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31st July-6th August 2021

Hullo there!

And welcome to your weekly Creamguide, which is getting well into the Olympics but we’ve got a few programmes for those awkward few hours between one day’s coverage ending and the next beginning. Send your letters as ever to


31st JULY


20.30 Patrick Swayze: The Demons and The Dance
And for those of you who don’t like sport, Channel 5 have put together a Patrick Swizzle theme night, kicking off with Dirty Dancing of course and then Road House for suitably mindless late night entertainment. And in between the two, this new documentary which tells the ultimately sad story of an actor who despite huge success never quite received the kudos he felt he received.


10.30 The Big Match Revisited
We enjoyed Brian Moore last week correcting himself after referring to Mike Flanagan as Tony Flanagan, presumably confusing him with the producer of Star Soccer. Also nice to get the result of Golden Goals, with Brian joined in the studio by Glenn Hoddle who scored the winner, Jimmy Greaves who chose it and the member of the public who won, Brian seemingly finding nothing wrong with him entering 36 times to cover all possible combinations, instead considering it “£3.60 well spent”. Last weekend of the season here, and indeed a bit of an end of an era with the show moving to Saturday nights, albeit temporarily, next season. And with everything done and dusted in the top flight, it’s three matches from Division Two where promotion’s still to be decided, and with Sunderland having to get something at Cardiff that means the one and only match this season from HTV. Don’t forget 1976/77 at teatime during the week!

Sky Arts

21.00 The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
Here’s one of the most notorious rock follies, the Stones’ big television special from 1968 which mixed live bands with circus acts, plus a host of guests including John Lennon. Unfortunately while it sounded a good idea on paper, it turned out to be a bit of a disaster, the filming overrunning by several hours so by the time the Stones finally got on stage at four in the morning everyone was knackered, and the band considered their performance so bad - with Brian Jones making his final filmed appearance with the group and clearly unable to make much of a contribution - that it was never shown at the time, finally getting a release in the nineties. It’s perhaps not so bad, and indeed one theory is that the reason they didn’t want it out there was because all the other bands were loads better than them, including The Who and Jethro Tull.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops
Happily Gambo played everything we wanted him to from 1980, including choosing A Lover’s Holiday by Change over the other side, and all 43 seconds of Computer Game by Yellow Magic Orchestra. A now rare jaunt to the sixties is first up this week, specifically 1968 where Sly Stone and Des O’Connor nestle happily together in the top twenty. Then it’s surely one of the biggest leaps for a long time, all the way to 1995, the summer of Britpop of course, and while we’re getting a bit of that we’re also hoping for the likes of Jinny, PJ and Duncan and the PSBs. And don’t worry if they skip In The Name of the Father by Black Grape, Sounds of the 90s plays it most weeks.

BBC Radio 4

20.00 Singled Out
Here’s Zoe Strimpel with a cultural history of being single. These days people get married much later in life than they used to, as opposed to in years past when it seemed unusual for you not to have a partner and 2.4 children by your mid-twenties, but so much of life does seem to be organised around couples and families. This programme will look at everything from the generation of women widowed in the First World War to today’s casual daters.




21.00 An Audience with Bob Monkhouse
“GMTV? Give Me The Valium!”. This was last on at Christmas over on Channel 5, but seemingly the light channel have got the rights back to these shows and we’re always going to bill it because it’s a cracker. This was first shown back in 1994, just a week or two after his triumphant appearance on Have I Got News For You and, coupled with his autobiography and his week presenting The Big Breakfast (which he hated, but was very good at), it marked the triumphant return of Lord Bob as a relevant comedian for the nineties and ensured he spent his last decade just as famous and popular as he’d ever been.

BBC Radio 4

16.30 MTV: A British Invention?
It’s hard to buy into the oft-mooted idea that MTV changed music so much in the early eighties, certainly in this country, because we didn’t get it until the end of the decade and hardly anyone could pick it up, and for most people pop videos remained a rare treat, with a handful on Saturday morning shows, one or two on Top of the Pops and, later in the eighties, The Chart Show, and even that wasn’t all year round. But it did have another impact on British music because when MTV began in America, forty years ago today, pretty much all the videos they showed were from British acts because they were the most interesting - thanks probably to our film industry being down the toilet so this was the best job for a budding director - and that led to the Second British Invasion with Duran Duran, Wham and the middling likes of A Flock of Seagulls making it big in the States. Adam Buxton, himself no slouch as a film-maker, investigates.




22.00 Omnibus: Lucian Freud
Will Wyatt wrote that when he was producing Points of View in the sixties, he did a vox pop asking people what they thought a new programme called Omnibus might be about, discovering nobody had a clue why it was called that, and then when he was Director of BBC Television in the nineties they did some audience research and discovered that still nobody had a clue why it was called that. But in those thirty years or so it created a huge and priceless archive of most artists active at the time, and as part of an evening devoted to surrealism, here’s a vintage interview from 1988.

