Celebrities choose the TV moments that have shaped their lives. Brian Conley takes radio and TV presenter Sandi Toksvig on a trip down memory lane.
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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 on a journey
through the fantastic world of TV
with some of our favourite celebrities.
They've chosen the precious TV moments that shed light...
Oh, I love this!
..on the stories of their lives.
Ooh! Listen, this looks smashing, Johnny.
-Right on time.
-Some are funny...
I loved him!
-# Delicious ice cream! #
Just like that.
I'll let you into a secret I've never told anyone before.
Some are inspiring...
I've always wanted to be a Miss Something.
The best TV transports you.
Did George Orwell get his predictions right?
It's all so dramatic!
..are deeply moving.
The death of John F Kennedy...
It just takes me back.
VOICE BREAKS: Oh, it makes me want to cry.
-Oh, you can have a cry if you want.
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 national institution -
a one-woman comedy powerhouse.
Sandi Toksvig has fizzed through the radio waves
as presenter of the Radio 4 News Quiz for nine years,
and sparkled on TV in shows as diverse as Food & Drink,
Call My Bluff and the sitcom Up The Women.
The TV that made her
includes an anarchic Saturday morning kids' show....
Oh, morning. Did you see who that was?
..and the Apollo 11 manned space exploration to the moon.
Lift-off on Apollo 11.
There's no doubt a strong spirit of adventure and an appetite for fun
has helped Sandi rocket into the stratosphere of radio and TV comedy.
And she is now best known as the host of the quiz show
Fifteen to One.
It's with great pleasure that I introduce Sandi Toksvig.
-Hello, fellow thespian.
I want to ask, what was your relationship with telly?
It's been in my life always,
because my father was THE most famous broadcaster
-that Danish television had ever produced.
In fact, he was the FIRST broadcaster that Danish television ever produced.
Sandi Toksvig was born in Copenhagen in 1958 -
a time when Danish TV only broadcast two programmes each day,
and one of these was a daily news bulletin
presented by the incredibly famous Claus Toksvig -
or, as Sandi knew him, Dad.
Claus Toksvig's broadcasting career began in 1951 in London,
where he worked for the BBC World Service.
Here, he met Sandi's mum, Julie Anne,
who was one of the very first female studio managers.
With two high-flying TV pioneers as parents,
Sandi was surely destined
for her own incredible career on the airwaves.
Although there wasn't a lot of telly around in her early years.
So when I was a child, television started at seven.
-Do you remember you had to turn the telly on five minutes before, for it to warm up?
So you'd turn it on at it on at five to seven,
and then at seven o'clock my dad would read the news.
They couldn't afford to have any filmed reports,
so it was just Dad reading the news - although there was a phone on his desk,
and occasionally that would ring, and he'd do an interview.
-And that lasted for an hour.
And then at eight o'clock there'd be a half-hour documentary
about something gripping like the Queen's silver spoon collection...
-..and then at 8.30 the whole service closed down.
So I thought that's what dads did.
I thought that they just were on in the corner of the room,
and then you went to bed.
Claus became Danish television's first foreign correspondent ever,
and the family jetted off to the United States.
We moved to New York, because the idea was the UN was there,
so you could cover the whole world.
Because if something happened in the world,
he could talk to a person at the UN about it.
So we lived most of my childhood in New York.
Now, your first TV memory... it's enormous, really, you know?
It's something that 600 million people got to watch.
This, of course, was the rocket launch.
Yeah, Apollo 11, which was 1969. The first manned mission to the moon.
I knew that we were in the presence of history,
and my dad couldn't have been clearer about it.
Let me press the clicker. Just... Here we are.
Leading up to the ignition sequence at 8.9 seconds.
Back in Britain, we watched this through the night,
thanks to the BBC and ITV's first ever
All around the world, man's greatest adventure was being watched
on one of man's greatest inventions.
But Claus Toksvig was actually there reporting live to Denmark,
and he took 11-year-old daughter Sandi along with him.
40 seconds away...
-Can you see this crowd?
-That's where I was standing.
So I am somewhere in that crowd.
Astronauts report it feels good. T minus 25 seconds.
And this countdown...
20 seconds and counting.
..the thrill of it was unbelievable.
