British drama series set in the 1960s about a policeman in rural Yorkshire. Click Here for review
Cartoon magpies created by Paul Terry one of the most prolific film producers in history having produced over 1300 cartoons between 1915 and 1955 including the many Terrytoons cartoons which also included Mighty Mouse, Gandy Goose, Sourpuss, Dinky Duck and Deputy Dawg. Heckle and Jeckle (whose names were inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's literary character Dr. Jekyll) first appeared in the 1946 short The Talking Magpies. Heckle had a Brooklyn accent and referred to his partner as 'chum' or 'pal' whilst the British spoken Jeckle referred to his friend as 'old chap.' The last original cartoon appeared in 1966.
French series known in its native country as 'La Maison de Tu Tu', Hectors House featured a sad eyed dog, Zaza the cat, and Mrs Kiki the frog. The catchphrase for this particular show was the star's "I'm a great silly Hector." The episodes filled a spot (like Magic Roundabout) just before the early evening news. Another show that has generated an urban myth, this time that myth being that actress Joanna Lumley voiced Zaza the cat. The story became so widely known that it was accepted as fact. But the truth is, that the lovely Ms Lumley had nothing to do with the show whatsoever as she confirmed herself when the question was put to her. "It would have been lovely wouldn't it?" She said. "But no, it's not true.'
After Helen Tulley (Alison Fiske) discovers that her husband, Frank (Martin Shaw), has been having an affair with another woman her friends and family urge her to forgive and forget and stand by her man. Perhaps there was a time and a television drama when she would have done, but this was now the 1970s and there was an increasing awareness of the feminist movement, and so we see Helen bravely decide to leave the cheating Frank and go it alone with her two children (Diana Hutchinson and Christopher Ballantyne). The thirtysomething mother turns to study and becomes self reliant as she goes through the traumatic changes in her life. One of the first series to actually explore the woman's point of view and make her the centre of the drama.
Hello Cheeky brought Radio Two's long-running 1970s comedy show to television, featuring the legendary talents of Goodies star Tim Brooke-Taylor, fellow I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue stalwart and comedy writer Barry Cryer, and writer and actor John Junkin; composer Denis King provided musical accompaniment (and frequently became the object of ridicule for the other three). The half-hour shows were pre-recorded in front of a live audience and replicated the original series' trademark mix of preposterous sketches, appalling jokes, raillery and general silliness. Improvisation abounded, with the occasional blunder retained in an irreverent approach summed up by Cryer as 'Laugh-In without the gloss, only desperation and rot'. A typical show might feature advice on looking after an armadillo, teaching your dog to samba or making your very own space rocket from a yard of lint, an operation on a false moustache, or even a gala dinner with the officers and crew of the Nancie Celeste. The first television series, containing eight episodes, was broadcast between 19 January and 22 March 1976. The second series, containing five episodes, was broadcast between 26 May and 23 June of the same year. (Network DVD).
The Hen House was a one-off 30 minute sitcom broadcast as part of the Comedy Playhouse series on 10 January 1964. With CP's original writers Alan Simpson and Ray Galton busy creating comedy legend with Steptoe and Son (the first episode of the second series debuted the same week as this Comedy Playhouse offering), it was up to others to pen the one-off sitcoms in the hope that their own offering might lead to a full series. This particular one, written by George Evans and Derek Collyer, didn't-even though it starred Beryl Reid, Barbara Windsor and Dermot Kelly (pictured). The Hen House is a girls' hostel, Khartoum House, where the chances of a quiet bit of courting are as scarce as snowflakes in August. Only on one evening a week are the residents allowed to invite their boyfriends into the lounge-and only then for nice quiet pencil-and-paper games. As for lingering goodnights on the doorstep, they're out of the question. In the eyes of Mrs Teresa Fanwyn (Reid), hostel warden, a single kiss can lead to a postivie porchful of orgy: 'Once men and women get together, they orge...' The only way of fooling the watchful Teresa, it seems, is to instal a TV set in the lounge. Then, with the lights turned low, the boyfriend evenings could become more interesting all round. Not that the girls have in mind cosy sessions with such programmes as Panorama. The set would be used-to quote Cynthia (Windsor)-'as a back row of the pictures.' But Teresa Fanwyn is anti-television; and it is the efforts of the girls and the janitor-handyman-dogsbody, Edwin (Kelly), the pursuade her to change her mind that provide the farcical flavour of The Hen House. (Based on original Radio Times article).
