26 January 2009

The Weetabix Gang: "If You Know What's Good For You!"

They look like proper little skinheads, don't they? An incredibly quirky marketing idea.

No breakfasts fit for sparrows here.

"You make it neat wheat, mate!"

"If you know what's good for you, you do!"

Dunk, Crunch, Brains, Brian and Bixie, AKA the Weetabix bovver boys and girl, were determined to stamp out "titchy breakfasts". The brainchild of one Trevor Beattie, they starred in a long series of TV ads from March 1982 until November 1989.

The Weetabix had a couple of catchphrases which were pretty popular: Brian's was "OK!", spoken in a parrot-like voice. Dunk contributed "If you know what's good for you!"

This sounded menacing, but actually referred to the health-giving properties of the product.

Crunch is featured testing his strength at the fairground on this 1983 "Weeta-Card"..

Seaside fun - "OK"?!

Crazy golf frolics...

Part of a set of free-inside Neet Weet Beet band stickers...

A set of sew-on patches featuring some of our cereal characters. Weetabix Crew merchandise is becoming increasingly collectable.

Did YOU join the Weetabix Club? The Club was established in 1983, but disbanded before the end of the decade. The daughter of a friend of mine wrote requesting to join the Club in late 1988, but was told it was no more. The news was sweetened by the assurance that she could still see the characters on Weetabix boxes, on TV, and in advertisements in comics, etc.

Even Weetabix were breakdancing in 1984.

Here's parrot-voiced hero Brian, starring on his own badge. "Boxer Weetabix"? Nice one!

Free Top Trax cassettes and pop postcards featuring the likes of Tears for Tears and Bananarama in 1985.
The Weetabix Pop Quiz - 1987 - "JUST DO IT!" Other Weeta merchandise included cuddly toys and a computer game, which featured the crew taking on the "Titchies".

Collect the cut-outs and make your own Crew. Note the sell-by date - August '87 and the Sainsbury's price ticket - 56p!

Here's the whole gang...

Print this out, then cut out and assemble for rare Weetabix nostalgia straight from 1987!

The very first TV ad featuring the Weetabix characters. Created in 1982, they appeared on-screen until 1989.


Hi-de-Hi! - Paul Ableman, BBC Publications, 1983. Back cover synopsis:

Hi-de-hi! readers! Welcome to Maplin’s. For the benefit of newcomers, there’s Jeffrey Fairbrother, the entertainments manager, who used to be a professor at Cambridge. There’s Ted Bovis, your camp host, his assistant, Spike Dixon, and Mr Partridge, the Punch-and-Judy man. There’s Fred Quilly, who looks after the horses, and Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves, the stuck-up ballroom dancers. There’s scatterbrained Peggy, the chalet maid, and, of course, there’s Gladys Pugh, the chief yellow coat. Finally, there’s someone you haven’t seen on your screens, Charlie Binns, the senior camper, who knows all the secrets of Maplin’s. He tells you about the night Jeffrey and Gladys were trapped in the Three Bears’ Cottage, about how Ted raised the money for his wife’s alimony, about the Most Popular Girl Yellowcoat Competition and many other things. With this book in your pocket your holiday is bound to be a happy one. And if you read it at home you’ll think that you are on holiday. So hi-de-hi! readers! Welcome back to Maplin’s!

Paul Shane and Su Pollard in rehearsal in 1982.

From the experienced pens of Jimmy Perry and David Croft came the pilot episode of holiday camp comedy series Hi-De-Hi! (originally minus the hyphens and exclamation mark), screened on 1 January 1980. We had quite a while to wait for the first series, which began in February 1981.

Perry and Croft claimed that: “The best television is all about people just talking.” They obviously knew a thing or two, with tremendous TV comedy successes Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum already behind them.

Hi-De-Hi! was initially set in 1959, the year in which its creators both did stints in holiday camps themselves - David Croft as a show organiser and Jimmy Perry as a Redcoat.

