Archive for the 'TV' Category

Teletubbies

Probably the stupidest kids TV show in history. I mean seriously, a bunch of weird characters with antennas and television screens in their bellies, running around a fake landscape with a pet hoover. And people say cannabis should be legalised? Teletubbies began in 1997 and when I first saw it I immediately hated it. After a few months it took off, making Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po huge stars across the nation. How was it educational to kids? They just used to roll around on the floor, being fascinated with windmills and speakers that appeared from the ground and have the worse grasp of speech since Steven Hawking. They used to gorge on Tubby Custard and Tubby Toast, scoffing it down as fast as James Cordon at a free buffet. But I guess this is what toddlers are like, and that is probably why the Teletubbies scare me now just like young kids. Anytime anyone under the age of six is around me, I freeze like Gordon Brown on a live television debate and just don’t know what to do with them. If a burglar appeared in my house dressed as Po I’d end up handing over my valuables. I wasn’t the only one who found the Teletubbies unappealing. Anti-gay groups slammed Tinky Winky as he was purple and carried around a handbag with him at most times. The show’s creators claimed he wasn’t gay but come on, he’s as queer as Alan Carr dancing to the YMCA at Mardi Gras holding a sparkler. I’m sure Alan would have got on well with Noo-Noo, the sucking sensation. If only Dyson could have come up with a vacuum that goes round cleaning stuff itself, and considering the mess that the frightful foursome made he had his work cut out. Then there was the baby who appeared as the Sun, who I’m sure these days must be being treated for a severe case of melanoma. They released a single in December 1997 which reached number one for two weeks and went double platinum. Who would buy such a thing you may ask? Well, I’ll confess that I did, but only to spite my sister who desperately wanted Boyzone to hit top spot in the same week, honest! The show ended production in 2001 but continues to be repeated to this day, and so more and more kids will end up saying “Eh oh!”, spitting their food everywhere and having to say goodbye to people three times, and it is all down to those creepy characters. It just goes to show that nothing good can ever come from the countryside…

Advertisements

South Park

It seems like a good time to write an article about a show that will celebrate its 200th episode this week, but whilst South Park continues to mock celebrities and warp our fragile little minds with its crude humour, it took off towards the end of the 90s.

The show revolves around a core group of four friends, Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan in their small redneck town called South Park in Colorado. There are many other characters who also feature prominently and attracted me to the show in its infancy.

South Park began being shown in the UK on Sky One in 1998 and would be on well past my bedtime, however when it began a year later on Channel 4 me and my friends could enjoy it in the comfort from our rooms, and without our parents knowing.

The show was riddled with swearing, sexual references and other profanity, indeed Mr Hankey was a talking poo and Kenny was brutally killed in most of the early episodes. But the 10 year old me loved it despite most of the references going straight over my innocent head.

When we went on holiday a few months later me and my sister put it on the telly before we went out one night, and my folks were stunned when Stan was asked to put a stick in his girlfriend’s “pee-hole”. But noticing our naivety they just burst out laughing and enjoyed the show themselves.

And then came the t-shirts, posters, CDs and all the other merchandise as South Park became huge for a generation of kids who really didn’t know what it was about. When we saw the movie we were all totally confused about references to “finding the clitoris”, but thankfully for my former girlfriends I found out eventually.

And so the episodes racked up and we were introduced to cripple fights, authori-tah and “mmm-kay” over the years. Many of you will have your favourite moments but for me the episode with Jimmy desperately trying to get over his problem to perform on stage is pure genius, click here to see it.

Over recent years the show has sometimes come across as quite preachy and too satirical, and I still think the older episodes are the best where every character was made from bits of paper and filmed. However it is still one of the funniest shows on television and is sure to have a few more years in it yet.

At the end of many shows, Stan says to Kyle “you know what, I’ve learnt something today” and South Park taught me and many of my fellow 10 year old pals how to swear properly, how to take the piss out of celebrities and the female genitalia. And for that I am entirely thankful.

Gladiators

I couldn’t face the challenge of the champions, didn’t have the courage of a hero or the will and the skill, but I did feel the power of the Gladiators every Saturday night. Beefed up men and women would hit each other with spongy sticks, climb up rock walls and chase each other around an arena in lycra, and I loved it.

The show began in 1992 and was presented by the unlikely couple of Ulrika Jonsson and John Fashanu, a strange choice of presenter as he was still a footballer at the time, and a mediocre one at that. Today’s equivalent would be Titus Bramble giving it a go, and with his terrible concentration levels that could only be a recipe for disaster.

But somehow Fash the Bash got through it, and the show would become a huge success, mainly thanks to the antics of some of the nastier Gladiators, including the legendary Wolf. His snarling, mean attitude often led to many a confrontation with the contenders, and would have to be tamed by referee John Anderson and his whistle.

The games themselves were amazing, but the warnings about not trying it at home were needless. After all, who has as a Scalextric set or loads of rings hanging from their ceiling, or a couple of giant balls to roll around in? We did used to copy a couple of games which usually involved throwing tennis balls at people, but only ended in pain.

