Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 169

Sunday 17th June 1984

Woke up at 8.45 and got up at about 10.00. Had some breakfast then I went on Levendale and met Foz and Twinner at the VG shop. We went to Twinner’s and played Manic Miner on the Spectrum, then at 12.15 I came home and had dinner.

Then I mucked on upstairs and at 1.30 I went on Levendale but there was no-one around so I came back and played on the computer till 5.00, when I watched The Goodies. At 5.30 I had tea, then after that I had my hair washed and cut.

At 7.15 I watched Go for it, and at 7.45 I watched Candid Camera. At 8.45 I went in the bath, and at 9.30 I watched That’s life. Went to bed at 10.20.

In 1984, there was only one thing in the world that I really, truly WANTED. World peace? Take a hike. A peck on the cheek from Debbie Jarvis? Pffffft. Nope, my sole object of desire was – of course – the Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer. Every time I saw one, I reacted like Tom from Tom and Jerry did whenever a sexy, female cat slinked down his back alleyway…  my heart went BA-BUM BA-BUM, my eyes flew out on stalks, little love hearts popped around my head and a filthy, lascivious trumpet solo played in the back of my mind.

Actually, forget the trumpet solo, the soundtrack to my insatiable, unbridled lust was usually this…

Yes, Manic Miner! The greatest computer game ever invented, and I’d still BARELY PLAYED IT. ‘Foz’ was Mark Foster, a cheeky and hilarious ginger lad and a fine cartoonist who’d been part of mine and Andrew ‘Sug’ Sugden’s Loonymen posse (see this entry). And ‘Twinner’ would have been either Chris or Craig…. ngggh! I can’t remember their surname at all. Dark haired-twins in the year above us… can any fellow Levendale veterans help me out?

(It was the 1980s law that both members of male twins were simply referred to as ‘Twinner’ by everyone at the school. Including the teachers. It made things easier, and did away with all that fiddly stuff about ‘personal identity’ and ‘individuality’. Pfffft)

Clearly it was a quiet day on my foray around the Levendale estate, and I think I was on the verge of going home when I chanced upon Foz and Twinner undercutting the VG Shop, selling knocked-off Wham Bars and forged Panini stickers round the back of the alleyway. Aaaah, ‘Fatcher’s Britain. A few pleasantries were exchanged, and then the fateful question ‘D’yer wanner come to my house and play onner Spectrum?’ was no doubt casually posed.


At which point I fainted, and when I came round I was in Twinner’s front room, trying to negotiate my way around ‘Central Cavern’ while Foz, Twinner and Twinner watched, and Twinner and Twinner’s Mum bought us glasses of orange on a tray.  No idea where Twinner and Twinner’s Dad was… Twinner didn’t know, and neither did Twinner. 

And The Goodies! Crikey. When I was five, The Goodies was my FAVOURITE TV SHOW EVER, and – brilliantly – I laughed so hard watching ‘The Goodies And The Beanstalk’ at my Gran’s bungalow in December 1977 that I went into a convulsive fit and spent Christmas Day in hospital. True, that! And one my earliest memories in my main childhood house in Yarm is of my Dad waking me up unexpectedly, an hour after bedtime, gently leading me downstairs into the front room, and plonking me on the armchair as an unscheduled episode of The Goodies flickered into life on our ancient black and white telly.

Fantastically, I found an utterly random (and clearly discarded) picture of THAT front room and THAT telly round at my parents house last week. This is from either very late 1976, or very early 1977…


I know it’s an odd thing to say, but I love this picture. It’s clearly been taken by accident, or snapped right at the start of the film ‘to make sure it’s wound on properly’, but what a great, unguarded glimpse into a very different time. The TV – like most in the 1970s – was rented, and our family didn’t switch to colour until early 1977. The first programme that I watched was Rainbow, and me and my Mum cooed with delight to discover that George was pink and Zippy was yellow.

(And Geoffrey was a kind of light orange, but that could have been the reception)

The Goodies switched to ITV in 1981 for two final series, and I’m pretty sure that what I watched 25 years ago today was a repeat of one of those episodes. Tremendous stuff anyway, my favourite of the run being ‘Football Crazy’ in which, erm, Bill Oddie decides to become a football hooligan…

(The first time this episode was screened, I was in my Gran’s front room in 1981-ish, about to shovel a forkful of beans-on-toast into my mouth at the very moment that the ‘operation’ scene popped up. It put me off them for months afterwards)

And Candid Camera! The American version I think, piped in by ITV to huge audiences. The 1980s obsession with ‘pranks’ and on TV probably started on this very night. I bet Jeremy Beadle was rubbing his hands together (insert your own jokes here… I loved Beadle, so I haven’t got the heart…)



  Chris Orton wrote @

The Goodies must have this sort of effect on people. There was that poor chap who died laughing while watching King Fu Kapers, and poor Bob ended up in hospital!

  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

I am delighted to hear that you were hospitalised by The Goodies.
This makes two people of my acquaintance for whom this is the case, as a childhood friend named Frauke fell off a shelf after laughing at one of their books and needed stitches to her head.
If I can find three more people who have been rushed to hospital because of The Goodies I might be able to write a thesis.
Of course the tragic fact remains that one man laughed himself into an early grave whilst watching the episode about the black puddings in the 1970s. I shall not use that as a case study; it would be too warped.