The fictional holiday camp featured in the series was owned by one Joe Maplin.

“Hi-de hi!” was the jolly catchphrase of Maplin’s staff - to which the holiday makers were supposed to reply with a rousing “Ho-de-ho!”. Rousing? Ragged was more the reality!

“Hi-de hi!” became a major catchphrase of the 1980s, trilled in coy Gladys Pugh tones up and down the land.

Ruth Madoc as the oh-so-Welsh Gladys Pugh, who had a tendency to fall for oh-so-upper-class Englishmen like Jeffrey Fairbrother (Simon Cadell). Ruth and Simon were later to be found whispering about Wispa chocolate.

The original nine central Hi-De-Hi! performers were hand picked by Jimmy Perry and David Croft.

“We see the whole thing through,” explained Jimmy Perry. “Unlike most writers of situation comedy, we do both the writing and casting, and David is the producer. The show is written and cast long before production schedules are even thought of. It took us over a year to get the people we wanted for Hi-De-Hi! because it’s no good having the right words come out of the wrong mouths. Our characters are real, they think what they say, and every situation, however trivial, has a reason behind it. There are a lot of main characters in Hi-De-Hi!, but each has his or her moment in at least one episode. That’s the way we work…"

Ruth Madoc was, of course, the glorious Gladys Pugh - she who trembled with passion for Maplin’s entertainment manager Mr Fairbrother.

Ruth recalled in 1982: “Jimmy rang up and said, ‘Blod,’ - he calls me Blodwen because I’m Welsh - ‘I’ve got just the part for you’.”

Also interviewed in 1982, Paul Shane, Ted Bovis, recalled going to Jimmy Croft’s house to read for the part: “I was frightened to death, but now it’s all happening for me. I’m doing a summer season on the South Pier at Blackpool this year. Who would ever have offered Paul Shane any work there before Hi-De-Hi!? Suddenly I’m a desirable commodity - the show has made household names of people who have been around for years!”

Simon Cadell, Jeffrey Fairbrother, was seen by Perry and Croft in Enemy At The Door. “They telephoned me offering the role before I arrived back home after the reading,” said Simon. “The character of Jeff Fairbrother, the academic Camp Manager, is fascinating. Jeff is gradually learning to manipulate such diverse personalities as Ted and old Partridge, and to ward off the amorous advances of Gladys.”

When Jeffrey left Maplin's, his place as entertainments manager, and in Gladys Pugh's affections, was taken by Squadron Leader Clive Dempster, DFC, played by David Griffin.

Mr Partridge, Maplin’s Punch and Judy man, was not the ideal children’s entertainer - mainly because he didn’t like children. And he drank.

Leslie Dwyer, the actor who played Partridge, was in his seventies when he was cast: “David and Jimmy never forget anybody,” he said in 1982, having first met David Croft over forty years before. “Every artist is compartmentalised in their minds until they dredge us up for the right part.”

Diane Holland, Maplin's Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves, as troubled Sarah Maynard in a 1966 episode of ATV soap opera "Crossroads".

Felix Bowness, Fred Quilly the hapless jockey, had worked for around thirty years as a stand-up comic: “I’ve done 3,000 TV warm-up shows,” he said during an interview in the early 1980s.

“I’m the chap behind the scenes who gets the audience in a good mood before the REAL show begins. But Jimmy and David saw me, talked to me when I was the warm-up for their shows, knew I’d done a lot of riding in my time, and actually wrote the part of Fred with me in mind. I’m a ‘turn’ not an actor, but they’ve been marvellous to me. Jimmy and David, and all the cast give me acting lessons, laugh at me and encourage me.”

Jeffrey Holland, Maplin’s Spike Dixon, was spotted by David and Jimmy when he was appearing in the stage version of Dad’s Army.

Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves, the snobby ballroom dancing instructors, were brought to life by Barry Howard and Diane Holland. “We are marvellously bitchy and say all the things husbands and wives would often like to say to each other,” said Barry.

Barry and John Inman had appeared together as two pantomime Ugly Sisters for years. John was hand-picked to play Mr Humphries in Are You Being Served? by David Croft, who wrote the series in association with Jeremy Lloyd of Captain Beaky fame. Barry was promised that one day there would be a part for him, and so there was.

Diane Holland was once in a dancing troupe called the Page-Hatton Trio. Jimmy Perry first saw her dance as part of that act. Years later, she was brilliant as Yvonne. The Stuart-Hargreaves were great favourites of mine.

Nottingham-born Su Pollard was much-loved as chalet maid Peggy Ollerenshaw - who so wanted to be a yellowcoat. Like other members of the cast, Su became an '80s celebrity. One of her non-Maplin's ventures was to sing Starting Together, the theme tune to the 1986 documentary series The Marriage.

Sadly, some of those involved with Hi-De-Hi! are no longer with us.

The series ended in January 1988, and is, in my opinion, one of the BBC's finest sitcoms. It's still guaranteed to get me laughing, and I've been thoroughly enjoying the DVD releases.

"'Allo Campers - Hi-De-Hi!"

All together now:


It's the mid-1980s, c. 1984, and Su Pollard is starring in a TV advertisement for Typhoo tea. The scenario: Su is on the beach, drinking a cup of Typhoo. "Oooh," says she, blissfully...

But who's that singing?

Three donkeys, of course. To the tune of "Una Paloma Blanca" (which had also been mangled by the Wurzels into "I Am A Cider Drinker"), the donkeys sing: "'Oo makes a lovely cuppa - no other tea will do. 'Oo makes a lovely cuppa, that's why it's our favourite brew - when we want an 'Oooh' we go for Typhoo."

The donkeys were real, with cartoon mouths - a clever special effect in those days. Plenty enough to give you an "Oooh" with your Typhoo!

Ever Decreasing Circles

Martin - an officious little man...

His wife, Ann, introduced him to suave new neighbour Paul Ryman in 1984...

Martin's friends and neighbours, Hilda and Howard Hughes (!), often liked to wear matching outfits, and made a wickerwork donkey called "Neddy".

Actor Richard Briers had worked with writers John Esmonde and Bob Larbey before - most notably on the highly popular BBC TV comedy The Good Life.

The premise of The Good Life had been that middle aged, middle class Tom Good, stuck in a boring nine-to-five office job and living in suburbia, was suddenly galvanised by a notion born of the 1960s: he would leave the rat race - give up his wretched job and try self sufficiency!

The Good Life was a huge success.

In 1984, Richard Briers set to work with John Esmonde and Bob Larbey again - to produce a sitcom I enjoyed even more than The Good Life, and one which turned the premise of that worthy show completely on its head.

The leading character of this new show, Martin Bryce, was a pain in the neck. He loved routine; loved to organise; loved detail. He was in charge of a mass of local committees and clubs and generally got up a lot of people's noses. Courtesy of his unhappy childhood, he was a real control freak.

Esmonde and Larbey wanted a funny man for the role, somebody who would prevent the character from being completely hateful, and offered it to Briers. 

In my view this role was more demanding than that of Tom Good - Martin was far more intricate. Briers managed to make the character extremely funny, but also so irritating at times that many viewers wanted to strangle him - and so vulnerable and boyish-looking in defeat that many of the would-be stranglers then wanted to hug him. Underneath it all, Martin was a thoroughly decent man, willing to sacrifice his own wellbeing for the sake of the happiness of the woman he loved, as one episode proved.

A terrific performance - and Richard Briers's favourite sitcom role.

Martin's wife, Ann, was played by Penelope Wilton. Ann had been proposed to by Martin whilst she was at a low ebb, her life at a difficult and disorganised juncture. "Let me do the organising," Martin had said. And that was it. 

