Monday 7 April 1986

Oh dear, we had thought that Spring had sprung, but according to today’s entry, it was an ‘utter b*****d of a day’.  It was wet and windy, and surprise surprise, there was nothing at all to do.  I was frustrated by the fire, which I could not get to light, well not until I had put three firelighters on it.  Why, there wasn’t even much on the telly.  Boo and indeed, hoo.

No homework or revision reported, I should have been doing some Physics.

Wednesday 9 April 1986

Oh no.  Another ‘boring’ day.  Again, I played Football Manager on the C64.  I also went to the library, and amongst all those books I was still bored.

At least Man Utd could offer us some entertainment as they lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea this evening.

And over on Channel 4 we had some seminal 1980’s TV, Prospects.  Following the adventures of Jimmy ‘Pincey’ Pince, played by the late great Gary Olsen and Billy, played by Brian Bovell, Prospects was a cult hit for Channel 4 – one of the programmes that only Channel 4 could make.

The sun sets on the Thames, another day comes to an end…

Friday 11 April 1986

At last I had finished (surely phinished) my Physics homework.  I noted also that I had better start my Chemistry homework ‘or else’ – remember, back to school on Monday, that’s only a weekend away.  It was ‘nearly a nice day up till dinner’.

I then went on to complain about somebody, let’s call him Teddy.  Apparently he was here all day, and ‘Gordon Bennet he’s a…’   Mmm, spurious to say the least.  But anyway, at least Auf Widersehen Pet was on again and this week it was ‘grate’.

Monday 14 April 1986

Here’s a thought for you.  I think that I was Jim Royle before he was.  Here’s why, first entry… ‘Back to school – not so bad eh?  Not so bad – my a**e!’

I did my French speech, which I didn’t know very well, and considering that exam was only next week that’s a bit silly by me really.  In the evening, I watched Now, Something Else, starring Jeremy Hardy and Sarah Crowe (the first bride in Four Weddings) and written by Rory Bremner and Ian Brown.  I also watched the Joan Rivers show, Can We Talk? One of the programmes was ‘brill’ the other wasn’t.  You decide, I can’t remember.

Friday 2 May 1986

One week to go, I noted.  Looking back from now as I write this, it’s hard to understand just how momentous it actually was, this leaving school lark.  At the time, getting up and trundling off to school was an activity that I had done for around 11 years out of my 16.  That’s a big chunk I think that you’ll agree.

Anyway, that’s enough of that kind of thing.  Today we did some German (talking not writing) work today.  I reckoned it was harder than French – ‘can see a better French mark than German’ – didn’t happen, I got a B for German and a C for French.  ‘Chemistry was as usual very boring – Teacher is c**p.’

In the evening, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet continued to be ‘brilliant’.  That’s ‘b****y marvelous’, ‘just magic’ and ‘grate’ over the past few weeks.  Wow – I could be Clement and La Frenais’ in house reviewer…

Grange Hill

OMG!  If there was ever a must watch television programme for me then this was it.

Grange Hill started in 1979 when I was still a couple of years away from Secondary school. It was the ultimate in cool at the time, I don’t think that there can be much debate on that. I remember that me mum tolerated it, although if he was ever at home at the time it was on – very rarely – the old chap would insist that the TV went off.

The first icons delivered by Grange Hill were of course Peter ‘Tucker’ Jenkins and his gang, Benny (Green) and Alan (Humphries).  Then there was Mrs ‘Ma’ McCluskey and Bullet Baxter, not to mention Trisha Yates and Cathy Hargreaves.  And these were just the first lot!

I guess that the Grange Hill characters with whom I most closely identified were the likes of  ‘Zammo’ McGuire, Ziggy Greaves and ‘Jonah’ Jones. Later, I was quite into the Luke ‘Gonch’ Gardner gang too. Of course I will never forget the  ‘Gripper’ Stebson and Roland Browning axis, Gripper, proving that Ben Elton in The Young Ones was right, ‘Oh, come on, sir. We’re the only kids in Britain who never say ffffffffff…’  And who can ever forget, ‘Danny Kendall… dead!’

