31 March 2009

1980: A Shooting At The Crossroads Motel

We all remember the shooting of JR Ewing in 1980 - it shook soap fans across the world. But, at the Crossroads Motel, David Hunter's ex-wife, Rosemary (played by Janet Hargreaves), was the first soap character of 1980 to pull a trigger. It shook... er... several soap fans across England.

Motel owner Meg Mortimer (Noele Gordon) was about to announce the engagement of her business partner David Hunter to novelist Barbara Brady at a party to celebrate the occasion. Rosemary, in the past known for her neurotic tendencies, had begun to behave strangely.

American psychiatrist, Lloyd Munroe (Alan Gifford), an old friend of Meg's, told Rosemary off, pointing out to her that she'd been: "...threatening me - and David and Barbara - with threats of suicide."

Lloyd was doing his best to help, but was trying to convince Rosemary that she didn't love David, she actually hated him, really the right thing to do?

Particularly as it seemed that Rosemary may have stolen a gun, and Lloyd was fully aware of that fact?

Everybody, including Rosemary's daughter-in-law Diane Hunter (Sue Hanson), was in a state of high tension and the night of David and Barbara's engagement party saw an anxious discussion in the reception area at the motel.

Old favourite Tish Hope (Joy Andrews) was larding it up behind the reception desk, and tried to speak sense to Rosemary, but Rosemary hung up on her.

Something horrible was about to happen.

Rosemary left the engagement party before Meg made the happy announcement. David (Ronald Allen) and Barbara (Sue Lloyd) were overjoyed, but there was an underlying anxiety about Rosemary.

Rosemary gave waitress Glenda Brownlow (Lynette McMorrough) a note for David - requesting his presence in the motel office...

When he arrived she asked him to say that he loved her, and turned quite sarky when he refused...

Suddenly, Rosemary pulled out A GUN!!

"David... say it... tell me you love me... SAY IT!" she whined menacingly. When he refused, she shot him.

Of course, all was well. David was discovered by Meg and made a full recovery, Rosemary underwent psychiatric treatment and was never seen again, and that was that.

According to legend, the reason for David's somewhat informal attire at his engagement party had its roots in a behind-the-scenes mishap. When Janet Hargreaves first pulled the trigger of the gun, it didn't go off. But Ronald Allen had already broken the bag of stage blood, ruining the suit he was wearing.

It seems that the Crossroads wardrobe allowance could not run to another suit!

30 March 2009

1982 - Aerobics, Leg Warmers, Deelyboppers, Ra Ra Skirts, Pretty Colours, Zippy Shorts And Skimpy Undies...

A whistle-stop tour of 1982 fashions and cosmetics... beginning with three ads from Cosmopolitan, May 1982...

Boots No 7 - May, 1982 - "Announcing the arrival of the hottest Spring we've ever seen".

Trendy specs from Silhouette - they look lovely with shoulder pads.

Here's Jane Fonda, flashing her leg warmers about on her famous Workout video, which began the home video fitness trend. Aerobics Rules?

Little underwear - from the Daily Mirror, March 1982. Even today, I wouldn't be seen dead in a pair of boxers - although they are supposed to be much healthier for we members of the ... er... unfairer sex.

From The Sun, 4/5/1982:

It's no sweat to keep in trim these days.

Especially with the sort of exercise clothes that reveal loads of style.

Girls are taking to the tennis courts, running tracks and dance classes to keep their curves in shape.

There's no need to sweat it out in sticky vests, baggy shorts and nylon sox. There's enough fashionable gear around for sporting action to turn any girl into a surefire winner.

Zippy shorts and matching tops will give you a good run for your money.

And the latest mini ra-ra skirts will put your legs ahead of other girls.

If you want to take to the tracks in a serious way, choose a body-revealing leotard and fashionable tracksuit bottoms.

You don't have to be a record breaker to look like a champ, but you'll gladden the heart of every fella who likes to play the game.

Remember zippy shorts? Remember those horrible black lycra leggings, ending around the knee, under your ra-ra skirt? And what about these?

The Sun, 23 July, 1982 - the "Bonce Bouncers" are here!

We've had head-hunters and head-bangers. Now it's the turn of the bonce boppers.

In fact, it's the latest craze to bounce into Britain from America. And it's going to everyone's head.

