31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

1980s memories galore here - from screencaps to snippets from magazines and newspapers, with a few other bits and bobs chucked in. Click on the image to enlarge. To all those celebrating, here's to 2012! And for all those feeling like a challenge after the excesses of New Year's Eve, we've pulled out our 1980s quiz. Enjoy.

See you again in 2012. xxx

The BIG 1980s Quiz

Test your knowledge of this fast moving and dramatic decade with our quiz. The answers can all be found within this blog and are also listed at the bottom of this post, together with a fun guide to how you rate as an '80s expert.

1) Who ate cannibals in 1982?

2) An illegal craze of 1980 and 1981 was legalised in November 1981. What was it?

3) Who advertised Everest Double Glazing in the 1980s?

4) Which famous BBC soap opera began in February 1985?

5) An obscure Hungarian toy was renamed and re-manufactured in 1980, and became a huge craze. What was it?

6) Hello! Which computer was released in early 1984?

7) Invented by an Englishman in Switzerland in 1989, this has had a massive effect on computing ever since. What is it?

8) You put them on your head in 1982.

9) An election in 1980 altered the course of the decade. Who and where?

10) Often referred to as a brick, this was unveiled in America in 1983 and hit the UK in 1985. What was it?

11) Beattie's grandson got a what in 1987?

12) Which small creatures from a vegetable abode invaded the UK in 1983?

13) Fill in the blank: "Just one titchy bit of toast, we've gotta put 'em straight - we're the ____."

14) Which popular music genre was born in Chicago in the early 1980s?

15) "Shiny, shiny, bad times behind me..." - who sang that?

16) Which exciting new car hit the road in 1985 and got a big thumbs down?

17) What game did we pursue in 1984?

18) Which pop star had his handbag stolen in 1984?

19) The Queen had a bedside visitor in which year - and who was it?

20) The Scotch video tape skeleton ads debuted in 1983. But in which year did the skeleton sing "re-record, not fade away"?

21) Which alien from the Planet Drill made his earthly debut in 1987?

22) Who was responsible for making "walkies!" a popular catchphrase?

23) Which new TV channel came to our screens in November 1982?

24) What was the call sign of Inspector Jean Darblay of Hartley Police Station?

25) Bob presented a popular TV quiz show featuring teenagers from 1983 onwards. What was his surname, and what was the show?

26) Rik Mayall and Nigel Planer appeared in which alternative comedy, beginning in 1982?

27) Which group of people were going to live forever - they were going to learn how to fly?

28) What were the upwardly mobile set called in the 1980s?

29) Sonny Crockett of Miami Vice had an unusual pet. What was it, and what was it called?

30) In which year did the ZX Spectrum arrive?

31) Short-lived English soap opera of the mid-1980s set on a market.

32) Who made the blokes go "phwoar" at Twickenham in 1982?

33) Which famous arcade game character made his debut in Japan in 1980?

34) What did George Michael choose as a T-shirt slogan?

35) Complete the lyrics: "The first cut won't hurt at all, the second only makes you wonder, the third..."

36) What was Roland Rat's gerbil pal called?

37) The first space shuttle, which had its maiden flight in 1981, was called what?

38) If there was something strange in your neighbourhood, who were you gonna call?

39) Who did Joan Collins play in Dynasty?

40) Jill and Trevor got involved with the Affair, the Tapes and the Connection in which mid-to-late '80s TV trilogy?

41) Ethel, Harry and Dawn lived at which house?

42) Del and Rodney lived in a block of flats called?

43) Which group of American senior citizens ate lots of cheesecake in Miami?

44) A disaster in 1986 caused radiation levels to rise across Europe. What was it?

45) When was the first London Marathon run?

46) In which year did Brighton Nudist Beach open?

47) Which popular diet was published in 1982?

48) When did the Berlin Wall come down?

49) Which alien was stranded on Earth in 1982?

50) The BIG fashion trend of the 1980s.


1) Toto Coelo; 2) CB radio; 3) Ted Moult; 4) EastEnders; 5) The Hungarian Magic Cube was re-manufactured and became Rubik’s Cube. 6) The Apple Macintosh; 7) The World Wide Web; 8) Deelyboppers; 9) Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States; 10) The hand-held cellular phone; 11) An Ology; 12) Cabbage Patch Dolls; 13) Weetabix; 14) House Music; 15) Haysi Fantayzee; 16) The Sinclair C5; 17) Trivial Pursuit; 18) Marilyn; 19) 1982 - Michael Fagan; 20) 1985; 21) - Gilbert; 22) Barbara Woodhouse; 23) Channel 4; 24) Juliet Bravo; 25) Holness - Blockbusters; 26) The Young Ones; 27) The Kids From Fame; 28) Yuppies; 29) An alligator - Elvis; 30) 1982; 31) Albion Market; 32) Erika Roe; 33) Pac-Man; 34) Choose Life; 35) “…will have you on your knees”; 36) Kevin; 37) Columbia; 38) Ghostbusters; 39) Alexis; 40) Beiderbecke; 41) Number 73; 42) Nelson Mandela House; 43) The Golden Girls; 44) Chernobyl; 45) 1981; 46) 1980; 47) The F-Plan; 48) 1989; 49) ET; 50) Shoulder Pads

How You Rate:

0-10: Were you not born? A tiny wee kiddie? Asleep? Living it up too much to observe the details of life?

11-20: Several squares short of a Rubik’s Cube. You don’t get a seat on the board.

21-30: You’ve certainly got the big hair, but not the shoulder pads. In fact your performance is a little on the Cabbage Patch side.

31-40: Well, my pretty good guy or guyess, twang those big red braces and make free with the hair gel. You’re going places!

41-50: You’ve got it all - the Rubik’s Cube, the ZX Spectrum, the docksiders, the deelyboppers, the designer stubble, the braces, the shoulder pads, the shell suit, the leggings, the jelly shoes… In fact, you’re absolutely tubular!

27 December 2011

Rare Emmerdale Farm '80s Radio Shows Unearthed!

Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby) reflects on life at Emmerdale Farm in the 1980s.

