Advertising in the Seventies

In 1970 TV advertisements were more like cinema ads with the posh voiceovers and orchestral music. Take a look at this precious collection of eight ads. Want to emigrate to Australia or join the men in mining?! The sinister voiceover for Tufty is worrying as his friend gets hit by a car because he didn’t take his mummy with him to the ice cream van. We don’t get these types of scary voices now unless it’s in the advert about not paying your car tax. I wonder what that says about society/government 40 years on?

For mash get smashBy 1976 ads had changed quite a bit and they were more like short films. ‘The family’ was sacrosanct at this time when most were falling apart and the adverts that we saw on TV were either fictionalised sets of idealised family life or images from the past. This montage of seven ads clearly demonstrates the shift. The burger ad here is a classic example of the short film style of ad. The bird in the BT ad is reminiscent of Roobarb & Custard, a very British cartoon. However, the American influence is obvious with the Yorkie and Corona ads, both British companies. The Smash advert is classic ironic sci-fi in which we all believed that robots would replace us in the future.

The 3p Curly Wurly ad with school kids and Terry Scott playing the school boy role is funny. Very ‘Just William’ and possibly true to some school experiences but not mine! More like 1940’s or 50’s. Tufty was replaced by Charley Says, a difference in animation style and also the funny cat made to make you laugh rather than a fluffy toy style squirrel. But still as sexist with the asking mummy business (plus, can you imagine a kid being called Vera now?).

And just in case anyone hasn’t got lost down memory lane already, what about this Thames TV linkage. Classic!


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Roobarb and Custard

Roobarb (left) and Custard (right)According to Wikipedia, the program was just called Roobarb (the dog’s name) but we used to call it Roobarb and Custard, obviously a common error or it wouldn’t be mentioned in the fount of all knowledge. Custard was pink and Roobarb was yellow but apparently not, apparently he was green. I beg to differ. You see in reality, custard is yellow and stewed rhubarb is pink, so the logic is that the cat called Custard will be pink and the dog called Roobarb yellow. No-one ever heard of green custard unless it was that gross school dinners thing where a chocolate cornflake cake would be covered in green mint sauce which we used to call ‘hedgehogs and toothpaste’. I rest my case.

I loved this cartoon because the cat was so sarcastic and there were also loads of groany awful puns. “Roobarb shook off his disguise as he decided the whole idea of being a piece of bread had gone a bit stale.” It was basically battles between a cat and dog which was closer to my experience than the Tom and Jerry cat and mouse thing. And the birds were hilarious. I loved the music too, used to sing it loudly.

According to the creator Grange Calveley on roobarbandcustard.tv, the first Roobarb film was When Roobarb Made a Spike. He based the character on his own dog (who wasn’t yellow or green but a border collie) and stalked the BBC until they agreed to let him make some animations. They contracted him for 30 5-min episodes after watching the Spike pilot. Wow. Imagine that now? Another fave is When Roobarb Didn’t See The Sun Come.

It was narrated by Richard Briers and animated badly (deliberately according to Wikipedia) giving it a homespun feel. Animated by Bob Godfrey, this pair also wrote Noah and Nelly in the Skylark which was one of my favourite cartoons due to the knitting (and I’m sure will make an appearance on Popandcrisps soon). Kids now think it’s bad (see some comments on the youtube vids) but what they may not realise is that we thought it looked bad back then as well – compared to American slick animations – but it was cult-tacky and we loved it because it was so bad. The fabulousness was the story and character, the simple images firing our imagination. Slick animation with a boring plot doesn’t get close. In fact, the shaky animation was part of the appeal, and I would vibrate with excitement in a very good imitation of Roobarb.

There’s a new series now Roobarb and Custard Too, which is computer animated but is still shaky, which I’m glad about. Unlike many of the Seventies remakes, this is written by the same person as before and narrated by the same person. So it’s updated in some ways but retains the fabulousness.

Roobarb runningI have noticed something since watching these old episodes. When he runs with his ears up, Roobarb looks like my dog Mika.

