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Classic TV Revisited Give Us A Clue Classic TV Revisited Give Us A Clue


Classic TV Revisited: Give Us A Clue



Popular TV parlour game Give Us A Clue ran on ITV from 1979-1981 and starred Michael Aspel, Michael Parkinson, Lionel Blair, Una Stubbs and Liza Goddard.

Highly popular small-screen version of charades.

Why was it so good?
Its appeal was in whether the contestants would make an embarrassing gaffe involving some terrible double entendre.

Such as?
Lionel Blair had terrible trouble with Passage To India and Faith Brown struggled with Like A Virgin.

How did it begin?
ITV bosses decided it was a cheap and cheerful format which would attract millions.

Were they right?
It did run for 12 years and at its peak in the early ’80s it drew a staggering 17m viewers.

Who was on it then?
That particular episode was hosted by Michael Aspel with team captains Lionel Blair and Una Stubbs. Guests included David Hamilton, Rachel Heyhoe-Flint and Billy Dainty. Would 17m watch them today? Doubt it.

I haven’t played charades for ages, how did the quiz work?
Teams of “boys” and “girls” mimed the names of a book, play, TV show, movie, song or person.

How long did this go on for?
The team got two minutes to guess.

Was there any financial reward for all this effort?
Not a sausage, even if you did it syllable by syllable. It was a case of three points for within the first 60 seconds and two before time was up.

Who was tops on Give Us A Clue?
The master was Lionel Blair.

What was his best time?
Legend has it that he took just 3.5 seconds when he mimed Anchors Aweigh. He also managed The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover in under 30 seconds.

What were his other best moments?
He apparently relished getting to grips with The African Queen, Howard’s End and Free Willy. But he was frustrated with Two Gentlemen Of Verona.

What was Una Stubbs’s main contribution?
Miming Fanny By Gaslight brilliantly.

Any other memorable titles?
Lionel Blair had his hands full with the book A-Z Of Horse Diseases And Health Problems, Signs, Diagnoses, Causes, Treatment.

Who else was in it?
Michael Parkinson took over as host from Michael Aspel in 1984 while later on Liza Goddard replaced Una Stubbs as female captain.

Any famous guests?
Over the years they included Bruce Forsyth, Wayne Sleep, Julie Walters, Paula Yates, Kenneth Williams and Victoria Wood.

Could it be revived?
It was briefly brought back as a daytime series by the BBC in 1997 with Tim Clark as host but it didn’t last long.

Allegedly it was a bit too risque for daytime viewers and an unfortunate mime of An Audience With Bob Monkhouse using hand gestures didn’t help.

Distinguishing features?
Moments of silence; exaggerated hand movements; unlimited opportunities for double entendres.

Do say:
“What a Carry On! It had more double meanings than ‘Allo ‘Allo and Are You Being Served? put together.”

Do not say:
“Charades in the parlour was much more preferable.”

Not to be confused with:
Cluedo; Clueless; pass the parcel; musical chairs.



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




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
Character: Xena

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Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




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.

And wifey?
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.

Other characters
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?
Kim Basinger

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.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
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.

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Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




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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