Big John Little John

 

Big John Little John (NBC, 1976)
Big John Little John, a 1976 American body-swap sitcom about a middle-aged man who stumbled across the Fountain Of Youth and, after taking an idle swig of magic water because he was thirsty, gained the unfortunate ability to turn into a twelve year old boy at random moments, was one of those shows that burned itself into the memories of UK viewers in a way that it they never seemed to quite do in their homeland. Shot on that weird garish yet washed out 16mm film stock that made it feel as though bracing outdoorsy weather had somehow got inside your television set, and offering loud visuals, loud music, loud cuts and loud sassy youngsters answering back to those pesky adults - not to mention ridiculously catchy theme songs that explained the plot of the shows in way too much detail - these weren't so much a glimpse of impossible glamour like adult-favoured imports in the Dallas mode offered as they were glimpses of impossible full stop. They are shows remembered with extreme clarity and yet very little detail, and it's hardly surprising that Richard Herring has made his knowledge of the Big John Little John theme lyrics a recurring staple motif in his comedy, nor indeed that the majority of American websites you'll find covering Big John Little John note with no little bafflement that it seems to have been more popular in the UK than it ever was in the USA.

Big John Little John was picked by Round The Archives hosts Lisa Parker and Andrew Trowbridge when they appeared on Looks Unfamiliar, where we discussed our hazy yet vivid memories of this seemingly outrageously funny show and plenty more besides, including Matchbox Cascade and the tie-in game for Jaws. You can find Lisa and Andrew's appearance on Looks Unfamiliar here.