Celebrities choose the TV moments that have shaped their lives. Vanessa Feltz takes a nostalgic look at the TV that helped set her on the path to small-screen stardom.
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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...
-She seems like a nice girl though.
-Look at that.
..on the stories of their lives.
# Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb. #
Some are funny...
-Could you do the chanting?
-I could do...
HE CHANTS GIBBERISH
-I was mortified.
-Some are inspiring...
-I am not a number. I'm a free man.
Did George Orwell get his predictions right?
-It's all so dramatic!
-..are deeply moving.
..and heads down the beach towards almost certain death.
All of us, weeping.
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 one of the hardest working broadcasters I know.
Her first TV appearance was on This Morning as a guest.
She moved swiftly onto her own talk show on ITV.
Yes, it's the extraordinary Vanessa Feltz,
the celebrity we can't get enough of.
Her talk shows have made her the nation's agony aunt,
she's appeared on everything from Celebrity Big Brother
to Strictly Come Dancing and, if that's not enough,
she's one of the best radio broadcasters in the land.
The TV that made her includes windswept men with big whiskers
-romancing the high seas...
-A useful present, General.
..and a trip down memory lane, with the musical mayhem that was
The Good Old Days.
Nice to city varieties, to city varieties...
It can only be the one and only Vanessa Feltz.
-Here you are.
-Do you feel one and only?
I don't think there are many others. I've never met another one.
-Are you excited about today?
-I really, really am looking forward
to this cos I'm secretly hoping
to get to watch some of the things that my parents would never let me
-and I don't know if you're going to let me.
-Oh, we will. I think you're old enough now.
-I do hope so.
We're going to let you watch a lot of stuff
because this is a collection of your classic clips
that we feel made you into the person you are today.
I'm sure you're right, actually.
I'm sure TV was a really massive influence in my life.
We watched tonnes of it.
Well, we are going to rewind the clock now
-and have a look at a very young Vanessa Feltz.
Vanessa Feltz is the eldest of two daughters
born to mum Valerie and dad Norman.
Norman ran a lingerie business, supplying fine undergarments
to discerning ladies, whilst Valerie brought up the girls,
worked on arts and crafts projects
and attended the London School of Economics.
Vanessa lived in the little village of Totteridge,
a place that hung onto its idyllic leafiness, despite being
only a cab-ride away from the centre of London town.
Vanessa, we're going to start with your earliest TV memory.
It's Friday, it's five to five, it could only be...
You always knew the weekend was here when Crackerjack came on.
The concept was simple.
Every week, Britain's youngsters were invited
to the best kids' party ever...
..with the messiest games, the best prizes and the funniest performers.
-It's called a tele-bone.
And the party went on for an amazing 29 years
between 1955 and 1984.
Well, if you think that was a mess, let's see what we can do
with our next victims as we play another Crackerjack game.
Crackerjack Friday, five to five...
Crackerjack, and you could legitimately shriek the name.
Every time the word "Crackerjack" was said,
you had to say, "Crackerjack!"
and my mother didn't like us shouting that much.
-Should we do it together?
So, this was religious viewing for you?
Oh, this was just fantastic.
I was absolutely desperate for a Crackerjack pencil.
I didn't know how you would get one.
I couldn't really imagine what it was cos it sounded so special,
I couldn't think it was just an ordinary pencil.
It must have done something magic.
-It's time now once again to play Double Or Drop.
I remember this.
-They were the cabbages!
-What a great game, actually.
Here's the first question, then, going to our champion Crispin.
We try and start off with a nice easy one.
-Ed "Stewpot" Stewart.
In My Fair Lady, what was the name of a flower girl
who was taught to speak properly by Professor Higgins?
-My Fair Lady.
-Come on. Eliza Doolittle. Anyone knows that.
All right, Vanessa, calm down. We're only having a laugh.
-Anybody out there know?
-BOTH: Eliza Doolittle!
Give me a Crackerjack pencil, right now.
Eliza Doolittle. First cabbage, then.
First cabbage and then you had to really hope
your neck was long enough.
People with a long neck succeeded in this game.
-So, if they dropped, they were out?