With the magic word "Herbidacious" the gate to the garden of Sir Basil and Lady Rosemary would open revealing such wonderfully named characters as Dill the Dog, Sage the Owl, Aunt Mint, Tarragon the Dragon, Mr Onion the Schoolteacher and his pupils the Chives, Bayleaf the Gardener, Pashana Bedhi and Belladonna. However, the most famous of them all was a large headed lion by the name of Parsley, who proved such a hit that he was spun off into his own series (The Adventures of Parsley). Created by Michael 'Paddington Bear' Bond and transmitted in the Watch With Mother slot, the puppet series was directed by Ivor Wood who had previously worked on The Magic Roundabout.
Set in the fictional town of Woodbridge, Here's Harry presented the star as a bumbling complainer continually pitted against officialdom in a world that he always seemed to be one step behind. As far as Harry was concerned it was the world that lacked understanding and not him, perfectly summed up by a scene where he attempted to by a rail ticket and asked the ticket-clerk for a return fare. "Where to, sir?" came the reasonable enquiry. To which Harry replied in all innocence; "Well, back here of course." He lived at 52 Acacia Avenue with his cat, Tiddles and his oft-referred to but never seen aunt, Mrs Amelia Prendergast. A semi-regular supporting cast of characters included his housekeeper, Mrs Benson (Doris Gambell) Alf (Joe Gladwin) and Tommy (Reginald Marsh).
Harry Worth was born Harry Illingsworth, in Tankersley, near Barnsley in 1917, and at the age of 14 he went down the mines to work, in spite of the fact that his own father had been killed in a pit accident when Harry was barely a year old. During the Second World War Harry began entertaining his RAF colleagues with whom he was stationed in Burma. On his return to civilian life he borrowed a book on ventriloquism from his local library and decided to become an entertainer. With two dummies (Fotheringay and Clarence) Harry landed his first theatrical date at the Bradford Mechanics Institute in 1946. However, this was by no means the beginning of a runaway success and after failing to get any more professional engagements for some time, he was seriously considering returning to the mines when just in time he was offered a 12 week contract at Southsea. This was his turning point, and in 1948 Harry made his first appearance on BBC radio in New to You. He continued to find steady work without becoming a major star until 1952, when he found himself on the same variety bill as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, who were touring Britain. The two Hollywood legends took an instant shine to Harry and made sure that he was a supporting act on their next British tour (1953-54). This time the comic duo suggested that Harry give up his vent act and go it alone as a stand-up comedian.
Harry's first 'solo' performance, in Newcastle, left him a virtual nervous wreck, but his uncertain, almost apologetic style went down so well with the audience that he developed it as part of his act. It was that same act that Harry presented in his first BBC series in 1960 called The Trouble With Harry. Although he continued to appear in numerous TV series right up until 1980, it was Here's Harry for which he is best remembered. The opening credits to the show featuring a trick performed by a shop window that made it look like he was lifting both legs off the floor at the same time was copied by schoolchildren around the British Isles. The series was so successful that it won Harry the Variety Club of Great Britain Award for BBC-TV Personality of the Year in 1962. Harry continued to work on radio until 1988 and passed away on 20th July 1989.
Like a 1960's version of Victor Meldrew, but without the resolutely aggressive attitude and biting edge of knowing social commentary, Here's Harry presented viewers with an exasperatingly endearing and comedic portrait of a social misfit forever tilting unsuccessfully at the monolithically unimpressed windmills of society. (co-writer Stephen R. Hulse).
