1 9 8 6 – 1 9 9 6 (UK)
33 x 30 minute episodes
Debuting on ITV on Saturday 22 November 1986, Beadle’s About presented “outrageous stunts, unbelievable situations and hysterical moments” as unsuspecting members of the general public were caught out on hidden camera in the tradition of shows like Candid Camera and Game For A Laugh.
Hosted by “the bearded buffoon”, Jeremy Beadle, the show featured occasional “celebrity” victims including Keith Barron, Chris Tarrant and Cheryl Baker of Bucks Fizz.
Some of the wind-ups erred on the side of the sadistic – such as a lengthy sequence where a gullible woman was duped into trying to communicate with the “aliens” who had landed in her back garden – and Beadle sustained a very rare balancing act.
He was simultaneously hugely popular with viewers (15 million watched Beadle’s About at its peak) yet reviled and loathed by the media and large sections of the public for leading the rush to dumb down television.
He tended to come at or near the top of any unpopularity poll (he was voted the second most hated man in Britain (after Saddam Hussein) and baiting Beadle became something of a national sport with journalists vying to pour scorn on his beard, his suits, his pudgy face and his odd manner.
Jeremy James Anthony Gibson Beadle died on 30 January 2008 after a severe bout of pneumonia. He was just 59.