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A History of Notts on TV 1950-2005

4 October 05 words: Al Needham

Nottingham's had more appearances on the telly box that you might think...

Rabidly Birmingham-centric ITV region which served the whole of the Midlands from 1956 to 1981, producing some of most popular and well-remembered programmes in TV history. But none of them were ever filmed in Notts, so forget ‘em. Local news programme ATV Today seemed to believe that Wolverhampton and Stourbridge were more newsworthy than anything Nottingham had to offer.

Massively successful early 80s Central drama series, miles better than the recent BBC1 revival. Much of the second series was filmed in Notts with Barry running through the old Savoy Hotel opposite Clarendon College looking for his fiancée and various other Notts villages featuring.
Hit-and-miss 2004 Nottingham-based drama series. Hardly anyone in the city can remember what happened in it, because they were too busy pointing at the screen shouting “Fookin’ hell, that’s Aspecto” and “Hasn’t Paul Nicholls got a shit Nottingham accent?”
Mindless durge that wasn’t filmed in Nottingham at all. So why are we mentioning it? Because after the fall of Communism, the pilot of the Russian version was filmed at Lenton. The winner got to go out with a potato.

Bewilderingly successful Central "Young Adult" quiz that went on for ever and ever. Mainly populated by the kind of knob-ebds in U2 t-shirts you'd avoid at college, with lucky mascots who would all do the Blockbuster Dance every fifth episode. Bob Holness (who didn't play saxophone on Baker Street, but was the first ever actor to play James Bond on radio), was your genial host. He once got complaining letters saying that when he waved goodbye, it looked like a Nazi salute.

"Hi Ho Silvah! Here come me Lone Rangah!" Mid 1980s Central series that seemed to go on for ever. Ken Boon is an unemployed ex-fireman with arse all to do, until his mate got him a job as a Western-themed courier rider. First set in Birmingham, the "action" moved to Notts in latter series and is chiefly remembered as Neil Morrissey's big break as Rocky, the thick but shaggable one (a part he has reprised in everything he's done since).

Forever associated with Sunday teatime at your Nana’s, it’s impossible to watch repeats of this on Granada Plus without having the taste of tinned salmon sandwiches in your mouth. Recorded in Nottingham for a colossal thirteen years, by which time there was a five-year waiting list to just to sit in the audience, and Bully had been barred out of Easy Street, Zhivagos, and Ritzy’s. Hundreds of expensive speedboats have been left to rot in council estates as a result…

Rubbishy tea-time quiz hosted by Roy Walker, remembered only for his own anal sex-related catchphrase “It’s good, but it’s not right”. Oh, and that episode where Mr Chips looked like he was wanking himself off over a snake’s face. 

Where Nottingham TV begins and ends. ATV were forced to treat the East Midlands better in the early 80s, so it changed its name and split into two. This lead to our own news service and a whacking great new studio in Lenton. Sadly this was all gobbled up by the detestable Carlton in 1994 and now even Central News East comes out of a studio in Birmingham. Bastards!
Long-time mainstay of Friday-night telly and a great opportunity to see people having massive hair-pulling rows without leaving your armchair. I went on this once, they sent a chauffeur to pick me up from Nottingham, put me in a green room with assorted Satanists, tantric sex experts and mad old women who made their dogs wear wigs, poured loads of free beer down me neck, allowed me to say ‘bollocks’ and ‘piss’ on live TV and then dropped me off at me Mam’s. Skill.
Mid-80s one-series potboiler about the Nottingham clothing business. Stephanie Beecham was so impressive as a hard-faced but saucy rag-trade tycoon that she ended up having a bitch-fight with Joan Collins on Dynasty a year or so later (and she fookin’ well Panned ‘er, youth).

Late-90s BAFTA-winning docu-series featuring local youths from the Central Junior Workshop, talking about and acting out, y’know…issues.
Much-maligned, long-running Nana-magnet of a soap which ran on and off for nearly 40 years. The first version was filmed in Birmingham and starred Noele Gordon, who in her previous job as a chat show hostess had recorded a live show at the City Ground with an audience of 27,000! In 2001 it was relaunched and filmed in Nottingham, with lots of local actors appearing including Pete Dalton, Lucy Pargetter and Shauna Shim. Unfortunately it died on its arse and was the final death knell for the Lenton Lane studios…

