Tonight’s TVS… in 1984 

21 March 2018

Nottingham’s golden couple Jane & Christopher, or Torvill and Dean to their friends, adorn this Spring cover issue of TVTimes. We’re looking at Wednesday 21 March 1984

Stuff worth noting includes:

  • A 6.25am start for TV-am with Good Morning Britain who were still trying to get things back on track after the abysmal start to their broadcasting life. Sofa and high-vis jumper Queen Anne Diamond must have been on holiday or something, as Nick Owen is partnered by a slumming-it John Stapleton. Little did he know, but poor old John was still seven months away from his journalistic nadir, reporting on the Brighton bombing for TV-am from a telephone box on the seafront. And fellow presenter Mike Morris was still a bit away from being one of the main Good Morning Britain anchors, but he manages to squeeze in two sports updates during the three-hour stint.
  • You get the feeling that the GMB producers were trying out as many new things as they could think of (or afford) as possible in order to try a grab a few more viewers. There’s former soap star Pat Phoenix giving us her view on what’s in the news, followed by Pat’s Tip (I’m struggling to think what that could be!) and then Pat’s Chat. What a trooper Pat was, filling so many slots. But the schedule comes back down to earth with Jeremy Beadle and his forever dull Today’s the Day.

  • TV-am are off air at 9.25am, and although it’s not a Sunday, TVS’s first programme is a five minute agricultural update for the odd farmer or two, imaginatively titled Farming Brief.
  • Schools programmes still had another three years to run on ITV before being palmed off onto Channel 4. Looking at the 9.30 listing for these seems strangely incongruous now – so worthy and highbrow. Schools programming or not, imagine this description on ITV these days: “Violent Chinese demonstrations in London, Moscow and Peking in 1967, are part of the shock waves from Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” (History in Action)!
  • The first lot of children’s programmes kick off at 12.00 with Flicks. This was a 10-minute Thames production, telling stories with a mix of animation, live action and narration. Long-time children’s presenter Christopher Lillicrap was one of the front men, but there may have been others. He did lots of over-the-top singing and dancing and made a big deal of waving goodbye at the end of the show. Today’s story is The Three Robbers and gets a repeat showing at 4pm, when it raises the curtain for Children’s ITV.
  • It’s a good job kids like stories, because with a slight lack of imagination, we get another of Granada’s story-telling show, Sounds Like a Story. Today’s one is The Three Wishes.
  • Granada’s long running daytime drama Crown Court was reaching the end of its life in March 1984 – we get the second part of the penultimate story, Love and War, at 12.30.
  • TVS does its own thing after News at One with their stalwart presenter Jill Cochrane linking the afternoon’s programmes from 1.20 until 4pm. This afternoon we get Thames TV’s Miracles Take Longer, a one-series wonder about the life and work of a Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Most ITV regions showed it on Mondays and Tuesdays, but TVS and Central ran it on different days.
  • There’s another exciting edition of the never-ending Mr & Mrs, with the charismatic Derek Batey. This is a Border production (they rotated the production honours with HTV West) and amazingly, Mr Derek needs the assistance of two glamorous hostesses.
  • There’s a 10-minute TVS news bulletin at 3.10, titled Newsbreak, followed by one of Australia’s most famous exports, Sons and Daughters.
  • Children’s ITV starts at 4pm and at this point is linked by TV-am’s Roland Rat. Today there’s an episode of Luna “the futuristic children’s series with its own language”. This is the final episode of the second series.
  • The Hazel O’Connor vehicle Jangles, where she plays a singer in a fictional nightclub, listening to the likes of Fun Boy Three and Bananarama, as well as singing her own songs. Long-time HTV writer Bob Baker was responsible for this episode and it sounds as though it was a bit out of his usual comfort zone. Looking at it now the show seems a strange, surreal concoction which hasn’t aged well.
  • Following Children’s ITV the regions opt-out and TVS shows an edition of Family Trees from Thames, which seems to have been partially networked. This was a lighthearted genealogy show presented by all-rounder Mike Smith.
  • After the early evening news and TVS’s Coast to Coast, we get an episode of the inexplicably popular The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady at 7pm. Shot on film by Central it’s about the dreary life a Warwickshire school teacher called Edith Holden. And I’ve probably made it sound much more exciting that it actually was.
  • After Wednesday’s “visit to Coronation Street”, the rest of peak time belongs to Thames – This is Your Life (guest was actor Kathy Staff, also known as Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine and/or Doris Luke from Crossroads), comedy with series 1 of Fresh Fields, and some comfortable drama with the final episode of the fourth series of Minder.

