1 9 8 0 (UK) 6 x 50 minute episodes When showman Arnie Cole (Bob Hoskins) first meets well-to-do spinster Maud (Frances de la Tour), she seems a total snob. But she is devastated to find herself pregnant and the father…

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1 9 7 8 (UK) 6 x 60 minute episodes As the title suggested, the ITV series Scorpion Tales – produced by ATV – was a group of six single plays which shared nothing but the quality of having a…

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1 9 8 8 (UK) 26 x 30 minute episodes Bearded, bespectacled and overweight English teacher Trevor Beasley (Richard Griffiths) and his long-suffering and loving wife, Carol (Frances de la Tour in her first comedy series since Rising Damp) reluctantly move…

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1 9 8 8 (UK) 13 x 15 minute episodes An alien named N-3 (voiced by Jeremy Hardy) arrived from the planet Holgon on a mission to study the people and places of Earth. However, his superiors from his home planet…

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1 9 8 8 (UK) 6 x 60 minute episodes Barry (later Finbar) Lynch starred as Persse McGarrigle, a naive young postgraduate student who embarks on a globetrotting romantic pursuit of his elusive contemporary Angela, set against a background of eccentric…

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1 9 8 8 (UK) 6 x 15 minute episodes Debbie Gates – the creator of Tales From Fat Tulip’s Garden – co-wrote this series of six stories for children with Ben Keaton, who also narrated and voiced all the characters…

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1 9 7 0 (UK) 6 x 54 minute episodes This drama series from London Weekend Television was based on true-life cases of women who made the headlines of Victorian newspapers. The six episodes aired as part of Saturday Night Theatre (1969…

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1 9 5 2 – 1 9 5 4 (UK) 120 x 15 minute episodes Wednesday’s Watch With Mother featured the twin pot-dwellers Bill and Ben. The adventures of this pair of strange, stringed puppet creatures living in flowerpots at the bottom…

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1 9 8 1 – 1 9 8 3 (UK) 13 x 25 minute episodes Astronauts was the first post-Goodies sitcom written by Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. It was script-edited by UK comedy greats Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais…

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The Disc Jockey widely believed to have first coined the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll” began life as a jazz trombonist with a band called Sultans Of Swing (it may have been them that Dire Straits were singing about many years later). Born…

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Tygers of Pan Tang formed in 1978 in Whitley Bay on Tyneside and became a significant player in the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) movement. They released their own independent EP, Don’t Touch Me There (1980) via Wallsend’s Neat Records…

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Like every other self-respecting musical movement in the early 70s, Pub Rock had its own ‘supergroup’ in the shape of Kokomo. Named after an Aretha Franklin song (First Snow in Kokomo) the band consisted of guitarist Neil Hubbard and bassist Alan Spenner from Joe Cocker’s…

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It was 14 June 1962 when The Boston Strangler first struck. Over the next 18 months, Boston was gripped by fear. Eleven women were strangled – and some sexually assaulted – by a killer who usually left a gruesome signature:…

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Launched in 1958 by Minimodels, Scalextric promised to “bring the excitement of motor racing right into your home where children and adults alike can enjoy the thrill of the race”. The advertisements also claimed that “the cars travel at a…

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Trading stamps originated in the United States as far back as 1896 and were sold to retailers who then issued them to their customers. The stamps were stuck in savings books and exchanged for merchandise. Retailers built customer loyalty and…

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Mathematically fascinating (not to mention a mite confusing) in that these dark chocolate bars had five fruit-flavoured creme centres (orange, lemon, lime, raspberry and pineapple) but seven segments per bar. You could work out which segments would have two flavours…

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The Fighting Fantasy series were books based on role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. The idea of books such as The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was that the hero was YOU. YOU made the decisions as YOU raided the warlock’s dungeon…

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Until the 70s, interior design was simply a DIY pursuit. Once the seventies hit, it was a lifestyle statement. The dominant colours were Puce, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green (sorry, Avocado), Purple, Gold and Brown. If it moved, it had to…

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In 1888, Sir Frank Bowden’s doctor told him that cycling could improve his health. He bought an interest in a small bicycle company in Raleigh Street, Nottingham, where 12 men were making three bicycles a week. By 1896 Raleigh owned a…

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The Black Panthers wanted to be the vanguard of a revolution that would create economic, social and political equality across gender and colour lines. Since the nonviolent campaign of Martin Luther King had ended in that brave man’s death and little improvement…

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January 01 – A new law comes into effect in California, prohibiting people from smoking in bars and restaurants. 05 – Sonny Bono (of Sonny & Cher fame) dies in a skiing accident at South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Ski Resort…

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January 01 – 11 European countries replace their national currencies with the newly created ‘Euro’, a single European currency. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Ireland and Luxembourg all make the switch. The actual circulation of Euro…

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January 01 – The dictator of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista, is overthrown by Fidel Castro’s guerrillas and flees to the Dominican Republic. 02 – Fidel Castro proclaims a new government in Cuba. 02 – The USSR launches lunar rocket Luna 1…

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January 05 – Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for talks with Truman. 07 – General Dwight D Eisenhower says he will run for US President. 12 – The prototype Vickers Valiant, Britain’s only long-range jet for carrying the atomic bomb, crashes. 13 – The Iranian government…

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French Indochina was captured by the Japanese during WWII. After 1945 the French tried unsuccessfully to restore their rule in Vietnam, and in 1954 they were defeated by the Vietnamese (led by the Communist Ho Chi Minh) and had to…

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The Greek cruise ship TSMS Lakonia left Southampton on 19 December 1963 for an 11-day Christmas cruise of the Canary Islands. She carried 646 passengers and 376 crew: a total of 1,022 people. The ship’s first scheduled stop was to…

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During the summer of 1967, The Beatles’ Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club album had shot straight to the top of the UK and US album charts. A few weeks later, All You Need Is Love topped the singles charts around the world. Still…

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1 9 5 3 (UK) The British nation came to a standstill on 2 June 1953. Thousands lined the streets of London, while in homes and offices the length and breadth of Britain, colleagues, neighbours and relatives huddled in corners, all…

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