Wednesday 27 May 2015

1982: STAR WARS TV PREMIERE in LOOK-IN (ITV Publications)

From October 1982: A fascinating issue of ITV's LOOK-IN.

It's ridiculously hard to emphasis what a massively big deal the TV premiere of STAR WARS was.  Almost five years after its British theatrical premiere (just after Christmas 1977), it was finally coming to the small screen.  It had been a long wait.

I'm not even sure whether it had been released (officially) on home video at this point but, even it is was, it was strictly rental only.  The affordable sell-through market was still a few years away.

How many families bought or rented a VCR simply to record and keep Star Wars?  Or borrowed the school, college or workplace machine (assuming it was bolted to a hefty trolly) for the weekend? 

LI stablemate TV TIMES also ran a STAR WARS cover and feature to celebrate the premiere... and I'll get to that...

Why didn't ITV make it their big Christmas Day film?  Ad space is in higher demand in the pre-Christmas sales period so ITV could charge a premium for ads in highly-rated programmes in the final three months of the year.  Christmas Day films could command huge audiences... but generated less income because the gift buying season was over.  

But... there were other delights that weekend as well.  ITV also premiered (with considerably less fanfare) the first episode of STAR FLEET, the legendary puppet SF show from Japan.  From the opening theme and the first few minutes, it was obvious that this adventure serial was something special.  And it was.  It became essential viewing throughout the run.  And, if I recall correctly, a latter quirk in ITV's regional scheduling meant I could watch it twice ever weekend.  The memory may be cheating but I think Anglia kept it in its Saturday morning slot... but neighboring LWT shuffled it to Sundays... allowing people (like me) who lived on the border of both regions the chance to double-dip.  

And LOOK-IN also teased the show that never was: BIG DADDY'S SATURDAY SHOW.  Central's networked Saturday morning entry for the 1982-83 season should have been fronted by the legendary wrestler.  Despite his lack of TV presenter experience.  And this show was live.  What could possibly go wrong?  The improbably-named Shirley Crabtree bowed-out (apparently because of ill-health although I can't help wondering whether someone belatedly concluded that it was a non-starter) at the last moment and the show was hastily rebadged (with a tweaked title sequence) as simply THE SATURDAY SHOW.  TV mainstay Tommy Boyd was drafted in to anchor alongside the already-booked Isla St Clair (another TV favourite but, again, somewhat lacking in the live-TV-presenting department).  

It proved a canny move for Boyd.  He stuck around for TSS successor SATURDAY STARSHIP (legendary for appearances by Spider-man, Gerry Anderson and - in the finale - the Fink Brothers) and then moved to main presenter duties (and also, apparently, a management role) at TV-am's Wide Awake Club.  The following decade he even became the regular presenter of CITV's equivalent of the continuity "broom cupboard". 


  1. I well remember all of was super exciting to watch star wars on tv for the first seemed like that sunday transmission would never come, i was counting the minutes by the end....after it finished , i turned to my uncle ( who had never seen it before ) and asked him what he thought and he repied : " rubbish ".... just like they used to on morecambe and wise.

    I then spent the entire following summer cajoling my cousin to let us watch his video recorded version... he finally relented only for us to discover that the first 30- 40 minutes had been recorded over !

    Many a saturday morning was spent watching starfleet plus repeats of space 1999 season 2 with the memorable image of martin landau twirling on his swivel chair ready to blast aliens.

    Happy days !

    1. STAR FLEET has been out on DVD for a few years now and is well-worth revisiting. The set also comes with a mini-comic that collects (in colour!) the LOOK-IN Star Fleet strips.

      The long-awaited SPACE:1999 Blu Ray release from Network is also, apparently, due sometime soon although I don't think there is a definitive date yet.

      Way-back-when (back in the VHS era although they are now selling it on DVD) Fanderson produced an excellent feature-length documentary devoted to both seasons of SPACE:1999 (and another dedicated to UFO) which is well-worth picking up. You have to be a member tom order from them.

  2. by the way slow, who is the girl on the black and white page above ?

    1. Hmm... good question. According to the text in the feature it's a very glam looking Isla St Clair although it doesn't look much like her to me.

      Maybe the memory cheats... maybe the LOOK-IN picture file was muddled... or maybe Central TV's publicity department pushed the boat out for a particularly outlandish makeover.

  3. Great piece, I remember this (and taped bits of it with my trusty Binatone and its hand-held microphone). And yes, that's Isla St Clair, all glammed up.


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