The Scars Of The 1970s

March 26th, 2010 | brainjuice

It’s only in retrospect that I realise the horrors I lived through. I mean, Britain in the 1970s was kind of a beige place, and most things tasted vaguely of plastic, chemicals or that weird, almost flourescent orange "tomato sauce" demon-felchjuice that they suspended Spaghetti Hoops in. We were aware of that. And we liked that the TOMORROW PEOPLE opening theme was spooky and that DOCTOR WHO was a bit sort-of scary sometimes.

It’s only in retrospect that you realise all the children’s programming was made by absolute fucking freaks who should never have been allowed within ten miles of a children’s programming department.

Two pedos and a dead rabbit on sticks. Who thought this was children’s entertainment?

Here comes Bod, in your dreams. Here comes hairless, lipless, alien/human hybrid Bod, in your dreams, for fucking ever.


28 Responses to “The Scars Of The 1970s”

  1. This explains a lot.

  2. Pipkins scarred me for life. On the other hand, Bod did have the coolest kinds’ tv theme tune ever, by someone who really wanted to be Stephane Grapelli and Django Reinhardt, and Alberto the Frog.

  3. Oh, yeah, and there was also Ludwig.

  4. I look at the late 80s / early 90s in the same way. Shows like Rocko’s Modern Life, and Ren & Stimpy. Weird shit that would never get on the air now. They will not have the staying power or the pull of a DOCTOR WHO, but I think they served their purpose.

  5. Naturally, the shows I mentioned were pretty postmodern in that they completely knew what they were doing. The 1970s shows, on the other hand…

  6. Remember Ludwig?
    A sentient bastard hybrid of Inspector Gadget and a Faberge egg that plays Beethoven while being stalked by a twitcher.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0bL_Zv0ksA

  7. You know, looking back on the ’80s and ’90s I sometimes think that I was born a decade or three late. Then I see something like this.

  8. This is the sort of thing that makes me completely happy that I was the tale end of Generation X and the very beginning of Y – I lived through a rather black and white and “morally uplifted” sort of time,G.I.Joe,Transformers,last vestiges of cold war sentiment, Star Wars was the closest thing to an actual war we would see, as the Gulf Conflict of the early 90’s was nothing more than a video game test run for the wars of tomorrow- no good no bad-green screens and tracer fire, like in “Missile Command” etc.

    however on PBS we were getting re runs of Doctor Who, and we were just being introduced to the strange realms of the British comics scene- but those sub currents, were leaving their marks deeper- creeping into the works- decaying the core- we wouldn’t know what the damage was until we could instant message it through AOL a few years later. All in all- it was fantastic-

  9. I was a little kid in the 1960s and a tweener in the early 70s.

    That spanned the era from local hosted kid shows (including freakish New York hipster stuff like Chuck McCann and Soupy Sales) to national corporate kiddie culture hegemony.

    Some of the puppet shows, particularly the religious ones but also the Everyone is Cool and Let’s All Be Brothers & Sisters On This Little Planet ones, were pretty creepy.

    But there was nothing as scary as that goddamned rabbit. I mean, shit. That there’s what they call a pajama soaker.

    Oh, hey, look, a secret end-of-the-season party reel from the New Zoo Revue:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9ySgnifxeQ&feature=related

  10. I disagree. Children’s TV is no where near scary enough these days. Everything interesting has been committeed out of it.

  11. it’s a bit later on, but animal crackers is the one that chills me. that fucked up blue lion thing. called rory. *shudder*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfzEVG6je2E

  12. I used to work with a guy that was commonly referred to as Bod because of the ridiculous way he walked. Your chilling description has warped my memory of the man into a grisly procession of impending terror. Cheers.
    In other news, one of my Prof’s from back in Uni is bringing out a new book called the ‘Seventies: a Kaleidoscopic decade’. He’s running a blog on it which has an extract on Manson (amongst others) worth checking out. The creeping terror of the Seventies endures!

  13. Like our parents, they fucked us up.
    Unlike our parents, we should thank them for it.

  14. Gusset clear forgets that while torchwood, the supposedly adult and mature spinoff of New Who, was shit and not at all scary (especially when it was trying to be), the Sarah Jane Adventures, the spinoff aimed specifically at kids, was not just curiously well written, plotted, scripted and thought out, but could ramp up the scariness when it chose to. Did torchwood bring back the creepy clown/pied piper that eats the souls of children? No, it was SJA, which taught children that there are valid and rational reasons for being afraid of clowns.

