I Love 1987

Saturday, March 10, 2001 by

I’m just rummaging round the back of the fridge for a lager. There we go. Getting ready for I Love 1987.

I thought about what 1987 meant to me – Rick Astley, house music, Hardwicke House. September onwards was my first year at “comprehensive” school, allowing me to confirm my images painted by Grange Hill (pity that show went off the boil around the same time). Three events jumped out from my memory immediately – Hungerford, Zeebrugge and King’s Cross. Don’t think they’ll focus on that, however. Still, a high number of public disasters is worth noting. Maybe not for this series though, although the Big Hurricane should get a mention. Surely.

Ah. Richard E Grant is hosting and it’s not long before it dawns that Withnail & I will get a mention. Shame. The can of Quatro slides through the pop world depicted in the title sequence, again, but I don’t think we ever get the full advert.

Whitney’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) kicks off proceedings. Next, Richard and the familiar speedy selection box of tonight’s offerings, quick enough to be missed in the excitement but still (just) giving the viewer a chance to decide when to dip into the programme – if at all. The cuts are fast and before we know it there’s Terence Trent D’Arby in front of the wispy colours – he’s here! In 2001. Never liked him. Pete Waterman, then The Tubepop up, the latter with Paula Yates. She really likes Terence. He’s at the Grammys – the host looks like he’s from 25 years ago, not 15. Mike Smith is on voiceover.

Muriel Gray is an “author”.

Ice T! Whenever I watch this show Ice T is on. He is an expert on ’70s and ’80s pop culture. He knows about Terence! Was “Trent” really this popular in the US? Next is the obligatory Woganclip; we seem to get one of these per edition. He had the guests. Also he was on Going Live!, by the look of it. The clip research is thorough as usual. But, Ice T again and he knows more about Terence. He is aware of some crucifix incident, reminiscent of Holly Johnson. Terence in 2001 is sincere, more so than in 1987 when he proclaimed he was “the best pop singer in the world”.

Onto shellsuits; now they’re not very 1987. Well, I suppose that’s only my experience – the first complete family in matching shellsuits I saw was in 1990. At an airport. Arabella Weir is on. Also newbie Carlton Dixon. And Ice T.

Ice must be so engaging to tower over all the British talking heads and scoop the airtime. Iain Lee, Quentin Wilson, Tony Blackburn – his only serious challenger is Stuart Maconie. They go through succulent clips of Cliff Richard then David Icke in their shiny shellsuits to make a link between the utility garment and Liverpool. That’s true. Was that Debi Jones I saw? A shoe buyer pulls up a chair for interview. I’d like to see something on the fire risk of shellsuits. No clips for that.

I’m mopping up some knocked-over beer and catch a glimpse of bumbags. Music is Mel & Kim. Ice T again! Then Trevor & Simon and it’s familiar ground here. Some good clips. It leads into aGoing Live! section. Now this show wasn’t very definitive. It was modelled on the safe ground ofSwap Shop and Saturday Superstore. Personally, I was always a Get Fresh kid. Good old Pip turns up, then Reeves & Mortimer, which must date it about 1990 at best. Ha, Pip describes the show as “controlled chaos”! The opposite, mate, it was the safest thing I ever saw.

Ah, Stuart Maconie. He talks some jazz, makes me chuckle. How different is today from then? In TV terms, maybe a lot. Going Live! is still on. Annabel Giles with her posh voice is teaching Sarah Greene something. Compare these simple items, set pieces and tombolas with SM:TV‘s sketches and smut.

It’s Trevor Neal and Simon Hickson. Still working, I believe. There’s a few clips of their high points. The focus was on scenes involving Phillip Schofield. Inevitably we get Gordon the Gopher. I’m ashamed to admit I had one, three quid from the market, but if there was ever a more banal puppet then I’m Bobby the Banana. Paul Smith’s hand was the one at the centre of it all – today he gives an ironic statement then admits this is the first time he’s revealed that fact. That’s good research.

