Saturday, 24 January 2015

"We are Sports Lawyers for you..." or things you find when your research for something else... - Number One

Back again after a break, the blog takes in a more stranger twist. Yes, there will be occasional post about looking at light entertainment and television etc. But all work and fun makes Jack a dull boy. Well according to that episode of The Simpsons with Gillian Anderson in it anyway, but in the journey of researching and writing there comes things which are odd and strange or just generally and we hope to bring you that a bit more this year.

Starting off with these gems whilst research about World of Sport, 50 years ago that it started in January 1965 with Eamonn Andrews and Richard soon to be Dickie Davies plus also as I found out thanks to the television authority Chris Bowden-Smith of the excellent Transdiffusion website that Fred Dinenage was there it seems as well billed as 'The Man from How' which makes it sound like a failed pilot for a late sixties spy thriller show.

But however when it comes to appearing for promotional shot for newspapers and magazines to use, it can get a bit strange.


"We can get you 100% of your compensation when your team loses to a last minute goal at home..."
Mr 'His head looks uncannily like the London Planetarium' along with not Johnny from Friday Night Dinner appearing like they are selling policies to the weary in a slightly cheesy Lionel Hutz type of way, although the truth is less fun and it is a 1980 publicity shot advertising The Big Match, so that newspapers can use it on their television page. 

Yes, the standard generic photograph apart from an action shot of a footballer usually a Burnley striker and Wolves defender jumping up for the ball together. How this actually conveys the excitement of a football match is surprising, maybe Burnley and Wolves' game was called off that week. I cannot vouch that Brian and Jim turned up each and every time like that, but I can't imagine them being a double act like Morecambe and Wise.

Do you think they were the only sports presenter to appear in a strange way? Apparently, no actually. There is another champion of this as well, I bring you Dickie Davies. Him of the honest hands trying to convince us Clown Diving is a sport. From the first ever edition of Look-In magazine comes Dickie's introduction to the World of Sport column in there, whether Fred Dinenage did the column when Dickie was not presenting we do not know.


"Hello ladies, everything is two pound a pound to and I'm getting more of it in next week..."
Strangely this introduction seems if Dickie is pitching for a date, which in a magazine aimed at children doesn't seem quite appropriate somehow. I can imagine that at the first meeting, the talk was about who could encourage children to watch ITV Sport. Later on, it seems children got bored with cyclo-cross and water polo and thus Brian Moore made the column about football using 'On The Ball' as a way for children to meet their sporting heroes through Look-In.

Who needs an Oscar selfie when Dickie can photobomb any event he wants!
But think only Brian Moore and Jim Rosenthal can flog things? Think again.

"Its the World of Sport Scouts everybody!"

Yes, Dickie was helping to flog stick-on patches of course. What makes you stand out from the crowd in your parka coat then stick on patches referring to World of Sport, if you collect them all I reckon you could fill in for Dickie one Saturday afternoon. A record of the theme tune, yes. An annual, yes. But stick-on patches though? I mean you would not see David Coleman hawking himself for this type of thing, besides I don't know how official they are anyway with a Liverpool address to send your money off to. Which makes me think, did a business have a load of stickers and someone came up with the bright idea to cut them up into the World of Sport ident to flog them cheap.

But teamsters, making it sounds like the viewers of Grandstand and World of Sport were like the Jets and Sharks from West Side Story. Were they to recreate the previous Saturday programmes in interpretive dance? Still if you want to take Mr Davies up on the offer of the stickers, forget it because the offer ran out in 1973. I'm sure you could write to the address stated on the advert, but most probably its a Greggs bakery now.





Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Boggen's Advent Calender (Day 25) - Christmas Meant ITV, but what does television mean nowadays at Christmas?

So the search for finding out who did ITV's Christmas Promotions and Trailers goes on, which have fascinated through a article which was sent to me by a friend outlining the start of ITV promoting itself through a seasonal basis of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Christmas split between the big five companies. Those being Thames, Granada, ATV, London Weekend Television and Yorkshire Television, the first of which came in 1969 when ITV did try to do a united effort but this didn't much have an effect to all intrinsic purposes. Where they failed to beat the BBC in 1969, ITV had seemingly gone through a traumatic year in 1970.

