas With LWT.

Christmas With LWT (ITV, 1987)

This is a look back at what another ITV region had to offer on Christmas Day in the 80s. Having looked back at Thames, I thought that I would review some adverts and continuity shown on LWT. Now of course, this region didn’t get many opportunities to be on air at Christmas, and as 25 December 1987 was a Friday, they only had about half the day. The clips are from various people on YouTube including “dunebasher1981”, and here are some of the highlights.

Although I wasn’t going to review Thames again, I do want to point out that the first in-vision announcement after the end of TV-am at 9:25am is also online, and it features Philip Elsmore who begins “Ho-ho-ho! Well you can tell that I’m in a good mood!”. We then go on to the afternoon film Bedknobs And Broomsticks which began at 4:35pm, which means that the usual Thames/LWT handover at around 5:15pm happened during the film. vlcsnap-00781

So as the third break during Bedknobs And Broomsticks is the first to be shown on LWT, let’s start there. It’s a Friday evening, and there will be lots of people watching, is there anything fancy on offer. Well there’s an advert for McDonald’s, but Ronald doesn’t feature. And of course, there are lots of sale adverts including World Of Leather and Selfridges, where there are millions of bargains to bag (starts Monday!), and we also have a weird advert for Alka-Seltzer and meet the Oxo family who are all having a good time. vlcsnap-00784

After skipping past Blind Date, we then go to the next clip, which features the end of Coronation Street. This is a famous episode as it is the final one to feature Hilda Odgen. It is also significant because it was the first time that three episodes had been shown in a week, it was the highest-rating episode ever, and it was also the first to be shown on LWT. So we get the views of the out-of-vision announcer Peter Lewis (“what an emotional moment”). vlcsnap-00785

Then we have a trail for Boxing Day (LWT have that day all to themselves as it’s a Saturday), including The Sleeping Beauty, Bobby Davro’s TV Annual ’88 (featuring Davro as various pop stars in a parody of ITV’s music show The Roxy as The Poxy, how marvellous), the TV premiere of Ghostbusters, and Dame Edna’s Christmas Experience. Next is It’ll Be Alright On Christmas Night (later repackaged for repeats as It’ll Be Alright On The Night 5) where there will be plenty of cock-ups guaranteed. vlcsnap-00787

We then have more adverts including a rather bad one for Wimpy, plus a promotion for Christmas Line (“open when London closes”). Bobby Davro then returns accompanied by some nice graphics to kindly wish all LWT viewers a Merry Christmas (I thought his shows were made by TVS?). Adverts in It’ll Be Alright On Christmas Night (when there were only two breaks in hour-long shows) include Courts, who are having their biggest-ever sale (aren’t they always). vlcsnap-00792

There are also adverts for tobacco, Heineken featuring a young Harry Enfield, and the news that you can do it when you B & Q it. It’s now coming up to 9pm and a new episode of Inspector Morse is next, but before that, there’s another trail for Ghostbusters (being shown on TV for the first time, honest) and Dame Edna’s Christmas Experience, plus adverts for the AA and Radio Rentals, before another Christmas Line plug, Arthur Daley wishes us a Happy Christmas, and then the video comes to an end. vlcsnap-00794

The YouTube Files – Christmas With Anglia.

Christmas With Anglia (ITV, 1985)

Following on from my piece taking a look back at some 80s Christmas adverts and continuity from the Thames region, I thought that I would review another ITV region. And thanks to “TheBluechickens” on YouTube, here’s a look at some of what was shown on 25 December 1985 in the Anglia region. This is a part of England that I have been to, but not as long ago as this, let’s see what they had to offer their viewers. vlcsnap-00743

After the end of Moonraker (another James Bond film, what a shock), there’s a long pause before a (generic branded!) slide for a Superman film that has no announcement, so I don’t know why it’s there. Then there’s a trail for programmes coming later in the evening, including sitcom Fresh Fields (“carried away with Christmas spirit”), Minder, Des O’Connor Tonight, and the premiere of Gregory’s Girlvlcsnap-00729

Then, we get to some adverts. And once again, they’re mostly for sales that are starting on Boxing Day, but with stores that I am less familiar with. There are also some tobacco adverts, something that’s now long gone from TV. I noticed too that there was another advert for Whiskas, this time starring Marmalade who does a little dance before licking the plate clean, how adorable. Do Whiskas spend all their money buying advertising slots on Christmas Day I wonder? vlcsnap-00735

I also noticed that Anglia don’t seem to have a Christmas Line equivalent, but instead we are told about the Anglia Television Holiday Service. After a scary Channel 4 trail, it’s 5:30 and time for ITN with Carol Barnes, introduced by an ancient-looking clock and the silver knight that would hang around on the screen for a couple more years yet. There was still no ITV National Weather at this point, so all viewers get is the local weather voiced by the announcer. Game show Name That Tune is next. vlcsnap-00745

Then there’s a simple advert for a sale at a store called Joshua Taylor, which reminds me of when there was a handbag brand with that name on Bid TV, and Peter Simon once called it by accident for some reason a “Joshua Taylor hamburger”, after which he looked really embarrassed and everyone in the studio started to laugh rather loudly. Other adverts include Kaliber with Billy Connolly. vlcsnap-00746

After another very long pause, we see the Anglia announcer, bow-tie wearing Michael Speake sat next to a big tree in his armchair, it seems that a few regions did this and it is a rather nice touch. Name That Tune begins, hosted by Lionel Blair (who recently had his 90th birthday), and a car could be won. Adverts include sales at Carpet City, Barretts Of Woodbridge, and B & Q. What no DFS? It’s now Coronation Street time. vlcsnap-00747

There are more adverts including Kaliber again, but this time with Lenny Henry. Speake then returns, very pleased about all the entertainment lined up. This was when I’m sure that Coronation Street was only shown on Christmas Day if it fell on a Monday or Wednesday, the only two days it was shown on ITV at that point (Christmas was on a Wednesday in 1985), and there are no hour-long extravaganzas here. The episode begins with Curly and Emily bickering about forks, at which point the video comes to an end. vlcsnap-00748