September 11, 1988: Mr Men creator Roger Hargreaves dies

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Roger Hargreaves (1935-1988) [mrmen.com]
Roger Hargreaves (May 9, 1935 – September 11, 1988) was an English author and illustrator of children’s books, best remembered for the Mr. Men and Little Miss series, intended for very young readers. The simple and humorous stories, with brightly coloured, boldly drawn illustrations, have been part of popular culture since 1971, with sales of over 85 million copies worldwide in 20 languages.

Hargreaves’ original ambition was to be a cartoonist and, in 1971, while working as the creative director at a London firm, he wrote the first Mr. Men book, Mr. Tickle. Initially he had difficulty finding a publisher, but once he did the books became an instant success, selling over one million copies within three years. In 1974 the books spawned a BBC animated television series, narrated by Arthur Lowe. A second series the following year saw newer titles transmitted in double bill format with those from the first series.

By 1976, Hargreaves had quit his day job. In 1981 the Little Miss series of books was launched, and in 1983 it also was made into a television series, narrated by Pauline Collins, and her husband John Alderton. Although Hargreaves wrote many other children’s stories—including the Timbuctoo series of 26 books, John Mouse and the Roundy and Squarey books—he is best known for his 46 Mr. Men and 33 Little Miss books.

Hargreaves died following a stroke. After his death, his son Adam continued writing and drawing the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters with new stories (while signing the covers in his father’s signature).

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September 10, 1988: Phil Collins was at No 1 with “A Groovy Kind of Love”

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“A Groovy Kind of Love” (1988) by Phil Collins

Phil Collins recorded a new version of “A Groovy Kind of Love” in 1988. Collins originally recorded his demo version as a suggestion for the film Buster, then found out later that the demo was actually used in the film. He later decided to record it himself when he took the starring role in the film, which had a 1960s setting. The song was originally released on Buster: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. A live version appeared on his Serious Hits… Live! album.

Unlike the Mindbenders‘ version, which was an upbeat guitar-based pop song, Collins’ version was a slow ballad with a prominent keyboard and strings. This version hit No. 1 on both the U.S. and UK charts, and remains Collins’ only single to top the charts in both countries; it was his last No. 1 single in the UK. The single spent two weeks at the top and was certified silver in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry. The song earned Collins a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1989.

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September 9, 1988: The Last Temptation of Christ released in UK cinemas

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The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

The Last Temptation of Christ is an American epic drama film, which is an adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ controversial 1955 novel of the same name. The film was shot entirely in Morocco.

Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust. This results in the book and film depicting Christ being tempted by imagining himself engaged in sexual activities, a notion that has caused outrage from some Christians. The film includes a disclaimer stating “This film is not based on the Gospels, but upon the fictional exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict.”

The film received polarised reviews from critics on its release but director Martin Scorsese received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Barbara Hershey‘s performance as Mary Magdalene earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. Peter Gabriel‘s music score also received acclaim, including a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

Notable cast & crew

  • Willem Dafoe, Jesus
  • Harvey Keitel, Judas Iscariot
  • Barbary Hershey, Mary Magdalene
  • Harry Dean Stanton, Saul/Paul of Tarsus
  • David Bowie, Pontius Pilate
  • Irvin Kershner, Zebedee
  • Martin Scorsese, director
  • Peter Gabriel, music

Soundtrack

The film’s musical soundtrack, composed by Peter Gabriel, received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score – Motion Picture in 1988 and was released on CD with the title Passion, which won a Grammy in 1990 for Best New Age Album. The film’s score itself helped to popularise world music.

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September 6, 1988: Count Duckula first airs on ITV

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Count Duckula (1988-1993)

Count Duckula is a British animated comedy horror television series created by British studio Cosgrove Hall Films and produced by Thames Television as a spin-off from Danger Mouse, a series in which the Count Duckula character was a recurring villain. Count Duckula aired from September 6, 1988 to February 16, 1993 across four series; in all, 65 episodes were made, each about 22 minutes long.

In 1984 Nickelodeon acquired the US broadcast rights to Danger Mouse, which became a hit for the channel. After a few years, the Nickelodeon management came to Cosgrove Hall wishing to co-produce a new series. After being shown a number of ideas, the then head of Nickelodeon, Geraldine Laybourne, spotted a picture of Count Duckula in Brian Cosgrove‘s office, and said “that’s the one I want”. As the series went into production one of the writers suggested he become a vegetarian, which added an even sillier concept to the series.

The character differs considerably from his predecessor on the Danger Mouse series. In fact, the only similarities, other than the name, is they are both vampire ducks with ambitions in show business with little actual talent. The previous version was an evil villain, willing to blackmail and force his way into stardom (as opposed to the current Count, who merely tries to get in the legitimate way) and was fixated on being a TV star, rather than settle for fame in some other branch of entertainment. He has far greater magical powers and makes much more use of them. He has a thick accent consisting of lisping, stuttering and occasional squawks. Most notably, he was not a vegetarian in the Danger Mouse version. In his very first appearance, he threatened to drink Danger Mouse’s blood, only to be chased away by the sun. The Danger Mouse Duckula was destroyed and fell to ashes, resurrected during the 8th astronomical house of Aquarius.