1970 for ITV meant a colour strike and union strife, meaning that where airtime was sold at a lower rather then a higher rate that colour broadcasts brought to the companies themselves. So Thames took it on themselves to come up with something for that year's Christmas to use on all companies but more importantly an ITV branding which was already being used on other programming that the network was showing.

But the original idea seemingly was to come from London Weekend but with Michael Peacock having gone in 1969 meant Muir Sutherland, an executive at Thames led a committee to come up with what ITV were going to use for Christmas 1970. The other companies put in the financial support to do so, this meant that Ron Walsby who had previously been at ABC before Thames came up with the promotions which was delivered via inter-company lines to all the companies throughout the network. But one problem was the Colour Strike still on going at the time, meant the promotions were seen in black and white on viewers' screens. 

To come out of all of this was a scheme where each season was give to one of the big five companies, sharing out responsibility equally among them, but as Winter 1971 followed on so shortly on from Christmas, this meant there was a jump to Spring 1971 seemingly Thames taking on responsibility for the Winter schedule as well, but this was to see what effect the promotions had at Christmas, if they were a good thing to continue in this way. Though in 1968, London Weekend had to be persuaded to spend more money on their on screen promotions when advertisers were paying good money to advertise with them. 

As the 1970's went on, the big five companies shared out duties between themselves but with some many big voices shouting all at once to promote their programmes as well as such big personalities in the management of each of Thames, LWT, ATV, Granada and Yorkshire wanting to push their wares on the ITV network. But as the BBC went into the Christmas of 1977 with one of their strongest festive programme line ups ever, ITV had to respond as the fight for viewers were becoming more competitive as ever. 

This meant ITV had to up their game as they had in 1970 with a campaign which was memorable even if the programmes may not have been like the BBC's. Though the 1977 promotions fell upon Granada for this year, not only with an animated Father Christmas cartoon going around delivering his presents as well as the very catchy 'Robin Song' behind the trailers made for a bright and cheerful set of promotions and trailers. The New Year's trailers are just the generic Granada trailers even using their own slides but with a 'New Year on ITV' ident where the usual Granada ident is placed.

Such with the promotions, that they used the companies own announcers to voice them meaning that voices not usually heard outside their own regions got an airing on ITV over Christmas, Malcolm Brown later of TVS was to be heard on the 1977 and 1980 Christmas promotions both done by Granada. 

1978 saw the promotions done by ATV, with a very cosy style of promotion very much different to 1977's effort. Taking inspiration from a traditional Christmas, by using three animated candles with a gold and red font these promotions hark back to a more traditional time seemingly less commercial but never the less adaptable to each regions own needs. With this being the first year of Morecambe and Wise on ITV since their move there after the previous year's Christmas special for the BBC and also Bruce Forsyth's big money move, the promotional package had to be a strong one with no doubts Thames and LWT wanting it to be as competitive as it could be to show off their assets and the whole network's assets as whole. Compared to 1977, the package offered up for 1978 is as good as any which had gone before it and proved ITV were getting stronger in promoting what they had as well as the BBC could do and they had the stars to prove it as well. 

The commercial network offered Bruce Forsyth on Christmas Eve and the movie premiere Charade as well, with the day before Christmas falling on a Sunday meant that LWT and Michael Grade was in charge, so his and ITV's biggest signing could appear on Christmas Eve itself to somehow recoup some pride from what Bruce Forsyth's Big Night had done for the network as a whole over the the Autumn season. However with the big day falling on a Monday, this gave Thames the upper hand with the main part of the evening turned over to the premiere of 'Diamonds are Forever', The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show of which this was Eric and Ernie's first one since their return to ITV and also a 'This is Your Life' special as well. 

Where as 1970 had been tough year for ITV, 1979 was to be its toughest year to date with the network totally wiped out by a ten week strike. The autumn season only starting in late October when the channel came back on air, leaving it very little time to regain viewers who had come to the network in the previous twelve months, in putting on a big show for ITV's return on the 24th of October. The Christmas promotion seemed slightly staid, with a Christmas card type of scene of a village as its main identity, however the menus and trailers seem very sparse indeed, almost understated in their approach. Seemingly the promotions and trailers done by Yorkshire were to be just that with the channel still finding its feet after such a long time away and viewers still loyal to the BBC.

