Tuesday, 24 March 2015

I Didn't Know There Was So Much in it: A Week to View from TV Times' Past - March 20th to March 26th 1976

Once again, we delve into the past to take look at what was on the commercial channel in this week, this time in 1976. As winter turns into spring and British Summer Time comes amongst the schedules, what was gracing the cover of this edition of the TV Times? 

Brenda Arnau was Benny Hill's guest on his Wednesday night show, but further down the cover is Benny exploring her navel. Yes, even on the cover, the chance for a Benny Hill joke looms large. But also looming large is a feature on the Royal Film Performance screened by ITV this week and the film itself has an ITV link to itself, with it being the David Frost produced 'The Slipper and The Rose'. The Cinderella story told through live action, little did they know nearly forty years that Disney would be trying the same thing.

The TV Times interviews the stars of the movie Richard Chamberlain and Gemma Craven, even grabbing a word with Annette Crosbie along the way. Showing that even just the appearance of the Royals at the opening of a film a big event for television and no less great promotion for the movie itself. 

From a Princess to a Cockney Sparrer, with a feature on George Innes reflecting on his new found fame and his route from Spitalfields Market to starring in a movie with Michael Caine and meeting his wife whilst filming the movie. Innes was starring in The Molly Wopsies on Wednesday nights and on Friday afternoon with Ray Burdis and Phil Daniels in Four Idle Hands. With musing that his American wife wants to move back to the United States and moving to either the west coast or New York, subsiquently he has starred in many movies and television programmes on both sides of the Atlantic including Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and also Sweeney 2 as well. Which could be could be said to be two films as different as they come.

One man from America and had become a hit on this side of the pond was Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man and with a contract to make the show almost as big was shown relaxing away from filming, no doubt trying not to shake the champagne with his bionic arm. 

Making you feel more then Six Million Dollars, Sanatogen offers some tonic wine, seemingly the only wine to cure your hangover. But seemingly just wine which won't get you drunk, though it'll keep coughs and sneezes away. If you have ever had any of this wine, why not drop us a line to tell us what its like and if we should go out and put it in a dusty cupboard, leaving it there.

But after all that partying and glamour comes this week's listings starting on Saturday and this being the Yorkshire edition of the TV Times, it seems natural after Catch '76 about sharks, Parents' Day about school and The Man from U.N.C.L.E, sadly not about Uncles comes The Geordie Scene as Tyne Tees' City Road rocks to the sound of Procul Harum. 

So what did World of Sport offer on the 20th March 1976? The ITV Seven had meetings from both Lingfield Park and Newcastle on one of the last National Hunt horseracing meetings for their season, with the Flat racing season just about start. However, who better to show what the programme's main event was on that day then host Dickie Davies.

The trophy he is holding is for the Unicorn World Darts Championships, a whole two years before the Embassy championship and with the difference being in this competition that pairs of players competed in teams from the UK and Ireland against the best players from overseas. With success of darts tournaments being covered by World of Sport during this period, helped to grow the game overall. Though as we'll later this wasn't the only darting action during this week.

Later on Saturday night, there was a chance to see some new faces to television with Derek Hobson in 'New Faces', on the panel this week was comedians Ted Ray and Jimmy Hanley, also Tony Hatch fast becoming the hatchet man of the show for his sharp tongued judgement of the acts plus radio presenter and musician George Elrick making up the panel. Those performing included Whisky Mac, a five-piece group from Westcliff-on-Sea, Jack Lille, a comedian from Torquay. Plus singer Louise Berry, Ivan Richards playing his harmonica, Blackpool's Tony Andrews singing, David James of Bromsgrove doing impressions and to round off all the acts, Burnt Orange, another five-piece group from East London. Quite a packed programme, I'm sure you'll agree.

Bob Monkhouse and the big box game returns at 6.30pm, including this week Arthur Mullard, Vince Hill, Irene Handl, Tony Blackburn, Roy Castle, Cyril Fletcher, Mike Reid, Barbara Windsor and as usual in the centre square, Willie Rushton and all embellished with Kenny Everett's voiceover.

At 7.15pm LWT asks, Now Who Do You Do? The fast paced impressions series including an early appearance by Little and Large as well as established performers such as Peter Goodwright, Janet Brown and Roger Kitter. Since 1972, the show had been a launching pad for impressionists and its its final series, this was the fifth show in a run of fourteen programmes stretching through to late May. Though the show itself was to have a huge influence on later impressionist shows in the 1980's such as Go For It and Copycats, both made by LWT.

