More TV Memories – The Weekend Show.

The Weekend Show (ITV, 1997-1998)

Rather a long time ago now, as part of my Saturday Morning Memories series, I looked back at CITV’s The Noise, and said about how surprised I was to see Andi Peters host another Saturday morning show, fairly shortly after his departure from CBBC’s Live & Kicking. His co-host was Emma Forbes, who also around this time hosted shows on ITV including Good Stuff and Talking Telephone Numbers.

But did you know that not long after Live & Kicking Andi and Emma went on to host another show together? Just like The Totally Friday Show that I reviewed recently, The Weekend Show was another live show in the LWT region on Fridays (produced by London News Network) that aimed to get weekends off to a lively start. There doesn’t seem to be much about this one online, so it’s time for me to fill the gap.

This was sponsored by Thorpe Park, and the opening sequence was rather memorable. This was partly because the theme was an extended version of the LWT ident jingle that was introduced in 1996. Every week this would come from a different location in the region, and featured the usual mix of celebrity guests, competitions, and so on.

And well, this was yet another show where pop groups could turn up to get on the TV and perform their latest single in front of some fans, that’s if they didn’t mind being interviewed by Andi afterwards! Another interesting thing about The Weekend Show was that this would be shown in two parts. The first was from 5:10-5:35, which was followed by London Weekend Tonight and ITN Early Evening News.

Then at 6pm there would be Home And Away (and they did seem to insist that this was an actual feature on the show), with the second part following from 6:25-7pm. Andi would get fairly stroppy if we missed the first part for whatever reason. The Weekend Show would run for a year or two, usually around the summer, and maybe it was an attempt at a The Big Breakfast-style show.

I can’t recall Andi’s old mate Edd The Duck ever turning up though, which was disappointing. Andi was also credited as the co-series producer, and after this ended, he went on to work more behind the scenes, including being involved in Channel 4’s T4 strand that was aimed at teenagers, and he then went on to ruin Top Of The Pops. Well I’m sorry, but he did.

More TV Memories – The Totally Friday Show.

The Totally Friday Show (ITV, 1996-1997)

It is hard to believe that regional ITV ended almost 20 years ago now (well sort of, the names of most regions were around until 2004, and there was still plenty of regional programming until about 2005). Over the years, there were many attempts by LWT to feature a live “let’s start the weekend in style”-type show on a Friday, and these including The 6 O’Clock Show and 6 O’Clock Live.

And this is an example of one from the late-90s, that was aimed at younger viewers. The memory is a little vague on this one, but the idea behind The Totally Friday Show, it says here, was “children’s series offering ideas on how to fill your spare time”. This was produced by London News Network, which was also behind Carlton and LWT’s main news show London Tonight.

Among the hosts was Sonya Saul, who had featured as an entertainment reporter on London Tonight, and I didn’t realise at the time that she had actually been on TV going back to the 80s as one of the hosts of CITV’s computers show Video And Chips. One feature was having various pop stars perform their new single in the studio, and they seemed to be anybody who was keen to appear really.

They ranged from Spice Girls (who went on to conquer the pop music world) to Speedy (who, er, didn’t). There is one rather unusual moment that I’m fairly sure happened on this show, but anyone is welcome to confirm or deny this. Let Loose were a group who were tipped to be big in the mid-90s. After about a year on the scene, they finally had a big hit with “Crazy For You” (although this had to be re-released a few times first).

They went on to have further hits, and performed one of them on this show. I’m not sure what happened because I was only half-looking, but afterwards they took some questions from some children who were in the studio. One asked “what was the most embarrassing moment of your career?” (they always seem to ask that don’t they, they never ask anyone what the highlight was).

The singer said “er, I think it happened about ten minutes ago actually”. I think they missed their cue or had some microphone trouble, something like that, there’s live TV for you. I don’t recall seeing them much after this, hopefully they’ve recovered from the embarrassment now. Along with The Totally Friday Show, also around this time LWT tried a similar idea with The Weekend Show, and I’ll review that soon too.

More TV Memories – 6 O’Clock Live.

6 O’Clock Live (ITV, 1989-1992)

When ITV had much more regional programming, there would be various shows and hosts that would be popular, but if you went to a different part of the country, these would be just about unknown. One of the most successful examples of this was The 6 O’Clock Show, shown live on Friday evenings in the LWT region for about six years, and hosted by Michael Aspel.