A clip emerges of Phil in a white shirt buttoned to the top, and an awful tie. An equally nasty GTG puppet pops up with “1987″ on his jumper. Richard E reappears and introduces nouvelle cuisine, then the talking heads fire off in quick succession – an often-used tactic. Underneath is classic jazzy ’80s Breathe/Curiosity/Blow Monkeys music. Anthony Worrall-Thompson opines – and where is Victor Lewis-Smith in all this, I think. In fact, where were computer games, I never saw them? Clips of restaurants. I roll a fag. Some establishments ripped off dim-but-wealthy people in 1987 by serving them very small, expensive meals. Radio 5 diva Fi Glover appears, she looks like a teacher. She’s sharp though.

Stuart’s up again, but this time it’s a different Stuart in lighter shirt, and facing the opposite direction. The full-length advert rolls in, Perrier, followed by a quick round-up of bottled water. General conclusion: suckers lose again. More Stuart.

Bit of rap music starts up, and it’s onto a rap section! This is my scene. Run DMC are the focus – “DJ” Jazzy Jeff Townes tells of how he was a local DJ in their early years. Ice T of course comments, and we get modern chats with “Run” and “Jam Master Jay. There’s more rap clips, including Aerosmith. Now we’re onto the Beastie Boys. “They were of their time.” Mary Ann Hobbs rates them, using NME-speak to describe their “vibe” … or whatever. Ah, Fab Five Freddy! There’s a big group of contemporary rap stars on this show, let’s hope for a major look at that. Paul Ross. Next a clip of a Newsroom South-East-type show, reporting Beastie controversy. This is good stuff, even including a section on the VW badge rumble, with Nottinghamshire Police involved in media coverage. Ah, the familiar sight of a VW car with a big hole in the front grille. They say it was an “epidemic” of logo-snatching. Frank Bough from behind a desk and strait-jacketed into a suit, behind him BEASTS? in big letters. “We’re expecting riots”, he proclaims. There’s a Beastie press conference, full of bleeps and attitude. The journalists in the clip don’t bat an eyelid, but you can sense a barrier or two being torn down. Was this on Newsround? A fantastic definition of a rock star – “that’s what they’re supposed to do, tear shit up!”

Uh-oh, it’s Withnail & I. I never liked this. It’s not really 1987, either. It doesn’t evoke the year. It’s more of an early ’90s reheater. Maconie is back in original shirt and he doesn’t like Withnaileither. That gives me comfort. “Tell me when the funny things happen.” The film itself is a surreal trip. There’s a huge cannabis joint in it. A “fuck” is muted out, despite a clip not two seconds previously featuring the same exclaimation. This copy of the film is awful quality and the thought is continued when an amusingly catchy Jonathan Ross Harp commercial is shown. It’s clipped to widescreen, and at the end the slogan is obscured, probably taking away half the joke. This is common practice on I Love and is frankly annoying.

“Television!” This is what we want, Network 7! With the top theme, and title sequence. This footage is quickly savaged by cuts of Paul Ross, Charlie Parsons and Magenta De Vine. We’ve been here before, of course, with Watch This or the Dog Dies. They show bits of the famous cashcard incident – “the first computerised mugging”. The machine looks so old. Reporter Sankha Guha looks incredulous today, claiming that “no-one told us” that what they were doing was fraud. Clip of Did You See …?, with Ludovic complaining about fast captions, too fast to read … there’s more clips of such. Framed off and smaller on-screen, to allow us to read the captions (can they not do that with all old clips?). The Other Famous Incident, the death sentence interview. Amusingly they highlighted the stunted performance at the British leg of this transatlantic broadcast, with the live firing squad models. Trevor Ward looks like Steve Coogan. The whole thing has an air of Alan Partridge, anyway as Ward says, “injection of MUSCLE-PARALYSING … erm … liquid”. The item ends with a clever ’87 manipulation of theN7 logo.

