Celebrities choose the TV moments that have shaped their lives. Gyles Brandreth reminisces about the early TV moments that helped set him on the path to fame.
Browse content similar to Gyles Brandreth. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Telly - that magic box in the corner.
It gives us access to a million different worlds
all from the comfort of our sofa.
'In this series, I'm going to journey through the fantastic world
'of TV with some of our favourite celebrities.
'They've chosen the precious TV moments that shed light...'
-Figure that one out.
-It's called scone pizza.
'..on the stories of their lives.'
I used to go mental if a swimmer was on. It would just make my life!
'Some are funny.'
-Oh, my word!
-There's been a murder.
My mother didn't laugh that much. It was hard going.
But, God, she laughed at that.
'Some are inspiring...'
In all of those programmes, in different ways,
-there's something special going on.
-'..and many are deeply moving.'
-The death of John F. Kennedy...
Now, we can't imagine what it was like
to receive such devastating news then.
'So come watch with us as we hand-pick the vintage telly
'that helped turn our much-loved stars
'into the people they are today.'
Welcome to The TV That Made Me.
My guest today is a much-loved broadcaster and renowned brainbox.
Now, back in the '80s, he was brightening up our mornings
with his jazzy jumpers on the breakfast show TV-am...
..but Gyles Brandreth is just as comfortable
in the House of Commons as he is on our breakfast telly.
He served as a government whip during his five years
as an MP in the early '90s and the TV that shaped him
includes a royal coronation...
'Prince Charles and Princess Anne waving, there
'just as their mother did...'
-What time is it?
-'..and a comedy rag-and-bone team.'
-Have you loaded the car?
-Well, what are you hanging about for? Go on. Get your finger out.
It can only be the one and only - Gyles Brandreth is with us today.
-It's good to be with you.
-Are you excited about what we have in store for you?
-I'm quite excited.
I'm not very good at looking back.
I prefer to look forward, but I'm ready to look back.
OK. Well, I'm glad you're ready because it's a celebration.
It's a selection of TV classics that made you into, possibly,
-the man you are today, Gyles.
Gyles was born in March 1948 in a British forces hospital in Germany,
where his father was serving as a legal officer.
The family soon moved back to England, settling in London,
and the young Gyles was enrolled at Bedales boarding school.
His love of performing and politics shone through from a young age.
Even before he was in his teens he began treading the boards
and dabbling in politics, and in 1964, during the general election,
Gyles even stood as a Lib Dem candidate
in his school's mock elections.
Well, it feels strange to see a fellow there with hair.
It's quite alarming.
The 1950s was a golden time to be a child,
and it reminds me, actually, of what a good, secure upbringing I had.
I was very lucky in my parents. I truly did have a wonderful childhood.
So, I'm going to take you back to your earliest memory now.
The Queen's coronation.
Yep. In the early 1950s, I was living in London with my parents.
We lived in a block of flats in South Kensington.
We, and a whole raft of families around the country,
got, for the first time, a television set for the coronation.
-I was five years of age, and this machine came into the house.
It was quite small with a very small screen,
-and it took a LONG time to warm up.
And then when you turned it off it took a long time to go away.
Shall we have a little look at the Queen's coronation?
-I'd love to.
-Your choice. First choice, here it is.
Gyles and the Queen's coronation.
CROWD SING: "God Save the Queen"
I mean, it was a huge outside broadcast, a triumph for the BBC.
This was the most watched television in the history of television,
when this was first broadcast.
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on the 2nd of June 1953.
Never before had a British monarch's coronation been televised.
For most of us, this was the moment broadcasting technology
found its way into our homes and our lives for the first time.
Up and down the UK, families rushed out to buy their first TV set,
so they could watch this historic event,
boosting TV ownership by almost 50%.
Over 20 million people in the UK tuned in.
With only 2.1 million television sets in the country,
at least nine people were crowded around each one,
trying to catch a glimpse of the new Queen.
This was the birth, in a sense, of popular television
in the United Kingdom, was the coronation.
And, of course, it was quite controversial, it being broadcast at all.
There were a lot of people who felt it was wrong to broadcast
something as solemn and sacred as the coronation,
and the most sacred moment of the coronation,
you don't actually see the Queen.
So you see her as she arrives, you see the service,
-but when the holy oil is anointed on the Queen...
..that was considered a sacred moment, and was not broadcast,
and there was an archbishop at the time who said, "I don't think
"they should be showing this on television, because it could be
-"watched in public houses with people wearing their hats."
