Now That’s Embarrassing: The 80s, Five

by | Feb 24, 2006 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

In 20 years’ time, TV shows will be made called Now That’s Embarrassing: Petty, Spiteful, Cheap Clip Shows Designed To Re-Write History For The Sake Of Sucking Hungrily On The Copious Teat Of Unclean Advertising Revenue.

What was good about it?

• Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards’ ‘ski-jump simulator’, which is essentially a few bits of scrap metal tied together with rope that swings the intrepid former plasterer about six feet off the ground.

• Mr T’s awful community-centre hip hop. Stepping from foot to foot like a broken robot and with predictable support from a choir of overly cute little children he gruffly bellowed: “Mother. There is no other. So treat her right. Mother. You should love her. So treat her right.”

What was bad about it?

• John McCririck – a lumbering mass of fleshy tissue and righteous bigotry who exudes such a stench of mental putrefaction people would away from him and closer to a dog that has just been rolling in its own excrement after consuming a consignment of rotten eggs that had been dipped in the liquefied remains of Chris Evans.

• The notion that calling any fashion item – snoods, shellsuits, fluorescent clothing or shoulder pads – as embarrassing is displaying a wilful ignorance of how fashion works. Every single item of clothing has built into it a self-destruct device, like Mission: Impossible missives, which go off about six months after purchase blowing the garment out of fashion, and making it “embarrassing”, to ensure that the manufacturers and designers can peddle their latest threads to a confused market stocked up on hardly-worn garments. A market further frightened by alarmist harridans like Lorraine Kelly and the wizened, wrinkled, embittered fashion editors of women’s magazines who pithily proclaim “you can’t be seen dead in a green dress”, or “high-heeled shoes are so last season”, while carrying lifeblood advertisements for new replacement products on their magazine’s pages or during the ad breaks.

• Vanessa Feltz – vomit with lips. When the Daily Express columnist is trying to express sanctimonious anger her eyes open so wide they could be used as a spare channel through which to pass and check lorries arriving at Dover suspected of smuggling illegal immigrants.

• The contributions of Rob Deering were among the better ones, but he is now associated with Five that should you snap him in two, like in a stick of rock, you’ll find the tacky Five logo running through his guts.

• Leee John still has the most irritating name in the history of popular (and indeed unpopular) culture. Second is Gates McFadden, third is Jeffrey Archer (not especially an annoying name, but we’ve just seen him gushing on Andrew Marr’s show about how he’s exploited the tragedy of the attack on the World Trade Center to prop up his latest waste of paper and had to vent our fury somewhere).

• Jono Coleman – a cheap child’s balloon imprinted with the face of Satan used in fairgrounds to suffocate surplus goldfish.

• Mike McClean nastily blurring the distinction between homosexuality and paedophilia through his claim that at Elton John’s wedding to Renata, Elton would “be keeping his eye on the page boys”.

• The problem with the notion of embarrassment. Embarrassment is a sense of self-shame, but most things in the list either were very easy to avoid (Brosettes, Five Star records, Stock, Aitken and Waterman), not specific to this nation (David Hasselhoff singing at the collapse of the Berlin Wall) or just not embarrassing (80s computer games, Timmy Mallett, It’s A Royal Knockout).

• Much of the perceived embarrassment originates from the fact that the 80s was a decade of great innovation, with the advent of home computing and the according advance of the microchip primary catalysts. Of course computer games in the 80s were hugely inferior to those today. But what if the pioneers who wrote classics like Jet Set Willy and Atic Atac thought, “In 20 years’ time my creativity will be trashed by a no-mark TV channel, so I’m not going to abase myself and become an IT lecturer instead”? Then today’s gamers would be left with chunky graphics, 10 minute loading times and migraine inducing loading screens.

• The same applies to mobile phones; there wasn’t some immaculate conception that brought mobile phones into the world with txt messaging, TV screens and the rest of the extraneous gubbins, the cumbersome, army landing craft size was because it was a new invention.

• While other innovations instead have being laughed at should have been em-braced. Yes, the Sinclair C5 was unreliable and a bit of a joke, but if it had pro-voked popular pioneering in the evolution of electric cars it would help with the very current problem of global warming.

• The Hitman And Her was an abomination of TV but even at the time this was realised and was thus only broadcast at about 3.00am.

• As some talking head or another scoffed at Mr T, they remarked that today “we have Usher or Puff Daddy”. Firstly, both of those “artists” are the spiritual heirs of Mr T – manufactured, vacuous hip hop – only buffed up so brightly they blind the consumer to their inherent rubbishness. And secondly, the 80s also had Public Enemy, Afrika Bambaataa and Run DMC.

• And many of the assumed embarrassments have far worse contemporary equivalents: For Ronald Reagan read George W Bush; for Stock, Aitken and Waterman read Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh; for Bucks Fizz read Gemini; for Dave Lee Travis read Chris Moyles; for break dancing read fingers-shredded-on-cheese-grater beyond the pale celebrity dancing/ice skating; for Shaddupa Your Face read It’s My Goal; for Samantha Fox read Jordan; and for Michael Fish getting a weather forecast wrong that killed a few people who would tragically probably have died anyway read Tony Blair contributing to the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and scores of British troops through the mendacious manipulation of info claiming WMDs were being primed to be used on “British targets” (i.e. an empty missile shell missing an unmanned watchtower in Cyprus by about two miles).

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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