Children's TV show Number 73, which had debuted in the TVS area in January 1982, was networked in 1983. I wasn't a child at the time, but what the heck. I loved it. When I visited the set for a Friday dress rehearsal in 1983, I was well chuffed!
The show mixed comic fiction - the ups and downs of Miss Ethel Davis, her lodgers, friends and neighbours - with the usual Saturday morning children's magazine fare - interesting features, pop guests, etc.
Ethel's lodgers included dim-but-nice Harry Stern (Nick Staverson) and the up front but good hearted Dawn Lodge (Andrea Arnold), who always seemed to be wearing roller skates!
My favourite No. 73 feature was the quiz.
All together now:
"It's the daring, dazzling, death defyingly dull, devastatingly dangerous, delectable, delicatestable, divinely decadent Sandwich Quiz!"
The Sandwich Quiz patter as recorded in a mid-1980s No. 73 book differed from mine - "delicatessenable" replaced "delicatestable" but I certainly always heard it as the latter, so if I'm wrong, please forgive me!
As with all live shows, there could be problems - and cast and production team had, on occasion, to think on their feet.
In one episode, the screen suddenly went black whilst Sade was performing one of her hits. The song continued to the end, black screen and all, then there was a commercial break. After the break, Ethel was seen sitting on the stairs, apologising because the electric had "gone out" and explaining she'd had to nip out for change for the meter!
Number 73 - 1985. Hey you get ready get on your feet, get into gear and hit the street...
Actor/presenter Patrick Doyle, an original member of the cast, played Percy Simmonds in 1982 but became Alec Simmonds in 1983. Viewers were informed that Alec was Percy's "identical cousin" from Scotland. The part of Alec allowed Patrick to drop Percy's English accent and use his own Scottish one! Patrick made his final No. 73 appearance in 1983.
Hazel and Martin shared very differing views of Sunny Toes Holiday Camp. To Martin, it was heaven on earth; to Hazel, it was sheer hell.
Characters who passed through during the show's run included Fred the postman (Tony Aitken), the conman Tony Deal (Nick Wilton) and the bizarre Frank Sidebottom.
Kate Copstick arrived as comic cleaner Maisie McConochie, and the cast altered further with the departure of Jeannie Crowther and Richard Addison as Hazel and Martin Edwards, and the arrival of Julian Callaghan (Jules) and Nadia de Lemeny (Nadia), new lodgers at No. 73. Richard Waites took on the role of Hamilton Dent, tenant of No. 75.
In Look-In, 3 October 1987, Harry described Nadia as being "beautiful and sophisticated". She hailed from Colorado, USA. Harry described the character of Jules as being a slob: "He's disgusting and smelly! The smell from his bedroom is something else! I thought it was the drains to begin with."
And as for Hamilton Dent...
"Hamilton Dent is our next door neighbour. He's very twitchy and nervous: not the sort of person you'd expect to be a driving instructor..."
The show gained a Sunday morning edition.
In January 1988 the writing was on the wall for No. 73 - Ethel's successor, greedy new landlord JC Birch, had his way and the house was demolished to make way for redevelopment.
What fashions were Motormouth presenters Neil Buchanan, Julian Ballantyne, Andrea Arnold and Tony Gregory into in 1988? A photograph and article from a November TV Times provides a useful insight into some of the fashion trends of that time...
When the four presenters from the weekend children's show "Motormouth" arrive at our studios to model their version of street cred fashions, it's almost as if they're still performing for the television cameras. Such is their dedication to their work that the fast- talking foursome never stop competing to see who can dig out the best one-liners. All, that is, except Tony Gregory who today is doing a passable imitation of the walking dead.
"It was my 21st birthday yesterday and I've got quite a hangover," says the oh-so cool presenter. Even his hair quiff looks a little limp and he spends some anxious moments scowling in front of the mirror with blow-dry lotion and hairspray, coaxing it back into shape. Like all the presenters, he is very image-conscious, and trying to part him from his favourite jeans and leather jacket turns out to be no mean feat. He favours casual clothes and buys from specialist shops in London and home town, Brighton.
Neil Buchanan, in contrast, is a sharp dresser and is in his element trying on countless suits and over-sized jackets. Surprisingly, for an ex-heavy metal guitarist, his taste in clothes is quite conservative, and unlike the other two chaps, he's no label snob. "So long as it looks good together, labels don't matter," he says, rescuing a discarded chain-store sweater from a pile of Julian's rejects. "I reckon that in a year's time, it'll be trendy to buy from somewhere like Marks and Spencer. Kids are fed up with being ripped off by sky-high designer prices."
Julian Ballantyne may not agree with him, but then Julian enjoys minor tiffs. His cheeky Scouse accent and talent for organisation once earned him the title of Entertainments Director for a French ski resort. Now, much chat later, "Motormouth" is the perfect outlet for his personality.