Created in 1929 for the Belgian weekly Le Petit vingtiéme, Tintin was the creation of Georges Rémi, alias Hergé, from his initials "R.G." (as pronounced in French), and became a cult figure around the world. The famous cub reporter and his dog Snowy (Milou in French) made their TV debut in 1961 in a series of breathless five-minute episodes, complete with cliffhanger endings, and arrived in Britain a year later dubbed into English by Peter Hawkins, who also provided voices for Captain Pugwash and Doctor Who's Daleks. Tintin fought his way through 50 episodes based on the original Hergé books, 5 of which were adapted for the small screen, The Crab With The Golden Claws, Star of Mystery, Red Rakham's Treasure, Black Island, Objective Moon and The Calculus Affair. Amongst Tintin's legion of fans were the U.S. artist Andy Warhol and French president Charles de Gaulle, who said of the comic strip character: "Deep down, my only international rival is Tintin! We are little fellows who won't be had by big fellows." A whole host of characters accompanied Tintin on his adventures, including the grog-swilling Captain Haddock, two inept Scotland Yard detectives -The Thompson Twins (who gave their name to a 1980's pop group), and the audibly challenged Professor Cuthbert Calculus. In 1986 Tintin and Alpha-Art, the last and unfinished adventure of Tintin was published, three years after the death of Georges Rémi. Deceptively complex in both writing and design, despite the illusion cast by the apparent simplicity of Hergé's characters, the world in which Tintin inhabits is a truly original and instantly recognisable creation that has consistently continued to capture the imagination and hearts of young and old world-wide. Although Hergé is no longer with us, the legacy of wonder, excitement and adventure embodied by his iconographic characters, remains to entertain future thrill-seekers of all ages and nationalities. (co-writer Stephen R. Hulse).
Popular cult sci-fi programme shown over four series between 2006 and 2010, Heroes was first aired in America on the NBC network and then in the UK on the Sci-Fi channel. When the BBC caught wind of how big the show could be, it bought the rights and aired the first season again on BBC2. It has since purchased lifetime rights to the programme. The show follows several individual people with different backgrounds, stories and relationships. The characters are diverse and range from a doctor who falls in love with the daughter of one of his patients, to a cheerleader who is trying to catch the eye of the star football player. All the characters discover they have different special abilities which start to take over their lives. As the show progresses through the first season, the characters' lives become entwined and we start to recognise the heroes from the villains. The heroes must try to stop the world from being destroyed by the leader of The Company, Sylar. At the same time, Sylar is trying to eliminate those with special abilities so that he can steal their powers.
The heroes have come across their powers in different ways. Some have been injected with a formula which has given them superhuman abilities, whereas others have always had their powers although they have not been aware of them. The show begins with a lunar eclipse which seems to unlock the powers inside these seemingly ordinary people. As the story unfolds over series one, we learn that a lot of the characters are actually related, and so some of their powers are genetic. The show is created in a way that is supposed to emulate a retro comic book style. This was never more evident than when the viewer was following the storyline of Hiro Nakamura. Hiro's storyline was literally played out in a comic book which he carried around with him while trying to discover the reason for his power. He regularly referred to his comic book to see what he should do next, or to prove to his friend that he was able to time-travel. His comic book was created by Isaac Mendez who was able to paint the future whilst under the influence of drugs. Other characters with special abilities included self-absorbed politician Nathan Petrelli, who could fly, policeman Matt Parkman, who could read people's minds and troubled single mother Niki Sanders who had multiple personalities with super-strength.
