Saturday Live – tape 120

Here’s a couple of early vintage Saturday Lives. The first has Lenny Henry hosting – I think this was the first time he hosted.

Lenny Henry hosts Saturday Live

Music from The Damned. Lead singer Dave Vanian grew up in my home town, Hemel Hempstead, a fact I only discovered a few months ago.

The Damned

Fry and Laurie enjoy a nice warm cup of tea, and Hugh talks about the horrid evil within himself.

Fry and Laurie enjoy a cocoa

US Stand-up from Carrie Snow. One of her first jokes fails to land, which is awkward.

Carrie Snow

Next, a feature that didn’t last beyond the first few episodes, with Pete McCarthy doing news jokes.

Pete McCarthy

Mark Arden and Steve Frost, aka The Oblivion Boys, do some slightly surreal topical material.

The Oblivion Boys

Level 42 provide some music.

Level 42

After the break there’s a longer set by the Oblivion Boys. Then Lenny Henry does a song as Sade.

Lenny Henry as Sade

There’s an episode of the soap opera spoof Rich – an item I never thought worked very well. This one has a cameo from Gary Glitter, which doesn’t help.

Gary Glitter in Rich

Some proper music next from The Mint Juleps.

The Mint Juleps

A film sequence, Notting Hills Cop

Notting Hills Cop

Featuring Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall in Notting Hills Cop

And Morwenna Banks

Morwenna Banks

Hugh Laurie plays the Steven Berkoff role, a fact the sketch exploits.

Hugh Laurie as Victor Berkoff

There’s a two hander with Steve Frost and Lenny Henry about apartheid. It somehow feels strange that something that was such a huge thing when I was young, the source of such anger and misery, just isn’t a thing any more.

More music from Level 42 before the break. Then after the break, Lenny does Delbert Wilkins. Then, the incomparable Dangerous Brothers take to the stage.

The Dangerous Brothers

Featuring a guest appearance from John Bird

The Dangerous Brothers meet John Bird

Ben Elton still does stand-up at the end – no glasses at this point, and a non-shiny suit.

Ben Elton

And the show closes with Lenny Henry joining The Mint Juleps and Darts to do some Sam Cooke numbers.

The next episode is presented by Pamela Stephenson, who opens the show waiting for special guest Joan Collins.

Pamela Stephenson waits for Joan Collins

First musical guests are the Inspirational Choir

The Inspirational Choir

Pamela Stephenson does a rather annoying audience participation bit as Janet Street Porter.

Pamela Stephenson as Janet Street Porter

I will say, however, it’s very game of her to descend to the stage on a rope. It looked potentially dangerous.

Pamela Stephenson descends to the stage

Music and comedy from ITV stalwart Richard Digance. This first series did seem a little heavy on the ITV comedy catalogue, as Michael Barrymore and Hale & Pace also hosted episodes, and seemed somewhat out of place. I’m such a snob.

Richard Digance

Another outing for the Oblivion Boys

The Oblivion Boys

Pamela Stephenson does a bit playing Ian Paisley.

Pamela Stephenson as Ian Paisley

Then music, from the writer of the show’s theme tune, Paul Hardcastle, with Carol Kenyon. Hardcastle was briefly huge, after his record Nineteen was a massive hit. His particular brand of twinkly synth pop was much in demand for theme music – they even replaced the mighty Thin Lizzy with his music as the theme to Top of the Pops. Sadly, his performance here proves that age-old adage that nobody looks good playing a keytar.

Paul Hardcastle and Carol Kenyon

After the break, Pamela Stephenson does a monologue as Princess Diana.

Pamela Stephenson as Princess Diana

Then another episode of Rich, this week featuring a cameo from Spike Milligan.

Spike Milligan

Then, the Dangerous Brothers do their bit from their own home, performing Flying Zebras.

Richard Dangerous with no trousers

Next, a very unusual guest for the programme, as Denis Healey MP who recites a poem.

Denis Healey MP

More from the Oblivion Boys, then music from Talk Talk. In later series, Ben Elton used to make a big thing about bands playing live, but I don’t think this series has had any genuinely live music from the bands. The Inspirational Choir were live, but The Damned and Level 42, and particularly Paul Hardcastle, sounded recorded.

Talk Talk

After the break, Pamela Stephenson does Sting. She’s really providing a lot of value to this show. Definitely not phoning it in.

Pamela Stephenson as Sting

Next, Fry and Laurie do a comedy masterclass. one of my favourite of their Saturday Live sketches. “On your balls, Hugh.”

Fry and Laurie Comedy Masterclass

Yet another character from Pamela Stephenson, Wilma Peters (or her stage name, Clare Conscience).

Pamela Stephenson as Wilma Peters

Nigel Planer does a character that will probably go on to become Nicholas Craig, but here he goes by his own name.

Nigel Planer

He even gets to dress up, with Raw Sex as backup.

Nigel Planer with Raw Sex

Then Ben Elton, reunited with his glasses, does a routine about drinking.

Ben Elton on Saturday Live

And there’s just time for Pamela Stephenson to do one last character – this time it’s Joan Collins.

Pamela Stephenson as Joan Collins

Then the show closes with the Inspirational Choir.

After the show, recording continues briefly with the start of an episode of Hill Street Blues.


  • Telford
  • Lloyd’s Bank
  • L’Oreal Freestyle
  • Club 18-30
  • Peugeot 205
  • Mail on Sunday
  • Vidal Sassoon
  • Phonecard – David Jason
  • Our Price – Feargal Sharkey
  • Club 18-30
  • Carling Black Label
  • Heinz Classic Soup
  • Carling Black Label
  • Mail on Sunday
  • AA
  • PAL
  • Malaysia
  • Options
  • Phonecard
  • Ford Transit
  • Club 18-30
  • Brylcreem
  • Evening Standard
  • India
  • trail: The Tube
  • Evening Standard
  • Volkswagen Polo
  • General Accident
  • Nationwide
  • Sunday Mirror
  • Cookeen
  • trail: Quo Vadis?


  1. I think the Lenny episode is the second ever episode of the series, in the book Didn’t You Kill My Mother-In-Law Paul Jackson talks about how the first one was a bit of a disaster but they were so pleased that Lenny, who had done the pilot, was down to present episode two because they knew he’d be much better at it, and he worked really really hard at it to make it work.

    There was a fascinating documentary about Saturday Live in the late nineties and Paul Jackson said he specifically got Michael Barrymore to present to emphasise that there wasn’t any particular “type” of comedy on the show, so Peter Cook did one and so did Barrymore. And Hale and Pace were still just about alternative comedians, they hadn’t joined ITV at that point and their first series was on Channel Four. Paul Jackson’s always been very vocal in his support for Hale and Pace, he’s always championed them, and he was responsible for poaching them for the Beeb in the late nineties, although that turned out to be an unsuccessful move.

  2. Presumably the look at the news was included because Saturday Night Live did Weekend Update in the original US version. And still does.

    That photo of Pamela Stephenson as the Reverend Ian Paisley looks like something out of The Walking Dead.

    1. Versions? I always thought that SNL and Saturday Live were not officially related in any way, despite their similar names. Did NBC have anything to do with this, or was SNL just a loose inspiration for Saturday Live?

      1. This was an entirely unofficial but rather shameless attempt to do a British version of SNL. That’s why the show was called Saturday Live when it was on Saturdays, and Friday Night Live when it moved to Fridays. There was no affiliation with NBC at all, as far as I know. purely inspiration.

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