  • Midweek Sports Special was a long-term Wednesday evening staple for ITV. Tonight it’s TVTimes cover stars Torvill and Dean who are competing in the World Figure Skating Championships. You can tell these super-skaters were popular because ITV Sport splashed the cash and sent their top sports presenter, Dickie Davies, all the way to Ottawa.
  • The final programme of the evening is one of those ubiquitous late night musical fillers, so beloved of ITV during the 1970s and 80s. This one goes by the title of Showcase and features Dame Sarah Brightman “in classical style”. I’ve no idea whether that included a Hot Gossip retrospective, or some light opera, or both. Showcase is such a generic title that it’s hard to track down any reliable references. But Sarah was filmed at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, part of TVS’s broadcast area, so it could well have been regional production.
  • We’re still in the era of television close-downs and TVS shuts up shop just after 12.30.

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11 responses to this article

Alan Keeling 21 March 2018 at 11:23 am

Channel Four’s vintage US offering is The Munsters (1964/66) with an episode called “Country Club Munster”, in which Herman wins a membership to a local country club and try’s his hand at golf. This episode was from season one and the series was all the better for being filmed in black and white.

David Caldwell 21 March 2018 at 3:29 pm

Diverse Reports, Channel 4… “Christopher Huhne reports…” – not THAT Mr Huhne, surely?!

Westy 21 March 2018 at 5:35 pm

Must admit Ive never seen a Htv episode of Mr & Mrs, only Borders!

Were Htv’s ever shown in the Midlands?

Jeremy Rogers 21 March 2018 at 9:01 pm

> Were Htv’s ever shown in the Midlands?

They certainly were in the 70s.

Mark Jeffries 22 March 2018 at 12:20 am

Poor Mr. Lillicrap. Schoolboys and TV technicians must’ve had a field day with his last name.

Arthur Nibble 22 March 2018 at 10:34 am

The HTV version of “Mr. & Mrs.” was shown at lunchtime in the Thames region during the early to mid 70’s – its theme tune was a James Last style rendition of “Getting To Know You”. It was presented by Alan Taylor, the Mister Ubiquitous of HTV / TWW who also hosted HTV’s lunchtime programme “Paint Along With Nancy”.

I always wondered why two different ITV regions took turns to make the same programme, and it was thanks to an article on this very site I discovered there was a programme (cost)-sharing deal amongst the non-“Big Five” ITV companies, and the regional rotation of “Mr. & Mrs.” was one of the main fruits of the arrangement.

Arthur Nibble 22 March 2018 at 10:50 am

“Sounds Like a Story” presenter Mark Wynter had been a successful singer back in the day, with two top 10, two top 20 and three top 30 singles between 1960 and 1963.

Future ”Eldorado” actor Jesse Birdsall appearing there with Hazel O’Connor.

The presenter of Channel 4’s “Comment” implies there were two party political broadcasts on the telly that night.

Alan Keeling 23 March 2018 at 3:42 pm

In the TSW region during the 90’s, there was a local female newsreader by the name of Sarah Lillicrap.

Alan Keeling 23 March 2018 at 3:44 pm

In answer to Westy’s question, HTV’s version of Mr & Mrs was shown in the Midlands region.

Simon Wise 30 August 2018 at 7:00 pm

Lucy Mathen, seen presenting TV-am’s Daybreak was formerly the roving reporter on John Craven’s Newsround. She was also a mean bass player & was followed gigging by Blue Peter. After leaving TV she’s been involved with something way more important…

Julia Lacey 28 February 2022 at 11:30 am

“Miracles Take Longer” was never given a chance, since it was replaced after one series by Australian programmes which varied from region to region. Yet it was a really interesting programme, dealing with a variety of social issues and featuring a strong (if rather earnest) cast headed by the late Patsy Byrne of “Watching” and “Blackadder II” fame.

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