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10 years is a long time.

Almost an eternity in pop music.

10 years ago exactly…Kylie was Number 1 in the singles AND album charts and taking over the world (with CGYOOMH & Fever)…Aaliyah was being mourned…Destiny’s Child were too Bootylicious…Steps were about to split-up…Westlife were showing no signs of following suit…and a certain Stefanie Germanotta and Robyn Fenty were 15 years and 13 years old respectively (Lady Gaga and Rihanna to you and me)…crumbs!

Smash Hits & SKY collection

On the way home last week I saw an advert for a brand new magazine called ‘We Love Pop’ on the back of a bus…I wondered if it was the first in the way of such a magazine since Smash Hits’ demise in 2006.

Starting in 1978, Smash Hits was a music magazine aimed for teens. But unlike any I can think of nowadays, it was lauded by kids and grown-ups alike. Like NME & Melody Maker aimed for adults, it was a powerhouse of great journalism and was seen as one of the ‘movers and shakers’ of the music industry. Alongside asking about ‘favourite colours’ or ‘best pizza topping’, it pulled no punches in getting down to the nitigriti, searching for the truth behind musical influences, personal experiences, in-band rifts, artist rivalries and much much more. Even surveying readers’ lifestyles including sex and alcohol.

In it’s heyday it sold millions, and along with the Top Of The Pops music show it was seen as vital in breaking new singers. Previous featured editors and journalists include Nick Logan, the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, Mark Ellen, Alex Kadis, Sylvia Patterson, Miranda Sawyer, Mark Frith, Kate Thornton, Lisa Smosarski & the recently deceased Tom Hibbert to name quite a few. AND not forgetting the most appealing aspect besides the free stickers or gifts often attached…much sought after song lyrics!!! And all for 70p!!! (Yes, I know, £0.70!?!?)

Bugger...this'll take ages to clean up!

I started buying Smash Hits in 1993 when I fell in love with Take That and (especially!) Jason Orange…and then couldn’t be bothered to buy anymore at the ripe old age of 20. Every 2 weeks I’d eagerly buy the latest issue, soaking up the interviews, chart analysis, music reviews and the unique humour Smash Hits injected. I was hooked. Inbetween homework, coursework and the troubles of teen life it was a welcome lifeline to the music world in the days before the internet, reading all about my favourite popstars. Reading it, I could be a popstar!

So I simply had to dig out my old collection for a trip down memory lane!

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7-20 JULY 1993 : TAKE THAT

I never liked boybands, but the only one I totally did was Take That. Perhaps puberty or just Jason Orange, all I remember is one day suddenly being obsessed…I had to know everything about them and my beloved! In this issue Alex Kadis joins them in an earlier promotional trip to try and crack the States and interviews them along the way. Not being famous over there they have a hectic workload, but being anonymous there’s time for plenty of tomfoolery. HIGHLIGHT: Reading about their chemistry and Gary being highly keen on how much all the big houses cost and on renovating, and practicing keyboard before bed…that’s Gary!

27 APR-10 MAY : KURT COBAIN R.I.P.

The world was in shock to hear of Nirvana’s lead singer’s death, with Smash Hits not shying away from reporting ‘he committed suicide by blowing his head off with a shotgun’. It published that he was ‘painfully shy and his inability to cope with fame led to problems with heroin and depression. But millions of fans ‘will remember him as a great singer, guitarist and songwriter.’ The suicide note left for his wife Courtney Love and their two-year old daughter Frances Bean ended ‘”I love you, I love you”‘.

31 AUG-13 SEPT : KYLIE’S POST-SAW COMEBACK

I’ve loved Kylie since Neighbours and before she became a legend. Her first release since leaving PWL records and the pop producers Stock, Aitken & Waterman was HUGELY anticipated. By that time she was well and truly a huge gay icon but I was clueless, but discovered this shortly after. Here she talks about her new music, about finally being seen as ‘cool’, movies and men…the interviewer notes something that is often famously said, Kylie is very guarded in revealing information. But also that she looks stunning and is a pop force to be reckoned with. HIGHLIGHT: Being bored stiff with Madonna comparisons, hanging out with Prince, and snogging Lemonheads hottie Evan Dando. Plus THAT eyebrow and her hearty ‘infectious guffaw’! P.S. The comeback, Confide In Me, is one of my favourite songs EVER.

