Introducing the bizarre world of Granada TV’s ‘Nice Time’ in 1968
HAVE you ever had the urge to do something crazy on television? Drink a pint of beer standing on your head, perhaps? Or play “Rule Britannia” on your husband’s braces?
Nice Time, a light, fluffy, different TV series starting on Friday at 7 p.m. might well take up my last suggestion and exploit it even further.
It is that sort of show. The idea is to try to get people to rid themselves of their inhibitions.
Preposterous requests from viewers are welcome. You do not have to carry them through personally. The programme will send out one of the team or invite members of the public to the studio to do your stunts.
Nice Time, which sets out simply to entertain, includes the latest let-your hair-down brand of goonery, presented by master hoaxer Jonathan Routh, disc jockey Kenny Everett and Australian born Germaine Greer, who lectures in English at Warwick University.
There is no message behind the series. The intention is to be funny, but not malicious. A call has already gone out for musical saw players and amateur ventriloquists willing to take part in a choir of ventriloquists’ dummies.
Programme Editor John Birt, a 23-year-old Oxford graduate from Liverpool, who devised the show, said: “We have no ulterior motives. We are not trying to send people up.
“We simply feel that this is a natural extension of the way comedy is going. We want viewers to enjoy themselves — hence the title of the show.” The opening item in Friday’s show, “Bye, Bye Blues”, is played by a band of musical spoon players,
“We shall start the show each week with a musical item of this kind,” said Andrew Mayer, 24-year-old former President of the Cambridge Footlights Club, who wrote part of the first programme.
Then comes an attempt at “Documentary Comedy”, from Jonathan Routh. In a film item you will see him stop a woman in a London street and make a bid for her left shoe.
When the show advertised for men who looked like George Brown, 11 doubles presented themselves at the studios. The result is the George Brown Glee Singers, whose attempt to sing “There’ll Always Be An England” in Friday’s show is quite calamitous.
In Nice Time the items come fast and furious — 20 in the space of half-an-hour.
Anything that is different comes into the Nice Time categorv. Scenes you have loved will be another weekly feature of this show.
There are so many TV highlights viewers would like to see again. Like the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Fred Astaire singing and dancing in the film “Top Hat”, a film montage of buildings being demolished…
This week’s request spot features Coronation Street‘s Elsie Tanner getting mad and getting married.
The studio audience will be invited to join in the fun. Said John Birt: “We thought it would be a nice touch to send two bikini-clad girls around the audience distributing Nice Time rock.”
Germaine Greer said she would rather not explain what Nice Time was all about. “If you overstate it or over-explain it you have lost it,” she said. “People have got to get the feeling of this show themselves.”
Jonathan Routh is convinced the public will play ball. “I might go into the centre of Manchester and challenge a city gent to a game of marbles for £1. And I am convinced he would play me,” said Jonathan.
John Birt added: “We want to give viewers a lift. To show them things that normally they would never see on TV in all their lives.”
- George Brown (1914-1985) was MP for Belper 1945-1970 and was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the time of this article.
- John Birt (born 1944) was Director of Programmes at London Weekend Television in the 1980s and a controversial Director-General of the BBC 1992-2000
- Jonathan Routh (1927-2008) was presenter of ABC Weekend TV’s Candid Camera.
- Dr Germaine Greer (born 1939) is a controversial public intellectual and author of the feminist polemic The Female Eunuch.
- Kenny Everett, born Maurice James Christopher Cole (1944-1995) needs no introduction.
- We’ve not been able to trace what became of Andrew Mayer as most online guides appear to conflate him with other writers of the same name.