Continuing our 1970s theme, Steerforth recalls that decade’s obsession with bizarre dance shows and other strange telly…
The above picture shows the Easter story, expressed through the medium of dance.
How anyone thought it was a good idea to tell the story of the crucifixion of Jesus through dance and mime, performed by the cast of Space 1999, is beyond me. But it seems that this sort of thing wasn’t unusual in the 1970s.
I found this 1975 ITV handbook recently:
Published by the Independent Broadcasting Authority, it’s a wonderful snapshot of commercial broadcasting in Britain during 1974, packed full of articles and photos (with a nerdtastic section on IBA transmitter stations).
It also clearly shows that television execs in the 1970s had an unhealthy obsession with dance…
What was going on? Did they think that people really wanted to see this, or was it just cheap television?
In 1974, I was in bed by eight o’clock, so I missed the worst excesses of this obsession with dancing. However, I do have vague memories of men in trouser suits poncing around to Up, Up and Away, along with the occasional ‘rock opera’ (which my parents always turned off in disgust because the cast looked as if they were on drugs).
The BBC’s hands weren’t entirely clean either: Seaside Special, The Rolf Harris Show and just about any other live entertainment show had some awful dance group (naturally I exclude the gorgeous Pan’s People from this diatribe).
At least today, dancing is restricted to a small core of programmes, for those who like that sort of thing. Also, those grim, po-faced contemporary dance groups, who did things like depict the Jarrow Crusade through the medium of movement, have now been replaced by streetdance and hip hop.
So next time you find yourself complaining that television isn’t what it used to be, buy a boxed set of Homeland and look at this listing for BBC1 on April 16th, 1975.
1230 – Day and Night, including Crime Line.
1255 – News
1300 – Pebble Mill, including Family Advice with Claire Rayner.
1345 – Fingerbobs
1400 – Closedown
1558 – Regional News (Except London/SE)
1600 – Play School
1625 – Boris the Bold
1635 – Jackanory, with Judy Dench
1650 – The Monkees
1715 – If You Were Me (new series). People find out about each other’s lives. Today: David from Plymouth and Julie from Puerto Rico.
1740 – Magic Roundabout
1745 – News
1800 – Nationwide
1850 – Film: The Lion and the Horse (1952). Starring Steve Cochrane and Wildfire, the wonder horse. Wholesome family film about a man and his horse.
2010 – Survivors, starring Carolyn Seymour, Lucy Fleming, Talfryn Thomas in The Fourth Horseman.
2100 – News
2125 – The Budget, with Sir Geoffrey Howe, Shadow Chancellor.
2135 – Last of the Summer Wine, starring Michael Bates, Bill Owen and Peter Sallis.
2205 – Sportsnight. European championship soccer, England v Cyprus from Wembley Stadium, highlights and action analysis; Amateur Boxing Association Championship.
2315 – Midweek, introduced by Ludovic Kennedy.
2328 – Weatherman
I rest my case.
However, there was one exception which, 38 years on, still stands up as a first-rate piece of drama: