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Showing posts from January, 2015

Seventies TV: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

Picture credit: It is actually with a sense of relief that I come to cast my jaundiced eye over one of the sacred cows of 1970s television. There has been a hiatus in these series of posts, not because I've stopped watching 1970s TV, but because I've been watching some shows that have left me with nothing frankly to say. Porridge left me unmoved. I remember liking this as a child, but now find it the sort of television that goes on in the background, & you just pay no attention to. Man About the House is new to me, but I find that beyond saying that it's about not getting it & that a lot of unnecessary fuss is made about mixed-sex flat-sharing, I have nothing to say about it. Similarly, Only When I Laugh, which is another series that started in the 1970s & carried on into the 1980s, I remember as boring with the odd contrived laugh. I'm now more prepared to view it as a situation comedy, but really it isn't doing a

Seventies TV: Minder

Another series that I remember from the eighties but started in the seventies. It's also another series that I'm finding much better on watching it now, than I remember it being at the time. Another series featuring some seriously dodgy motors (see, I'm already starting to talk like Arfur). Another series aiming at realism & grittiness. Another series (more are to come in this series) set in the hand-to-mouth world of the criminal underground. So much so seventies TV show, but there are several fings which interest me here. I wonder what the original target audience for Minder was? - what prompts me to wonder this is that it strikes me as very much the working class used as entertainment. Minder very much shows the other side of the 1970s era of prosperity, both in its depiction of hand-to-mouth dodgy dealings, but in a frequent depiction of rich people as even more dodgy than the poor people. There is often a very real element of a morality tale in Minder, & the

Seventies TV: Terry & June (with me being distracted onto seventies cars)

Picture credit: here And so we come to another show that I remember watching when it was new. It only started in the 70s, 1979 to be precise, but I have one odd episode on one of those discs given away with Sunday papers, which is fortunately the first series episode where they move house, so it's in. Given what seems to happen every time I look up one of the stars of my childhood on the internet, my fear & trembling continued when I came to look up Terry & June. Rest assured that they didn't hold orgies in the dressing room or traffic heroin from Afghanistan - they seem to have nothing bad on them at all. That's a relief. In fact at the time I remember Terry & June mainly for its blandness, which was the main criticism of it at the time: 'The show was generally regarded by critics as the epitome of the bland middle-class sitcom, of the kind which had almost disappeared from the schedules by the new millennium. Despite this, the show attracted large view

Seventies TV: Steptoe & Son

I'm gratified that this series of posts on 1970s TV is generating interest in the blogosphere, since this kind of TV is slightly out of my own choice of shows, which can be described as '1960s weird'. I am having IT problems (aren't I always?) So for the foreseeable future I expect to have problems with tidying up posts on here & replying to comments, but thank you to the people who have commented recently. I didn't actually realise this one had carried on into the 1970s, but I'm watching episodes on the DVD which illustrates this post, all of which were broadcast in the 1970s. Having said that these 1970s shows are slightly off my radar, Steptoe & Son thrives on one of the staple elements of 1960s TV, something which was very much in the zeitgeist of the time - the confrontation between tradition (embodied by the Steptoes), & modernity (represented by the world outside). Harold's periodic talk of revolution & predictions of the end of the

Seventies TV: The Good Life (US: Good Neighbors)

My viewing of 1970s TV shows has so far completely missed the remarkable phenomenon of self-sufficiency & the allied desire to escape from the 'rat race'. This show perhaps both displays it & is also phenomenally popular: 'The Good Life is a British sitcom, produced by BBC television. It ran from 1975 to 1978 and was written by Bob Larbey and John Esmonde. Opening with the midlife crisis faced by Tom Good, a 40-year-old London plastics designer, it relates the joys and miseries he and his wife Barbara experience when they attempt to escape modern commercial living by "becoming totally self-sufficient" in their home in Surbiton. In 2004, it came 9th in Britain's Best Sitcom. In the United States, it aired on various PBS stations under the title Good Neighbors.' ( ) As a sit-com the show reflected a part of the culture of the time, another strange thing about the 1970s. On the one hand

Doctor Who: Deep Breath

The first adventure I've seen of the new Doctor. Technically I suppose 'my' doctor ought to be Tom Baker or Peter Davison, as being respectively the first I remember & the one I saw most of growing up. And that encapsulates my difficulty with Doctor Who - I love that different actors play the role & bring a new personality to it, but the fact that of course the actor playing the doctor is always going to be older than a child presupposes for me that the Doctor must be older than me. Matt Smith blew this preconception out of the water for me. I don't agree with the rumblings in the criticism that he was *too* young - in fact I thought he was a refreshing doctor, partly through being so young. However I feel Smith lacked a certaain depth of characterisation that all of the other Doctors have had. For this reason Capaldi is a welcome change for me. The mood is much more brooding, pensive, what have you. That said, my first impressions of the episode were comple

Seventies TV: Rising Damp

I have been watching two series starring Leonard Rossiter as part of my orgy of 1970s TV viewing, both of which I watched as a youngster, The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin, & this one. Rossiter actually played in an episode of The Avengers, Dressed to Kill, which I have already blogged about here, an episode which shows his worth as a serious actor. His ability as a serious actor is shown for me in his ability to do a halfway convincing Brummie accent, without overdoing it or becoming too Black Country. Of course it is a commonplace that serious actors are always tortured souls ( ), & in Rossiter's case the modern tendency for unrestrained biographies of former heroes has led to a biography ( ), & in the cess pit that was allegedly the BBC in the 1970s he has also been accused of abuse ( http://www.thesun.

Seventies TV: The Famous Five

I didn't watch these shows as a child - whether it was because I was too young, I don't know. Neither did I read the books - we weren't allowed them in my school & so they were exchanged as if they were porn, & I was too good in those days to read that rubbish. I really don't know the reason our headmistress banned them, but there was no pressure at home to read them. I had one friend who'd read all the Famous Five books, in copies that his mother had had as a child. I think I rather guiltily read some of the Secret Seven books. Certainly 1970s children's TV wasn't lacking in an ability to press parental buttons. I watched Grange Hill actually with my parents, & I was forced to watch Tiswas - in retrospect I think my dad had a pash for Sally James. Some family friends forbade their children from watching either of these programmes, a ban they easily overcame by turning the volume down so that their mother wouldn't hear the relevant theme tu

Seventies TV: On The Buses

'On the...' Is of course an idiom referring to working in a particular field. 'On the bins' would be another one. I have a feeling that it is a phrase used particularly by blue-collar public sector workers ( describes some modern bin men & also talks about the changing environment of work in the service sector). As usual I'm trying to make the point that TV from so long ago references an age that was in reality a far cry from nowadays, marked by a watershed (in britain) under the Thatcher government of the 1980s. In the 1970s the services we took for granted in Britain were far more likely to be state-owned, & operated by workers with far different expectations from todays market-driven public sector. Those whose expectations have not changed from those days are in for repeated disappointments. Council houses are few & far between, it is extremely unlikely that many of the services prev