Thursday, 8 August 2013

1982: THE BLACK HOLE in TV TIMES (ITV Publications)

Christmas 1982 was a vintage year for movies on ITV: MOONRAKER, SUPERMAN THE MOVIE, THE MUPPET MOVIE and - the big Christmas Day offering - Disney's THE BLACK HOLE!

It's hard to over-emphasise how big a deal this was at the time.  Home video was only just getting established and, in my case, it would be a good few years before we finally got around to renting a top-loader from Granada.  I'm not even sure that Disney, initially reluctant to embrace the new format in case it ate into their traditionally lucrative business model of re-releasing films every few years to draw the next generation of fans back to the big screen, had even released the film on tape.

After the initial cinema release (and any re-release), the only way to catch a glimpse of the film was in programmes like BBC ONE's Bank Holiday schedule-filler DISNEY TIME (clips from TBH turned-up in three editions between December 1979 and May 1980) and SCREEN TEST.  In fact, I can even remember looking forward to seeing Screen Test because I knew a clip would be featured.  I also recall that the programme coincided with either our TV developing a fault or there being a transmitter fault.  Probably the former.

These days, films seem to arrive on disc, download and TV within months of them being on the big screen (sometimes less) but way-back-when, it took years for them to reach TV.  If anything, TBH seems to have been fast-tracked (possibly by virtue of its under-performance at the box office) seeing as it had only been released over Christmas 1979.

Although it didn't make the cover of the TV TIMES Christmas double issue (the only issue we would buy, along with the festive RADIO TIMES, all year), it did have pride-of-place inside... complete with some absolutely terribly artwork of the cast which - I assume - are deliberately dire although its possible ITV Publications just hired a particularly crap artist.  At least V.I.N.CENT looks right.

I distinctly recall that BBC ONE had scheduled DEATH ON THE NILE up against TBH which - in those far away days of one household TV - led to family friction over which one to watch.

My school also recorded the movie and played it, I think over two or three days, as a lunchtime "movie club" on a TV in one of the classrooms.


  1. I know you and Ed love The Black Hole but I'm sure I read a review of the film which called it one of the worst movies ever made ! That seems a bit harsh ! By the way, lucky you to have had a school film club - the only thing we ever watched in school were those dreary " For Schools " programmes.

    1. That seems a little harsh. Sure, it was never going to trouble the Academy in anything other than the technical categories (and there are some really impressive effects work to be found) but I've seen far worse movies. I wouldn't even file it into the "so bad, it's good" category alongside The Asylum's myriad offerings.

      I think the film club was a fairly short-lived venture... probably because it required at least one member of staff.. or playground "helper" to patrol the room. I don't even remember what other films (taped off the TV) they showed although STAR WARS is a possibility.

      We watched the occasional schools programme as well although they were far from ubiquitous. The only two I remember (except for a very clinical sex ed film in secondary school) was the "blockaboots" thing (I have no idea why we were ever required to watch that, or what it was trying to tell me, but it did stick in the mind for thirty years!) and something about the perils of smoking which involved slicing-up a tar-ridden lung. I must admit that did successfully deter me from smoking... the power of TV.

      Oh, and in infants school, I remember seeing films about dangers on the farm (slurry pits! Yikes!), on a building site and something involving Sooty which may have been directly connected to one-or-other of those live-action shorts.

  2. I still have the trimmings from the TV Times issue archived away in a folder, and I have to say I also remember waiting for the SCREEN TEST clip, as you mentioned! I saw it at the Gaumont cinema in Sheffield on a Saturday afternoon screening in early 1980 (back in the days when big films had a proper run at the cinema!), after again seeing one of your aforementioned clips on DISNEY TIME.. Wild! hehe


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