Tonight’s LWT… in 1981 

14 November 2015

The TVTimes gives us a run down of the programmes on LWT for Saturday 14 November 1981. Things worth noting include:

  • The regional variations are impossible to follow, with programme times so far adrift from LWT that I really can’t tell what the options were at any one time.
  • Dickie Davies presents World of Sport from 12.15pm to 5.05pm, including, just to play with our minds, the ITV Six from 1.30pm. Where the seventh horse race went, I have no idea.
  • Southern Television is in its death throes, with six weeks of life left. It still manages to get Worzel Gummidge into the prime 5.05pm family viewing slot, and gets a feature on page 30 of this TVTimes.
  • After the ITN news at 5.35pm, the rest of the evening belongs to London Weekend. Ten years previously they had been tearing themselves apart, getting Rupert Murdoch in to save them, having him unceremoniously ejected by the IBA, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and seeing their prestigious, expensive and largely unwatched programming being shoved to 11.30pm on Tuesdays and the like by an unhappy network. They’re now hitting their stride and they would soon come to dominate weekends on ITV throughout the 1980s with a mix of popular family entertainment that had the BBC reeling.
  • Steve Jones, presenting The Pyramid Game at 5.40, is now 70. Just let that sink in.
  • Game for a Laugh (1981-1985) was first offered to the BBC, who turned it down for being too vulgar. That didn’t bother LWT, nor did it bother its millions of viewers.
  • Punchlines at 7.05pm has every ITV light entertainment star you can think of. LWT’s star drawing power should never be underestimated.
  • Vegas (entitled Vega$ on ABC in the United States) was a stablemate of Charlie’s Angels. It ran from 1978-1981 and had already been cancelled by the time this episode (21 of season 2) aired on LWT.
  • There’s nothing that needs to be said about The Stanley Baxter Series at 8.40pm. Polished, classy, hysterical and very expensive but some of the best light entertainment television ITV ever made.
  • Mind Over Matter at 9.25pm is a cheap TV movie from 1979 starring nobody in particular. Still, it had some moments of genuine fright in amongst the histrionics.
  • 11.05pm sees an omnibus edition of The Tonight Show from the States. Modern audiences in the UK would really like (legal) access to the various late night talk shows that air on the networks in the US, but whenever they’ve been bought in, they haven’t lasted.
  • The Palace Presents at 11.55pm is a rare bit of Canadian variety, shot on film, according to the BFI.

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8 responses to this article

Victor Field 14 November 2015 at 10:55 am

“Vegas (entitled Vega$ on ABC in the United States) was a spin-off from Charlie’s Angels.”

Erm, actually it wasn’t. His brief appearance on that episode may have been mandated by Spelling or ABC to give that impression, especially since the pilot movie first aired in April 1978 and the series proper began in September of that year.

Victor Field 14 November 2015 at 10:59 am

The late Deborah Raffin (“Mind Over Murder”) would be on the cover of “TV Times” herself a few years later thanks to “Lace II.”

Russ J Graham 14 November 2015 at 6:10 pm

I’ve edited Jess’s sentence to switch from “spin-off” to “stablemate”. Thanks for the correction, Victor!

Arthur Nibble 15 November 2015 at 8:38 pm

Croydon does well out of “World Of Sport”, hosting both the darts and wrestling.

“Punchlines” had a lot of well known entertainers, but I had to remind myself of singer Pearly Gates, Julie Royce made two appearances in this series and one on “The Good Old Days” and nothing else according to the IMDb website, and the confusingly named female Bryan Joan Elliott made five apearances on “Punchlines”, released a single called “The Ballad Of Sandra Claus ” on the BBC label and, erm, I think that’s it.

“Kotter” on ATV was known as “Welcome Back, Kotter” in its native USA and was like a rowdier version of “Please Sir!”. It starred John Travaolta as a teenage student when he was actually past his teens (sound familiar?) and the theme tune was a US chart-topper for former Lovin’ Spoonful singer John Sebastian.

Victor Field 16 November 2015 at 7:53 am

It’s been claimed (by some UK viewers) that it was an unauthorized remake, but it’s more likely to have been a coincidence, especially since there were quite a few official ones back then (even “Nearest And Dearest” got done, but not for long) – no one’s ever been able to prove Gabe Kaplan and Alan Sacks plagiarised it.

Kevin Tennent 17 November 2015 at 2:50 pm

Excellent that the darts appears to come from a pub.

Arthur Nibble 18 November 2015 at 3:38 pm

On further investigation, it turns out the wrestling and darts came from venues on opposite sides of the road! The wrestling was from the Fairfield Halls and, if you crossed Park Lane, you reached “The Greyhound”, a fabled local music venue which in its time staged Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, David Bowie, the Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Damned, the Boomtown Rats and A-ha. It was then renamed “The Blue Orchid” but is sadly no more.

Colin Daffern 22 November 2015 at 2:41 pm

Mal Sanders won the Mike Marino shield tournament, beating Sid Cooper in the final by two falls to nowt.

That must surely be one of Caroline Quentin’s first TV appearances in The Stanley Baxter Show!

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