I've just been transported back to 1983 to spend some time with the late, much-loved Emmerdale Farm/Emmerdale actor Clive Hornby. Clive played the legendary Jack Sugden, making his debut on 19 February 1980, and was in the show until shortly before his death in 2008.

During that time, the show was transformed, rocketing out of the (by comparison) sleepy 1980s and into the 1990s and early 21st Century, keeping pace with the other English soaps via a thoroughly modern flavour, geared to the evolving tastes of soap fans across the country.

Through all the drama and comedy, there was Clive Hornby as Jack Sugden, providing a lovely thread of continuity back to the old days - as Elizabeth Estensen said in tribute to the character "Always the farmer".

It was an idea of Carl Gresham AKA "The Gresh", a DJ on Pennine Radio in 1983, to make use of his contacts with the stars of Emmerdale Farm and invite six of them into the studio over a period of about two months - to each present an hour of their favourite music. The Gresh put on his producer's hat for the shows, it being his plan not to interview the stars but simply to let them talk, choose their favourite tunes, and then play the music. Judging by the Clive Hornby hour I have just listened to, it made for marvellous radio.

But it's a long way back to 1983, times and technology have changed dramatically, and The Gresh, faced with the old Ampex ten inch tapes he had kept of the shows (he's a self confessed hoarder!) faced some discouragement from those that thought the tapes would be useless now - they would have degenerated, gone "crumply".

The Gresh persevered, and passed the tapes to his archive producer, Dave Perrett, and, after much work, the interviews were transferred to CD and sound as though they were recorded yesterday!

The Clive Hornby show was originally broadcast on Thursday, 10th November, 1983.

It's a lovely listen, an unexpectedly unearthed piece of Emmerdale history - and makes a tremendous tribute to Clive - who tells us a bit about his youth in the 1960s, the decade from which most of his favourite records originate. There's also a chance to hear the Dennisons - the pop group which featured Clive as drummer - and Clive also relates the story of how he became one of the first people ever to hear a certain classic 1960s hit, comes up with a song which captures the complexities of being seventeen years old, and slips in a request for another Emmerdale Farm cast member.

Throughout the hour, Clive comes across as being a thoroughly down to earth and likeable man who would have made a great companion for an evening's chat in the Woolpack Inn, Beckindale - or anywhere else.

If you'd like to hear Clive's musical choice, the show is available on a CD, available from:

PO Box 3. Bradford. West
Yorkshire. BD1 4QN

The cost is £5.00 - including postage - and we think it's an absolute bargain. Please make cheques payable to Carl Gresham. We don't usually go in for advertising or selling things at '80s Actual, but this CD is, in our opinion, absolutely priceless!

Clive (far left) with his fellow cast members - the folks at Emmerdale Farm - summer 1984.

23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Back to 1980 and 1987 for two of my favourite Chistmas hits of all-time. Merry Christmas to '80s Actual readers - and thanks xx

20 December 2011

'80s Christmas Memories - Bob Holness And A Cuddly hedgehog...

Christmas is just around the corner, and I'm startled by the suddenness of it all! Where did 2011 go?

Anyway, to celebrate the forthcoming festivities, here's a little look back at a favourite celebrity of the 1980s, with a Christmas flavour.

Blockbusters began in America in October 1980, and the UK version in August 1983. The UK version was, of course, presented by Bob Holness, and in this 1985 TV Times article, Bob recalls a favourite Christmas present:

"One of the nicest stocking fillers I've ever had was a glove puppet hedgehog, who quickly became christened Harold the Hedgehog.

"My wife, Mary, knows I have a soft spot for cuddly animals such as Harold and she gave him to me at Christmas 1983. He's becoming something of a national celebrity now, having appeared with me on two series of Blockbusters.

"Harold is in good company on the show. Most of the young contestants in the series have mascots like him."

Was there ever a kinder and more polite quiz master than Bob? We loved the show. Happy days... so far removed from Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link...

Read our full Blockbusters history here.

17 December 2011

Wham! Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart - And China...

Heady days for George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. Asked in 1984 what makes a great pop song, they replied:

George: "A great pop song has something about it that will appeal to millions of people. There are different ways of doing that. You can do it in a crass way like 'Agadoo'. Or in an uplifting way like the way we do it in."

Andrew: "It should be some form of emotion in extreme. I'll tell you why I think 'Two Tribes' [Frankie Goes To Hollywood] is so good. You get incredible energy, excitement and that really sad synthesizer bit in the middle. Two absolute extremes."

Santa Wham!

The Sun, 1/12/1984.

Last Christmas was soon to be released. Now it seems almost as much a part of Christmas as cards, tinsel, trees, and Santa.

Two famous faces pop out of Christmas costumes - Wham! superstar George Michael and Andy Ridgeley.

They staged the frolic for the launch of their latest single, Last Christmas.

George played Santa Claus, carrying a sackful of presents. Andy donned a reindeer rig-out.

Their Christmas caper will be pictured on the sleeve of their new record, which is released on Monday.

And Wham! reckon it will just sleigh their fans.

The pop princes flew to Geneva last month to make a video promoting the disc. George's girlfriend, sultry singer Pat Fernandez, also appears in the film.

One of the crew said yesterday: "Snow was all around, but their love was keeping them warm."

1985: Wham! were the first Western pop group to be invited to play in China. As one pop journalist pointed out:

There are no pop charts in China; only a year ago, discos were unheard of and dancing wasn't allowed.

George Michael opined:

"One of the many reasons the Chinese chose Wham! to play and not other groups who've asked was because of what we represent: optimism and inspiration. Also we're at the opposite end of the scale to what China sees as the decadent rock acts of The West. You know - sex, drugs, scandal. The thing with us was that there was no angle. That's why I suppose Fleet Street have had to make one up."

1984: Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas?

What a year was 1984... Sir Alec Jeffreys at Leicester University, England, discovered DNA fingerprinting - entirely accidentally; Trivial Pursuit blasted in; the Miners' Strike brought angst and uproar; and a group of pop stars got together to make a record aimed at "feeding the world..."

Supergroup Band Aid's disc to aid Ethiopian famine victims has zoomed straight to the top of the pop charts.

