Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 164

Tuesday 12th June 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.15. Got the bus at 8.30, then when I got to school it was hymn practice. When we came out I did maths, then just before dinner it was Topic Groups. After that, at 12.00 I had dinner, then we came in at 1.00 and I did Topic.

Then I played Harrison at chess but got beat. Came home at 3.15 and played out, then I came in and had tea. At 4.20 I watched How dare you, then I watched You can’t see the wood at 6.40. At 7.10 I watched Blankety Blank, and at 7.40 I watched Sorry.

At 8.10 I watched and taped Billy Joel in concert Part II. At 9.10 I watched the young ones and at 9.45 I went to bed.

One of the ways in which life has changed dramatically since 1984 is the speed at which information travels. If you’re a young person in 2009, and your favourite band is releasing a new single, then chances are you’ll have been alerted to this weeks in advance by a message from their Myspace or Facebook page, you’ll have been able to listen to the song online within nanoseconds, you’ll have e-mailed (or texted) it to all your like-minded friends, posted it on a few internet forums, and – by the time the much-hyped release date finally comes around – you’ll be utterly sick to death of hearing the bloody thing played 37 times daily on whichever radio station you have pounding out of your PC every evening.

On Tuesday 12th June 1984, Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald was mobbed on the way into hymn practice. And why? BECAUSE HE’D HEARD THE NEW FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD SINGLE!!!!!


And it wasn’t as if it was a forthcoming release… it had actually been released the previous week, and had entered the charts at Number 1 two days earlier, on Sunday 10th June. But Top of the Pops STRICTLY only played songs that had already charted (this avoiding any chances of pre-release rigging by the record companies), so there’d been no sign of it on Thursday’s edition, and I’d spent Sunday evening taking my Grandma home and eating my tea, so I’d missed Simon Bates chuntering through the Top 40 countdown on Super Super Super Radio 1.

And so…

‘Ozzie!!!! What does it sound like??? Is it as good as Relax? Is it rude, like Relax? Have you seen the video as well? What’s it like? Is THAT rude, like Relax? Come on, what does it sound like? Eh? Eh? Eh?’

And so on, and so on, and so on, until Mrs Mulhern tied me to the apparatus at the back of the hall and made me sing ‘I was cold, I was lonely, were you there? Were you there?’ until all thoughts of the Scouse sex-pop geniuses that had stolen my heart had been eradicated from my tiny, overworked mind.

Anyway, here’s the sight (and sound) that would have made my brain explode with excitement 25 years ago this morning… (and no, it’s not Mrs Mulhern playing ‘Were You There?’)

A brilliant, subversive, life-affirming slice of pop wondrousness that wouldn’t get within a country mile of today’s charts (let alone make Number 1), but it meant the world to me and my friends. Unless they were girls, obviously, in which case they probably preferred Wham! and Duran Duran.

It’s easy to overestimate the seismic impression that Frankie Goes To Hollywood made on our cultural consciousnesses (esesses) in 1984. We’d missed out on punk, so before Frankie came along, most of our favourite pop experiences had been nice, family-friendly singalong stuff with a bit of dressing up involved… Adam and the Ants, Shakin’ Stevens, Dollar and Bucks Fizz. But then, suddenly at the end of 1983, Relax dive-bombed the charts and our pop worlds exploded into a mess of fizzy, filthy, mush… it got BANNED! By the BBC! Which instantly made it the most exciting record of ALL TIME. So anticipation leading up to the release of ‘Two Tribes’ had reached fever pitch, and poor Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald bore the brunt of this.

A cracking single anyway, and I would go on to spend the entire summer attempting to transcribe its complicated  lyrics. ‘I modelled shirts for… Van Helsing? Van Housing? Value Song?’

Anyway, a few little TV titbits… ‘How Dare You’ was, I think, a kind of belated Children’s ITV attempt to continue the spirit of Tiswas, with former Tiswas presenter John Gorman in charge, and lots and lots and LOTS of ‘gunging’. Noel Edmonds was probably sitting in his front room taking notes on this very afternoon. I still have a tiny scrap of the theme tune lodged in the back of my head, and it goes ‘How dare you do what you do to me…’ and so on. Can’t find a scrap of it on Youtube, though.

And yay, the second part of Billy Joel’s live appearance at Wembley Arena! Here’s the opening…

Yet again I dived upstairs with my portable tape recorder to shove it up against the tinny speaker of the cream black and white TV in my parents bedroom and record it all for posterity. No danger of it getting banned by the BBC, but it was still fabulous stuff.



  Patsy wrote @

Van Heusen shirt – company still going strong ! I am such an innoccent I never realised ‘Relax’ was rude 🙂 (Well, not until years later).

  Patsy wrote @

Oops, extra ‘c’ crept into innocent..

  Justin wrote @

What WAS the last hit single to actually be banned by the BBC?

Not sure about specific bans (but see below) but during the Gulf War(s) there was a huge list of hits that normally would have been allowed but were banned/deemed unsuitable for the duration including Waterloo by Abba, Love is a Battlefield (Pat Bentar), Army Dreamers (Kate Bush) and Billy Don’t be a Hero (Paper Lace)

There’s a full list at:
along with other lists of all bannings (latest seems to be 1993: Marxman – Sad Affair which Contained an IRA slogan)

Sorry about the late reply; been on hols!

  bobfischer wrote @

Oh yes, Relax is filth on a stick, but it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in 2009, would it? What WAS the last hit single to actually be banned by the BBC? Has there BEEN one since Relax?

  Patsy wrote @

Piqued my interests so I had to do a search ! interesting article from The Times last year-
The banned CD sounds interesting 🙂

  PJE_UK wrote @

How Dare You – I remember this with John Gorman, Clive “Wizard” Webb and the disembodied voice of Egor. A nickname promptly given to an old school colleague who then tried to stab me with a chisel in CD&T at school. Happy days !

  bobfischer wrote @

Oooh, thanks Patsy – great article!

And thanks Alan… I’d forgotten all about Clive Webb! Just been Googling to find some more info on him, and I stumbled across this nicely-sized article about ‘How Dare You’…


Hadn’t realised it was a Tyne Tees production, and I can’t believe I missed the ‘Frankie’ episode!

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