BBC Four is turning back the clock to showcase some of the UK’s most popular Saturday night entertainment shows across the decades, starting on Saturday 30th July.
Shows including Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game, The Two Ronnies Sketchbook, Noel’s House Party, Strictly Come Dancing and Blankety Blank will feature on the channel.
For Noel’s House Party, it will be the first time in over two decades that an episode has been shown on television. The show, set in the fictional village of Crinkley Bottom was famous for its celebrity ‘gotchas’, gunge tank and made Mr Blobby a household name. And long before Ant and Dec did something similar in their Saturday Night Takeaway, viewers were also in for a surprise, with ‘NTV’ going live into an unsuspecting viewer’s home.
The first of the BBC Four theme nights starts on Saturday 30th July at 7pm, opening with The Battle for Saturday Night. The documentary, presented by ex-BBC One controller Michael Grade, tells the story of Saturday night light entertainment shows and the dirty tricks in the battle between BBC One and ITV to retain the ratings crown.
A 1993 episode of Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game follows as contestants battle to get to the conveyor belt and the chance to scoop up a host of prizes.
From 2005, The Two Ronnies Sketchbook looks back at Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett’s favourite sketches and news stories.
The following week
BBC Four’s second Saturday night in the light entertainment archives on Saturday 6th August 2022 opens with Noel’s House Party at 7pm. The BBC has chosen to show the 1st February 1992 edition of the show, which featured the cast of ‘Allo ‘Allo. Noel’s House Party will be followed by an episode from last year’s Strictly Come Dancing
After that, viewers are transported back to 1979 for an episode of Blankety Blank with Terry Wogan. Panellists include Lorraine Chase, Henry Cooper, Thora Hird and Kenny Everett.
The evening continues with profiles and archive interviews with actor and comedian Rik Mayall and long-time BBC presenter Terry Wogan.
BBC Four schedule
Saturday 30th July 2022
19:00 The Fight for Saturday Night. The story of Saturday night light entertainment shows on British TV. With Michael Grade.
20:30 Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game. Episode from 8th October 1993.
21:30 The Two Ronnies Sketchbook. Episode 2
22:30 Arena: Remember the Secret Policeman’s Ball?
23:45 What We Were Watching: Summer TV Classics with Grace Dent
Saturday 6th August 2022
19:00 Noel’s House Party. A retro visit to Crinkley Bottom. Series 1, episode 10 from 1992.
19:50 Strictly Come Dancing. Episode 8 from last year’s series.
21:10 Blankety Blank. With Terry Wogan. Series 2, episode 16 from 1979.
21:45 Rik Mayall: Lord of Misrule. A tribute to Rik Mayall.
22:40 One on One: Terry Wogan looks back at his career.
23:20 Mark Lawson Talks To… Terry Wogan
BBC Four Freeview channel 9 (24 in Scotland) ▪︎ Sky satellite channel 116 ▪︎ Freesat channel 108 ▪︎ Virgin Media channel 107 (Scotland/Wales) 108 (England/NI)
The themed evenings are part of a change in remit for BBC Four. The channel was once an arts and culture channel, but most new arts programmes will now debut on BBC Two. As a result, BBC Four has been repurposed as an archive TV channel. Programmes featured are either already, or will soon be available on the BBC iPlayer.
The BBC hopes to increase the amount of archive content on the BBC iPlayer in the coming years, a move that will pave the way for BBC Four to switch to an online-only service, acting as a portal to the archive content.
[Main image: Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby, BBC]
Iain Hatton, features writer, RXTV
Updated 29/07/2022 with finalised schedule.