Ann was a faithful wife but she was strongly attracted to suave new neighbour Paul Ryman, who moved into Martin's beloved suburban Close in 1984.

Paul, played by Peter Egan, owned a hairdressing salon and was a success. Everything he touched turned to gold. He was attracted to Ann too and initially amused by the humourless and detail-obsessed Martin. But gradually the amusement became mingled with fondness and, having witnessed a couple of Martin's selfless deeds (yes, he was capable of them!), some respect.

Also living in The Close were Martin's friends, Howard and Hilda Hughes (Geraldine Newman and Stanley Lebor). Howard and Hilda were twee to the max, with their matching outfits, wickerwork Neddy and addiction to rosehip syrup, but they adored each other. 

Whilst very happy with her lot in life, and usually hard to ruffle, Hilda was sometimes troubled by strange thoughts: had she attracted a poltergeist? And what was that strange buzzing in her ear?

"It's her time of life!" said an auntie of mine, very significantly.

A title for the show had proved elusive, and Ever Decreasing Circles was dreamt up at the last moment, out of desperation.

Not everybody enjoyed Every Decreasing Circles, but for those of us who were in tune (and the show was tremendously popular) each episode was a great pleasure.

The series was rounded off with a special feature length episode in 1989. Ann became pregnant and the couple were forced to up sticks and leave Martin's adored Close as his employers relocated.

Richard Briers' performance as Martin was positively inspired throughout the show's run - indeed, it was this role that convinced me Mr B was a great actor - but the rest of the cast could not be faulted either. From Penelope Wilton as long-suffering-but-never-wimpish Ann, to Peter Egan as suave-but-not-smug Paul, and across the road to Geraldine Newman and Stanley Lebor as the slightly surreal Howard and Hilda, the entire cast was terrific, painting a vivid picture of life in The Close. The place where, according to Martin, "England lives".

Poor England!

All together now: "Three hundred and seventy five men went to mow, went to mow a meadow..."

Oh, and you'd better put the telephone receiver right.

25 January 2009

More From Number 73...

No. 73 fan René De Cler enjoyed the show at his home in Holland back in the 1980s. Having failed to win a 73 competition he entered, he received a set of No. 73 publicity cards, and a charming message from Andrea Arnold (Dawn).

Good old Ethel... nice but dim, and given to sudden disarming outbreaks of slick wit...

Harry - Mr Mullet.

Kim, a good friend to the 73 gang - she later lived at the house.

Neil - art man and purveyor of The Chip Butty Quiz.

24 January 2009

Neighbours: '80s Tales From Ramsay Street - Part 1

Mrs Mangel (Vivean Gray) as she appeared in a classic "Neighbours" opening sequence - on the look-out for granddaughter Jane (Annie Jones) and any juicy items of gossip!

Mrs Mangel enjoyed having Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) as a lodger and was, secretly, jealous of his relationship with "that Ramsay woman". In this scene, Mrs Mangel, in a shameful lapse from her usual lady-like manner, has just whacked Madge (Anne Charleston) with a rolled-up newspaper, been whacked in return, and burst into tears. Onlookers are Madge's son, Henry (Craig McLachlan) and Harold Bishop - both aghast.

Mrs M. was finally carried away by brave Englishman John Worthington. He married the old trout and brought her to live in England. Weren't we lucky?! Ramsay Street was never the same. Taking Nell's place as resident Mangel was her son, Joe (Mark Little).

Henry Mitchell/Ramsay was an "ex-crim" (gaol bird) but when he arrived in Ramsay Street we quickly discovered that he was really a good hearted lad, just given to crazy schemes and whacko ideas. Henry was a gardener for a time and sought true love, but the path of romance was strewn with boulders. He had a tough time of it before meeting the right girly - one Bronwyn Davies (Rachel Friend).

