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Direct from London's verdant Shepherd's Bush Green

3rd-9th July 2021

Hullo there!

Welcome to another Creamguide, where you’ve obviously heard there’s a match on, but there are other things to entertain as well. Do keep in touch, via


3rd JULY


22.00 Pride Hits at the BBC
They really are churning out these clip shows at the moment, but they’ve unearthed some fascinating stuff recently, and this one should be great fun - as well as surely suitable accompaniment to (suitably socially distanced) house parties if England have just done the business. It’s anthems of all kinds of offer here, from the likes of Bronski Beat and Tom Robinson, to shiny pop from Dusty, Kylie and Gaga.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
There’s the potential for a bit of novelty here with this programme actually featuring the current number one, given one of the years is 1996 and Three Lions is at the top, which presumably it could be again this weekend. The chart here is because the show’s been co-opted into Radio 2’s Summer of 96 season, although despite Kula Shaker being highest new entry there’s actually quite a disappointing lack of Britpop with Space and Longpigs outside the Top 20. Before that it’s 1981 with a rather plodding top ten, but maybe the Wikka Wrap will make up for it, if they play it.
21.00 Spice Up Your Life: 25 Years of Girl Power
This is a bit more like it, and it’s easy to forget how brilliant the Spice Girls were at the start, a proper breath of fresh air who would happily go on all the Saturday morning programmes and join in with every single feature with huge enthusiasm. Wannabe is such a mess of a record, including a rap that makes absolutely no sense at all, but as a manifesto it certainly did plenty and for about twelve months they were the biggest band in the world, before they all got a bit too big and a bit boringly professional. Here’s Richard E Grant to recall the golden days, with seemingly no actual Spices contributing but some of their contemporaries like Zoe Ball and sundry Steps.


4th JULY

Talking Pictures TV

16.00 Another Fine Mess
16.35 Sons of the Desert

We’ve said this before, but over forty years after the Queen was in the audience for The Good Life, we really are overdue another Royal Command Performance of a TV show, and it would certainly be the perfect way to mark the return of full studio audiences. Strictly or Pointless would be our choices, especially as the latter is apparently one of her favourites. Seemingly another of Her Majesty’s favourite things on telly are Laurel and Hardy films on this channel, and this weekend they’re embarking on another run of them, by royal appointment. And in between these two there’s a bit from the weekend a few years ago when Danny Baker picked his favourites, and invited Robert Ross in for a chat about Stan and Ollie.


5th JULY

BBC Radio 3

22.45 Adrian Edmondson - Signs of Life
Hard to imagine when The Young Ones were appalling everyone over the age of thirty that one of its major players would go on to be delivering essays on the Third Programme, but that’s what we’re getting this week, after every night Ade will be reflecting on moments from his life and career in seemingly a very thoughtful and modest fashion. Later on this week he’ll be talking about the early days of the Comic Strip and his relationship with cigarettes, but tonight it’s memories of a Yorkshire childhood and a not very happy time at boarding school.

This week we’re featuring a programme that, these days, is considered probably the lowest point of its host’s distinguished career, but it was a big show in its day and a huge deal for the Beeb. Direct from London’s verdant Shepherd’s Bush Green, it’s...

