19 October 2013

TV flashback 1981

In the spirit of my earlier post looking back at the New Zealand TV listings for 15 April 1991, I decided to take another look back at television history, with a glance at the listings for the same day ten years earlier. Luckily the library has bound copies of the Listener going back decades, so I was able to find the day easily.

In 1981 the Listener was still being printed in a large-format newsprint style. The cover story for this week's edition is a two-parter on the financial woes afflicting the national airline, Air New Zealand, written by the now-curmudgeonly Karl du Fresne. There's plenty of room inside for columnists, including some still familiar names like Tom Scott, Ranginui Walker and Gordon Campbell. And the 11 April edition also has heaps of print ads that bring back memories of the era - such as the stylish clothing options offered by Para (purveyors of backyard swimming pools but also apparently haute couture) or Summit of New Zealand ('Casual clothes that will make you stand out in a crowd'), which offered the fine jacket and moustache pictured below. There's also the beaming young couple 'Colin and Delwyn' in the MARAC home finance ad, 'Together we're going places'. I think the builder in the background is laughing at Colin's high-waisted beltless jeans. And is Colin being played by a young Simon Prast?

Summit Coach House Jacket, 1981
'Colin & Delwyn', MARAC, 1981

The television listings are necessarily more sparse than in 1991, because of course there were only two channels (TV3 started broadcasting in 1989) and no Sky (which started properly the following year). The Listener makes up for it by devoting lavish space to each channel, and for dramas it also printed the production details including the producer, director and originating TV company. We'll start the listings before primetime, to fit in some names from the golden age of New Zealand kids' TV.

ONE

3.00 Chic Chat - children's TV with all-around nice guy, Chic Littlewood
3.15 Rainbow - veteran UK kids' TV (1972-92, 1071 episodes) 
3.30 After School - with good'un, Olly Ohlson ("Keep cool 'til After School")
- Godzilla - animation incl. 'his lovable cousin Godzooky' (1978-81, 26 episodes)
4.00 The Electric Company - educational sketches (1971-77, 780 episodes)
4.30 Fangface - Scooby-Doo knockoff cartoon (1978-80, 32 episodes)
5.00 Think of a Number - BBC educational TV with Johnny Ball (1977-84, 37 episodes)
5.30 Watch All Night - teen spy thriller from Granada (1980, 7 episodes)*
6.00 Dick Turpin - ITV historical drama featuring Richard O'Sullivan (1979-82, 31 episodes)
6.30 News
7.00 Coronation Street - "Deirdre Langton has been discharged from hospital, still pregnant"
7.30 Regional Programmes - Top Half, Today Tonight, The Mainland Touch, and 7.30 South**
8.00 Close Up - TVNZ current affairs
9.00 Miss Universe New Zealand - presented by Ilona Rogers, with guests singer Lyn Atama & pianist Cristina Ortiz. Winner Donella Thomsen went on to reach the semi-finals in the global competition.
10.00 Sporting Life - with Phillip Leishman and Grahame Thorne, looking at the career of All Black wing, Bryan Williams.
11.00 News
11.05 Closedown

* The teen lead in Watch All Night, Lucinda Bateson, went on to appear in every episode of the robot comedy Metal Mickey, and an episode of Hart To Hart.
** Featuring Judy Bailey & John Hawkesby (Top Half), Roger Gascoigne & Leighton Smith (Today Tonight), Rodney Bryant & Bob Sutton (The Mainland Touch), and Jim Mora, Dallas Beckett & Kevin Ramshaw (7.30 South).

TWO

2.55 Soap - influential soap opera satire including a young Billy Crystal (1977-81, 93 episodes) 
3.25 General Hospital - actual soap
3.50 Today in France - provided by the French Embassy
4.05 All Creatures Great & Small - BBC James Herriot vet drama (1978-80 original series)
5.05 Little House on the Prairie - NBC rural nostalgia & down-homery (1974-83, 203 episodes)
6.00 [Programme to be announced] - so it will remain a mystery forever.
6.30 Stumpers - TVNZ quiz hosted by Laurie Dee
7.00 The Muppet Show - 'with guest stars Senor Wences and puppeteer Bruce Swartz'  
7.30 Mork & Mindy - ABC Robin Williams comedy (1978-82, 94 episodes) ***
8.00 The Sullivans - Nine Network WW2 Australian drama / soap (1976-83, 1114 episodes)
9.00 The Professionals - ITV's hard bastards who hate crims (1977-81, 57 episodes)****
10.00 News at Ten
10.30 Movie: Love's Savage Fury 1979 Civil War TV movie with Jennifer O'Neill & Raymond Burr
12.10 Closedown

*** Huh, I didn't know Pam Dawber is married to Mark Harmon
**** "Cowley, Doyle & Bodie - the men of CI5 finish jobs that the police wouldn't even know how to start".

See also:
TV: After School - Maorimind (1981 Mastermind spoof)
TV: Chic Chat (1981 excerpt)
TV:  Soap - "Mickey Mouse's dog was gay?!" (Billy Crystal & Katherine Helmond)
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