It doesn’t happen so much these days but during the Golden Age of Television a regular part of any show would be a short little opening announcement, some funny, some spooky, some downright weird and all going a little way to describe what was in store. Here we take a look at 8 of our favourites.
HONG KONG PHOOEY (ABC 1974)
Announcer: Who is this superhero? …Sarge? No… Rosemary, the telephone operator?… No… Henry, the mild mannered janitor?
Henry: Could be…
Then straight into the just as classic Hong Kong Phooey Theme Tune.
QUANTUM LEAP (NBC 1989-1993)
Female Announcer: Dr Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum leap accelerator. He finds himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images of his own self and driven by an unknown force to make history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life striving to make right what once was wrong, hoping each time he leaps will be the last.
STAR TREK (NBC 1966-1969)
Of course, I’m sure most of us could recite this one verbatim but we couldn’t not include it.
Captain Kirk: Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s five year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilisations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Which reminds us of our favorite joke “how many ears does Captain Kirk have? Three – his left ear, his right ear and his final front ear” boom boom, it’s the way we tell ’em of course.
I DREAM OF JEANNIE (NBC 1965-1970)
AnnouncerL Once upon a time in a mythical place called Cape Kennedy, an astronaut named Tony Nelson went up on a space mission. The missile went up but something went wrong and they had to bring it down. Captain Nelson landed on an island in the South Pacific where he found a bottle – at least it looked like a bottle, but it didn’t act like a bottle….
True Jeannie-us that one…
THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW (CBS 1960-1968)
Announcer: The Andy Griffith Show…. Starring Andy Griffith… with Ronny Howard. Also starring Don Knotts. Brought to you by Post, the cereals that start your day off a little better. Post.
An example of how so many vintage shows had their own long running sponsors.
THE INVADERS (ABC 1967-1968)
Announcer: The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet. Their destination: the Earth. Their purpose – to make it their world. David Vincent has seen them. For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road looking for a shortcut he never found. It began with a closed, deserted diner and man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy. Now David Vincent knows the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.
Another sci-fi classic and one of David Icke’s favorite shows.
THE OUTER LIMITS (ABC 1963-1965)
Announcer: There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can change the focus from a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to The Outer Limits.
CAPTAIN CAVEMAN AND THE TEEN ANGELS (ABC 1980)
Announcer: Set free by the Teen Angels from his block of glacier ice comes the world’s first superhero – Captain Caveman. Now as the constant companion to the Teen Angels, Brenda, Dee Dee and Taffy, he faces hilarious and sometimes scary mystery missions. Get ready for Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels.
Yes we do know that you are all now bellowing “Captain Cavemaaaannn” at the top of your lungs.
Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess
What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.
Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.
Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.
Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.
Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?
Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.
Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife
Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.
Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.
Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.
Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.
Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.
What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.
Famous guest stars?
The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.
Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.
Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.
Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.
The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.
Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.
Classic TV Revisited: The Royal
The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.
The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.
Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.
Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.
Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”
A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.
First broadcast: 2003
Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden
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