I Love 1975
Saturday, August 26, 2000 by Ian Tomkinson
Halfway through I Love the Seventies, and this strictly retrospective show clings to its common blueprint; a series of clip sequences comprising of various relevant and irrelevant people discussing particular trends or artefacts with popular recognition either born or reaching the height of their ubiquity in the year 1975, backed by occasional archive footage from contemporary sources.
Put like that makes it sound like a complex programme, but it really it isn’t. Its true essence and style have been analysed in this forum before, and almost don’t bare repeating – Stuart Maconie was there, Wayne Hemingway was there, Ice T was there, the full-length non-DOG-polluted period advert was there. After the entrance of a ragged-looking Dennis Waterman and an initial round-up of ‘75-centric clips (reminiscent of the quick burst of info that modern This Is Your Life gives you), the show quickly settled into a five-minute round-up of The Bay City Rollers’ year. Overall there were 12 subjects covered – along with the tartan clowns we got perfume, wrestling, puddings, Bob Marley, Barry Sheene, Rocky Horror, Jim’ll Fix It, David Essex, Jaws and The Sweeney. That depicts a varied and exciting mixture, but averaged out over 60 minutes it demonstrates that a short attention span is presumed by the producer. It’s a shame, as the sequences can leave a desire for more. The Jaws run-down, for instance, was as quick as could be – Peter Benchley, the author of the original book, popped up to offer some background, but he was used sparingly. In equal amounts though we heard from current celebs with no real connection to the film. The controversy rages over whether “Jeremy Spake” (who has become a label for all low-rent talking heads) should be included in these sorts of programmes, and I feel that while they have as much right as anyone to talk about such popular events, for me they have nothing to do with it and I don’t care what they have to say. Unless they’re Stuart Maconie.
The Jaws sequence in particular would have benefited from more time. It was enhanced by footage of an actual cinema audience watching the film, clips from the trailer (a common theme throughout the series), a quick cry of “you have been warned!” from Barry Norman, and what were essentially highlights from one scene of the movie itself. It set me thinking – wouldn’t it be good to see an extended version, with the complete review from Film 75, the full reaction of the captivated audience, the trailer, other contemporary media reports, and the film to boot? This sort of setup is no doubt too valuable as “currency”, especially as we head towards a digital age. Is this why we get such short clips? Saying that, Jaws has been shown rather a lot in the last 25 years.
Of course, the knowing touchstones were there for all to grab – Arctic Roll, Janet Ellis in The Sweeney, Barry Sheene’s shattered leg, Jaws - The Action Game (used to have that), a chat with a Jim’ll Fix It “fixee” (as Savile termed them) … and it left as many questions as answers – why were the Bay City Rollers popular at all (as asked by Guardian pop kid Caroline Sullivan, who managed to lure two of them to her hotel room, only to find them dull and offensive), why was Giant Haystacks called that (‘cos he doesn’t sound hard at all), and why did Janet Ellis have a pot on her head in her role as “Prostitute #2″?
The rigidity of the show makes one wonder if it’s a deliberate tactic. Each week has tended to feature a pop group, sport, TV programme, toy. A simple task could be to re-order all these into relevant subjects areas – bung in a few common voice-over links and you have a new set of programmes. The rules on repeats seem to have an over-bearing effect on these sorts of programme, pad it out with enough new chatter from Ainsley Harriott et al and you’ll be OK. Please, why not just show the whole thing?
This is one of the better clip shows: overall it’s fun, and the level of research is almost unsurpassed. In a straight fight between this though and, say, Channel 4’s Top Tens, Top Tenswould win easily. Their interviews with the people that actually made it happen in the first place wins the day.