24 MAY-6 JUNE 1995 : MICHAEL JACKSON’S POST-ABUSE CONTROVERSY COMEBACK

Friend and journalist Adrian Grant details the goings-on since Jan 1994, dealing with the sexual abuse allegations by Jordy Chandler, it’s impact, marrying Lisa Marie Presley and releasing new album HIStory. HIGHLIGHT: He talks of his hurt about the allegations, his love for his fans, new songs, and enquiring about blue hair extensions in London…!

21 JUNE-4 JULY 1995 : DEUCE

Favourite band during my GCSEs. Pure dance-pop with Kelly O’Keefe (now owns a restaurant in West Hampstead), Lisa Armstrong (now Mrs Ant McPartlin), Craig Young (varying success in the States) & Paul Holmes (did songwriting for a while). Kelly was hot. Lady Gaga-esque imagery. Yes I am cringing a little. Better than Steps though.


2-15 AUG 1995 : ROBBIE LEAVES / (WAS SACKED FROM) TAKE THAT

A pop milestone. Millions of fans in tears. Smash Hits – with a sombre cover – detailed all the information. Did he quit? Was he pushed? Celebrity reactions and remembering 15 golden Robbie moments. HIGHLIGHT: Emphasising that what is likely to be the truth is that Robbie told the boys he wanted to leave but would stay till the end of the tour, but then a few days later the rest of the band said it would be best if he left sooner. That and contacting the then prime minister John Major and The Queen’s spokespeople for comments…none given.

16-29 AUG / 30 AUG-12 SEPT 1995 : BLUR vs. OASIS

Britpop mania reached fever pitch when Blur’s Country House & Oasis’s Roll With It were both released on 14 August 1995. Both sold well over 200,000 copies in the first week. Blur won. But Oasis had longer success. Smash Hits decided to print both bands on their covers in consecutive issues, but Blur first, perhaps because Blur answered reader’s questions in their edition.

16-29 AUG 1995 : LOUISE LEAVES ETERNAL

The biggest UK girl group at the time. Hailing from south London, debut album Always and Forever sold over 4 million units worldwide (over 1.2 million – 4 x Platinum – in the UK alone). Then Louise left. The white one out of three blacks. Was it racial? No, Kelly Bryan and Louise Nurding were best friends. Louise enjoyed success as a solo artist for a while while Eternal carried on as a trio. Kelly left and then the two remaining sisters’ called it a day after the hits dried up.

9-22 OCT 1996 : THE SPICE GIRLS

Just when you thought pop music had died…BAM!!! The Spice Girls launched with a blaze of publicity but – mainly – top quality pop songs. They took over the world. They were huge. They’ve sold over 100 million albums and singles worldwide. HIGHLIGHT: Loving Louise’s breasts, gatecrashing Courtney Love’s hotel room, and being honest and warts and all. Victoria does a rare smile on the cover.

3 JUNE 1998 : 5IVE

Jason ‘J’ Brown. My last teenage crush. (What is it with Jasons and colours?). Phwoaar. That is all.

;-D

18 NOV 1998 : STEPS

Love ’em or hate ’em, Claire, H, Faye, Lee & Lisa grew ever popular and sold loads of records, with a string of Top 10 hits. Bright, cheery pop music with dance ‘steps’, hence the name. They disbanded acrimoniously on Boxing Day 2001. HIGHLIGHT: Claire sometimes forgetting to bring the right underwear for performances, such as wearing a white outfit and having black knickers, but H never having that problem. H stands for hyperactive apparently…not for homosexual then.