When this ended in 1988, the replacement was Friday Now, but this didn’t do as well, and in 1989 this was replaced itself by 6 O’Clock Live, which is the one that I remember watching. This was an hour-long show that was supposed to be the best way to start the weekend. There would be celebrity interviews, music, competitions, and a look at what was happening around the capital.

This came from a studio where famous landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral could be seen in the background, and this was a sight that would soon become rather familiar. The main host was Frank Bough, who was best-known for hosting shows including Grandstand and BBC Breakfast Time. I must admit that at the time I don’t think I was aware of what Frank had supposedly got caught up in.

But LWT decided to give him a fresh start (and he hosted a few ITV Sport shows around this time too). The co-hosts were Jeni Barnett and Danny Baker, who had a similar role to The 6 O’Clock Show, being a roving reporter who took a look at the more light-hearted side of life, whilst wearing a horrible shirt. Other co-hosts and stand-ins included Jo Sheldon and Nick Owen (of TV-am/Good Morning fame).

There were also occasional news updates, and don’t forget there is more information available on Oracle page 243. 6 O’Clock Live ended in the summer of 1992, as preparation began on London Tonight, the new show launching in 1993 from London News Network, a collaboration between Carlton and LWT (who they were much more friendly towards than their predecessors Thames).

After this, Frank just about retired from TV hosting, although he occasionally appeared on a few other shows. For the next four months, the gap was filled with repeats of rowdy sitcom On The Buses (which was about 20 years old even then), and boring school documentary thing (what by the end of the decade would be called a docusoap) Park High.

More TV Memories – Ten Sharp.

Ten Sharp (ITV, 1991-1992)

Pat Sharp first became well-known when he joined BBC Radio 1 in the early-80s, and he also hosted a small number of editions of Top Of The Pops. He then went on to shows on various satellite channels including Sky Trax where he hosted endless hours of music videos, and he also interviewed a lot of the pop stars of the time, isn’t he lucky. He then hosted ITV’s music show The Roxy.

By the late-80s he had moved to Capital, where apparently he played all the hits, although how he’d ever fit every hit single there’s ever been into a three-hour show is unclear. He teamed up with his Capital colleague Mick Brown for a few singles for charity, and one of these managed to make the Top Ten. This meant that he was arguably more famous when he was on a London-only radio station then when he was a national one. And then he hosted the popular CITV show Fun House.

In the early-90s he hosted a couple of TV shows that I’m fairly sure were only shown in the LWT region. Ten Sharp (not to be confused with Ten Sharp, a Dutch group who had a Top Ten hit single in 1992) was a ten minute-long show on Saturday afternoons (in Nicam digital stereo) where he floated along in a spaceship thing in a computer-generated world called The Tunnel Of Ten and he would recommend to viewers ten things to do over the weekend. Full speed ahead!

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This included things like films to go and see at the cinema, the latest hit singles to buy, events taking place around the region, and so on. This was all accompanied by some rather funky background music (I can’t remember if this was a hit single or made for the show though). There were also some great competitions with big prizes, don’t forget that details are on Oracle page 244.

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But another reason that I remember Ten Sharp is because I’m fairly sure that a boy who was in my class at school appeared in a feature alongside a WCW wrestler (not to be confused with the WWF as it was still called at the time). How fabulous. There were also some amusing end credits, such as people being described as “Sharp Shooters” and “At The Sharp End”.

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After Ten Sharp ended, Pat went on to host Sharp’s Funday (which I have already reviewed), shown on LWT on Sunday afternoons, and featuring old episodes of Batman and WCW, along with competitions. And then Pat hosted many other TV and radio shows, including CITV’s Saturday Morning funfest What’s Up Doc. And I did this piece with referencing his hairstyle once. Oh no!

More TV Memories – ITV In The 80s (Part 2).