Two more cabbages, there. Have you got it?
So, how upset were you that you never got this magical Crackerjack pen?
-I'm still really upset.
-Do you think this is the early Vanessa thinking,
"Hey, I would love to present. I would love to be..."?
I'd love to be on it, in it.
I'd love to be introducing it, give me a pencil.
Just let me have a piece of it, please.
Why am I just sitting in Totteridge on an armchair
staring at this thing? I want to be there!
The first presenter to encourage us to scream, "Crackerjack"
was Eamonn Andrews, who went on to become famous
for his big red book on This Is Your Life.
But he wasn't the only Crackerjack inmate to break out
of children's TV. Oh, no.
Ronnie Corbett appeared on the show in the '50s, before going on to
team up with the other Ronnie and become a national treasure.
Michael Aspel was the straight man to Don McLean and Peter Glaze
in the '60s and '70s, and then took over the red book
from Eammon Andrews.
And in the '80s, well, Crackerjack belonged to Jannette and Ian
AKA The Krankies. Fan-dabi-dozi.
So, what was early life like for the Vanessa Feltz?
I mean, where was your telly in your lounge?
Our telly was in... Well, it was quite funny really
cos we had this very small room, which was called the study,
and it was book-lined and it was called the study cos my parents
had genuinely read the books, they're very literary...
They were very intellectual and very concerned
that we should study and read and not watch telly.
And there we were, watching the telly,
ignoring the books but somehow pretending
that cos it was called "study",
we were secretly reading, but we weren't.
My father used to have a copy of the New Statesman on his lap,
while really avidly watching The Golden Shot.
-Did he have ambitions for you?
I suppose... I think they wanted me to be a celebrated female author,
or something like that, or someone of a very...
Well, you've achieved that.
-Yeah, you're celebrated.
-I'm not sure about that, no.
I think when I ended up on daytime telly,
they were a bit shocked, really.
-Were they disappointed?
-I think, yes.
I think they struggled to pretend to be proud.
I think they felt that I had sold myself terribly short
and should be doing something much, much more brainy, really.
I think they thought I should have been
a professor of English literature at Cambridge or something like that.
Cos you did go to college?
I went off to Cambridge but, really, my heart was still in the telly.
So, as a family now, this is your family favourite,
something you've chosen that ran for 91 episodes, would you believe?
-I'm not going to say any more but The Onedin Line.
Look at that. I mean, we loved it!
The Onedin Line followed the shipping business fortunes
of Captain James Onedin from 1971 to 1980.
After a slow start, it was nominated for a BAFTA
and rather appropriately became the BBC's flagship drama.
And, like Onedin's ships, the show circumnavigated the globe,
selling to 70 countries worldwide.
He dies unless you come forward!
-Captain James Onedin, look at him!
He was sort of grumpy but sexy.
I might have been too young to know he was sexy, but I liked him.
-Yes, he was formidable,
he was northern, he had a bluff accent.
He was just all man, wasn't he?
-Get below, Anne!
-That's his wife. She was plain but true, steadfast, honest...
..strong, long-suffering, and all that type of thing.
-Oh, look at those sideburns!
-Look at him there. Rugged!
-He looks like he's on a mobile phone.
-Sexy, very sexy, very rugged.
-There's a lot of facial hair going on. A lot.
So, religiously as a family, you would watch this while your mother pumped out eight doilies?
We really loved it. Mum was knitting doilies and we really loved it.
I'm not quite sure why we liked it so much. I think...
-It's from a different era, isn't it?
-Yeah, we like the clothes a lot,
we quite liked the foreign travel bit of it all.
My father was importing knickers and bras from the Far East and we felt
a certain affinity for things coming over on a boat, I suppose.
Fabulously dramatic, though, wasn't it, for a Sunday evening?
What sort of thing would you eat when you were watching something like this?
Well, Sunday night, my mother... She doesn't cook on a Sunday night,
so it always had to be something on toast.
-Do you remember the days when it was always something on toast?
Is it true that, when you were young,
you used to like a plate of oranges?
