Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nostalgia corner: Nationwide

Let's face it: the 1970s had few redeeming features. There was Basil Brush, the keyboard player from Sparks and after that you are struggling.

But this article by Ian Jones on the Off the Telly site gives a fair account of the strengths and weaknesses of one of that decade's iconic programmes: Nationwide:
sometimes even nine or 10 million tuned in every night to see what Mike, Frank and Bob had been up to.

They found politicians being grilled by viewers across the regions; arrestingly graphic profiles of stud bulls; and live OBs from the Highland Games at Aboyne, the Ideal Home Exhibition in Olympia, and from Blackpool to celebrate the resort's 100th birthday. James Hogg spent 14 days castaway on a remote Scottish island, while Tony Gubba presided over a competition asking viewers to vote for their favourite piece of music for use as the theme to the 1976 BBC Olympics coverage, with £100 in premium bonds for one lucky winner.

The show also very purposefully went on the road, spending a week at a time coming completely live from one of the BBC's regional studios, beginning in January 1976 in Belfast. These jaunts gave the main team a chance to indulge in all kinds of adventures, epitomised by Barratt, Wellings and Masters' somewhat ludicrous attempts to sail the Nationwide boat along the estuaries of Norfolk. Indeed, other eponymous frippery soon followed, involving the Nationwide horse, allotment and greyhound.

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