Tag Archives: Children’s ITV

I got it wrong in the Grouchy Club podcast + Noel Edmonds killed a man

Kate Copstick with her mother at the podcast

Kate Copstick with her mother at the podcast

Yesterday, comedy critic Kate Copstick and I recorded our weekly Grouchy Club podcast in her London flat because she was ill.

It was possibly a mistake on her part to ask me about my background – or possibly a clever ploy so she needed to talk less. This is an extract about me working on TV shows last century:


JOHN
The first show I ever did (as a researcher) was Tiswas and that was 39 episodes in a row and I think they were a minimum of three hours long – I think they changed the duration. Basically, 39 weeks of 3-hour shows – live shows – tends to settle you in a bit

COPSTICK
Bloody hell. And was the finding of weird acts how you got to meet Malcolm Hardee?

JOHN
Yes. I did children’s shows – Tiswas and a few others less well known. I never really dealt with stars. I was never that interested.

COPSTICK
Lucky you.

JOHN
Indeed. What I tended to deal with was ‘real people’.

COPSTICK
They’re difficult to find in television.

JOHN
But real people who want to be on television shows tend to live in appalling places, so I never got to go anywhere glamorous… Never ever ever go to Barrow-in-Furness. It’s a nightmare. Don’t go. Three hours to travel one inch.

COPSTICK
Oh my God! The man who was the love of my life – at the time and for some time after – is a doctor in Barrow-in-Furness.

JOHN
Well, I’m very sorry for you.

COPSTICK
Isn’t it lovely? It’s Lake District.

JOHN
It’s awful. It was awful.

COPSTICK
I’d like to apologise to anyone listening who is on or around Barrow-in-Furness.

JOHN
I went to Barrow-in-Furness because a blind man wanted to parachute jump.

COPSTICK
Whoa!

JOHN
This was for Game For a Laugh because, after the children’s shows, I did ‘real people’ shows. So I did Game For a Laugh and Surprise! Surprise!

(AND THIS IS WHERE I MADE THE FIRST OF TWO FACTUAL MISTAKES IN THE PODCAST – I HAVE A NOTORIOUSLY BAD MEMORY – IN FACT, I WENT TO SEE THE BLIND WOULD-BE PARACHUTIST FOR CILLA BLACK’S SURPRISE! SURPRISE! NOT FOR GAME FOR A LAUGH. SO…)

Things like that: finding bizarre acts.

COPSTICK
Do you know my friend Matthew Kelly?

JOHN
I did the series after he left.

COPSTICK
Lovely, lovely, lovely Matthew Kelly. He’s a wonderful man.

JOHN
I did work with Matthew Kelly once, I did Children’s ITV. In my Promotion hat, I produced Children’s ITV because the BBC was destroying ITV’s ratings in children’s hour, so they thought up the idea of having a block of Children’s ITV presented by a famous person doing the links. So I recorded a month’s worth of links in an afternoon, I think.

(IN FACT, AGAIN, MY MEMORY LET ME DOWN. I RECORDED A MONTH OF LINKS IN TWO AFTERNOONS, A FORTNIGHT APART)

And one of the people who did it was Matthew Kelly. Terribly nice man, yes.

COPSTICK
Gorgeous man. Anyway, sorry I interrupted. You were talking about finding a blind man who wanted to parachute out of Barrow-in-Furness.

JOHN
And we would have done this, because it’s quite easy. You just attach the person to another person who really can parachute jump, throw them out of a plane and…

COPSTICK
Presumably it’s not like going along a road. Once you’ve jumped out of a plane, being sighted or non-sighted, there only is one route and that’s straight down.

JOHN
Yup. Much like my career.

COPSTICK
Only since you met me, John

JOHN
Again, as with most of my stories, there is a coda; there is a But…

COPSTICK
Mmm hmmm?

JOHN
We didn’t actually do this, because Noel Edmonds managed to kill someone on his show. (BBC TV’s The Late, Late Breakfast Show.)

COPSTICK
Yes! I remember that.

JOHN
There was a man suspended in a box and, for some extraordinary reason, you could open the box from the inside. He was suspended about 40ft up in the air and, for an unknown reason, he opened the box. He fell out – 40ft down or whatever – died. This happened (on BBC TV) and LWT, who were producing Game For a Laugh (ACTUALLY I MEANT SURPRISE! SURPRISE!) thought: Oooooooohhhhh. It’s very dodgy. We would never have let it happen (what happened on BBC TV) because we would have had 18 safety features.


This week’s Grouchy Club Podcast lasts 31 minutes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Podcasts, Television

The death of a star performer in 2001

Educating Marmalade ran from 19xx to 19xx

Marmalade Atkins was on British television 1982-1984

I looked up my diary for Wednesday 21st November in 2001 – twelve years ago – and found this entry:

In the evening, I was shocked to read about the death at 33 of actress Charlotte Coleman, whom I had met in 1983 when I chose her to present a month’s worth of Children’s ITV – ie two days’ work. She was around 14 then and starring in the ITV show Educating Marmalade. Like the character, she was superficially cynical and rebellious – though insecure underneath the bravado. She later had a central role in the feature film Four Weddings and a Funeral. In her obituary, it said that, when she was 19, Charlotte’s boyfriend had been killed in a road accident. At 33, she had died from an asthma attack.

Charlotte in Four Weddings & a Funeral

Charlotte starred as Scarlett  in Four Weddings and a Funeral

When she was recording the Children’s ITV continuity links for me, the director and I took her for lunch at a fairly up-market restaurant. I think she thought we were pretentious prats. At her age, she gave me the impression she would have preferred to go to a Wimpy hamburger bar.

When she died, she was fairly well-known.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (1990)

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit caused stir on 1990 TV

As a child actress, she had appeared as a running character in the TV series Worzel Gummidge. As an adult, she had been noticed in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

I guess few people remember her now – like all dead people – except her friends and family and, two generations hence, only scholars of old TV shows and movies will even know she existed. In that, she has the advantage over most people.

Though maybe she will be remembered for a time.

In 2003, the New London Performing Arts Centre started a Charlotte Coleman Scholarship. A showcase event is held every November from which one performer is chosen to receive the award. All NLPAC members are eligible for the prize of a year’s classes in dance, drama and music

She seemed a nice kid.

R.I.P. Charlotte Ninon Coleman
(3 April 1968 – 14 November 2001).

So it goes.

3 Comments

Filed under Death, Television, UK