1 9 7 8 – 1 9 8 1 (UK)
25 x 30 minute episodes
9 x 45 minute episodes
1 x 60 minute episode
Although popular for more than a decade, the zany (and truly there was no better word to describe him) Kenny Everett was elevated to superstardom with this inspired Thames TV series.
The radio DJ had tried his hand on TV before, but he really found his niche with The Kenny Everett Video Show, which permitted the short-burst format ideal for his surreal sense of humour.
The word “video” in the title was all-important: the latest-available edit-suite trickery was used to full effect, and this, aided by computer technology that would seem primitive today but was highly innovative in 1978, combined for an eye-catching presentation.
The shows were recorded in front of a minimal audience, and the crew behind the cameras were encouraged to break their silence and laugh, call out, or even be seen during the recordings – a technique new to almost all viewers, but much copied since.
As with his radio shows, Kenny Everett presided over an array of characters and sketches that would appear each week. With co-writers Barry Cryer and Ray Cameron, Everett invented an impressive roster of talent, among them Sid Snot, an ageing greaser who would end each skit by throwing a cigarette into the air and catching it in his mouth.
Other notable characters were: Marcel Wave, an outrageously Gallic-accented Frenchman; and bowler-hatted Angry of Mayfair – a mouth-foaming city gent who turned out to wear women’s’ stockings and suspenders.
Each show also featured the dancing troupe Hot Gossip who (usually dressed in leather) would bump and grind their ‘naughty bits’ in a provocatively sexual manner designed to be the antithesis of the gently arousing but ultimately angelic Pans People from the BBCs Top Of The Pops.
Other key segments of the show were a live musical act in the studio – including Rod Stewart, Leo Sayer, The Boomtown Rats, David Bowie, Suzi Quatro, Thin Lizzy, Bryan Ferry, David Essex, The Pretenders and The Sex Pistols – and an animated serialisation (courtesy of Cosgrove Hall Productions) of Captain Kremmen and his adventures in space – already familiar to all listeners of Everett’s shows on Capital Radio.
The animated adventures were so popular that a half-hour Cosgrove Hall animated production, Kremmen – The Movie, was assembled for cinema distribution in 1980, with Everett providing the voices of not only the captain but also his dumb blonde and big-busted sidekick Carla and the brilliant scientist Gitfinger.
Although pursuing essentially the same format, the final series – retitled The Kenny Everett Video Cassette – presented the Captain Kremmen stories in real life (first done in the 1980 New Years Eve special) with Anna Dawson appearing as Carla.
This series also introduced another new element: Star Quiz, whereby a horrible fate would befall a guest celebrity if he or she failed to answer a usually impossible question.
A few months after the fifth and final series, Everett defected to the BBC where he enjoyed even greater success with The Kenny Everett Television Show.
But it was these ultra-slick and very funny Thames TV shows, with the star standing alone in front of a bank of TV screens, which established the winning formula.
And of course, although much of the material was rather risqué, it was all done in the best possible taste!