Tonight’s BBCtv… in 1986 

1 November 2017

So here we are, the autumn schedule on the BBC in full swing.

First up, the cover of the Radio Times itself pretty much sums up the past and present in one show, the family gathering round the tv to watch the 9 O’Clock News whilst the rest of the magazine takes the opportunity to celebrate 50 years of BBC Television through genres from comedy to children’s, sports to drama, which in total took 30 pages of the magazine

BBC-1 starts the first day of November with children’s programming at 8.30 – you could say this was a later start than normal. The Family Ness and the Muppet Babies each with their catchy theme tunes guide the younger viewers into the day as the Saturday Superstore takes the young and the old across the rest of the Saturday morning.

Saturday Superstore was into its final series; guests include Spandau Ballet, Gordon Kaye and Philip Schofield, no doubt the latter being on a testing ground for a future Saturday morning show on the BBC. This particular edition of Superstore also celebrates 50 years of BBC Television with a behind the scenes look at an exhibition in Bradford.

So what with the children’s programmes and the sporting world that is Grandstand, this took care of every Saturday known to man until the early evening when BBC-1 gets into its familiar stride.

Come 5.20 and Roland Rat, who made fame at TV-am, decided to go to ‘BBC3’ before the channel was even invented… the rat had vision! This particular programme had Anna Karen involved whose name you may be more familiar with as Olive via On The Buses.

Up next at 5.45 was Doctor Who featuring Colin Baker as the Doctor, this particular episode sees the doctor with a new companion in the eyes of Bonnie Langford, other stars in this episode include Lynda Bellingham and Honor Blackman

6.10 sees The Noel Edmonds Late Late Breakfast Show. Noel who was a staple part of the Saturday evening schedule for two decades throughout the 80s and 90s and this would see this particular episode as the penultimate episode of this series due to the death of one of the audience participation elements to the show. Noel would be back two years later with the Saturday Roadshow format, a bit like House Party but with a different set every week; of course Telly Addicts would continue as normal.

Quiz time next at 7.00 with Paul Daniels hosting Every Second Counts, the quiz show was based on an American format and was now into its second series. Each week, there would be three married couples competing against each other to win seconds of time. Those who gained the most would go through to the final round which normally meant winning a holiday. This format was successful enough for the BBC who kept it going until 1993.

The benchmark to this particular day’s scheduling on BBC-1 as part of their 50 years of BBC Television would be That’s Television Entertainment; this would take up 3 hours of airtime. The premise of the show would see star guests picking their favourite BBC TV programmes over the last 50 years –
for example, Kenny Everett’s love of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and Michael Crawford picking out the Magic Roundabout – in the aim of proving that it wasn’t all that bad back then. Trouble is, it’s only 1986, and some might say that television was nearing the end of a golden era. Just two years later on this particular day in 1988, the BFI would be asking members of the public to chart their days viewing via the One Day In The Life Of Television project before television itself would be changing forever.

Whilst the news breaks up the evening entertainment at 9pm, there is a chance to see the drama Bodyline at 10.45 featuring developing cricket talent. A sport theme continues as the final programme would be bowls and tennis at 12.10am (those Saturday night favourites!) and a closedown at 1.25 which could be seen as no different than the closedown we get now, time-wise (minus the simulcast of the BBC News Channel of course).

BBC-2 on this first November day of 1986 sees just over 3 and a half hours of rolling Pages from Ceefax starting at 9am and before you had enough of Ceefax, it would be back again for a further 45 minutes with two programmes of the Open University sandwiched in-between.

The Saturday Cinema zone at 2.15 would be Silk Stockings starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, a film about the musical version of Ninotchka which includes some wonderful dance moves from Fred.

At 4.10, the TV50 theme continues on BBC Television with Television Comes To Bradford. John Walters takes a look at the birth of television meeting people involved along the way.

The next 90 minutes sees David Icke present bowls and tennis coverage. Bowls was once a staple thing on BBC-2 daytime, but is rarely seen now today.

For the evening, BBC-2 takes a more serious approach to the fun on BBC-1, the first programme of the evening at 6.15 is the Secret Life Of Paintings in which Lady Wedgwood takes a look at five paintings and discusses the meaning behind them.

6.55 sees NewsView, a weekly round up of view which includes in-vision subtitles. Beyond this, the BBC-2 schedule is largely film-based. The Saturday Review at 7.35 in which Russell Davies discusses the first film directed by David Byrne entitled True Stories which sees a montage of life in present day Texas. Eric Griffiths, Jeanette Winterson and Tony Palmer discusses this.

An art element to the schedule at 8.25 sees the third in a four part series looking at European music and how this impacts on a wider audience.

Beyond this two films from 9.25pm sees I Vitelloni and Amarcord, both themed as they are two autobiographical films from Italy’s Federico Fellini.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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5 responses to this article

Ronnie MacLennan Baird 1 November 2017 at 2:37 pm

1986: “This particular edition of Superstore also celebrates 50 years of BBC Television with a behind the scenes look at an exhibition in Bradford.”

2016: The Science Museums Group marks 70 years of BBC Television by shutting the Experience TV gallery.

Cultural vandalism!

Arthur Nibble 1 November 2017 at 7:35 pm

Cricket, bowls and tennis on a Saturday night in the 80’s on BBC1, and no football? Pretty sure ITV hadn’t won the rights to Saturday night football this early.

Vicky Licorish on “Saturday Superstore”? It takes all sorts. Ahem.

Victor Field 3 November 2017 at 7:55 am

My “fondest” memory of “Muppet Babies” is seeing Tom Selleck entering the Embarrassment Hall Of Fame with his live-action cameo as a lovestruck fan of Miss Piggy.

Paul Mason 4 November 2017 at 9:35 am

I must beg to differ about bowls, it is still shown on BBC2 but was never a year-round sport. Usually it’s a daytime affair with late night highlights.

The presenter was David Icke who has become a wonder to behold since appearing on Terry Wogans show announcing he was the Son of God.
Oh dear……..

Graham Pearson 20 July 2020 at 4:47 pm

I’ve seen the video showing pages from the BBC teletext information service Ceefax and the music which accompanies it is great.

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