Danny Ramsay (David Clencie) was in the show from the start and was one of the mighty Ramsays of Ramsay Street. Or WAS he? It was soon revealed that Danny's father was NOT loud-mouthed head-of-household Max Ramsay at all. Max was memorably played by the late Francis Bell.

Scott Robinson - skate boarder, trainee journalist, mullet head, boyfriend, and then husband, of Charlene...

Hilary Robinson (Anne Scott-Pendlebury) was an interfering cousin of the Ramsay Street Robinsons who sometimes visited and stirred up trouble. Nosey, prim, proper, and highly correct at all times in manner, Hilary is seen here with Gail Robinson (Fiona Corke). The prime snooper has just stumbled upon the fact that Paul and Gail have separate bedrooms, but the couple manage to put her off the scent about their marriage of convenience.

Pretty in candlewick? Charlene (Kylie Minogue), seen here on the morning of her wedding, is all set to be a beautiful bride.

When you weren't watching the Ramsay Street goings-on on the telly, you could relive them in book form. These hardback editions of two of the Carl Ruhen novels were published in the UK by the Leisure Circle Ltd in 1988. Zany doctor Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine) is featured on the cover of "Unsolved Crimes" (left) - remember the golden days of his chicken and gorilla-gram service? With him is studious coffee shop employee Mike Young, played by the English actor Guy Pearce. "Family Matters" shows the Robinson family, with the original Lucy (front), played by Kylie Flinker.

Madge at the Waterhole in 1988 - the olde English milkmaid look. Or something.

Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver) was in town (for the first time during the series) to woo his childhood sweetheart Madge and wind-up his old adversary Harold...

... or "Jelly-belly", as Lou liked to call him.

But Lou needed to be wary - after some speedy instruction from Tony Romeo (Nick Carrafa), Harold knew karate! Or so he said.

A quick tussle, a lucky punch, and wallop - Lou went staggering backwards - straight into the path of Ramsay Street's 1980s horror bag Mrs Mangel, then fell to the ground, out cold. Madge rushed to the rescue whilst Mrs Mangel squawked: "Mr Bishop - a gentleman like you!"

Harold briefly basked in his victory...

... but nobody was impressed, quite the reverse. Lassiter's assistant manager Gail Robinson offered Lou a shoulder pad to cry on and was very disappointed with Harold. Never mind - Harold won Madge's hand in the end.

23 January 2009

Fly Fishing By JR Hartley

There used to be a pub near where I live called The Old English Gentleman, and that title fitted JR Hartley, star of a 1983 Yellow Pages telly ad, to perfection.

We discovered Mr Hartley, played by actor Norman Lumsden, making his way around various second hand bookshops, seeking a copy of an out of print book called Fly Fishing. To no avail. His concerned daughter ("No luck, Dad?") handed him a cup of tea and the Yellow Pages when he returned home, and very soon he'd found a copy of the book.

It was then that we discovered he was the author.

It was a thoroughly delightful ad and JR Hartley became very popular indeed. In 1991, a book called Fly Fishing was published, bearing his name, and this was followed by a couple of sequels - one on golf, which Mr H took up in 1994.

Norman Lumsden had a varied and successful career - he was also an opera singer. But, from 1983 onwards, it was as JR Hartley that many fans thought of him, and lovers of good telly ads were greatly saddened by his death in 2001.

But the legend of JR Hartley lives on, and he remains one of the fondest remembered TV ad characters not only of the 1980s, but of all time!

See the ad below.

22 January 2009

Look-In 1980

Worzel Gummidge - Jon Pertwee, starred on the cover of the Look-In which took us into the 1980s. The Southern TV children's series had begun in 1979, but Worzel had actually been around since the 1930s, when Barbara Euphan Todd's first book about the comical and lovable scarecrow was published.

A brief diversion to the Daily Mirror, 5 August 1980.