What's extraordinary, as you stood in the crowd, was the tremor.
Ten, nine - ignition sequence starts.
It felt like your whole heart was going to come out of your chest.
Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero.
All engine running.
Lift-off! We have a lift-off!
32 minutes past the hour.
People started clapping and crying -
it was incredibly moving.
Apollo 11, Houston. You're good at one minute.
And as it disappeared up into the clouds,
we absolutely knew we were seeing something extraordinary.
You're good at one minute.
And then of course we moved to Mission Control,
-which was in Houston.
And so I was standing next to a woman who was watching,
and she looked rather nervous, and I said, "Are you all right?"
And she said, "Actually, I'm a little nervous,
"because that's my boss about to step out on to the moon."
And I said, "Oh, don't worry, I'll hold your hand."
And so, Neil Armstrong, as he stepped out on to the moon,
I was holding his secretary's hand.
That's one small step for man...
..one giant leap for mankind.
-"One giant leap."
Great sentence, terrible grammar.
Erm...but it was an extraordinary...
Was it you who told the secretary that?
I said, "Look, I don't who wrote that for him, but seriously..."
The excitement in that room - I mean,
watching grown men sobbing with the relief and excitement and so on.
They've got the flag up now,
and you can see the Stars and Stripes on the lunar surface.
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
-Now, we have a surprise for you.
-Because you've been talking about your father...
Well, have a little look at this.
HE SPEAKS IN DANISH
SHE GASPS: There he is!
I can translate - he says, "I am sitting in the captain's seat
"in the Apollo space capsule..."
But look - that's how they controlled...
That's extraordinary, isn't it?
-Don't you think that's unbelievable?
When we think about computers today -
they're literally going "left" and "right"
in the command module, it is sort of unbelievable.
HE CONTINUES IN DANISH
-Have you seen this, Sandi?
VOICE BREAKS: Oh, it makes me want to cry.
-Oh, you can have a cry if you want.
He was the best live broadcaster. He...
He brought the world to Denmark.
That's what's really hard to imagine - he was it,
and he became the idol for anybody who wanted to work in television.
He was a very special guy.
Moving on a few years, and that sweet little Danish child
had turned into a rebellious American teenager.
To save their 14-year-old daughter from herself,
Mum and Dad sent Sandi to school in England,
and two years later the whole family followed.
I came... When I was 14, I came to boarding school,
so I came two years before the rest of my family.
I got thrown out of three American schools in a row.
-Can I just say, the last one was a misunderstanding?
I had no idea you were supposed to be there every day.
And so, in order to contain me,
-because I found school very boring...
..my parents sent me to boarding school.
So I came when I was 14, and my parents then...
My dad got the posting to London when I was 16.
So we didn't move here until quite late in my life.
As the Toksvig family first gathered around a British TV in 1974,
they were just in time to see Tom Baker become Doctor Who,
a show called Angels rewrite the rules on television hospital drama,
and a man called Norman Stanley Fletcher get porridge.
There'd never been so much great TV to choose from,
so what did the Toksvigs choose?
So Family Favourites - what did the whole family sit down and watch?
-Well, when we were in the UK?
-My dad loved That's Life.
-That did make us cry with laughter.
-Shall we have a look?
-Yeah! Yeah, absolutely.
-Let's have a look.
Let's have a look. This is the opening of That's Life.
THAT'S LIFE THEME
They certainly don't make shows like That's Life any more.
It was the hard-hitting campaigns
mixed with the light-hearted slices of life
that made it so ground-breaking and so popular.
For 21 years it made us laugh and cry in equal measure,
and it remains one of the very few shows in the history of TV
that has truly changed the way we live.
Thank you very much indeed. Welcome once again to That's Life,
and thank you...
For me, watching as a young person, I watched Esther be in charge,
and I suddenly thought, cos I had never really seen that before,-
and I thought, "Oh, wow, you can be a woman
"and be in control of the show."
While Esther held court, her jester,
the brilliant Cyril Fletcher, kept us in stitches,
especially with those clippings sent in by viewers.
-Do you remember Cyril Fletcher?
-In the armchair.
We loved Cyril Fletcher.
For anyone who might be thinking unchristian thoughts
about our vicar, readers learned on Tuesday...
