At 4.45am this morning, unable to sleep, I stumbled upon and watched a YouTube clip containing an amalgam of opening titles from a 1970’s/80’s BBC magazine show called ‘Nationwide’ (NW).

To clarify, this unlikely video vignette landed randomly onto my Facebook timeline. I’d not idiosyncratically googled this compilation during arbitrary nostalgic pangs to witness opening sequences to childhood teatime broadcasts.

If yours truly intentionally chose to recall opening titles of programmes of which I was fond during that era, ‘Nationwide’ would be stacked a good way down GJ Strachan’s heartwarming recollections list.

Sure, Nationwide’s presenters Mike Barratt, Sue Lawley, Frank Bough, Sue Cook and Fern Britton were consummate broadcasters. However, like the ‘The One Show’ (Auntie Beeb’s contemporary Monday to Friday version of NW), it’s magazine format rarely held my attention for the show’s duration.

Consequently, as alluded to above, I’m unlikely to actively seek out 1970’s footage of Frank, Mike, Sue, Fern and Sue’s interviews of eccentrics mimicking tractor engine sounds, or procuring their pet ferret Twizzel a peerage.

To be honest, I’m not a hundred percentage sure Nationwide ever broadcast footage of a tractor engine impersonator, or dialogue with Lord Twizzel of Ferrybridge’s benefactor. I maybe confusing that type of tepid whimsical output with the televisual fare afforded by Esther Rantzen’s ‘That’s Life’,

‘For the uninitiated, ‘That’s Life’ (TL) was a weekly magazine programme broadcast on a Sunday evening. A show playing out similarly to the opening weeks of Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor by providing a stage for the eccentric to show off their idiosyncratic party pieces.

Anything went during these kooky and unconventional acts. If you owned a dog and a skateboard and possessed the wherewithal to train the former to ride the latter at the local skateboard park you were guaranteed your 15 minutes of fame on Esther’s show…… Well, if you made them aware of the jocular diversion that is.

The TL team of presenters were themselves a quirky bunch; including a comical cross eyes poet called Cyril Fletcher and whimsical lyricist Richard Stilgoe. The latter going on to collaborate with Andrew Lloyd-Webber in the musicals Starlight Express and Phantom of the Opera.

‘That’s Life’ cast – The early years

‘That’s Life’ unearthed a veritable mountain of clever pets. Such as parrots that could play the piano, dogs who could sing the National Anthem and cats with the wherewithal to barter items on Noel Edmond’s Multi-Coloured Swap Shop’.

Always wanting to master the keyboard, in my teens, I wrote to the parrot who’d mastered performing a soupçon of piano tunes to ask if he’d teach me the basic fundamentals of keyboard playing. I’m still awaiting a reply…… Bloody ignorant parakeets!

Anyhow, my favourite ‘That’s Life’ was the song crooned by Francis Albert Sinatra. A reflective refrain including the following pragmatic notions:-

“That’s life
(That’s life)
That’s what all the people say
You’re riding high in April, shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m back on top, back on top in June”

“I said that’s life
(That’s life)
And as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks stomping on a dream
But I don’t let it, let it get me down
‘Cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin’ around…..”

Good day folks!

Leave a Reply