This week we’re looking at a series that is about to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and is one of ITV’s most popular and profitable programmes, but we only ever see it once a year when we go to our parents’ at Christmas. Nay, nay, Mr Wilks, it’s...

Before 1972, daytime TV meant schools programmes and nothing else, as there were draconian limits on the number of hours broadcasting allowed each day. But athlete turned newsreader turned government minister Christopher Chataway finally relaxed them and ITV launched a whole suite of afternoon programmes which, perhaps surprisingly from our perspective, included a huge amount of drama. Granada contributed the fondly-remembered Crown Court and ATV provided General Hospital (which was basically Emergency Ward 10 again as Lew Grade regretted axing it). Yorkshire, meanwhile, produced a new serial that made the most of the stunning countryside on its patch, and owed a little to The Archers (plus RTE series The Riordans) by telling everyday stories of country folk in the fictional village of Beckindale. Emmerdale Farm began on the very first day of afternoon TV on 16th October 1972, beginning in the end with the funeral of Jacob Sugden.
Emmerdale Farm was created by Kevin Laffan, and despite the glorious surroundings and the sense of escapism, he actually set out to illustrate that countryside life wasn’t all that, saying that the farmer’s job was “sustaining and destroying life”, and that they were good subjects for drama because they were famously blunt speakers. And although farming subjects were discussed, the drama was about families, with the Sugden clan the main focus, Sheila Mercier as matriarch Annie and Frazer Hines as Joe the mainstays for many years.
For its first decade Emmerdale didn’t run all year round and would take a break in the summer and at Christmas, and miss a few weeks here and there. But it became increasingly popular and within a couple of years moved out of the post-lunch ghetto. By 1977 many regions were now broadcasting it in the early evening, helping it make its first appearance in the Top 20 ratings that year, though while in many areas it nestled into the 7pm slot, other regions still weren’t convinced and Thames and Anglia (perhaps surprisingly, given their rural nature) showed it at teatime, where it was a surefire way to tell kids that their programmes had stopped and send them away. Certainly Tony Hatch’s theme, pretty though it is, had a bit of a soporific quality and we always found that title sequence with the farm at twilight rather unsettling for some reason. The show was still pretty slow-moving and was happy dealing with pretty everyday drama, but it could always put on a nice wedding.
By 1982, Emmerdale Farm was a fixture of the schedules - although still not enough for every region to show it in primetime - and it celebrated its tenth anniversary with a TV Times cover and a YTV documentary. Things had got a bit more light-hearted than those slow-moving and slightly dreary early days as well, with comic characters like Seth Armstrong and Amos Brearly adding a warm humour to the show, although Les Dawson’s famed description of the show as “Dallas with dung” wasn’t quite there yet. Nevertheless, in the great Dallas debacle of 1985 - when Thames poached it and had to humiliatingly give it back to the Beeb - YTV were quick to point out that Emmerdale actually got higher ratings than the US juggernaut.
1985 proved to be a pivotal year for Emmerdale. First of all, Kevin Laffan stopped writing for it, upset at the “sex, sin and sensationalism” that was creeping in, and when Mary Whitehouse chimed in to complain the story about Jack Sugden and Karen Moore’s affair was turning the programme into “a den of vice”, it was obvious the show was aiming to move away from the staid serial of the seventies. It also got a boost when Thames moved it to primetime (but Anglia were still holding out), but in February 1985, it found itself up against the Beeb’s new soap EastEnders at 7pm. Michael Grade’s big idea was to use Emmerdale’s summer break to build ‘stEnders’ audience, which Emmerdale countered by, er, not having one, and so by the autumn ‘stEnders moved to 7.30 and, after Albion Market died on its arse, Emmerdale finally established itself as a year-round soap.
In 1988, Anglia finally gave in and Emmerdale Farm was networked, albeit at the new time of 6.30. By now the show was increasingly moving away from the farm to the rest of the village, and in November 1989 this was reflected on screen by - gasp! - a new name, as the Farm fell off the end. As memorably discussed on Bottom (“Doesn’t take so long to read, you can pack a lot more story in”), this was followed by a move back to 7pm in January 1990, where it’s been ever since. And while it never received the publicity that Corrie did, nor the host of distinguished names queuing up to celebrate it, viewing figures kept creeping up.