My mum did not wish me to be a little podge girl,
a little podgy sort of a girl, she wanted to keep me nice and slim,
so to that end she would do this thing about,
"We don't eat in-between meals and, no, you must not have a snack."
My sister was really, really skinny, so I used to either bribe,
pay or force my sister to go and ask my mother for an orange.
My sister was allowed to have one.
I was supposed to wait for the next meal, so I didn't get fat.
So my sister, at a price, would sell me an orange
from my own parents' fruit bowl
and I was always peckish, like I always am now.
-I could always just murder an orange...
-Wait, one sec.
Oh, yeah. I've got to go back. I'm off to the kitchen.
-Where's he gone? What are you doing?
Vanessa Feltz, we have some oranges for you.
Am I allowed to just eat as many oranges as I want?
-You don't have to bribe me.
-Oh, thank you.
We can leave them there if you so wish.
I used to hide the peel behind the books in the...
My dad instilled a real healthy ironic response to things.
So, when it was advert and it said, whatever it was,
I don't know, K Skips are lighter,
so if you wore K Shoes, you somehow jumped in a light way
and bounded through the traffic, my father would say,
"Do you really think so? Do you think she really jumps
"two feet in the air cos she's wearing those shoes?"
We had a little perspective. We didn't believe everything just cos it was on telly.
I think it very nicely dovetails us into a commercial break now
because this is something that maybe got your father's goat.
Have a little look at this.
# The choice you want
# At the prices you want... #
Look at the goods, though.
Amid the recession and strikes of the late '70s,
sales at Woolworths slumped.
The series of ads called the Wonder of Woolworths aimed to boost sales
and bring a little more glamour to our lives.
They succeeded on both counts.
The Woolworths ads became national events.
They were the most expensive,
most star-studded spectaculars of their time.
-That's Anita Harris!
# On our Christmas tree... #
-Oh, Kenny Everett. God bless him.
# High fidelity... #
-Look at this. Where else would you want to go shopping?
-Look at that.
There's nowhere else you'd ever want to go.
Everything you could possibly want on earth in one shop.
# Whoo, whoo... #
My dad used to supply Woolworths with really cheap ladies' knickers
and things. The wonder of Woolworths.
We liked coupling the word "wonder" with the word "Woolworths"
because we had a really local Woolworths
in Whetstone, London, N20.
And I wouldn't say that, when you walked through the door,
the first thing you felt was wonder.
-That's probably why they're not there now.
No, that's why they're not.
Although, people were so devastated when Woolworths bit the dust
and everyone nostalgically remembered the pic'n'mix,
the records, of course...
-And the underwear.
-Well, I don't that was much to write home about,
to tell you the truth.
It probably put us through a couple of weeks of school,
I suppose. But I think we watched it with a bit of irony
and thought it was really hilarious, and it was, wasn't it?
What did your parents enjoy watching?
Well, you see, there were various things they pretended
they enjoyed watching, like Panorama and serious documentaries
and things on BBC Two, but I just remember them
watching all sorts of variety programmes.
Morecambe & Wise, everyone absolutely adored,
The Two Ronnies,
The Brothers. Do you remember,
about the Hammond brothers in the haulage business?
-If I'm honest, no.
-Oh, we used to love that.
That was really terrific. So I think they used to watch
a hell of a lot of TV, but my mum was a little bit snooty.
I think it would be fair to say, a little bit snooty, and every time
Bruce Forsyth came onto the television,
-which, of course, he always did...
-And still does.
-..and still does.
-And, you know, I did Strictly in 2013
and to work with him was one of the absolute joys of my entire life,
but I just remember my mother saying, "Talentless.
"Can't sing, can't dance, not funny, not good-looking."
To Bruce Forsyth!
Well, what do you think your mother would have said to this clip
of Bruce on The Good Old Days?
-That's Leonard Sachs.
And he used to use those wonderful long words - I adored them.
Avuncular harbinger of uninhibited hilarity,
none other than Mr Bruce Forsyth!
Oh, look at Brucie.
Nice to City Varieties, to City Varieties...
The Good Old Days was a national institution,
broadcasting on the BBC for 30 years.
It celebrated the spirit of Great British
music hall entertainment that inspired so much of our TV.
