Thursday, 14 December 2017
First viewed : 10 June 1988
The European Championships came round again and England qualified this time although probably wished they hadn't as they lost all three of their group games. Ireland beat them 1-0 in the first game then they were thrashed 3-1 in the other two games against Holland and the Soviet Union. It seems astonishing today that Bobby Robson kept his job after that. The main fall guy was the young Tony Adams who was absolutely destroyed by Marco Van Basten as he plundered a hat-trick but Adams proved able to shoulder it and become a stalwart in the nineties. On the other hand it was the end of the line for press darling Glenn Hoddle who marked his final England appearance with a dreadful error that let in the Soviets to score after only 3 minutes. Jack Charlton's Ireland by contrast had a good tournament, drawing with the Soviets and only narrowly being squeezed out by the Dutch.
In the other group Denmark matched England's dismal showing with their supposed superstar Michael Laudrup looking uninterested. Italy and Germany went through.
The Dutch, fielding two former First Division players you'd forgotten about in Hans Van Breukelen and 37-year old Arnold Muhren, went on to win their first international tournament beating the Soviets 2-0 in the Final. Prior to the tournament, all eyes were on their captain Ruud Gullitt , now challenging Maradona for the World's best player accolade, but even he was outshone by Van Basten who crowned a superb tournament with a contender for best ever international goal in the Final. Sadly, an ankle injury forced him out of the game just five years later.
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
First viewed : May 1988
Over four weeks in May 1988, BBC Two broadcast highlights of a special 13 hour concert to k'mark the 40th anniversary of Atlantic Records at New York's Madison Square Gardens. Most of the artists were either veteran soulsters or prog rock and therefore not my cup of tea but I did catch Emerson and Palmer ( with Robert Berry standing in for the estranged Greg Lake ) doing America with trademark showmanship and eighties hairstyles.
Tuesday, 12 December 2017
First viewed : Summer 1988
This was a late night Channel 4 music show presented by Tim Graham and Nicky Horne. It was aimed very much at the Q-buying rock fan rather than younger music fans and seemed like a throwback to the days of the Old Grey Whistle Test. It was roundly attacked in Record Mirror with particular venom directed at Horne.
I never stayed in for it but usually caught some of it when I came in from the pub. I remember the feature on Brian Wilson and his involvement with controversial doctor , Eugene Landy. It also introduced me to 10,000 Maniacs for which I'm grateful.
It only lasted the one series.
Monday, 11 December 2017
First viewed : 2 May 1988
This was a Bank Holiday documentary tracking the tempestuous story of Fleetwood Mac, resurgent once more with the success of Tango in the Night. The story has of course been told in full or in part a fair few times since so it's not easy to recall which bits were in which programme. What I do recall strongly about this one was that it concluded with an audio interview with founding genius Peter Green at a low point in his long struggle with mental illness. Green didn't want to be filmed though he was able to speak reasonably coherently. He did allow the inclusion of a few still photos taken during the interview showing a bloated, dishevelled man in a shabby duffel coat with grotesquely long fingernails which he seemed to be using as an excuse not to pick up a guitar again. It was a very downbeat ending to a supposedly celebratory programme.
Sunday, 10 December 2017
First viewed : 16 April 1988
This was a weekend football festival held at Wembley to celebrate 100 years of the Football League. The League decided to invite 16 teams to participate in a knockout tournament based on form over the last few months including one from each of the lower divisions. This had the unhappy accident of excluding the four biggest London clubs with a consequent effect on attendance. One notable absentee was Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough who didn't turn up to see his side in action on the Saturday.
The undoubted stars were Fourth Division Tranmere Rovers whose qualifying run of form had begun with a 6-1 thrashing of Rochdale on a miserable Friday evening. Perhaps helped by the 40 minute format, they put out Wimbledon and Newcastle on their run to the semi-final where Forest beat them on penalties. A majority of games actually went to penalties in the opening round.
With only four teams involved on the Sunday, the attendance shrunk to a miserable 17,000. It boiled down to a 60 minute Final between Forest and Sheffield Wednesday. With the atmosphere akin to a morgue, the two teams played the most boring sterile match since the Germany v Austria stitch-up in 1982. It finished 0-0 and Forest won on penalties.
The whole thing was something of an embarrassment to the Football League and it's tempting to see it as a significant milestone on the road to the formation of the Premier League just four years later
Saturday, 9 December 2017
First viewed : 11 April 1988
This was a series of documentaries shown over successive nights which sought to examine the prevalence of racism in British society by a series of experiments. In one example , a young white guy answered an ad for a flat and the landlady was happy to have him. Then his black mate answered the ad and got a different reception. The offender was then challenged about their attitude. I think I only saw the first one.
Friday, 8 December 2017
First viewed : 9 April 1988
This famous late night Channel Four discussion show began in 1987 but I didn't catch it until the one about horse racing which was broadcast on the same day as the Grand National. The host was , yet again, Tony Wilson, although this changed regularly. Among the guests were the Duchess of Argyll , some Communist guy and racing pundit John McCririck. I already loathed McCririck as a tiresome professional eccentric but hitherto I'd no idea that he was a hate figure in Liverpool for his right wing views about the city's problems. He lost no time in reiterating them ; his main bugbear seemed to be that Liverpudlians had played no part in securing the future of Aintree racecourse after a decade of uncertainty because they were all workshy scroungers. Naturally, our Commie friend didn't see eye to eye wit him on that. The Duchess sat patiently through that until Wilson invited her to expound her views on overuse of the whip. She said she didn't like it and then buggered off. McCririck the toady cried "Stand for Her Grace !" which Wilson and most of the other guests obeyed but the Communist stayed put in his seat.
The other one I recall was about press intrusion and ethics and was dominated by recently disgraced ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor who'd been caught out with underage rent boys. The programme brought him face to face with some of his persecutors in the press. Proctor's a scary looking bloke anyway but the looks he was giving them suggested he could pull a knife out any moment. Although the only sympathy he got on the programme came from Christine Keeler , his steadiness under fire did lead to increased investment in his new shirt selling venture. I also recall gossip columnist Nina Myskow's striking admission that the story, of her going to bed with a contestant, twenty years her junior, in a male beauty contest she was judging, was actually true.
In both cases , I think I only watched the first thirty minutes or so. It was just on too late and with no scheduled end time you could end up watching it until the early hours.
The series is most infamous for Oliver Reed's appearance in 1991 when he gave an unwanted kiss to a dowdy feminist he referred to as "Big Tits" and got asked to leave the show. It was axed , amid much protest, by Michael Grade in 1991 though sporadic revivals have taken place.