The Encyclopaedia Of Classic Saturday Night Telly
Jack Kibble-White & Steve Williams£9.99Allison & BusbyISBN 0 7490 8031 0
Not many books start with a foreward by Jeremy Beadle. Furthermore, not many boast about the fact with a starburst on the front cover. Yet reading Beadle’s brief introduction to this fascinating book, it’s hard not to be taken by his words. He lavishes compliments on Jack Kibble-White and Steve Williams, praising the authors for their understanding and insight.
And he’s right to. Because the co-authors have indeed created a terrific guide to the shows that used to play on Saturday evenings, from the high profile and obvious – The A Team and Game for a Laugh – through to less popular and lesser known, such as Pets Win Prizes and Johnny & Denise: Passport to Paradise. What’s more, no matter which show they discuss, there’s an underlying enthusiasm and passion for the subject matter that’s hard not to warm to.
What’s also pleasing is the distinct lack of rose-tinted spectacles. Kibble-White and Williams are all-too-painfully aware that many of the programmes they’re writing about have their problems, and they’re happy to discuss them. Each programme covered generally gets a couple of pages, in which there’s space to discuss a bit of background, some highlights, and how the show came to an end.
The book is billed as an encyclopaedia, which perhaps indicates something more precise and formal than what you actually get, and as with the same publishers’ The Ultimate Guide To British Comics, you can’t help but thirst for more information on some of the subject matter that’s featured.
But this is nonetheless a terrific, easy-to-dip-into book, that indiscriminately assesses the joys of Jim’ll Fix It and Juliet Bravo next to The X Factor and The Premiership. Throwing out nuggets of information with regularity (did you know that Ian Hislop used to write for Jasper Carrott?!) and warmly celebrating their subject matter, Kibble-White and Williams have come up with a compelling reason to relieve your pocket of a tenner.