A number of B.B.C. sketch shows appeared in the wake of 'Not The Nine O'Clock News', all attempting to recapture the original's healthy disrespect for authority and revelling in sheer bad taste for the sake of it. Made by B.B.C. Scotland, and executive produced by Sean Hardie, 'A Kick Up The Eighties' is today best remembered for bringing the then-unknown Rik Mayall ( credited as Kevin Turvey ) to a mass audience. Turvey, a Brummie idiot who fancied himself as an investigative reporter, delivered surreal monologues to camera which he concluded by saying: "Kevin's 'ere!", whilst touching his left ear. Turvey became a cult character, leading to him getting his own one-off show: 'Kevin Turvey - The Man Behind The Green Door'.
One or two sketches concerned then-topical subjects such as the cold war, the prospect of nuclear war, unemployment, sexual equality, and even the boom in home ( video ) entertainment. Among the writers were 'Rab C.Nesbitt' author Ian Pattison, and Doug Naylor and Rob Grant, creators of 'Red Dwarf'. The regular cast in the first season were Ron Bain, Miriam Margolyes, Roger Sloman, Tracey Ullman ( fresh from 'Three Of A Kind' ), with Richard Stilgoe providing witty 'Frost Report'-style linking material. The second season saw Stilgoe replaced by Robbie Coltrane ( whom I thought at the time had probably been cast due to his physical resemblance to Mel Smith! ). Some of Coltrane's characters, particularly the stand-up comedian who is nowhere near as funny as he thinks he is, would reappear in 'Laugh? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee!'.
Although 'Eighties' did upset some viewers - particularly a sketch in the fifth show in the first season in which Miriam Margolyes' nurse unplugs a patient's life support machine in order to be able to use her vacuum cleaner - there was no repetition of the furore that greeted 'Carrott's Lib' when Jasper joked about the deaf. Another sick sketch had surgeons casually tossing a patient's innards onto a floor where they were then eaten by a dog. But the nastiest item of all was, appropriately enough, set in a video rental shop ( which were everywhere in those days ) where characters from so-called 'video nasties' ( a term coined by the right-wing media to describe horror movies such as 'Driller Killer' and 'I Spit On Your Grave' ) engaged in a musical number. Anyone who shared the Thatcher Government's view of such films ( that they should be banned outright ) would have had their prejudices confirmed by the gruesome sketch.
Tracey Ullman spoofed the controversial Channel 4 show 'The Mini Pops' on one edition. As she sang 'Knick Knack Paddy Wack, a gang of dirty old men in grubby macs lusted after her. She also did brilliant take-offs of Janette Tough of 'The Krankies', and 'Toyah Wilcox'. The song 'I am Angry' was a send-up of 'I Want To Be Free'.
The title sequence of the first season featured caricatures of Thatcher, Reagan, Charles and Di et al, culminating in a foot going through a television set. The second season's titles guyed the film 'Blade Runner', which had gone on release the year before.
'Eighties' was repeated on 'U.K. Gold' in the late '80's/early '90's, but has yet to appear on D.V.D. It goes without saying that the show looks like a product of its time, especially with its Quantel effects and synth theme tune by David McNiven ( used on the second season ). It was hit and miss stuff, but served a purpose in laying the groundwork for the superior 'Naked Video'.
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