ROLAND! CAROLE! STANLEY! LINDA! DAVID! MARJORIE! GIORGIO! PAOLA! ARE ALL HERE TO PLAY LARRY GRAYSON'S GENERATION GAME!
Shut That Door...
This is the big test. Tonight's edition also falls on the day that Bruce Forsyth's Big Night invites viewers to ITV for the first time. Having been poached by the rival channel, Bruce's brand new Saturday night hullapalooza has been hyped to the max. The biggest names in showbiz are scheduled to appear, complete with music, dance routines and Brucie's own brand of snarky humour. Can Larry's third venture into The Generation Game tempt the viewers to stick with BBC1? That's a question that can only be answered in future guides, but I'll give you a quick clue – the first word of the answer begins with Y and ends with S.
Perhaps as a bid to show that people still watch the show, the episode oddly begins with loud audience applause blaring over the close-harmony vocal group yodelling the title music. The rapturous applause continues as Larry and Isla respectively shudder at this week's challenge participation and give a twirl with the latest outfit.
Remember Don Flatman? The teacher chap from Larry's first show with poodle-haired niece Kim? Well, his pupils have very kindly sent in some scribbles to Larry and Isla, depicting both host and hostess, as well as a doodle of Nicholas Parsons in Dracula mode. Larry thanks the other kids who have sent in their drawings to himself and Isla, who says that she will hang them on her wall. “She lives in a tent,” quips Larry.
On with the show!
First and Second Contestants
Roland and Carole Dennison (father and daughter in law)
Roland: Diminutive Roland is an engineer at the Department of Pathology at Cambridge University. He's been well prepared for squishy pathology, having previously been an engineer at a jam and jelly factory. We're only mere minutes into the show, and already Roland's making innuendo about jelly that “goes stiff”. Larry's stunned expression says it all. He's been married to Olive for 22 years and has a daughter in law called...
Carole: Originally from Belfast, Carole's accent has vanished. Although her “good Irish temper” still remains, apparently. Let's hope she doesn't lose her rag at a potter's wheel tonight or the BBC caretakers will be cleaning the mess up until the show ends in 1982.
As a little girl, Carole wanted to be a ballerina, taking ballet lessons. These days, she loves “anything that's old”, earning the second innuendo and stunned host expression in only a minute from the last one.
Stanley Bennett and Linda Collins (uncle and niece)
Stanley: Blimey! It's Reg Varney! While he never got to be on the buses, Butler lookalike Stanley did used to ferry passengers around in his taxi. These days, he's a shopkeeper who deals in china. The stuff that you eat and drink off and out of, not the country – although Stanley admits that he likes to travel in his spare time. And to prove the point that Stanley's a dead ringer for Reg Varney, the On The Buses actor himself turns up to say hello to his doppelgänger!
Linda: If Linda's uncle is mistaken for Reg, then Larry claims that she could be “mistaken for Dolores Del Rio”.
Linda's lucky in that she has a patient husband, given that he used to get iffy reactions to his toupee. Having admitted to Linda that he wore a syrup, when lifting the wig from his bonce, a drunk walked past and screamed.
The untransmitted pilot from June 1978 featured a couple of games that will crop up in this week's show. The first of these is to make a face from a collage of pressed flowers.
To show everybody how it's done, Jenny Kenna returns (having appeared in the pilot). Taking a collection of dried and pressed flowers and leaves, Jenny expertly arranges them into a sad face. Using a collection of twigs, stems (for the outline of the face), Autumn leaves and pansies (earning snorts of laughter from the audience), Jenny makes a very good unhappy visage, complete with teardrops. Possibly, she's pre-empting Bruce's reaction to the not-so-great ratings for his brand new ITV showcase.
It's the turn of the contestants to make their own face from assorted flowers and tree remnants. As usual, Larry surveys their efforts, and inexplicably calls Stanley “Raymond”. There's only so much that the contestants can achieve in 75 seconds, and their pictures are mixed to say the least.
Jenny comes back to critique the results. Roland's “looks quite nice”, and since he's got “the balance right”, he gets a generous 4/6. Carole's attempt is a bit more Bohemian, having created a hippy with beard and flowers in his hair. It's peace and love and an average three points out of six.
“This looks interesting,” says Larry drolly, as he looks at Linda's not-so-good collage, which looks as if it was made while blindfolded. “It looks like the Blitz,” is Larry's verdict, as Jenny tactfully gives poor Linda two points for trying. Stanley's “self portrait” (Larry's words, not mine) doesn't look much better, although Jenny clearly begs to differ. She gives Stanley the highest mark of the round, awarding “Raymond” five points. Hey, Jenny's the expert, not me.