So, hang up your hoola-hoop, scrap your skateboard and get a head start by wearing a bopper on your bonce.

It's a headband supporting two spiral wire antenna topped with hearts, bobbing balls or windmills.

When we took to the streets with luscious Linda Lusardi wearing a pair of boppers, headstrong young men came rushing up to look at her...

Page Three girl Linda Lusardi enjoys the boppers. Read our full deelyboppers feature here.

29 March 2009

1987: "You Got An Ology?" Beattie Makes Her BT Debut...

Having been told by her grandson Anthony that he has failed most of his exams - only passing pottery and sociology, Beattie cries: "He gets an ology and he says he's failed... you get an ology you're a scientist..."

Beattie Bellman was created by Richard Phillips of the J Walter Thompson advertising agency in 1987. And she was originally to have been called Dora.

The BT Beattie ads were launched in late 1987. Maureen Lipman states in the 1989 script book You Got An Ology? that the recording of the first ten ads, accomplished in just over two weeks, took place either side of the great gale of October 1987!

Those first ten ads included the legendary "Ology".

Here's what a recent BT on-line history said about Mrs Bellman:

1987: A star is born and Beattie takes the nation by storm. Maureen Lipman's Jewish granny goes on to star in 32 TV commercials and contributes the word "ology" to the English language.

Beattie made her screen debut in December 1987.

Beattie's family, included husband Harry (Geoffrey Chiswick), son Melvyn (Linal Haft), and daughter Elaine (Caroline Quentin).

The phone Beattie used in the "ology" ad was a BT Tribune, released in 1987. This one is still in use on my hall extension. Nice design - it wasn't until the mid-to-late 1980s that push-button models really began to take over from the dial phone.

This ladies gown shop manager, played by Richard Wilson, is being driven to distraction by a telephone enquiry from Mrs Bellman.

Bernard Bresslaw and Miriam Margoyles played Gerald and Dolly, friends of Beattie and Harry.

During her screen appearances, Beattie met new technological marvels like cardphones, answerphones and car phones. Here she is on son Melvyn's car phone: "Over and out."

Elaine (Caroline Quentin), Beattie's daughter, with her daughter, Zara. Beattie was worried: "Look at that haircut! The poor child won't know whether she's Martha or Arthur!"

"You Got an Ology?" by Maureen Lipman and Richard Phillips, Robson Books, 1989. A fun read, containing twenty of the Beattie ad scripts and more!

The word "ology" became a major catchphrase and Beattie haunts Maureen Lipman to this day!

The ads won so many awards that Beattie must have had her mantelpiece reinforced with steel and concrete to support them all.

One of my all-time favourite ad series.

The 1987 BT "Ology" ad.

Dallas 1980: Who Shot JR?

That mean ole JR Ewing (played magnificently by Larry Hagman) really stole the show in Dallas. S'wellin', Bar-bee and the poison dwarf simply never got a look in. T'weren't fair. But then who said life is fair, darlin'?

Fledgling soap Dallas, which had begun as a mini-series in 1978, suddenly peaked in 1980. In a sudden change of plan when two extra episodes were required, Dallas executives decided that JR was going to be shot for the end of season cliffhanger, and the identity of the person behind the gun was going to remain a mystery until the next season's episodes began.

The shooting episode was to be screened in England on 26 May, and by then interest was at fever pitch...

Daily Mirror, 26/5/1980:

Smooth-talking DJ Terry Wogan was almost speechless yesterday after being named a suspect in the JR shooting.

Terry, as every radio listener knows, simply hates the Mr Nasty of BBC TV's "Dallas" series.

And as "Dallas" fever swept the country over the weekend bookies started laying odds that it is Terry's finger on the trigger when JR gets his comeuppance in tonight's programme.

Hot favourite to do what millions of viewers have been itching to do is Lusty Dusty at 2-1. He's the ex-lover of JR's wife, Sue Ellen, and was believed to have died in an air crash.

Sue Ellen is a good tip at 3-1. Kristin, a former mistress, is a 4-1 shot.

A business rival of JR's - Cliff Barnes - is 7-1.

JR's brother, Bobby, is at 10-1. Lucy Ewing, Pam Ewing and Miss Ellie all 12-1. Jock Ewing and Vaughn Leland are 14-1.

And Terry? He's a rank outsider... at 1,000-1.