However for the programmes, they offered as strong a line up as it had been in years, but with a familiar look to it too with 'The Three Musketeers' as the big film, Eric and Ernie on their second Christmas special since moving back and also 'This is Your Life' once again. Tried and tested it was for ITV, but as a recovering network they need to make their Christmas line up and promotion even better.

Come 1980, the honour once again of promoting ITV at Christmas fell to Granada yet again. Compared to Yorkshire's sparse effort of the previous year, the company for the North West of England decided to follow the same pattern as they had done for 1977, animated promotions and a catchy tune to go behind them. By using a wrapping paper and gift tag motif, they made it simple where as the BBC's efforts were getting overblown by this point. Granada known for their understated promotions, made something something which captured the new decade perfectly with its minimalism and also synthesizer backing track, showed that the promotion could be simplistic but effective. 

Much could be said about the schedule as well, 3-2-1, James Bond in 'The Man with the Golden Gun', Morecambe and Wise as well as This is Your Life. The same schedule almost for the third year in a row, by now the predictable nature of the Christmas Day schedule of ITV was starting to see the viewers get used to what was going to be on at a certain time in the evening, as much as they enjoyed the programming, there was a danger of also alienating them by having not much choice at all.

Something had to be done and in 1981, that something was a freshening up of both programmes and also a more exciting look to Christmas on ITV. By taking ideas used previously such as a Christmas scene in a urban setting, using Father Christmas flying his sleigh and also a star in the sky made for another Christmas card scene yet again. Different company, different ideas. But Thames came up with the promotions this time round, offering their take on how a promotion should be used and almost very BBC in style.

Yet with the big day falling on a Friday, this also meant a split in who was going to offer up the programmes themselves. This first part of Christmas Day meant that Thames could offer up Dr No after the Queen's Speech and also This is Your Life but much earlier in the evening than previous years, but the main movie of the day came from Lew Grade of which The Muppet Movie was shown at 5.50pm leading through the time that Thames handed over to LWT at 7pm. Meaning this could have been a deliberate ploy to allow the handover to go on in secret with ATV holding the fort. Though with LWT in charge, this allowed them to show their big hit of the year and away from The Generation Game on BBC 1 which had appeared after the Queen's Speech. Game for a Laugh produced by Alan Boyd, had fought off his previous show and stood proudly on Christmas Day, this was backed up with the third edition of It'll Be Alright on the Night another LWT production meaning that ITV could put out a different schedule than in previous years. But for the first time in a very long time Morecambe and Wise were not on either channel on Christmas Day, with their Christmas Special appearing on the 23rd of December when Thames put it in the slot where London Night Out with Tom O' Connor usually appeared, meaning that went to Christmas Eve at Eight o' clock in the evening.

Overall ITV's Christmas in 1981 had been different, as such revitalized itself once again. Though much thanks to the actual system of ITV then its programmes, with LWT taking the lead on Christmas Day, the commercial channel's schedule seemed a lot strong then it had done for years.

1982 brought the usual Christmas card scene for the promotions, but with the voice-over by Michael Aspel made them seem like effort was taken to get the promotions right and that they should be done properly. The lessons had been learned that ITV could get their Christmas look right, with more companies adopting it for their own in vision continuity spots. Meaning a good look could be universal through the ITV network and what they'd wanted for years, something which bring their identity to the fore. 

Such with Channel 4 having been launched in November, this was more then important with viewers able to pick from four channels and another commercial channel for a start. The ITV brand was getting used a lot more than it had been previously, but still they had no ident of themselves to speak of so they could not have a clear identity on their own promotional trailers.

With Christmas Day falling on a Saturday, meaning that LWT could have the whole day with no Thames programmes having to fit into the schedule. Which meant for the second year in a row, no place for Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise on the big day yet again. They would have to wait till the 27th and Thames to return. Yet, for the BBC's schedule on Christmas Day, the reliance on LWT meant that at the start of the day, the film Journey Back to Oz wasn't much entertainment at all and with Christmas Parade on BBC 1 it seemed like Christmas Day early on for both channels didn't seem to want to get started at all.

