WHO'S ON TV - Programme Four
Welcome to the fourth show from the SFC, full of memorabilia and nostalgia from British TV. This episode features links to the great British institution that is known as 'Channel Four'. Featuring long forgotten and well remembered theme tunes, clips, adverts and releases by the stars that appeared on the channel since it's launch in 1982. With it's public service remit to show programmes for 'minority viewers', they nontheless presented programmes that had mass appeal, and were very successful. There’s full versions of themes, usually only heard in the first few moments of a programme, rare singles by famous and obscure artists, cover versions and original tracks by famous actors, singers and comedians, all with a connection to the station.
The station launched on the 2nd November 1982 to a fanfare known as 'Four Score' composed by David Dundas and presented by Paul Coia. The channel's first programme was the game show 'Countdown' which is still running today.
At 4:45 pm, Richard Whiteley presented the first episode, with co-presenters Beverley Isherwood and Cathy Hytner, who loaded the letters on the board, with Carol Vorderman appearing as 'Vital Statistician' for the numbers game. Whiteley's voice was used on comedian's John Shuttleworth's album in 2008 on the track 'I Don't Want To Dance'. John's first hit was as 'Jilted John' in 1978 and John was actually Whiteley's given first name.
Following an introduction to forthcoming programmes on the Channel, a 'gentle exercise' programme, a US, real-life, courtroom show and 'Book Four', a look at writing war novels, there was the Channel 4 news. Initially introduced by Peter Sissons, it quickly introduced Trevor MacDonald onto it's team and settled on the, now famous, theme tune to introduce it's appearance. MacDonald left the programme in 1989 to join the ITN team presenting the 'News At Ten' for ITV.
After the news programme was C4's new long-running, gritty soap entitled 'Brookside'. Set in Liverpool, the programme featured several families residing in a fictional cul-de-sac including the Grant's, who had Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson as the parents to troublesome children Karen and Damon.
Australian comedian Paul Hogan, hosted his own show on the Channel's opening night. Although the show had been running since 1973, It was his TV adverts for Fosters Lager and his starring role in 'Crocodile Dundee' that really made his name in the UK.
Continuing on from a film on that opening night, was the first in a series of comedic plays entitled 'The Comic Strip Presents...'. 'Five Go Mad In Dorset' was a satire on the Enid Blyton adventure stories and featured future stars of comedy; Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Who, along with Kathy Burke and Bananarama, formed Lananeeneenoonoo for the 1989 Comic Relief charity single, 'Help'. French and Saunders also appeared in another Comic Strip story, with Rik Mayall, Ade Edmonson and Peter Richardson (also from '5 Go Mad..') along with Nigel Planner in the episode 'Bad News Tour', a mockumentary of a rock band, who went on to having life oustide the programme.
A review show by the Raving Beauties, bought the first night's viewing to a close, but the following years showed a creative flair that no other British TV station has been able to match. In music, the station's flagship show was the daring and innovative 'The Tube' which was hosted by the keyboard player from Squeeze, Jools Holland, and music journalist and Penthouse model, Paula Yates.
It was Channel Four who were almost solely responsible for bringing American Football to a British audience. Music featured heavily in the programming from Fox, CBS and NBC, including an obscure b-side to 'Don't Get Mad Get Even' by the Age Of Chance. Even the infamous Chicago Bears recorded a single to rouse their fans, as they made their way to winning the Superbowl in 1986.
American sit-com 'Cheers' was also a popular favourite on the Channel, featuring future film stars Ted Danson and Shelley Long, and now famous film actor and director Woody Harrelson. None of whom are known for their recorded singing talents.
Janet Kay, however had had a number one single with the song 'Silly Games' and contributed to the theme song as well as starring in, a ground-breaking British sit-com 'No Problem!' in 1983.
Another singer who turned his talents to a successful acting career, was Bob Guillaume, who after becoming one of the most popular characters in the spoof sit-com 'Soap', span the character onto his own series 'Benson'.
Bill Cosby had taken a break for comedy, to release his own albums in the mid 70s, and he used one of tracks 'Kiss Me' as the theme tune to his new family sit-com, appropriately titled 'The Cosby Show'.
Andrew Gold had a hit with hi self-penned 'Thank You For Being A Friend' but it wasn't until 1985 that the song really entered the public's mind when the song was re-interpreted as the theme tune to the highly successful 'Golden Girls'
But it wasn't just imported American sit-coms that were stirring things up for Channel Four. Looking at the US popularity of 'Saturday Night Live', the channel launched its British equivalent of 'Saturday Live' to present up and coming comedy acts and music that especially appealed to the younger generation. Alongside some established acts from the Comic Strip, Not the 9 O'Clock News and Fry & Laurie, were newcomers Ben Elton, Harry Enfield with his popular characters Stavros, and 'Loadsamoney', and The Joan Collins Fan Club, who was later to drop his stage name, for the now, more familiar, Julian Clary.