An estimated eighteen million viewers will see the man-they-love-to-hate gunned down and critically wounded by an unseen attacker tonight.

But even the scriptwriters haven't decided on the culprit - and filming on the next series doesn't begin until next month.

Inside the same newspaper was this article by Hilary Kingsley:

At last, nasty old JR gets his comeuppance. He is shot tonight and his face twists with astonishment.

But save those cheers. JR, played with such magnificent malice by Larry Hagman in "Dallas" (BBC-1, 8.10) lives to smirk his way through a new series in the autumn.

So whodunnit? No one knows. Not even JR.

A spokesman for Lorimar Productions, where security is almost as tight as at the White House, said: "Only the two writers for the series know who pulled the trigger - even the suspects don't know."

And there's a gang of suspects. They are:

SUE ELLEN (Linda Gray), JR's alcoholic wife, who is probably the favourite.

CLIFF BARNES (Ken Kercheval), JR's life-long enemy.

KRISTIN (Mary Crosby), who screams "I'll kill him" when JR has her arrested on a prostitution charge.

Her fellow blackmailer ALAN BEAM (Randolph Powell).

And, intriguingly, JR's nice but weedy brother BOBBY (Patrick Duffy), who is sickened by his brother's plotting.

But my money is firmly on an outsider - the grief-stricken widow of double-crossed businessman Seth Stone.

Finally we got to see the episode. Old JR was working late at the office when he heard a sound... was he alone? Then we saw somebody holding a gun and...

JR fell to the floor and the season ended.
What a great badge!

It soon seemed as though the world and his dog had done the dirty deed.

During the summer of 1980, "WHO SHOT JR?" and "I SHOT JR" T-shirts, stetsons, badges and car stickers abounded.

The aforementioned Terry Wogan, on BBC Radio Two, led the national obsession.

A children's song of the time went: "I'm only a poor little Ewin', JR keeps pickin' on me, the baby's a punk, Sue Ellen's a drunk and Bobby came out of the sea!"

-Patrick Duffy, the actor who played Bobby, had previously found fame as The Man From Atlantis, and the last part of the song was a reference to that.

Then there were "catchy" ditties like the Wurzels' "I hate JR, I'm hanging the sign in the back of my car..."
Fancier badge - same message!

From the Daily Mirror, 19/11/1980:
J.R. Ewing, that cunning, conniving TV tycoon, was revealed as just a dummy yesterday.

His spittin' image was proudly unveiled at Madame Tussaud's waxworks in London. And Larry Hagman, who plays the sneaky oilman in "Dallas", was the first to have a look.
Hagman (Mark One) recognised the guy on the left immediately, if only by his J.R. stetson.

Like the actor, the waxwork remained tight-lipped about the show's big question: Who shot J.R.? 

But Hagman aims to provide an answer to the BBC's financial problems.

 He will appear on posters promoting TV licence stamps and emphasising the value that viewers get from the Beeb. The caption: "Trust me. Would I steer you wrong?"

 Hagman gave his services free. Don't tell J.R.

So, who did shoot JR?
 Mary Crosby, daughter of Bing, as Sue Ellen's sister Kristin, was the black hearted hussy.

Years later, Mary told Larry Hagman: "The best feedback I ever got on shooting you [JR] was from this angelic little old English lady, who said: 'Why didn't you shoot lower?'"

Here's JR being very nice to Bobby's secretary in this Dallas picture strip featured in the Sun in April 1981...

But life was very difficult for dedicated businessmen like JR in the 1980s. He couldn't open his mouth without being shot or, as seen here in 1982, being shoved in the Southfork swimming pool.
Poor man. As sweet as any rampant capitalist, he really didn't deserve the way life treated him.
Doesn't it make you want to weep?

Dallas fever in novel form - two books published in 1980 and 1981.

The ultimate guide to the Ewings of Southfork Ranch - Laura Van Wormer's epic work told the complete story from 1860-1985. Ms. Van Wormer dedicated it to the memory of Jock Ewing, 1909-1981.

With the 1985 greetings cards from Paper Dreams, Manchester, England, you could say whatever you wanted (just about) with a little help from your favourite Dallas characters. There were many more where these came from. The card above contains the greeting: "Always a winner. Happy birthday".