Here comes a natty trailer for Wall Street. They have Martin Sheen. Good. Also a film critic with a familiar voice. We get a standard analysis of the film. A caption comes on, telling us that BBC1 transmitted Wall Street last week. What was the point in that? Predictably the thread follows through onto Yuppies – the clips aren’t very exciting (although mercifully there’s no David Jason), they don’t go beyond the common theme of the stockbroker throwing the phones round his console. This sort of imagery is common here and in other shows – is that all yuppies were about? More familiar shots of wedding-suited men clutching wide champagne glasses. Hey it’s Peter McCann! He’s showing us a housebrick. No, it’s a mobile phone c. ’87. Nice frames with more men dragging these things to their ears. I find old technology fascinating. On to the Filofax … and Yvette Fielding is offering us a cheaper alternative on Blue Peter. “The inserts can cost from 99p to nine-ninety-nine … an awful lot of money.”

Quickly onto thirtysomething. This extended format gives the producers room to stack up the items. The theme immediately evokes Channel 4 for me, but I never liked it. They have Bjorn Borg on, that’s good. Him and the theme is pretty much all I remember (all most people remember, I reckon). I can take or leave this section. Oh, and they’re playing It’s a Wonderful Life by Black. Teeth start to grind. This show looks dated, hope they don’t repeat it. One of the actors proclaims, “the planet wanted that show”. But here’s a programme that really did sate viewers’ demands, Damon & Debbie. Strong memories of this. On comes Phil Redmond. We get some great clips from Brookie-when-it-was-good. Look kids, it’s Jim “Arse” Royle! Damon’s been given a bloody nose by Debbie’s dad. Simon O’Brien has already popped up earlier in today’s edition (and throughout the series). Redmond and others comment on how the soap “bubble” concept allowed them to produce “guerrilla TV”, and to make it up as they went along. Damon catches Debbie about to use a needle. “She’s a smack’ead!” Ahhh, Simon claims that Gillian Kearney’s first kiss was with him on screen. Gillian laughs and confirms it. This is better use of the talking heads. “He dies tonight. Watch it. He dies … yeah, he gets stabbed. Watch tonight …” – Peter Kay on top form again. Simon wanted to leave Brookside to pursue new interests, so they decided to kill Damon off. What did he end up doing? I recall Standing Room Only and that’s all. It’s a shame as he’s been engaging and funny throughout this series. He’d be a good host.

Hey, it’s Rick Astley! As I said at the top, my man of ’87. Gratuitous clips of Top of the Pops. Simon Bates introduces his first performance on the show. Annoyingly they’ve zoomed in the picture again, so a) it looks fuzzy and bad and b) they’ve removed the original chart position FX. My favourite bit. Ha, Rick’s dance! It was basic but brilliant. They show Rick recording in the studio, with a slim Pete Waterman in the background. Rick’s on some awards show, maybe the Brits. Also he’s on Christmas TOTP, with Mike Smith presenting whilst wrapped in balloons. Pete Waterman gives a “Before And After” effect to proceedings when he steps up for duty in 2001. He explains that on the occasion of that first TOTP gig he gave Rick £500 to spend, and “he took it to Next in Warrington and bought a suit”. That’s ’80s class. There’s footage of Jeremy Paxman on Breakfast News in 1987, and some rare scenes of Rick giving an interview. Have they dragged him from his pop exile for the show? Evidently not. Lots of talk about the lad’s shyness. His change of direction in ’91 – the long hair! With miserable early ’90s dross. A gold disc for Rick, on what could be The Hit Man & Her. One more Wogan clip. Rick had enough of fame, and has not been seen since. You get the feeling that Pete Waterman is still in contact with him, as is his manager, no doubt. Ah, and then Richard is back on, and that’s the end of the show. He comments on Rick’s blazer and chinos.

And I can go to the toilet now.


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