  15. Anyone who grew up in Scandinavia will remember Karlsson på Taket (Karlsson on the Roof), better known as Balding Helipack Pedophile on the Roof.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL64z_BRjyI

  16. Haha–! Nightmares forever! Yayy!

  17. @Stefan – Almost a Philip Larkin poem, that… almost…

    I remember a warped version of the Thames Television ident that played once, during the daytime, on a day when I was ill and off school… that scared the bejeesus out of me… god knows what the program was that followed it coz I’d pulled the sheets over my head and started whistling… Compared to the normal bright and breezy blue version it seemed all dark and fecked up…

    Arse, it was probably only this; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DOR6nAaflc

  18. Pedo puppetmaster Pipkins (George Woodward) died a few weeks into the second season . . . somehow they found the strength to soldier on without him.

  19. @Christian – you forgot to add “pyromaniac” to the list… that was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages!

  20. @David: They didn’t mount Pipkin’s pickled body on sticks, did they? Because that would have really rocked.

    @Christian: Hey, Karlsson provided a wonderful mystery for me for a while! I have right here a set of Soviet-era Russian language LPs about Karlsson. I didn’t know the name, though, so when I digitized them I labeled the files “Propeller Ass.” Later, Boing Boing linked to a slide show of Soviet era store fronts, one of which was a toy store stocked with “propeller ass” toys. Eventually I ran into a Russian lady who set me straight. Karlsson was a character made up by the same lady who created Pippi Longstockings. He was a really big hit in Russia.

  21. Even though I grew up in the US in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I actually saw “Bod” when I was young; I’d blocked it from my memory. Thanks, Warren.

    This was all courtesy of the Nickelodeon kids’ show “Pinwheel”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinwheel_%28TV_series%29

    “Pinwheel” was an aggregator of kids’ stuff from all over the world, but a lot of it was British — Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, Hattytown Tales, Bod, Bagpuss … all of that. I loved it; it was much more interesting and weirder than the US kids’ stuff going on at the time, even if some of it was downright creepy and mental in a way that I didn’t properly appreciate at the time.

    In hindsight, I’m glad that was part of my formative years, although I suppose the exact levels of damage it did are open to discussion.

  22. You don’t in 10 years time they won’t be saying that stuff about ‘In the Night Garden Yo Gabba Gabba and Teletubbies?

  23. Early 80s post dictatorship Spain was a great place to grow up, everyone was testing borders and the conservatives were scared to get too uppity over little things in case someone marched them to the cemetery and shot them.

    We had kids programming presented by actual punk rockers, starring Evil muppets that made sarcastic comments about world politics and economics, cartoons showing evolution and world history in realistic detail (French Revolution? Guillotine time kids!)and some frankly amazingly arty stuff – Imaginary Planet opening theme, Arabesque Debussy interpreted by Isao Tomita.

    Of course they’d regularly interrupt the children’s programming block to show bullfights, but what are you gonna do. To this day I’m not sure if I dislike bullfighting because it’s unethical or because it ruined so many TV afternoons

  24. […] Warren Ellis » The Scars Of The 1970s (tags: tv humour warrenellis) […]

  25. I was wondering if anyone was going to mention Simon and his Divergent Calcium Carbonate Land, I think a lot of kids grew up thinking all British folks sounded like him, hence Mike Meyers and his “drawrings” and stuff. Mike Meyers’ version thought people were always looking at him in the bathtub? If “bumlooker” ever gets in the dictionary it will be his fault.

    This is one of the earliest songs I can remember from television:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-YcBVEnLT8

    Every week would be a different number but someone edited all the numbers into a single video to show generally where they would have gone. We had a “Fonz” Happy Days pinball machine starting when I was in 2nd grade or so in 79-80 but it was broken down by about two years later. Shit for kids was made so cheaply sometimes!

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v679/vignoble/Covert%20Art%20II/AsiaDragonB.jpg

  26. Sweet hell i almost shat my pants when i saw the pipkins intro, definitly going to look for every episode out there, there has to be some VCR rips to be found.

  27. “Two pedos and a dead rabbit on sticks”…..hahaha! I couldn’t have put it better. I remember sitting through Evil Dead 2 in the cinema years later (a little bit worse for wear) when all of a sudden a screaming moose head filled the screen…all i could think about was that diseased leper creature Hartley the Hare. Oh, also…what about Hectors House….a f***in’ living talking cushion. Damn, the stuff we were subjected to in the name of entertainment.

  28. The PBS kid’s show “The Letter People” filled me with dread as a whelp.