This is the second part of my look back at ITV in the 80s. ITV1

LWT introduced their red, white, and blue symbol in 1970, and then this was revised in 1978. A computer-generated version had been around locally since around 1983 (maybe the first one all of the ITV companies?), but the main ident wasn’t changed until August 1986, and there were two variations. They were rather classy, featuring another minor revision of the symbol, and they were still occasionally seen as late as 1992 (and survived on the endcap until 1996). LWT1

Scottish had used their “STV” look for a long time. This was then changed in August 1985 to a rather stylised “thimble” symbol. The colours of pinks and blues, along with the combination of spheres and cubes, made viewers think this looked a little like some Liquorice Allsorts. This was then changed in 1988, meaning that Scottish were on their second computer-generated symbol before some regions had barely established their first. This was used in various styles until as late as 2000. Scottish1

Thames had been using their famous “skyline” look since 1969. It was revised a few times, and it was still being used almost two decades later. Although it was a design classic, it really was time for a change. A new version of the symbol was introduced for the 21st anniversary in July 1989, and this was one of the biggest changes of any region. Also, Thames were the final region to inform us that their shows were a “colour production”. The fact that this endcap was still being used right up until the launch of the generic look in September 1989 is rather remarkable really. Thames1

TSW‘s ident at their launch in 1982 was a really strange mess of all kinds of mismatched things floating around for no reason. It might have been memorable but it was so odd. In May 1985 this was replaced by something more straightforward that formed together in a much more slick and pleasing style, although it was rarely seen by the late-80s. TSW1

TVS introduced their multicoloured symbol when they launched in 1982. Their new look came in September 1987, keeping their “shell” symbol, although it was now a rather cold blue colour. This was updated in 1989 and was used until the closure in 1992. One of the better ones. TVS1

Tyne Tees had been using their “TTTV” symbol since the early-70s. Many years later, this was still being used, and the ident looked very old and tired. There was finally change in September 1988, where droplets of rain on sand formed the symbol, which was now blue on yellow instead of yellow on blue (70s idents were very blue). Further variations were introduced in the early-90s, but by now the symbol probably had the worst case of old symbol/new graphics clash (even more than Granada and HTV), and along with the colour combinations, this looked horrible, frankly. A stop was finally put to this nonsense when an all-new (if less distinctive) symbol was introduced in 1992, but at least it looked like something designed in the 90s. TyneTees1

UTV were another region that didn’t go for very fancy graphics, being known for their not very expensive-looking “telly on a stick” symbol, or a static caption. Although by September 1987 there had been an upgrade, the unusual symbol dealing with the modernisation better than most did. Variations of this were used until the big relaunch in 1993. UTV1

Yorkshire were yet another region that had barely altered their symbol since the introduction of colour, with their rather creepy and static yellow symbol. They were another region to embrace computer-generated graphics early, and in January 1987 they went all the way, putting a lot of time and effort into a new ident… this time in 3D! Several computers worked overtime to create the “Liquid Gold” ident, where the symbol appeared from a pool of gold to fly into the air. This was definitely one of the better designs, and was used on local programming well into the 90s.Yorkshire1

In conclusion, it seems that the process of all the ITV regions changing over to computer-generated idents took almost five years. Grampian were the first, in April 1985, and Border were the last, in September 1989 (although Channel remains unclear unfortunately). The biggest changes came in the Anglia, Scottish, and Thames regions.

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 – Wake Up London.

Wake Up London (ITV, 1985-1988)

This blog was set up for me to look back at any old TV show that caught my interest, whether it be a long-forgotten oddity or a ratings-topping classic, and you can probably guess which category this show falls into! ITV on Sunday mornings in the late-80s/early-90s used to be rather odd has it had to cover a wide variety of programming.

TV-am would usually feature a political debate hosted by Sir David Frost (or maybe Jonathan Dimbleby), and this would followed by various children’s cartoons such as The Smurfs, and then there would be things like Morning Worship (which because of advertising restrictions on religious programming featured no breaks), and Link, the show aimed at people with disabilities, and by the start of the afternoon you might feel like going back to bed.

When looking through some old TV Times from the 80s I noticed something unusual that was shown in this slot. TV-am would be followed at 9:25am on Sunday mornings in the LWT region in the mid-80s by a ten-minute programme called Wake Up London. This is something that I have been interested in seeing for a while, so I was pleased to recently discover an edition on YouTube, uploaded by a user called “Nearrrggghh”, so thanks goes to them. vlcsnap-00666

Wake Up London was originally hosted by a comedy duo called the Vicious Boys who were Andy Smart and Angelo Abela. In 1989 Angelo would go on to be one of the presenters of CITV Saturday Morning show Ghost Train under the alias of Gerard. I’m fairly sure that I also saw him in pantomime at the Hackney Empire about 100 years ago when he was at the height (?) of his fame, aren’t I lucky. vlcsnap-00670