Lorraine wafts in to meet Worzel

Deep in the countryside, far away from the Balls Pond Road, a new partnership stirs. Lorraine Chase, the cute cockney star of those drink commercials, is teaming up with Britain's best-known scarecrow, Worzel Gummidge, alias Jon Pertwee. She is to play Worzel's girlfriend Dolly Clothespeg in a new series of the Southern TV comedy show. And Jon ain't 'arf 'appy. He reckons that Lorraine has truly been wafted in from paradise.

Up until a couple of months ago, many of you wouldn't have seen "Tiswas" because it wasn't fully networked...

Back to the Look-In which took us into 1980, and Tiswas was becoming more widespread. However, if you look at the ITV programmes this week page further down this post, you will see that a few channels, including Tyne Tees, still seemed to be lacking the show!

Ed "Stewpot" Stewart was well-known as a radio DJ and TV personality and his Newsdesk feature ran in Look-In for some years. My main memory of Mr Stewart is of him trilling "Morning!" in a high pitched voice. This was his catchphrase and was very zany indeed.

Gypsy Rose Stewart predicated many things for the 1980s - including the possibility of a robot pop idol, exciting developments if "CBR" (CB radio) became legal, televisions that slid down from the ceiling at the touch of a button, and more elaborate toys.

Interestingly, he failed to foresee the arrival of the mobile phone and the invention of the World Wide Web!


'80s Actual has inserted a couple of interesting facts along the way!

This is my first Newsdesk of 1980 and I wish a happy new year to "Look-in" readers. And not only that, a happy new decade, too. The next ten years look like being the most exciting the world has ever known, so let's take a look at some of the changes we can expect.

First the box - or "the slab" as television sets will be called. That familiar cube shape will begin to disappear from our living rooms in the 80s, to be replaced by large, thin screens which will slide from the ceiling at the press of a button. At the viewer's finger-tips will be a console, splattered with buttons and knobs from which hundreds of programmes from all round the world can be summoned. Programmes will be more lavish and spectacular, too, as more and more countries combine their skills and resources in multi-national co-productions.

Sets will combine video-recording units, so you can record as you go, and "freeze frame" or control your own "action replays" [Only 5% of UK households had VCRs in 1980, rising to nearly 20% in 1983]. More sets will also supply a vast selection of up-to-the-minute news, sports results, weather forecasts and so on, in printed form, as is happening already with systems like Oracle [Teletext services were slow to catch on - only 6% of UK homes had Oracle and Ceefax in 1984]. And, by the end of the decade, you could be shopping by TV. You'll get a list of goods and prices at your local super-colossal-supermarket and, with the press of a switch or two, you'll make your selection and arrange delivery to your door. You won't collect shopping yourself because someone may be using the communal transporter! Individual cars may be on the way out by 1990. So look after your bike, it may have to last a lifetime.


Pop will change too. Video discs will become more popular as more people get the machinery to play them, heralding a new era in hi-fi. No sound system will be complete unless you can watch the artists - via the "slab" again - whilst listening to them "multi-phonetically",. And musical instruments will change, too. They may replace the human voice in some cases. Micro-chips are already producing the human voice in toys and computers, so the 1980s may produce the first robot pop idol. Yes, record producers will be able to combine the qualities of the best pop singers in the world into one robot singer. And he, I mean it, will be backed by a group of robots playing advanced synthesisers. I don't really fancy that idea. If singers can be replaced by robots - what about disc jockeys?

Radios? Well, they will become smaller and more powerful, with tiny wrist-watch receivers incorporating tape recorders, and perhaps even transmitters. That is, if CBR - Citizen [sic] Band Radio [Invented by American Al Gross in the 1940s] - becomes legal in Britain, as it is in America. That way you can chat with your friends, whether they are at home, in the car or generally out and about.

Sport will change, possibly in an inscrutable way. China has just been admitted to the Olympic Games and the television companies will be concentrating on their activities. Whatever happens, one thing is to be hoped for: that their good sportsmanship will influence others. The Chinese are tremendously well-behaved as a rule, and show good manners and respect for their opponents and spectators. They could be an example to follow.

