Tag Archives: TV

Prince Edward hot and Donny Osmond not – a view from 1981

Fab208This I found in my archives and it made me chuckle. A pop annual in 1981 decided to pronounce on who was hot and who was not at the start of the decade.

The Tourists were hot – with Annie Lennox later to forge a career out of that band. Madness, meanwhile, were detaching from the 2Tone bandwagon and had a string of chart hits.

By an unfortunate coincidence, two of the hot people for 1981 were Eddie Kidd and Christopher Reeve who would both end up severely disabled for very different reasons – one from a motorbike stunt going wrong and the other falling from a horse.

Why on earth Prince Edward was thought of as hot is beyond me! But there he is. The sort of Prince William of his day. Seen as an eligible royal catch for somebody. Not my cup of Earl Grey tea!

Not hot were the fading stars of the 1970s – Donny and Marie Osmond, Shaun Cassidy (half brother of David Cassidy, the more successful 70s singer), Leif Garrett (whose decline was even referenced on an episode of Family Guy!) and John Travolta.

Before being rescued by Pulp Fiction, Travolta had some grim cinematic outings after the glory years of Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Child was a dreadful pop group much beloved of Top Of The Pops due to their safeness in the face of punk and Andy Gibb was the youngest of the Bee Gees clan, soon to die young.

The Professionals was obviously felt to be a TV programme past its sell by date in 1981 and so not hot. But in retrospect, I think The Professionals deserved better than that. Your views?


Jangles – ITV drama in a rock club

ITV decided it needed to get down with the kids in early 1982 and launched a drama series called ‘Jangles’ set in a fictional night club.  The main actor 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 force behind Jangles.

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.  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.


Happy Days – political divisions between the actors


Happy Days – for some

Here’s a piece of complete trivia about those involved in the TV series Happy Days.  In case you’re too young to remember, Happy Days was a sitcom set in 1950s America. It was shamelessly nostalgic, bubblegum entertainment.

Since then, the cast have led very different lives and held markedly different political views. And the moral is: Being a liberal/Democrat in California ensures you a happy and productive media career whereas being a red in tooth and claw registered Republican, may not work out so well.

Scott Baio is definitely the latter.  He has posted some pretty horrible stuff on his Twitter including a misogynist cheap shot at Michelle Obama that even our very own Daily Mail picked up on last year.  Click here to read the story.  Baio’s anti-Obama comment led to him claiming that he was receiving death threats and needed FBI protection.

This wasn’t the only Twitter meltdown that Baio inflicted on himself in 2010 – he then penned this anti-tax tweet that was picked up and led to an online feud between him and a website called Jezebel dot com.

In complete contrast, Henry Winkler and Ron Howard took up their old roles as the Fonz and Richie Cunningham to encourage people to vote for Obama during the last presidential election.  Whereas Baio’s career can hardly be described as stellar since he stopped playing Chachi, Ron Howard has become a globally renowned director.  Winkler hasn’t done too badly either.

Lorimar Productions – the force behind 70s TV

Lorimar is to blame for a big part of your youthful TV viewing if you were growing up in the 1970s.  It was eventually swallowed up in to Time Warner where its logo lived on for a while longer till it eventually disappeared completely.

This production company, born in 1969 and bought by Warner in the mid-80s, brought you The Waltons, Dallas, Knots Landing and the controversial movie Cruising (1980) and Being There (1979).  Lorimar’s logo always popped up at the end of your regular viewing but changed over time till eventually Time Warner made it very slick and charmless.

Here’s the history of a logo:

Saturday morning TV in the 1970s

School was over for another week. In the 1970s, you would have woken up on a Saturday morning, showered with Lifebuoy soap, put on your flared jeans and Harlem Globetrotters T-shirt (yes, I did own such things) and go downstairs to watch the telly.

PlanetAside from the BBC and ITV’s kids’ programmes – like Swap Shop and Tiswas – there was a slew of American TV series. For example, an adaptation of the movie Planet of the Apes, of Little House on the Prairie and if that wasn’t saccharine enough for you, then there was The Waltons.

And do we all remember the mawkish nonsense that was Mork and Mindy.  What I love about the opening credits of M and M and other similar series was that they rushed to tell an establishing story in under a minute.  So you see Mork waving goodbye to his fellow aliens, heading in an egg shaped spacecraft to Earth and then going to live in Boulder – Mork and Mindy put that town firmly on the map.

There’s some terrible US shows that have been completely forgotten.  Makin’ It was a disco based series that cashed in on the Saturday Night Fever craze and starred Ellen Travolta, older sister of the man with the same surname who was the star of SNF.

Pam Dawber and Robin WilliamsEllen also played the mother of Chachi Arcola (Scott Baio) in Happy Days – which turned out to the be the happiest days of Scott Baio’s life – can’t say he made a huge impact afterwards with such turkey spin-offs as Joanie Loves Chachi and Charles in Charge.

Many of these shows were made – churned out – by Lorimar Productions, founded by Irwin Molasky.  It’s interesting to me to see how many Italian American and Jewish characters there were – but hardly a black face and certain no hispanics to be seen.

In all honesty, I didn’t  notice this at the time but a black friend of mine who is the same age as me said he found it pretty dispiriting back in 1979 to have no role models on mainstream TV to look up to.