Well, the idea of people watching the Queen
while keeping their hats on was considered very shocking...
Look, there! And there is Prince Charles.
Prince Charles is exactly the same age as me.
He's just had a tougher life.
Your second choice, Gyles, is something you used to watch
as a young little Brandreth.
As a little Brandreth in the mansion flat in London,
sitting with my mother, I watched with mother.
Aw. Let's have a little look, shall we?
'First, out came their little faces,
'smiling all over.
'Then their little hands, with big garden gloves on.
'They both turned round and saw each other.'
-I think everything is explained by this.
My whole life is explained by this.
This is what I watched during my formative years.
THEY SPEAK GOBBLEDYGOOK
-Bill and Ben. They were heroic figures, Bill and Ben.
I assume Bill was the one sitting on the left and Ben was on the right...
It's a bit like Ant and Dec. You're not quite sure.
You're never quite sure which one is performing at any one time,
and the voice was incomprehensible. There was a tortoise that came along, wasn't there?
At one point. It used to slow the whole thing up.
It used take ages to come on...
THEY MIMIC BILL AND BEN
THEY SPEAK GOBBLEDYGOOK
Every day, Watch With Mother had different characters,
and this was by far my favourite.
The flowerpot men spoke in their own strange language
called Oddle Poddle, which was created
by the voice of the Doctor Who Daleks, Peter Hawkins.
The puppetry in these short programmes was basic,
with the flowerpot men's strings clearly visible -
though this did not seem to affect the magic of the show.
The series was part of Watch With Mother, which ran for 22 years,
and included the pre-school puppet show
The Woodentops, which depicted the everyday lives of a family
of wooden dolls who lived on a farm.
I never got the Woodentops.
What did you think of the acting in the Woodentops?
I have to say, Daddy Woodentop was quite a sinister figure, as far as I'm concerned.
Hello, young fellow. I hear you've been a bad boy.
Oh, no, you don't, young man.
I think he's been drinking. Look, he's all over the place.
There was something about him I really did not like.
He wasn't like I imagine a father to be.
Look what I found when I was digging this morning.
One of your old bones.
This was a more innocent time.
Ventriloquists appeared, and you saw their lips move.
Bill and Ben appeared, you saw the strings
-pulling them out of the flowerpots.
-It was marvellous.
There's something wonderful about it, and I have to say,
still, I think anything on television that's in black and white
is automatically going to be better than anything in colour.
-Yeah. And sometimes to improve a programme,
I now change the contrast to take away the colour
and turn it into black and white and immediately it seems better.
-It is the truth.
-The truth! Oh, yeah.
Well, should we do it now? Should we do it now?
Here's my invisible contrast button.
-Look at that.
-What do you think? It's a lot better.
-I like my shirt.
-I like the look.
-What do you think?
-I don't think it's...
-No, honestly, I do like it.
-Black and white suits you.
And I think what would be interesting
is if we could do the puppets.
Oh, we could be strings attached.
THEY MIMIC BILL AND BEN
-I tell you who we don't want to be.
-No. Well, I think he'd been drinking.
He was all over the place. He was, he was like...
-Come on, sit down.
Let's bring it back, let's bring it back.
So, you had a fond love of bears, I believe.
Well... Monday - Andy Pandy, Looby Loo and Teddy,
and I think Teddy was the bear that introduced me
to my fascination with the teddy bear, which has gone on all my life.
I have a collection of teddy bears,
and my very favourite television teddy is undoubtedly this one.
-What have you...?
-I brought this to show you.
To watch TV with us...
here is the original television Paddington Bear.
Isn't that amazing? I'm so pleased you brought this in.
Now this... In the 1970s, Paddington Bear appeared first on television.
The stories were told by a great actor, Sir Michael Hordern.
-Shall we put him down here?
-You can put him down there.
And this is the original Paddington who appeared in those television
programmes, and these programmes were made by a company called FilmFair.
-Can I hold him?
-You can hold him.
-Oh, look at that.
And the FilmFair was a company that was run by a man
-called Graham Clutterbuck. That's a good name, isn't it?
And Graham Clutterbuck had been in the Army with my dad,
and so my dad managed to secure for me the original Paddington Bear
through his friend Mr Clutterbuck.
This is the oldest and earliest Paddington Bear in the world,
now sitting in his armchair, on your sofa, Brian.
I like the fact you're getting quite emotional about it.