-I love the hat, dear.
-Yes, like a blancmange gone wrong.
And amazingly, the moustachioed host Leonard Sachs
was there from the first year to the last,
from 1954 right up to '83.
-Leonard, there you are!
-I've been looking all over for you.
Well, I'm always here.
-We will now sing hymn number 605.
-And look how the audience got to dress up.
-Oh, I miss this show.
I think my mother would just be saying, "Turn over.
"Go and do your Latin homework.
"He'll never succeed in this business. He's just not funny."
What do you think of Bruce?
-I think Bruce is absolutely fantastic.
-Yeah, he's a legend.
I think he's incredibly quick-witted,
-I think he's a really good dancer.
-And I think he's funny.
I think he's brilliant, but my mother just didn't get him at all.
-So Bruce obviously hosted the show when you were doing Strictly.
Your experience of that, what did you take from that?
I was honoured to even be on the same stage as him.
In fact, so much so that on the very first night, when you just come down
and all you're going to do is be is introduced, that's it. You don't have to dance or anything,
you should have to stand. As I got down the stairs,
I could literally hardly breathe from the nerves
of knowing that I was going to do that thing with Bruce
because we've all grown up with him.
It was absolutely extraordinary.
I used to worry that I would veer totally out of control
and go skidding across the floor, knocking Brucie over,
and I'd be known forever as the woman who felled Brucie.
The whole thing was very nerve-racking but also very lovely.
I was very lucky to do it.
-So I want to move on now to taboo television.
Something that... Your parents would have died
if they knew you were watching this.
-I wasn't allowed to watch it!
So this is the first time...
Oh, come on.
This is a seminal experience in my life, right?
The show was called Bouquet of Barbed Wire.
It was the sexiest thing ever
because the mother-in-law had an affair with the son-in-law....
-..and the father, played by Frank Finlay,
really seemed, I don't know if I'm allowed to even say this on television,
but seemed to have a bit of a thing for his own daughter...
-..played by Susan Penhaligon.
And I'll never forget it.
And mostly I won't forget it because every time the going got saucy,
my parents made me leave the room, just when it got great!
-Just when it was really happening!
-You had to go to bed?
They made me go and stand in the hall, which had no central heating.
And I'd stand in the hall, freezing to death, with my ear
stuck against the door of the study, where the TV was,
just straining to hear, "What is he doing to her?
"And how is he doing it? And is that his mother-in-law? Is that his...?
"What? What?" And then, when the sexy bit was finished,
-they let me come back in.
-Shall we have a little look?
-Here's a little clip.
ITV's adaptation of Andrea Newman's novel Bouquet of Barbed Wire
didn't hold back from saucy scenes of secret hanky-panky
in a middle-class family.
In fact, it was difficult to keep up
with who was doing what with whom.
What we did know was that this was seriously good drama
and that for its time, Bouquet was way ahead
of any other programme on the box.
-No wonder I wanted to watch it!
-The long, hot summer of '76.
I was 14, desperate to know about this kind of thing.
I wrote an extra long letter to the twins.
I suppose I hoped the gods wouldn't punish me.
That's the mother-in-law, there.
-Let me come to the house.
Look what's happening. She's got her eyes closed,
she's leaning against a silver birch tree, as we all did in those days.
Look at that! There was always a silver birch tree you could lean against.
I'm in love with her but I don't understand her.
I'm 14 at this point. I want to know what happens next.
-I don't want to stand in the hall.
-Get out, get out.
Oh, please, don't make me.
-Oh! Press pause! Don't, don't! No!
-Look, that's his mother-in-law!
You should be in the hall.
-Do I have to do go and stand in the hall?
-Get out now.
-Can't I just watch five minutes more?
-Just two minutes more?
-Oh, please! Please, please. I'll be on my best behaviour.
-But I've done my Latin homework. I've done it.
-HE SIGHS Please.
-I'm upset with you now.
-Do I have to stand in the hall?
Yes, go and stand in the hall while we watch the kiss.
While we watch the kiss.
Thank you, Vanessa. We're watching the kiss.