The actual schedules on both BBC 1 and ITV didn't started until after the early evening news had finished, however with LWT calling the shots, ITV went headlong into their schedule with a little help from Yorkshire Television and their festive edition of 3-2-1 at 5.35pm but there on in for the main part of the evening was all LWT made programmes. This meant an appearance for the second Christmas in a row of Game for a Laugh followed by Bruce Forsyth in Play Your Cards Right, the movie premiere of Disney's 'The Black Hole' followed and after that, Chas and Dave had their Xmas Knees-up including guests such as Eric Clapton and Jim Davidson. 

ITV had the might of LWT to provide programmes for them on Christmas Day, so finally they had taken on the BBC and gave them a real fright, but as such they still did not have an identity which they could call their own. In 1983, all that changed.

Christmas Day fell on a Sunday meaning LWT called the shots in programmes, yet again for ITV but the promotions went from them to Central, who took the theme of presents and decided to give them an eighties spin, literally. The present and gift tag idea used by Granada in 1980 combined with flying objects such as crackers, ribbons and presents but it did have an odd effect of like staring into a Christmas vortex with so many flying objects, with this being the year of ITV's 3D-TV experiment, it seemed like Central had taken it to the extreme somewhat. Though finally ITV had adopted their look and a first ident for the network used on screen. 

With drawing out the big hitters such as Superman - The Movie, Bullseye, a Royal Carol Concert, Play Your Cards Right and Jimmy Tarbuck reviving a sort of All Star Comedy Carnival/Christmas Night with the Stars calling it his 'Christmas All Stars' including the cream of ITV's and LWT's talent along with satellite links with the stars of Hart to Hart and Andy Williams. The strength in depth made ITV's Christmas strong however, the BBC used their stars in their own shows and played to their strength knocking ITV back somewhat from where they had been in the previous two years. 

As with most things, the computer graphics age was transforming television presentation and this was none more evident in 1984. But with Christmas falling on a Tuesday, ITV could not rely on LWT to help them this year, where as the BBC had been lackluster in the past few years, it was formerly one of there own which would be going up against ITV. Michael Grade had joined as the Controller of BBC 1 in 1984, as such he wanted to put on a show against ITV, Where as the BBC freshened up their line-up it seemed out of place somewhat.

For their literal Christmas Card look with flying train, Granada who provided the look made the effort to make it look modern, but modern doesn't always look right and 1984's look compared to BBC 1's looked sparse and almost bleak, the hard sell was there for the programmes but yet it feels cold and uninviting. Even the programmes apart from the Eric Morecambe tribute at 6pm don't have an effect at all. Making the line-up seem almost humdrum in comparison to what the BBC had on offer. Michael Grade knew how to construct a schedule and it would take a lot for ITV come back and properly challenge BBC 1.

Fast forward to 2014, today and BBC 1 are relying on the same programmes they have done for the past couple of years, Strictly Come Dancing looming large in the schedules along with Dr Who and Call the Midwife, ITV seems not to compete at all largely with just celebrity lead documentaries for most of the afternoon and early evening, with the later part of the evening not entertaining at all. Maybe its time for a change, after so many years the viewing public are getting bored of the same old thing again. So something is needed to happen to wake ITV on Christmas Day out of its comatose state, which it has been in for many years now. 

Where as the BBC cannot rely on the same programmes year after year, it would be surprising that people might go to on demand services and DVD's for their entertainment this year. Television faces the same problem as it did in the mid-1980's with the rise of home computers and VCR's. Innovation is the key for channels nowadays and there is very little of that on Christmas Day. 

So what will I be doing on Christmas Day? Pretty much what everyone else will be doing as usual, but in this multi-channel age I will be flicking around the many channels out there. As I have to say that television has let me down now, without serious thinking it could be looking at a very tough future for itself at Christmas.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Boggen's Advent Calender (Day Twenty) - Goosing with Dick while Aladdin watches

Its Panto Time once again and for the twentieth day, here are some awkward Pantomime television ads to look at..

First off upto to Scotland to see how they can advertise a panto with mainly Scottish flavour, pantos do have a strong regional flavour in certain parts of the country and they draw on this to enhance what they have got already. However this just seems like the raw footage for a commercial which has somehow sneaked it way onto the internet, letting light behind the magic somewhat.
"No, the camera's over here..."


