Top Ten: Reboots
It is said that you never forget a good teacher. Either this is complete chobblies, or mine were a right shower as I can’t remember a single one of the useless, farting, muppets. What I can remember, however, is a ripping TV show from days gone by - here’s my list of some old favourites I’d love to see rebooted
10. Do Not Adjust Your Set.
This was an amazing kids’ program from the mid/late 1960’s, which was totes fortuitous as that’s precisely when I was a kid. It starred (get this) David Jason, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and some woman called Denise Coffey, who was magnificent. The house band was the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (ask your dad), and later series featured animations from Terry Gilliam. Difficult to see how they could reboot this one; maybe they should just re-run it. Whatever did happen to Denise Coffey?
9. Sapphire & Steel
From the late 70’s a right weird-fest starring Joanna Lumley (Sapphire) and David McCallum (Steel); two time-travelling policemen fighting all manner of oddball adversaries; most of whom were never actually seen. With pathetic special effects and minuscule budgets the writers and producers had to fall back on creative story lines, bizarre, disturbing dialogue and some loopy acting from the main characters - Steel fighting an invisible space-alien swan atop a tall building was particularly notable. Any reboot would have to first rescue S&S from the quantum non-event roadside cafe floating in deep space in which they were marooned by the transient-being mercenaries at the end of the final series - yep, that old story I’m afraid.
8. Blake’s Seven
Another sci-fi offering from Auntie: dreamt up by Dalek creator Terry Nation no less. This told the story of a bunch of freedom fighters led by the eponymous Roj Blake who battled the Terran Federation and its leader the evil, yet curiously attractive, Servalan. The show was to say the least morally ambiguous, as most of the crew of the Liberator were escapees from a penal colony including the magnificently amoral Avon. The series is an exemplar for Voltaire’s 1st Law; BBC + British acting stalwarts + zero budget = inventive, innovative, irresistible sci-fi
No, not the sanitised, high-gloss, leaden impostor we’ve been watching recently; the real one.
6. Vision On
A quite brilliant show that ran on BBC from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies (I’m determined to write this piece without recourse to Google, so please excuse the occasional imprecision), Vision On was originally designed for deaf children (god bless the Beeb!) but eschewed both lip reading and sign-language, instead going for a format that was uniquely visual. The main man was undoubtedly Tony Hart; a sublimely talented artist who inspired and encouraged a whole generation of kids (not only the deaf ones) to give wings to their imagination. Tony Hart continued for many years after the demise of Vision On (might still be going now?), but i don’t think he ever had such a perfect vehicle for his talents. An absolute diamond!
5. Adam Adamant
A mid/late 60’s show about an Edwardian adventurer frozen by arch-villain The Face in 1902 and accidentally revived in the swinging 60’s. The show was intended as a satire on life in the 60’s: contrasting the stiff upper lip of the title character with the louche hedonism of the times, but it never quite worked in that way and instead was a cracking light-hearted adventure series. I was quite young when this started and can clearly remember the arguments with my mum and dad about being allowed to stay up and watch it. Plus ca change, eh?
4. Armchair Theatre/Play for Today
Armchair Theatre (ITV) and Play for Today (BBC) between them provided right through the 60’s and 70’s a shop window for the best in (largely British) dramatic writing and performing. The quality was admittedly a bit spotty, but the occasional clunker was more than made up for by the enormous pile of quality work it showcased. The plays were not written as hopeful pilots for putative series so there was no “focus group” imperative - people wrote what they wanted to. If a particular play was a flop; don’t worry - have another go next week. Can’t see the networks buying into that concept nowadays.
3. The Crystal Maze
Repeats of this show are still being shown on digital TV so I’m sure many of you are already familiar with it. A great format, imaginative games; this is crying out for some TLC and a relaunch. Two caveats though; firstly, the show’s appeal is almost entirely dependent on the host, so the later series were not as good as the earlier ones (Eddie Tudor-pole was very good, but couldn’t match up to the titanic Richard O’ Brien). We don’t want some dumb twunt like Vernon Kay stinking the place up (My vote is for Tim Minchin — Ed). Secondly, the whole 1990’s WOOH-HOOH, HIGH-FIVE culture has thankfully turned up its toes, but without the matchless joy of seeing bunches of high-achieving soi-disant yuppies making dicks of themselves, she may not sail.
2. The Champions
A mid/late 60’s spy show featuring three agents for the international crime-fighting agency Nemesis, who following a ‘plane crash in Tibet in the first episode were given superhuman powers by a mysterious lost civilisation. Utterly kitsch and completely nonsensical, but great fun and for good measure featuring as one of our heroes Alexandra Bastedo (ask your dad).
1. To Be Confirmed...
Over to you. Which blasts from the past would you like to see dusted down and propped back up? Let us know your thoughts and the one we like best can have the coveted number one slot and all the cool goodies that go with it (disclaimer: there are no cool goodies).