Saturday, 24 July 2010
Carry On Countdown (or back to the 70s...)
Thus it was today as I awoke at 5.10am and, try as I might, couldn't get back to sleep. So I made some breakfast and scanned through the twilight zone that is early morning television. At 5.30am, Channel Four were showing a repeat of the words and numbers game Countdown, hosted by the ebullient Jeff Stelling - he of Sky Sports News fame. Much as I like Jeff, my attention was drawn to Dictionary Corner where the former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies was sitting. Sharron was Britain's golden girl in the 1980s - and stunningly attractive. With her long, flowing hair and wonderful physique she was many men's fantasy (including me) Thirty years on and she still looks wonderful.
As the contestants on Countdown tried to rearrange letters to make a word, one of them suggested a seven letter word - panties. Cue sniggering from the audience and a little smirk from Jeff who then asked Sharron what she had come up with. 'I had panties down too, Jeff' the golden girl replied with a cheeky smile and the sniggering became raucous laughter. It was akin to a Carry On film - I half expected the ghosts of Sid James and Kenneth Williams to appear chortling 'Stop messin' about!' My hopes of heading back to bed and returning to some form of sleep completely disappeared at this point with Sharron's sultry image lodged in my brain. Yes, I realise I'm coming across as some sort of dirty old man here but at my stage in life I'm grateful for small mercies...
There's something quite nostalgic about early morning television, particularly on ITV. While the main channel has the inane babbling of GMTV, it's supplementary channels ITV3 and ITV4 are showing old programmes from decades gone by. ITV3 shows the comedy On the Buses from the early 1970s before early editions of Heartbeat and Goodnight Sweetheart from the 1990s. ITV4 goes even further with reshowings of classics such as The Saint, The Champions and Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) from the late 1960s and The Professionals and the still eminently watchable The Sweeney from the 1970s.
These programmes are a reminder of the quality British television used to produce. As a child in the late 1960s/early 1970s I was a huge fan of Randall and Hopkirk (deceased). It was the story of two private detectives, one of whom died but came back as a ghost to help his partner. Watching it on a Sunday afternoon on an old portable black and white television was the highlight of my weekend (I know, I had a sheltered childhood...) To see it again forty years later - where the hell does time go? - had rekindled all kinds of memories.
Rather like Sharron Davies' statement but that's another story altogether...