This was cheering. Whatever your age, the response "Are you? You don't look it! Happy birthday" is bound to bring a smile. In this case is JR saying it to Clayton or vice versa?

"Two Interesting thoughts" - the delectable Sue Ellen and Pam.

"You're not just one year older, you're one year sexier. Happy birthday."

Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) found happiness with Clayton Farlow (Howard Keel) after Jock's death. The card's greeting reads: "You two are perfect together. Happy Anniversary".
"Do I miss you? Hell yes!" Cliff Barnes had a troubled love life. In fact he had a troubled life.

"I can't get you out of my mind" (Actually, Pammy's mind was rather a strange place. See 1986 for further details!).

Some Snazzy 1980s Bedding!

Very '80s indeed - Index Catalogue, Spring Summer 1989.

A cutting edge mid-1980s duvet cover.

Three '80s slumbersome lovelies - Argos, 1987 - the two duvet cover and pillow slip sets on the left have that particular 1980s something!

A peek in a 1983 mail order catalogue for some more stylish '80s bedding.

The sad-faced clown, Pierrot, was remarkably popular and was available to buy in a number of different guises...

There were Pierrot dolls, pictures, wall masks, ornaments and, as seen here, lamps, curtains and bedding. Have I missed anything?!

Were you a Pierrot person?

Must admit, these was more my cup of tea!

28 March 2009


Sweeping into pubs across the land from around 1981/1982 onwards...

The best of both worlds - a Pac-Man Rubik's Cube -bliss!

"The action packed game that's sweeping the US..."

"Be first with the PACMAN game..."

Advertisement from the "Daily Mirror", November 1982.
A Pac-Man phone from later in the decade. 

Pac-Man celebrated his 25th anniversary in 2005, and was invented by Japanese games designer Toru Iwatani. The first Pac-Man (or "Puck-Man/PuckMan", as he was then called) arcade machines were released in Japan on 22 May 1980.

The idea for the character was apparently inspired by a pizza with a slice missing!
In 1986, Toru Iwatani confessed that the pizza was only part of the story. He revealed that the Pac-Man design had also come about through simplifying and rounding out the Japanese character for mouth, kuchi (口) - and from the basic concept of eating.

As mentioned above, the original name in Japan was 'Puck-Man' but that name was felt to be too much of a gift for graffiti artists and soon altered!

We were introduced to Pac-Man here in England around 1981, or it may have been as late as 1982 - the advertisement for the Pac-Man watch from November '82 featured above refers to our old pal as "The action packed video game that's sweeping the US". No mention of it sweeping the UK at that point!
Incidentally, you may have some old Pac-Man merchandise with the trademark "Namco Limited 1980" on it, but the trademark is no indication that your merchandise was actually manufactured that year. Details like this often trip up pop culture "experts" - and the likes of the BBC!
Whichever year he debuted in England, Pac-Man was soon making waves in pubs and arcades. Pretty grotty for me. My pal Pete and I often used to meet for a pint and a chat in our local pub, but this was the era of Pac-Man and Space Invaders (the highly addictive Invaders were invented in Japan in 1978, and first exhibited at a UK trade show in 1979) and conversation was now a dead duck. As a leisure pursuit, it was no match for the burbling machines.

I also recall the Asteroids game. I'm not sure when it got to England, but I don't recall it being mentioned as much as the other two. It was "Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Space Invaders" from certain of my friends all day long (and probably night as well, given half a chance!)

"I'll just have a quick game," my pal Pete would say, eyeing Pac-Man as we found a table at the pub. It was always the same.

An hour later, I'd still be on my own at the table, probably on my third "Snakebite" and glumly listening to Toto Coelo or whatever on the jukebox. Don't get me wrong, I liked Toto Coelo, who didn't, but I hated the idea that my old schoolmate preferred Pac-Man's company to mine.

I loved the "Wacca-Wacca-Wacca" sound of Pac-Man - and thought the character refreshingly different, but was absolutely hopeless at it. Was just as bad at Space Invaders. So that was it. Me and my Snakebite - all alone and feeling blue...

More merchandise - this was ideal for carrying sardine and tomato paste sandwiches, tepid tea and a Marathon (comes up peanuts, slice after slice).

1980-2005 - an official Namco Pac-Man 25th anniversary sticker.

This article was originally posted in January 2008 and updated in March 2009.