LOOK-BACK on 70s Telly DVDs

Sunday, 07 March 2010 09:38

With much of the television that those in single digit ages in the 1970s having disappeared long ago from our screens, memories become just fragments – the titles of what we saw long forgotten, and even in this digital age satellite television does not have a place for them amongst its hundreds of channels.  Thanks to Network DVD, we now have two ‘sampler’ double-disc sets to savour, to help fill in the gaps in our knowledge.

These releases are therefore ideally suited for those now in their forties. No longer do you have to fork out on a series that you may or may not remember correctly.  In these two releases known as “Look-Back on 70s Telly” we get two pools of many unreleased legends to cast our memory net into – “Issue 1” covers the pre-school genre, while “Issue 2” covers that of action and adventure aimed at children and younger teenagers (of the time).  All of it is wrapped in artwork very much a homage to the “Look-In” comic of the era, and a theme tune for the hilarious and well thought-out menus that pays homage to the theme tune to the series Ace of Wands.


Look-Back on 70s Telly DVD One“Look-Back on 70s Telly - Issue 1”

ITV in the 1970s started to do something different, when at 12 Noon every day they cleared their schedules to make way for a half hour slot every weekday filled with material especially devised for the pre-school viewers likely to be on-hand to watch it. The budgets may have been sparing, but the imagination was definitely turned up to 11.

Colourful, loud, informative without being boring and full of fun, they amused and educated generations of pre-school children. For thirty minutes of every weekday they ruled the TV and gave tired parents a well-earned rest!

You can relive those moments and be a tot again with specially selected episodes of long-running Rainbow and Pipkins rub shoulders with, amongst others, Hickory House, Mr Trimble, Cloppa Castle, Gideon, Tingha and Tucker, Issi Noho, The Magic Ball and the loud, colourful and bonkers Animal Kwackers (an attempt of sorts to take on the Banana Splits, with Boots, Rory, Twang and Bongo being four band members performing in a Wombles-esque way)

As adults we can look back on these series and realise that they really don’t make them like this anymore. They are devoid of the sort of propaganda the poor pre-schools of today have to be drilled with - as part of the alleged ‘education’ remit that such series have to tick the boxes of nowadays. It really was a more innocent era, where children were allowed time to grow up, and not have to be bothered with the harsh realities that adult life so quickly has to bring into focus.

Peter Davison is the star of Once Upon A Time, although outshone by the puppets around him, which is a similar problem that Susan Stranks (ex-Magpie) has, having to put up with being alongside puppet spiders Itsy and Bitsy on Paperplay.


RAINBOW – “Shapes”

PIPKINS – “Gnome Sweet Gnome”

CLOPPA CASTLE – “Bees In Their Bonnets”

GAMMON AND SPINACH – “Garth Pig and the Icecream Lady”

A HANDFUL OF SONGS (20/02/1976)

PAPERPLAY – “Swinging Cat”


ISSI NOHO – “Panda Sandwiches are Most Indigestible”





HICKORY HOUSE – “Humphrey’s Flower”

MR TRIMBLE – Episode One

GIDEON – “Gideon and the Ferret”


THE MAGIC BALL – “The Story of the City Under the Sea”

TOPPER’S TALES – “Rainbow’s Gold”

DAISY DAISY – “Brushes”

ONCE UPON A TIME – “The Pig, the Squirrel and The Ladybird”


LITTLE BLUE – “Little Blue Goes to the Moon”

MUSIC MAN – Episode One


LOOK-BACK on 70s Telly DVD Two“Look-Back on 70s Telly - Issue 2”

There was a very good reason why so many children in the 1970s weren’t interested in after-school clubs and so forth. They clashed with some of the most imaginative TV series ever produced, so the priority was to get home and enjoy these delights that were being served up on ‘commercial telly’.

