26 July 2018

Birthday Club BC of Anglia Television - 1980 to 2002 - 22 Glorious Years... And A Reunion With Auntie Helen McDermott...

A signed... er.. pawed photo of BC in his late 1980s glory days.

Still staggering - even in black and white - a BC signed pic from 1982.

Happy, happy days of the 1980s! Uncle Michael Speake with BC and Auntie Helen McDermott in the Anglia TV studios in Norwich. BC is undergoing a bit of a spruce-up c.1982/1983 as he had got a bit grubby. Image was very important in those days. Auntie Helen's mascara suffers as a result. 

Uncle Michael, of course, became BC's official biographer in 1986 with the publication of 'BC and the Magic Book'. For some reason the book did not make the top of the year's best seller list, and some of us suspected jealousy and foul play within the ranks of those compiling the list. 

1985, and BC brings a touch of that certain sartorial something to the Birthday Club studio. Not for nothing are the 1980s remembered as the 'Style Decade'.

Boxing Day, 1988, and BC, seen here with a very bright and breezy Uncle Patrick Anthony, is seriously in need of an Alka-Seltzer.

How sad it was that June day in 2002 when it was announced that BC of Anglia Television's Birthday Club was to be retired in July, after twenty-two glorious years with the company. Since his arrival in 1980, he had become a legend in his own tea time. But a discreet online announcement on 22 June 2002 brought an end to those halcyon days:

Anglia spokesman Tom Walshe told the Eastern Daily Press newspaper: 'Anglia has decided that BC will be retired from next month owing to daytime schedule changes. The changes are in line with recently announced plans to give more prominence to regional programmes at peak times, and the time currently devoted to BC's Birthday Club will be allocated to extra regional news.

'BC has had a marvellous run on Anglia for 22 years, and we appreciate that many viewers will be sorry to see him go. But nothing is forever in television.'

Mr Walshe went on: 'Children's ITV has undergone many changes over the past two decades, and it has become increasingly difficult to accommodate BC within the schedule. Requests for birthday greetings have also fallen off markedly in recent times.'

'We can assure all his fans that BC will be given an honourable retirement and we know his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of parents and children all over the East of England.'

Stunned silence reigned across the East of England. Then, of course, came the hot tears, the denial, the relief grief.

A few years later, dear Auntie Helen, Helen McDermott, one of the station's presenters who had had the honour of working with BC right from the start, indeed had helped to draw him to the station in 1980, promising him perks like a limitless supply of lollipops and plenty of presenters to harass assist, sought him out and brought him briefly back to our screens. BC, it turned out, was still living in Norwich. He was living in a secret location because he didn't want to be mobbed. This was very wise. Me and my cousin Brian had been desperate to mob this celebrity of celebrities since 1985, when he was at the peak of his fame. And our desire had in no way lessened over the years.

Auntie Helen takes a puppet replica of BC out to meet a young fan in the 1980s. The real BC, of course, was usually studio-bound because of the ever-present threat of being mobbed - although he did have his own vehicle to attend some public events - BC4U.

BC had put on a bit of weight and Auntie Helen commented on his changed appearance - had he had a facelift, perhaps? But he still had the old magic. 

The reunion ended slightly acrimoniously as Auntie Helen discovered the somewhat fickle nature of our hero. Seems he was not oblivious to the charms of younger TV presenters. But that's what stardom does to people. Or leopards. Or bears. Or whatever he is.

My BC. I made this and based him on the BC who was so familiar to us in the 1980s, using a c.1983 screen capture for the model. From around the late 1980s, BC underwent several cosmetic changes - but denies surgery. If you would like to know how I made him then you are almost as sad as I am. My reasons were simple. I wanted my own BC that I could mob at home.

Anyway, enjoy our original tribute to this star of stars here.

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