And over to Southampton as this is this year's advertisement for the production of Cinderella starring Brian Conley and Gok Wan, yes that Gok Wan is in panto. Conley, a veteran so many of these shows, makes it look so effortless. But hey, in a world where local advertising is so short nowadays, isn't reassuring that a show like this is going all out make itself noticed.
No puppets were harmed in the making of this advert

Or how about another way to get you message across, mainly shouting it out there! In Weymouth that's the way they like it seems, making sure everyone notices them. The simple pleasure of seeing the panto comes to us all, in my time I have seen everyone from Lorraine Chase, Cardew Robinson to the great Brian Cant, even appearing on stage with him. Overall panto has kept up with the times, with whoever is famous is cast in these shows, from the rash of soap stars in the late 80's through to reality stars of today. Its these people who make panto what it is and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Giant, doesn't cover it...

Monday, 15 December 2014

Boggen's Advent Calender (Day 16) - The Foolish on the Hill

A short one today and a more visual one as we look at Christmas tapes, the promotion made for internal viewing at television stations around this time of year. Though actually they have a lot more to answer for then just being smutty, it was from these tapes the idea of It'll Be Alright on the Night came from. By the VTR editors collecting all the mistakes throughout the year meant they had accidentally invented a new genre of television.

However in such a high pressured world as the television industry is, these tapes not for public consumption were like a pressure valve, letting out their frustration at the end of a hectic year. Though they were not without their own problems, as such with the BBC's 1978 tape White Powder Christmas, where an interview with David Coleman and Princess Anne was re-edited to make her give salacious answers to Coleman's questions. Though when this leaked to the Sunday People, all hell broke loose that a member of the Royal Family would be treated in such a way by the BBC. 

So an internal tape had escaped into the public domain and also with the tapes being even re-edited and going on sale in The Netherlands as public video entertainment, meaning which the promos/Christmas Tapes had to go even more underground.

An explanation as such comes from the 1988 BBC Christmas Tape handily known as The Christmas Tape Story.

Now get out of that...

For all the naughty bits, these promos are actually well put together with as good production numbers as in any programmes. By taking the popular songs of the time, the staff would do their own versions and even those who are more musically gifted made their own songs. But the producers knew the value in letting the production staff do this because for all their seeming messing about, that ideas could taken into programmes and used to the advantage. 

So we say 'Merry Christmas VT' to those who bring us our telly over Christmas and without them it wouldn't be possible.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Boggen's Advent Calender (Day 14 and 15) - And Our Survey Said... Game Shows at Christmas

What says Christmas more then giving away prizes? The television staple of game shows, always appear in the festive schedules and nowadays thanks to channels like Challenge we can see Christmas specials from the past. Though where now game shows used to the domain of the general public during the rest of the year, where mostly in prime time now the celebrities appear the most on them.

But back in the time before digital television and audiences in there many millions, come the festive season with the tinsel and turkey, celebrities lined up to have a go at what mere mortals would do. Though one of the most unfathomable game shows being 3-2-1, they first put the celebrities to the test in 1978. Well, actually 1979. But wait there's a reason for this, Yorkshire Television who made the programme were actually on strike over the Christmas period of 1978 and as such they could not broadcast it either leading to the Christmas Edition finally going out on the 27th of January. 

Though that's where we leave that edition, as since 1979 it has not been seen. But on the 23rd of December, Challenge TV are re-showing it again. All we know is that Jack Douglas appears with Rusty Goffe and three couples are Mike Channon teaming up with the then England women's cricket captain Rachel Heyhoe Flint, Clodagh Rodgers with Terry Wogan and Pat Coombs with Julian Orchard. Apart from that I don't even know what happens, so even it will come as a surprise to me.

Anyway for the next 3-2-1 celebrity special, we move on to 1987 with the contestants all coming from soap operas. Well, ITV and Channel 4 soaps anyway, the Skilbecks of Emmerdale Farm, the Duckworths of Coronation Street and the Grants of Brookside. Along the way, guest santas popped up to deliver the clues with former jockey Bob Champion and former swimmer Sharon Davies amongst them. Though is also notable for an appearance by voice-over man and continuity announcer John Benson at the end with the rest of the assembled cast.

