Greatest 80s TV Moments, Five

by | Apr 11, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A benign Pandora’s Box of delights that ignited the beacons of nostalgia that surround the soul.

What to say if you didn’t like it

If our memories of these events were manifested on an Artic ice floe, we could quite happily watch them be callously culled with cudgels by amoral nostalgia hunters.

Greatest 80s TV Moments, Five

What was good about it?

* Magenta Devine emerging from her coffin to comment on the 1980s, thus leaving a spare grave in the overcrowded cemeteries of England.

* Paul Morley bemoaning the panicky infotainment about condoms, in which Mike Smith presented a demonstration of how to slip a sheath on as Aids terrorised the nation. “It might have worked in that it put you off sex,” Morley drolly remarked. “As you’d have Mike Smith in your head.”

* Ken Livingstone’s vigorous work out with Mad Lizzie on TV-am as she and the Green Goddess, the two witches of aerobic instruction, battled for ratings supremacy by propagating some of the worst outfits and dancing ever seen on British television.

* Cilla Black on an early Blind Date with her hair coloured and styled so she looked like a prowling lioness.

* The adorable infant Brookside with its abrasively original storylines and the warring Grants which alas metamorphosed into a problem teenager full of lame attention-grabbing tantrums and petulant violence.

* The hilarious sequence from Knight Rider when Michael fondly recalls the times he spent with his intelligent car KITT after the vehicle is drowned like a Dark Age witch in a slurry pit.

* The producer of The Tube revealing he had to shell out for Madonna’s transport up to Manchester to appear at the Hacienda because her record company viewed her as a “no priority act”.

* The greasing scene from The Singing Detective. “Think of something boring – a speech by Ted Heath, wage rates in Peru, the dog in Blue Peter.”

* Willo-the-Wisp with its bizarre cast of characters and Kenneth Williams’ gloriously distinct range of voices.

* The Diana Gould v Margaret Thatcher exchange over the sinking of the General Belgrano during the Falklands War. (Even if it was on Channel 4 on Sunday, too)

What was bad about it?

* The highly variable quality of the talking heads where the worst verbal gutter-snipes were John McCririck, Sue Mott and Caryn Franklin.

* Joan Collins’s decrepit narration that seems to be dragged from her mouth like a faulty receipt strip is unevenly yanked out of the cash till by a grumbling repairman.

* The illusory omniscience of the talking heads who have obviously just been shown clips and so simply lie. eg John Ainsworth, who remarked: “I think everyone remembers when Dempsey and Makepeace sort of acknowledged their feelings for one another.” Not us. We were probably out playing football somewhere.

* Rob Deering is guilty of such observations, too. Also, is he exclusively tethered to

Five languishing in its dungeons and exchanging his nostalgic platitudes for a sustaining bowl of indigestible gruel?

* Janet Ellis: “We all need Bros to happen every 10 years.” In the same way as 17th century England needed outbreaks of the Black Death to prevent supposed overpopulation.

* “Can I have a ‘P’ please, Bob” is funny only to those who like drowning their own children or cutting off their hands and feet to perfect an impression of a scarecrow.

* When Vivienne Westwood’s collection was rightly ridiculed on Wogan, Caryn Franklin blamed the audience for not being “fashion literate” rather than the fashion industry being exposed for the cultural charlatan it is.

* Simon O’Brien’s mystifying assertion that Twickenham streaker Erica Roe represented “every man’s fantasy”.

* Every obscure 1980s series such as the Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider has its own superfan doggedly clinging on to the past like Dr Fox and his dignity.

* Sue Mott’s delusions about Britain’s track and field athletes at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics where Daley Thompson, Seb Coe and Tessa Sanderson won gold: “That was the last time Britain really dominated athletics.” Wrong because: 1. Three golds does not denote “dominance” 2. The Eastern Bloc boycotted the Games. 3. Britain won as many athletics golds in 2004 as in 1984.

* Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing video; we don’t care how “groundbreaking” the video was or how much it “summed up” the 1980s, that atrocity had the same life stealing influence on music as Joseph McCarthy had on Hollywood in the 50s.

* Fame! – the leg warmers, Leroy’s ever-so-tight leotard and Doris singing and bopping as though being slowly electrocuted.

* While Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney was an icon of the 1980s, the humour has dated even more than his mono-philosophy.

* Angry Anderson’s Suddenly – the theme for Scott and Charlene’s wedding in Neighbours – reminding us how if a religious cult had set up its beliefs and ethos based entirely on characters in that wretched soap they would have brainwashed the nation’s teenagers within two weeks.

* BA’s fear of flying in The A-Team was not the second best TV moment of the 80s, it was a trite comic device in one of the worst shows ever made.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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