With Jenny promising to make a dried flower collage for Larry's Christmas, it's a tiebreaker already as both teams score seven points!
It's back to the old Hollywood days for the second game. What our intrepid heroes have to do is to guess the pin-up, which is made extra difficult by having the face masked off. The teams have only 30 seconds to make as many astute guesses as possible.
Roland and Carole get off to a good start, rightly guessing that the first picture is of Marlene Dietrich. Stanley and Linda incorrectly claim that it's Rosalind Russell, so no points. Neither side guesses Sophia Loren (not Ursula Andress or Raquel Welch as both team suggest).
Stanley and Linda, do however, guess the next image rightly as Betty Grable (Roland and Carole answer Diana Dors, who will become a regular guest in future editions). But Roland and Carole gain an advantage by getting the next two pin-ups right (Raquel Welch and Liza Minnelli), and while both teams guess that the last image is of Marilyn Monroe (some wag in the audience calls out the movie from which the picture was taken), Stanley and Linda are pipped at the post.
With 15 points, Roland and Carole are through to the final game. For now, it's commiseration door trophies of Stanley and Linda, and a lifetime of being mistaken for Reg Varney for Stan.
Third and Fourth Contestants
Marjorie Curtis and David Trevena (aunt and nephew)
Marjorie: A first aider in the St John's Ambulance Brigade, Marjorie likes to chill out by going for coastal walks in her local Redruth in Cornwall (which I can heartily recommend, having moved to Cornwall a few years ago). She has a Chihuahua called Pedro, although it's got a wonky leg – which could prove a problem if he wants to accompany Marjorie on one of her coastal walks.
Luckily, Larry has a good friend who's a vet – none other than Christopher Timothy. In the days before drearily chomping on his late wife's spam fritters and playing chess games with a bored chav (as Ted in the patience-testing EastEnders), Timothy was a big success in All Creatures Great And Small, which aired shortly after The Generation Game. Alas, Timothy can't do anything for Marjorie's dog, but the Cornish contestant enjoys meeting James Herriot himself.
David: Too bad that David wasn't here for the last show's Baked Alaska challenge, since he's a lecturer in bakery and confectionery. He's worked in some of the top London hotels, providing more than one “concoction in confectionery”.
The perils of recording 'as live' back in the 1970s are all too obvious when Larry mistakenly claims that David went on holiday some time ago. He didn't at all, causing much laughter in the audience. Larry – ever the pro – takes the fluff in his stride (“I got out of that alright, didn't I?”).
Paola and Giorgio Brugnoli (mother and son)
Paola: Hailing from Italy, Paola is now in Geordie land, running a fish and chip shop with her hubby. She once told a chap to get knotted after she thought that he had winked at her. In fact, he had a wonky eye (the revelation of which causes Larry to burst into unscripted laughter – as-live telly again!).
Giorgio: His full name is Giorgio Vincenzo Steven Brugnoli. He's the chap that went on holiday, not David. It's the sort of experience that Frank Spencer would have had, since Giorgio managed to collapse a curtain rail, pull a light from a wall, and cause the shower to flood the first floor of his hotel.
Last week's show saw a perennial favourite still on telly today, antiques. This week, it's another hoary old BBC favourite: gardening.
To be precise, this game needs you to know your spuds from puds and carrot tops from tank tops. It's all about guessing the right vegetables. Marjorie, David, Paola and Giorgio have just 30 seconds to guess the vegetable from looking at the tops of foliage.
To help guide the contestants through the right answers is gardening and Blue Peter legend, Percy Thrower. Viewers of a certain age may recall the damage done to poor old Percy's Blue Peter garden, causing a stern Janet Ellis to chide the evil vandals on one forlorn edition of the kids' magazine show. Percy even chucks in a few gardening tips and hints for the contestants as he reveals which vegetable is which.
To make this paragraph easier to type, the contestants kindly get most of the answers right, correctly identifying celery, carrots, beetroot and leeks. The only one they get wrong is the parsnip, mistaking it for a tomato or an endive. Which means that it's level pegging for the contestants at 12 points each.
Think of the Generation Game, and what springs to mind? Conveyor belt? Cuddly toy? The potter's wheel would make the list, and for your enlightenment and entertainment, here it is!
