Last-minute replacements

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Brock
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Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

I've just been reading about the unscheduled broadcast of Ronnie Barker's silent comedy film Futtocks End during BBC1's coverage of the 1979 Miss World contest. No explanation was given on air, but it was due to industrial action by sound engineers. The earlier part of the programme had been pre-recorded, and the crowning of the winner was subsequently broadcast live in vision only with a commentary by Ray Moore.

What other similar incidents do you recall?

fatcat
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by fatcat »

Probably a well known one was when the 'Doctor at...' sitcoms were riding high in the popularity stakes. This is Your Life were going to do the book's author Richard Gordon's life .....Eamonn cornered him in the pre studio sequence and he said the magic words but Gordon appeared shy or angry about it and he ran off..suddenly without warning the Thames ident appeared and it became This is Your Life- Sam Kidd ..I suppose they regarded Sam as their safety backup LOL?

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

Oh yes, I remember that well! According to the producer, the Sam Kydd episode was due for broadcast the following week:

https://www.bigredbook.info/gordon_ostlere.html

In the end Richard Gordon (real name Gordon Ostlere) relented, and the programme was recorded and broadcast a week later.

Incidentally Sam Kydd's episode was never shown in full - there wasn't enough time left in the slot, so they cut it off before the end.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Blunderbirds »

My favourite last minute replacement was in 1978 on Xmas day. Yorkshire tv were on strike so all the networked YTV shows got replaced by regional choices. ATV chose to air a Year Two episode of Space 1999 instead of 3-2-1. What made it so memorable is that after 5 years of being stuck with only Anglia tv my parents had bought me a portable for Xmas 1978 and the wideband loop aerial was able to get perfect images from ATV in my bedroom so it was a real treat.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Blunderbirds »

fatcat wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:50 pm
Probably a well known one was when the 'Doctor at...' sitcoms were riding high in the popularity stakes. This is Your Life were going to do the book's author Richard Gordon's life .....Eamonn cornered him in the pre studio sequence and he said the magic words but Gordon appeared shy or angry about it and he ran off..suddenly without warning the Thames ident appeared and it became This is Your Life- Sam Kidd ..I suppose they regarded Sam as their safety backup LOL?
I think this was during a brief period when Thames thought it might be fun to show This is Your Life live when it had usually been recorded. Being live was how Richard Gordon was able to mess it up but it does beg the question as to how they had the Sam Kydd one available to show. Presumably they were still recording some of them rather than show them live. I think the Gordon episode marked the end of the live screenings

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

Blunderbirds wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:03 am
I think the Gordon episode marked the end of the live screenings
I'm not sure about this, though I'm pretty sure that when Danny Blanchflower refused to appear on the programme in 1961, the BBC stopped showing it live. Presumably when Thames picked it up in 1969 they must have decided to broadcast at least some of the programmes live again. There's an unsourced comment on Wikipedia that "Live broadcasts ended in 1983 when boxer Alan Minter could not stop swearing during his appearance", but I don't know if that's true.

wittoner
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by wittoner »

They would also have to capture their subjects in the studio or a theatre for a live broadcast to be possible. One gambit they used more than once was telling the subject they were going to be a guest on someone else's This is Your Life. One I remember was Bob Todd who was told they were doing Barry Cryer. That was also how they fooled Eamonn Andrews himself!

IIRR Sam Kydd was collared while being interviewed by the ITV Racing Team while enjoying a day at the races so the logistics of that would have made a live broadcast impossible.

Brock
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

wittoner wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:37 pm
They would also have to capture their subjects in the studio or a theatre for a live broadcast to be possible.
I'm not sure if that's quite right either. As I understand it, it was normal practice to pre-record the "sting" even when they were showing the rest of the programme live.

This didn't happen in Richard Gordon's case, though. According to Tom Brennand's biography of Eamonn Andrews (quoted on the site I referenced earlier):

"The programme’s original plan was for the confrontation to be pre-recorded at an outside location (in which case the company would have been obliged to cut the offending word). But because of a demarcation dispute it had to be scrapped at the last minute and in a desperate bid to save the show from being junked, too, the production team managed to lure Gordon into the studio almost on the dot of transmission time."

The offending word being "balls", of course - which is what got the confrontation onto the following day's front pages!