-Tell me when I can come back in!
-OK. One moment.
All right, you can come back in. You can come back in!
God, I always come back in when it's all over.
I'm sorry about that, but it had to be.
You're not allowed to watch passionate moments.
Smouldering, wasn't it?
There were hormones just fizzing through the TV.
The series was a catalyst for...
-..sex, let's be honest.
Don't say that word to me, a woman of my respectable age and standing.
-Do you think it provoked many other series, spin-offs?
-I do. I think it was really a...
-That was the start of it?
Yeah, springboard for as much sexy broadcasting as anybody
could ever manage to get on the television, yeah.
Susan Penhaligon and Trevor Eve really did spice up TV
with Bouquet of Barbed Wire,
but here is my guide to some other piping hot dramas.
At four, in the '80s,
we got hot under the collar
watching Joanne Whalley in
The Singing Detective.
At three, in the '90s,
a young and gorgeous Ewan McGregor
and Rachel Weisz steamed up our
screens in The Scarlett & the Black.
At two, Alex Kingston unnerved us
with her highly physical Fortunes & Misfortunes of Moll Flanders.
But at number one, it's Zoe Lucker and co in Footballers' Wives,
the show where everyone played very dirty.
So, we're going to move onto another show
-that's about relationships - your show.
So, here we are. This is you, Vanessa.
Wedding days - they're supposed to be the best day of your life.
Today, we'll be meeting two happy couples who can't wait
to walk down the aisle
and their angry relatives who are determined to stop the wedding.
Let's not forget how much of a ground-breaking show this was.
This was the forerunner to so many other similar shows these days.
It was the first ever Oprah-style British show
and the critics said it couldn't possibly work because they said,
"British people are reserved, stiff upper lip,
"they won't want to talk about their relationships
"and their problems in public. They'll never do it. It will be a total failure."
And within two weeks of it starting to be broadcast,
we had knocked Oprah absolutely off the chart in this country,
obviously not in the whole world,
and the show went from two afternoons to three afternoons,
then to five mornings a week because British people, it seemed,
just couldn't wait to get on the television and talk about
-whatever it was they were getting up to or their problems.
-What were your favourite stories on there?
I liked, do you prefer a British bulldog to a Italian stallion?
That was marvellous. I really like the funny ones the best, really,
but there were very lots of very, very emotional ones
and very, very sad ones.
He's always standing way back behind her
and she's always sorting out the hassles.
Once again, it's that link with relationships
and that's pretty much... That was the success of The Vanessa.
I think it was cos it was genuine.
It was real people telling their real stories.
These were people who'd never been on TV, sometimes people who had never left their home town.
Often there were people who had never stayed in a hotel
and they stayed in a hotel the night before the show,
and there they were, telling a very intimate story
about their real life, and there I was,
obviously trying to get them to tell the story
but at the same time, not to be like a headmistress, bossing them around.
Kevin and Samantha have been listening backstage.
It's about time they had their say.
Let's welcome the blushing bride and groom, Kevin and Samantha.
Do think it opened us up as British people to talk about relationships?
-Cos we can be tight-lipped, being British.
I thought it was a good idea that British people would feel OK
to talk about something very personal and intimate
and not feel embarrassed or ashamed, and the studio audience would
understand and they would go home feeling better about themselves.
And they did it because they felt that television was an appropriate place to do it.
Now, some very snooty people thought it wasn't.
They thought, "Why on earth would you air your dirty linen in public?
"Why on the television?" and the answers is, cos people love TV.
Just in the way I'm talking about it to you, how much, as a family,
my family loved it and we bonded over it,
we shared experiences watching TV,
it felt to people who were on the Vanessa show,
the right place to talk about their problems.
Do you think that he should marry Samantha?
Why not, Marie?
Because, like Joe said, he's a liar, he's in debt
and Samantha deserves better.
I loved doing it, I really did.
It was really great fun and very, very interesting.
-And a lovely part of your life?
-A wonderful part of my life.
I'm so glad that I got the chance to do it. It was really, really good.
Before we go, there's something that has been
preying on my mind that Vanessa said earlier.
