Connect with us
Hector's House Hector's House


Classic TV Revisited: Hector’s House



Hector’s House was a five minute kids’ show about sad-eyed, floppy-eared dog Hector and chinless Zaza The Cat. They had a garden in full bloom to do their business in, and were also joined by frog neighbour, Mrs Kiki. Joanna Lumley narrated.

An intriguing study of wildlife’s lavatorial habits?
Was it Hector-as-like. It was a charming piece of entertainment — not some dog’s dinner.

What was it all about then?
Unlike their real-life counterparts, Hector and Zaza co-habited in harmony in a house with a garden the Ground Force team would be proud of.

No hint of romance — just keen gardeners who whiled away all their daylight hours pottering among the numerous blooms.

But there was a snake in their Garden of Eden?
Just nosy neighbours, in particular frog Mrs Kiki.

So they had a problem with a nosy amphibian?
Remember this was kid’s TV — so nothing malicious. But during a spying visit Kiki left a pink hat behind in Hector’s garden. When she tried to recover it, the hound caught her red-handed.

Frog’s legs for the dog’s dinner?
Hardly. The encounter led to them becoming best friends. She was given a special vantage point on the fence from which to view Hector and Zaza’s antics and a hole through which to enter.

Harmless fun along the lines of a lost pair of garden shears or someone snaffling the plums?
The format was that minxes Mrs Kiki and Zaza would get up to mischief with Hector as the victim. But he would gallantly forgive them, trotting out the line: “I’m a big (whatever he was) old Hector.”

He did get his own back sometimes, such as when he made Kiki a necklace out of thistles and in Hector’s Big Tidy, he tried to tidy them away.

Origins of this sad-eyed dog story?
It was actually imported from France where it was called La Maison de Tu Tu. George Croses was the creator.

Afraid so, Mr Blair. But British audiences weren’t left to translate. Cut-glass toned actress Joanna Lumley did the female voices.

Quality production?
Done on the cheap using finger puppets. It meant Hector and co moved with their arms sticking out, rather like horror film zombies.

Hector's House

An enduring children’s classic?
Lacks the cross-generation appeal of the likes of Roobarb and The Magic Roundabout. But it is fondly remembered by many around the primary school age during the ’70s. The series, which ran to 30 episodes, first aired in 1968 but took off when repeated.

Distinguishing features?
Five-minutes long, blooming garden, sad-eyed, but chivalrous dog and a mischief-making giggly frog and cat.

Do say?
I’m just a big, silly old Hector, I’m just a big, sad old Hector, I’m just a big, sensible old Hector.

Don’t say?
Call the dog-catcher — it’s medical experiments for you.

Not to be confused with?
Ali G Indahouse, Doctor In The House



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

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


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

Continue Reading

More to View