After the big Saturday film, The Catcher, more classic drama with The Best of Upstairs, Downstairs. The show which helped the ailing LWT back at the start of the decade, proved even five years on from its opening episode, that the programme could still feature as Saturday night entertainment, claiming massive audience figures even for a repeat showing. Though drama in the Saturday night schedules, were a key to keeping viewers hooked and after The International Pop Proms at 11.15, The Collaborators brings police drama to the evening's end as Detective Sergeant Brewer and Dr Erickson get dragged into the world of voodoo by the case of a missing woman. So from faces with are new to voodoo, that is Saturday's schedule.

Sunday starts off on a religious mood with recorded coverage of the installation of Liverpool's new archbishop at 9.30am followed that morning's Morning Worship from Barry in Glamorgan, but literally floating other people's boats is an edition of Plain Sailing, this week looking at the Royal Yachting Association's new scheme for those wishing to plan a foreign cruise holiday.

From on the water, back to the land is Farming Diary at 11.30am followed by events of state introduced by Peter Jay and Mary Holland in Weekend World at midday. Meanwhile Brian Trueman has A House for the Future before Austin Mitchell, soon to become the MP for Greater Grimsby and Richard Whiteley introduce the latest local political news and views with Calender Sunday. 

After all that politicking, it must have been a relief to have Football Special at five past two, this week featuring Sheffield United versus Ipswich, with the away team coming out on top two goals to one. At 3pm, the Sunday Cinema featured Richard Todd in 'Death Drums Along the River' and afterwards The World at War looked at the bombing raids of between 1939 and 1944. All cheery stuff, it seems. The teatime drama slot at 5.35pm is filled by Yorkshire's own drama Dominic, with the god slot having Keith Macklin again asking the question in The Sunday Quiz, Open Pulpit exploring the current issues and after an appeal by Gordon Jackson, Fred Dinenage invites viewers to Start the Day at 7pm. His series, looking for new hymns for school assembly all across the land.

Lightening the mood is the Sunday evening film starring Stanley Baker, Ursula Andress and David Warner in Perfect Friday with Yes, Honestly providing some welcome comedy at 9.15pm. The Sunday play is A Land of Ice Cream looking at socialism in Wales and what it has come to mean in a modern society and finally at 11pm is an edition of The Street of San Francisco with Karl Malden and Michael Douglas fighting crimme on the aforementioned streets.

The new week on Monday brings programmes for School and Colleges during the morning with the daytime programmes starting with Issi Noho and Mr Trimble for younger viewers with The Way We Live, offering the viewers what they think that children will be living like in the future at 12.30pm. A bit heavy going for lunchtime, it seems and added with First Report at 1pm and the Calender News at 1.20pm, the relief of The Mary Tyler Moore show at 1.30 seems like a break from serious subjects with Mary in this episode backing Lou Grant's ambition of owning a bar.

Breaking away from the daytime schedule for a second, Evo-Stick has a performing seal, when you actually look at their advert, is not as exciting as it sounds. Only bathroom tile enjoyment here rather then any animal balancing a ball on the end of its nose. But thrill at the many colour the product comes in, if you want orange in their range, then forget it.

Back to Monday afternoon and after Good Afternoon with Judith Chalmers at 2pm come another film. The Falcon in Hollywood has the Falcon, funny enough solving a crime on a Hollywood film set, seemingly reducing costs right down. With a cartoon at ten to four, for all the drama Hollywood and The Falcon can offer, then from the Midlands comes General Hospital including later to be Crossroads' Tony Adams as Dr. Bywaters trying to find out the identity of an abandoned baby.

From one drama to the filming of another as Chris Kelly and Clapperboard at 4.25pm looks at the making of the movie Hindenburg and the story of the airship as well. At ten to five comes, The Kids at 47a with this week's episode 'Son of Love Story' written by Gail Renard looking at love between the characters within the programme. 

Monday brings a visit to Emmerdale Farm at 5.20pm followed by the news nationally and locally as well. The evening's entertainment starts with Hughie Green and Opportunity Knock and a illustration which could be said of its time. 

The show itself this week having Sir Bernard Delfont choosing his favourite six acts from the previous programmes in the series and the previous week's winner with them going onto Blackpool and Sir Bernard's show at the North Pier. After those surprises and the usual Monday visit to Coronation Street comes John Junkin, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Barry Cryer who celebrates his 80th birthday during this week in 2015. They are all together for Yorkshire's Hello Cheeky at 8pm, bringing their unique senses of humour to the screen. After that frivolity has World in Action at 8.30pm and Angie Dickinson in Police Woman at 9pm.

Tuesday highlights includes Mr and Mrs with Derek Batey at 1.30pm, Good Afternoon at two, Crown Court at 2.30pm, drama with Village Hall and another trip to General Hospital at 3.30pm. Later in the evening, after the film Dear Brigitte comes another edition of Rock Follies. The series, which was one of the breakthroughs for ITV during 1976, charting an all female rock group through their up and downs of trying to make it in the pop industry.