And the double single, Do They Know It's Christmas? Feed The World has set a record of its own by selling an amazing 600,000 in Britain and 1,250,000 worldwide in just ONE WEEK. This makes the record - made by a host of British pop stars to help the relief fund - the fastest-selling single ever.

Gallup, who compile the official record industry and BBC pop charts, said: "It's incredible. At this rate it'll also be the biggest selling record ever."

The stars, including Boy George and Bob Geldof, hope Ethiopia can now quickly get £1 million for food and medicines from disc sales. For each £1.35 record sold, 96.03p goes to the fund.

Detail from the record cover. Band Aid in 1984 begat Live Aid in 1985. More here.

02 December 2011

1989 - Tim Berners-Lee - The Invention Of The World Wide Web...

It's hard to imagine the world without WWW. but in the 1980s that's just how it was. The basis for the Internet had been invented in the 1960s and was up and running by the end of that decade - this was ARPANET, developed by the USA's Department of Defence.

During the 1980s, the home computing era got underway, but it was the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 which would transform attitudes to computers in the 1990s and create a whole new way of life. Have you checked your e-mails? Updated your web site/blog? Checked Wikipedia's latest suspect information? No? Well, better get to it. It's as easy as shelling peas.

This is thanks to an English software engineer, Tim Berners-Lee. The origins of the idea for the Web can be traced back to June - December 1980, when Mr Berners-Lee wrote ENQUIRE, his first computer program for storing information. At this time he was working a six month stint as a consultant software engineer at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.

He left CERN for a spell, returning in 1984, and in March 1989 invented the World Wide Web.

From Tim Berners-Lee's own site biography:


Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989.

He is the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a Web standards organization founded in 1994 which develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. He is a Director of the World Wide Web Foundation which was launched in 2009 to coordinate efforts to further the potential of the Web to benefit humanity. 

A graduate of Oxford University, Sir Tim invented the Web while at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, in 1989. He wrote the first web client and server in 1990. His specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined as Web technology spread.

Click on the red text to go to Sir Tim's site.
Up and running in the early 1990s, the Web made the Internet easy for all and things would never be the same again. 

And even confirmed technophobes like me, who had looked at the emerging home computer era with trepidation back in the 1980s, are now happily surfing the Web.
Thank you, Sir Tim!

March 1989 - the historic document!

Tim Berners-Lee at the www@20 celebration at CERN, 13 March, 2009.

29 October 2011

Postbox - Einstein A Go Go, Favourite '80s Years, And More...

The '80s, the '80s, the '80s were best - I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest!

Pap writes:

One of my favourite 1980s songs is Einstein A Go Go from 1981, by Landscape. You've never mentioned it. How dare you not?

Well, Pap, now we ARE mentioning it! Yes, lovely piece of synthpop, great video. Here's a piece of rare Landscape pop trivia: did you know that in 1980, when the group was starting work on Einstein A Go Go, they actually phoned President Carter's secretary, and that she is the voice heard on the single, apologising for the fact that the President can't speak to them? Of course, President Carter was very busy in 1980, fighting the election campaign against Ronald Reagan, which is probably why he was too busy to come to the phone!

According to Landscape, interviewed in 1981, Carter's secretary was rather nice to talk to, and their call to the White House ran up their phone bill more than a little!

Ronni asks:

How about a poll of favourite '80s years on here? My personal faves are 1982 and 1986. Or perhaps 1981 and 1988, or...

Sounds like a good idea, haven't done a poll for ages. We're kind of stuck on 1982 and 1987. But, then again, 1980 and 1988 pull on the old heart strings as do 1984 and 1986 and...

Karen enquires:

When are you resuming your look at the 1980s house? I was loving it - lots of great tips!

Hopefully soon, Karen - sorry for the long break. It's all down to my paid work getting in the way! x

29 September 2011

Lotta Bottle - 1982 - The Beginning Of The Famous Milk Ads

" Daily Mirror", November 3, 1983: an ad campaign launched in 1982 had given rise to a new catchphrase...

Three of the original 1982 "Gotta Lotta Bottle" TV ads, revealing far better than any written words the life, colour and brashness of the 1980s! Look out for the Eighties/New Man and Zara Nutley, the fearsome lady from Mind Your Language - "WELL!" Nice cold, ice cold milk - The daily pinta would never seem the same again...

Graham Thomas, formerly of Allen, Brady and Marsh, which produced the ads, wrote about the 1982 "Gotta Lotta Bottle" campaign a few years ago:

Everybody thought that natural goodness was very nice. They also thought that it was extraordinarily boring and old-fashioned - that is if they were thinking about it at all.

When we won Milk it was because we were able to convince the Milk clients that what milk needed was a complete change of personality. ABM transmuted natural goodness into "gotta lotta bottle."

Within a matter of weeks, "gotta lotta bottle" was part of the language and whilst today it may seem on the staid side, back in 1982 it was a revolution for milk.

"We wanted to get away from the middle class, worthy image that milk had and we went particularly for a very young boisterous approach. We quite literally broke all the rules" said Rod Allen, Executive Creative Director, at the time.

25 September 2011

Run DMC, England, 1985!

Run D.M.C. hailed from New York's Queens district. Their involvement as youngsters with the underground club scene placed them in a good position when the rap scene began to blossom into the hip-hop scene in the 1980s. "Sucker M.C.s" and "It's Like That" had been dance hits in America earlier in the decade, and soon Run DMC were merging rock with rap on releases like "Rock Box".

In early 1985, they performed at Buzby's in London.

21 September 2011

Terry's Chocolate Orange Famous 1980s TV Ad...

This wonderfully witty ad was clearly inspired by the 1981 film Indiana Jones & The Raiders Of The Lost Ark! One of the people who worked on the ad has since joked that the makers were worried about being sued by George Lucas, and also joked that the lava featured in the ad may have helped inspire the next Indiana Jones epic - The Temple Of Doom! The ad's director was Paul Weiland, and it first appeared on-screen around 1983. The working title of the ad was "Safe". The late actor John Ringham, also Norman Warrender in popular '80s sit com Just Good Friends, played the ad's fearless hero.

