Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 365

Sunday 30th December 1984

I got up at 11.00 and I wrote some of the Doctor Who program for the Spectrum till dinner at 12.00. Then I played Atic Atac, and I also wrote some more of Dr Who.

At 3.00 I saw Star Wars, and at 5.00 I had tea. I saw The Wizard of Oz at 5.10, and at 7.00 I hung around till last of the summer wine at 7.45. At 7.45 I wrote my diary

Clearly another unfinished entry that I never came back to!

I think most of the snow had gone when I got up at 11am (such decadence!) and so I decided to spend a quiet day indoors rather than get up to my eyes in freezing mush on my bike outside. Not a lot to go on here really, is there? I’ve written quite a bit this year about the archetypal British Sunday in the 1980s… generally wet and dreary with no shops open anywhere and – amazingly – barely any TV either, the only programmes dotted between the ‘Pages from CEEFAX’ being aimed squarely at farmers and pensioners.

A Sunday that had the misfortune to be stuck between Christmas and New Year was all of that and more, but I’ll try to offer up a few random, scattered memories…

1. Singing ‘Feed the doooogs… let them know it’s breakfast time…’ to the tune of the Band Aid single as my Mum gently tipped water onto two metal bowls of cornflakes for Poggy Doggy and Poggles Ponsonby.

2. Lying on my yellow bedspread in the afternoon, watching the crackly black & white portable TV on my bedside table, when my Gran stuck her head around the bedroom door. ‘Oooh, what are you watching?’ she asked. ‘Is it motor racing?’

To be fair, she had a point… but what I was actually watching was ITV’s afternoon screening of Star Wars! It was the scene just prior to the attack on the Death Star when dozens of Rebel Alliance pilots in orange jumpsuits and crash helmets are buzzing around their sleek, long-nosed X-Wing Fighters in a gigantic intergalactic aircraft hanger. Alain Prost probably wanders past in the background somewhere.

As I wrote the other day, I’d grown up as a Star Wars obsessive, and – although Doctor Who (and life) had replaced it in my affections by 1984 – chances to watch the film on TV were still to be seized at every opportunity. Our family didn’t own a video recorder until Christmas 1987, so if I wanted to re-watch ANY of my favourite films and TV shows, I still had to wait for them to be actually ON. I reckon it’s absolutely impossible for anyone born after about 1985 to have the slightest idea how precious and special this made your favourite TV shows feel. You had to enjoy them fully in the knowledge that you might never, ever see them again.

3. Feeling a bit weepy at the end of The Wizard of Oz. This happened the first time that I ever saw the film (a TV screening sometime around 1977… in fact, I’d LOVE to pin this down to a date if anyone can tell me when it was shown on British TV in the 70s?) and the most recent time (a screening at the Tyneside Cinema in 2007) so I’m guessing I’m stuck with it for life. It’s the line ‘And you and you and you and you and you were there’ that gets me every time.

As a pre-Star Wars infant, The Wizard of Oz was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, and I had no idea whatsoever that it had been made almost forty years earlier. That first viewing was in the front room of our house, and I was sitting on the edge of my Dad’s armchair by the entrance to the dining room, watching it on (possibly) a tiny black and white TV… yep, we hadn’t even gone colour at that stage. In fact, this TV here…

(I still love this picture, for reasons I still can’t explain… it just transports me to 1977, and my tiny self lying on the fireside rug watching Bagpuss with a mug of warm milk)

I can’t have been more than four years old, and I was wearing a pair of black and white striped trousers. Hey, it was the 1970s!

And then Last of the Summer Wine… and a new Christmas special, ‘The Loxley Lozenge’. It was a title that intrigued me because – obviously – I knew full well that Robin of Sherwood came from the tiny medieval village of Loxley, and wondered if this might get a mention in one of Foggy’s rambling diatribes (it doesn’t). I am delighted to say that I’ve found a bit of BBC1 continuity for this as well, though!

Archive TV geeks rejoice!!! (And ignore the Youtube title… it’s definitely from the 30th December, not the 23rd)


  Thing wrote @

The internet can be very useful sometimes… here’s a slightly out of date – it only goes up to 2003 – listing of the Wizard of Oz’s broadcast history on BBC which I’ve just found.

25 Dec 1975 (not sure about the time) (BBC 1)
26 Dec 1976 15:00-16:37 (BBC 1)
25 Dec 1977 16:06-17:43 (BBC 1)
27 Dec 1978 17:59-19:36 (BBC 1)
21 Dec 1980 14:22-15:59 (BBC 1)
24 May 1981 14:25-16:02 (BBC 1)
28 Dec 1982 15:30-17:07 (BBC 1)
30 Dec 1984 17:10-18:47 (BBC 2)
24 Dec 1986 14:29-16:06 (BBC 1)
24 Dec 1986 13:50-15:27 (BBC 1)
23 Dec 1987 18:01-19:38 (BBC 2)
25 Dec 1991 15:12-16:49 (BBC 2)
11 Apr 1993 15:00-16:37 (BBC 1)
30 Jan 1994 14:51-16:28 (BBC 2)
11 Feb 1995 14:39-16:16 (BBC 2)
25 Dec 1996 11:21-12:58 (BBC 1)
27 Dec 1998 14:46-16:23 (BBC 1)
27 Jun 1999 13:01-14:38 (BBC 1)
31 Dec 2000 15:31-17:08 (BBC 1)
26 Dec 2003 14:44-16:21 (BBC 1)

  Thing wrote @

Oh, I think the double listing for 1986 is a mistake, by the way. It was certainly on that day, though.

  bobfischer wrote @

Ooooh, brilliant! Thanks, Thing. I reckon the screening I’m thinking of must have been Boxing Day 1976… which is weird, as I’ve no recollection at all of it being Christmas! 1975 is too early for that house, I spent Christmas Day 1977 ill in hospital (awwww!) and Christmas 1978 just feels too late… I was fully in the swing of my Star Wars obsession by then.

So December 1976 it is, a few weeks after my fourth birthday. Which would tie in with the black and white TV, as I think we got our first colour model in Spring 1977.

  Dean wrote @

Hi Bob,
Just found this site by accident and have been reading all your diary extracts from january.
I have now bookmarked your site and have ordered your book from amazon,which i cannot wait to read!
I am 30 and love to look back on my childhood which i have become quite obsessed with over the years.I only wish i had diary like you,i do however have alot of photos that i like to look back on.
I recently found an old exercise pad that was used for my english work in first school back in 86 which is great to look at.We had to do a piece every monday on what we did over the weekend which was very nostalgic.
I too was very much into star wars and collect the figures that i had when i was younger still in their original packaging.
Looking back on the wizard of oz part,i saw wizard for the first time when i was about 5 and now know that it was the 30th of december.I remember my grandparents had been round for dinner and this was starting as they were going home.I became quite obsessed with this as a kid and wanted to be the scarecrow for some strange reason!
Anyway just wanted to let you know that i am loving your work and look forward to reading all your diary extracts and your book when it arrives.
What i would give to go back and play with my childhood friends and then go home to play on my spectrum+2.

  bobfischer wrote @

Hi Dean, thanks for popping in to say hello! And that’s really nice… thanks for the kind comments about the diary, and I hope you enjoy the book.

I wish I’d kept more stuff, really. I was so lucky to have held onto the diary, but I know for certain that there was so much that I didn’t keep… I distinctly remember, as a teenager, throwing out all the stories and Fighting Fantasy books that I wrote as an 11-year-old, convinced that I’d never look at them again, and it was all a bit embarrassing to have them around. Aaaargh!

Although the real ‘kicking myself’ moment was selling my vast collection of Star Wars toys for £10 to a private toy collector sometime in 1986. She told me that ‘no-one really wants this stuff any more’. I suspect if I’d kept it all, it’d now be worth enough to pay of the flamin’ mortgage (not that I’d ever sell it, obviously. I was hard-nosed as a 13-year-old, but I’m now sickeningly sentimental at the age of 37…)

  bobfischer wrote @

By the way, how did you find the site by accident? I’m intrigued! 🙂

  Geoff wrote @

I also found you by accident. You popped up on google when I was searching “Crowe St. Comp” to save embarrassment I tell my wife I’m browsing porn!

  Dean wrote @

Hi Bob,
Thanks for replying to me.
I think i was just searching for 80’s stuff and wound up here.
Im off work at the moment with the dreaded flu and have just been cheered by looking at the thick snow out side!! Like you you say it takes you right back to being a kid again.
I cant beleive you mentioned fighting fantasy books,i still have most of my collection in the cupboard under the stairs.My first one was forrest of doom and was instantly hooked,reading them on school trips and a copy in school bag at all times.I read somewhere that you met Steve Jackson,that is awesome.I honestly think if i met someone like that i would be more star struck than meeting some Hollywood A lister.
I spent quite alot of money on starwars toys still in their packets,but most are fom ROTJ as the others go for alot more.
I have joined your facebook group,so i can inbox you to let you know who i am and you can have a look as i have my figures on there in my photos.
Anyway,i look forward to reading the rest of your site and hopefully your book will be hear today and i can start toread it with a mug of warm milk!
Happy New year by the way.


  bobfischer wrote @

Cheers Dean, and all the best to you too! I loved Fighting Fantasy books, and had the honour of meeting both Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone in 2009… on seperate occasions! There are pictures of me with them both on the blog somewhere, I think Ian was in early February and Steve on the twentysomethingth of October.

Both lovely chaps!

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