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Nostalgic television: That’s Life – life summed up in 40 minutes

AFTER watching a bit of Bully (Bullseye) and hearing the theme tune to Highway, you knew that the weekend was almost over and Monday morning would soon be kicking you up the backside into the world of weekday reality. But stop … there was one television programme that made the Sunday evening Monday morning transition bearable – that programme was That’s Life!

 

Reality TV

Hosted by the caring Esther Rantzen, That’s Life was a roller-coaster of laughter and serious topical issues – think of Watchdog and Points of View blended together and served up on Sunday evenings – voila!

 

The typewriter, articles and misprints

Viewers were encouraged to send in photos of posters, signs, newspaper and magazine articles with misprints, mis-spelt words and sentences that had connotations opposite to the subject matter. We must bear in mind that typewriters did not have spell-checks – if an error was spotted it was out with the bottle of Tipp-Ex – if it wasn’t then the error could be hilarious enough to end up on the programme. Maybe a letter to Mr Gates at Microsoft asking him to kindly remove the red underlining feature on MS Word could get the ball rolling in churning out more crying-with-laughter articles.

 

Let’s provide a solution

Imagine the scenario of false teeth being so badly fitted that they pack their bags and leaves home each time the wearer opens their mouth. This was the case for onE poor gentleman – he had tried several dentists but his teeth still kept leaving home. The solution … a design drawn-up and put together by a motor mechanic. ComponentS used: a wire hanger and bits ‘n’ bobs – the result … does the job but not very attractive or practical!

 

Out on the streets

The That’s Life team never hesitated when it came to speaking to the public. Rain or shine they’d be out on the streets with camera crew and microphone. There are some questions in life that need answers – Have you ever been given roses? Is kissing strangers good for your health? Are moustaches sexy? One dialogue on the street went like this:

Q: Are you any good at exercises?

A: Hopeless.

Q: Have you ever tried?

A: Errm … I did a few press-ups once.

Q: What Happened?

A: I sort of collapsed.

 

I’ve been ripped-off!

Over-charged on gas or electricity? Get in touch with the That’s Life team. Dodgy tradespeople, poor customer service, faulty goods, hidden charges, botched medical procedures, over-charged at the supermarket – put pen to paper and let the team sort out the culprits. There was even the prestigious Jobsworth award – an award for enforcing ridiculous rules and sticking to them – one memorable winner was the British Rail on-board catering team …

Customer: Can you not put the butter on the toast whilst still hot – it makes the toast soggy?

British Rail staff: It’s the rule I’m afraid … the butter has got to on straight away.

Customer: Can you not leave the butter on the side?

British Rail staff: I’m afraid not, the rules are that butter has got to go on straight away.

 

And finally

That’s Life summed up life in the space of 40 minutes – fun and laughter, sadness, compassion and tears, being screwed-over and ridiculous rules! The programme put life into perspective and made the Sunday night Monday morning transition less painful. The next time you’re on a Sunday evening downer, relax and give yourself 40 minutes to stop, relax, reflect and laugh – think of the programme as you crawl into a more balanced, middle of the road, not brilliant but not too bad place.

 


Nostalgic Christmas treat? Section N Underpass is a fun and factual hardback book looking back at entertainment, advertising and leisure from the 70s and 80s. It will have you in stitches whilst reminiscing! A must-have for nostalgia fans. Read all about it and order here: Enter the underpass

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Nostalgic Football: The Big Match and the football evolution

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DURING THE 70s and 80s, BBC’s Match of the Day had competition in the form of ITV’s The Big Match. The programmes didn’t compete head-to-head – MOTD had a Saturday night slot (one that it still holds today) whilst The Big Match had a Sunday afternoon slot. Throughout the 70s and early 80s, TBM was hosted by the popular, instantly recognisable Brian Moore – Brian Moore means football.

 

Game changing. Whilst footballers wages have escalated to skyscraper levels, there are other areas of the game that have evolved over the years. Here are a few of them captured when we revisited The Big Match.

 

Only one sub!

Yep there was only one substitute on the bench back in the yester-years of football. The conclusion of many old-school supporters is that the players were as hard as a frozen football pitch. Crunching tackles that sent opponents flying was part of the game with few cautionary cards dished out. Not sure what kind of diet the players were on but maybe a few dollops of cement was part of their pre-match meal.

