Saturday, 22 September 2018

The Saturday List #189 - My Top Ten memories of Opportunity Knocks

Earlier this week, I was driving to the Gym and Jo Good on BBC London was on the Radio. She was talking about shows we watched with the family. For some reason it got me thinking of Opportunity Knocks. This was the prototype for Pop Idol, X Factor and the rest of the talent shows. I was thinking of the acts that it put in the public spotlight. It was required viewing for most families, way ahead of its time!



As the old readers will remember, it was hosted by the affable Hughie Green (who turned out to be the Dad of Paula Yates). Hughie was a superstar for a few years. None of the nastyness of Simon Cowell. I miss Opportunity knocks, but really wouldn't want a return. It had its day, here are my top ten favourite Opportunity Knocks moments and alumni. Enjoy!

1.  Mary Hopkin.
Won the show, got a record deal with Apple Records. I remember her for "Those were the days", oddly I thought this was what she sung at The Eurovision Song contest, however in actual fact it was ""Knock Knock, Who's there".  I've always had a soft spot for Those Were The Days. A beautiful song, set to the tune of the Volga Boatman song. Did you know that Mary was a member of  Oasis in 1984! Sadly, this was not the Manc band, but a collaboration with Peter Skellern and Julian Lloyd Weber. 


2. Freddie Starr. 
Freddie was a complete anarchist, later famous for the "Freddie Starr ate my hamster" Sun headline. I once met Freddie. I suspect that eating Hamsters was the least of his sins. He was something way left field of anything else that had been on the show at the time. Could be absolutely hilarious but also horribly cringeworthy.  This is him at his absolute best, if you've not seen this clip, your really should it is genius. Not least because you would need cojones the size of hot air balloons to do that to the greatestHeavyweight  Boxer that ever walked the planet. 

3. Peters and Lee. 
I mainly remember them because my sister in law rather liked them. Very nice homespun pop songs. I especially liked them as it made buying my sister in law an Xmas present easy!
It is hard to listen to this and not remember the 1970s, they simply don't make songs like this anymore. Great harmonies, big production, proper instruments.

4. Pam Ayres.
My mum used to think Pam Ayres was marvellous. She said "It's great when people bring poetry to the masses". As she reminds me of my Mum being happy. I have a soft spot for her.

5. Neil Reid.
I really hated everything about this. A horrible mawkish song by a far too well brushed up schoolboy. What I hated most was that adults thought I'd like it because he was a kid. Neil had a number one hit as a result and was a national sensation. I suspect thet nearly every mum in the country (except mine) got one for her birthday present or at Xmas in 1972. For me, back in 1972, I was far more into Starman by David Bowie. I have often hoped my mum was not too disappointed. 

6. Bobby Crush.
Pianist Bobby Crush was an Opportunity Knocks find. I've never been a huge fan of the Piano, I prefer guitars, but Bobby is a proper entertainer. I love this clip of Bobby Crush. This is another of those video clips that they simply wouldn't make today. Bobby is still going strong, sadly minus the entourage of bikini clad beauties.



7. Lena Zavaroni.
Lena was another of the kids, that adults always assumed I'd like because they were kids.I doubt that a 10 year old singing "Mama, he's making eyes at me" would be let anywhere near a telly show these days. The sad thing was that Lena really could sing and by the time she started making decent records, no one was buying them.  Sadly she passed away in 1999.


8. Bonnie Langford.
Yet another of the annoying kids. When she graduated to become an assistant to Dr Who, for me it signalled the fact that Doctor Who really had run out of ideas. Like all of the annoying kids, Bonnie was and is very talented, but they come from a strand of the entertainment industry that never really did it for me. Having said that, Bonnie is a talented singer and actress. Ironically, 40 years after her telly debut, she won the 2016 British Soap Award for Best Newcomer for her appearance in Eastenders.
Which just goes to show that when one door shuts, there is always another one open

9. Les Dawson.
I used to love Les Dawson. An old school comic who's gruff and miserable delivery simply amplified the humour in his work. A comic genius, especially with his ability to play the piano badly. Dawson was a talented pianist, but found that he could get laughs by playing easily recognisable songs badly. An absolute master of comedy timing

10. Harry Gumm and his singing dog.
The thing I really loved about opportunity knocks was the weird and wacky acts, one of the best was Harry Gumm and his singing dog, who won three times! Sadly both Harry and his dog Jack are no longer with us.  When Jack and Harry won, the agent of Su Pollard who they beat claimed that Harry was squeezing Jack's testicles to get him to howl. As someone who knows dogs, I would expect a rather different reaction if you tried that. Some dogs do enjoy singing along. My wife's mother had one such mutt called Sophie. It put me off Su Pollard for life. If you lose to a singing dog, take it on the chin and get on with your life. 


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