The idea of Wake Up London was that it was a what’s on guide as our presenting duo went around London showing us various fun things to do during the weekend including checking out the latest technology, so if you want more information, look out for the phone number at the end of the show. The later editions were hosted by a female comedy duo called Rabbitt And Doon, Doon being Doon Mackichan who would go on to have further success in comedy shows including The Day Today and Smack The Ponyvlcsnap-00668

I did enjoy seeing Wake Up London, it was a fun idea, but what a bizarre piece of scheduling by LWT. I don’t know why someone decided that this was something suitable for Sunday mornings. One thing is for sure though, because of the way that ITV now works with almost no regional programming anywhere, we definitely won’t see its like again. 

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A TV Times listing for Wake Up London in December 1985

The YouTube Files – An Evening With LWT.

An Evening With LWT (ITV, 1987)

After writing a piece about an old continuity clip from the Thames region that I enjoyed watching on YouTube, I wanted to do the equivalent for LWT, the other ITV region that we could get in London. Recently I did come across an old LWT continuity clip and I liked it so much that I “liked” it if that makes sense, and I decided that it was worth reviewing here. It was shown on 18 July 1987 (just after my 4th birthday) and features adverts and continuity around the late film 9 To 5. It was uploaded to YouTube by a user called “thesearethedays” so credit goes to them. vlcsnap-00988

Just before the film, there are the LWT News Headlines. LWT still didn’t have a proper news service at this point, the continuity announcer appeared in-vision to read the news, it wasn’t until the start of 1988 that their regular news programme launched. Then there’s the famous LWT ident which was introduced in 1986 and was used for a few years which I am just about old enough to remember. I also wanted to highlight some of my favourite adverts that appear in the clip. vlcsnap-00989

One notable one is for Budweiser where some men sing “The Tracks Of My Tears”. One of them looks a little like a young Jerome Flynn. I’m not sure if it is him or not, but I do know that he had three Number One singles in the 90s with his mate Robson Green so seemingly all that singing in adverts came in useful eventually. There is also an advert for the Five Alive drink that came in cartons. Without wishing to sound too cliched, I’m not sure if they still make this drink, whatever happened to it? I definitely remember it. vlcsnap-00992

There is also a rather odd advert for the Cadbury’s Double Decker chocolate bar, it’s “crunchy and chewy”. Also featuring are adverts for Diet Pepsi (with NutraSweet!) and Miller Lite with the “it ain’t heavy” slogan, which about a year later would lead to “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies becoming a Number One single after it was used as part of this campaign. We then come to my favourite advert in the whole clip… vlcsnap-00994

It’s Cadbury’s Crunchie! I’ve always liked this advert, it’s rather hard to describe it though. It features someone with a horrid suit and big bow-tie saying that Crunchie bars give him “that Friday feeling”, and it also seems to use a lot of creative stop-motion effects, none of the advert seems to be computer generated. The “thank Crunchie it’s Friday” slogan was used for a long time and I still remember it. It’s just a shame that I actually don’t like Crunchies… vlcsnap-00996

Then there’s an advert for radio station LBC influenced by TV show The Prisoner. I don’t think that the current LBC on-air is related to this version of LBC, but there have been so many owners and relaunches it’s difficult to keep track of the history. Then that’s it. Following the weather, there’s a look at the programmes that are coming on Sunday evening, including game show Tarby’s Frame Game and an episode from the first series of sitcom Watching. This is followed by the National Anthem (Thames never played it) and what has to be one of the final closedowns on LWT before they went 24-hours. It was really great to watch this clip and be able to go back in time nearly three decades. After all this time I still really enjoy old continuity clips, and this is definitely one of the best that I’ve seen from the LWT region. vlcsnap-00997

More TV Memories – ITV Night Time (part 3).