 


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Good Old Bod

BodI loved Bod with his funny walk, bald head and apple pip eyes. All the characters had their own theme music including pom-pom-pom music for the policeman who had a plodding walk. Bod’s music was a chirpy little piccolo or flute. At the beginning you’d just see a blank screen with a little dot getting bigger and eventually this would turn into Bod or one of the other characters. You had to guess who it was going to be.

The actual program was called Here Comes Bod, I think, but we always called it simply Bod. The animation was minimal with the only things that moved on a character being the legs and the backgrounds were block colour. When they were walking towards the viewer, they just got bigger and their legs went up and down. It was very funny. The story was narrated so the characters didn’t even have to open their mouths and their speech was reported. As far as I can tell from research, the show was based on a series of books, though I don’t remember ever seeing the books. There is a current Here Comes Bod website, but no more Bod shows only repeats.

To watch it now is amazing nostalgia, not only for the simplistic animation compared to today’s children’s programs but for the fact that all the characters are white and holed up into nice little gender and class categories. Although interestingly the creators assert that Bod means anything with no race or gender. According to an interview with the adult children of the creators of Bod, there is a deep philosophical significance behind the program. I didn’t notice it as a child, possibly because everything was magical and philosophical to me back then. Great marketing though! They did it with Pooh Bear, now they’re doing it with Bod.

Bod and friends

 Each episode was only five minutes long according to wikipedia, but strangely I remember them as being longer. Maybe that’s just my faulty memory. At the end of the Bod adventure, there was another mini program within the program (see the post-modern metatextuality there?) about Alberto Frog and his travelling band. The band was made up of different animals and they usually had to play somewhere – the frog was the conductor. Then Alberto would ask for a milkshake and you had to guess which flavour he would choose. I didn’t like the Alberto Frog bit as much as I liked Bod. I think it was because I didn’t like how the Alberto narrator talked, and listening to her on youtube I can understand why, because I never did respond well to being patronised.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

The Bionic Woman

Lindsay Wagner as Jaime SommersI named my doll Jamie after Jamie Summers, the bionic woman (although I’ve just found out from Wikipedia that her name was spelled Jaime Sommers). Anyway the fact that I named my one and only doll after her demonstrates how much I loved the character and the programme. Although The Bionic Woman was a spin-off from The Six Million Dollar Man (who cost about as much as a house in London would today so maybe not that expensive), for me Jamie was much more important than Steve Austin. Lindsay Wagner in 2007 receiving TV Land awardJamie was played by Lindsay Wagner who I always thought looked like she could be a member of my family and I imagined being like her when I grew up. And wow, she is still beautiful now. Isn’t it amazing what a bit of bionics can do for you? She only looks a couple of years older than me! One of the things that was excellent about having a bionic woman was that in most of the other action programmes around at the time, the woman would be the victim. But like with Charlie’s Angels and Wonderwoman, this was the new idea that women didn’t always have to be rescued but could rescue themselves. Annoyingly though, they were still soppy over men and swooning as soon as the male rescuer turned up. For instance, the whole reason that Jamie was bionic was because she was Steve’s girlfriend and if she hadn’t been then she’d have just died or been disabled after her skydiving accident. The Bionic Woman with the Bionic DogThere was also a fabulous dog called Maximillion who used to bite through iron bars to escape from the cages he kept getting shut in. When he did this, the film went into slow motion and there was this strange echoing music, the same as when Jamie jumped or listened through her bionic ear. I always marvelled at how he bit through the metal but my mum, ever ready to dispel my sense of wonder, told me that they were probably made of sugar. The Bionic Woman was remade in 2007 but according to Wikipedia was stalled during the Great Writers’ Strike and then didn’t continue. I haven’t watched any of it as I was quite cynical that it might spoil my memories of the original so I can’t comment on whether it’s any good.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Joe 90

Joe 90 on his video coverOf all the supermarionations, my favourite was Joe 90 which was repeated through the Seventies though it was first shown in 1968 and according to Wikipedia only one series was made. So technically if you’re going to be picky I shouldn’t be talking about it here. However, this is my site so I will.