Well, I have to say, I was a member of parliament for a while,
and sometimes people used to mock me.
They would say, "Gosh, this enthusiasm for teddy bears...
"You know, you want to be a member of parliament,
"and you're waxing lyrical about teddy bears."
I said, "When you think of the hobbies that some members of parliament have,
"you should be grateful that I'm an enthusiast for teddy bears."
-But... Do you know?
I think it's quite important in life, not to be childish,
but to sometimes be childlike, and to keep in touch with your childhood.
-I agree, I agree.
-And the concept of Watch With Mother
was one where you actually sat down and had a quiet time
with your mum, sharing something together.
Gyles, we're going to move onto your Family Favourite now,
something you used to watch as a family.
You haven't really spoken much about the arrangement within the house.
Yeah. My father would come home from work relatively...
At a relatively good time, I think, about 6.30, 7.
And we would have supper at the table in the kitchen.
I don't think we ate in front of the television in those days.
And then we would come in and settle down to watch a programme.
And I think it was Sunday nights
that we would watch my parents' favourite,
which became our favourite, which was a programme called What's My Line?
Aah, yes. We have that for you now.
So this will take you back to your parents' favourite,
What's My Line?
Once again, you're welcome to What's My Line?
and let's straightaway introduce the panel. Top of the table we have...
Eamonn Andrews, who also presented a children's programme
-..and therefore was a very...
Can I? Crackerjack! Moving on.
Yeah. ..was a very good crossover performer because, as it were,
he had his children's audience through Crackerjack,
and then there was a family audience for this show here.
-He was Mr Television in the 1950s.
What's My Line? was a game show format from America
that hit television screens in the UK in July 1951.
The show was hosted by the Irish presenter Eamonn Andrews,
and featured regular panellists guessing the occupation
of various members of the public.
The series was renowned for its classy style,
with the men donning tuxedos and the women in ball gowns.
By the time it left our screens for good in 1963, it had achieved
an incredible 12 million viewers for its Sunday night slot.
Pull in your chair there, and we will show you at home
what Mrs Fiorita Morris does for a living.
Do you give a service?
-You do. Is it a service you could give to me?
-Yes. I don't think those sorts of jokes were intended.
-No, I know.
But you see, Eammon Andrews is wearing his dinner suit...
-Look at that.
-..and every wrong answer scores a point.
-He would place into his computer.
Oh! Oh, this is Lady Isobel Barnett.
Do you yourself entertain the public?
-Is there anything like mind-reading concerned?
Lady Isobel Barnett was effortlessly elegant.
She lived in Leicestershire, she was a doctor - she was a GP -
and this was the beginning of television royalty, the 1950s.
Television was now spreading out across the country.
In the mid-1950s you get ITV as well.
Now, by the end of the 1950s, everybody's got a TV set,
and these people on this programme become TV royalty,
and Lady Isobel Barnett is... You're not going to meet
Princess Margaret or the Queen but you might have Lady Isobel Barnett
opening your local church fair.
So would you enjoy watching
-something like this with your parents?
-Very much a family thing?
-Very much a family thing, but not chatting.
-None of this Gogglebox stuff, talking, non-stop commentary.
-I wasn't allowed to talk over anything on the TV.
A certain respect would be shown to What's My Line?
So it became an event. Everything was an event.
Everything was an event, and ly,
we still try to create an event.
When our grandchildren come round to watch a movie on television,
we do what we did with our children.
We draw the curtains, turn the lights down,
they make little tickets, they sell the tickets at the door...
-I think it's worth making it a sense of occasion.
We're moving onto Inspirational Television now for you,
and for me too. I mean, it was a must-see.
It revolutionised the way we looked at politics.
I'm not going to say any more, only that it's
That Was The Week That Was.
# That Was the Week That Was
# It's over How it fled
# McNamara's week it was... #
Now, this was a hugely controversial programme.
You've got to remember, the 1950s was an era of respect and deference.
Politicians would appear on television, and the interviewer would
simply say, "Prime Minister, tell me about your plans for the country."
And then the Prime Minister would speak for a few moments, and then the interviewer would say,
"Thank you, Prime Minister, for sparing us the time to talk."
And that began to change towards the end of the 1950s.
Interviewers like Robin Day came along.
But it really changed in the 1960s, and the advent
of That Was The Week That Was, starring David Frost
and a whole raft of people -
Willie Rushton, Lance Percival, Roy Kinnear... That changed everything.
