There seems to be a bit of a downer on big brash Light Entertainment stylings these days. It's a shame, but it's probably down to a number of insurmountable factors; swanky new computerised show-off technology doing away with ropey animation and schmaltzy sub-Hazlehurst brass, the fact that all mainstream presenters these days seem to have gone to some sort of 'Presenting School' where they learn everything about cue lines and camera angles and how to hit your 'mark' but have every last shred of personality drilled out of them (that's if they ever had a personality in the first place, which in most cases is debatable), the need for talent shows with a huge amount of spin-off merchandise riding on them to make themselves appear bombastic and Earth-stopping rather than a bit of frivolous fun, and above all those legions of killjoy miseryguts that appear to think that anything that isn't worthy or educative or deeply politicised is somehow inherently A Bad Thing, as though the only way to combat the unstoppable globalist expansion of Simon Cowell (a process that is probably as literal as it is metaphorical) is by being a miserable bastard who, if they had their own way, would replace all Saturday night television with a repeat of Threads introduced by Thom Yorke and Tortoise from Pipkins. See, this is what happens when everyone decides buying a twenty year old single with swearing in it - rather than, say, something inoffensive but brand new - is an effective form of protest against, erm, what the majority of other people like whether you like it or not. Still, I'm sure Zack De La Rocha was heartened to know he'd made his point about institutionalised police racism in Hispanic neighbourhoods so effectively.
Anyway, the fact of the matter is that there wasn't actually anything wrong with big brash Light Entertainment stylings in the first place, and time was when they were just part of the televisual furniture. Everyone accepted them and nobody - apart from a few broadsheet columnists ironically angling for their own slot on Did You See? - really much minded them. You had your Tumbledown, your Edge Of Darkness and your The All-New Alternative Comedy Barstard Show (Tune In, Maggie!) exactly where they should have been, while earlier in the evening you had Paul Daniels gamely trying to pass off vacant-looking contestants standing in silence whilst a descending timer bleeped obliviously away as something approaching coherency, all of it smothered in big glittery sets, tacky gold lettering and silly trumpet flourish theme tunes - and we've not even started on the equally gaudy and jaunty trailers for the evening's viewing showcasing those exact same more serious offerings only with inappropriate music and a chummy voiceover - and nobody exactly started calling for the dismantling of state apparatus. Even world-class moaner Michael Parkinson seemingly wouldn't be without his comfy sofas and ridiculous theme tunes.
Whether the end result involved Peter Egan making his weekly appearance on Wogan, Colin Baker attempting to plug Doctor Who via a bit of comic chicanery with Roland Rat, or that ridiculous continuity slide for The Bill featuring Bob Cryer in front of rolling clouds, the world was a slightly jollier place when television was treated as a big showbiz party that you had to wade through in order to get to your worthier stuff; nowadays that's basically all been condensed into John Barrowman, and it's not as if there's some thing with James Burke frowning at a suspension bridge waiting on the other side of him. Anyway, before this starts to look uncomfortably like a major league sulk about the 'golden age' of television - which it isn't, and anyway, my own personal belief that the 'golden age' was the late eighties and involved anything but 'quality' programming would cause most archive TV bores to head for a desert island on a raft made of box sets - let's have a bit of a celebration of the days when you'd invariably switch on the set to be confronted with a ludicrous low-concept game show with opening titles made for about three pence (which, in some cases, still cost slightly more than some of the prizes) and accompanied by what sounded like outtakes from High Havoc by Corduroy. Yes, it's The Five Greatest Game Show Intros Of All Time...!
Winner Takes All
As the dullard who's uploaded the only version of the 'proper' Telly Addicts opening titles currently on YouTube has disabled embedding, and there's no sign of the demented Ask The Family one with the zoinging sitars and 'alternative therapy' playing card things (well, apart from at the start of the Not The Nine O'Clock News parody), it's straight on to this Tarbuck-fronted Tote-riffing Friday evening mainstay, featuring a procession of flying abrupt one-word questions running the full gamut of none-more-seventies fonts, before giving way to what appears to be Tarby alternately undergoing the rigours of a 'trip' in a mid-sixties movie and auditioning for the opening titles of Doctor Who via the medium of the weird-out bits from Jamie And The Magic Torch. Mind you, that shuffling Samba-tinged backing-from-an-unfinished-Middle-Of-The-Road-single politeness isn't a patch on the later electroed-up session singers chirruping 'Winner! Takes! All'.
Odd One Out
Starts with some desperately unconvincing 'computer' effects and 'radiation' klaxon-esque blippering which is about the most un-Hazlehurst thing unimaginable, but what we're really wanting is the overliteral nonsense that follows, in which - courtesy of some publicity stills hacked out with a blunt pair of scissors - we're shown Paul Daniels looking utterly befuddled, then halfway there, then finally spotting the odd one out, all of it cut to the rhythm of one of Ronnie H's classic 'you can sing the title of the show to it' gambits, complete with trademark mental overstuffed cadence at the end.
Play Your Cards Right
A strobing card-derived high-speed countdown that probably wouldn't be allowed under Health & Safety regulations now, followed by what appear to be spinning plates of those old-skool varieties of Jacob's Club where nobody can remember what the flavour was, all of it accompanied by music so banal, repetitive and minimal that it almost comes right the way back out the other side again into Krautrockland. And surely oversized playing cards are more at home in the opening titles of a supernatural anthology series? Note also how Brucie is too preoccupied with 'skirt' to strike his trademark pose.
Chunky bullion-evoking gold lettering, a load of stray casino-themed close-up film trims from a long-forgotten attempt at jumping on the James Bond bandwagon, and Radio 2 circa 1972's idea of a funked-out dancefloor smash. Sadly cuts off before we get to see Fred Dinenage being spectacularly rude to the contestants.
Bob's Full House
Flying numbers, spinning cylindrical electronic bingo card on a spangly blue backdrop, five identical passport photos of Yer Monkhouse, and a belting edge-of-the-seat theme tune adhering strictly to that oh-so-eighties rule of the strings taking over the melody from the brass – what more fitting a way could there be to introduce the greatest game show ever? Well, apart from Telly Addicts, that is.
Not On Your Telly, a book collecting some of my articles on the archive TV we never get to see, is available in paperback here or as an eBook here.