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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It seems odd to denounce the '70's as 'a time best forgotten' then keep
our memories alive by reviewing its television programmes. In the last
episode of 'Life On Mars', Sam Tyler ( John Simm ) killed himself by
jumping off a roof because he wanted to return there. I have a far
easier option - I watch D.V.D.'s.
'Nationwide' went out after the regional evening news and before the light entertainment programmes on B.B.C.-1. Each edition started with the presenter ( either Michael Barrett or Frank Bough ) seated before a bank of screens, on which could be seen the face of a local newsreader. Topics ranged from issues of the day such as the Budget or the death of a world leader to showbiz interviews. 'Down Memory Lane' was a short-lived feature which exploited a fad for nostalgia triggered by shows such as 'Upstairs, Downstairs'. Later on Richard Stilgoe and Valerie Singleton fronted a weekly consumer guide which became the forerunner to 'Watchdog'. 'The British Rock & Pop Awards' blasted the show into the '80's. In common with 'Pebble Mill At One', 'Nationwide' tried to be something to everyone.
It was frequently naff, but light and easy to digest. Ideal for unwinding to after a tiring day. I can recall cringing with embarrassment though when they wheeled in thriller writer Francis Durbridge and invited him to speculate on who had shot J.R. Ewing. He had obviously not seen 'Dallas', and was plainly out of his depth here. Another 'dearie me, did they really say that?' moment occurred in 1973 when a cake shop in Bournemouth was apparently commissioned to bake Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips' wedding cake. We were shown in great detail the preparation and hard work that went into its making. Had 'Ceefax' been around then, the recipe would have been on page 447. The staff looked pleased as punch, like Mrs.Bridges in 'Upstairs, Downstairs' when King Edward The Seventh came to dinner. However, on the day itself, viewers were informed the British Army had made the cake instead. Did someone at the Beeb boob?
The cracking signature tune was by John Scott. Some decent presenters ( including luscious long-legged Sue Lawley ) got their start here and the show had the occasional memorable moment such as Margaret Thatcher being put on the spot by schoolteacher Diana Gould over the sinking of the Belgrano.
Giving air-time to talentless people? Well, reality television is now doing that on a far grander scale. Michael Barrett was not alone in sending himself up on 'The Goodies'. Tony Blackburn and Michael Aspel did as much. Stanley Baxter produced a funny send-up of 'Nationwide' in one of his legendary Christmas shows. The L.W.T. show 'End Of Part One' went for the jugular with 'Nationtrite', hosted by Sue Straightman ( Sue Holderness ).
When 'Nationwide' finally ended in 1983, its successor was the hugely unpopular 'Sixty Minutes', hosted by Sarah Kennedy. It was spoofed a year later by the I.T.V. comedy show 'The Steam Video Company' as 'Nationwide With The Furniture Rearranged'.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia........
Herbie the skateboarding duck (c.1976-83) was the subject of an item first broadcast on the BBC news magazine programme Nationwide on 24 May 1978, which has become one of the most famous feature items in the history of British television.
Herbie, an Aylesbury duck, was bought by Jacky and Paddy Randall of Croydon for their children Michaela and Colin. The film, presented by reporter Alan Towes, includes footage of Herbie waddling along the street, joining the family at breakfast and attacking the Randalls' terrier. The most famous part of the film is a four-second shot of Herbie apparently skateboarding by himself on Colin's board. This image seemingly captured the public imagination, and the BBC received many requests for it to be shown again, which it frequently was.
The clip also appeared on other TV stations around the world, many of which also produced their own variations on the theme. There was also renewed interest in the clip in 1983 after the death of Herbie was announced, and it has been repeated many times since on other TV programmes.
As a result of the item's popularity, the term "skateboarding duck" has come to signify a particular sort of quirky and essentially frivolous news story, often used to fill time at the end of a broadcast.
I was only a kid when Nationwide was broadcast and looking back it epitomised a decade best forgotten. The reports it did were supposed to be of interest to the viewing public but they just gave air-time to sad characters like a bunch of middle-aged men playing war games with remote controlled model tanks, bikers who owed hundreds of pounds in unpaid fines for refusing to wear crash helmets, and people who'd decided to re-christen themselves Elvis Presley or Marlon Brando. It took trivial matters that most people weren't interested in too seriously. For a while it featured a nostalgia item called Memory Lane where it looked back to a certain year. It seemed to me in the 1970s that the BBC was always looking on the past instead of the present. I also think it should have really been called Englandwide. Items from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland very rarely appeared in it. Michael Barratt, its anchorman in the early years, couldn't have thought too highly of Nationwide otherwise he wouldn't have agreed to do these parodies of it on The Goodies.
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