However, on Wednesday...
"The Reverend AJ Agland has one television set for sale cheap.
"Telephone 626 1313 after 7pm,
"And ask for Mrs Jordan who loves with him."
How can you laugh?
This blooming reverend is getting very annoyed.
On Thursday, the Reverend AJ Agland comes out fighting.
Dear old Rev Agland doesn't give up easily.
In Friday's paper, his advertisement read...
Let me press pause.
Isn't he a legend?
He was just wonderful. He had great delivery. And do you know what?
I don't think you'd get somebody who looks like that on television today.
It's absolutely fantastic.
And I remember, because Dad had a wonderful sense of humour,
I remember Cyril Fletcher reading one out, and I have never forgotten,
and it said, "Messenger wanted.
"Must have own bike and messages."
And Dad couldn't stop laughing, and it was a nightmare.
You couldn't pause the television in those days,
and you couldn't record it, and we couldn't hear what the next bit was,
-cos Dad was laughing so much.
How television has changed. Absolutely fantastic.
I loved the programme, I loved the variety of it,
I loved the fact that it appealed to everybody - we could watch it
from a young age, to the parents watching it and enjoying it.
I thought it was a wonderful programme,
and I think Esther as a campaigning journalist is an inspiration...
-..and I would pay tribute to her, absolutely.
Right, we're moving on to TV Taboos.
Now, this is stuff that... Well, you can explain it. Top Of The Pops.
OK, so, when I was at boarding school,
-we pretty much were not allowed to watch television.
We pretty much weren't allowed to do anything,
but we were, on a Thursday night, allowed to watch Top Of The Pops.
-And a parent, grateful for having their daughter locked up
for so very long, donated a colour television to the school.
So, the very first time we watched it -
-it was glam rock in those days.
It was thrilling, and we were all highly overexcited,
and the next morning, the headmistress, bless her,
called an engineer to the school,
and the television was retuned to black and white,
because it had been too exciting.
And we never saw the colour television in colour again.
That was the end of it - from then on, for the rest of my schooldays,
television appeared in black and white.
Oh, well, let me give you a little catch-up of glam rock.
-Is it in colour?
-Of course it is.
Top Of The Pops. Can you cope?
MUSIC: Block Buster! by The Sweet
Top Of The Pops arrived on our screens on New Year's Day 1964,
and stayed for 42 years.
In the process, it became the biggest music show in the world.
At its height, the show was screened in over 100 different countries.
Luckily, they didn't stick to the original title -
I don't think Teen & 20 Record Club would have done quite so well.
The hair is fantastic.
# Does anyone know the way?
# Did we hear someone say
# We just haven't got a clue what to do!
# Does anyone know the way?
# There's got to be a way
# To Block Buster! #
So is it making you feel wild and racy?
Yeah. I'm crazy now, I'm completely crazy now.
That's it - I'm going to go completely bonkers
-and have an extra sugar in my tea.
Quick, get it back to black and white.
We're freaking out here.
So what were the other rules for television?
We were occasionally allowed to watch on a Saturday night,
if Matron decided,
but we were allowed to watch something on BBC One,
because it was the family channel, possibly something on BBC Two,
but that was really for people who'd read a book.
And nothing on ITV, because that was cheap and tawdry.
So it pleased me, usually, when I started on television,
that I worked for ITV, cos I knew it would have upset Matron.
This, I believe, is Tomorrow's World.
Yeah. My dad was obsessed with new technology.
We've already seen that he was obsessed with Saturn V rockets,
and Apollo and so on, so anything that was an advance,
technologically, my dad was fascinated by.
TOMORROW'S WORLD THEME
The BBC introduced us to Tomorrow's World in 1965,
and for 38 years
we were totally amazed, and often confused,
by the inventions that were seemingly just around the corner.
In 1972, ten million people tuned in
to hear about a barely believable prospect
of something called the Channel Tunnel...
A large area of western
and central Europe will come within a comfortable day's
driving from London, and that mighty ditch, the Channel,
will have been reduced to an average day's journey to work.
..and to watch demonstrations of the first water bikes
and helicopter cars.
Mine still hasn't been delivered.