WOGAN (1982-92)
For many years Lord Terence of Woganshire had enjoyed huge success on the radio, but he’d never quite felt at home on TV, despite numerous attempts, until 1979 when Blankety Blank was a big hit. Other attempts to transfer his radio style to the small screen were less successful, right back to ATV’s Lunchtime with Wogan in 1972, which he co-hosted with an Old English sheepdog, through teatime miscellany What’s On Wogan in 1980. But it felt like a chat show must be worth pursuing, and in May 1982 he launched a new series called, yes, Wogan, in a late night slot on Tuesdays. This combined celebrity chat with whimsical features and gossip - you’ll note the end of a chat with a pre-Tube Paula Yates - with Tel proving a suitably engaging host.
Hence in 1983 Wogan took over the Saturday night spot recently vacated by a TV-am-bound Parkinson, although Tel was quick to point out that “The programme will be different from Parkinson’s because I am different from Parkinson”, and that it was going to be about relaxed conversation rather than in-depth interrogations, Tel subscribing to the theory that the best interviews were just messing around. And it soon became telly’s top talk show with the biggest names taking part, partly thanks to Tel getting a reputation for reviving careers, most famously with Cilla whose career was down the toilet before a fantastically successful appearance, but also other wayward talents like Freddie Starr benefited from Tel’s patronage and good humour, knowing when to give them the time and space to shine but making sure the whole thing ran like clockwork.
Wogan was on Saturday nights for two years, to huge success, even landing a prestigious Christmas Day spot in 1984. This run included what Tel always said was his favourite ever interview with Mel Brooks (sadly his wife was rather less talkative on a later show), plus the first of numerous chats with Victoria Principal who became something of a semi-regular on the show, such was her delight at Tel’s sending up of Dallas.
After two years of Saturday night success, though, Wogan underwent a transformation to help fill the gaping void on early evening BBC1. From February 1985 Tel was live at seven o’clock, three nights a week, every week of the year from the BBC Television Theatre in London’s verdant Shepherd’s Bush Green. As a broadcaster who always preferred to wing it whenever possible, Tel liked the idea of this, thinking that audiences’ expectations of a weekly show were too high, and he wanted something that could just tick along, become part of viewers’ routines and if one wasn’t very good there was another one along pretty soon. It did mean he had to give up the radio, to much dismay, but having to fill ninety minutes plus of telly each week meant Tel had to have all his wits about him. The first show, with a guest list of Wendy Richard, Tina Turner, Rory Bremner and Elton John, seemed to go OK, although the biggest talking point was Tel falling on his arse on stage.
Within the Beeb there was some discussion over what the thrice-weekly Wogan should be. Should it be non-stop showbiz, or should it be a more topical show that interviewed people in the news and made news itself? In the end, it tried to straddle both, with the celebs interspersed with members of the public, leading to some awkward gear changes. One great benefit, though, was that it was a live flexible half hour that could do anything and the Beeb used to it to great effect to launch stuff, promote things and react to events, much like Nationwide used to. On the first teatime show Michael Grade appeared to announce that the dispute with Thames was over and Dallas was coming back, and Tel had the honour of introducing the final episode of the series himself, with COW globe on set.
One problem with a chat show with 150 episodes a year was that the pool of guests was going to run a bit dry quite quickly, but over its lifetime Wogan featured pretty much every big star of the era. The first “big” guest was Princess Anne, which seemed a very successful interview, although the Duke of Edinburgh’s appearance a few months later was less so, Philip rather sourly drawing attention to Tel’s cue cards. Inevitably it meant that there were several guests Tel neither knew or cared much about, but as everyone who worked on the show would testify, one of his greatest skills was his ability to interview absolutely anyone, no matter who they threw at him, from Princess Anne to a pissed George Best, and keep the show running at least fairly smoothly.
