Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 166

Thursday 14th June 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. Got the bus at 8.30, and first at school it was maths groups. When we came out me and Doug did our maths, then went in the library. When we came out of there Mrs Baldwin gave us some more maths and we did that.

Had dinner at 12.00 and in the afternoon it was Topic groups. For the rest of the afternoon Doug and I did Topic and at 3.15 I came home. I played outside till 5.15, when I came in for tea, then at 6.30 I watched Northern life.

At 7.10 I watched Tomorrow’s world, and at 7.45 I watched Top of the pops – ** FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD ARE NUMBER ONE! ** At 8.30 I watched Porridge and at 9.00 I went to bed.

Can I tell I’m excited? Yep, that’s right… the second night in a row that I’ve watched ‘Northern Life’!!!

I’m not sure where this sudden interest in local current affairs came from, as every 11-year-old in the world can tell you that the news is OFFICIALLY dead borin’. Back in 1984, it was the dreary old ‘news’ that meant whizzo, dynamic, super-exciting kids TV shows like Grange Hill and, erm, Blue Peter had come to an end, and you’d have to sit through an hour of boring people talking about boring things (strikes, nuclear war, The Yorkshire Ripper) while you pushed a Findus Crispy Pancake around a sea of mushy peas, shrugged, mumbled about being ‘not hungry’, then nibbled sulkily on a bit of Soreen malt loaf.

As Paul Weller sang in ‘That’s Entertainment’, ‘Watching the news and not eating your tea…’

It’s a line that never fails to remind me of my childhood, and all the adult accessories of teatime… the steaming teapot in its chunky cosy, the pompous parps of the BBC news theme, and Richard Baker or Kenneth Kendall staring out and telling us about grown-up stuff FOR AN ETERNITY…

Northern Life was the local news programme on our regional ITV channel Tyne Tees (or Tyne Wear as most embittered Teessiders seemed to call it), usually presented by avuncular, bearded Boro fan Paul Frost…

I’ve no idea why this had become essential viewing for my 11-year-old self. I can only assume that one of my teachers at school had given us a little pep talk about ‘taking more of an interest in current affairs and the world around you’ and I’d dutifully taken note. Or maybe I was just training in the Fischer family tradition of grumbling about the weather…

Anyway, good to see a mention of Mrs Baldwin, another young, twentysomething teacher whose cheeky wiggle and Princess Diana harido earned her a few (entirely unwelcome, I’m sure) 11-year-old male admirers. I think she’s still teaching somewhere on Teesside, so I’ll try to track her down for an interview!

And yay…! My first experience of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s new smash hit, Two Tribes. In fact, this is a belting-looking episode of Top of the Pops, with Peter Powell and Mike ‘Pop Quiz’ Read sharing the presenting duties…

• Art Company – Susanna [Performance]
• Elton John – Sad Songs [Promo Video]
• Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes [Performance]
• Nick Heyward – Love All Day [Performance]
• Nik Kershaw – I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me [Performance]
• Ozzy Osbourne – So Tired [Promo Video]
• Rod Stewart – Infatuation [Promo Video]
• Scritti Politti – Absolute [Performance]
• The Smiths – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now [Performance]

Good to see Holly rocking the ‘Norman Wisdom’ look! And a brace of classic 1980s ‘Nick’s (see also: Nick Kamen). And I can remember, on this very night, my Dad returning to the front room from his nightly bath, resplendent in brown slacks and cream shirt, as Scritti Politti took to the screen. ‘Yes,’ he mused, ‘I can think of another word that rhymes with that as well…’

And just to complete today’s Youtube overload, I found a sensational selection of Tyne Tees adverts from two days earlier, Tuesday 14th June 1984. These are taken from ITV (yes, ITV)’s epic adaptation of King Lear! Wherever you may wander, there’s no taste like Stones…

I’ve suddenly got an insatiable desire to eat a Topic, so I’m off out before Presto closes. If anyone fancies checking back tonight though, I found a little treasure trove of previously unseen 1984 pictures at my parents house last week, so I’ll try to upload them later on. Consider it a bonus feature!



  Chris Orton wrote @

Blimey – that Northern Life stuff doesn’t half bring back memories. I can’t ever remember seeing Pam as a weather girl! For any folks outside the region, she still presents the evening news on ITV1 Tyne Tees & Border (doesn’t sound right that does it?) to this very day!

Paul Frost is still about too, although I think that these days he has a production company that (I think) makes military history DVDs and the like.

  bobfischer wrote @

Yep, seeing Pam doing the weather was a surprise for me as well! I think this was around the time that Wincey Willis was poached by TV-AM, so I guess she might just have been standing in for a short while.

I used to see Paul Frost occasionally at BBC dos, but it’s been a few years now.

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