Telecommunications have intruded into our lives,
but not for political purposes, like Orwell's telescreen.
the ingredients aren't futuristic technological wonders,
they're basically just our old friends
the telephone and the television linking with a computer database.
Even the way she speaks, nobody talks like that.
CLIPPED ACCENT: They talk like this.
There's the telephone, and things you're entirely used to.
This is a breakthrough that will affect all our everyday lives.
You can already use it to do your shopping.
Now, a list of wines to stock up again after Christmas.
Now, I can put in a credit card to pay for it,
and the orders are on the way.
That was incredible - the idea that you could order something
-through your television was unbelievable.
computers join the mass communication market
for the first time.
This is a sign of how fast we've come along.
My dad died - where are we now? -
26 years ago, and he never saw a mobile phone.
-And he would have loved it!
All that computerised stuff.
I sometimes have some trouble with my hands,
-and I dictate to my computers, I have a voice recognition programme.
And I remember my son coming in, and I was dictating a book.
He said, "What are you doing?" I said, "I'm talking to my computer."
He went, "Oh, yeah." And you just think,
"Oh, you don't think it's extraordinary and amazing."
We've got a clip from a show that I think you'll really enjoy.
Yes, none of your shop-bought rubbish.
Now, there's a trick with these, all right?
They're perfectly all right, they're perfectly sound,
except they do not go bang. So...
-Yeah, I know, what a legend.
And Felicity Kendal, but, for me, the show was about Penny Keith.
The show was about the timing of that genius comic woman.
One, two, three...
No, I see "crack" as a more pertinent word.
It is, after all, the stem of "cracker", isn't it?
You can't argue with that.
Of course, because I'd been brought up so far in Denmark, and in America,
I didn't know about the class system in Britain.
We don't really have a class system in Denmark at all.
And it seemed extraordinary to me
that these two women could not get on, couldn't understand each other.
Oh, look at her!
Come on, Margot, get your hat on!
This is the Daily Mirror.
I am terribly sorry, Margot. Please, have the Telegraph.
-So, of course, he's got the Financial Times on...
..and she's got the Daily Telegraph on,
and that tells you so much about British society, doesn't it?
-But I didn't know it at the time.
But look at it - it's all happening in one room...
There's no great fantastic television thing happening here,
-apart from people sitting, chatting and being funny.
Bit like us.
We should have had hats. We should have had hats!
Now, then, my motto.
"The 'ooh-aah' bird is so called because it lays square eggs."
I don't understand that.
So you'd watch that at home, with your family?
Yeah. Yeah, that was a good one for the family.
And I miss it. It always used to be on at half past seven,
we'll all sit together at half past seven.
-Of course, it doesn't work that way now.
You would have 12 million people might watch one thing,
and the chances are somebody else at work had seen the same thing.
-It doesn't happen any more.
-12 million people watched one thing,
because there was only what, three channels?
Yeah, and one of them was cheap and tawdry, so...
-Yeah, which you never watched.
Watching Penelope, watching The Good Life,
did it influence your comedy?
Yeah, there's no question
that there's a lot of very strong women that I've watched
-over the years, and admired their timing.
I mean, what do you think of people that say that,
"Oh, women can't be funny"?
-Ridiculous, isn't it?
-Here's a little test I would do for you, OK?
Try and do this without getting arrested.
-If you're ever at a big function, OK?
Go and stand outside the gents' toilets -
you don't need to go in, just stand outside -
the door will open and close, and all you'll hear is...
SHE MURMURS ..and water running.
Stand outside the ladies'. As the door opens and closes,
you will hear nothing but laughter.
Women are funny all the time.
We still have a problem in this country -
if there's a show on, you hardly ever have more than one woman on the show.
If there's four panellists, it'll be three boys and a girl.
-And they'll say, "Ooh, women - we've already got one of those."
So, we still have work to do. There's stuff to do.
But Sandi's big TV break came in 1982,
when ITV started making a brand-new, completely live
Saturday morning kids' TV show, No. 73.
It was to be bigger and messier than anything on the BBC,
but she got started on the road to stardom
not because of what she did right, but what she did wrong.
-So, you know The Stage newspaper...
..the newspaper for the profession.