Of course, Tel couldn’t host the show every week, so various guest hosts would be engaged to hold the fort while he was away, and indeed the length and frequency of his holidays would become a running joke on the show over the years. Some did it better than others, and we recall numerous complaints about Selina Scott being frightfully rude to the guests, but there were some novelties, like the week in April 1986 when Kenneth Williams hosted. Kenneth was a regular on the show (“I have to appear at the beginning and chat at a whelk stall”) and, helped by the appearance of some of his mates like Derek Nimmo and Nicholas Parsons, the shows were successful, although on the second one he said goodbye too early and Michael Palin had to recite some limericks to pass the time.
The most regular guest host was Sue Lawley, and indeed her extended stints would lead to her own chat show in Saturday Matters, although that was a big flop and Sue later said she realised she didn’t have the showbiz sparkle you needed for Saturday nights. But she was an adept host of Wogan, and her most famous moment was, of course, the episode with Vivienne Westwood and her medically-inspired collection. As some of the talking heads in this clip argue, this can be seen as a massive show of philistinism from the audience who are simply being rude, but it can't seriously be argued that they’re are doing anything other than reacting honestly to what's put in front of them. It's Sue's job to keep order and she tries her best, but her pathetic "you're not to laugh!" isn't going to convince anyone. But this good-natured chuckling doesn't hurt anyone, especially not Westwood who of course went on to enjoy huge acclaim, while the whole thing is a comedy classic as memorably paid tribute to by Alan Partridge.
During the late eighties, the most feared words in any PR office was “we were hoping for Wogan but they never rang”, because an appearance would usually be a decent shop window. Indeed, it was once suggested that anyone landing from space must assume that “Wogan” was some kind of ritual that you had to go through after you’d achieved anything of note. It wasn’t always successful, the most cautionary tale coming from New Faces winner Duggie Small who completely died on his arse on his appearance and saw his career stall before it had even taken off, but there were a host of comedians and pop stars who made their first TV appearances on Wogan, and it was always fascinating to see the most unlikely acts fill the pop spot, from indie bands like The Smiths to the Art of Noise.
After a few years, though, both Wogan the show and Wogan the host were starting to look a bit tired. The same guests seemed to be coming round over and over again, and while Tel had always been renowned for working off the cuff, it increasingly felt like he was phoning it in and seemed pretty bored with it all, a world away from the consistently creative broadcasting on his radio show. Increasingly too, while it had begun as an attempt to grab an audience in the early evening, ratings were now dropping and it was a bit of a sitting duck in the schedules, regularly targeted by ITV to launch new shows against, while BBC Scotland were regularly showing the Friday episode in a late slot. With the Beeb moving out of the TV Theatre, and a thousand shows under his belt, Tel thought it was a good time to call it a day in 1991.
But the Beeb didn’t want him to, and promptly recommissioned it for another year. Tel moved a mile or so down the road to TV Centre and the show was relaunched with a fancy new set - which as it was 1991 included loads of turquoise - and a new theme tune. There were some other innovations too, even including some Partridge Over Britain-style election debates. But then, six months after they’d told Tel they weren’t going to stop the show, they promptly axed it, and worst of all the first he heard about it was when he saw it in the paper.
But they gave it a decent enough send-off, the final episode on Friday 3rd July 1992 featuring a host of clips that illustrated what a consistently surprising and varied show it had been over the years. Tel was at least vindicated when its replacement Eldorado turned out to be a big old flop, and you can certainly say BBC1 rather missed having something topical and reactive in the schedules, not really filling the gap until The One Show arrived a decade and a half later.
But that wasn’t quite the end of Wogan’s chat show career, as in the autumn of 1992 he returned, along with the Wogan production team, for a new show. Terry Wogan’s Friday Night, for it was that, was in a post-10pm slot and they tried hard to move with the times, with Tel behind a desk rather than a sofa hosting a Letterman-esque show with monologues and film reports, plus a comedian as co-host every week. Frank Skinner was a regular in that role, although he said that Tel seemed pretty bored with the whole thing and would tell him it didn’t matter if it went badly as nobody was bothered. That episode up there features a rather troublesome guest, we’re afraid, and also the worst theme tune of all time. After six months, that was the end of it, and that seemed to be it for Tel - but a return to the radio ensured he would enjoy even greater success.

These days Wogan is very much a footnote in Tel’s hugely successful life in broadcasting, but that’s to forget what a giant show it was in its day, certainly in terms of the amount of column inches it generated. Yes, it probably went on at least two years too long, but it’s a hugely valuable archive of pretty much everyone who was famous in the eighties, and nobody could have made it as watchable as Wogan.


6th JULY

BBC Radio 4

11.30 Unreal: The VFX Revolution
It really is the Radio Cream Times this week, although we’re not sure this is the most suitable idea for a radio series. It’s an examination of how visual effects changed cinema, as told by Paul Franklin, who should know a thing or two about it as he’s won Oscars for it. As he’ll explain in this first episode, although Star Wars didn’t invent visual effects in films, it was the first movie to really make them a pivotal part of the film-making process rather than something you did to salvage things in the edit.


7th JULY

BBC Scotland

20.30 Rewind 1982
This could well be going out during a World Cup semi-final featuring England, and the bad news for any Scots trying to avoid that is that this year features another early exit by Scotland in a major tournament, though it was a pretty credible performance and it was only by failing to score a couple more in a hammering of New Zealand that they went out on goal difference. There was Scottish sporting success elsewhere, mind, both at the Commonwealth Games and at the World Darts Championships.

Sky Arts

22.30 Urban Myths: Sex Pistols vs Bill Grundy
Anyone who’s walked past the old LWT building on the South Bank recently may well have done a bit of a double take as the signage outside now refers to it as Thames Television Studios. That’s because it’s currently being used as a production base for Danny Boyle’s new drama about the Sex Pistols and it’s standing in for Euston Road in their recreation of that famous interview. It’s not the first time it’s been re-enacted, mind, and here’s another go at it, as first seen a few years ago in this seemingly deliberately unfunny comedy series.

BBC Radio 4

11.30 Michael Palin’s Memory Palaces
Here’s a bit of a novelty, which we should be hearing more of in the future, in which Mike is sent into the head of a famous celebrity for a Numbskulls-style wander around his thoughts and memories. For this one-off it’s his old mate Terry Gilliam, and while the grand concept it clearly just a front for what is at its heart just a chat show, it’s a suitably Pythonesque conceit and is all good fun.


8th JULY


21.00 Diana’s Decades
We’ve been hearing quite a bit about Diana recently because she would have been sixty, and we know people have often suggested that she would have been great on Twitter, being incredibly discreet. ITV did a profile about her just last week, and now here’s a new doc which compares what was going on in her life with other aspects of social change in the era, kicking off with a look at the progressive seventies.


17.00 Blue Peter
Into the postbag, and Matthew Broad writes, “Your correspondent was quite right about Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. I actually saw them supporting The Wonder Stuff at Poole Arts Centre. They were part of the Stourbridge Mafia which gave us PWEI and also the term Grebo. Clint Mansell ex PWEI is now a highly rated film composer. He could certainly write a good tune as could Miles Hunt of the Wonder Stuff. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin were unique at the time in that they had not one but two bass players which is possibly a good joke for musicians amongst the TVC fans.” Indeed, though we did see someone suggest, after their appearance on Pops, that if two bassists in a band was a good idea, someone would probably have already done it by then. Meanwhile, Chris Lepkowski writes, “Dear friends. Hope you're well. Just a small thing, but it's Wham! not Wham. Ends.”


9th JULY


22.00 The Moments That Made... Richard Wilson
This series, in which noted Scottish comedy stars reflect on their careers, was on BBC Scotland a few months back, but this episode, at least, is now getting a network outing. It’s TV’s I Don’t Believe It star, and it’s always a treat to see clips of One Foot because it was such a brilliant series and he was absolutely wonderful in it. He seemingly doesn’t mind being remembered for that, given he’s been a consistently busy actor, and indeed a director of some repute, since, and here he is talking about it all, alongside friends and fans like David Tennant.


21.00 Top of the Pops
Well, we made it to the end of a live show with Anthea in one piece, and it was nice to see her accompanied at the end by John “Duncan Norvelle” Goldsmith, a familiar face on the show as a cheerleader in the early eighties and still involved, albeit mostly off-camera by this point, as the warm-up. Anthea must have done alright as she’s making a quick return, as the Grebo bonanza continues with The Wonder Stuff tonight. It’s also a bit of an end of an era, though, as after three and a half years it’s the final show produced by Paul Ciani before he abruptly departed due to ill health and, sadly, was never well enough to return...
21.30 Top of the Pops
...which means it’s a temporary return to production duties for Michael Hurll for the next few weeks. Not much change on screen just yet, although Ciani’s departure heralds a slightly unstable period and over the next six months you’ll notice quite a bit of tinkering, some of it welcome, some less so, leading up to the big, big changes in the autumn. As it stands it’s business as usual with Jax, though Hurll gets a few familiar faces to welcome him to his first show for a couple of years in OMD and Paul Young.

Sky Arts

20.00 Guy Garvey: From The Vaults
1985 is not our favourite musical year of the eighties, mostly as all the glamorous pop stars who'd made shiny synthpop records undid their ponytails to reveal horrible long hair and started playing real instruments, which was no fun. But there's still likely to be much to enjoy here, as we're promised the likes of The Style Council on Saturday Live and Prefab Sprout on, hooray, Hold Tight.

And that's that...

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