27 August 2011

Wanted - Bixie Weetabix Badge

'80s Actual reader Billy has been in touch to appeal for a 1980s Weetabix badge like the one pictured above - Bixie - Aerobix. He will be happy to pay for one, so, if you can help, please send your e-mail address to and I'll pass it on to Billy.

Read all our Weetabix stuff here - OK?!

19 August 2011

Some 1982 Magazine Ads: "Don't Say Vinegar. Say Sarson's"...

Trawling through a mountain of 1982 magazines, I came across these goodies...

Remember "Don't Say Vinegar. Say Sarson's"?

"Take one soaking wet husband..."

A brilliant OXO ad for winter 1982, complete with a very acceptable recipe for crusty beef casserole.

The long-running fresh cream cakes "Naughty But Nice" TV ads had their magazine counterparts. Here, the Mona Lisa has a crafty nibble...

Curried beans? Ooh, no ta....

And finally, breaking off from the food theme, I recently had an e-mail from a woman apparently desperate to wear some 1980s fashion but without big hair, shoulder pads, lycra leggings, pixie boots, deelyboppers, etc, etc, etc.

Well, the above is perfect for you, madam! Actually, there's been a revival of '80s fashion on the boil for a while now, and I've seen similar colour schemes back on the streets.

1980: David Bowie On Ashes To Ashes: "A 1980s Nursery Rhyme"...

1980 was a great year for David Bowie. Haunted by some Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) he brought us the brilliant Ashes To Ashes and Fashion. The videos (or promo's or whatever we called them back then) for these songs were very excellent indeed and nudged us on towards the video age and the New Romantic era.

I was particularly startled by the Ashes To Ashes video and song. David returned to good old Major Tom from 1969's Space Oddity.

My mother said to get things done you'd better not mess with Major Tom...

What a difference just over a decade had made! The super cool, spaced-out hippie Major Tom of 1969 was a junkie in 1980.

The video, complete with inky black sea and oddball characters trailed by a JCB, was unlike anything I'd ever seen before.

As for exactly what the song and video mean, David Bowie has said an awful lot over the years, making me rather confused. However, his original explanation from 1980 is the one I find most interesting. Major Tom had been launched in 1969, the year Man landed on the Moon. The song became a hit in the July of that year. By the time Bowie returned to Major Tom, when work began on Scary Monsters in early 1980, more than ten years had passed and times and attitudes had changed.

Bowie said:

"When I was thinking of how I was going to place Major Tom in this, hence ten years later on, what would be the complete disillusion with the great dream that was being propounded when they shot him into space ten years ago, and had got such wonderful ideas. This great technology was capable of putting him up there, when he did get up there, he wasn't quite sure why he'd been put there and we left him there. But now we come to him ten years later and we find that the whole thing has soured because there was no reason for putting him up there. It was an ego, a technological ego which got him up there for no specific reason and just added more disaster because it was a potpourri of technical ideas, so the most disastrous thing I could think of is that he finds solace only in some kind of heroin type drug that the cosmic space itself is feeding him with, an addiction, and he wants now to return to the womb from whence he came.

"It's also a nursery rhyme. It's very much a 1980s nursery rhyme. I think 1980s nursery rhymes will have a lot to do with the 1880s/1890s nursery rhymes which were all rather horrid and had little boys with their ears being cut off and stuff like that. Well, I think we're getting round to that again. I think the idea of the Sesame Street nice nursery rhyme is possibly outdated - unfortunately."

Hmmm... but the 1980s child, the girls at least, were bombarded by the cutest of the cute, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Care Bears, My Little Pony, Keypers, Sylvanian Families - to name but a few... and I can't recall any new nursery rhymes at all. Well, apart from this one, obviously.

Probably best to simply enjoy the song for what it is - a flash of pure Bowie genius.

Hear the 1980 Bowie interview, in which he gives insights into the inspirations for various Scary Monsters tracks - including Ashes To Ashes, below.

17 August 2011

1983: Yellow Pages TV Ad: "I Were Right About That Saddle Though!"

This fondly remembered ad from 1983 was part of the "Good Old Yellow Pages" series which also launched JR Hartley of Fly Fishing fame the same year. In this, Peter Armitage, soon to make his debut as Bill Webster, father of Kevin (Michael Le Vell) in Coronation Street, plays a nice Northern Dad who, together with his nice Northern wife, buys his son a bike for his birthday - despite having some doubts about the saddle...

06 August 2011

Voyage Voyage - Desireless

This brings back memories of me, steeped in heart-wrenching misery at the end of yet another broken romance, strolling round on warm summer evenings in 1988, gazing at the stars and the moon, sometimes quietly crying, with my personal stereo blaring away in sympathy. Loved this song back then. Still do.

Voyage Voyage, sung by Desireless - Claudie Fritsch-Mentrop - is in French and I don't speak French, but somehow this only added to the appeal of the song for the love-lorn 23-year-old lad, seeking not words but mood, I was back then.

The original version of the song had been written and recorded a year or so before (some sources say 1986, others 1987), but fame took time to spread. My favourite version was the 1988 Britmix - remixed by Pete Hammond and Peter Waterman. Google it and you may find it on-line.


And what I wouldn't give to be 23 again.

Even if I was love-lorn at times.

01 August 2011

Return To Crossroads - Forthcoming ATV Documentary On DVD...

Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon) bravely turned the house and grounds left to her by her late husband, Charles, into a motel in the early 1960s. In 1965, she met successful businessman Hugh Mortimer (John Bentley). After ten years of an on/off romance, the couple married, but happiness was not to last. Hugh was kidnapped by terrorists in 1978 and died of a heart attack. Meg was left alone to face the terrible truth about the ruinous state of Hugh's finances...

The old ATV/Central soap opera Crossroads has left behind the most wonderful legacy, and I can find nothing more de-stressing after a hard day at work than to pop in a DVD and revisit my old friends at the motel. Whether it's Meg trying to get her hair done in the sitting room in the 1960s, Vera handing out advice on her barge in the 1970s, or Valerie toying with a Pussyfoot Special in the 1980s, there is no better way for me to let go of the pressures of the day and relax into off-duty mode. I could write a separate hymn of praise to the Brownlows in the early-to-mid 1980s, a family who seemed to somehow capture the essence of everyday life in my humble opinion, and, later in the decade the doings of Beverley and Jason Grice (probably one of the best representations of 1980s teenagers I ever saw), but time presses!

