If only I could stop, rewind, pause and watch it all again
There are at least five TV series entitled "Fast Forward" listed on IMDb, but this version was a rapid fire comedy sketch show on Children's BBC, and one of the few programs that could tear me away from Children's ITV in the mid-eighties. The jokes were fired off at the live audience in such quick succession that the theme tune advised viewers to "watch me on the video". It never mentioned using the fast forward button though. Each program would start with the four cast-members opening the show 'Blue Peter' style (usually referring to their never seen but apparently enormous pet 'Tiny') before letting loose with the prerecorded sketches. This makes me wonder how much of the show was recorded in front of that studio audience...
The two 'presenters', who managed to stick out all three series, were Floella Benjamin and Nick Wilton, both familiar to young audiences from 'Play Away', although FF show was aimed at slightly older viewers. Wilton especially was a busy bee during that time, writing and performing for 'grown up' sketch shows such as Alas Smith and Jones, doing commercials (including voice overs) everywhere, and appearing on two competing live Saturday morning shows at the same time (well, on alternating weeks at least): as Mo the Crow on BBC's 'Saturday Superstore' and as Tony Deal on ITV's 'No 73'.
Rounding out the cast were Joanna Monro and Andrew Secombe. Don't remember much about Joanna, but Andy is the son of a Goon (Harry Secombe), married the second Miss Moneypenny (the one from the Timothy Dalton years) and voiced Anakin's Skywalker's slave master Watto. He left Fast Forward after two seasons to do similar show on ITV, 'Five Alive', the big difference was that this program aired Saturday night instead of Wednesday afternoon. This left the newest member of the FF team, Robert Harley (who first joined in series two) to take over most leading roles such as Spaceman Milton Keenze. Joanna was replaced by someone else I don't recall much of, Sarah Mortimer, in the third series.
Harley and Wilton teamed up for a weekly 'adventure serial' aptly called 'The Adventurers'. Tall and Handsome Robert portrayed India Rubber Jones (I.R.) and short and slightly whiny Wilton was his 'sort of good friend' Cheese Plant (C.P.). Nick also provided the hilarious narration (by voice-over without any whine). Each week I.R. and C.P. would find themselves in trouble all around the world and accompanied by rousing, masculine music such as the theme from "Rawhide" and "How the West was Won".
Another mainstay was the weekly news break, or "Late, Late, Laser Link-up" and a collection of 'Laugh-In' style hit and miss quickies. More airtime was usually devoted to spoofs of films and television series, ranging from 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly', past 'He-Man and the Balerina's of the Universe' and 'Robin of Sherwood' to 'Allo, 'Allo (renamed 'Au Revoir Au Revoir', naturally). I didn't realize it at the time, but the fact that it was being spoofed on a children's proved that 'Allo 'Allo had already lost all of it's raunchiness and become a tired, cliché filled comedy for all the family.
Only Robert Harley went on to appear in the follow up to Fast Forward, 'The Satellite Show', which also featured the very funny Carla Mendonca and Matthew Devitt, but had the unfortunate distinction of being hosted by a 'Spitting Image' like rubber puppet called C.D., who was obviously modeled after CBBC announcer Andy Peters. Ever present, Nick Wilton did make at least one appearance, but the Satellite Show never reached the comedic heights of FF. Strangely enough, around that time, the BBC published it's own magazine for children (to rival ITV's Look-In) called... Fast Forward, but it didn't have anything to do with the show of the same name, this publication was all about Neighbours and Ed the Duck.
9 out of 10
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