Tonight’s Central and Channel 4… in 1985 

4 May 2017

The TVTimes tells us what was on Central and C4 on Saturday 4 May 1985. Things worth noting include:

  • TV-am’s slow recovery from disaster continues. They’ve begun pushing their start-up back towards the originally-envisaged 6am, having found themselves coming on air after 7am at times due to a lack of funds. There’s only 15 minutes left to fill.
  • The daily start-up sequence for ITV companies has basically completely lapsed. Little versions of it were seen on some companies’ output into 1987, but the bulk – including Central – had moved on. The 5 minutes between the closedown of TV-am at 9.24:59am and the old “start of programmes” (with music and graphics and formal announcements in between) at 09.30:00am has been replaced with Cartoon Time.
  • The cartoon in question is a Warner Bros. Sylvester the Cat Looney Tunes from 1952, originally made as a supporting short for the cinema.

  • NBC’s CHiPs, at 11.20am, had been a hit in primetime from 1977, faltering with later cast changes before ending in 1983. In the US, it went straight into syndication and remained a primetime staple on independent stations. In the UK, the gentle comedy and lack of swearing, gore or challenging subjects saw it repeated in this rare dad-and-son slot.
  • World of Sport between 12.15pm and 5pm includes the professional wrestling, beloved by millions. ITV are bring this back, but blot their copybook (of course) by calling it “iconic”, meaninglessly, and also by referring to World of Sport as “WOS”, which nobody did ever ever.
  • Channel 4 comes on air at 1.05pm with Chips’ Comic, which was great (I turned 10 that month) and also had each edition digested into an actual comic that you could buy. Well, you could. Said comic was not cheap and my family was not rich, so I never joined in. This article remembering it is interesting.
  • Channel 4 in the mid-1980s made quite a niche for themselves by showing old black and white films during the day: not blockbusters, but the fondly remembered ‘B’ pics and minor hits of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Grandparents the country over tuned in delightedly, oft dragging their grandchildren in as well. 1942’s Much To Shy at 1.55pm is a George Formby film, and thus is a George Formby film; a “Columbia British” production, thus secretly from Associated-British in Borehamwood. Brewster’s Millions at 3.40pm is from United Artists and is a classic from 1945, frequently remade before and after from a play based on a 1902 book.
  • When Channel 4 goes to its omnibus of Brookside at 5.05pm, Central responds with 1968’s Attack on the Iron Coast, very very loosely based on a true story, which had backed Yellow Submarine in the cinemas. It’s another film straight out of ABPC’s facilities at Borehamwood and is watchable enough if you like that type of thing.
  • ITV’s domination of Saturday nights at this point in time is clear from the start of tonight’s listings. The Grumbleweeds Radio Show at 6.50pm was a modern Wheeltappers, with enough basic humour to capture the night’s audience, despite The Poseidon Adventure running against it on BBC-1. The Price is Right at 7.20pm sealed the deal: a quiz show so downright common everybody loved it.
  • And then it crumbles. NBC’s Hunter at 8.15pm was on its second episode. The series ran for 7 seasons in the States but soon drifted out of ITV primetime in the UK. Anglia’s Tales of the Unexpected is always good value, but is wasted at 9.30pm Saturday night: Sunday would suit it so much better. Auf Wiedersehen, Pet from Central at 10pm picks things up again, but is a repeat.
  • Why this sudden pile of #fail in the midst of a promising night? Well, over on BBC-1 it’s Eurovision Song Contest night, presented by SVT in Sweden. The contest was won, unusually, by no-hopers NRK in Norway and the group “Bobbysocks!” singing ‘La Det Swinge’ in a triumph of terrible judgement from the juries.

  • Central did a great line in wonderful/terrible late night horror movies that 1973’s The Legend of Hell House does not break. TVS, YTV, HTV, LWT and Anglia all go with 1977’s unbearable and stilted thriller without thrills The Car instead. Granada chooses The Birds, which is of course unimpeachable.
  • Central, TVS, Yorkshire, HTV and Anglia are off air by 12.45am. Granada keeps the ITV flag flying by running a Black Sabbath concert from 1.05am, leading to a closedown at – what? 1.45am? 2am? – something like that. LWT also stays up, running an episode of Magnum at 12.45am, leading to a similar closedown time of 1.40am, assuming they sold adverts to bulk the 46 minute show up to a British TV hour.

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6 responses to this article

Alan Keeling 4 May 2017 at 3:51 pm

Amongst the ‘crummy’ schedules on ITV during the 80’s, it was good to know that Channel Four were still screening vintage TV shows from the ‘golden years of TV’, one such offering was from season 3 of the US crime series, Naked City, even at 11.40 pm it was still a welcome sight. Tonight’s episode guest stars Mickey Rooney & Maureen Stapleton in a 1961 episode from season 3.

David Craig Little 4 May 2017 at 9:50 pm

I loved Hunter,when it was on.

Arthur Nibble 5 May 2017 at 10:01 am

I wonder if anyone wanting details about either of the first two programmes on Channel 4 did actually write to “address 1, page 59” by mistake?

“Brewster’s Millions” features the intriguingly named Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, the middle name being his character’s first name in the US radio show “The Jack Benny Program”. Benny had the name Rochester copyrighted and sold the rights to Anderson for a dollar.

An interesting role for former gridiron player turned actor Ed Marinaro in this episode of “Hill Street Blues”.

Arthur Nibble 5 May 2017 at 10:20 am

I love the way someone (possibly hostess Lill Lindfors) walks into shot at the start of Bobbysocks!, whose Eurovision winner swung all the way up to number 44 in the UK chart. Our entry, “Love Is” by Vikki, came a respectable 4th out of 19 but only reached number 49 in our chart, possibly due to being the first UK entry for years not to be offered a slot on “Top of the Pops”.

While LWT shows “Happy Days”, Yorkshire shows one of its spin-offs “Joanie Loves Chachi”, starring Erin Moran, who hit upon hard times and sadly died a fortnight ago.

Paul Mason 6 May 2017 at 5:43 am

Another recent death was Tim Piggott-Smith who was in Churchill – The Wilderness Years transmitted on Channel 4 at 9pm.

Paul Mason 6 May 2017 at 5:54 am

Regarding cartoons they were a regular feature of BBC1/and ITV throughout the 1960s until the 1980s, popping up in odd gaps. ITV had Warner Brothers cartoons regularly, along with Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. ITV , or ABC to be precise screen the Bugs Bunny Show as opposed to individual BB cartoons.
For 30 or so years the BBC showed Tom and Jerry, which was cruel on cats!
With DVDs and dedicated channels their day on mainstream TV has past.

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