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A Beginners’ Guide to The Bradshaws

Almost everything you need to know about Buzz Hawkins’ radio comedy series from a fan’s view

The 1950s was a pivotal decade in British 20th Century history. We began the fifties in austerity with rationing still in place till 1954, and ended that decade with a consumer boom. New Towns emerged with publicly funded housing fit for our daily needs. Away from the backdrop, many of us lived in tenement blocks or terraced houses. Instead of gardens, it was backyards and ginnels.

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On Reflection: The Joy of 3-2-1

A look at the bafflingly popular Yorkshire Television quiz show which ran for ten years

Before the 29 July 1978, Saturdays in front of the television meant World of Sport or Grandstand. Then a peek at the latest imported programme at teatime (something like The Man From Atlantis). Encroaching into the prime time slot, there was one inalienable truth for many viewers: the BBC had the best variety and light entertainment programmes. Continue reading “On Reflection: The Joy of 3-2-1”

How Privatisation Killed Off the British Rail Sandwich Joke

Heard the one about the Northern Rail sandwich…? Thought not.

The heady days of 1970s food on the go: a Travellers' Fare sandwich.
Appetising isn’t it? Better than half the jokes: the Travellers’ Fare sandwich. Poster image photographed by Chris Sampson (Creative Commons License – Some Rights Reserved).

If you visit a busy mainline station anywhere in the United Kingdom, today’s concourses resemble a small town shopping centre. It is a far cry from an era when the only shops were those of W.H. Smith and Son, John Menzies, Finlays or Wymans. Other than newsagents’ shops, it was the buffet bar or restaurant. Till the start of rail privatisation, a parcels (Red Star) pick-up point and left luggage facilities were the norm at principal stations. Continue reading “How Privatisation Killed Off the British Rail Sandwich Joke”

St. Gregory's Social Club entrance, Farnworth

Greatest Moments from Phoenix Nights: The Not So Perfect Ten

Ten of the greatest moments from Peter Kay’s Channel Four sitcom, set in a North West England Working Mens’ Club.

***WARNING: This entry may contain spoilers and some use of mature language. Aye, thank you…***

January 2001, Sunday night at Chez Vall at around 9.30pm. Our golden Cocker Spaniel is startled by the doorbell from a new sitcom. Reading the blurb in the Sunday People‘s telly magazine, it sounded convincing. Continue reading “Greatest Moments from Phoenix Nights: The Not So Perfect Ten”

Bad Robots: Redefining Candid Camera for the 21st Century

E4’s dystopian answer to Allen Funt’s programme

  • Featuring: Sir Michael Gambon (voiceover);
  • Episodes: 6 x 24 minute episodes;
  • Time: 2100 hours, Tuesdays (repeated on Sundays, 2330 hours);
  • Channels: E4 and E4+1;
  • Producer: Objective Productions for Channel Four Corporation.

The Luddites had a point. Not only for the amount of job losses caused by automation but also for the controlling nature in the pursuit of profit. William Morris, pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement bemoaned the rise of machines and how they undermined craftsmanship. J.G. Ballard recognised how modern life would lead to a dystopian vision of the future. Continue reading “Bad Robots: Redefining Candid Camera for the 21st Century”

Forgotten ITV Comedies #3: Me and My Girl

What Richard O’Sullivan did after Robin’s Nest

Pretty much a part of any Friday evening on ITV in the 1980s was a gentle situation comedy of some sort. Nothing too heavy going after a shift in the office yet suitable enough for family viewing.
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Comedy Sketches and Moments Every Child Should Know

Going beyond ‘Why did the chicken cross the road’

A certain philistine education minister may greet me with unpleasantries for suggesting a certain amount of sketches that every child should learn prior to leaving school. With fewer families sitting around a television set in front of the same programmes, the shared experience is diminished. Continue reading “Comedy Sketches and Moments Every Child Should Know”

When Saturday Night Was All Right for Laughing

A Miscellany of Comedy and Light Entertainment Programming since the 1970s

Picture the scene: we have landed in the middle of 1980. Dickie Davies has just rounded off World of Sport with the pools panel verdicts. Emerging from the oven would be a massive dish of potato pie, with the table set for dinner. A jar of red cabbage dominates the covered table as does a jug of still water. Two children are waiting for Metal Mickey to start, though their mother’s potato pie could be ready before one says ‘Boogie Boogie’. Continue reading “When Saturday Night Was All Right for Laughing”

You Know You’re a Greater Mancunian Child of the 1980s If…

You were born in the 1980s and lived in Greater Manchester. Of course.

1451 Leyland Olympian, NJA 568W, Greater Manchester Transport

Time for a much needed irreverent article on this blog! Given that a great number of East of the M60‘s readership tend to be Children of the 1980s, this inspired me to create this piece. Feel free to share the love on this blog, on your favoured social networking site(s), or laugh profusely at the memories of this much maligned decade. Continue reading “You Know You’re a Greater Mancunian Child of the 1980s If…”

Forgotten ITV Comedies #2: Watching

‘It was boredom at first sight/You could hardly call him bright/He’s no one’s Mr Right/So what do I see in him?…’

From 1987 to 1993, the pen of Jim Hitchmough created one of ITV’s longest running situation comedies. Despite having good viewing figures, it is largely forgotten. Continue reading “Forgotten ITV Comedies #2: Watching”