Other pastimes will become more mechanised. We already have gadgets that can beat you at noughts and crosses and chess, and dolls that answer you back when they're told off. Next could be toy soldiers who shoot back at you - what a nightmare if that happened! Whatever occurs, toys will become more elaborate. Soon you won't play with them, you'll just switch them on and they'll perform for you. Many people think this could be a bad trend, though, because it stops youngsters from using their imaginations.

But you will probably have to use your imagination to tell the difference between boys and girls in the 1980s because fashion trends are pointing towards everyone wearing the same gear. Light, comfortable, all-weather clothes are being developed to be worn by both sexes. A pity in a way, because that might mean fewer pretty dresses around to brighten up the scene... unless the boys wear them, which might be a post-Punk craze. What a drag that would be!

Well, that's only a tiny selection of things to look forward to - both good and bad - in the 80s. Whatever you think about it, one thing is certain, it won't be dull!

BBC radio DJ Pete Murray is the Star Snap. Do you remember Pete Murray's Open House with its "bing-bong" doorbell theme tune?

Blow a big bubble - win a music centre! The Look-In contained a free bubble measurer - and also an apology for an increase in the cost of the magazine. With quality freebies galore, who could grumble?

"You put an 'O' after 'W'..." - Worzel's Song charted in March 1980, but sadly only reached No 33.

From the Look-In feature, we learned some of the behind the scenes facts about life at Scatterbrook Farm.

Filming of the series had been delayed by the 1979 ITV strike, which had led to certain difficulties - not least an increase in the presence of mud! The preferred recording season was summer, but autumn had to suffice and Jon Pertwee said: "There was so little time left we couldn't afford to worry about the weather and the difficulties of shooting out of doors at that time of year."

Jeremy Austin, who played John Peters, had become an avid fan of the original Barbara Euphan Todd Worzel Gummidge books.

Charlotte Coleman, who played John's sister, Sue, said of the show's leading man: "Jon's not a bit like I expected him to be. I thought he might be like Dr Who, but he was completely different. He wasn't hoitytoity, or anything like that. I was very shy with him at first, but once I'd got to know him I was all right."

Debbie Harry - the divine front woman from Blondie, was the pin-up. Having first hit the UK pop charts with Denis in February 1978, Blondie became one of the top groups of the last couple of years of the 1970s and the first couple of years of the 1980s - the group truly straddled the two decades!

From the Look-In feature on the band:

Something which seemed to surprise the American audience was that Blondie was the name of the whole group and not the name of Debbie Harry. Stories have come back from America about the band being upset by the confusion, and Clem [Burke] explained what the problem was.

"In the beginning there was an identification problem - but I suppose it was our own fault for calling the band Blondie. It's not that we mind if people want to speak to Debbie, but I don't like it when people speak to me but don't really know who they are talking to. We all want to be recognised for what we are and what we are doing."

Must admit, I had trouble associating the Blondie title with the whole band.

Language school based sitcom Mind Your Language originally ran from 1977 to 1979 and was one of the picture strips featured in Look-In during its time. Considered racist by some, the show was dropped, but brought back by an independent company called Tri Films in the mid-1980s and produced by Albert Moses, who played one of the foreign students. This final series was not networked.

Other featured comic strips in the Look-In which took us into the 1980s included The Benny Hill Page and Sapphire and Steel.

What ITV goodies did Look-In recommend? Well, amongst others, were Magpie, Mr and Mrs, Crossroads, Robin's Nest and Emmerdale Farm! Some of the ITV companies listed here wouldn't make it very far into the new decade. See here for more details.

Coming next week - The Selector and a Smurfs sticker!

On the back cover another coming attraction - colour pin-ups of a certain trio of glamorous crime busters. The picture reveals that Charlie's Angels had hit the (brief) Shelley Hack era.