Being a child of the 80’s (I know, I know, not technically true as I was born in the 70’s, but I can’t remember that far back …), we were very limited to how much television we could watch back then. Not because we were particularly limited by our parents, but there were only three channels! The introduction of Channel 4 in 1982 only really became pertinent to me as I became a teenager and attempted to be rebellious by watching The Word late at night. Hardcore I know.
For the purposes of word count, I’ve limited my favourite TV programme list to a Top 5 – there are plenty of other programmes I watched religiously, and loved, but this Top 5 were just brilliant. Would my children ‘get’ these programmes now? Hell yeah! In fact, the programme that is at Number One was bought as a box set and is still watched over and over again (even though its subtitled!)
So, (drumroll please) … in at …
Number 5: Finger Mouse
This was a programme about a paper finger puppet. Yup, that was it really. He (in my head, that puppet is still real!), played different musical instruments with the help of The Music Man – a man in a grey polo-necked jumper, beard, receding hair, who had the softest, most melancholic voice ever. Made in 1985, only one series was ever made by the BBC. A travesty if you ask me.
Number 4: Mr Benn
This bowler hat wearing businessman lived at 52 Festive Lane, but secretly, he liked to go to the Fancy Dress shop every day instead of going to work (the suit was to trick his wife no doubt), and the fez wearing shop-keeper would allow Mr Benn to change into his costume of choice and go through the magic door at the back of the shop and partake in his next adventure.
Much more interesting than his day job – working in insurance.
Number 3: Hong Kong Phooey
The mild-mannered, police station janitor (canine cleaning operative by day, crimebuster by night), was a favourite for several reasons. Obviously, for Rosemary, the lady on switchboard who looked like Sue Pollard, the theme tune and because getting changed into a crime fighting outfit in a phonebox was too dull for Penry/Henry … he got changed in a filing cabinet. Genius.
The crime was invariably solved by Hong Kong Phooey’s sidekick cat, Spot, as HKP is the proverbial screw-up. This doesn’t seem to bother the public as he somehow becomes a respected superhero who always gets full credit for his cat’s achievements. I know quite a few people like that as it goes.
I was, and still remain, extremely jealous of his Phooeymobile.
Number 2: The Adventure Game
Whoa – this was one seriously f*cked up programme. Aimed at children, but loved by adults, The Adventure Game featured two celebrities (we’re not talking A-listers, more like Keith Chegwin and John Craven), and a member of the public who had travelled by space ship to the planet Arg … as you do. Generally required to find a crystal to power their ship to return to Earth, this programme was seen as a forerunner to the Crystal Maze (but the CM didn’t have multi-shaped, multi-coloured plastic currency (aka ‘Drogna,’) so I didn’t bother.)
Arg was inhabited by shapeshifting dragons (know lots of them too) … called Argonds, ruled by Rangdo (creepily referred to as ‘Uncle,’) and Moira Stewart. Yes, that Moira Stewart.
The programme culiminated in The Vortex Game, wherein I cannot begin to explain the who, what, where and how of this programme at all. The creator had to have been trippin’ for sure!
Bloody brilliant though.
And finally … in at …
Number One: Monkey
“Born from an egg on a mountain top,” Monkey is truly deserving of the top spot. Described as, “The funkiest monkey that ever popped,” Monkey felt the enlightenment he’d attained meant he could proclaim himself as the “Great Sage, Equal of Heaven.”
Suffice to say, he’s a bit of a sod, manages to royally piss off Heaven and finds himself being made to accompany Tripitaka, a young Budhist priest (played by a young woman), on a pilgrimage from China to India to fetch holy scriptures.
The pair are joined on their quest by Sandy, a water monster, and Pigsy, a pig monster consumed with lust and gluttony, who have both been expelled from Heaven. The group also encounter shapeshifters on their pilgrimage and all must learn not to do what comes naturally to them – ie, fighting, eating, lusting. The bald headed, ever patient Tripitaka continues to teach them how to be peaceful, but never quite manages to tame them completely.
The programme is as bizarre as it sounds but it’s a cult classic. It transcends time and my youngest enjoys it now as much as I did when I was young.
So, there you have it. My Top Five. I could have made a Top Fifty but I’ve wittered on enough.
A special shout out must go to Bod, Captain Caveman, The Hair Bear Bunch, The Banana Splits, Why Don’t You and, of course, Rentaghost. I wish I’d had time to talk about Grange Hill … but alas, Ro-land will have to wait for now.
A post all of its own will be given to The Young Ones. But that goes without saying, right?