1980 - David Hunter (Ronald Allen) marries novelist Barbara Brady (Sue Lloyd).

Crossroads still thrives on-line, from sites on the brief 21st Century revival, to sites which examine the original series in great depth, to blogs like this. And one of the best sites to go and relive the series in any era is The Crossroads Network Forum, owned by ATV and linked to The Crossroads Appreciation Society, originally formed in 1988, and now absolutely thriving on-line. It's a great place to visit, and whether you loved Crossroads in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, early 21st Century or ALL of it, you can express your views here and be sure of a knowledgeable and appreciative audience, all happy to give their views in return and help to answer any queries you may have.

1980 - Paul Henry was hugely popular as Benny.

It was through this site that I originally got to hear the news that ATV, the old Midlands ITV franchise holder, had leapt back to life, and of exciting plans for a brand new documentary on Crossroads. Recently, I contacted Maria Brabiner, an ATV Director, to ask if she might have time to give readers of this blog some insights into ATV today and the Crossroads documentary, and was delighted when she happily agreed. Below is our question and answer session...

Andy: Can you tell me about ATV and its aims in the 21st Century, and the inspiration for the “Return To Crossroads” documentary?

Maria: ATV Network was “saved” from the skip by some members of the Crossroads Appreciation Society, ex-ATV staff and some, at the time, Carlton employees. Granada sent a memo telling them to “chuck away” ATV and Central material (excluding the film and videotape). The staff of course had other ideas and that is where ATV reborn came from. We’ve had help in rebuilding some items that were not saved (a whole warehouse of ATV paperwork was ‘overlooked’ in error and destroyed) from people such as Reg Watson. We also helped in a photograph search with ITV Archive for
Crossroads images which ultimately thankfully the TV Times magazine had kept many of. The whole idea for ATV now is to promote the legacy of the Lord Lew Grade era, and provide correct information about the company rather than the myths some other big ITV companies like to colour ATV with to improve their own image in the history of the network.

As part of the promotion of ATV past we decided to look at the Company's often regarded most famous programme, Crossroads. An idea we first had in 2006, and the first footage recorded for it was in September of that year when ITV Central arranged a tour of the old Birmingham studios with some selected fan club members. The project went on hold for a while, while we waited for ITV to co-operate with several things we wanted assistance with, and resumed last year.

Christmas 1980 - Meg, Jill (Jane Rossington), and Sandy (Roger Tonge) celebrate.

Andy: The documentary is designed to appeal to fans of the original 1964-1988 run. Anything for fans of the revival in the early 21st Century?

Maria: We haven’t managed to record anyone from the new series as yet, although Sherrie Hewson did ‘tweet’ that she’d be interested in taking part. We’ll hopefully arrange some interviewees from the revival once we’ve completed the original series.
In making the documentary we have found that actors from the 1960s to the early 1980s have been the most supportive of the project which does rather show that the crew did become like a second family, which was obviously lost in the later years and the revival didn’t have time to make those bonds.

Andy: That's really interesting, Maria. I think also that might be true of the era 1985-1988, which saw many changes to the cast and two new producers. There really wasn't a lot of time for things to settle and "gel" behind the scenes before the axing was announced in the summer of 1987.

Businessman J. Henry Pollard (Michael Turner) was never ashamed to admit he was "filthy rich". He and his daughter, Miranda (Claire Faulconbridge), first arrived in King's Oak in 1980. J. Henry's wife, Valerie (Heather Chasen), followed in 1982 - and then the trouble began...

Andy: Although it was panned by critics, large numbers of viewers loved Crossroads, and even after cast axings and revamps it still had a sizeable audience. What do you think its secret was?

Maria: I think Kathy Staff was right when she said it was a family show, that appealed to a wide audience. It was also successful, I would think, because of the time of night it went out and a lot of the audience would be having their tea as it aired. Families could watch it together. It had a warmth and characters people could relate to and either love or hate.

Moving with the times - yuppette Lisa Lancaster (Alison Dowling) shows off her '80s finery.

Andy: Who were your top three characters from the original run, and why are they your favourites?

Maria: This one is very easy for me to answer. I've no hesitiation in saying Meg, Hugh and Tish. Meg and Hugh Mortimer were the "Golden Couple" of television. 1976/1977 viewing figures for Crossroads made it the No. 1 top rated show of those two years beating allcomers at the BBC. It cannot be just down to co-incidence that this was the period when Meg was married, settled and enjoying life as a married lady to a rich, successful millionnaire businessman. Stories that the viewers liked to see. All down to the acting performances of Noele Gordon and John Bentley. My other character is Tish Hope. I liked Tish because she was Meg's best friend, her confidante, always on hand to advise Meg in any personal crisis. Tish being part of Meg's extended family. Something I'm sure the viewers just loved. Again all down to the lovely acting abilities of Joy Andrews. I still think it was a mistake to let Tish just "disappear"like many other characters did. She just went and never returned without an ending. The character of Tish was timeless and could have remained through any of the revamps I reckon.

1980s cast photographs of Angela Webb, who played sometimes bitchy, sometimes lovable Iris Scott, Ian Liston - dependable Ron Brownlow, Pamela Vezey - kind and motherly Kath Brownlow, Lynette McMorrough - motel waitress and desperate for a baby Glenda Brownlow, Peter Hill - the oft highly grumpy Arthur Brownlow, and David Moran - Glenda's handsome hubby, Kevin Banks. Arthur's opening story-line involved him being diagnosed with a terminal illness. In early 1980, it was discovered that there had been a mix-up, another Arthur Brownlow had died, and the King's Oak version lived on until 1982; Glenda married Kevin in 1981, and went on to have a test-tube baby in 1983; Ron fell in love with cousin Iris, but left to work on an oil rig after she had a phantom pregnancy; Kath went upwardly mobile after Arthur's death, by marrying posh school teacher Stephen Fellowes (John Line).

