Some memories of favourite things on the telly in the 1980s

Planning for an 80s-themed party this weekend has made me so nostalgic…

Comedy shows on at 9pm on a Thursday, BBC 2

Whether by design or accident, the BBC performed an act of scheduling genius by regularly putting out excellent comedy shows in this slot for years. We didn’t know how lucky we were.

From Not The Nine O Clock News, to Blackadder and re-runs of Monty Python, there was no need to check the Radio Times, just switch on the telly at that time (having had time to finish your homework and not having any clashes with other social arrangements) and soak up some brilliant comedy shows.

Watch “When Edmund Met Bob

The launch of Channel 4

Yes, these were the Dark Ages – no mobile phones, people played “online games” on Teletext and there were only three channels on the telly.

To believe the newspaper editorials around the launch of the new 4th channel, you would think we were unleashing some kind of broadcasting equivalent of Sodom & Gomorrah; an unfettered stream of filth and radicalism. Then everyone sat down and watched Countdown.

A lot of Channel 4 in the early days was virtually unwatchable as new, inexperienced TV producers took over the airwaves backed by self-belief and miniscule broadcast budgets.

There were lots of boringly earnest discussion shows, terribly lame comic experiments and generally the air of Student Freshers Week.

Then the channel seemed to get into its stride with Brookside and The Tube setting a new agenda for soaps and pop shows respectively.

Brookside’s creator Phil Redmond’s mind might have drifted over the years as the soap look on the air of Hollyoaks over time, but in its first few years it was one of the best things around.

The original cast of Brookside

Just Say No

Way, way, way before High School Musical, Grange Hill (also created by Phil Redmond) gave us teenagers in the 1980s a glimpse of the perfect school-life. OK, obviously life at this north London comp wasn’t perfect, there were virtually unbeatable bullies to contend with, creepily sadistic teachers with Hitler moustaches, kids dying every now and then and no-one got brilliant exam results.

That didn’t matter, this was the “cool school” that everyone wanted to be at.

One of the most dramatic events in the mid 80s was Zammo’s slide into heroin addiction, which was pretty graphically portrayed for a kid’s show. ┬áThis led a anti-drugs campaign which turned into a supernova of 80s amazingness when the cast recorded a hit record and appeared on Top Of The Pops. Yes, these kids were living the dream – going to Grange Hill comp and getting on Top Of The Pops.

And of course there’s more…some randomness

  • Bruce Willis being a heart-throb in Moonlighting
  • Caron Keating’s amazing dress sense on Blue Peter
  • Saturday Superstore – essential viewing
  • A-Ha re-releasing Take On Me with one of the best videos ever made and finally getting a hit
  • Watching the news for live coverage of all the pop stars turning up to record the Band Aid single
  • Michelle getting pregnant by Den Watts

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