Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 238

Saturday 25th August 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.30. I did some more of my A-Z of Fighting Fantasy, and at 12.00 I had dinner. Then I did some more of the A-Z, and at 3.15 I watched the Two Tribes video on Rock around the clock.

Then I played out till tea at 5.00, and after that I walked the mutts around the field. Came back at 7.00 and watched Game for a laugh, and at 7.30 I watched THRILLER on Rock around the clock. At 7.45 I watched Ultra Quiz, and at 8.00 I went outside.

Tried to get my bike out but knocked over the steps and smashed the door. Went to bed at 9.00.

Clearly yesterday’s fevered speculation about Kermit the Frog’s sex life had exhausted me both physically and emotionally, and I had to spend a quiet day in front of the telly with a wet flannel over my forehead. Luckily for me, BBC2 came to the rescue…

I think ‘Rock Around The Clock’ was a full 24 hours of music being broadcast on this strange minority channel from Saturday morning through until the wee small hours of Sunday. Pretty revolutionary stuff  – not least because in 1984 TV channels tended to call it a day around 12.15am, at which point a tired-sounding continuity announcer would wish us all a restful good evening, play a lazy instrumental version of God Save The Queen and remove all the plugs from the sockets in TV centre. Before putting on a feather boa, downing a bottle of Tequila and heading to one of Jan Leeming’s legendary all-night raves.

At this point my Dad, usually with a bottle of cloudy home-made wine inside him (and an empty peanut bowl on his head) would leap up proudly from his armchair and offer a sloppy, ironic salute before turning off the TV by hand (we didn’t have a remote control until 1990) and clumping up the stairs to bed.

Anyway, here’s an actual clip from Rock Around The Clock, with New Order making a bloody awful racket live from the Radio 1 studios (actually, it’s really good, it’s just the intro that sounds they’re attempting to play it while falling down the stairs…)

Sensational shorts, Barney!

I can’t really remember anything at all about Rock Around The Clock other than the fact that I tuned in especially to watch the video to Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes (which I’d seen before on Top of the Pops) and that I caught Michael Jackson’s Thriller by accident. And I HADN’T seen this before, which was odd as the single had been released in December 1983. This was definitely the full, 15-minute version with the hilarious ‘horror film’ opening sequence in the woods. I was a bit nervy about watching this as I’d had a lifelong aversion to scary movies, ever since ITV’s screening of Jaws had given me the screaming ab-dabs for the last three months of 1981.

I think I managed to watch it on his occasion by convincing myself that BBC2 couldn’t POSSIBLY show anything untoward at 7.30pm in the evening, and even if they did then it couldn’t be as scary as watching Beadle, Kennedy, Kelly et al on Game For A Laugh half an hour earlier. I’m not sure I’ve seen the full video since, and I now can’t think of it at all without bringing to mind Lenny Henry’s spoof version on his BBC1 show a few months later… (‘These guys are really frightening, and they look as if they’re fans of Aston VILL-AAAAAA’)

And then… yay! Some authentic juvenile clumsy buggery! With my Dad being a frustrated, out-of-work builder, the layout of our house was in a constant state of flux, and – for a few months in 1984 – he installed a rickety extra door into our kitchen wall, leading directly into the dusty garage. 

On this fateful night, my trusty Chopper (snarf!) was propped up against the garage wall, trapped behind our rickety, six-foot step ladder. I decided, in my own inimitable style, that I would retrieve my bike without first bothering to move the ladder, and – in the process – sent the ladder tumbling forward, its upper rungs gracefully smashing through the little glass window at the top of the kitchen door.

I think my Dad was in the kitchen at the time, doing something obscene to a home wine-making kit, and was – to say the least – slightly nonplussed to suddenly find a shower of glass and the top six inches of his favourite stepladder crashing into the room. Caught red-handed, still wrestling with the handlebars of my Chopper (guffaw!), I think I actually said the word ‘Ooops’ for possibly the only time in my life.

My Dad’s language, not surprisingly, was decidedly riper. I was sent to bed before I ‘brought the whole bloody house down around our ears’ and my plans to watch Rock Around The Clock until the sun rose over the Kirklevington Young Offenders’ Institute were swiftly curtailed.

Probably for the best really, I think Andy Peebles hosted for a while after midnight. I’d have had nightmares.


  Fegbert McANIA! wrote @

How well I remember that Rock Around The Clock.
Well not all of it. I’d spent August on the Frisian island of Terschelling and made it back to London via Harwich late that afternoon to find the slight gloom of no longer being surrounded by dunes eased a little by this musical extravaganza. It was the first time I’d seen the video for Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ since 1981, which was a pretty big deal in those pre-MTV days when a promo video was shown a few times on TOTP and then it vanished forever as far as most of us were concerned. I think the line-up included a special edition of Pop Quiz, amongst innumerable other items. I wonder if one of them was the first BBC phone vote? I bet Uncle Harry would know. Throughout the evening, viewers were invited to ring the BBC and vote for one of three or four programmes to be shown closer to midnight. I think they were all specially recorded BBC concerts and the overwhelming winner was a Queen gig from 1974 or 1975. It was only ten years old at the time but what a change had come over Freddie Mercury in that decade: the muscular dude with the crewcut and tache (and occasional comedy breasts) bore very little relation to the almost willowy, long-haired creature vamping up “The March Of The Black Queen” in furs and two-tone leotard.
So anyway – it was essential to stay up and see who had won the vote. If it had been Judy Tzuke I daresay I’d have naffed off to bed a full hour and a half earlier than I did. London was very, very muggy that night and I had to leave the window open and old Mrs Gudgeon from next door came round to complain right in the middle of “The Fairy Fella’s Masterstroke”. That’s a song, by the way.
Thanks for bringing back the memories!

  David Brunt wrote @

Queen were on at 10:35. Choice of five- the others were the Q-Tips, Thomson Twins, Ry Cooder and Lynard Skynyrd.

There was also a seperate phone-in for single promos, shown at itervals throughout the day. All the sort of big selling acts – “Two tribes” was one of them.

The programme this year started at 3:15 and ran until 6:20am. 15 hours.

No Pop Quiz in the schedule as far as I can see.

  bobfischer wrote @

Oooh, I’d missed these! Thanks gents – that’s great. None of this strikes a chord with me at all, so it looks like I did indeed just tune in to watch Two Tribes and Thriller… what a shameless 11-year-old celebrity junkie I was. Were the times of the video screenings advertised in advance, or did I just strike lucky?

A bit of rummaging online does suggest, hilariously, that Morrissey did a bit of presenting at some stage of proceedings! I’d love to see that.

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