 

That pitch is looking a bit rough

In today’s football we hear of managers complaining about the state of some pitches around the country. Some of the surfaces the players ran around on during the 70s resembled a water-soaked field trampled by a herd of cows then left to dry out! A battered looking pitch was normal – the players just got on with it and tried to keep their footing.

 

 

Electronic advertising boards not allowed!

With football such a lucrative business these days, advertising boards are ruled by companies that suck-in cash faster than a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Today’s advertising on boards shift, flashes and winks at us. Check out the no-frills advertising boards from the 70s and 80s below – there’s even advertising for local businesses. Draper tools, Duckhams, Radio Rentals, Visionhire and Pontins holidays were popular advisers back then.

 

Pure and simple

Once upon a time football shirts would have player numbers on the back and on the front was the kit manufacturers logo and club badge. Today’s kit would look slightly bare if it didn’t have the players name spread across the back and a sponsorship logo splashed across the front. Advertising boards have their restrictions, but when you have advertising on two legs running up and down the pitch, that’s 360 degrees advertising for 90 minutes – very clever.

 

The changes just keep coming …

Division 1 changed to the Premier league. The League cup has gone through numerous name changes – the Milk cup, Littlewoods cup, Rumbelows cup – some call it the Mickey Mouse cup – a name that requires no explanation to football fans. The only entry into the prestigious European Cup (now called the Champions League) was by winning the league title – no sneaky way in for clubs that came second, third or fourth in the domestic league. Lots of changes with cash being shuffled and dished out faster than a casino dealer. There’s no sign of the football evolution slowing down but we can smile as we reminisce about the questionable hairstyles, moustaches and when the prawn sandwich brigade was not part of the footballing dictionary.

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Nostalgic Christmas treat? Get the rundown of when Grandstand and World of Sport rules on Saturday afternoons in the nostalgic book ‘Section N Underpass’. Release date: 14th December 2018. A fun and factual hardback book looking back at entertainment, advertising and leisure from the 70s and 80s. It will have you in stitches whilst reminiscing! A must-have for nostalgia fans. Read all about it and order here: Enter the underpass

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Classic Comedy: Open All Hours: How to successfully manage a corner shop

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WHEN it comes to running a corner shop there’s a few no-brainers – open-up on time, look after your customers, keep the shop clean and make a tidy profit.

Arkwright did all the above and more. He had a distinctive way of looking after his customers and knew how to maximise profit. His motto was ‘Get it in the till quick’ whilst making sure the deadly cash drawer didn’t crush his fingers.

Here we take a look at some tricks of the trade used by Arkwright to ensure the customers and cash kept rolling-in …

 

Know your customer and offer them the best most expensive

Arkwright certainly knew his customers. Regulars stepping into the shop for their usual would sometimes be offered a more expensive upgrade. Refusing the upgrade would lead to a long-winded sales pitch. The customer would either 1) endure the pitch and walk out with their usual purchase, or 2) buy the upgrade to avoid hassle and confrontation. The long-winded sales pitch is worth the effort and could result in an extra 10p in the till!

 

Leave the donkey work to someone else

The only times we saw beads of sweat on Arkwright’s face was when he had to shell out cash or got sight of nurse Gladys’ cleavage. Granville did all the running around which freed-up Arkwright to stand back and assess trends, customer behaviour and think about maximising profit. Getting someone else doing the donkey work sounds sensible.

 

Don’t throw anything away and be creative!

Imagine having a supply of tinned food with no labels on them. With no idea of the contents, it may be tempting to toss em’ in the bin. In Arkwright’s world, tossing anything away without receiving any cash is criminal. How about promoting the unnamed tins in a ‘Canned Surprise’ bingo? ‘What’s in the tin?’ –  ‘I don’t know, it could be anything … Rice pudding, Pears, Baked Beans, Soup … buy a few and find out’. Genius thinking brought to us by the one and only Arkwright.

 

Never let anyone entering the shop leave empty handed

Any potential customer leaving the corner shop empty handed is absolutely unacceptable to Arkwright. Someone popping into the shop to ask for directions – sell em’ a loaf of bread and a few slices of ham for their journey round the corner. When opportunity knocks, grab it with both hands and get money in the till!