This week's episode involves the girls signing to a new manager and having regrets when he changes their image from feisty Rock chicks to 1920's style cabaret singers, turning away they fan base which had built up for them.

Via its style including musical numbers as well as the plot, feeling more like a musical, this helped Rock Follies win the BAFTA award for Best Drama and nominations for Julie Covington as best actress, the designers for best design, plus off the back of its success also a number one album.

Wednesday afternoon has Steve Race introducing There Goes That Song Again from Thames, appearing in the programme this week are Anita Harris and Rosemary Squires, this musical quiz tested knowledge of two teams. After General Hospital at 3.55pm, more questions are asked by the How team, as Jack Hargreaves finds out how you do the dustman's handshake, Bunty tells the tale of how a walk in the woods inspired a great invention and Jon Miller takes a television camera down a narrow drain. Where Fred Dinenage fitted into all this, there's no record of this. But seeing there maybe drains involved, Fred maybe in the sewers underneath the Southern studios or nearby.

4.50pm is the time for George Innes' first onscreen appearance this week in The Molly Wopsies as P.C. Berry is pleased when the Molly Wopsy gang are invited to the Harvest festival, but soon the church service turned into chaos and the P.C. has to take the blame.

When Calender and the ITN news has made their early evening appearances, comes a trip to the Crossroads motel at 6.35pm. Wednesday night means, Eamonn Andrews and his big red book in This is Your Life, where the surprise guest on this occasion was England footballer Alan Mullery surprised by Eamonn during a friendly game between his side Fulham and a team of schoolchildren from local school. 

With Coronation Street at 7.30pm and Man About the House at 8pm, the main evening's entertainment has an hour with Benny Hill at eight-thirty with his special guest, that week's TV Times cover star Brenda Arnau. Amongst her voice are sketches spoofing Murder on the Orient Express, turned into Murder on the Oregon Express including Frank Cannon, Ironside and Kojak trying to solve a murder and also Fanee and Jonee Claddock taking off that well known wife and husband cookery double act and the chance for Bob Todd do his drunken man impression.

Though in something that Benny Hill would be proud of himself, the News at Ten is on at 9.30pm, allowing for highlights of the Welsh FA centenary football match between Wales and England at 10 O'Clock. After The Royal Film Performance, at 11.30pm, there's another midweek session of Professional Wrestling from the Lewisham Town Hall featuring Steve Grey and Kendo Nagasaki.

Thursday afternoon starts off where last night left off, with more sporting action, as ITV launches the Flat Racing season from Doncaster with the first of three days of action from there with the annual Lincoln Handicap meeting. But in all the racing there is the chance to catch up with some of the fashions that the race-goers are wearing as TV Times' Fashion Editor Jill Whiffing looks at that. How much the average viewer tuning for the racing and to see if their ITV Yankee would come off, thought of this edition to the racing team, I do not know.

From the thoroughbreds at Doncaster, come the athletes from The Indoor League and their Champion of Champions competition at 5.20 with the strongest arm wrestlers all around the country and beyond. Later at 7pm, someone who would give them a fair run for their money appeared as the latest adventure for Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man donned a policeman's uniform to partner a police officer who suspects a group of stealing atomic components, but when Steve's new partner starts to have health issues. this arouses his suspicions.

Something, a bit more down to earth at 8pm with Sid James and Bless This House, when Sid Abbott hears strange noises from next door, he calls the police to help out but soon he gets more then he bargains for. After Clayhanger at 8.30, comes this week's edition of This Week with after News at Ten an edition of Emmerdale Farm with Police Surgeon wrapping up the night at 11.25pm.

Starting the weekend on Friday at 7pm is Nicholas Parsons and Sale of the Century with John Benson announcing the prizes as usual. After a quick cartoon at 7.35 is Bill Bixby in his pre-turning green days appearing as The Magician. The series which had become a huge success, saw Bixby appearing as Anthony Dorian, the magic man who fools the criminals and the tricksters. 

At 9pm, Gerald Harper as Hadleigh tries to sort out his family issues with his wife, Jennifer in New York and his god-daughter Joanna going off the rails, after News at Ten with Fred Dinenage and Keith Macklin make their third appearances of the week, this time preview the weekend's sport in the Yorkshire area in Calender Sport. The late film at 10.45 features Stephen Boyd and Elke Sommer in The Oscar, focusing on an Oscar night and the protagonists remembering what got them to where they are today. 

So an action packed week between March 20th and March 26th 1976, with strong men, even stronger women, laughs galore from some of ITV's finest ever sitcoms, a chance to bet on the horses or check out the fashions and finally, the chance in a TV Times competition to win the TV Times Adventure Wagon. 

Which appears to be a painted Ford Transit van and who wouldn't want that parked up outside their house.

Join us next time for another look into the TV Times archive to see what we watched and what other treats it can offer us. 

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