Despite the hype over Heroes, the show only really remained popular for the first series. It is easy to see why. Part of the fun of the show was meeting the heroes and trying to work out what their powers were. Then there were the questions that arose as a result of these powers. Was it possible for Claire Bennett to ever die? Was her father a bad-guy or a good-guy? How high could Nathan fly? However, by series two, we had had most of the questions answered, and we had discovered what the heroes could do. Although new characters were brought in, the mystery surrounding the show had been lost. The show also suffered due to the WGA writer's strike which occurred part way through creating series two. The series was originally supposed to be split into three volumes. In the end it was just one volume. The second volume was dropped completely and the third volume was pushed back to series three. Although the end of series two was changed to allow for this, it meant a lot of the storyline became confusing and a lot of viewers just stopped watching. The show was eventually axed after series 4 due to low audience ratings. The ratings had dipped from 14.3m viewers at its peak in series one on NBC to 6.5m viewers in series four.
Series one of the show won lots of television awards and was highly regarded by critics, so it is a shame that it was unable to live up to its own high standards in following series. However, die-hard Heroes fans are excited to hear that series five is currently being created by the original creator Tim Kring, and is due to show on our television screens in 2015. This should tie up some of the loose ends and unanswered questions left over from series four.
(Review: Suzanna Hayes-Goldfinch 2014)
British sitcom set in the make-believe holiday camp of Maplins. "Morning, campers!" Click Here for review
Created by David Dotort, the man behind television's most famous Western family, the Cartwright's, this series attempted to recreate Bonanza's success by following a similar format. Big John Cannon (Leif Erickson) was the head of The High Chaparral, a ranch in the Arizona Territory that was beset by drought, Mexican outlaws and Cochise Indians. In the first episode John's wife was killed during a raid, leaving him to live with his son Billy Blue Cannon (Mark Slade), and brother Buck (Cameron Mitchell). Big John's widowerhood was short lived though, as he was soon married off to the daughter of Mexican nobleman Don Sebastian Montoya (Frank Silvera) -the beautifully elegant Victoria (Linda Cristal). Accompanied by his new wife's brother Manolito (Henry Darrow), Big John and the Cannon clan settled in to a series of adventures that reflected the political liberalism of the late 1960's and maintained a sympathetic and well-balanced attitude towards White - Indian relations. When Mark Slade was written out of the series towards the end of its run he was replaced by Wind (Rudy Ramos), a half-breed who came to live with the Cannon's after helping Big John avert a disaster. Although not enjoying the longevity of Bonanza or many other TV Westerns, (the genre had, by the early 1970's, become a television diet of the past), The High Chaparral came across as a highly polished product that included a stirring theme tune and stylish photography. In the UK it was one of the first series to be broadcast in colour.
Starring Hollywood Oscar winner Broderick Crawford as Chief Dan Mathews, Highway Patrol is today seen as the father of the TV Cop show genre with it's all-action storylines involving the pursuit of murderers, bank robbers, smugglers and hijackers, by car, bike or helicopter across the highways and byways of the Western United States. Made on a shoestring budget and starring no other regulars apart from the star himself (who was also a part-owner in the production company that made the series, Ziv TV), the series was a massive hit around the world. In Italy it was known as Policia Della Strode, in Spain -Petrulla de Seguridad and by various other titles in twenty other countries. Its most enduring legacy was the introduction to the phrase 'Ten-Four', meaning 'message received and understood.' Crawford, a Californian, had begun his career in the 1930's playing tough gangster roles and won his Best Actor Oscar in 1949 for All The King's Men, plus a special critics award for Of Mice and Men. He insisted on doing most of his own stunt work and as a result of this incurred a number of injuries, as he explained in 1958. "Running around filming in helicopters and fast cars for three years you're bound to have accidents, and I've certainly had my share. So far I've fractured my skull, broken an arm and an ankle and taken hundreds of falls." The series ran from 1955 to 1958 and at the end of its run Crawford secured the lead in King of Diamonds and later in The Interns before popping up as a guest star in Get Smart, Burke's Law and Fantasy Island, to name a few.
