What Old Shows Turned Into

Reading & Writing, The Arts

I’ve just delivered the sequel to ‘Paperboy’ and hope my lovely publisher will like it enough to take it on. At the start of the book I set up the seventies period and mention a few differences between old British TV shows and new ones.

This was a bit of a cheat as I haven’t seen much modern television. So I thought I should give Saturday night TV a bash. Tonight I saw ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, in which a fat astrologer from the eighties jumped about in a gold suit and everyone looked as if they’d come as a different Quality Street sweet.

Then I flicked to ‘The X Factor’, which seemed to be using more electricity than an Essex housing estate, and was edited by someone taking lots and lots of cocaine. There was a beautiful girl who looked like a black Anita Harris in a suit, and Gary Barlow proved why he’ll never have an acting career.

At first I thought there was something wrong with the colour on the TV. Then I realised that these shows followed a long happy tradition of allowing nine year-old girls to watch gay men at teatime on British television while their sexually frustrated dads ogled hefty women in split spangles. I could love Saturday night TV.

What Old shows Turned Into

Opportunity Knocks – The X Factor
Come Dancing – Strictly Come Dancing
The Brains Trust – Newsnight
Watch With Mother – C-Beebies
Sunday Night At The London Palladium – Britain’s Got Talent
No Hiding Place – Inspector Morse
Simon Dee – Jonathan Ross
Fannie Craddock – Nigella Lawson
Dixon Of Dock Green – The Bill
Larry Grayson – Alan Carr
Emergency Ward Ten – Casualty
The Archaeology Show – Timewatch
Upstairs, Downstairs – Downton Abbey

8 comments on “What Old Shows Turned Into”

  1. Gretta says:

    The Generation Game must have been responsible for something, surely?

  2. MikeT says:

    Not forgetting Play School which turned into Tikkabilla.
    Although, point of order regarding one of your examples. Do you really think anybody looks at Nigella Lawson and thinks of Fannie ? (Oh, hang on – I see what you mean)

  3. Wayne says:

    OMG! You could love Saturday night TV ? NO WAY…..

    Its the worst night of trash all week how could anyone like it today ?????? Okay maybe in the seventies and early eighties but now ??????

  4. Carol Tulpar says:

    Hello Christopher Fowler,

    The topic of my question is unrelated to this post, but I love your idea of Forgotten Authors. Number 35, published in May 2009, was Mazo de la Roche, a Canadian. I am currently doing a list of posts on Canadian authors and noticed that the link to your post, which worked last week, is now broken.

    Is there a way back? If so, I’d love to link again. As you may imagine, with this topic there is not a lot on the internet to link to.

    Thanks and regards,

    Carol Tulpar
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

  5. admin says:

    No, I think with electroshock therapy, the loss of all motor movement, four martinis and another forty years on the clock Saturday Night Telly might start looking palatable.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    Of course our shows are very different but Saturday is not my favourite for television anyway.

  7. Gretta says:

    I can’t even tell you what is on Saturday night in NZ. 101 foodie programmes, probably. Sunday night’s used to be awesome, with Sunday Theatre playing great drama of an evening, and a decent chance of getting good movies afterwards, as well. Then it played second-rate drama. Then it played stuff which was hardly drama in any form, or even remotely entertaining. Now it’s been replaced completely by some horrible US ‘celebrity’ dancing thing, and anything even remotely intelligent is shown after 10pm, if it is shown at all. peh

  8. Sparro says:

    For reasons I cannot quite fathom, I remember “Jim’s Inn”, which was a most peculiar 1960s confection starring Jimmy Handley (Tommy’s son) in a sort-of ‘situation show’. But it was a total product-placement vehicle, actually a string of adverts for house-wares loosely linked by the domestic doings of Jim and his ‘family’.
    Nowdays product placement purports to be subtle and sublime, or it’s reduced to auction-TV channels. However, in the 1960s, they obviously seized the moment and just got on with it. But maybe ‘Price-drop’ and similar could take a leaf out of Jimmy Handley’s book and set their wares into a tacky drama…

Comments are closed.