At the time, childrens’ programmes were, by turns, fun, challenging, dramatic, spooky, hilarious and fantastic. This pre-tea-time programming was a staple part of the lives of millions of youngsters. They were diverse and highly popular, and fired imaginations as well as invariably becoming an integral part of any worthwhile playground antics the next day.

While we have specially selected episodes of adventurous Follyfoot, classic Black Beauty, and SF smash Timeslip here (sampled by the inclusion of the only surviving colour episode), all of which have been out on DVD before, it’s the other less-remembered shows which are worth the outlay alone.  There’s the raucous cringeworthiness of Pauline’s Quirkes, embarrassing not only for the number of faces you’ll recognise from today, plus the likes of The Paper Lads, Jamie (which really does get away with having a lead character called JAMIE DODGER!), the gritty 4 Idle Hands and the grooviness that was Magpie, although the choice of a hardly representative Christmas Eve edition is a little bemusing. 

Highlight of the set has to be the first episode of Tightrope, all 13 episodes of which do exist in the archive in monochrome despite being made in colour. From the example of this first episode here, they must be in something of a poor condition. This series was a vehicle for Spencer Banks, playing student Martin Clifford, following on from his critical acclaim in Timeslip. It’s a format that was created by Victor Pemberton, who had helped with the writing chores on Timeslip, but was also responsible for the Troughton Doctor Who story “Fury from the Deep”. The mix of espionage and conspiratorial angst makes it an ideal candidate for a full release sometime soon. John Savident steals the show as the mysterious spy feeding our heroic student the inside information.

Also on interest was Shadows, an athology series. The chosen episode stars Clive Swift as Mr Devine, a magician who can’t keep children’s attention any longer, but soon learns the trick to end all tricks.  Jacqueline Pearce is onhand as the parent engaging Devine for a party. Meanwhile, Nobody’s House sees William Gaunt as the head of a family taking on a house with its own child ghost, in this 1976 drama directed by Michael Ferguson.  Equally compelling from its first episode is Raven, which sees Phil Daniels as a Borstal boy given a chance to start a new life filled with intrigue thanks to an archaeological dig, and Shirley Cheriton as a cub reporter investigating the mysterious goings-on.

There are also some variety shows included that are so draw-droppinngly bad that they transcend anything you’ll ever see in the early rounds of Britain’s Got Talent. Mike Holoway and Flintlock was an attempt to create a British band along the line followed in the production of The Monkees, and you would have thought from their various TV appearances seen here that they succeeded. The pop charts reveal otherwise, with them only ever achieving one Top 30 hit single, “Dawn” in April 1976.  Still, from one extreme to another, as the Roy North and Linda Fletcher fronted Get It Together includes Slade peforming one of their rarer singles “Give Us A Goal”… which failed to chart.

All in all, a fascinating collection of stuff, and hopefully we’ll see some of the extraordinary fiction here-in getting its own full releases – in particular Tightrope, Shadows and Raven!


ACE OF WANDS – “Peacock Pie Part 1”

TIMESLIP – “Time of the Ice Box Part 6”

JAMIE – “The Carpet”

FOLLYFOOT – “A Day in the Sun”

SHADOWS – “And for My Next Trick”

YOU MUST BE JOKING (18/06/1975)

4 IDLE HANDS – “Out of the Frying Pan”

NOBODY’S HOUSE – “There’s Nobody There”


THE PAPER LADS – “Round One”

RAVEN – Episode One


PAULINE’S QUIRKES (15/11/1976)

ROBERT’S ROBOTS – “Dial C for Chaos”

GET IT TOGETHER (14/03/1978)

MAGPIE (24/12/1976)

TIGHTROPE – Episode One


“Issue 1” has a ‘U’ certificate with a running time of approx 330 mins. “Issue 2” is surprisingly given a ‘PG’ certificate (obviously we kids were far more hardy than the modern generation who will have to be protected from such suspense and danger!), and has a running time of approx 400 mins. Both double disc sets are available now with an RRP of £14.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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