Andy: What was it like interviewing TV legends for the documentary?

Maria: None of us have really been star-struck of sorts. There was one small instance when for a few seconds I was, when in Birmingham Cathedral for the interview of Jane Rossington. She was saying her piece to camera when she suddenly stopped talking, turned to me and asked "Where was I up to". I was so busy watching her hands when she was talking doing the movements of the criss-cross Crossroads credit, that for those few seconds I was dumbstruck. It's never happened since ! The Crossroads actors are actually all so very friendly, its like talking to old friends. All so down to earth. Stan Stennett gave us a lift at one point, wearing the same hat that Sid Hooper used to. It was almost like being in an episode, so a little strange, but lovely of him. Tony Adams also dropped us off at a train station as we’d decided to commute to Brighton. Jane Rossington arrived at Birmingham Cathedral soaking wet as it was pouring down outside, and just started chatting away about how it had ruined her hairdo like we’d known her years. So they’ve all been a pleasure.

Andy: The 1980 shooting of David Hunter is now part of Crossroads legend. Can we expect anything from Janet Hargreaves, who played David’s deranged wife, Rosemary, in the documentary?

Maria: There are lots to come from Janet. She reveals something about Ronnie Allen that’s never been made public before, she also recreates the shooting scene, playing both parts! She did bring along her Rosemary costumes and she’s agreed to present the documentary as Rosemary so that will be fun I’m sure. Actually on revelations there are a couple, JoAnne Good also tells us something she believes she’s never told any other programme before, so we’ve been quite honoured really they like us so much!

The 1980 shooting of David Hunter by his deranged wife, Rosemary (Janet Hargreaves), is now part of Crossroads legend.

Andy: If Crossroads was to be revived again, could you name five characters you think would be essential for the series to succeed?

Maria: Jill & Adam Chance, Kate Russell, Sarah Jane Harvey, Sharon Metcalfe. Kate Russell was quite an effective figure in 2001. You need a strong woman, a "Meg type" figure at the helm.

But if a new series was to succeed I'd introduce a new character called Matthew Mortimer, grandson of Meg & Hugh Mortimer, son of Anthony Mortimer and Jill Chance. You'd have the battles between half brother/half sister, both grand-children of Meg. I think that would be interesting. it's a shame Matthew wasn't thought of in 2001.

Andy: Can you give us an idea of who will be appearing on the documentary?

Maria: A lot of classic era actors have been positive about the production, most very keen to take part. Obviously we’re tried to find a range of people from all the eras, we’re still working on some from the early days of the 1960s including one actress who now lives in France but wants to travel to London to record, just for us. That’s loyalty to the original series.

We’ve also lined up a few surprise interviews, which we can’t say anything too much on but I think people will be surprised to see some of the faces turn up. We have two top bosses from ATV for example who’ve never spoken before about the show before in any great detail but had the power to axe it in the 1970s and never did.

We were pleased when Sue Nicholls said yes as people still ask her about playing Marilyn in the show and also very happy to get Carolyn Jones on board as her role of Sharon is one of the most memorable and she of course appeared in the Noele Gordon era and after she’d gone so covers all those changes.

Andy: Sounds absolutely wonderful! Can't wait to see it!

For more information about the "Return To Crossroads" documentary DVD, please e-mail:

30 July 2011

1989: The Motorola MicroTAC - A Far More Mobile Mobile... And A Bit About GSM...

Advances in technology brought about the revolutionary Motorola MicroTAC phone of 1989 - the first step towards smaller mobile phones.

It was also massively influential, being the world's very first flip phone. The aerial, by the way, was simply ornament!

It really was incredible as, at that time, mobiles were like grandiose walkie-talkies. And you had to be a yuppie (or Del Boy Trotter) to afford one.

The decade which introduced the very first hand-held mobile, the DynaTAC 8000x in 1983, very much a brick, roared towards its end with this little beauty.

Of course it was analogue, but
the current system was on its way, and had been since 1982 when Groupe Sp├ęcial Mobil (GSM) was formed to design a pan-European mobile technology.

Behind the scenes planning often long pre-dates technology hitting the streets, and in that light it's amusing to relect that there were no hand-held mobile phones in 1982, and that the Mobira Senator, Nokia's very first mobile phone - a car phone released in 1982, weighed around twenty one pounds!

From 1982-1984, agreement on strategic targets for GSM was reached.

From 1985-1987, agreement on principles for services, network architecture, radio and speech coding in GSM was reached.

In 1986, trials of different digital radio transmission schemes and different speech codecs were carried out in several countries and comparative evaluations carried out by GSM.

1987 was the birth year of the current system, with GSM agreeing its basic parameters. This was finalised in May 1987 in Bonn. Then, in September 1987, a proposal was put forward to create an operator agreement in the form of a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’. This was drawn up and signed in Copenhagen in September by fifteen members from thirteen countries that committed to deploying GSM.

The BBC reported in 2007:

The technology behind the mobile phone is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

On 7 September 1987, 15 phone firms signed an agreement to build mobile networks based on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) Communications.

According to the GSM Association there are more than 2.5 billion accounts that use this mobile phone technology.

Adoption of the technology shows no signs of slowing down with many developing nations becoming keen users of mobile handsets.

Robert Conway, head of the GSM Association, said the memorandum of understanding signed in 1987 is widely seen as the moment when the global mobile industry got under way.

Although work on the GSM technical specifications began earlier (1982), the agreement signed in 1987 committed those operators to building networks based upon it.

"There's no doubt that at the time of the agreement in 1987 no one had an idea of the explosive capabilities in terms of growth that would happen after the GSM standard was agreed," he said.

As Paul Simon said back in the '80s, "These are the days of miracle and wonder..."

19 July 2011

Albion Market: The History Of Carol Broadbent...

Barbara Wilshere as Carol Broadbent, Albion Market cast card, 1985.

Ronni has written:

Very interested in your wonderful site, and enjoying all the 1980's soap stuff. I vaguely recall Albion Market and the character of Carol Broadbent as she made some sort of impact on me (judging from your article on the show, it was probably her hair-do!). Can you tell me about the character?