The late-90s-present: In 1995 a new look was introduced to ITV Night Time in the Carlton and LWT regions. Once the clock went past about midnight, these strange neon people appeared to do a dance before programmes. What was unusual about this presentation was that it was completely unbranded, with not even a reference to ITV anywhere. nighttime11

In 1996 ITV Night Time launched a new campaign which insisted that the strand was “Television With Attitude”, and the programmes seemed to become a little more outrageous, with game shows such as Carnal Knowledge and God’s Gift causing a stir much beyond the small amount of viewers who actually watched. nighttime12

I think I am right in saying that this look continued to be used after the ITV symbol was changed in 1998. Also in that year, the ITV Nightscreen was introduced. This wasn’t a programme as such, just a service with information on various forthcoming ITV programmes, accompanied by some music. In its earliest days this was presented as a Teletext-style service, somewhat similar to the BBC’s Pages From Ceefax. nighttime13

After a while though ITV Nightscreen was upgraded to feature Powerpoint-style graphics, and this programme continues to this day, seemingly taking up more and more airtime. Around 1999 when the corporate Hearts look was introduced, programmes from this point would be introduced by a generic ITV ident. Just about all the other regional strands had ended by this point. nighttime14

Into the 2000s, ITV did still make some effort into making original programmes for the Night Time strand, with game show The Machine, sketch show Dare To Believe, and music show CD:UK Hotshots being among the shows that stick in my mind from that era, although the days of Casey Kasem had long gone by this point. vlcsnap-00273

I also remember one of the most amusing continuity announcements that I have heard was before ITV Nightscreen. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something like “Jampacked so full of stuff, I often ask myself how we fit it all in, but we do. Just as well then, because it’s time for the almost-legendary ITV Nightscreen“. An announcer with a sense of humour who would have thought it. nighttime15

By the mid-2000s though, ITV practically gave up on Night Time. Almost all original programming ended and was replaced by uninspired repeats dumped in minor slots, some of them featuring in-vision sign language interpreters because I think that they are contracted to produce a particular amount of output a week serving this purpose, so put it all on at 3am why don’t you. You are also incredibly unlikely to see an advert break at this time now too. nighttime16

Around this time, the phone-in game show craze was at its peak, so ITV filled endless hours with Quizmania, which for me was one of the better interactive shows, at least they made the attempt to be entertaining, and they gave away some decent amounts of money. After that ended though, ITV now fill the time with one of those roulette things, just like Channel 5 too. There’s choice for you. nighttime17

In the multi-channel era, where almost every TV channel is broadcasting 24 hours a day, it is a shame that there seems to be so few channels offering anything beyond pre-recorded infomercials and repeats late at night. Although it started with such innovation, the Night Time strand has gone from pioneering to pointless in 25 years.

More TV Memories – ITV Night Time (part 2).

The early-1990s: As the 90s began ITV Night Time was beginning to be a success. Although of course the ratings would never be that high there was clearly demand for programming at this time of night and a lot of original shows were made for the strand, with a few repeats, imports including American sitcoms such as Three’s Company, and the occasional film shown as well. It is remarkable looking back now to discover just how much effort was put into shows that were shown at around 2am and some viewers still fondly remember them, although of course they weren’t exactly big budget stuff. nighttime9

For example, there was a lot of original music programming, such as the dance show BPM and of course Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan in various nightclubs on The Hitman And Her. My sister always liked to set the video for a rock music show called Noisy Mothers. There were many others too and in this case I think that you really could describe these shows as attracting a cult following. nighttime8

Things changed in 1991 though. Thames and LWT began to share a new strand simply called “Night Time” which was shown in a few other regions too, meaning the end for in-vision continuity in the Thames, Anglia and TVS regions, plus the end of Night Club on HTV. This disappointed a lot of viewers who enjoyed the announcers who kept going through the night whatever happened. Other regions continued with various strands called Night Time and Night Shift. nighttime6

When Thames lost their franchise at the end of 1992 it meant the end of the Night Time strand. When Carlton came along in 1993 they had their own look. The main ident usually just featured a shot of a hedgehog. There seemed to be a lot of this imagery in Night Time presentation over the years, with lots of owl/hedgehog/cat symbolism being used by the regions to imply just how late it was. nighttime10

LWT decided to launch their own strand again called 3 Nights, because it was shown three nights a week, and not as I thought, because it was on Channel 3. Or maybe it was both. Again there were some odd idents, which never featured any announcers either live or pre-recorded, and one of them seemed to feature the guy from the Pet Shop Boys. nighttime7

There was also still advertising regularly in these late night slots, usually for those Karaoke Challenge-phone competitions, but some of the smaller regions had to make do with showing Public Information Films, which are scary enough in the daytime never mind late at night, and sometimes if they were really short of material, simply a “Back Soon” slide was shown. Things would change though by 1995 as you’ll find out in the third part of this piece.