The YouTube Files – Time After Time.

Outside Chance (ITV, 1993)/Time After Time (ITV, 1994-1995)

It’s time for another entry in the “were there any decent 90s ITV sitcoms?” series, and here’s why I chose to review this one. When I was younger, I remember watching Brian Conley’s comedy sketch show on TV. I know some people found his routine rather cheesy, but I did enjoy it. By the mid-90s he was popular enough to be given the leading role in a sitcom pilot.

This was called Outside Chance, and it did well enough to return for a full series about a year later, as the re-titled Time After Time (an LWT production for ITV), written by Paul Minett and Brian Leveson. Conley (who also sang the theme song) played Kenny Conway, a cheeky tea-leaf who has just been released from prison, you could say that in the past he was “a little bit waayyy” as the phrase goes, but he is now insistent that he is a reformed character and determined to keep out of trouble, although his family aren’t convinced. vlcsnap-01100

Kenny’s family include his mother and his younger brother Robbie (who was still at school and must’ve been about 15 years younger than him). Also featuring is Kenny’s mate, the dodgy car mechanic Jake (not to be confused with Brian’s other mate called Jake who co-hosted the “Conley’s Car Boot Quiz” feature on his comedy sketch show around the same time as this who just happened to be a robot from the year 3003). vlcsnap-01099

There is also Kenny’s girlfriend Donna who works at a building society and has remained loyal to him during his time in prison, and they plan to get married, what a girl, what a diamond. Hoping to help Kenny along the way is his probation officer Gillian (Samantha “Richard’s daughter” Beckinsale), but things start to get a little complicated, and he becomes entangled in a love triangle. Kenny also briefly gets a job as a car salesman, but he definitely didn’t compare to Swiss Toni. vlcsnap-01096

Time After Time ran for two series on ITV on Friday nights (ITV used to show sitcoms on Friday nights? ITV used to show sitcoms??), but it has not been released on DVD, and it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. I do remember that it was repeated on digital channel Granada Plus though. The first series also won an award for being the best ITV sitcom of 1994. vlcsnap-01095

Time After Time is a sitcom that has been somewhat forgotten now, although all the episodes are on YouTube and it was good to watch them. In more recent years Conley (who first appeared on TV in the early-80s) has gone on to have further success away from sitcoms, mostly appearing on stage in the theatre, and he has also hosted a few game shows on various channels. 

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Time After Time appears in TV Times in March 1994…

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… and also in Radio Times in April 1994

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The YouTube Files – Easter With Thames.

Easter With Thames (ITV, 1989)

At the end of last year I looked back at some continuity and adverts that were shown at Christmas and New Year on various ITV regions and Channel 4 in the 80s. Now I thought that it would be a good idea to look at some adverts that were shown around Easter. So I was pleased to find some adverts that were shown in the Thames region on Easter Monday (because they wouldn’t be on air on Easter Sunday of course) 27 March 1989 that were uploaded to YouTube by “SaxSells” (a very good account that I definitely think is worth subscribing to). Here are some of the highlights. vlcsnap-01095

Most of the adverts in the video are during an afternoon showing of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I must admit that I have never really been a fan of Star Trek so I doubt that I watched these at the time. Adverts include Peperami, Selfridges, and a rather odd one for board game Pictionary, featuring someone who is having a little trouble communicating his answer. vlcsnap-01084

Then we have an advert for pop compilation “Now That’s What I Call Music 14”, featuring 32 of the hottest hits around, the only one that is referenced by David “Kid” Jensen is Bananarama and Lananeeneenoonoo’s classic cover of “Help!”, but then it is the best track on it of course. Available on double album, double cassette, double CD and VHS. vlcsnap-01085

Thames announcer Peter Marshall informs us that Star Trek: The Motion Picture will continue after the news. Then we have a trail for the big Easter Monday evening film, The Man With The Golden Gun. A James Bond film on ITV, who would’ve thought it. We are then told that Channel 4 are about to show the film musical Calamity Jane, which is delightful. vlcsnap-01090

Now this is an odd one, it’s an advert for the second issue of short-lived magazine TV Guide, which launched before the deregulation of TV magazines in March 1991, when you had no choice but to buy both Radio Times and TV Times as no other magazines were able to publish TV listings, even something as basic as “10pm News” wasn’t permitted, so it seems that this magazine didn’t actually feature any listings, only including some interviews and reviews, but it was the first step to getting the regulations changed. vlcsnap-01086

