If I Ruled The Airwaves

Comedian Dave Gorman Wallows In Nostalgia
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The Independent Culture
THEY MADE only 13 episodes of Mr Benn but it has been shown every year since and, after Blue Peter, it is the UK's longest-running children's show.

As a child, I built up a huge imaginary world around him. He has been made unemployed, but cannot bear to tell Mrs Benn in case she stops seeing him as the Benn family provider. So, every day he gets dressed up in his suit, tie and bowler hat and disappears for a while.

Whereas others may go and sit tearfully in a lay-by, Mr Benn happens to know a magic fancy dress shop that will transport him to the world in which his costume belongs.

Sadly, when dressed up as a cowboy, he finds himself in the Wild West and not at a Village People concert, which would have been funnier.

Press Gang was a kids' programme about a group of youngsters running a children's newspaper. But it is only the youth of the cast that makes it a kids' show.

The dialogue is sassy, and the will-they-won't-they relationship between Julia Sawalha's Lynda and Dexter Fletcher's Spike is equal to anything that Moonlighting ever produced. Intelligent, witty, cinematic and not remotely patronising to its target audience, this really deserves to be seen by a broader spectrum of viewers.

The episode in which Colin buys a load of half ping-pong balls - pings - is a finely written, finely acted farce.

For early evening, it is impossible to beat Morecambe and Wise. This kind of comedy can never be recreated; how could two comedians share a bed in 1998 without there being some sexual overtone?

Even if not in the script, it would inevitably be in the audience's mind, because our innocence is lost.

So, instead of trying to re-create it, just sit back and enjoy the perfect double act. More than the great gags, I love the awful ones.

There are times when the performance and the rhythm alone convince you that what you have just heard was funny: what do you get if you cross a cocker spaniel and a poodle? A cock-a-doodle-do.

The audience laughs, Eric and Ernie turn to the camera and say, as one: "And if you think about that one it doesn't make sense." Now, that's alternative comedy.

A Very Peculiar Practice is as good as TV gets: beauti-fully scripted by Andrew Davies and brilliantly acted. Set in Lowlands University, Peter Davidson's idealistic young doctor sits aghast while all around him insanity reigns. And what were those nuns doing in the car park?

Two episodes of Top of the Pops separated by 10 years.

7 November 1979 - the Specials, Madness and the Selector all appeared. An amazing, watershed event. Ska music had definitely arrived. On 30 November 1989, I was a student in Manchester, and there was a palpable excitement about seeing both the Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses making their TOTP debuts.

So, that is what I would do if I ruled the airwaves. For day one.

On day two, I think I would have a Theme-Night Night. A nostalgic look back at the theme nights of the past that we have all come to know and love.

So, have I got the job?

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