I was absolutely desperate for a Crackerjack pencil.
'How could I deny her?'
I've got a little something for you in here.
This is it.
This is a Crackerjack...
-Ah, ah, ah! You've got to earn it first.
-I've waited my whole life.
-I'm going to keep that in my pocket, here...
..because we're going to play the cabbage game.
-Double Or Drop?
-Double Or Drop. Come and join me over here.
-A lifelong ambition.
-If you'd like to stand there, please.
-I would love to.
-I shall read out the rules for you now.
Now, the rules are clear. I shall ask you a question
about Crackerjack. If you get it right, you get a toy.
But if you get it wrong, you are given a cabbage.
This keeps going until you either drop a toy or get three cabbages.
-Are you ready?
-Yes, I'm ready.
Here is your first question.
What did you have to shout out whenever the host said Crackerjack?
Yes, correct. There you go, there is a toy.
Name the presenter who served from 1964 to 1968.
Which Crackerjack host liked to tell the viewers
he could crush a grape or jump off a doll's house?
Ooh, I could crush a grape... Stu...
Stuart... Hen... Henry?
-No, I'm afraid...
-Stu... Oh, no!
-There you go.
Hang on, wait, wait.
What was the magical alter ego of Geoffrey Durham?
The Great Soprendo!
The Great Soprendo. Absolutely right. There you go.
You're not arranging them in a very...
-Well, I want to make it difficult for you.
What year did Crackerjack FINALLY get the boot from the screens?
No idea. '83?
-Oh, come on. That was close! Let me have that. I said '83.
Um... No, it's wrong. You're going to have a cabbage.
OK, there you go. Here's the next one.
Which well-known British phrase was apparently
coined on Crackerjack by Don McLean and Peter Glaze?
I think it was, "Don't get your knickers in a twist."
You are absolutely right. There you go.
-Now, this is it.
-I'm getting a good whiff of cabbage.
-It's quite odiferous, this cabbage.
-This is the last question.
The shows were filmed at BBC Television Theatre,
which is now known by what name?
I think... Could it be the Shepherd's Bush Empire?
-Yes, you're absolutely right.
Yeah, the Shepherd's Bush Empire. Correct. Well done indeed.
-Vanessa Feltz, you have won.
I am so chuffed and so honoured to give you your own,
very personal Crackerjack pencil.
Oh, thank you! Mwah.
-I'm a bit surprised that it is just a pencil.
-Come and sit down.
-Well, what more did you want?
-Well, I thought it might...
-It's not magical.
-..squirt water or be propelled
or have different colours. It's just a pencil.
I mean, you've won many coveted awards over the years...
53 years I've waited and it's just a pencil.
-I'm sorry, but that's what they said it was.
-I'm a bit shocked.
-Let's move onto what you like watching now.
-What do you like watching now?
-Well, it's so funny, I love Modern Family
and what's that about?
And it's great cos they actually all really love each other
and they're incredibly funny,
and it's very moving in a very funny way.
It's one of the only programmes
I've ever watched in my life that I always think is too short.
Every time it ends, I think,
"I could do with another ten minutes of that."
I love Modern Family.
And you get a chance now to choose a theme tune,
a theme tune from something we've possibly seen today
that will play us out.
SHE SINGS AN EXPRESSIVE THEME TUNE
-No, The Onedin Line.
-The Onedin Line, by Khachaturian.
Many thanks to the lovely Vanessa.
Thank you for watching The TV That Made Me.
This is The Onedin Line and we'll see you soon.
-It's a pencil!
-I know, but I thought it would be
a bit more interesting than this. HE SIGHS
MUSIC: Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia by Aram Khachaturian
Radio and television broadcaster Vanessa Feltz joins entertainer Brian Conley for a nostalgic look at the archive TV that helped set her on the path to small-screen stardom.
From laughing at early adverts to screaming along with the kids on Crackerjack, television has always played a large part in Vanessa's life. But what emerges is the thing she was most enthralled by from a young age - anything to do with relationships. Classic serial The Onedin Line and groundbreaking drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire both fuelled her fascination, even if she did have to put up with being sent out of the room every time the going got racy.