  Chris Byers wrote @

The twins were Craig and Christopher Young.

  Mark Hirst wrote @

Chris, just beat me to it in naming the twins.

I remember young Mason’s `bell argument` now that you have brought it up! How bizarre is that! Like Bob said, young Stephen Mason could start an argument with himself if he tried. He probably moved on to anti establishment protests in later years, due to his effortless ability to argue lost causes and his incessant whingeing. Alternatively, he would have made a great outspoken MP, putting huge expense claims in for pies!

Should have relaxed my grip on top of High Force with him! That said, being quite a well built young man, he would probably have taken me with him.

  Thing wrote @

Yes, the Goodies’ ITV series (they only did one for the network) was indeed repeated during June and July 1984, being also the last full repeat showing of any of their series on terrestrial TV to date. Although the BBC had also repeated three episodes from the final series they’d done with them, in 1980, only a month or two earlier. I think two of them were Saturday Night Grease and the Animals one with the Watership Down parody and giant bunny rabbit costumes which were later reused for a Terry And June episode, as well as Dawn French playing the Easter Bunny for The Young Ones.

Anyway, I think the ITV Goodies repeats ended on 15 July, so the episode shown on 17 June would indeed have been Football (“Come on, you great hairy nancy!”) Crazy, the second of that series.

Always loved The Goodies, it’s one of the earliest non-children’s programmes I can remember watching. I suppose the physical action, the broad slapstick and colourfulness of it helped give it an immediate appeal even when you were too young to really understand it.

I do also remember watching rainbow in black and white and being surprised to find out Zippy wasn’t the colour I’d imagined after getting our first colour set.

  Chris Byers wrote @

I always find it amazing how teachers can remember all the kids that they have taught. Since our class went it’s separate ways in 1984 you must have had hundreds of kids pass through your hands (no pun intended) Mr H and yet you can still remember so many of them so well. I couldn’t even remember Christopher Herbert until an old friend of mine and Bob’s kindly reminded me of him. So if you are reading this thanks for that Ian.

Oh yes and the Goodies were fantastic you just don’t get that sort of entertainment anymore

  Mark Hirst wrote @


It would be a lie to say that we remember every single kid that we’ve taught. (Most of you are in the old memory banks tho`)

As I said to Bob when we met up for a chat, certain classes and individuals tend to stand out. Levendale 1980-1986 stands out for me as it was my first job and as Mr M said we had a great staff. I can remember most of the children there because we did the residentials at Carlton and being with a group 24/7, sharpens the old memory neurons!

  bobfischer wrote @

Yikes! I go out for the day, and this is what I come back to! 🙂

I’d forgotten all about the poor bloke who died watching The Goodies! What a way to go. I’d always assumed this was an urban myth, but it’s not, is it?

Chris B – thanks for putting me out of my misery with the Young twins! I can sleep easy in my bed tonight. If I ever get there.

Thing – a fount of knowledge as ever, and I can’t believe I chanced upon showing The Goodies episode from that very night! It was a pure stab in the dark. It’s hard to describe just HOW funny I found The Goodies when I was five years old, I would literally roll around the floor, crying with laughter and gasping for breath. ‘Kid’s programme! Kid’s programme!’ 😉

And yeah, I’m amazed by your memories as well. Although go on, rack your brains a bit more and try and remember where Mrs Keasey might be… I need an interview! 🙂

  Tom S wrote @

Just to add to the confusion – and prove how unimaginative school kids really are – I think we had Twinners in my year at Conyers (the Sampsons? I remember one of them, just before the first and the only “fight” of my school career, kindly advised me that “Kingy knows Karate”) and my brother had Twinners in his year (The Waltons – one of which appeared on Who Wants to be a Millionaire fairly recently)

  bobfischer wrote @

I don’t remember the Sampsons, oddly… but I definitely knew the Waltons, Tom and Jonty. My mum phoned me in the middle of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ to tell me that one of them was in the hotseat!

I’m not 100% certain which one it was, but I think it might have been Twinner. And he called up Twinner as his ‘Phone a Friend’.

  Luise wrote @

Dear Friends, Happy Fool’s Day!!

An avid duck hunter was in the market for a new bird dog. His search ended when he found a dog that could actually walk on water to retrieve a duck. Shocked by his find, he was sure none of his friends would ever believe him.
He decided to try to break the news to a friend of his, the eternal pessimist who refused to be impressed with anything. This, surely, would impress him. He invited him to hunt with him and his new dog.
As they waited by the shore, a flock of ducks flew by. They fired, and a duck fell. The dog responded and jumped into the water. The dog, however, did not sink but instead walked across the water to retrieve the bird, never getting more than his paws wet. This continued all day long; each time a duck fell, the dog walked across the surface of the water to retrieve it.
The pessimist watched carefully, saw everything, but did not say a single word.
On the drive home the hunter asked his friend, “Did you notice anything unusual about my new dog?”
“I sure did,” responded the pessimist. “He can’t swim.”

Happy April Fool’s Day!

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