Less Remembered 1980s Children’s Programmes #2: Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It

A look at the 1980s children’s comedy series

We received a call from 1985 at East of the M60 HQ. All we did was enter a few numbers into our Prestel account. Instead, it gave us details about the Manchester Victoria trains to Leeds. I knew in 1985 this meant Class 45s and Mark II carriages.

“Goody” I thought “Stalybridge to Leeds on a proper train.” Then I looked on the teletext style graphics. Three words of doom:

Rail Replacement Buses.

Rail replacement buses between Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge. That meant trains via Calder Valley. “Oh well” I thought “There’s always the 220 or 221.” Then my father saw the screen. The first words he uttered was:

“Your Mother wouldn’t like it…”

  • Programme: Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It;
  • Launch Date: Friday 01 November 1985;
  • Last Episode: Friday 13 January 1988;
  • Key People:  Karl Collins, Pui Fan Lee, Ian Kirkby, Simon Schatzberger, Steven Ryde;
  • Other Information: theme tune and incidental music by Tim Whitnall;
  • Produced by: Central Independent Television plc.
  • Signature Tunes: own music and incidental music.

*                           *                           *

Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It took over Illusions‘ Friday slot at 4.50 pm, neatly taking us to Blockbusters (or closer to the Thames/LWT changeover if you lived in Greater London). After finishing school for the weekend, it offered a good antidote to being cooped in the classroom.

In Children’s ITV land, the last Friday slot always showcased its more boisterous offerings. The late 1980s meant Pat Sharp’s Funhouse or Round The Bend. Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It didn’t only fulfil that role; one of its sketches became a programme in its own right.

Central’s effort was made possible by the Central Junior Television Workshop. Which in TV terms was Birmingham’s and Nottingham’s televisual equivalent of the Oldham Theatre Workshop. The group of players, mainly of secondary school age was one of ITV’s hidden treasures. As well as getting them chanting “there’s somebody at the door” on The Pink Windmill they brought us Dramarama – which made short one-off plays accessible for under 16s.

Back in the mid to late 1980s, Central Television did satire very well. For the adults, there was the latex-fuelled antics of Spitting Image. Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It was a worthy – perhaps more accessible and anarchic – successor to LWT’s End of Part One. By the late 1980s, there was also the News at Twelve, which took off ITN News’ presentation style and chronicled the life of a twelve year-old boy.

Sadly, today’s ITV no longer has a 21st Century version of Central Junior Television Workshop, nor a reputation for satirical programming. There’s no CITV on bog standard ITV any more. Perhaps today’s 11 year-olds are being ordered to deconstruct the use of grammar on BBC One’s prime time yawnfest [The One Show] by government edict.

Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It in a nutshell

The series sent up the TV programmes of the day. Even the BBC was fair game to its acerbic wit. Other targets included the royal family, most notably in Grange Hill spoof Palace Hill. Whereas Spitting Image had the royals in Brummie accents, the Windsors were seen attending a state school. A bog-standard comprehensive (or an underfunded one trying to dodge Academy status).

By 1990, Palace Hill spun off as a series in its own right with 20 minute episodes. There was also spoof continuity and a prominent set for some sketches inspired by Ralph Steadman’s cartoons. Links and bad jokes came courtesy of Tapeworm, a glove puppet (voiced by Karl Collins) who seemed to have been the love child of Kermit and Hartley Hare.

The main man of the show was Ian Kirkby whom as Loaf provided continuity. There was also Cans (Tom Anderson) who steadied the ship. By the fourth series, Mr. Briefcase (played by Richard Allenson) was a regular character. Briefcase worked for the Ministry of Wholesome Television who tried to close the show down. (There was a similar approach with Mary Lighthouse in Oink, a character based on Mary Whitehouse who threatened to close the comic down).

Other parts of the programme included The Wimp Reports – a bit like the middle ground between The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole and the News at Twelve. There was also Wee Man, a skit at the He-Man franchise set on planet Earth.

As well as the parodies and the satire, some healthy slapstick comedy thrown in for good measure. Enough to let younger siblings laugh along with their older brothers or sisters.

The theme tune

Opening Titles

Na na na na na na na na na na naa
– Better watch out, your mother wouldn’t like it…
Na na na na na na na na na na naa
– You’d better take, you know she wouldn’t like it…

Na na na na na na na na na na naa
– You’d better stay cool, your mother wouldn’t like it…
Na na na na na na na na na na naa

You know she wouldn’t like it,
your mother wouldn’t like it…!

End credits

Like it, like it, your mother wouldn’t like it (repeat)

Your mother wouldn’t like it,
Your sister wouldn’t care,
Or your father with his ‘paper
And your brother’s unaware.

Your granny does her knitting
While your granddad’s wandered off
If you know what your mother would say…

She wouldn’t like it… (repeat)

Like it, like it, your mother wouldn’t like it,
Your mother wouldn’t like it…!!!

Life after Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It

Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It left our screens on the 13 January 1988 (yes, Friday the 13th!). It was replaced by another run of Thames Television’s less anarchic Splash!, a magazine programme co-hosted by Nino Firetto and Michael Groth. The cast reconvened in Palace Hill which had a decent run.

Some of the cast members were gainfully employed in television thereafter. Steven Ryde later produced Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow. Pui Fan Lee had a better known role – as Po, the smallest member of the Teletubbies. Simon Schatzberger would later appear in the highly-acclaimed Press Gang, then Black Books and Doctors.

Ian Kirkby joined his fellow colleague Steven Ryde in Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow, as DC Harry Batt. He amassed further television work in Peak Practice, Casualty, and on four episodes of Coronation Street.

As for Tapeworm, probably lying at the bottom of the River Trent. Well, to be honest, we don’t know. The voice of Tapeworm, Karl Collins, is doing pretty well at the moment. For the last year, he has been Louis Loveday in Hollyoaks.

And finally…

From a personal view, I used to watch Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It on these odd cold Fridays. I liked the slapstick elements and – in more advanced years (thanks to YouTube) – appreciated its satirical stuff that went over my head at six years old. Nothing of the sort exists for today’s younger viewers. Today’s pot shots could be aimed at reality TV shows, The X Factor, The One Show, or Country File. Oh, and the Royal Family too. Plus a remake of YMWLI could see Palace Hill attaining Academy Status.

Before I go, here’s a clip of what you may have missed or forgotten about in the last thirty years. Enjoy!

S.V., 18 February 2016.

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