There are stranger game shows though, how about Big Break? The show that brought snooker to the game show format, they were always quick to do something for Christmas. however how about the likes of Steve Davis set against the story of Alice in Wonderland? It happened in 1994, Mr Davis were joined by Marti Caine as the Queen of Hearts, Zoe Ball as Alice and Craig Charles as the Mad Hatter. Though what fellow snooker players John Parrott and Terry Griffiths thought of this is anyone's guess.

However this isn't the strangest edition, the next year they did a panto themed edition with Wendy Richard, Frank Carson and Diane Louise-Jordan as the guests and potting the balls were Ray Reardon, Jimmy White and Peter Ebdon. Cue lots of jokes about Cinderella going to the ball etc.

So when the celebrities are allowed to play anything can happen and it usually does.



Saturday, 13 December 2014

Boggen's Advent Calender (11th, 12 and 13th Day) - When Fifteen goes into One: ITV Promotions and Trailers at Christmas - Part One

A couple of days ago, I looked at how promotions were used to promote different channels at Christmas time. But with the BBC it is easy to promote themselves because they are one Corporation as compared what ITV was, a series of individual companies all wanting to do their own thing. 

For so many years, the likes of Rediffusion London, Granada, ABC, TVS, Central etc, they would adapt their own look over the festive period. These efforts were a proportion to the companies they represented i.e. Granada's being homely, Rediffusion's being classy and TVS' being entertaining.

However with ITV wanting to serve a more united look over Christmas, how would the individual companies come together to give a unified look. In response to the BBC's lavish trailers of the 1970's, the independent channel had to come up with a way of doing this as well. The structure within ITV meant there were five major companies at its head after the 1967 franchise round, those being Thames Television, London Weekend, Granada, Yorkshire and ATV. With the more minor franchises supplying programmes for the Christmas schedule, but the big five companies were the ones tasked with coming up with the look for the festive period. 

Every year the responsibility fell one on of the companies to come up with that year's look for Christmas. Taking for example, 1982 with Christmas Eve and Day falling on Friday and Saturday respectively, that LWT took on that year's campaign running from the 20th of December to the 28th. So it was natural that London Weekend would use one of their own personalities to voice over the promotions, with Michael Aspel both a face from Give Us a Clue but also LWT's Six O'Clock show doing the duties. The actual launch trailer was broadcast on the 7th of December after the programme Russian Roulette. 

The trails themselves were played out on the fifth of December after the film 'Fort Ti' and before that evening's showing of The Professions, both of these being teaser trailers. However on the 9th of December, the first proper trailers were played out after an edition of 'Only When I Laugh' and also 'Falcon Crest', the first of these two concentrating on the entertainment to be seen on ITV over Christmas and the second showing the big shows and films the commercial channel had that year. 

In the line-up for that year's entertainment was Mike Yarwood, This is Your Life and The Morecambe and Wise Show from Phillip Jones' Light Entertainment depart at Thames. For game shows 3-2-1 from Yorkshire and Punchlines with Lennie Bennett from LWT, as well as two of LWT's main shows for Christmas night being Game for a Laugh in its second series and also Chas and Dave's Christmas Knees Up which is being re-shown by Channel Five again this year. Among the other highlights, the network premiere of Roger Moore as James Bond in Moonraker, Disney's The Black Hole, fun with Bruce Forsyth in Play Your Cards Right and Secombe at Christmas with Harry Secombe bringing a musical flavour to proceedings. 


An example of the 1982 ITV Christmas promotion

"There maybe trouble ahead..."

"Greetings to you too..."

However it has been an ambition of mine to learn who actually made the ITV Christmas Promotions/Trailers pre the united ITV era, so I will be looking into them more deeper soon.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Boggen's Advent Calender (Day Ten) - All Star Show Offs

Day Ten and we look at a tradition which ran on children's television for nearly ten years but as such marked the start of Christmas, where as on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show, there was always a star guest from another field showing off. But imagine the whole of the BBC Children's Department all showing what they could do in one show, that show was The All Star Record Breakers, usually Record Breakers made facts and figures entertaining, though this once a year opportunity gave Roy Castle to show off what he could really do and effectively his own Christmas Special.