Also notable is that Steven Hartley is on the cover of TV Guide, who was in EastEnders at the time, before going on to appear in many other things including a few episodes of US sitcom Married… With Children, The Bill, and he has also provided voiceovers for about 10,000 trails on radio station TalkSport. After the news is the conclusion of the film, don’t go away. vlcsnap-01087

Then there’s an unbranded trail for soap Home And Away which had launched on ITV only a month or two earlier and became rather popular in this country, although nowadays it’s at the “is that still going?” point with most viewers. Adverts include the return of that man who isn’t very good at playing Pictionary, and a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Then there is a rather odd advert for Head & Shoulders that has been very badly dubbed and seems to feature a vampire (“brilliant, you look awful!”). vlcsnap-01092

The film has now ended, and we are off to Summer Bay after the break. There’s that The Man With The Golden Gun trail again, and another advert for “Now 14”, which apparently does feature some other tracks apart from Bananarama, we also have big hits from Sam Brown, Roy Orbison, Erasure, Phil Collins and Marc Almond, you’ll find them all here. vlcsnap-01088

There is then another advert for McDonald’s (this time promoting Double Features), Mr Dog has been renamed Cesar, and also TV Times, Britain’s biggest-selling magazine called TV Times. Jason Donovan is on the cover this week, how exciting (there had been a big relaunch of Radio Times about a week earlier). Then there’s a trail for a new series of LA Law on Thursday which like all the others features the booming voice of Bruce Hammal. vlcsnap-01094

Then there’s the famous Thames skyline ident (that had been used in various forms since 1969!) and would remain onscreen for about another five months after this, as Peter Marshall out-of-vision introduces the first showing of the day of Home And Away. The ident wouldn’t really be used regularly in this way until 1988. And that’s where the video comes to an end.

The YouTube Files – Sitcom Weekend Spoofs.

Sitcom Weekend Spoofs (Channel 4, 1997)

In May 1997, Channel 4 had a special weekend devoted to sitcoms over three days (it was a Bank Holiday) that featured episodes of British and American sitcoms, along with film versions of sitcoms and some documentaries. Also featuring throughout the weekend were four five-minute long spoofs of various styles of sitcoms. These were notable as they featured some early TV appearances from soon to be big names who went on to various successful comedy shows including Little Britain and The League Of Gentlemen, along with a few others including Rebecca Front, Bob Mortimer and Paul Putner.

All of these spoofs were written by and featured Matt Lucas and David Walliams, and they were also repeated on the Paramount Comedy Channel. I don’t remember watching them first time round, but I have wanted to see them, and the good news is that all four of the spoofs are on YouTube, so let’s take a look at what happened in all of them one by one.

I’m Bland… Yet All My Friends Are Krazy! A spoof of the American sitcom Seinfeld, which featured an ordinary man and stand-up comedian called Jerry who tries to get through life but is surrounded by wacky comic characters and too much canned laughter. That seemed to be the idea anyway, but some critics felt that there wasn’t much point in trying to spoof one of the greatest sitcoms of its era, and it soon went off in an entirely different and rather bizarre direction. vlcsnap-00764

My Gay Dads. A spoof of the rather cliched and saccharine American sitcoms about family life that were around at the time, featuring too much moralising and hugging, such as the rotten My Two Dads. Kimberley invites her boyfriend round her house, but her gay dads are planning something, which mostly involves playing “In The Navy” by Village People rather loudly. vlcsnap-00765

A Puppet Lives In My House. A spoof of the rather odd and far-fetched sitcoms where one of the main characters is a non-human, such as ALF. Holden and Laverne are expecting their boss to come round for dinner. They very much hope that the wisecracking sock-puppet that lives with them won’t cause chaos. What could possibly go wrong? vlcsnap-00772

Only Jerks And Horses. A spoof of Only Fools And Horses being re-imagined for an American audience. Del Boy is now a stock market trader, and Roderney (who has been imported from the British version) isn’t sure about his new money making scheme, but he is soon written out as he is unpopular with the viewers, and Uncle Albert has been replaced by a robot. This was considered to be the best of the spoofs, indeed you could say that it was “nice jubbly!”. vlcsnap-00781

The YouTube Files – The DJ Kat Show.

The DJ Kat Show (Sky Channel/Sky One, 1986-1995)

This is a show that I don’t remember watching at the time, this is because it was on Sky One and I didn’t have that channel myself until the late-90s. But when I looked through TV magazines a long time ago, I do remember being curious about what the show was. Did the title refer to a DJ as in someone who plays records? Well thankfully there are more than enough clips on YouTube for me to finally discover what it was all about.