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Ian Wegg
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Ian Wegg »

Brock wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:59 pm
Blunderbirds wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:03 am
I think the Gordon episode marked the end of the live screenings
I'm not sure about this, though I'm pretty sure that when Danny Blanchflower refused to appear on the programme in 1961, the BBC stopped showing it live.
And, of course, Danny Blanchflower's aborted TIYL is another example - replaced at the last minute by the recorded episode of Dr. Robert Fawcus of Chard in Somerset.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Mark »

I remember seeing the Gordon one, there were members of the "Doctor" TV series there to surprise him ( including George Layton) and as a big fan of the series, I was looking forward to it...but off he went, followed by Andrews, and that was it.
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wittoner
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by wittoner »

And it nearly happened again in Michael Aspel's day when Bill Oddie had to be persuaded to go through with it after initially refusing point blank after being surprised. That was pre-recorded however although they didn't do the "sting" again and broadcast Oddie's initial refusal on transmission.

I saw an amusing interview with Bill years later in which he detailed how they sought to twist his arm by letting him in on the" surprises" in store for
him:

"I'm not doing it"

"Tim and Graeme are here."

"Hmm.. all right"

"Eric Idle's coming on"

"oh..Ok"

"and David Frost"

"I'm NOT doing it!"

Brock
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

A small correction to my earlier post:
Brock wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 3:04 pm
In the end Richard Gordon (real name Gordon Ostlere) relented, and the programme was recorded and broadcast a week later.
To be completely accurate, it was broadcast eight days later as a Thursday night "special", out of the normal sequence of early evening Wednesday broadcasts. I remember being specially allowed to stay up late to watch it!

What I hadn't realized until I checked here was that the date of transmission was Thursday 28th February 1974 - the night of the general election that brought down the Heath government. The time of transmission is given as 10.15pm. That means that ITV must have used the programme to fill in between News at Ten and the start of its results coverage. (This wasn't long after the abolition of the compulsory 10.30pm closedown introduced around the start of 1974.)

I wonder what they'd have broadcast if Richard Gordon hadn't refused the big red book? Does anyone know what was listed in TV Times for that evening?

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Ian Wegg
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Ian Wegg »

Brock wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:29 pm
Does anyone know what was listed in TV Times for that evening?
This Is Your Life Extra is billed in the TVTimes.

Image

Brock
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

Well that's very odd. How could they possibly have known when that week's TV Times went to press that Richard Gordon's episode wouldn't be shown on the 20th as planned?

EDIT: Or maybe Sam Kydd was originally scheduled for that slot? Seems an incredibly lucky fluke.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by fatcat »

I reckon Sam Kydd was originally made for the election slot.?..probably very easy to organize a recording out of the usual TIYL schedule (with him being part of the fabric of showbiz) and also possibly the most politically inoffensive person you could have on an Election Night...plus of course it kept the viewers watching after recently being used to switching off at 10.30.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

That seems the most likely explanation - and it also explains why the producer conveniently had the Sam Kydd episode to hand when Richard Gordon pulled out. Of course, if Gordon had refused point-blank to do the show it would have left ITV with an awkward hole in the schedules on election night!

When the election night episode was billed in the newspapers they included Richard Gordon's name, since the cat was already out of the bag. Must have been one of the very few occasions when a TIYL subject's identity was published in advance.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by SgtPepper »

I remember in November 1978 Viv Anderson was the first black man to play football for England (against Czechoslovakia) and having stayed up quite late to watch the highlights the BBC strike meant they showed a crap film instead. For the purpose of the thread it would probably help if I could remember the title.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Simon36 »

A baffling one was when an episode of Fawlty Towers (The Hotel Inspectors) was dropped by BBC1 on 2.6.82 as the Papal Visit overran. It was replaced by The Good Life - Tbe Weaver’s Tale... which was the same length! Go figure...

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by fatcat »

Details fuzzy ...I seem to recall an incident on After Dark CH4's risky late-night live chat show...Don't think it was the Ollie Reed one but....suddenly a voice said they were unable to continue with the programme and it just switched to a 1940s documentary about coal mining LOL

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Focus II
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Focus II »

I recall in the '80s Tyne Tees showed the film Holiday On The Buses one early evening. Memories are hazy but only a couple of minutes into the film the screens went blank, then the still Tyne Tees caption appeared with an announcement which remained on screen.

I don't recall if this was down to a strike, or if someone thought the film was unsuitable for the evening showing?

Anyone else remember that?