For me, the secret of Grange Hill was the seamless introduction of new faces.  As evidenced by the list of my favourite characters, they didn’t all appear together, but the are all but indistinguishable in terms of their era.  Phil Redmond, Grange Hill’s creator, could devise a hundred more television series but he’ll never come up with anything quite like Grange Hill.

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Multi Coloured Swap Shop

Ok, ok. It started in 1976, but I don’t remember watching it when I was only six. It was an 80’s phenomenon alright! Having said that, it gave way in 1982 to Saturday Superstore – Mike ‘Auntie’ Read taking over the mantle (surely cudgel) from Noel ‘Tidybeard’ Edmonds.

But enough of this, what about Swap Shop?  Well for a kick off, it wasn’t TISWAS.  Featuring Edmonds (never really liked him, mesel’), Keith ‘Cheggers’ Chegwin, Maggie Philburn and John Craven, Multi Coloured Swap Shop bestrode Saturday mornings in my formative years, as I yearned, nay ached for the chance to get up and turn over to watch Tarrant and the guys on the other side.  Sadly, this was the one time when me mum put her foot down and told us what we were going to watch.  Boo hoo.

I can still recite the now defunct telephone number – 01-811-8055 – wouldn’t it be cool if BT could allow us to dial the number and leave us a message on answering, something like, ‘Hi there, you’ve got through to Multi Coloured Swap Shop, unfortunately, you’re 27, 28, 29… years too late.’  But they don’t, probably.  Perhaps you could try it and let me know?

Anyway, one of the first times I saw it, I though that I had seen a ghost.  No I really did.  A girl from our school had recently died and Maggie Philburn was an absolute spit for her.  It shook me for a while, I can tell you.  Cheggers was his manic self, wind, rain, snow, sea spray, you name it, he was out in it.  I think that he was the nearest thing that they ever got to what was going on over on ITV, but even that was in a controlled, BBC kind of way.  And John Craven was, er, John Craven.  Enough said, he presents Countryfile now…

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Like its counterpart on the Beeb, Multi Coloured Swap Shop, TISWAS actually started in the seventies.  In fact it started in 1974, then as an ATV (Midlands) only show.  It went (almost) national in 1977 – the year after Swap Shop started – did the ITV bosses have some strange inkling that this was what they needed to face up to the smug beardy git on the other side?

Chris Tarrant was the main protagonist of TISWAS, ably assisted by… wait for it boys… Sally James, ‘marshalling’ a gang that included at various times Michael Palin, Bob Carolgees, Spike Milligan, Jasper Carrott, Lenny Henry, Bernard Manning, Frank Carson and many more.

There was the Phantom Fan Flinger, (an alliterator’s dream), the buckets of water, The Cage, the being-pulled-up-by-your-ears-from-under-The-Desk, The Dying Fly and much much more.

Unfortunately, TISWAS didn’t last for very long into the 80’s, being finished by ITV in 1982 – ratings were on the slide and perhaps the anarchic nature of the show was a little too near the knuckle for them.  Telly execs eh?  Anyway, as I mention on my post about Swap Shop, this was the only TV issue that I really remember my mum putting her foot down and telling us what we were going to watch.  So perhaps my memory of TISWAS is not the best, but what I do remember, was very funny.

In a final, tenuous, attempt to up my TISWAS creds, I did know a girl at University (well, a girlfriend of a friend) who had appeared from under The Desk.  I don’t think that this really counts though does it?  No, I thought not.

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Cheggers Plays Pop

This complete load of old nonsense was an absolute blast from start to finish.

The show started in 1978 and ran until 1986, with some 70 episodes and 4 Christmas specials (1980 – 1983).  This was madcap Cheggers at his very best.  After the preliminaries (i.e. the theme tune), the show would start with our hero dashing out to centre screen and going ‘Yerrrsss!’

Then the fun would really start, two teams of school kids, a red one and yellow one, would answer all sorts of pop trivia, jump round on inflatable things, get covered in foam and stuff, generally have a whale of a time, then there’d be a musical interlude from one current pop colussus or another, more jumping around and then time to go home.  Or in Keith’s case, out on the lash… allegedly, possibly…

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