This tape opens with the end of an episode of Big Break. Ugh. 1995 and Jim Davidson is still Saturday Night material.
And it gets worse, as a trailer for Sunday programmes features OJ Simpson in The Naked Gun 2 1/2.
There’s a trailer for Bugs.
Then, an episode of The New Adventures of Superman which is what we called Lois and Clark over here for some reason. This episode is Virtually Destroyed, in which an annoying geek stereotype needs to get some secrets from Lois, so he traps her in a virtual world.
Sample dialogue: Clark: “Aren’t all the computers linked?” Jimmy: “Sure, they’re all hooked up to some kind of online system.”
The in-game VR UI looks awesome.
I love the shiny rotating letters.
Special shout-out should go to Paula Poundstone as the voice of the computer. I think Apple missed a trick not making her the voice of Siri.
This episode was written by its star, Dean Cain. I thought it was important to point this out.
BBC Genome: BBC One London, 20 April 1996 18.25
After the episode there’s a trailer for Cardiac Arrest.
Then a trailer for Hamish Macbeth.
Then the recording continues with Simon Mayo’s Confessions. He looks very dapper.
After a few minutes, recording switches, and we catch then end of the Lottery programme,where somebody is giving Anthea Turner a big bunch of flowers, so maybe that’s her last programme or something. Yes, it is, because special guest Jose Carreras invites Anthea to press the big button.
I think this image tells us so much about the national Lottery.
Afterwards, there’s trailers for Princess to Queen and Madson with Ian McShane.
Then we have an episode of Bugs. One of the many adventure shows the BBC produced for Saturday Nights in those dark days before they realised they already had the perfect Saturday Night show n Doctor Who.
This episode is called Bugged Wheat and opens with an attack on an agricultural research centre. The episode is written by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough. They went on to develop Smallville for US TV. I like to imagine them settling down on Saturday Night to watch their show going out, and they watched the preceding episode of Superman, looked at each other and thought “Good grief, we can do much better than that.”
Bugs stars Craign MacLachlan off of Neighbours, Jaye Griffiths (who I keep labelling as Jaye Davidson, which does her a deep disservice) and Mark Kermode looky-likey Jesse Birdsall.
The team get some very poor CCTV images of the raid, but lucky their ‘enhance’ tools are awesome.
It looks like it’s not only cleaned up the image, but also got him to move his head round slightly.
Hugh Bonneville turns up as a villainous head of a meteorology centre – because if you’re a megalomaniac, meteorology is where you’d start, isn’t it?
He’s so villainous that he kills a henchman with an insect in a jam jar on a stick.
Bugs has a very distinctive visual style. They’ve never met an industrial fan they didn’t backlight, and murky basement corridors are lit by pulsating disco projectors. I mean, look at this:
This is total bobbins. If it were made a few years later, when digital effects become cheap enough to give this the production values it really desired, maybe it would be better off, but it falls just slightly on the wrong side of cheap.
BBC Genome:BBC One London, 20 April 1996 20.05
Recording switches, to more Big Break (sorry) after which there’s trailers for Two Point Four Children, and programmes on Bank Holiday Monday, Batteries Not Included, Eastenders, The Liver Birds and Lord of Misrule.
Then, another episode of The New Adventures of Superman, called Never on Sunday.
BBC Genome: BBC One London, 4 May 1996 18.25
After this, there’s a longer trailer for The Liver Birds.
Then, the start of another helping of Simon Mayo’s Confessions in which Simon swans around in a long coat and shiny trousers, revealing the dirty pasts of his studio audience. This is a programme which I don’t remember at all, despite it being a core part of the Saturday night schedule. Sorry, Simon.
Recording switches to the end of the lottery programme, now hosted by Bob Monkhouse. Nice to see the credits using the right case for kd lang’s name, although Bob appears to call her Kathy Vaughan in his outro.
Then there’s a trailer for No Bananas. No, me neither.
Next, another episode of Bugs. In Blackout, terrorists take over
the Nakatomi building an experimental Fusion power station while Jaye Griffiths is having a tour, so it’s all Die Hard all the time. Jaye even gets to crawl around in vents.
The head of the power company visits the Bugs headquarters by blowing their door off then apologizing for the damage, and they set up their negotiation centre there.
Everyone on this show uses Microsoft Natural Keyboards, presumably because they were the most modern design at the time.
Bugs has a remarkably high body count for a pre-watershed show. All the bad guys in this episode end up dead.
BBC Genome: BBC One London, 4 May 1996 20.05
Following this, there’s a trailer for Mad Max, then one for Karaoke – we’ve seen the Channel 4 trailer for this, here’s the BBC version, as the programme was split across the two channels.
Then there’s a news bulletin. The lead story in the BSE crisis. BBC One London, 4 May 1996 20.55
After the news, a repeat of the trailers for Bank Holiday Monday, and No Bananas.
Then, there’s the start of a movie, Bird on a Wire with Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. BBC One London, 4 May 1996 21.15
There’s about 18 minutes of the film before the tape finishes.