And just a few weeks after the Farm dropped off the title, one notable moment for Emmerdale was the arrival of Claire King as Kim Tate. Tate was a classic soap superbitch who proceeded to plot and scheme her way through the village for the next decade (and came back again a few years ago) and was at the heart of Emmerdale’s most sensational storylines that kept viewers gripped.
Despite the rebranding, though, Emmerdale still hadn’t shaken off its reputation as a sleepy serial, and the audience, while impressively large, was still pretty old and downmarket. Hence came a campaign to broaden its appeal, with an advertising campaign in the likes of Smash Hits aiming to attract some younger viewers. But the biggest jolt of all came in 1993 when Phil Redmond was engaged as consultant in the hope of bringing some of the spark from Brookside - and he certainly did that with the much-publicised plane crash. This had the twin effect of luring in the show’s biggest audience for many years, and also allowing the programme to kill off a load of dead wood in the cast. It was very controversial at the time (not helped by it being broadcast very close to the anniversary of Lockerbie) and certainly alienated some of its most loyal viewers. But enough of the millions more who tuned in stuck around for it to prove worth doing in the long run.
The new sexier, more dramatic Emmerdale may have been far removed from Kevin Laffan’s original vision but it was certainly a big hit, by now thrashing everything BBC1 put up against it and appealing to a wider audience than ever before. In 1997 it was extended from two to three episodes a week, while ITV put a load of promotional muscle behind it and commissioned regular hour-long episodes that even caused ‘stEnders to run scared from it. Although the likes of Frazer Hines and Sheila Mercier departed around this time, new cast members, including numerous members of the Dingle family, livened things up and ensured the 25th anniversary was a cause for celebration.
Indeed the Dingles gave Emmerdale a bit of a shot in the arm, soon becoming the show’s biggest draws with their blend of broad comedy and sentimental drama, with Zak and Marlon both still in the show over a quarter of a century since their arrival. Indeed a measure of Emmerdale’s success is in how many of its cast have been around for many years, and although nobody’s done a Ken Barlow and stayed there since day one (although Annie Sugden returned for regular guest appearances right up to 2009), Chris Chittell’s Eric Pollard has been there since 1986, while Dominic Brunt, Elizabeth Estensen, Tony Audenshaw and Patrick Mower (who seemed a bit of stunt casting when he arrived, but he’s really taken to it) from the current cast have all been regulars for over twenty years. The Dingles were so popular that in 1997 they enjoyed that none-more-nineties honour, the straight-to-video spin-off.
Although Emmerdale has seen many long-serving cast members, some of its shortest-serving came from a very curious exercise indeed, 2001’s Soapstars. After Popstars had been a big hit, ITV applied the format to a different discipline with roles in Emmerdale up for grabs, although seemingly the existing cast weren’t that happy about it, and nor were Equity who considered it a bit of an insult to its members that they were giving jobs to competition winners rather than professional actors. And it turns out that it was a bit of a flop after all that, viewers discovering that it was harder telling if someone could act than if they could sing and head judge Yvon Grace (later responsible for the dreadful final incarnation of Crossroads) being a pretty resistible figure. But the winners did appear in Emmerdale, as required, though in such peripheral roles they were barely in the village, and they were all written out within a year.
By the turn of the century, though, Emmerdale was an absolute juggernaut. In 2000 it was now broadcast five days a week, the first primetime soap to do so full-time, and then in 2002 it became the first anywhere in the world to broadcast six times a week. This was seemingly what the public wanted and ratings remained buoyant, though it did mean resources were being stretched a bit thinly and it didn’t do much for the show’s quality. Indeed, in this decade it was a regular on TV Burp, Harry Hill saying that it was the perfect show for them as it took itself seriously but was made in a rush, so some of the scenes were ripe for sending up, like that bit of silliness up there from the original pilot (“loose petrol!”) - as were the opening titles.
But despite worries that ITV were killing the golden goose, here we are almost twenty years on and it’s still going out six times a week and, while ratings aren’t what they were in the past, it’s still a hugely reliable show for ITV, winning its slot every night and pulling in one of the most loyal audiences on TV. It’s also been commended for still featuring plenty of humour while also dealing with serious topics in a sensitive fashion, and though we barely watch it, we’re pleased to see Bob is still in it, because he’s the best character.