With so many talented people who presented and acted in shows for children on the BBC, All Star Record Breakers was the perfect idea to make a show as spectacular as any the Light Entertainment department could do. Effectively, the two departments of Children's Programmes and Light Entertainment crossing over made for something spectacular.

The series of specials started in 1974 with the likes of the Blue Peter team including John Noakes, Peter Purves, Valerie Singleton and Lesley Judd along with Pat Keysell and Tony Hart, Johnny Morris plus Michael Rodd, Julie Stevens, Bernard Cribbins as well as the McWhirters. But the fun did not start to get going until 1977, in the year when the BBC spared nothing to make the programme to more spectacular then ever before. It was the year which produced one of the show's most remembered moments. Roy Castle, one of the best tap dancers that the UK has ever produced did something so iconic that even after the closure of BBC Television Centre that it is still remembered to this day. 

Not only did Roy tape dance his way around the Television Centre, but when he arrived at the centre courtyard where as he was joined by lots of tapping feet from the biggest tap troupe in the world. All in aid for raising money for Action Research For the Crippled Child, but as such to get the fountain to work at the right time in the routine, a little bit of persuasion was needed by the people who operated the fountain. Leading to one member of the All Star Record Breakers crew to sponsor the person who switched on the fountain for doing their sponsored knit. 

Roy Castle Beats Time...

However the 1977 edition is full of jokes and songs, John Noakes getting pied in the face, Roy having to compete with whole cast in singing Catch a Falling Star who add the facts about the interstellar heavenly bodies whilst he is trying to perform. But in edition to Kenneth Williams' joke about the largest saxophone in the world adding that someone would need plenty of puff to blow it and he delivers that he's one of the biggest puffs in the business much to the knowing laughter of the band. 

Though the performance of the story of Hans Christian Anderson brings out the best in all the performers with Peter Purves singing about wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, Roy telling the stories of Hans with Kenneth Williams in full Jackanory mode narrating the story itself, the end result is anything as good as any musical. Though who wouldn't want to see Noel Edmonds dressed as an inch-worm?

But always the BBC wanting to top this, in 1978 to make the show even more like Light Entertainment, they decided to base that year's programme on Music Hall entertainment. This lead to more people who came from an entertainment background, all the Blue Peter presenters of the year were there so Purves, Noakes and Judd were joining by Simon Groom and Christopher Wenner. The programme has a feel of an edition of Crackerjack, but with Brian Cant, Bernie Clifton and Stuart McGugan joining the cast. Here were three people with entertainment experience and versatility, but also people who had experience on working on shows from the Light Ent and comedy departments. 

If its 1978, then Grease is not far away. Maggie Henderson plays the Olivia Newton-John role but who played John Travolta is not known at all. To top last year's Hans Christian Anderson musical, the All Star team put on The Pickwick Papers for the finale. Later on Roy Castle was to star in Pickwick with Harry Secombe on the West End stage, so as good as training for appearing that musical. Adding to the musical performance is the All Star Steel Band, so the likes of John Craven clank along to make beautiful music together. Unfortunately or fortunately, this performance has been lost to the ages.

1979 brings a touch of the surreal, because for all the fun and jollity there is Miss Children's Programmes 1979. You read that right, a beauty contest for female children's presenter. Odd you might think, but it is apparently all a dream. Who's dream, I don't know? Anyway, the special guest judge for this is Valerie Singleton, who apparently won the contest in 1972. So who entered in this year's contest? Tina Heath, kept the Blue Peter end up plus also Lucy Mathen represented Newsround, Carol Leader went through the round window for Play School, Dame Floella Benjamin as she is now was trying to help Play Away walk off with the title, with also including Susan King, Su Ingle, Maggie Philbin, Jan Hunt and Maggie Henderson. So its odds on someone called Maggie could win it, sadly for the ages we do not know who won the prize. But more seemingly a touch of 'It Was Alright in the 70s' there, with the children's department thinking this was suitable viewing for 5 to 16 year olds.

Don't believe me? Then take a look at this!


Ask Aspel, if he wants to come back and host...

Return tomorrow for day eleven and we are nearly halfway through, so its time to launch those Christmas promos!