The DJ Kat Show launched in September 1986 on Sky Channel which was available across most of Europe, and at the time it was produced in the Netherlands. This was essentially Sky’s children’s programming strand, their equivalent of CBBC and CITV, and it was one of the few things you would find on the channel in its early days, along with repeats of old imported sitcoms, and endless editions of Sky Trax with Pat Sharp. vlcsnap-00543

But who exactly was DJ Kat? This was the host of the show, who was a leather jacket-wearing cat puppet with attitude who I suppose was their equivalent of a Gordon The Gopher/Scally The Dog-type character who introduced various cartoons, usually during the afternoons and school holidays (he also did a rap in the opening sequence). DJ Kat would also be assisted by a human co-host, and there were many of these over the years. vlcsnap-00548

In the earliest days this was Linda De Mol, whose brother was behind the production company that launched Big BrotherIn 1987, an American version of the show launched on a few TV channels, with our feline host picking up the accent from somewhere, but this was rather short-lived. After the relaunch of Sky Channel in 1989, The DJ Kat Show moved to the UK, and Linda departed, to be replaced by Steffanie Pitt. vlcsnap-00588

By the early-90s, DJ Kat’s sidekick was Catrina Hylton-Hull, and among the shows featured were such goodies as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Then in the mid-90s, DJ Kat was joined by Joe Greco (of CITV’s Spatz and Mega Mania fame), and features included interactive games that viewers could play at home using their touch-tone telephones for prizes (a lot of children’s TV shows included this feature around this time). vlcsnap-00753

There were also a few comedy sketches including a parody of EastEnders. However, despite still being rather popular with viewers, after almost a decade the show was beginning to run out of steam a little, and it came to an end in December 1995. A new children’s strand launched on Sky One in January 1996 but it was very short-lived and much less successful. Having now seen some of it, I think that I would’ve enjoyed watching The DJ Kat Show when I was younger, and it seems that a lot of people still remember all this fondly.

The YouTube Files – Six Pairs Of Pants.

Six Pairs Of Pants (ITV, 1995)

One of the aims of this blog is to track down and review TV shows however famous they are, anything that I think sounds interesting will be considered to feature. I remember reading some people talk about this comedy show online, and it made me want to see some for myself. Thankfully, I found a few editions on YouTube. This is a show that I don’t remember watching at the time… but I have a good excuse.

This is because Six Pairs Of Pants wasn’t shown in my ITV region. Having a look at some old TV magazines again recently, I noticed the show featured in the regional variations column, it seems that it was shown only in the Anglia and Meridian regions, rather late on Friday nights. Although it may be a little-seen and low-budget sketch show, it is actually rather significant as a lot of the cast went on to much bigger things and this was one of the earliest opportunities for these promising talents to appear on TV. vlcsnap-00155

The super sextet who starred in Six Pairs Of Pants were Simon Pegg (long before his other 90s comedy shows Spaced, Big Train, We Know Where You Live, and even Faith In The Future), Jessica Stevenson (Pegg’s Spaced co-star and co-writer), Katy Carmichael (another future Spaced cast member who also appeared in Coronation Street), Sally Phillips (Smack The Pony among many other things), Neil Mullarkey (who was in a comedy double-act with a pre-fame Mike Myers), and Simon Schatzberger (who was also in CITV’s Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It, and that Yellow Pages advert. No, not that one, the other one). vlcsnap-00094

A wide variety of things in modern life were targeted, and regular sketches included all six cast members appearing together sharing a flat, an Australian man living in England, two bickering teenage girls, and a rather scary film superhero called Mallet. The cast were also among the show’s many writers. Of course, as is always the case with these shows, the quality of the sketches varied somewhat, but it was good seeing a group of young comedy talent on the brink of a lot of success in more recent years showing off their potential. vlcsnap-00092

Only one series of Six Pairs Of Pants was made consisting of six editions, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, there has been no DVD release, and I’m fairly sure that it hasn’t been repeated on any TV channel since. But from what I’ve seen of it the cast definitely made the most of having their own comedy sketch show on ITV, and it isn’t very likely that the current generation of up-and-coming comic talent will get that chance now.

The YouTube Files – They Came From Somewhere Else.

They Came From Somewhere Else (Channel 4, 1984)

I’m always on the lookout for unusual shows to review here, and this is one that I’ve been interested in seeing. I don’t remember They Came From Somewhere Else from first time round, but the descriptions I’ve read made it seem rather bizarre (how could I not be intrigued by show featuring a cast member credited as The “They’re Coming” Man?), so I wondered if it was on YouTube, and the good news is that all six episodes are, so here’s the review.