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As if out of nowhere, the cold winds are upon us and much of the land is covered in snow…yes, Winter is well and truly here.

Cue days staying in out of the cold and curling up indoors…reading, having loved ones over and watching TV all featuring highly for most.

This season’s telly boasts the usual bumper-editions of regular favourites, soaps, films and, of course, kid’s programmes.

It’s kid’s programmes that have inspired this blog. Actually it was a little while ago. During Ramadan recently when I was getting up before sunrise to fast, I would sometimes stay awake, and one morning these things crossed my mind.

Firstly, not being a morning person, it struck me how eager I was when in primary school to get up early on Saturday morning, either to play or to watch kid’s TV. Normally around 6am. Yes, over the weekend. !!! Waking up before dawn, knowing my parents and sister were still asleep, wondering if anyone else in the world was up, sensing an almost magical feeling in the air at dawn, I was ecstatic! Good God…these days, I can’t think of many things that would get me up at 6am on a weekday, let alone over the weekend.

Secondly, when younger I always played in the street with other kids or played outside; running, games, bikes. OK, I don’t still play outside as such (ah-em!). But less kids seem to these day. Or is it just me?

The last thing I pondered was kid’s TV. Too much TV is bad – whether you’re a kid or a grown-up. It’s only really news, documentaries and comedy/entertainment I watch now. Kid’s programmes these days are probably better in some ways, perhaps being more curriculum / government-guideline prescribed. Some are cute and I’m sure I’d like them if I was 20 years younger.

And then I thought of shows on the telly that I remembered when younger. My TV programmes. Partially through an introspective / restrospective view during Ramadan, having a yearning for some things I wish and should still have, on the lighter side I recalled all the cartoons and TV shows I adored. I didn’t watch loads of TV, but I remember the TV I did watch I wanted to watch religiously! As a daydreamer, it’s not the first time they’ve crossed my mind. Having shared my golden-oldies with others fond of the 80s or even earlier, I guess it’s a cliché that every generation like’s their youth. But really, I wish they could make some programmes like they used to!

So this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, and feel free to add comments here for your other suggestions, but here are some of – in no chronological or preferred order – my fave 80s TV memories!

GOING LIVE! / MOTORMOUTH / SATURDAY MORNING KID’S TV

I just about remember the show ‘No. 73’ on ITV, with the big red door and bright yellow figures. So funny how when you’re a kid, simple, bold, bright shapes and colours fix your attention and become forever etched in your mind. Didn’t they have that little ditty, ‘There’s somebody at the door, there’s somebody at the door?’ And Sandi Toksvig, arguably the most uber-intellectual person in the world to emerge from being a children’s TV presenter, lol, how did she get the gig? I loved her. But Motormouth I remembered more, with Neil Buchanan from No. 73 continuing to host, and then there was that flighty Andrea with long wild ginger hair (she always seemed rather forward and suggestive) (just found out she’s since won an Oscar?!?!). Competitions, music, cartoons, it was great. But my number 1 choice was Going Live! The latest pop-stars performing, interviews, that phone-in game where you controlled the screen with your voice, little documentaries, cookery corners, tid-bits, surprising viewers by turning up at their homes. And Kylie seemed to be on every other week (I loved it). And the cartoons of course like ‘The Racoons’ were ace. But one cartoon topped them all, also shown on weekdays on CBBC live from the broom cupboard. I – WAS – OBSESSED….it was…

…THUNDERCATS!

OH. MY. GOD. I can’t remember the exact moment. But as a 7 year old, I remember this exciting new show about a planet Thundera, with a group of loyal, brave, good, warriors all fighting to uphold ‘The Code’. Before I know it, I was hooked. Lion-O, Tygra, Panthro, Cheetara, Wilykit & Wilykat, Snarf and the spiritual Jaga. Fighting evil Mumm-Ra and his team of S-S-Slithe, Jackalman and Monkian. Their unique powers – strength, speed, wile. And the weapons. Nunchuckas, poles, gloves, swords, hover boards. And they were all hot! (I had a dream once back then. It was great. 😉 ). I had the Panini sticker album. Got all the action figures. Got the sword with ‘sight beyond sight’. The ThunderTank. They’re doing a remake in 2011. It better be good…but surely it can’t beat the original! Thunder, thunder, thunder, ThunderCats – HOOOOOO!

