With the rise of retro telly, it's never been easier to look back. But should we let old favourites lie?

These shows give us the warm fuzzy feeling of being ten again

Click to follow
The Independent Online

When I was a child the weekend began at teatime on Friday. As I feasted on something orange (Findus crispy panckakes, fish fingers or mini chicken Kievs), Fun House, a gameshow that featured physical challenges, quiz questions and a metric truckload of multicoloured gunge, came on TV and the good times rolled. It was fronted by a chap called Pat Sharp, who had a luxuriantly 1980s mullet, aided by two cheerleaders called Melanie and Martina (I used to see the girls around the town where I grew up a few years later, looking glamorous if quite hard). It was loud, bright, messy and on ITV, so my mum thought it was common. Which made me like it even more.

I mention it now because I’ve just learned that, according to Pat’s website, he, Melanie and Martina are available to book to “re-run the fun” at “your event, be it corporate, club, Xmas or private”. Dear god, what have we become? I mean, good on Pat, Mel and Marty for finding a new stream of revenue, but surely some things are meant to be left in the past. The idea of seeing Mike from accounts being gunged, or my sister-in-law battling it out in a soft-play arena while Pat looks on chills me. Surely our inner children should stay where they are, inside us, calcified under layers of disappointment and cynicism?

But it’s never been easier to enjoy a blast from the past. Knightmare, my other Friday-night favourite, a fantasy role-play show (think wizards, rather than horny housewives) that was like an analogue video game, was recently recreated for cable TV. I couldn’t resist watching it, as I can’t resist watching reruns of Catchphrase and Bullseye. It doesn’t take effort to enjoy these shows, there are no subtitles or subtleties, just a warm fuzzy feeling of being ten again.

I know I’m being lazy, and that in letting myself be infantilised I’m hardly alone: the easiest way to start a conversation with anyone who seems roughly the same vintage as you is to play a spot of kids’ TV tennis. One of you serves your favourite after-school show over the net and soon you’ll be volleying away. Someone will put a bit of backspin on Byker Grove and you can carry on until rain, or running out of wine, stops play. Thanks to YouTube and the ravenous schedules of cable - not to mention the thriving retro back-to-the-insert-decade-of-your-choice industry, it’s never been easier to look back, rather than forward (nostalgia really ain’t what it used to be - before you had to remember, now you get to rewatch). And the faster the world gets, the more comforting it is to do so.

However, just as I’m done with Findus crispy pancakes, I think it’s time I stepped away from the retro telly bingeing. After all, I need to find some new things to watch so that I have something to reminisce about in 20 years time.