They Came From Somewhere Else (a TVS Production for Channel 4) was produced during a time in the 80s when Channel 4 were still trying to define their comedy image and find some shows with a distinctive style, and this one was at least something of an attempt to be something a little different. It was shown on Saturday nights and viewers might not have realised what they were in for. vlcsnap-01013

The show was created by and starred a comedy quartet known as Cliffhanger (Robin Driscoll, Tony Haase, Pete McCarthy and Rebecca Stevens), one of whom I recognised from their appearances in BBC2’s classic comedy The Day Today a decade later (“as the Minister For Ships sprawls on a pin, it’s back to you in the studio!”). They Came From Somewhere Else started out as a stage show before transferring to TV a couple of years later in 1984. vlcsnap-01009

The show is rather difficult to describe, it’s something of a science-fiction parody sitcom, and having recently reviewed the similar ITV sitcom Kinvig, I wondered how this one would compare. Middleford is a rather quiet place until one day… something rather odd happens. The character only known as “The Stranger” arrives, and then liver starts to fall from the sky, butchers explode, people are sucked down drains by giant prawns, toasters go on the blink, and zombies fill supermarkets. vlcsnap-01007

There is also a briefcase that plays a major part in the series, but what does it contain? The show also concluded with an exciting cliffhanger (which I suppose is rather appropriate really), although it never returned for a second series, so viewers are still wondering what happened next 35 years on, I don’t know if there were any more episodes planned to be made. A rather odd show, I suppose I can see how it acquired its cult status. vlcsnap-01011

They Came From Somewhere Else can be classed as one of those “it’s more peculiar than funny” shows, and it isn’t likely to receive a DVD release soon, not because of lack of demand as such but because it is a TVS Production (and I’m sure that people are aware of the disarray that their archive is in by now). The same team went on to write and appear in the 1989 BBC2 sitcom Mornin’ Sarge, which again was an unusual one-series wonder.

The YouTube Files – Paris.

Paris (Channel 4, 1994)

This is a 90s sitcom that I have been interested in seeing for a long time, and here’s why. Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews were an Irish duo who wrote a lot of comedy together, and contributed to shows including Smith And Jones and The Day Today. In 1994 they wrote a sitcom for Channel 4 called Paris. This is all-but forgotten now, and all I remember seeing at the time is a trail, but some episodes have been uploaded to YouTube by “MrNoosphere”, so credit goes to them.

Paris was set in 1920s France and starred Alexei Sayle as the short-tempered artist Alain Degout. He is somewhat struggling with his work and will do anything to be famous. His rather dozy colleague is Paul Rochet (Neil Morrissey). Also appearing is the psychiatrist Minotti who says things like “no more monsieur nice guy”. Along the way we meet a variety of characters in the great and thriving city including many gentlemen with distinguished moustaches. vlcsnap-00865

There were also guest appearances from some familiar faces including Windsor Davies (although he didn’t have any boxes of concentrated jelly with him unfortunately), John Bird, Patrick Marber, and a rather glamorous looking Rebecca Front who it is always a pleasure to see turn up in comedy shows. Paris was definitely a show that was full of energetic performances, with a lot of shouting, and bizarre physical comedy including people falling over or randomly jumping out of windows. vlcsnap-00893

Paris ran for six episodes, I think it was repeated only once rather late at night on Channel 4 not long after its original run, and it hasn’t been seen on TV since. It has not been released on DVD either. Linehan and Mathews (who also appeared in one episode) must have thought that they had blown their chance of creating a successful sitcom, but as it turned out of course they needn’t have worried. vlcsnap-00889

This was because their second sitcom for Channel 4 that launched a year after Paris was Father Ted, which went on to become one of the most successful comedy shows of its era, be constantly repeated, and it remains fondly thought of by viewers to this day. We should be grateful that after this flop Channel 4 continued to have faith in them. If you could make a comparison between Paris and Father Ted I suppose it could be with some of the interplay between Alain and Paul, he was definitely the Dougal to his Ted, along with the plots taking unusual twists. vlcsnap-00899

Also, every episode title was in French, but nobody in the show actually spoke with a French accent. When compared to Father Ted, Paris was always going to come off as second best, but I was pleased to have finally seen some of it for myself, and it contained a lot of amusingly anarchic moments that gave a few hints of what great things were to come.