 

A work life balance is essential

If it wasn’t for nurse Gladys the corner shop would be Arkwright’s only reason for living. Nurse Gladys was a welcome distraction and brought out the randy side of the money-grabbing shopkeeper. All work and no play is like waiting for paint to dry in a humid room … boring and never-ending.

 

Protect your assets

After spending lots of money making sure the shop is well stocked, the last thing you want is some thieving toe-rag swiping it away. Arkwright had a rifle for shooting thieves but the more sensible option is an alarm, CCTV or even a hungry guard dog. Your stock is your livelihood so keep it secure – no one is going to come into your shop if the shelves are as bare as a nudist resort!

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The conclusion and recipe for success

Thinking of owning a corner shop? Keep the top-tips mentioned above in mind – learn from experience not by making elementary shopkeeping errors. Remember that cash is king and running a successful corner shop could mean ending up living like royalty.

 


Read about television, leisure and entertainment from the yester-years in the nostalgic book ‘Section N Underpass’. A fun and factual hardback that will have you in stitches whilst reminiscing about the 70s and 80s. A must-have for nostalgia fans. Release date 14th December 2018. Read all about it and pre-order here: Enter the underpass


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Yesterday’s Drive: A brief review of car advertising in the 70s and 80s

BACK in the 70s and 80s, before driving-off, we’d pull the aerial up in order to get a radio reception. Once inside, we’d manually operate the choke and start the engine. After winding down the window and adjusting the wing mirror, a bit of strength was needed to turn the non-powered steering wheel.

Today’s cars are more reliable and there’s less faffing required to get moving, but there’s no mistaking the awe and beauty of some of the cars from back in the day. The car market has always been competitive and some of the advertising from yesterday-years go about taking their competitors apart in a sly and subtle manner.

In this short article, we’ll look at some of the cars advertising from yesterday-years – from the sexy to the all-out rip-speed beast.

 

A Sexy drive

Sexy is a matter of opinion but there were some cars where sexiness oozed from bumper to bumper. Their shape was unbelievably well-crafted and still turn heads when seen on streets today. Sexy could be served straight and undiluted or with a dash of adventure and sportiness.

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The family drive

Having a car that could comfortably fit a family became a big boast. It was important that the passengers didn’t feel like a journey in the car was more like an endurance test rather than a pleasant experience. The Austin Allegro television advert boasted about having room for five, room to spare and room for long legs!

 

 

The cars on the posh end of the spectrum

Cars that really cut the mustard. Many of them were sleek and had that ‘company car’ look. Owners of cars in this category were made a quiet statement or two … ‘I’m classy and I know it’ and ‘I’m not average’.

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The practical drive

Estate cars ruled when it came to having an extra bit of room. A bit extra room for those bulky flick-lock suitcases or for transporting weighty furniture. The Volvo was seen as a robust, reliable, safety-first type of car. Practicality was paramount for the owners of cars in this category – can be summarised as being no nonsense cars  that won’t win any beauty contests but will do the job.

 

The all-out pedal to the metal cars

Practicality is left for dust when it came to these cars. Speed, speed and more speed was the only topic on the agenda. Drivers wanting to put pedal to the metal whilst making other motorists look like tiny dots in their rear view mirror. Today’s motoring  advertisements cannot mention speed, fast or any words indicating that the driver could outrun other cars (safety reasons and discourage potential speed demons) but back in the day this was not the case … broom broom screech eat my exhaust fumes!

 

Easy driving

Power steering, automatic choke, parking sensors, onboard warning lights, CD players, MP3 players, central locking, heated mirrors, adjustable mirrors, automatic front windows – all of these come as standard with our modern cars. The question of ‘What’s the furthest you’ve gone in that car?’ has disappeared from our motoring discussions – reliability has risen to impressively high standards. Whilst all these advancements are a huge leap forward to making driving easier and enjoyable, there’s no mistaking the beauty, fun and the nostalgic feeling when you see a Yesterday’s Drive on the street.

 


 

Read about the Ford Cortina, The Austin Allegro and Ambassador and the Ford Capri in the nostalgic book ‘Section N Underpass’. It’s a must-have for memories of the 70s and 80s. Out now! Get the rundown and order your copy here: Enter the Underpass