After playing Little Joe on Bonanza and patriarch Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, Michael Landon's third series for NBC placed him in the unusual role of an angel. But it wasn't a stretch for the man who was beloved by millions of viewers-and despite the network's misgivings, Highway To Heaven became a success. Landon (who also produced the series) starred as Jonathan Smith, an angel placed on "probation" and sent down to Earth to help others. Each week Jonathan and his human friend Mark Gordon (Victor French) received their marching orders from God (also known as "The Boss") to help people assert their good natures in the face of adversity. Highway to Heaven dealt gently with illness, money, prejudice, sometimes using humour to help turn situations around. A number of guest stars populated the stories, including Landon's former Bonanza dad, Lorne Greene, who appeared in a 1985 episode. Getting the series on the air was a miracle in itself. Brandon Tartikoff, NBC's head programmer, allowed Landon to write a pilot script and film an episode. Landon told Tartikoff he wanted to "play an angel of God who comes down each week and changes somebody's life, just like Clarence did for Jimmy Stewart (in the 1946 Frank Capra classic film It's A Wonderful Life)." When the finished pilot arrived at NBC, some jaded executives referred to the project as "Jesus of Malibu." They argued against buying the show, but NBC had a series commitment with Landon-and passing on the series would cost the network millions of dollars. So Tartikoff asked for a tape of the pilot, and took it with him for a visit with his parents and family. In his autobiography, the late NBC programmer wrote how he put the tape in the VCR when his wife's father came into the room: "At six o'clock we were called to dinner. I got up; he stayed. 'Where's Jack?' everyone was saying. That was my first indication that we jaded TV executives might not be the best judges of Landon's show." Tartikoff was right: The pilot, which aired in the fall of 1984, was an instant hit-and ran for five seasons, paving the way for other series with angelic themes, including Touched By An Angel. In June 1989, Victor French died of lung cancer. Landon went on to produce a new series-this time for CBS-called Us. Sadly, just the pilot was produced before he died of pancreatic cancer in July 1991. But supporters of family-friendly television drama had no greater champion than Michael Landon. (Mike Spadoni).
Created by talented producer/writer Steven Bochco in tandem with Michael Kozoll, the series chronicled the busy, eventful and often outright dangerous professional and private lives of the officers who worked out of the aging, dilapidated, Hill Street Stationhouse in a run down district of an unnamed eastern city of the United States (exterior scenes were shot in Chicago). However, in spite of becoming arguably the most influential 'Cop Show' of the 80's, Hill Street Blues was not an instant hit with the viewing public. The series premiered on the NBC network on 15th January 1981 to a critical reaction which ranged from the indifferent to the outright hostile, and then proceeded during its initial year to both narrowly avoid cancellation and gain the dubious honour of being the lowest-rated prime-time show (a lowly sixty-six out of a possible sixty-nine in the all powerful Nielsen rankings), ever to be renewed. From this somewhat less than auspicious start, the series remarkably went on to 145 episodes and seven seasons of innovative, quality, groundbreaking police action. Employing one of the largest and most talented casts ever assembled for a single series at the time, Bochco and his team of writers wove a richly complex tapestry which pushed the accepted envelope of traditional U.S. television story-telling techniques far beyond what had until then been perceived as "viewer friendly", to astonishingly successful effect. Swimming against the tide of accepted wisdom, the show blasted the tenet that the average viewer was unable to keep up with more than half a dozen characters in any one episode, by blithely presenting at various times more than two dozen core and recurring characters. The belief that an audience found it impossible to follow more than one or two main plot lines at a time within an average episode also fell by the wayside, as the series presented its audience with six or eight in a single episode, deftly overlapping plots and drawing other story strands across the course of multiple episodes in mini story arcs. Bochco's use of sound was also as forceful and unconventional. Hill Street was a very noisy station in a very realistically noisy city.
