Sunday, 6 September 2015

Some Things Never Change : It Was Alright In The 70s

Following last year's successful two part series that looked at what was considered OK in the 1970s but is really not OK now, Channel 4 brought back the It Was Alright In... series for a new run last night (if you missed it its repeated tomorrow night at 10pm) focusing once again on the 1970s but with the promise of addresses subsequent decades such as the 1980s in the weeks ahead.



As enjoyable as this was I have to say that, on the evidence of what they brought up in the opener, I think they already exhausted the most shocking material deserving of our derision in the last series. 

Do the programme makers really think that no one leers at young women as they unwittingly bend over nowadays? They showed a clip of The Sweeney which saw Regan do just that followed by a soundbite bemoaning the state of society at the time, as if such laddishness no longer occurs. Nonsense. 



The episode also found much amusement in an audience based health series from the decade entitled How To Stay Alive primarily because the presenter of the series was the Leigh born actor and writer Colin Welland. In fact narrator Matt Lucas made a point of scoffing at Welland's lack of scientific credentials to host a show such as this, as if to say 'look how silly the 70s were' and 'haven't we come a long way since this kind of odd presenting decision?' Except I don't really recall Matt Baker having a degree in marine biology, yet he still hosted Big Blue Live all last week, and I'm struggling to think just what qualifications the actor, writer, comedian and game show presenter Alexander Armstrong had to present a show about the sewers of ancient Rome recently too. So you see, some things never change.

And some things have been done before too. How To Stay Alive had previously been dissected in a much more amusing and affectionate way by Bob Mills in his excellent late night 90s TV series In Bed With Me Dinner.



Interestingly, Millsy actually appeared as one of the talking heads in this episode of It Was Alright In The 70s

Perhaps the onlymoments this episode really got right was how odd the following sketch is from a Christmas special featuring the Carry On team



A clip which left comedian Ellie Taylor momentarily lost for words until "Barbara Windsor's tits" first came to mind, followed by an equally astute "That's basically a whole sketch about an old man being 'weird' with a 13 year old girl"

And how revoltingly chauvinistic the allegedly great chat show host Michael Parkinson was with Helen Mirren in this interview from 1975



So yeah, all in all I didn't buy how 'backward' 70s TV was compared to today in this instalment, but I'm intrigued to see what we can make of 80s television next week. The show airs at 9pm Saturday night and once again it is repeated Monday at 10pm.

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