I Love 1973

Saturday, August 12, 2000 by

I have fond memories of 1973.

This in itself puts me in a somewhat exclusive club, so far anyway, being the only OTT writer who was actually born in the year they were reviewing of this series. For most of this year I was five years old, old enough to have many memories, and notable experiences, such as having started school. Mostly it is marked in my mind by being in the local paper as part of the “Plant A Tree In ’73″ campaign.

I Love 1973 was for me rather an odd experience. Having watched the previous programmes, and enjoyed them, I was well-disposed towards the series. However, tonight felt too much like the programme was falling into the trap of looking back and laughing, just because people were wearing “funny” clothes. The lighter touches, which had dominated the previous programmes, were overwhelmed tonight, and there were very few moments of fond remembrance, or surprise at an un-obvious guest, like Bill Woodward, the hairdresser from Leicester, aka Mr Mastermind.

The “family of ’73″ was hideously patronising and quite unneccessary, as they hammed it up in bad costumes, and even worse wigs. The programme also felt extremely unstructured as it staggered it’s way through clothes, to style, to pop, to clothes, through home furnishing and back to pop. You were left feeling a little bit like you were in one of those ’70s sci-fi movies where they flash up millions of images to brainwash you. Much of the time the programme didn’t seem to know what it wanted to say about things: was the parka cool or nerdy? According to Noddy Holder’s commentary it was both.

Much time was spent on rather pointless items, like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, and it felt like their marriage break-up was given more prominence than the career of an icon like Bruce Lee, or the England v Poland match which put England out of the 1974 World Cup. Coverage of Uri Geller was fascinating, if only to see him debunking his “imitators” for copying him with “tricks and magic”.

Discussing television from 1973, the fair point was made that much of it has been so often repeated that it now has little meaning to review it in a programme such as this. Most of the programmes we saw tonight are somewhere in my recent memory, rather than in the past. There was also some recognition in tonight’s show that the ’70s are often remembered in a rather naïve, almost “anodyne” way, through a soft focus lens, which is often in stark contrast to what was actually happening at the time – indeed, I Love 1973 opens with references to power cuts, oil crises, Richard Nixon, and bombing campaigns, before moving swiftly onto Glam Rock.

As to whether the show was “true” to 1973, I have no idea. And I suspect that most people wouldn’t know either. Shows like this evoke general memories and feelings, which is the point of the exercise. They are not produced for “experts”, they are not social commentary or documentary. They are produced for the general public as Saturday night entertainment. As such they are fine. Tonight’s programme went a little off kilter. Hopefully, this was a mere blip and we can look forward to more nostalgia and less sniggering in the rest of the series.

So who’s for a game of Mastermind (Royale Edition) then?


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