Happy to hear from you, Ronni. Glad you like the blog.

Carol Broadbent was played by Barbara Wilshere and was the YTS girl at Peggy's cafe on Albion Market when the show began. A lively girl with an '80s fashion sense, Carol confessed to always being in trouble at school as she was bored, but she seemed happy working at the cafe. Still living at home with her parents, Carol enjoyed experimenting with her hair and spent long periods with her head bent over pop magazines.

She was outgoing, rather immature, not academically gifted but inquisitive, and good hearted.

At the start of the series, Carol's YTS placement with Peggy at the Albion Market cafe was almost over, and Peggy was none too sure that it made good business sense to start paying the girl wages. Although enthusiastic and a definite plus when it came to the atmosphere in the cafe, being a lively conversationalist and good with customers, Carol had a sad habit of breaking things.

Carol was worried and tearful for a time, fearing a return to unemployment, but then Peggy developed a summer cold, Carol proved herself a worthy stand-in, and with a little help from Phil Smith, the cook at the cafe, was taken on as permanent staff.

Carol was good friends with Lisa O'Shea, who worked on her mother's household goods stall on the market, and disdainful of "spotty Keith" - Keith Naylor, the market superintendent's assistant.

She proved her worth when she captured Keith's escaped pet boa constrictor, which had made its way onto the market, and finally turned up in the cafe! She tried to prove her worth further by beginning a "butty run", taking sandwiches, drinks and cakes around to the market traders to sell, but Peggy was never convinced that it was a worthwhile venture.

Carol almost lost her job when she accepted an invitation to a pop concert in Brighton with some friends. Carol thought they meant New Brighton, but Brighton, Sussex, was the venue. When Carol was AWOL from work the next day, Peggy was sorely tempted to sack her, but did eventually see the funny side.

Having accepted an invitation to play squash with Jaz Sharma, a Ugandan Asian who ran the market's fashion clothes stall with his brother, Raju, Carol became attracted to him. Jaz liked to play the field and was never serious about Carol, but Carol read far more into things.

When the prospect of an arranged marriage for Jaz raised its head, Carol was hurt. She handled things badly by becoming angry with Jaz, and encouraging Keith Naylor to hit him during an argument at the cafe. When Jaz ended up hitting Keith instead, Carol was incensed, demanding that Keith got up from the floor and hit back. This was the first evidence that there was a side to this young woman which could mean trouble.

Life settled down again, and Carol studied meditation with help from stall-holder Lam Quoc Hoa, and looked on a little enviously at her friend Lisa's steamy but stormy relationship with cake and biscuit seller Tony Fraser.

When Jaz Sharma was "had up" on the charge of murdering racist Oliver Shawcross, who ran the Albion Market toy stall, Carol rushed to his aid, proving to be an excellent friend and enduring adverse comment from Oliver's fellow racists. As Jaz awaited trial, Carol proved to be one of his staunchest allies.

Unfortunately, Carol had become rather bored with her job, and her schooldays tendency to land herself in trouble re-emerged. When cafe cook Phil Smith went to live "down South" on a temporary basis to further his studies (Phil was a keen sculptor), Carol became aware that something might be happening between Colette Johnson, Phil's partner and the mother of his child, who worked as a barmaid at the market's local pub, The Waterman's Arms, and Tony Fraser - Lisa's handsome, Scots boyfriend. Carol was a friend of Phil's, a friend of Lisa's, and saw every reason to stand in judgement over Colette and Tony.

Colette had only recently moved to The Waterman's, leaving behind her friends in her old district and, feeling vulnerable, she had succumbed to the advances of Tony Fraser after Phil's departure, and regretted it ever since. But Carol could not see the finer points of the situation. Despite Carol's confident assertion that girls grow up quicker than boys, those of us "in the know" are aware that it's down to the individual. Carol gave Colette a hard time, despite Peggy's pleas for her to back off, and bad feeling took a while to dissipate.

Carol and Peggy Sagar (Paula Jacobs) look on as new cook Paul O'Donnell (Paul Beringer) attempts to produce something edible at the cafe.

When Jaz was found Not Guilty of killing Oliver Shawcross, Carol thought this was the green light for them to be together. But, although grateful for her support and friendship, a seriously shaken Jaz was not thinking along the same lines at all. Carol was angry and bitter.

More bored than ever with the cafe, and let down (as she saw it) by Jaz, Carol set her sights on becoming a hairdresser at Viv Harker's smart new salon which was just about to open on the market. She faked illness to avoid telling Peggy that she was going for interview, and was convinced, as Keith Naylor was a friend of Viv's, that she would get the job as trainee. She didn't.

Startled and angry, Carol was not prepared for Peggy to discover the fact that she had attended the interview with Viv, and told her a cock and bull story about Viv promising her a job and then letting her down.

Peggy confronted Viv, discovered that Carol was telling porkies, and told the girl she would have to go. Carol was devastated, and hoped to change Peggy's mind, working hard at the cafe and exhibiting some of the old qualities of warmth and enthusiasm which had originally commended her to her employer.

Peggy had a sometimes fearsome exterior, but was not really a hard woman. And with her own daughter living abroad, she had grown fond of Carol. But Carol had gone too far. The atmospheres she'd caused in the cafe in recent months - arguing with regulars, even arguing with Peggy, and the lies she had told over "fainting" to cover her interview with Viv, not to mention the follow-up lies regarding Viv virtually promising to employ her, meant Peggy could do only one thing - which she did with a heavy heart.

Carol was given her cards.

Peggy told her that she'd gone along with her, but Carol hadn't reciprocated. If the loss of her job served as a lesson...

Carol ran from the cafe in floods of tears, and was not seen there again.

She was missed - earlier in the series she'd brought humour and colour to the show with her daffy ways and outlandish hairstyles.

However, viewers couldn't help but agree with Peggy's decision.

Carol had become a serious pain in the neck!

The role was played by actress Barbara Wilshere, herself a few years older than Carol, with great skill. It was easy to believe in the character.