At the request, we're told, of Mrs Jackie Kennedy,
the Mona Lisa is now on the high seas in a plastic bag...
..en route to be exhibited in Washington.
Now, why was Mrs Kennedy so keen?
Are we going to be in for a spate of news pictures like this?
Still, at least that would be better than if the Mona Lisa
were to be returned to the Louvre looking like this.
That Was The Week That Was was presented by David Frost,
and first appeared on the BBC in 1962
after a decade of Conservative government.
The show was loosely based on a pilot idea of satirical sketches
created by Peter Cook.
Never before had politics and comedy
merged on our screens. The results were revolutionary.
BBC executives were nervous about airing the show during
the election year of 1964, and it was cancelled
after only two series.
-It was the birth of TV satire, completely.
And it was also the beginning of the age when deference was over,
when we actually could cross-question politicians,
not accept what they had to say, send them up rotten,
make fun of public life.
It coincided with Beyond the Fringe in the theatre,
it coincided with the '60s, the end of censorship,
the arrival of the controversial book Lady Chatterley's Lover
being published, with all those four-letter words in it.
The world was changing, and this show exemplified it.
What satire has been around since that has impressed you,
that you've enjoyed?
Well, the problem with the world as it now is,
is who needs satire when you've got the real thing?
That is, in a sense, a difficult one...
I was an MP in the 1990s, when John Major was the Prime Minister,
and I was in the whip's office then,
and I published a diary of my time in the whip's office,
and it was recently reissued, and people were reading it saying,
"This is House of Cards brought to life. This is..."
Mock the Week couldn't mock enough for what the people,
the guys themselves do.
You know? Caught with their trousers down, their hand in the till...
You couldn't make it up. But it all began,
the exposing of politics, all began with That Was The Week That Was.
Since That Was the Week That Was,
we have enjoyed a wealth of political satire.
The Frost Report, from 1966,
the unapologetic Not the Nine O'Clock News, from 1979.
From the '80s, the grotesque puppetry of Spitting Image,
and Rory Bremner, starring Bird and Fortune,
who had worked with Peter Cook on his original sketch show,
and by the 1990s, we had Brass Eye and The Day Today,
which introduced us to Alan Partridge and Chris Morris.
And, lastly, the political panel show Have I Got News For You,
which we've been enjoying for over 25 years.
It's curious seeing all these programmes,
because it's making me realise that my whole life is actually
based on what happened to me between 1950 and 1962.
There has been no development, no progress of any kind.
We're going to move onto your dad's favourite programme now.
-Do you remember what it was?
-My father was allowed his moment of comedy during the week.
My dad loves Steptoe and Son, and I did too.
Steptoe and Son, written by Galton and Simpson, who had written
Hancock's Half Hour, which was the classic television comedy
of the 1950s.
This was their next big success, and it's about a rag-and-bone man,
-father and son. It's an amazing...
-Ran for 12 years.
-Yeah. Let's have a little look. Steptoe and Son.
You lazy old devil.
Look at him.
The sleeping beauty.
You see? Black and white. You know it's going to be good.
Old man, weak heart.
Died in his sleep.
No-one would miss him.
I'll be free.
I could get out!
And the business would be mine.
No-one would know.
Oh! Hello, Dad!
I was just going to put this behind your head and make you comfortable.
-Have I been asleep? What time is it?
-Five past four.
This is very depressing, cos my wife tells me constantly, she says,
"You're looking more and more like Steptoe Senior
"every time I look at you."
-Look! Look at him!
-Go on, get your finger out. Go on.
Go out and unload it. What are you standing about for?
The hilarious squabbles of scruffy Albert Steptoe and his aspirational
son, Harold, brought working-class comedy to the nation in 1962.
Along with Tony Hancock and Sid James, they helped inspire
a rich tradition of sitcoms featuring two blokes
who don't always see eye to eye.
From Del Boy and Rodney Trotter trying to make their millions
in Only Fools and Horses...
..to Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's comedy relationship
in the 2005 series Extras.
More recently, the comedy duo Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan
hit our screens in The Trip, a mockumentary
that followed the bickering pair on their foodie adventures.
What did your dad love so much about this?
I think he loved the characters,
but the wit, the cleverness of the language...
What's interesting about the dad, Wilfrid Brambell,
is you see how awful he looks, there? This gnarled old figure...
HE IMITATES STEPTOE All that going on.
When you see him in the street - tall, elegant, a dandy.
-So, he was a good actor?