It was also famous for the scandal surrounding it. Tales of cocaine, steroids, guns and horrific injuries flooded the national tabloids, and there was even a fling between Hunter and Ulrika. I’d love to see her other old flame Sven Goran Eriksson take on Hunter in the arena, it would be funny to see him get ripped apart for a change rather than his defences.

The show always ended with the Eliminator, which pitted the two contestants against each other in a race, and was always very exciting. After climbing up cargo nets, hurtling along a handbike and zooming down a zipline you would have to face the toughest challenge, the Travelator, which meant that even the biggest of advantages could be wiped out.

After running for eight years and featuring many spin-offs, the show ended in 2000. It was recently brought back on Sky One but struggled to live up to original’s high standards, and rather than being like a Wolf, the big man just looked like one of those scabby stray dogs you see in foreign countries.

It may be that we never see the likes of Gladiators again in this health and safety obsessed nanny state, meaning our chances of wielding a pugil stick in anger at a jacked-up beefcake are sadly over before they even had a chance to begin.

The Big Breakfast

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and during the 90s I couldn’t go without my early morning dose of The Big Breakfast before heading off to school properly nourished.

I used to regularly wake up at 7am as the show started and would be have to be dragged away from it by my mum so I made it to school on time. The Big Breakfast was golden telly and featured many of the best presenters during the decade, and some still going strong at the present.

It began in 1992 with Chris Evans and Gabby Roslin as its hosts and was a wacky alternative to the usual dross on at that hour. It had news, quizzes, interviews and phone-in games,as well as Keith Chegwin going around the country doing doorstep challenges which was my favourite item.

One day I woke up and I straight away realised that he was standing in my estate, mere metres from my house! Me and my sisters ran down the road and got on screen and I could go to school bragging to my mates I’d been on national television that morning.

Then there were also Zig and Zag which I never really understood what they were doing, but as I was only about six years old I was just transfixed by some brightly-coloured thing talking strangely – and that was just Chris Evans.

But for me the golden period was when Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen were the hosts. This was before he became a sanctimonious prick and she thought she could sing, and they had some great on-air chemistry before she was replaced by Kelly Brook, which I’m sure made it a lot easier for guys to get up in the morning… 

The budding journalist inside me loved the Pun Down feature, and I used to enjoy the Wonga game which was like giant jenga. They also used to mess around with their guests and take the micky a bit which was refreshing rather than seeing Jonathan Ross and co brown-nosing celebrities.

Another good idea was to extend the show during school holidays until midday and put on children’s shows after 9am. This helped launch the likes of Dermot O’Leary and Ben Shepherd’s TV careers and would ensure I’d be staying in bed until the afternoon during the summer months, a trait I continue to exercise to this day.

When Vaughan and Van Outen left people began to switch off as they brought in idiots like Mike McClean and Richard Bacon. The show was beaten in the ratings by kids shows on Channel Five and was pulled in 2002 before being replaced by RI:SE which was as big a flop as Michael Douglas without Viagra.

Although I am rarely awake before 10am these days, from what I’ve seen early morning TV is not worth waking up for. After 10 years of feasting on a Big Breakfast we are now being starved of morning entertainment and I for one am hungry for a slice of fun appearing on my screen before I face the day ahead once again.

SM:TV Live

Every Saturday morning, my alarm clock would go off at 9.25. Bleary eyed, I’d reach out, grab my remote control and press 3. I would hear those opening titles and only then could my weekend officially begin.

SM:TV Live was the perfect start to my two-day freedom from school each week. After being a Live and Kicking fan for the majority of the 90s, I was straight away hooked to the new show when it launched in 1998 as its presenters were the best thing to happen to TV since John Logie Baird.

Ant and Dec had started out in Byker Grove and moved into music before starting their presenting days. After a couple of poor kids shows on CBBC they landed their roles on SM:TV along with the gorgeous Cat Deeley and set about making it as entertaining as possible.

The only downside was the programmes they showed during it. Sabrina the Teenage Witch was watchable, but stuff like Pokemon and Cow and Chicken was pretty lame. The real highlights were the regular features involving the threesome such as the Postbag (I can still do the dance), Eat My Goal and of course, the Poke-rap:

There was also “Chums” which was their parody of “Friends” and used to feature celebrity guests entering Ant, Dec and Cat’s apartment. Every episode would see Dec try and kiss Cat with the immortal line “me and Cat, alone in the flat… I think I’m going to kiss her!” before Ant would pop up and ruin Dec’s moment. This was often packed full of inuendos that went over kids’ heads and gave adults something to chuckle about.

Some of the funniest moments would come during the competitions. If Ant would beat his young opponent in Challenge Ant, he would get up and celebrate in their face as Dec snatched all the prizes away from the devastated contestant, and the amount of abuse Dec gave some callers in Wonkey Donkey who couldn’t quite grasp the concept of rhyming was hilarious.

