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What Else I've Been Watching

The advantage of themed series of posts is they keep my grasshopper mind on the subject and the disadvantage is they don't necessarily represent what I'm watching and detract from the principle that I blog about what I'm actually watching. Hence a sort of round up post of some things I have been watching and some things I've just discovered. Some of these might get a post of their own as well.

When I was doing the posts about orphaned episodes it brought home to me that it is important not to give a show or a film the same name as another one. Obviously we know all about this problem with The Avengers, but it turns out there was a TV comedy show between 1983 and 1988 called Who Dares Wins. Even at the time that name was a mistake because since it is the motto of the SAS it had already been used by this film, and has since been used by this TV show and then this one. What is wrong with you people? You might think you're giving your show a punchy name and might be arrogant enough to think it will be so popular it will rise to the top of Google searches, but if it doesn't get that popular, giving it the same name will ensure it will sink into ignominy. Anyway, I had never heard of the excellent comedy series which stars many of the great names of the eighties comedy circuit and many of the standard techniques such as bringing the audience into the comedy. I think I've never heard of it because it was an experiment by Channel 4 in deliberately making TV intended to be viewed when you get home from the pub and so broadcast very late. It's a delight and very funny. There are episodes on YouTube but you have to search specifically for 'Who Dares Wins 80s comedy TV show ' or something like that. Should've been a librarian.

Speaking of Channel 4 I am delighted to discover that the whole of Terry and Julian is available here. If you're not used to Julian Clary's humour you'd better sit down before watching it because you'll either die laughing or be shocked off the face of the earth. The show will very obviously never have a commercial release but it's worth watching simply for the scene in (I think) episode 5 where June Whitfield (I'm not making this up) comes on incredibly strong to Julian. I watched this all the way through when it was first broadcast with the tears streaming down my face so it brings back happy memories of my misspent youth.

I see from previous posts here that I used to be more worried than I am now that the supply of old TV would dry up. I think in terms of UK TV before the end of the seventies it largely has and the only discoveries from now on will be odd shows that have got saved by mistake or filed in the wrong place. In addition to new discoveries there are a number of shows I have heard about in various archives which sound interesting. I just wish I could remember the names of any of them at this point lol. I also just wish that it was more likely releasing these shows would be commercially viable in a time of austerity. Recently though a high number of TV shows and films have popped up in the recesses of the internet so it looks more hopeful. I think what has changed since I expressed that worry is a lot of people went through their lofts in lockdown and a phenomenal amount of good stuff has appeared online in the past couple of years.

1988's The Fear is a fascinating drama made by Euston films about London gangsters in which Yuppie culture clashes with old school gangster culture. I remember the eighties as a very happy time and love the reminiscence aspect of these shows. Do I even need to say that unrelated films of the same name came out in 1995 and 1996? What the hell is wrong with people?

I've been watching some episodes of the seventies mystery game show Whodunnit (not to be confused with this 2013 show of the same name, you can just stop doing it now, it's not funny) in which the panel of celebrities and some members of the public watch a dramatized murder and work out whodunnit. It's cosy and very sweet. Edward Woodward was the host at first, giving over to Jon Pertwee in open shirt and medallion mode. Actually it's worth watching for the huge collars and flares. Also Anoushka Hemple if she does it for you. There's a proper culture shock in the amount of smoking the actual panel fit in on this show as well!

I've also been watching some children's shows. I'd never heard of it but Grasshopper Island, about three boys who run away to what they think is a desert island, is a gentle delight. It's a bit odd because they run away with Charles Hawtrey, who was an alcoholic curmudgeon in real life. I'm waiting for the DVD to come from Germany but there's an incomplete set of episodes on this YouTube channel, which also has some episodes of Tiswas.

I had completely forgotten that Tiswas used to show selections from the archives of ATV and it was through one of those selections I found my new hero, Frank Gunnell, who was a bin man and lived for thirty years in a tree outside Worcester:

I had no idea that I might have watched it in my childhood, although it seems familiar and now it's rather too young to hold my attention but I have been watching some episodes of Here Come the Double Deckers, about some kids who have a den in an old bus in a scrapyard. I think of this as the 'kids who had more freedom than you' genre of children's television. I think The Magnificent Six and a Half may be the same although I haven't seen it yet. Children's Film Foundation shows don't often get uploaded to the internet but there are some episodes from the series in this YouTube channel.

In non-TV viewing it will probably be slightly Freudian after my post about The Girl Who Was Death but I have a thing for films set in lighthouses. I love the sense of isolation and of course the contained environment is perfect for mysteries and the kind of films where the entire lighthouse crew lose it. I have recently particularly appreciated The Vanishing.

I've also been watching highlights of the January 6 Committee. Really not being funny, but why isn't the former guy under arrest? I believe that the collecting a fund to 'defend' the election and then spending it on something else is alone fraud enough to arrest him in the US.

Coming Next on Cult TV Blog

I am increasingly dissatisfied with the slapdash way I've applied labels to posts so may go through applying them individually. Of course you all know I'll be as slapdash again about it so who knows what I'll get round to doing.

I am thinking of a series of posts about TV shows set or made in Birmingham. I would once again follow my usual policy of only writing about things I like but there is no shortage of contenders.

Finally how about this for a cracking theme tune?

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