5. Dramarama (1983 – 1989)
Dramarama was a British children’s anthology series broadcast on ITV between 1983 and 1989. The series tended to feature single dramas with a science fiction, supernatural and occasionally satirical theme. It was created by Anna Home, then head of children’s and youth programming at TVS, however the dramas themselves were produced by a total of twelve ITV regional companies. Thus, each episode was in practice a one-off production with its own cast and crew, up to and including the executive producer.
Dramarama was largely a showcase for new talent to television and offered debuts for Anthony Horowitz, Paul Abbott, Kay Mellor, Janice Hally, Tony Kearney, David Tennant and Ann Marie Di Mambro. It was also one of Dennis Spooner’s last works. One of the stories, Thames’ Dodger, Bonzo And The Rest from 1984, proved so popular that it was spun off into its own series and Christmas special the following year – the series starred Lee Ross and recounted life in a large foster home. Another story, Granada’s Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night from 1988, was developed into the long-running series Children’s Ward. The original Dramarama story was co-written by Paul Abbott and Kay Mellor – at the time, working as staff writers for Granada
6. Emu’s All Live Pink Windmill Show (1984 – 1988)
The success of Emu’s World led to the series being expanded in mid-1984 from 20-minute to 42-minute episodes and re-branded as the Pink Windmill Show. The target age range was broadened, and the programme now featured viewer phone calls, a studio audience, games such as one in Grotbags’s grotto based on the format of the “take the money or open the box” segment of Take Your Pick!, the Post Office (for viewers to send their letters and pictures), and Boggle’s Kingdom – a mini-series featuring Rod’s ancestor who is trapped in Tudor times. A subsequent addition was the Twin Schools section, which aimed to pair British schools with similar ones in Australia, Canada, or the US.
The singing and dancing of the Pink Windmill Kids was retained, extra character Robot Redford introduced, and the show in this format achieved enormous popularity (evidenced by being broadcast in the coveted Children’s ITV slot of last thing on a Friday). Three series were broadcast live from 1984 to 1986 (despite the third run dropping “All Live” from the title), and in 1987 two series of Emu’s Wide World were made. These followed a similar formula to the Pink Windmill Shows, but were pre-recorded, resulting in the phone-based Spin Quiz being replaced by Emu’s Bargain Basement – an obstacle course in a supermarket. A final series of Emu’s World aired in 1988, which retained Boggle’s Kingdom and introduced an outdoors obstacle course despite being cut to a 20-minute run time. All series were produced and directed by Colin Clews for Central Independent Television and broadcast from the now-defunct East Midlands Television Centre in Nottingham.
7. Mike & Angelo (1989 – 2000)
Mike and Angelo is a British sci-fi TV sitcom series, that ran on CITV between 16 March 1989 and 7 March 2000. It centres on Angelo (played initially by Tyler Butterworth, and from series 3 onwards by Tim Whitnall, after the character ‘regenerated’, a concept first used in Doctor Who), an alien who came from another world during the first series; the portal from his world being that of a wardrobe in one of the bedrooms. He lives with Mike King (played by Matt Wright), and Mike’s mother Rita. Later series had Mike and Rita move away, with Rita’s nephew Mike Mason (Michael Benz) staying on in the house with housekeeper Katy (Katy Murphy). Together, Mike and Angelo get up to all kinds of crazy adventures – all within the vicinity of the house that they live in. Angelo is always inventing something crazy, or walking on the ceiling (due to him being an alien), or summoning up historical figures from the past.
The 1999 series began with Angelo and Katy reading a postcard explaining that Mike was having a good time in America. In his place, Daphne Fawkes-Bentley’s niece Michaela (portrayed by Gemma Gregory) became Angelo’s sidekick.