Marilyn Guy of the Gladstone Pottery Museum is here to challenge the quartet to neatly circle a cup and saucer with two neatly painted rings. Since Marilyn's been doing this job for 20 years, it's little wonder that she achieves this task without batting an eyelid. Apparently all you need is a steady hand and a constantly spinning wheel, and you'll go far.
That's the theory, but one minute and 15 seconds will test this to the limit for the foursome. Both Marjorie and Paola disregard Maz's advice to keep the wheel turning by stopping the device and then clumsily painting the cup and saucer by hand.
For the scores, points are awarded for the cup and saucer each. David sets the bar high with a “very, very good” effort, earning enthusiastic applause from the audience. He gets an impressive three and four points from Marilyn. Marjorie's on the other hand, looks like a kid sneaked in and painted the cup and saucer without anyone looking in. “You've done your best,” reassures Larry to Marjorie, who gets two points apiece.
Still, at least Marjorie fares slightly better than Paola and Giorgio, who get a vice versa combination of two and one points. Giorgio's attempt is described as “disastrous” - which is the same as Larry's own try-out. Painting around the edge of the cup in what seems like slow motion, he also manages to send the saucer clattering to the floor where it smashes into pieces. Maybe that's why Marilyn gets a very abrupt goodbye!
Alas, Giorgio's cup and saucer painting calamity is on a par with his holiday mishaps, causing himself and Paola to miss out on a place in the final, which this week involves...
The London Maori Club! Also seen in the June 1978 pilot, the London Maori Club perform a routine, which involves dancing with what's called Pois – effectively, a ball on a long, white string. The Maori dancers do the routine while spinning the Poi in time to the traditional song. Heather, the member of the Club, explains that the Poi routine tells a story – although in the case of the contestants, their story may not have a happy ending.
Drawing straws, Marjorie gets the long straw, and chooses to go first. Carole and Roland meanwhile venture into Larry's waiting room, which this week, leads to a New Zealand geyser. Hope they brought their brollies.
Marjorie and David perform the routine which is... unique, to say the least. We are treated to several close-ups of David's “WTF???” expression as he attempts to get the hang of the dance. Which isn't easy when he entangles himself with the Poi – he also drops one of the balls at one point.
Marjorie doesn't fare much better, not only also entangling herself, but whacking herself in the face with one of the Poi. Maybe she should have kept her specs on.
Roland and Carole do considerably better. Roland gets into the rhythm with great gusto, and while Carole makes the odd mistake, she's still a lot better than poor old Marjorie and David.
Having said that, like Heather says, it's very hard to accomplish the routine without plenty of training. I'm imagining myself trying the routine, and I'm picturing a box full of eggs on my face. But while Marjorie and David get 17 out of 20, it's Carole and Roland who sneak ahead by a whisker with their “extra good” attempt to earn 18 points.
Larry wants to swing the Pois about with Isla (it's the trailer clip on the Doctor Who Pirate Planet DVD), and inevitably, the host makes a hash of the routine. While he eventually gets into the routine (after pulling lots of puzzled faces), Isla manages to get herself hypnotised by the spinning Pois!
So it's goodbye to Marjorie and David who keep a dignified Pois (I'll get me coat) in farewell. They trot off back to Cornwall with Generation Game door trophies and runner up prizes of a writing set and leather briefcase.
Carole gets right in there with correct answers to the first man on the moon (Armstrong) and the Queen's granny (Mary). Roland leaves with a door and a slimline calculator/alarm stopwatch combi.
The Route To The Loot
“Open the doors!” orders Larry, who informs Carole that many glittering prizes will pass her by.
So what have we got this week? A record player... A tool box and tools... A typewriter... A clock radio... A silver decanter and tray... A cuddly polar bear... An electric toaster oven... Four pieces of bone china... An electric blanket... A deep fried pot... A coffee maker and flask... A mini vacuum cleaner... A dolls house... An electric kettle... A sleeping bag... Egg cups and an egg holder... A suitcase... A juice extractor... A soda siphon... and a fan heater!
What A Lot You Got?
Carole has “45 steconds... 45 seconds!” as Larry fluffs to remember as many goodies as she can.
Easily the best performer so far of the 1978 series, Carole powers through the prizes at a fair old speed. Unless my terrible hearing deceives me, she manages to remember everything apart from the vacuum cleaner. Very impressive!
That's all for now folks, it's left to Brucie to see whether his Big Night can live up to the hype!