THE CBBC BROOM CUPBOARD

Launched the careers of Philip Schofield, Andy Crane (er…?) and Andi Peters. Sidekicks included Gordon the Gopher and Ed the Duck. Lovely tea-time feel, chat interspersed between the programmes. Wicked.

THE MYSTERIOUS CITIES OF GOLD

Esteban, Zia, Tao and Mendoza searching for one of the Cities of Gold in South America, a tale of orphans, ancient legends, breaking codes and sun-triggered technology. The theme-tune…bliss!

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS

I loved the beginning sequence and the theme tune. Such a thrilling plot that any kid could relate to, a bunch of friends going to a fareground ride for it to take a sinister twist and end up being lost in a magical world forever, trying everyday to make their way back home. Sheila and her cloak, Bobby the Barbarian…and Uni the unicorn. What was with that short spooky Dungeon Master who kept turning up and disappearing unexpectedly. And I never watched the last episode…did they ever get home?!

BUTTON MOON

‘We’re off to Button Moon, we follow Mr Spoon, Button Moooon, Button Mooo-ooon’! Bliss.

CHOCK-A-BLOCK

It was all about that little truck making all sorts of sounds. And then the ‘block’ got clunked in and sound and vision would appear from the screen in the massive computer. I so wanted to ride that chock-a-truck!

WORDS AND PICTURES

Educational, fun and…as I wonder if I was born 10 or 20 years earlier, cult viewing for further education students. Magic E…nuff said. !!!

PIGEON STREET

LOL. Quirky animation and facial expressions. And that song about ‘Clara the long-distance lorry-driver’. How modern. I swear she just went to the Candy Bar every weekend.

MR BENN

A discerning gent who went into the closet in a magic-shop every week and then came out into another world, from suited-and-booted to fancy-dress and ready for action, before returning to an unassuming street, people blissfully unaware of his heroics. Hmmm! His street was actually based in Putney!

Unofficial picture! (Oh bless him).

BAGPUSS

‘Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a little girl and her name was Emily….’ A loveable saggy old cloth-cat. And the marvellous mechanical mice. And all the rest. I got bought Bagpuss. He sleeps on my bed sometimes. My cats seem indifferent. I love him!

YOU AND ME

‘You and me, me and you, lots and lots, for us to do.’ Did you know it was UB40 who sang the reggae-tinged theme tune? Addictive viewing. Cosmo and Dibbs. Hmmm. I think they were friends with Clara and Mr Benn.

KNIGHTMARE

So scary. That skull with pieces that would break off if you got it wrong. That ‘dong’ sound if the player went to the wrong square and fell down the hole. And that ‘knapsack’ and helmet which covered the eyes. Always wanted to go on the show!

DEGRASSI JUNIOR HIGH

Canada’s answer to Grange Hill. Wow…you thought we were defunct! But actually, they dealt with really adult and sometimes controversial issues, like drugs and child abuse. But the first thing that comes to mind is that one girl in particular kinda being a tart…oops. But loved the how… and the theme tune!

GHOSTBUSTERS

Starting to come out of ‘my’ era as I moved away from TV, but based on the film of the same name, still essential viewing. But mainly because I had all toys. Including Ghostbusters HQ with the ‘ectoplasm’ you could pour through the grid to drip in slow-motion over Peter Venkman…soooo ace!

There’s loads more to name…but here are just a few floating around in my head. I would love a channel devoted to playing archive Saturday morning TV and cartoons from yesteryear. But until then we have youtube, memories, and each other for sharing. Ahh….