Guilty Pleasures: A flare for historical detail

Louise Levene loves the old television shows - for their interesting period costume, of course

MY NAME is Louise Levene and I watch Granada Plus. There. Nothing to be ashamed of. Some of the most popular programmes in the schedules are vintage repeats. Yes, it's a load of old rubbish, yes, I have seen it all already but it's comfort food for the soul. Try it.

Any night this week you could get home, pour yourself a large Campari and soda (or similar swinging tipple), slip into a snappy little trouser suit and wet-look boots, put a dab of Madame Rochas behind each ear and soak up The Avengers with Diana Rigg in a re-run nicely timed to highlight the sheer awfulness of the movie version. Pausing only to rustle up some gammon and pineapple, you could then settle down with your video of Roger Moore and Tony Curtis in The Persuaders!. It would only take an aerial on top of the set to project you back into the strange, orange-lampshaded, bell- bottomed, cheese-and-onion flavoured world that bridged the Sixties and Seventies. For a brief moment the Seventies revival made this sort of thing quite cool but the tide is turning. By the time you reach the end of this column it will probably be safely back in Naffsville.

Obviously most of the retro TV pleasures are sartorial. With the exception of Patrick Macnee's timeless fusion of Kings Road and Savile Row ("principal items of Mr Macnee's wardrobe by Pierre Cardin") all the clothes are camp and mostly unwearable.

Diana Rigg with flick-ups at the ends of her hair and the corners of her eyes is the Sindy doll made flesh. She alone can carry off the peculiar skin-divers' catsuits and A-line tops that feature in the fifth series. Alun Hughes was no substitute for the great John Bates, who designed the definitive Emma Peel look.

ABC TV's desire to sell to the American market and the gradual introduction of colour TV in Britain at the time meant that most programmes of this period are tinted with unnatural gaiety. But Ms Peel definitely loses some of her Amazonian mystique in sunflower yellow. Primary colours are more suited to the various dolly birds who adorn The Persuaders!.

Wig-spotting is always good for a giggle, but the real laughs are provided by Moore and Curtis themselves in a hilarious range of playboy casuals. Roger's get-up ("Lord Sinclair's wardrobe designed by Roger Moore" - don't give up the day job) involves a lot of beautifully cut but sadly brown- coloured blazers, a surprising number of cravats and a depressing mileage of white belts.

On a modern fashion note, it is interesting that a programme that has done so much for casual trousering should be punctuated by advertisements for a mail order company called Chums which specialises in those tragic high-waisted garments worn by old men who waved goodbye to their feet in about 1963.

Even today Tony Curtis does not wear roomy, high-waisted bloomers for the fuller figure. Back in 1971 his clothes were a bit on the small side, if anything. Indeed, tightness was the defining characteristic of early Seventies wear. Our Tone makes plain the distinction between an earl's son and his own dead-end-kid-made-good persona by always wearing a bum- freezer leather jacket. And gloves. Quite why anyone would wear gloves all day while at play on the Riviera is never really explained. And they really are at play on the Riviera some of the time. Moore's earlier jet- setting vehicle The Saint handled the foreign travel problem with ludicrous economy. It was the same formula every week: library footage of the Eiffel Tower or the Bridge of Sighs as a prelude to Simon Templar striding confidently on to a cardboard set signposted "Reception" and saying "Scusi" to somebody. Not so The Persuaders!, which did actually shoot some of the stuff abroad, spending a then-staggering pounds 100,000 an episode.

The promise of fun and games on the corniche enabled Lord (then Sir Lew) Grade to persuade various guest stars to put in an appearance. Well, when I say "stars" I suppose I mean Susan George, Joan Collins and Annette Andre all of whom can be relied upon to turn up in a matching coat and dress ensemble.

But period charm would not be enough on its own. The dialogue for both The Avengers and The Persuaders! is pleasantly dry and with scripts by the likes of Terry Nation and Brian Clemens one should not be surprised at the quality etc, but this anal interest in the minutiae of TV history is really only a feeble attempt to disguise what is little more than a pathetic thirty-something nostalgia trip. I'm not even sure I'm watching it ironically any more. It's becoming a very bad habit, the televisual equivalent of sitting down with a family-sized tin of spaghetti hoops and a plastic spoon: revolting, but strangely delicious.

`The Avengers' and `The Persuaders!' can be seen every weekday on Granada Plus

Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL are releasing Plectrum Electrum next month

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?