Monday, 23 February 2009

Top 50 TVTimes Genre Icons of the 1970s - Part One

Yeah, don't say we didn't warn you. We've sourced a load of TVTimes from the 1970s, and we're utterly determined to run this idea into the ground. With any luck, we'll scare away at least 90% of our regular audience, then we can be as self-indulgent as we like. A month from now, it'll be nothing but graphs, gushing praise about low-rated Adult Swim shows, and graphs about low-rated Adult Swim shows around here. Bliss. We can just imagine it. "Ah, but if you consider the overnights for episodes seven and eight of Squidbillies, you'll see something quite interesting happens."

The rundown is in (approximate) chronological order, meaning they aren't all sorted by merit. However, to make things that bit more exciting and Jack Bauer-y (in a slightly tragic way), we've only actually found another forty genre icons so far. That means, as soon as we click the 'Publish Post' button, the race is on for us to uncover another ten of them. How enthralling is that, eh? (Reader's voice: "not very.") Let battle commence!

Part One: 1973

The Academia-Quizzery Half-Hour (Aug 17th)

At our graduation ceremony in Chester Cathedral earlier this year, we got to wear a mortar board for the first time in our lives. Sadly, our head isn't even remotely compatible with such an object, meaning two things. Firstly, we had to use one hand to keep it on our head while walking up on stage in front of everyone, which meant we were unable to pay full attention when BBC Sport's Sharron Davies handed us our diploma, and our reaction to her light-hearted quip may have seemed a little insincere. Secondly, this means we're genetically incompatible with obtaining any of that there fancy learnin'. It just ain't for the likes of us.

But anyway. Why would Bambi be wearing a mortar board? We wouldn't be able to see his ginger perm. Meanwhile, we're willing to bet actual cash money that the current-day TVTimes no longer asks questions about African rivers next to the listing for University Challenge.

Jocko Time! (Aug 17th)

Ah, this truly is the 1970s. The word 'Scotch' being used as an acceptable substitute for the word 'Scottish' (a crime which is now punishable by at least four Scotsmen leaving grumpy comments about your use of the word, even though you'd clearly used it ironically), but just look at that icon! St Andrews Cross fluttering in the chilly east-coast wind, burly bloke tossing a caber, a thistle, and some people doing a sword dance (swords not pictured). If this icon tells us anything, it's that we won't need to look at the listing to learn that our expections are unlikely to be confounded any time soon.

Clearly, if such a programme were transmitted now, the icon would contain deep-fried Mars bars, a World Cup qualifying campaign coming undone in the final group game, and a heroin addict getting a fix of OH COME ON WE'RE BEING IRONIC.

Yet Another News Icon (Aug 17th)

It's another ITN icon, though sadly not quite as demented as the previous one. We do like the old-school representation of a weather forecast. In fact, here's a screen-nab from Southern's Day By Day, circa 1979, with which to better illustrate our point:

A gentler age. You can keep your autocuties, we'll take avuncular blokes in ill-fitting suits playing with fridge magnets every time.

Late-Night Yikesfest (Dec 8th)

Don't open the door! There are loads of scary eyes behind that door! Gah, too late. For people in our particular age demographic, this icon reminds us of excellent scenes in Dangermouse. The main difference being, as everyone knows, such scenes would normally end with Penfold rushing off, leaving DM's sole functioning eye alone in the centre of the room, surrounded by beasties. Sadly, to the best of our knowledge, no Vincent Price film actually included such a scene, unless you're really widening the scope to episodes of the Price-introed Count Duckula, where Cosgrove-Hall may well have re-used said gambit.

Animated Mayhem Segment (Aug 17th)

Oh, now this marker positively screams "anything can happen in the following ten minutes". Flying mice (not neccessarily Mighty Mouse, as he was on BBC-1, and in any case, wasn't any good until John Kricfalusi got his mitts on the show), men in hats using all five legs to run away really quickly, what could either be rapidly unspooling cine film or a rope ladder, poorly-scrawled hounds, or two plasticine men doing heaven knows what. Come on TVTimes Icon Bloke. Just because the programme in question is only on for ten minutes, it doesn't mean you only need to spend that long considering, planning, drafting and drawing your icon for the slot! As we shall see, these icons are giong to be used repeatedly over the following nine years.

Nine long years.

NEXT TIME: 1974.

5 .:

Brig Bother said...

I'm glad you pointed out they were eyes, on first glance I thought they were bikinis.

Custard Socks said...

I grew up on the Isle of Wight, so I remember Trevor Baker or "Trevor the Weather" as he was known to such luminaries as er... Fred Dineage. They guy was a bit of a berk but I do get all warm and nostagic when presented with anything 'Southern'. I was nine when they closed down for good and I cried my eyes out that night...

Tony Currie said...

Custard Socks - did your Mum & Dad let you stay up for the wonderfully imaginitive final moment, when the Southern star spun its way into the darkest recesses of the Milky Way? Genius.

Sorry - momentarily wallowing in the memory.

Back to the Genre Icons (have you guys copyrighted that phrase yet, BTW?) What you perhaps failed to notice in the Cartoon billing was that there was no billing at all! Cartoons generally got shoved in at the absolute last minute when the final timings had all been added up and the Head of Programmes (or his deputy or her deputy's deputy, or the tea boy...) flipped open the Cardex to see what they had that was 8 mins 15 seconds long. That may seem a satirical remark but I often sat in the STV programme planning office when the call went up "quick - twelve minutes seventeen seconds, people!!". I suspect that - and only that - is how we came to show "Calimero" and "Vicky the Viking"......anyway TVT would simply be told "oh, and there are cartoons between "Say it in Russian" and "Tisaws". And they'd stick in another block to fill the gap.

I have in possession several issues of TVT in galley proof form, with only the text and no illustrations. From those it's much easier to see where the 'icons' were going to land up......


Mark X said...

That horror picture *does* look like a scary monster wearing a bikini now you mention it, Brig.

Custard Socks - there's actually a full episode of Day By Day (replete with commercials and the end of the preceding News at 5.45 bulletin) up at UKNova. It's part of the wonderful "Archive VHS reseed megapack", if you want to re-live that Dineage magic in full.

Tony C - it must have been fantastic to be around in the days of Actual Proper Regional ITV, seeing schedules being hastily improvised at the drop of a hat. I knew there must have been *some* reason for Vicky the Viking hitting our screens, as it never seemed to be there for its entertainment value.

Kristo-Ham said...

Do you have any recordings of the "Calimero" cartoons? I've been trying to find as many as I can but they're very rare; I got these from an official laserdisc release a friend of mine has but I can use any others if you have them.

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