Firstly, apologies for Chris Tarrant’s face there. He looks like a ghost that’s getting sucked off. Secondly: is that the 1989 ITV generic logo I spy there? Surely that look had long disappeared by the time WWTBAM was aired? The look I always remember associated with the show is the yellow and blue identity:
Clearly not, though the crossover was in fact very tight, just like your mum. The first episode of WWTBAM? was broadcast on the 4th September 1998; the blue and yellow ITV logo was launched on the 5th October 1998, just a month later.
It’s very easy to forget quite how long that 1989 generic logo survived; no way would I have said it was still being used on a network programme in 1998. In my head, the ITV of 1998 is very different to the ITV of 1989, as shown in this launch promo:
The appearance of this logo in WWTBAM? feels almost like a missing link. And an unpleasant reminder that yes, even the late 90s were a rather long time ago now. Shit.
To make us feel a little better about that, then, there is another reason why seeing this logo pop up is so surprising – and it speaks to how TV subtly rewrites itself. If you look at the Challenge repeat of the first episode of WWTBAM?, the section featuring the 1989 ITV logo is cut entirely. Not because of the logo itself – but simply because it’s on during the section where Chris Tarrant is asking for contestants for the show, and that wasn’t an appropriate thing to air in a repeat.
Understandable, and something needed to be done to this section to avoid misleading or confusing the viewer, but perhaps a little frustrating. As it is, a tiny slither of TV history is lost with this cut, and that’s somewhat unfortunate.
No wonder we lose track of this stuff so easily.
There are two people in this world: people who entirely understand why I would want to watch the very first episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on YouTube, and those who don’t. ↩
Watching things on DVD has an odd habit of hiding patterns in TV shows, as well as showing them. For all that watching classic Doctor Who exposes the runaround nature of some of the middle episodes in a serial, if you’re watching the show out of order, the links between serials go awry. Even if you decide to watch a programme like, say, George & Mildred completely in order, the fact that the show had a Christmas episode each year between 1977 and 1979 is easy to go unnoticed.
The most popular thing I’ve published here on Dirty Feed this year has been this piece on the title sequence to Blockbusters, scanned from the 1989 Blockbusters annual. Never let it be said that I’ll pass up the opportunity to scan a few pages and profit from someone else’s hard work, rather than actually writing something informative myself.
With that in mind, then, here’s a couple more pieces from said annual. Firstly, here’s producer/director Jenny Dodd, on a year in the life of the show. (On the second page of that article is a wide shot featuring a brief look at the complicated projector setup used for the game board. Has anyone else got a close-up of this famed contraption?)
One of my most vivid television memories as a child was the title sequence to Blockbusters.1 Every afternoon I’d lie in front of the fire, and that gorgeous neon cityscape would transport me to another world.
I often wondered how it was made… and the answer came when I ended up in hospital, and I managed to borrow a copy of the 1989 Blockbusters Annual. Contained within was a four page feature on how the titles were made. I devoured it… and then had to give the annual back at the end of my stay when I had the temerity to get better. I never managed to trace down a copy over the years, and in the end those pages became a distant memory.
Nowadays, I’m an adult, and eBay is a thing. And this morning, I finally saw that feature I hadn’t seen for over twenty years. If anything, it’s even more detailed than I remember, with many absolutely gorgeous behind-the-scenes photos… and well worth sharing with you lot.
“ITV’s Scotland Decides averaged 400,000 and a 5.5% share over the same period.”
This, however, is not how the article read earlier today. The above paragraph originally read as follows:
“ITV’s Scotland Decides averaged 400,000 and a 5.5% share over the same period, also for two simulcast editions – STV’s version for Scottish viewers fronted by Bernard Ponsonby and Aasmah Mir, with ITV News’s programme for the rest of the UK, anchored by Alastair Stewart.”
RX: 24th November 2013, Studio 2, The London Studios. TX: 6th March 2014, ITV, 8:30pm.
As I was at the recording of the episode, I can let you into a little secret – they shot the last scene of the episode a number of different ways:
Firstly, as broadcast, with Sharon and Tracey just sitting on the sofa realising Dorien is at the door
Secondly, with Tracey getting up, opening the door, and Dorien just standing outside.
Thirdly, with Tracey answering the door, Dorien stepping in, and them both hugging… to the audience going “Ahhhhhhh”.
Bearing in mind the episode was already too over-sentimental and syrupy at times, you can imagine what I thought of that last ending. (For the record, I also predicted they’d use the ending as broadcast.) Also worthy of note: the episode as we saw recorded didn’t have the final outside shot with everyone saying goodnight. Do I spy a last-minute fix in the edit, perhaps?
For the truly anal amongst you, at this session they also re-recorded the first scene of Episode 2, where Sharon sits down with a nice cup of hot chocolate and is interrupted by the phone. (Who knows what ludicrous catastrophe made the first version unusable?) They also recorded a version with her scraping shavings of Dairy Milk onto the top of it, but used a second take which didn’t include this. Why not impress your friends with this fascinating piece of trivia?
Anyway, I’m always interested in these programme leaflets, so if you have any hanging around, please scan them in and stick them up somewhere. I’ll give you a great big girly kiss on the bottom.
That is, until a couple of things caught my eye. Firstly, this little tidbit from the Broadcast article linked to above:
“The changes are being led by ITV’s group marketing and research director Rufus Radcliffe, who joined the broadcaster from Channel 4 in April last year. Radcliffe’s in-house strategy at C4 saw him relaunch E4 and More 4, as well as introducing C4’s floating logo idents.”
C4’s floating logo idents? AKA, the best current terrestial idents by a mile? INTERESTING. (Mind you, Channel 4 may be unique in never having a bad identity. Yes, even the circles era. Shut up.)
As I slag off Challenge when they do something wrong, it seems only fair to congratulate them when they do something right. With the sad death of Bob Holness yesterday, Challenge made a point of not only updating their EPG, but also recording some new links; genuinely impressive for a channel which doesn’t have live continuity. Take a look below – and make a note of listening to Bob’s intro for the female contestant, where he makes a hilariously inappropriate joke, but gets away with it because he was brilliant:
A thrilling post title, no? And I deliver on my promises. Taken from an episode shown early this year, on January 3rd:
UPDATE (02/01/15): Clearly EastEnders has decided it doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun. Broadcast on New Year’s Day 2015, as seen by Jonathan Bufton – slightly less visible, but still there on the left: