Being young and unemployed in the early 1980s cropped up as a theme in plenty of TV drama at the time. Some of it was a bit hit and miss. Jangles was probably more of a miss than a hit and didn’t last too long. But it’s kind of endearing on a re-watch.
It had that kind of feel of a TV series where a bunch of old guys at ITV thought – oh dear, we better get down with the kids, what can we do? Oh I know, have a series set in a night club. We’ll call it Jangles.
ITV was divided up into regional TV channels in the 1970s and 1980s, which operated quite independently. Jangles was a production of the Welsh channel, HTV. Which stood for Harlech TV. Doesn’t exist anymore – fell victim to various acts of media deregulation.
Jangles is watchable for about five minutes, in all honesty. And will somebody explain the middle-aged mime artist who pops up every so often to comment on proceedings to us, the viewers?
The main actor in Jangles was an eighteen year old Jesse Birdsall – good looking cockney geezer who would go to play Marcus Tandy in Eldorado and Ron Gregory in The Bill. Thirty years ago, he was the male totty on Jangles.
FIND OUT MORE: 80s Mod revival – your memories?
The resident act at the club was none other than Hazel O’Connor but each episode – I think seven went out in the end – had a guest band that included Fun Boy Three and Haircut 100. Hazel O’Connor was a kind of synthesis of the punk aesthetic mixed with some 80s electronica and very theatrical. Bit forgotten now compared to her contemporary Toyah.
The ethos behind Jangles was to show that under-employed youth of the time could have fun while having no money. Well, that was the idea anyway. But it sat uneasily with ITV’s more conservative output for children. It might have worked on the soon-to-be-launched Channel 4 but was binned before the channel appeared.