Throw in CD:UK for an hour afterwards featuring live performances from top bands and it’s no wonder 2.5 million people young and old tuned in each week. After three years the Geordie duo left to begin their primetime presenting duties and ITV tried to keep the show going with new presenters, such as that annoying tosser from Big Brother, and it slowly died on its arse.

After discovering the enjoyment of a Friday night out on the town it’s unlikely I’ll see 9.25am again, however if they started showing repeats of SM:TV instead of whatever drivel they have on now, I’d consider ditching my nights out and dusting off the old alarm clock once again.

Saved By The Bell

The 90s was full of awful American kid’s TV shows, and my sisters used to watch them all. Sister Sister, Clueless and anything on Trouble were all personal hates of mine which I was forced to endure, but Saved By The Bell was a saving grace.

It took me a while to get into the show having been scarred by similar programmes before, but after a few episodes of Zack, Screech and co’s crazy antics I was a fan for life and watched it religiously.

Saved By The Bell was set in the fictional school of Bayside in California with Zack being the leader of a gang which consisted of a geek, a jock, a cheerleader, a nerd and a rich girl and thus introducing me to the American stereotypes which would stand me in good stead for my two week stint in a school States-side years later.

Having experienced that culture first hand I can reveal that Bayside isn’t too far off the real thing, but how an idiot such as Mr Belding could reach headteacher status still confuses me. But there were plenty of Zack Morris wannabes, who used to skive off school and scheme his way to get what he wanted. For two weeks I was that guy and I loved it.

But the real appeal of the show for me was the over-dramatic performances of the actors when dealing with real teenage issues such as drugs, bullying and drinking. The hysterical acting by Elizabeth Berkley here definitely helped land her the lead role in Showgirls (a film all lads my age will be familiar with…) and the fight between Zack and Slater was something straight out of my Year 8 drama lessons:

There was also the beauty of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as Kelly, and any chance to check her out in cheerleader uniform was a bonus for me. And looking back at the tragic fashions and the brilliant bubble perm perched on Slater head is still amusing now, classic 90s indeed.

After the gang graduated, there was a spin off called “The College Years” but it lacked the same appeal not being set in a school. Zack and Kelly would finally get married in a special episode and then a second spin-off called “The New Class” began, but the new characters were just a shadow of their predecessors.

Sadly the original episodes aren’t shown on British TV anymore (I think) but occasionally when I hear the catchy theme tune and see the crazy cartoon titles I know I’m in for an entertaining slice of American 90s television for half an hour. And apparently the show is being released on DVD soon! That’ll be going on my Christmas list…

Art Attack

“Art Attack”. Two words that would strike fear into my mum. Every time she heard the crazily fast-paced theme tune she knew that I would be requesting some PVC glue, poster paint or glitter in half an hour’s time, and that the front room was never going to look the same again.

The arts and crafts show was hosted by Neil Buchanan who would create brilliantly decorative items such as an organiser made out of an old VCR box, a castle which you could store your stationary in or a papier-mâché dinosaur.

When I, or any of my friends tried emulate him it would be unrecognisable; just an plastic box with some hacked-up fabric hanging off it, four toilet roll tubes sellotaped together with some pencils in or a load of wet newspaper with a smiley face drawn on the front. Neil would make masterpieces, I would make a mess.

The show was also famous for two things, firstly Neil’s “Big Art Attack” in each show, where he’d create incredible works of art on a huge scale. My personal favourite was when he made a portrait of the Queen out of banknotes, probably more to do with the vast amounts of notes rather than the artwork itself:

There was also a character called The Head, who like me would attempt Neil’s step-by-step guides to making some letters and envelopes out of old magazines and show it off to the audience, only for it to fall to pieces or look horribly wrong. Don’t worry The Head it happened to everyone that watched the show too.

For my mum, the show should have been renamed “Heart Attack” which is what she probably nearly had every time she saw the state of the living room or my bedroom when I was inspired. She’d end up scrubbing glue off everything and finding little glittery stars in all sorts of places for weeks.

She’d be more concerned with my paint-stained clothes than my Garbage Gobbler as I showcased my disasterpieces to her. However Neil’s jumper was always immaculate and a design classic to boot.

Neil himself though has shown his true colours (or should that be watercolours) to me. Coming across as a textbook guy on the telly, when my Young Enterprise group were looking for a suitable celebrity endorser for our company, we found his telephone number and rang him and left a message. When we got a call back from him, he told us never to ring him again or he’d phone the police. Classy guy…

However for many kids of my generation, you can forget da Vinci, Michelangelo or van Gogh – Neil Buchanan will be their great artist of all time.


90s Poll

Latest Tweets:

Older posts

  • 131,056 hits

About me

Hi I'm Jonny, creator of this blog. Like most people in my generation, I feel that the 90s were indeed an epic decade and this is my tribute to all the things that made it great!