Children's TV was represented by the 'unusual' puppet ‘Pob’, who began each episode by spitting on to the TV screen then writing his name in the phlegm! Sci-fi was also championed on the channel with contributions by Max Headroom, which had major cross-over value, entering the music-video market and comedy genres at the same time!
Comedienne Rosanne Barr had her own US sit-com partnered with John Goodman for a hugely popular run at the top, and Julian Clary returned in his own, typically risqué, game show, 'Sticky Moments', and that just about wrapped up the 80s for the station. Of course, the story wasn't over, and the 90's were to provide even greater highs...
01 Airwave Orchestra - Fourscore (Polydor 7” Single CHANN401) 1982
02 Utilities - Clock (from 'Countdown') 1982
03 John Shuttleworth And Richard Whiteley - I Don't Want To Dance (But You've Got To!) (Chic Ken CD 'The Dolby Decades' CHICKENCD017) 2008
04 Alan Hawkshaw - Best Endeavours (Bruton 'Impact' CD BRN22CD) 1990
05 Sir Trevor Mcdonald - ITN News Remix (Twerp TV YouTube Video) 2010
06 Steve Wright & Dave Roylance - Brookside Theme (Soapside 7 Single MM1001) 1982
07 Ricky Tomlinson - Are You Looking At Me (Fubar CD Single CDROCKY1) 2001
08 Paul Hogan - Fosters Ads (Channel Four Adverts)
09 Lananeeneenoonoo - Help (London CD Single LONCD222) 1989
10 Bad News - Bohemian Rhapsody (EMI 7 Single EM24) 1987
11 Jeff Beck - Star Cycle (Epic 'There And Back' LP EPC83288) 1980
12 Jools Holland - Crazy Over You (IRS 7 Single PFP1020) 1983
13 BEF with Paula Yates - These Boots Are Made For Walking (Virgin 'Music Of Quality' LP V2219) 1982
14 Scott Shreer - NFL On Fox Theme (WSP 'Fan Jams' CD OPCD7683) 2004
15 Age Of Chance - Gettin Mad (Instrumental) (Virgin 7 Single VS989) 1987
16 Chicago Bears Shufflin Crew - The Super Bowl Shuffle (Extended Vocal Mix) (Mercury 12 Single BOWL112) 1985
17 Gary Portnoy - Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Starblend 7 Single CHEER1) 1984
18 Woody Harrelson - Happy To The Sun (Live) ('For Our Children' Concert) 1993
19 Shelly Long - Emmy Awards Medley (EMMY Awards) 1986
20 Ted Danson & Co - Three Men Rap (from 'Three Men & A Little Lady') 1990
21 Powell Family - No Problem (Island 7 Single IS102) 1983
22 George Aliceson Tipton - Theme (from 'Soap') 1977
23 Bob Guillaume - I Who Have Nothing (Tomato 7 SIngle TOM10010) 1979
24 Bill Cosby - Kiss Me (Partee 'At Last' LP PBS2405) 1974
25 Cynthia Fee - Thank You For Being A Friend (from 'The Golden Girls') 1985
26 Paul Hardcastle - Theme (from 'Saturday Live') 1985
27 Harry Enfield - Loadsamoney (Doin Up The House) (Mercury 7 Single DOSH1) 1988
28 Joan Collins Fan Club - Leader Of The Pack (Ten 7 SIngle TEN227) 1988
29 Mark Stanley - Theme (from 'Pob's Programme') 1985
30 Art Of Noise with Max Headroom - Paranoimia (China 7 Single WOK9) 1986
31 Daniel Caine Orchestra - Theme (from 'Roseanne') 1988
32 John Goodman - People Like Us (EMI 7 Single EMI5567) 1986
33 Roseanne Barr - Three Little Birds (from 'Rockin With Roseanne' DVD) 2006
34 Julian Clary - Theme (from 'Stcky Moments') 1989
35 (Desmond's) Norman Beaton - Don t Scratch My Soca (from 'Desmon's') 1989
36 Max Headroom - Adieu Song (from 'The Max Headroom Show) 1985
37 Steve Wright & Dave Roylance - 1980s End of Part One (from 'Brookside') 1982