Friday, March 30, 2007
Ten to Five
Today marks the tenth anniversary of that plucky television underdog Five, formerly known as Channel 5. Yes, they import successful dramas now, and even bother to make the odd programme themselves occasionally (with limited success, usually). Yes, they've got a slightly different name and a smarter logo and they've saved £750,000 a year in printer ink by not having a dot on the 'i' in 'Five'. Yes, occasionally they even have an audience share from time to time. But this wasn't always the case. Now, like so many other free publications this week, lowculture attempts to rekindle your memories of the first few months (however successfully you thought you'd blocked them off), back when everything was new and pretty much all of it seemed to be made/bought for under £200. And to really ram the Early Days Of Channel 5 theme home, our retrospective takes the form of a thrilling, almost-interactive edition of vintage Channel 5's completely amazing, superbasic, personality-free quiz show 100%! Only with ten questions instead of a hundred. One for each year, you see. You get the idea. Grab a podium and play along! » Question One: Channel 5 was launched by the Spice Girls making a big song and dance in some horrible outfits picked to match the logo colours. Nobody was going to come out of it looking great, to be honest, but which of the Spices had the most presentable, flattering costume? Was it (a) Victoria, (b) Emma or (c) Mel B?
» Question Two: Family Affairs always had a horrible theme tune, but in the very early days when it was actually all about just one family it was even more horrible. Not unlike the Doctors theme tune, in fact. Anyway, which of the following soapy facts about members of the original Family Affairs cast was actually worth giving a fuck about in 1997? Was it that (a) Ken Farringdon who played grandfather Jack Gates had previously played Billy Walker in Coronation Street and would go on to play Tom King in Emmerdale several years later, (b) Annie Miles who played Maria Simons had previously played Sue Sullivan who was pushed from the top of the Brookside Parade scaffolding by Barry Grant, or (c) Sandra Huggett who played Holly Hart went on to play a doctor who was ALSO called Holly in Casualty?
» Question Three: Nobody really watched 5 News (as it was called at the time), but in spite of this Kirsty Young managed to make newsreaders perching on the front of their desk instead of sitting behind it fashionable and sexy. Kirsty Young perching on the front of her desk instead of sitting behind it was fashionable and sexy. Is this TRUE or FALSE?
» Question Four: Late Saturday afternoons on newborn Channel 5 were reserved for the three-hour omnibus of that week's Sunset Beach episodes. Everybody remembers Sunset Beach, but what they often forget is which of the plots were fun to watch at the time, and which ones were actually a draggy pain in the arse and only sound good in retrospect. Arrange the following storylines in order of entertainingness, with the most entertaining first: (a) Virginia lurking around hospitals in a white coat and using voodoo to arrange for blobs to grow on Vanessa's pretty face, (b) Ben and Meg's ten-episode wedding day, and (c) The Rosario Stones caper, with pretty much the entire cast swept up in a headfuck of an adventure with everyone who touched the cursed jewels ageing dramatically.
» Question Five: Terrifying lady chef Nancy Lam and her cowering husband Ben were the Fanny and Johnny Cradock of Channel 5 for the first few months. The best bit of Nancy's show was when she laughed like a maniac at the beginning. What did her laugh sound like? Was it (a) "Wooaauurrrghhh-haurgh-haurgh-haurghhhhh!", (b) "Tihihihihihhhihihihihihihihihi-sss-sss-sssst!", or (c) "Ffffhrrrrrmmmmph-hmmm-huhuhuhmmmph!"?
» Question Six: The increasingly amazing of late Josie D'Arby bounced about on the yoofy Channel 5 in yoofy magazine programme The Mag. A clip of The Mag, in which Josie introduced herself, was shown on the round-the-clock Channel 5 trailer that played for several weeks before the channel launched. In the clip, which of the vowel sounds in her name did Josie D'Arby stress the most? Was it (a) the 'oh' in Johhhhhsie, (b) the 'ar' in D'Arrrrrby, or (c) the 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' in D'Arbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey?
» Question Seven: Channel 5 launched with a healthy line-up of original, British-made drama and comedy, and then failed to show any more for about six years. The opening night comedy came from Hospital!, an hour-long, remarkably lavishly-cast stand-alone comedy programme set in a hospital. Which of the following statements about Hospital! is NOT true? Is it that (a) Hospital! was a bit crappy but often funnier than it really should have been, (b) Hospital!'s remarkable cast included Greg Wise, Bob Peck, Hywel Bennett, Celia Imrie, Haydn Gwynne, Mark Heap, Martin Clunes, Julian Clary, Alexei Sayle, June Brown, Emma Thompson (wearing a sack over her head), Felicity Montagu, Hermione Norris, Susannah Doyle, Clare Raynor and Caprice, or (c) Bob Peck's character is attacked by a velociraptor during Hospital!, and this is what actually killed him in real life?
» Question Eight: 100% was followed by the [barely even a] spinoff show, 100% Gold. What was 100% Gold's 'schtick'? Was it that (a) all the contestants were previous winners of 100%, (b) all the contestants were donating their winnings to charity, or (c) all the contestants were old?
» Question Nine: A the crack of dawn on Sundays, Channel 5 used to show the not quite right, all-new Mr Men and Little Miss cartoons, made years after the comfortingly familiar originals. What was the least appealing thing about them? Was it that (a) they were originally made in French and the turns of phrase were often strangely-translated and a bit odd, (b) the narrator wasn't a patch on Arthur Lowe or Pauline Collins, or (c) the animation, while still mainly two-dimensional, occasionally portrayed certain characters (particularly those with corners) as having three dimensions?
» Question Ten: Channel 5 was the first UK terrestrial channel to have their logo as a little translucent smear in the corner of the screen at all times, except during ad breaks which were punctuated by that fucking split-second five-colour line between EVERY SINGLE ADVERT instead. These flourishes added a touch of class, distinction and quality to the newborn Channel 5. Is this TRUE or FALSE?
Answers on Monday, possibly.
» Question One: Channel 5 was launched by the Spice Girls making a big song and dance in some horrible outfits picked to match the logo colours. Nobody was going to come out of it looking great, to be honest, but which of the Spices had the most presentable, flattering costume? Was it (a) Victoria, (b) Emma or (c) Mel B?
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1. (d) Julia Bradbury.
3. TRUE, especially when the lovely Rob Butler was doing it.
4. (a) (c) (b)
6. Wasn't it the apostrophe?
8. (d) That it was a semi-rip off of of Going for Gold.
9. (c) of course.
10. FALSE. Completely FALSE.
Surely the answer to Q1 is Tim Vine?
By 11:23 am, at