Review: That’s What I Call Television

That's What I Call Television

In the UK: Saturdays, 9.30pm, ITV1

Talk about derivative. ITV, never one for spotting a trend until it’s five years passed, has noticed that actually, thirtysomethings like to get nostalgic about television they watched when they were a kid. So they’ve rolled out a show hosted by Fern Britton that celebrates TV that aired between 1979 and 1989, got three celebrities with memories of the period to trawl the archives for the high points, all the while dragging on the occasional guest star for an audience of Friends Reunited heavy-users to gape at in awe.

It’s not bad if you enjoy shouting out “that was the theme to the McVitie’s Club advert” at the TV at appropriate moments. But for anyone with an attention span, there’s a disconcerting sense that opportunities have been missed. We had an honest to goodness reunion of Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal. Wow! Yey!

FOR TWO MINUTES. What’s the point in that? They got about three sentences out before they were trundled off. That could have been an entire programme.

This week’s guest was Julian Clary with Matthew Kelly next week and – really, why? – Bradley Walsh to come the following week. Clary’s entertaining and we saw some good clips, not just of his favourite programmes but of him in his various on-screen appearances. The in-house band that recreates theme tunes of yesterday is amusing. And, I’m hoping that the web site is being nice and there really will be a two-minute long reunion of David McCallum and Joanna Lumley to discuss Sapphire and Steel.

But there’s no real focus to the show. It’s just a few things thrown together with a celebrity, all to be done on the cheap. Yet another piece of diluted output from the network that likes to say “Can we have some of that, too?”


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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