G is the magic letter today and once again I found it was difficult to immediately think of childhood favourites that fit the bill.
Obviously, if this was a ‘Favourite Shows of All Time’ A-Z, it would be a no-brainer, with the Westerosi massive taking top billing. Add to that shows such as Ghost Whisperer, The Good Wife and a current delight, The Good Place and I’d be… good to go!
But we’re here to reminisce, so let’s start with the G-word that seems to crop up a lot in TV titles with…
The Good Life.
This 1970s show was frequently on TV in the 80s and was basically about a middle-aged couple, trying to escape the confines of modern life. If it was on today, it would be a reality TV show about Hipsters. 😉
The sit-com followed the daily life of Tom Good and his wife, Barbara, who abandoned all luxuries to become self-sufficient in their Surbiton household. Unfortunately, rampant pigs, escaped goats and powering your house with the methane from animal waste didn’t always go down too well with their neighbours, the Leadbetters. However, the dynamic still had a warm, wholesome feeling to it and despite getting on each others’ nerves, they cared about each other a lot.
I think it also took me through a phase of wanting a pet goat…
Next up, another British comedy powerhouse – the surreal sketch show of The Goodies. Essentially three mates, who frequently travelled around on a tandem (that actually had three seats), fell off it and had conversations with talking animals.
I can’t remember any specific sketches, but I’ll assume the talking animals were a major pull for me. Apparently, it was the inspiration for The Mighty Boosh comedy series…which says a lot about things I find funny. I LOVE the Boosh! (#cheeseismeat)
I also used to get very mixed up with one of the comedians, Bill Oddie, mistaking him for Tony Robinson (aka Baldrick of Blackadder). I just have to remember one went on to host bird-watching / nature shows, the other uncovered history in archeological digs.
Funny which direction your life takes you in!
However, for kids and teens, THE thing to be watching in the 80s was Grange Hill. A soap opera, set in a high school, run under the eagle eye of Headmistress, Mrs. McClusky. It was gritty, funny, rude, thought-provoking and upsetting…basically a true mix of life at an ordinary secondary school.
It tackled taboo subjects too: one of the most well-known story lines dealt with the heroin addiction of Zammo, prompting a nationwide anti-drug campaign and the song ‘Just Say No’.
One of the longest running dramas on British TV, kick-starting the careers of many actors and screenwriters / directors (Antony Minghella wrote on the show for years) it ended its run in 2008 and although it never received the attention of the 80s glory days, it still served as almost a guidance manual through the tricky terrain of being a teenager and navigating life.
And finally, I can’t leave the Gs without a mention of two of the greatest films of the 80s, full of life lessons, such as never crossing the streams, don’t feed after midnight and introducing the adorable Gizmo and the legendary Slimer.
Yes, the original (and only, as far as I’m concerned) Ghostbusters remains a favourite for its dark comedy and actually pretty bloody scary elements, considering it was a PG! I distinctly remember a trip to the Cecil cinema (now a bingo hall) with my mum to see it, climbing the stairs and purchasing a Westlers hotdog in the foyer!
And then there was Gremlins. I’m not sure how I saw this, unless mum smuggled me in inside her faux-fur coat, disguised as a shoulder pad. You see, it was a strict 15 rating, due to the gore and exploding creatures in microwaves. Yet I was 8 when it was released…
I don’t think I waited until it was on TV or we rented a Betamax from Blockbuster, as I remember all the merchandised hype and everyone wanting a Mogwai / Gremlin toy. Hmmm…
Anyway, loved it and still delight in the sheer evil mischievousness of Stripe et al. Definitely up there with the top ‘monster movies’ for me!
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