As we said, for all that it seems to dominate the schedules, we barely ever watch Emmerdale, only catching it at Christmas or when it’s on before a football match or something. But Creamguide’s mum is a loyal viewer - we think they’ve watched it since the very beginning - and we’re pleased it’s still there, is still proudly regional, and still keeping some fine character actors in work.



Sky Witness

21.00 The Equalizer
In the week when Sky have announced Sky One is to rebrand after over thirty years of a pretty negligible contribution to British television - illustrated by the fact the biggest concern most people had is where The Simpsons is going to go - their cop show channel makes its debut in Creamguide. The Equalizer was a decent-sized hit in the US in the eighties, although despite its British star it didn’t seem to do much in the UK with the ITV regions using it as a bit of a filler alongside the likes of Highway to Heaven. It’s seemingly fondly remembered enough to have spun off into two films and now a new series which got the honour of the post-Superbowl slot on CBS earlier this year, with Queen Latifah as the titular dispenser of justice.




21.00 Lucan
John Stonehouse has been in the news again this week thanks to the publication of two books about him, one by his daughter which paints him in a fairly positive light, and another one which, er, doesn’t. Both reflect on the fact that he was only discovered in Australia when the police suspected him of being Lord Lucan, surely the most famous missing persons case of all time and one that still fascinates to this day. Back in 2013 ITV dramatised his story, with Rory Kinnear in the title role and an all-star supporting cast, and because it’s the middle of summer and the Olympics are on the other side, here it is again.

BBC Scotland

20.30 Rewind 1986
It seems that, despite the worries, the Olympics is going pretty well, though the same couldn’t really be said of the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh which were a bit of a nightmare. A large scale boycott rendered it pretty diminished as a competition and contributed to something of a financial black hole, leading to Robert Maxwell hijacking them as a vehicle for himself despite personally contributing next to nothing. And on top of all that, it pissed it down throughout. It was a pretty disappointing sporting summer for Scotland all round, the Tartan Army’s jaunt to Mexico coming to an end via a notorious encounter with Uruguay. Here’s the full story, plus some slightly more successful moments.




17.00 Blue Peter
Into the postbag, and Michael Sykes writes, “Thanks for billing The World of Budgerigars with Sid James. An interesting curio, if only for the fact it might’ve been Sid’s last ‘film’, and actually quite informative! Supposedly 1976, but some of the style and decor were more like the 1950s. Not sure who those twins belonged to, but they might have been from the neighbouring village of Midwich. Nice to see Sid spending so much time trying to get the budgie to talk, although I was slightly disappointed he didn’t have it picking out racehorses for him. Peewit The Third in the 4.30 at Kempton?” Meanwhile, Damon Rose says, “From Bliss to who was the best director of Tom and Jerry or that CBTV was a kind of spinoff from Magpie. How do you guys know all this stuff? What books do you read? Who do you talk to for background? I'm sure you must be a similar age to me, ahem, 50, and can't imagine it's culled largely from personal memory?” Well, it mostly is, Damon, but it doesn’t deserve any credit, it requires an intervention if anything, and while we remember all this stuff, we’ve forgotten how to drive.

Sky Arts

21.00 Comedy Legends
Nice to have some lengthy clips of Smokers Wild on the Les Dawson doc last week, and Barry’s back here with a new series of dispatches from his Komedy Kitchen. These programmes don’t have many bells and whistles, simply extended clips and talking heads, but that’s all you need, really. First up this time around is Eddie Murphy whose big break came forty years ago as the only good bit of a dreadful revamp of Saturday Night Live which was so bad the rest of the cast and the entire production team were fired after one series. A huge star in the eighties, he never quite managed to keep up the momentum, though he’s done alright for himself since, but this show will mostly concentrate on his early days as a sizzling stand-up.




22.30 1991: The 30 Greatest Hits
Channel 5 have been gallivanting through the eighties and nineties via some cheap and cheerful clip shows over the last few months, and here’s another rehash of the same subject as Vernon Kay counts down the best-selling records of a year we’ve been quite familiar with over the past few months. Indeed, quite a few of the tracks you’ve probably heard enough in recent weeks, and the number one is one we’ll certainly have more chances to listen to.


21.00 Top of the Pops
A good show for fans of cables last time out, Crystal Waters being rather upstaged by the giant one snaking across the stage and Jase performing in a tangle of them, while the stages increasingly look like they’re being held together by sellotape and hope. The whole show is starting to seem a bit tatty, but change is coming and tonight it’s another outing for the most feared words in the English language - a new look Top of the Pops! But it’s not the big one you’re thinking of, which comes in the autumn, but a short-lived revamp for the next few months which, perhaps surprisingly, is a bit of an improvement, with the show seemingly heading back to basics. It’s bad news if you enjoy laughing at the audience members desperate to get in shot, mind, as the presenters are plucked from the heaving throng to deliver their links from empty stages and in front of a green screen, but the good news is that we lose the abridged chart and get the entire countdown back, in one big lump from 40-2 over a video towards the start, and all the extraneous gubbins - including, hooray, the album chart - are ditched to make way for pretty much non-stop music. So all very interesting, but it doesn’t last very long, so make the most of it.
21.30 Top of the Pops
Presumably we won’t get The Doors in that first show either, because of the boring rights reasons we discussed last week, but there are some songs coming up in the next few weeks that, a while back, you’d have perhaps expected not to hear. Yes, four years after Pops couldn’t even bring itself to read out the full name of I Want Your Sex, let alone play it, 1991’s summer of sex-related songs is happily covered in full, with Salt n Pepa and R*ght S**d Fr*d to come, and this week LaTour joining Color Me Badd. But if that’s all too much excitement for you, there’s also Bette Midler.

And that's that...

But there’s another Creamguide next week.
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