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by wittoner »

fatcat wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:28 pm
Details fuzzy ...I seem to recall an incident on After Dark CH4's risky late-night live chat show...Don't think it was the Ollie Reed one but....suddenly a voice said they were unable to continue with the programme and it just switched to a 1940s documentary about coal mining LOL
No That WAS the Ollie Reed one.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by fatcat »

wittoner wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:30 pm
fatcat wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:28 pm
Details fuzzy ...I seem to recall an incident on After Dark CH4's risky late-night live chat show...Don't think it was the Ollie Reed one but....suddenly a voice said they were unable to continue with the programme and it just switched to a 1940s documentary about coal mining LOL
No That WAS the Ollie Reed one.
Ah thanks, confirmation on a hazy memory

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Service Information »

Focus II wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:12 pm
I recall in the '80s Tyne Tees showed the film Holiday On The Buses one early evening. Memories are hazy but only a couple of minutes into the film the screens went blank, then the still Tyne Tees caption appeared with an announcement which remained on screen.

I don't recall if this was down to a strike, or if someone thought the film was unsuitable for the evening showing?

Anyone else remember that?
The Times archive suggests it did indeed have a showing, across the network at 7.15 on Saturday, Jan 10, 1981. What caused it to come to grief in Tyne Tees I couldn't say - unless someone at LWT pulled the plug and local companies had to scramble for an alternative programme?

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

The After Dark incident was quite an extraordinary story which I don't think I'd appreciated properly until now: the show was taken off air for 20 minutes because of a hoax call, and subsequently came back. This letter from the programme's producer was published in Broadcast magazine on 27 November 2002 (taken from Wikipedia, which I think can be relied upon in this instance):
The team responsible for After Dark were naturally pleased that Broadcast chose our programme as one of the most significant in Channel 4's history in your anniversary issue. Since you referred to the edition in which the late Oliver Reed took part, this seems a good time to correct some of the myths which have surrounded the programme since it was transmitted on 26 January 1991.

Although Reed was not the only disruptive guest in the history of After Dark, what put this particular show into the headlines was not so much Reed's behaviour as C4's. It took the show off the air for 20 minutes, filling the space with an old documentary about coal mining. When our programme returned, Reed was still on set and still disruptive.

That night Reed's behaviour was certainly causing concern. But neither the production team nor host Helena Kennedy felt the situation was out of control. Kennedy told us the guests could themselves decide whether and when to ask Reed to leave the set.

That night, while the then commissioning editor of After Dark, Michael Atwell, was watching the show, he was phoned by someone representing himself as the "duty officer" of the Independent Broadcasting Authority. This individual said an angry Michael Grade, then Chief Executive of C4, had demanded the programme be stopped. We sought to reassure Atwell, explaining that After Dark often received hoax calls and urged him to check further with his C4 superiors. We could not help reflecting that if Grade were truly upset it would have been more sensible for him to call either the studio or C4, rather than the regulator. However Michael Atwell, without further consultation, decided to stop transmission. We let the guests continue their discussions, though live broadcasting was obviously no longer possible.

But why did live transmission then resume after 20 minutes? Because further enquries by Atwell revealed that Grade was away on his boat. In fact it was Liz Forgan, awoken at home, who said the programme should be put back on air. The curious event of the disappearance of a live programme provided Fleet Street with some funny stories, not all of them true (but many are still recycled). We at Open Media were asked by C4 to issue a joint statement which would have absolved C4 from responsibility. This we refused to do. Six days later Atwell quietly admitted on C4's Right to Reply that After Dark was not implicated in the screw-up.

Viewers with long memories may recall that Reed was asked to leave by the other guests some while after the show resumed transmission. Atwell kept his job at C4 and axed the show at the end of that run.
There's a further twist: in his column in the Daily Mirror on 8 May 1999, Victor Lewis-Smith claimed responsibility for the hoax call. "The show was taken off air not by C4, but by... little-old-wine-drinking-me, sitting at home, far from the TV studio.... Once connected, I shouted: 'Michael Grade is furious about this. Take the bloody programme off... now!"

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Focus II
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Focus II »

Service Information wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:49 pm


The Times archive suggests it did indeed have a showing, across the network at 7.15 on Saturday, Jan 10, 1981. What caused it to come to grief in Tyne Tees I couldn't say - unless someone at LWT pulled the plug and local companies had to scramble for an alternative programme?
I think it was either 1984 or 1985?
I lived down South in 1981.

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stearn
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by stearn »

7.30pm Friday August 1986.

Also on UTV, Central, Granada and South, although London are listed as showing the earlier On The Buses.

Border were showing Carry On Behind.