The staff at Hill Street included Captain Frank Furillo, the quietly spoken but firm commander whose own private life was in a state of turmoil as he struggled to cope with his ex-wife and her alimony demands. Eventually his affair with defence attorney Joyce Davenport turned into marriage even though, professionally, they remained adversaries. Under Furillo served Sgt Phil Esterhaus, but when actor Michael Conrad died three years into the run, Sgt. Stan Jablonski replaced him. Other characters included Hispanic second-in-command Ray Calletano, trigger-happy SWAT squad lieutenant Howard Hunter, scruffy undercover detective Mick Belker, and tooth-pick chewing Neal Washington with his alcoholic partner J.D. LaRue. Despite the series poor performance during its first season, it was nevertheless renewed. Although still suffering from a dangerously low profile, the show nonetheless swept the prestigious Emmy Awards that year, gaining a total of twenty-one nominations and netting an impressive total of eight awards, setting a new record for the most Emmy awards for a prime-time show in one year, including Outstanding Drama Series. In a recent interview Bochco noted with some irony: "At the 1981 Emmy awards, there was a whole bunch of us sitting together, and every time one of us got an award we'd all stand up and yell, and everyone was trying to figure out who we were because no one knew what Hill Street Blues was." But the production team's faith in the series wasn't misplaced, and their creative risks began to pay off as the show began to acquire both critical acclaim and ever increasing viewer popularity, a continuing popularity which would see it go on to scoop the Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series during its first four seasons, the only series to achieve such an outstanding accolade. Indeed, by the end of its full seven season run, the production gained a staggering ninety-eight Emmy nominations and twenty-six actual awards, an achievement eclipsed only by Cheers with twenty-seven and the legendary Mary Tyler Moore Show with twenty-nine awards. Added to this list was composer Mike Post and Larry Carlton's theme music for the series securing the number ten in the coveted Billboard Magazine list of Top TV Theme Songs in November 1981.
With outstanding performances across the board, coupled to scripts and story-lines which were realistic, gritty and laced liberally with an ever present undercurrent of dark, sophisticated humour, Hill Street Blues rewrote the book for the depiction of police television drama on prime time U.S. TV, and in its influential wake would follow such accomplished crime drama's as Bochco's own NYPD Blue and Murder One. Breathtakingly fast paced, mature, tough, brutal and uncompromising, Hill Street Blues was a triumph of intelligence and substance over the narrow-minded and conservative complacency, which had dominated network series crime drama output for decades. The series' best remembered catchphrase might well have been "And let's be careful out there." But luckily for both the viewing audience and television drama as a whole, Hill Street Blue's pointedly ignored its own advice. (Review: Stephen R. Hulse)
Role reversal comedy that was perhaps a little ahead of its time starring Ronald Lewis as Rupert Sherwin a freelance writer who is so inept at making ends meet that he is content to stay at home as the 'house-husband' whilst his wife, Kay (played by Sue Lloyd), goes off to work each day with the essential accessories of a city worker: a brief-case and a bowler hat. Kay Sherwin is an executive accountant who is more than capable of bringing home a respectable, and more importantly, liveable wage. This doesn't stop the Sherwin's from being scoffed at by their more traditional next-door neighbours, the Burgesses played by Tim Brooke-Taylor and Madeline Smith. Undeterred, Rupert is happy to do the daily chores at home such as cooking, cleaning, doing the shopping and picking his wife up from the station at the end of each working day. Unfortunately, this 1970 produced Yorkshire Television sitcom didn't have great staying power and when it returned for a second series in 1972 the role-reversal premise was largely overlooked. Also, Sue Lloyd did not wish to reprise her role and so Barbara Murray was cast as Kay. The Burgesses were also gone, although, in a peculiar piece of casting Tim Brooke-Taylor turned up in one later episode as a completely different character! Viewers were unimpressed and before it reached the end of series two it was replaced (in the London area) by repeats of On The Buses. Notable guest appearances from Norman Rossington, Roy Kinnear, Peter Jones, Patricia Routledge and Freddie Jones did little to improve the shows fortunes. However, it is worthy of a place in sitcom history because of its original (for its time) storyline.
THE HITCH-HIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (1981)
A man escapes Earth just seconds before it is destroyed and hitches a ride on an inter-galactic spaceship. Click Here for review