Loads of them about Notts in recent years, because, y’know, if we’re not glassing each other in pubs in town, we’re shooting at folk in our rathole estates, right? Every single one is required to contain the following footage; 1) Fat girl lying in the road showing her knickers 2) Big Issue seller’s dog biting a Gary on the arse 3) Bell-ends in the square sticking their arms out in a ‘fronting up’ gesture 4) Steve Green talking to half a dozen drunken Shazzas outside Flares 5) Someone you know embarrassingly lying in a pool of their own vomit in a taxi rank. 
Nottingham becomes briefly descended upon by of a load of screaming cockneys when, in a failed attempt to escape the ugliness of the Saskia murder investigation, Teresa Di Marco and Matt Rose go on the run to hoodtown. Steve Owen (Martin Kemp with lard in his hair) follows. Luckily they only stayed two days.

Long-running gameshow filmed in Nottingham during its latter years, when Max Bygraves and Les Dennis were doing it instead of the mighty Bob Monkhouse. Pre-release publicity claimes that a ridiculous sum of money was spent on a super-computer (Mr Babbage), but all it seemed to do was make farting noises.

Possibly ITV’s worst ever sitcom (and that’s saying a lot), this attempt at ripping off Grange Hill and being all ‘controversial’ lasted a mere two episodes before it was canned.

Long-running children’s sitcom based on Dick King-Smith’s best-selling book. The Harry of the title is a young boy, Harry Holdsworth, who inherits ‘Madison’ from his eccentric uncle, a wisecracking, backchatting African Grey parrot (the ‘Mad’ in the title). The parrot is a world expert on everything and a general all-round entertainer. Guest stars visiting Harry’s Mad during the first two series included Dave Lee Travis, Michaela Strachan and snooker great Steve Davis, but the third series brought about major changes. Much of the cast came from the Central Drama workshop.

The first newsreaders on Central News East, they shot to stardom when poached by TTV-AM in the mid-80s/ Tried to work the same magic at the BBC in the early 90s, but got battered by Richard and Judy. Nick went on to wear loads of jumpers and become the template for Alan Partridge, Anne became a Big Brother contenstant and campaigner against cot death.

The Pop Idol of its day, New Faces gave the world Showaddywaddy, Les Dennis, and Jim Davidson. For some bizarre reason, they brought it back in the mid-80s and filmed it in Notts. No-one who won it went on to do much.The Pop Idol of its day, New Faces gave the world Showaddywaddy, Les Dennis, and Jim Davidson. For some bizarre reason, they brought it back in the mid-80s and filmed it in Notts. No-one who won it went on to do much.
Advertising campaign for Clarks shoes, which was run nationally alongside other spurious city slogans such as: ‘Preston is my Paris’. Filmed on Maid Marian Way and broadcast on TV in 2004. The subsequent ‘Beeston is my Bronx’ campaign was abandoned.

Central Junior Television Workshop youths pretend to be younger members of the Royal 
Family when they were still likable kids and not the inbred wasters they are today (the Royals, that is, not the Central kids).

Without question, the most successful actor Nottingham has ever produced. Went from Clarendon College to starring in not one but two of the most popular sitcoms of all-time: Porridge and Rising Damp. Died of a heart attack at the tragically young age of 32.

Always seems to pop up every decade on telly. The 50s series starring Richard Greene produced the theme tune that Forest ran out too, the more mystical 80s version starring Michael Praed’s mullet and Clannad. Not forgetting the one by Tony Robinson where Maid Marion ran ‘tings.

Student fave from the early 90s which catapulted former Radio Trent DJ Dale Winton into the world of B-list celebrities. The actual studio was built in Lenton studios by the Co-Op. Fact: after the riots in Hyson Green in 1981, Dale Winton said “Oh, isn’t it terrible about the riots? For those of you who took part, I hope you all die.”

The first game show that actually gave out proper prizes like America does, this was a non-stop 80’s assault on the senses filmed in Lenton and hosted by our very own Leslie Crowther. The audience were whipped into an orgasmic frenzy whenever someone had to guess the price of a toaster and it went rubbish when Bruce Forsyth started hosting it.

Drama about a boy called Eric who turned into a dog, based on the books by Allan Ahlberg. Change always happened at inappropriate moments, which was the cause of much amusement. In the end the actor playing Eric himself changed three times.

Central Junior Television Workshop sketch show that was like the kids on Why Don’t You, after inhaling cans of Bostik that had been shoplifted from Wilko’s. Half of the cast went on to various levels of success in TV, while the rest got pub jobs.


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