My name being Joe (and I spelled it like that then) and having blonde hair and glasses made me a candidate for being called Joe 90 as an insult. I think it happened twice before the children who were trying to insult me realised that I was pleased to be called Joe 90 and so they stopped. Of course.

Joe 90 inside the space ballThe idea behind Joe 90 was that he was the son of a scientist who created a machine called BIG RAT and these special specs that made him have superpowers and he was a the first Spy Kid.

During the opening sequence Joe was sat inside a big space-age ball, with a bells-and-whistles computer. It all looks laughable now but it definitely has the culty kitsch that will outlast computer fashion.

Joe 90 merchandising packagePersonally I think the whole thing was to get kids to think that glasses were cool. A bit like Popeye and spinach. Sort of. And sell toys of course.

The supermarionations were all interrelated with some of the puppets from one show appearing in the others. Now they are having a major comeback (again) so there’s sure to be more about them soon. It’s showing on Sci Fi UK channel. Like with many of these programmes from when I was a kid, it outshines the modern equivalents by far.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Jim’ll Fix It

Jim fixing it for a kid to have tea with K9 from Doctor WhoJim’ll Fix It started in 1975 and ran till 1994, though the peak of the show will always be the Seventies for me. Jimmy Savile hosted the ‘fix it’ show which was all about granting wishes for people who wrote in. There was no charity or sick kids involved in this which there would be now, it was basically whoever wrote in the funniest or cleverest wish that would get picked to have their wishes granted.

The one I remember the best were the scout troop who wanted to eat their packed lunch while riding a rollercoaster. One of the reasons this wish was so memorable was that a clip of it was used in the opening credits. I clearly remember this poor kid holding a drink bottle with straw and getting covered, but laughing his socks off. Today my memory was jogged by trying to eat a McDonald’s in the car while Alys was driving. Kind of has the same feel to it.

Jim looking slightly more bizarre than usualSo anyway, another thing about Jimmy Savile was how weird looking he was. He was tiny and skinny with long white-blonde hair, dark glasses, wearing a track suit and hundreds of gold chains and rings and a freaky false laugh. He also always had a massive cigar in his hand even though most of the time it wasn’t lit. Not the sort of person most people would leave their kids with? Strangely no-one questioned that.

Jim'll Fix It medal - they sell them on ebay nowAfter people had been ‘fixed’ they got a medal on a red chain, which said ‘Jim fixed it for me’. And you can make your own badge now as well. How cool is that? Adults and kids got ‘fixes’ and sometimes other people would write in to get a fix for their friends or family. A few times I remember famous people being fixed, either because someone wrote in before they were famous or because there was a special show for famous fixes.

Jimmy was a popular DJ and carried on working as a DJ while also presenting this show. He used to present Top of the Pops sometimes, and also do a Sunday lunch-time thing that my mum used to listen to, where he would play some song from the dark ages and ask people to ring in with the name of the song and artist. He was always a stickler for the full title, including bracketed phrases that were popular in the sixties.

According to wikipedia, it wasn’t Jimmy that granted the wishes at all, but the producer of the show. So I’m at a loss as to work out what Jimmy’s role was apart from to play the sugar-daddy.

Apparently there is now a comeback show, though I’d never heard of this until I did the research for this post. That scout troop have gone back and done the ride again. Now that makes for some good youtubery.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Captain Pugwash

Captain Pugwash with Tom the Cabin BoyOne of my favourite cartoons in the Seventies was Captain Pugwash. Although the last series was produced in 1975 (according to Wikipedia) I remember watching it throughout the Seventies, so was probably watching repeats.

Contrary to popular urban mythology, there was no Seaman Stains or Master Bates. I do remember references to Tom the Cabin Boy being ‘the Captain’s favourite cabin boy’ but that’s about the most innuendo that I can recall.

Captain Pugwash was a pirate but a nice one, not the nasty sort. He was funny and had a lot of funny swearwords, the only one of which I remember is ‘shiver me timbers’ but Wikipedia has a nice long list.

The animation style is minimal, like cardboard cutouts that move around on fixed backgrounds. You can see this from clips on YouTube. The modern reinvented Pugwash uses computer animation which is not so endearing.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room