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paul.austin
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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by paul.austin »

OT: ITV having multiple on-air identities. branding. idents, continuity etc. was never going to be viable long term once times had changed. Sentimentality and nostalgia make for bad business practices.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by murphy1961 »

fatcat wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:28 pm
Details fuzzy ...I seem to recall an incident on After Dark CH4's risky late-night live chat show...Don't think it was the Ollie Reed one but....suddenly a voice said they were unable to continue with the programme and it just switched to a 1940s documentary about coal mining LOL
It reminds me of the time in Australia when Channel 9 screened a special called Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos in September 1992 and it got taken off the air after about half-an-hour (it was supposed to run an hour - 8.30 to 9.30pm) because Kerry Packer, then owner of Channel 9, didn't like it. Basically it consisted of videos sent in by people that were too risque for the regular Australia's Funniest Home Videos.

My recollection is they went to a commercial break and then came back with an episode of Cheers, completely out-of-the-blue, which was the scheduled programme at 9.30, but it started around 9.00 to 9.05. Recently reading a contemporary newspaper piece about it, it said there was an on-air announcement about "technical difficulties", but I don't recall that. But I think I left the room during or just before the aforementioned commercial break and may have missed it.

It was eventually screened in-full around 2008 or 2009, I think. Strangely I recorded it onto a blank DVD but I've yet to watch it.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by yellowtriumph »

Brock wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:51 pm
The After Dark incident was quite an extraordinary story which I don't think I'd appreciated properly until now: the show was taken off air for 20 minutes because of a hoax call, and subsequently came back. This letter from the programme's producer was published in Broadcast magazine on 27 November 2002 (taken from Wikipedia, which I think can be relied upon in this instance):
The team responsible for After Dark were naturally pleased that Broadcast chose our programme as one of the most significant in Channel 4's history in your anniversary issue. Since you referred to the edition in which the late Oliver Reed took part, this seems a good time to correct some of the myths which have surrounded the programme since it was transmitted on 26 January 1991.

Although Reed was not the only disruptive guest in the history of After Dark, what put this particular show into the headlines was not so much Reed's behaviour as C4's. It took the show off the air for 20 minutes, filling the space with an old documentary about coal mining. When our programme returned, Reed was still on set and still disruptive.

That night Reed's behaviour was certainly causing concern. But neither the production team nor host Helena Kennedy felt the situation was out of control. Kennedy told us the guests could themselves decide whether and when to ask Reed to leave the set.

That night, while the then commissioning editor of After Dark, Michael Atwell, was watching the show, he was phoned by someone representing himself as the "duty officer" of the Independent Broadcasting Authority. This individual said an angry Michael Grade, then Chief Executive of C4, had demanded the programme be stopped. We sought to reassure Atwell, explaining that After Dark often received hoax calls and urged him to check further with his C4 superiors. We could not help reflecting that if Grade were truly upset it would have been more sensible for him to call either the studio or C4, rather than the regulator. However Michael Atwell, without further consultation, decided to stop transmission. We let the guests continue their discussions, though live broadcasting was obviously no longer possible.

But why did live transmission then resume after 20 minutes? Because further enquries by Atwell revealed that Grade was away on his boat. In fact it was Liz Forgan, awoken at home, who said the programme should be put back on air. The curious event of the disappearance of a live programme provided Fleet Street with some funny stories, not all of them true (but many are still recycled). We at Open Media were asked by C4 to issue a joint statement which would have absolved C4 from responsibility. This we refused to do. Six days later Atwell quietly admitted on C4's Right to Reply that After Dark was not implicated in the screw-up.

Viewers with long memories may recall that Reed was asked to leave by the other guests some while after the show resumed transmission. Atwell kept his job at C4 and axed the show at the end of that run.
There's a further twist: in his column in the Daily Mirror on 8 May 1999, Victor Lewis-Smith claimed responsibility for the hoax call. "The show was taken off air not by C4, but by... little-old-wine-drinking-me, sitting at home, far from the TV studio.... Once connected, I shouted: 'Michael Grade is furious about this. Take the bloody programme off... now!"
I was on duty that night at LWT. We were praying for it to remain off-air as we had our hats and coats on ready to go home - it was very late and I had a long way to go. We kept a close ear on the production gallery talkback to see which way it was going to go.

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Re: Last-minute replacements

Post by Brock »

yellowtriumph wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 5:18 pm
I was on duty that night at LWT. We were praying for it to remain off-air as we had our hats and coats on ready to go home - it was very late and I had a long way to go. We kept a close ear on the production gallery talkback to see which way it was going to go.
What was LWT's involvement with the programme? (It was made by Open Media, an independent production company.)

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