-They were both wonderful actors.
And people of my parents' generation, who'd come through
the war in the 1940s - in the 1950s, there was a country
that had all done that together.
All types of people, middle-class people like my parents,
the toffs, people like Steptoe and Son,
working people, actually had a shared experience,
and that made for a united country, more so perhaps then than now.
Gyles, I wish to take you back now.
You and Paddington, back to 1968, I believe.
You were at university. This was your first big break in television.
I first appeared, I think, in 1968,
in a programme featuring Kenneth Tynan,
a controversial figure, the man who first used the four-letter word
-Yes. He had been a celebrated figure
at Oxford in the 1940s.
He came to Oxford in the 1960s, and chose me as the equivalent of him
20 years later - as a, sort of, darling of Oxford in 1968.
So I made this TV show.
It would be amazing if we had a clip from that, wouldn't it?
Well, I fear that it was wiped.
Within university, I suppose, I'm a professional dilettante
in the sense that I am interested in a whole range of things,
in journalism, in the theatre, in the union, and in each of them,
I don't... On purpose, I'm not very earnest.
I don't take it very seriously.
-This is interesting.
-And when did you last see this?
I've never seen it.
I'm putting on a play. What am I doing?
A pantomime, because I want to do a pantomime, cos it's fun,
and we're young and it doesn't really matter.
Oh, my God, this is embarrassing.
One entertains them.
One writes amusing columns, because this is light...
Oh, this is agony!
I said I thought it was wiped, because clearly I HOPED it was wiped!
You could hardly believe, he's 19 years of age, this boy.
-You're defending him now, aren't you?
-19! Bless him.
He's 19 going on 60.
'The rising generation marches breast-forward into the future.'
Now, this is a good sequence.
-I've not seen this. I've only seen stills of this.
I never watched this, cos, of course, we didn't have recorded programmes.
-So it went out live.
-Now, why was I doing that?
Yes, please, tell me.
This was a programme about Oxford University.
And a famous English writer called Max Beerbohm wrote a novel
called Zuleika Dobson, about a hero who kept falling in love with girls
and when it was unrequited, he would drown himself,
throw himself into the river.
So I was recreating the Oxford of an earlier era,
walking straight into the river.
I don't regret my years at Oxford,
because when I was at Oxford, I produced a pantomime,
as I mentioned, there - Cinderella.
And I invited... I put up notices all over the university
looking for a Cinderella, saying, "If you are young and beautiful
"and think you have the qualities to make you a fairytale princess,
"please come to this room on this day."
And all sorts of young lovelies came to audition for the part,
and to one of them, I said, "Would you mind staying behind?"
And she did stay behind.
And that was 47 years ago.
-That was of course your wife.
That was indeed my wife, Michelle, who amazingly met me
when I looked like and sounded like that.
Do you think TV made you?
Well, I think it's improved me.
You hope, as the years go by, maybe, that you've learnt
something along the way.
I suspect I'm probably exactly that same person,
but without the hair, and without the glasses.
-Have you enjoyed today?
-It's definitely been an emotional rollercoaster.
There's a value to all these programmes.
There's humour, intelligence, charm, wit.
In all of those programmes, in different ways,
there's something special going on.
-Gyles, what do you watch now, then?
-Well, I love watching The One Show.
-I like watching Countdown.
-I wonder why, I wonder why.
-And actually I like watching Kirstie & Phil.
-I've got the hots for Kirstie.
She's my kind of woman. Yeah.
I want to thank you for being my guest.
On the show we give our guests the opportunity
to pick a theme tune to go out with.
What is it going to be? What would you like us to play out with today?
-What would be your theme tune?
-I think it's got to be...
Dedicating this, as it were, to the memory of my parents...
I can hear in the background my mother's knitting needles
clacking away as we play the theme tune of Steptoe and Son.
-My thanks to you.
-Thank you, Brian.
My thanks to little Paddington, and my thanks to YOU
for watching The TV That Made Me. We'll see you next time. Bye-bye.
MUSIC: Old Ned by Ron Grainer
Broadcaster and brainbox Gyles Brandreth joins entertainer Brian Conley to reminisce about the early TV moments that helped set him on the path to fame and make him one of our best-loved television personalities.
From the coronation of Queen Elizabeth to a much-loved quiz show, and from one of the earliest children's TV shows on our tellies to some truly groundbreaking political satire, all of Gyles's favourites have one perhaps surprising thing in common - tune in to find out what.