And Carol, at least for the majority of her reign, remains a fondly remembered member of the Albion Market gang - a soap opera which, I feel, was not given enough time to adjust and thrive by ITV.

I'm pretty sure it would have done, given that time - and, of course, the right scheduling.

Read our main Albion Market feature here.

30 June 2011

Soap Aid 1986: EastEnders And Emmerdale Farm Stars In A Lather For Charity...

From the Sun, July 28, 1986:

Do you remember all the charity events of the 1980s? You couldn't walk out the door without colliding with a sponsored walk, a sponsored silence, a sponsored bean scoff, a telethon, a walkathon, a talkathon, a bonkathon (you should be so lucky), etc, etc.

This particular event, part of "Soap Aid", appears to have been a bit of a wash-out, but it's good to see Beckindale's Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill), Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards) and Dolly Skilbeck (Jean Rogers) hobnobbing with Walford's Angie Watts (Anita Dobson) and Michelle Fowler (Susan Tully).

EastEnders and Emmerdale Farm - both shows had titles that started with an "E" and both were soap operas, but, in 1986, they had little else in common. The Square squabbles seemed to be a million miles from the Dales tales!

29 June 2011

Acid House

One of the big "things" in 1988 and 1989 - the smiley face! Created in the 1960s and long associated by us plebs with kids' badges and jolly tea mugs, the face was suddenly the symbol of a rather frantic and frankly rather naughty progression from the House Music scene called Acid House. I was confused. House music had been created in Chicago - 1983 was 'Year Zero' for House - and the sound had not begun to go wide until midway through the decade.

And now we had ACID House. Say what?!

The smiley face was soon cropping up on T-shirts everywhere, accompanied by the slogan "Right On One Matey!" The elders got themselves into a right old stew about it all, whilst many youngsters, bored with being garishly posh, gothy, Indie or synthy, eagerly embraced the chance to get sweaty under strobe lights, and move about to weird electronic noises and samples.

And if you had to break into somebody else's warehouse or barn to do it, all the better!

Some newspapers seemed alarmed. A new drug culture, and the kids acting up again. Oh dear! Where had Acid House sprung from?

The Observer observed in 1988:

Drugs Fear as the 'acid house' cult revives a Sixties spectre

"Acid house" started in four London clubs... In the past month it has "taken off", spreading to other clubs around the country.

1988 and 1989 were wild. Absolutely evil according to some! The elders were definitely rattled!

From the Sun, August 28, 1989:

More than 25,000 youngsters - some aged only ELEVEN - went wild at a huge acid house party yesterday as the police watched helplessly.

Dozens of evil pushers raked in a fortune openly selling the mind-bending drug Ecstacy at £10 a time - with a bottle of mineral water to wash it down.

A police superintendent and WPC moved through throngs of spaced-out teenagers as dealers chanted "E, hash, weed" to the beat of the music.

School-age children rolled their own reefers.

But the officers were only there to make sure there was no trouble while notices about the noise were served on the organisers.

The 15-hour bash started on Saturday night when hordes of acid house fans converged on the village of Effingham, Surrey.

Cars, coaches and vans poured into Newmarsh Farm for the £30-a-head "Energy Summer Festival".

Youngsters from as far way as Leeds, Swindon and Ipswich screamed "Mental, mental" as lasers lit the sky.

Headlines from the Sun CONDEMMING the drug craze flashed on a huge video screen.

Party organisers made an estimated £500,000 from the bash - which cost about £50,000 to stage.
Police, who only heard of the party hours before, at first stopped youngsters entering the site.
But as thousands joined the crush, senior officers decided it was safer to let them in.

About 70 police were on duty, but there were only seven arrests - two for alleged drug offences.
Police will quiz the organisers and those responsible for the land.

A spokesman said:

* An acid house bash, tagged The Heat, was smashed at the weekend because it was a FIRE RISK.

* Around 10,000 revellers were expected to head for a disused factory at West Bromwich, West Midlands.

* But the local council won an injunction to ban the party after fire experts declared the building unsafe.

* Only 30 youngsters, mainly from London, arrived at the factory, but were promptly turned away by the police.

"There could be criminal charges."

Michael Grylls, MP for North West Surrey, said: "It is a massive indictment of parents that they allow their children to attend this sort of thing."

Fellow Tory Terry Dicks said: "These parents should be fined, if not sent to prison."
Monks at a silent order at West Kingsdown, Kent, were disturbed by 3,000 at a nearby acid house party.

Master of a little-known DJ skill called Transformer Scratching (making a record sound like a robot's voice), James Dorrell was hailed as a pioneer of "English hip-hop". Dorrell, who was also in M/A/R/R/S (Pump Up The Volume), was interviewed in 1988 and said of Acid House:

"It's really crazy, psychedelic music. There's no real tune, just lots of studio technology. You can also scratch other bits of records over the top of the beat and add to the effect. The other day I found an amazing old record by Brian Clough of all people! I used this bit where he says, "He's got a good left foot that lad!" over a serious Chicago House groove. It sounded brilliant!"
Mind you, imagination and originality were needed. Dorrell again:

"If I hear another James Brown yelp or This is a journey into sound again I'll scream!"

Despite the '60s psychedelic references (particularly the return of the lava lamp, which became HUGE in the 1990s, reaching its highest ever sales), the new drug culture (just what was this ecstacy?!) and so on, followers of Acid House were not hippies. From what I saw, they were harder, more streetwise, more working class - "On One Matey!" rather than "Peace Man!" The music too was very different. 20th Century Words by John Ayto, describes it thus:

Acid House n (1988) a type of house music with a very fast beat, a spare, mesmeric, synthesised sound, and usually a distinctive gurgling bass noise. Also applied to the youth cult associated with this kind of music, characterised by a vogue for warehouse parties, a revival of psychedelia, and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs. "Acid" may well be the slang word for LSD, although many cultists claim that it comes from the record "Acid Trax" by Phuture (in the slang of Chicago, where this music originated in 1986, "acid burning" means "stealing", and the music relies heavily on "sampling" a polite word for stealing musical extracts).

Did you join in or want to put an end to the "menace"? From the "Sun", November 18, 1988.