In TV Hell, nobody can hear you scream ‘switch that crap off!’ Tom Lappin scans the infernal schedules for BBCZ’s forthcoming evening of dross.
It’s Monday night, and the TV schedules are packed with the worst dross this side of the Thames Television Light Entertainment department. ‘50 what’s new?‘ you ask. Well, this time it’s deliberate. With one of those nice little post-modernist ﬂourishes beloved of the new breed of braces and big specs TV executives, BBC2 have responded to Channel 4’s TV Heaven initiative by scheduling an evening celebrating the worst of TV past: the inept, the stupid, the embarrassing and the downright offensive. They call it TV Hell.
In this age of the trash aesthetic, where all sorts of drivel are being dug up and acclaimed as masterpieces, TV Hell is an idea whose time has come. All of a sudden , bad is good and vice-versa. As producer John Whiston points out, time does strange things to TV shows. ‘Programmes that were highly successful in their day can sometimes descend into TV Hell purely through the passage of time and application of hindsight,’ he says. ‘Television is a transient medium. Programmes date quickly, and what was once popular and fashionable can often look extremely silly twenty years on. But most of us have worn flared trousers . in our day, and what TV Hell hopes to do is allow
people to make up their own minds. After all, one i person’s idea of TV Hell is someone else’s idea of
The poor souls chosen to guide us through this underworld of the 625 line system are Have I Got News For You? regulars Angus Deayton and Paul Merton. The surly Merton would seem a suitable victim, having fond memories of a youth spent goggling at rubbish. ‘One of my favourites was Crossroads,’ he confesses. ‘I knew it was terrible at the time, but some things are so extraordinarily bad that they are actually good fun. TV Hell has got some tremendously bad stuff. One of the programmes, Mainly For Men, was deemed to be so bad when it was made in the 1960s that it was never screened. It featured lots of scantily clad women and terrible Hammond organ music.‘
Sounds terriﬁc to me. Here for your delectation is that TV Hell schedule in full for Monday 31 August.
TV Hell 7.30—7.35pm. An introduction sequence as we see Damien (Angus Deayton) dragging Merton down into the BBC netherworld to prepare him for the horrors to come.
Disastermind 7.35—7.45pm. We meet the man who scored the lowest ever points tally on Mastermind, Arfor Wyn Hughes, a schoolteacher whose pupils no doubt destroyed him after he managed just five points on his appearance in 1991.
It’s A Knockout 7.45-8.05pm. Games without
frontiers, war without tears, as we revisit the maniacal Stuart Hall, the incomprehensible Eddie Waring, and the mysterious Arthur Ellis and his dipstick.
The Official History at Hell 8.05—9pm. A comprehensive A-Z of diabolical televisual moments, confessed by sundry celebs including Michael Grade, Denis Forman, Joan Bakewell and Humphrey Burton. Plus clips from major televisual disasters like The Borgias and Triangle. Rock Bottom 9L9.30pm. John Peel presents a compilation of some of the more hideous pop acts to disgrace Top Of The Pops, including The Wurzels, Renee and Renato and Black Lace. Nicholas Craig's Masterpiece Theatre 9.30—9.45pm. Nigel Planer introduces a masterclass on the art of appearing in period costume, pointing out the clichés and conventions of the classic BBC swashbuckler.
The Critics’ Choice 9.45—10. 10pm. TV Hell polled over 40 television critics and asked them to nominate their worst ever programme. Mark Lawson announces the result.
Nul Points 10.10-10.45pm Subtitled A Brief History Of The Eurovision Song Contest, yes the
Angus Deayton: your guide through Hell. competition that launched an international hotbed of political intrigue.
Credible Credlt310.45—10.50pm. In his own inimitable style Victor Lewis-Smith suggests what really truthful opening sequences might look like. Hello And Goodbye 10.50—11.10pm. Danny Baker presents a compilation of some of the more excruciating moments from TV chat shows.
The Secret Lite OITV 11.10—11. 15pm. Victor Lewis-Smith is back again in the company of Paul Sparks, looking at the interior workings that television tries to keep hidden from the viewer. TVAM 11.15—11.50pm. Raymond Snoddy tells the horrendous tale of the breakfast TV channel that recently lost its franchise. With a cameo appearance from Roland Rat.
Mainly For Men 11.50pm-12. 10am. That tacky Playboy-style show mentioned by Paul Merton above.
Trading Places 12.10-12.20am. To round off the evening, a host of celebrities risk public humiliation on TV as they are seen doing the most unlikely things. The self-publicists include Esther Rantzen, Jan Leeming, Cilla Black and John Alderton.
The List 28 August — 10 September 1992 89