In a move mirroring Duckula’s adaptation from Danger Mouse, the characters of Gaston and Pierre were reinvented and given a spinoff series as the now-human Victor and Hugo.

Notable Cast & Crew

  • Count Duckula: David Jason
  • Nanny; Dimitri: Brian Trueman
  • Dr. Von Goosewing; Sviatoslav: Jimmy Hibbert
  • Various other characters: including Ruby Wax
  • Theme song vocalists: Doreen Edwards and Mike Harding

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September 3, 1988: Motormouth first airs on ITV

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Motormouth (1988-1992)

Motormouth was a Saturday morning children’s television series that was produced by TVS and broadcast across the ITV network for four series, running between September 3, 1988 and April 4, 1992. Each series generally ran from the autumn of one year to the spring of the next, as was common among many ‘main’ Saturday morning series.

The programme was launched following the decision to axe No. 73, which had run in the same slot until early 1988. No. 73 had been revamped during its final series as 7T3, with a partially exterior set. However, the new 7T3 set-up was expensive and difficult to produce, and so it was decided to switch to a fully studio-based set-up. Whereas No. 73 had included an inherent narrative storyline, the decision was taken that Motormouth would have a straightforward magazine presentation format.

The studio set for the first series was dominated by several giant inflatable elements, including a giant motorised mouth, from which the show took its name. In the second series, billed in some cases as Motormouth II or Motormouth 2, there were changes, including the introduction of new graphics and set elements based on cogs and sprockets. The use of the giant mouth declined following this alteration.

The show’s third series – which boasted new graphics and remixed theme music, and was for a brief time billed as All New Motormouth – also had a new, predominantly white set; the giant mouth was removed altogether at this point, along with all other remaining inflatables. This series saw the introduction of a diner-style set (sometimes referred to as ‘The Motormouth Cafe’) which saw guests and audience members sitting at tables. This format and styling was left largely intact for the fourth series.

The first series was presented by a five-strong lineup of hosts, two of whom had previously appeared on No. 73. Neil Buchanan and Andrea Arnold.  Gaby Roslin joined in the second series and Andy Crane joined from series three.

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September 3, 1988: Noel Edmonds’ Saturday Roadshow first airs on BBC1

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The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow (1988-1990) [Logopedia]
The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow is a BBC television light entertainment show which was broadcast on Saturday evenings from September 3, 1988 to December 15, 1990. It was presented by Noel Edmonds, his first major TV project since the demise of The Late, Late Breakfast Show in 1986. The pre-recorded programme contained several elements which had been found in its predecessor, such as phone-in quizzes, celebrity interviews and bands performing in the studio.

The premise for the new show was that unlike The Late, Late Breakfast Show, which had been broadcast from the BBC’s studios each week, the Roadshow would come from a new, different and exotic location each week. These ‘locations’ were in fact elaborate studio sets dressed to resemble each week’s location, such as the North Pole, a space station, Hollywood, or Niagara Falls. The irony of this was not lost on Edmonds, whose self-deprecating presentation style frequently made light of the low budget production values.

The programme was a slow-burning success, and following the third series in 1990, Edmonds’ popularity and reputation were sufficiently re-established with the public for Edmonds to pitch Noel’s House Party to the BBC.

The show also introduced regular features such as the Gunge Tank, the “Gotcha Oscars” and “Wait ‘Till I Get You Home”, which would all be carried across and subsequently developed in Noel’s House Party.

The Gunge Tank was a booth with a large tank of slime at the top. A member of the public would sit inside and try to win prizes by answering a set number of questions before their time ran out. If they failed they would be ‘gunged’ by Noel Edmonds who would pull a lever at the side of the tank to empty the gunge over the contestant.

Another item was “Clown Court”, where a guest actor from a TV series would be on trial for all the bloopers made during the shooting of that show, such as Sylvester McCoy in the title role of Doctor Who, and Tony Robinson as his character of Baldrick in Blackadder the Third.

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September 3, 1988: The Hitman and Her first airs on ITV

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The Hitman & Her (1988-1992)

The Hit Man and Her was a British television dance music show hosted by Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan. The programme was produced for Granada Television and ran from September 3, 1988 until December 5, 1992.

The programme presented a taste of late-night clubbing, with long segments showing crowds dancing to popular hits, occasional celebrity performances, and party games – with Waterman and Strachan acting as masters of ceremony.  The show toured various nightclubs. Clubbers would arrive at the featured club hoping to appear on television. Often members of the crowd would be plucked out to participate in games such as “Pass The Mic!”, “Showing Out”, and “Clothes Swap”.

The programme was often recorded on a Saturday night, edited on-the-fly, and shown a few hours later in the early hours of Sunday morning, the second half of the Saturday/Sunday version being repeated during the following night. The earlier shows were split into two halves: the first at 0100 and the second at 0400, with the LWT‘s Night Network magazine show sandwiched in between. During 1988 The Hit Man and Her was moved to 2am in some areas, while London still broadcast the show at 4am. The Hitman and Her remained at the 2am slot from April 1989 until its very last broadcast. A special edition of The Hit Man and Her was broadcast as part of the ITV Telethon in 1992.

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