I was reading it, and there was an advert in the back,
"Would you like to have breakfast with a gorilla?"
And I though, "Well, I don't mind."
So it said to send off your CV and a photograph of yourself,
and I didn't realise, because I didn't know much about show
business, that they meant one of those posh photographs.
I went to Victoria Station in London to a photo booth,
and I couldn't get the chair to go all the way up,
so I sent a photo that, honestly, it was three-quarters of my head
in a little tiny picture like this,
and the producers thought it was a joke.
Oh, right! Oh, right.
It was the only photo that I had of myself, and I auditioned,
and I got the job.
So here we are. This is No. 73, with Sandi Toksvig.
Morning. Did you see who that was?
I bet it was the milkman.
-That's not you!
-It is me!
No, that's you!
-Have you seen this before?
-No. Cos it was live!
Well, let's have a look.
That's how the day started. What does the horoscope say?
It was live telly, hour and three-quarters.
Still only three channels.
Millions of people watching,
and you knew there was a lot of work ahead of you.
Your heart would be absolutely coming out of your chest.
So the first six years of my television career.
-So wonderful TV training, surely?
-Oh, it's the best.
There's nothing that went wrong that couldn't have gone wrong.
First he had the whole house rewired, then he had me wired for sound.
KNOCK AT DOOR
Oh, it can't be the milkman, can it?
-I can't tell you...
-A lot of acting.
-There was a lot of acting,
and I can't tell you how many things went wrong.
We did a whole show with Spike Milligan, hour and three-quarters.
The last five minutes,
Spike and me are meant to do the whole big scene
to wrap up everything.
I go into that bit of the set,
and the floor manager's behind the camera going, "Spike's gone home."
To do the last five minutes, I played both parts.
HONKY TONK MUSIC So the daring, dazzling,
death-defyingly dull, devastatingly dangerous,
delectable, divinely decadent Sandwich Quiz!
The reason we did the Sandwich Quiz was, because the show was live,
sometimes at the end we had two minutes left,
and sometimes we had 22 minutes left,
and we could never work out how to time it exactly,
and the Sandwich Quiz, and my job,
was to make sure we came out exactly on time.
Prince Charles has saved a 59-year-old man
who was in a car crash this morning.
-Quite a hero, old Charles.
-Is he? Going to make your sandwich?
-Here's your currants.
-Piece of bread. How are we doing?
That's very nice.
Pour them down here, and make them disappear or turn into sugar.
-Talking of the Sandwich Quiz, I've got something...
..in the hall, that I'm just about to get.
-I've got here...
-Oh, for goodness' sake.
-..the very item.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are presenting, for the first time...
Oh, we had currants! It was for current affairs, we had currants.
..in many years, we are going to perform the Sandwich Quiz.
-These are your questions.
-Cos we're going to play. I haven't seen them.
-So, the idea was...
Well, first up, can you do the tongue twister?
Oh, my goodness, it must be 30 years.
-I've got it here.
-No, no, let me try.
So I used to bang the table, and the music would start.
HONKY-TONK MUSIC And I would say...
So, the daring, dazzling, death-defyingly dull,
devastatingly dangerous, delectable,
divinely decadent Sandwich Quiz.
In the bag, ladies and gentlemen. A Blue Peter badge.
So I'm going to ask you a question.
-If you get it right, you make a sandwich.
You've got to do this quickly, we have a lot of people to feed.
-OK, are you ready? KLAXON
Sandwiches were invented by a famous earl, the Earl of...?
-Absolutely right. Make a sandwich.
-So I make a sandwich.
-I'll ask you the next question -
you've got to be quick.
-Which country has a nut named after it?
-What is that?
-I don't know what sandwich it is.
Looks like salad cream.
-No, don't do jam with it! It looks horrible.
-Have I got to eat it?
-Yes. Is it coronation chicken?
-It is...brazil nuts.
-Brazil nuts! Make another sandwich.
Do you drink fizzy pop from a can or a cannot?
-Er...from a can.
-Oh, you're good. You're good!
-But you're not fast at the sandwiches.
-No, I'm not.
Normally there would have been two people.
We'd have Elton John against Suzi Quatro.
Oh, where's Elton when you need him?
If you put bread in a bread bin, what do you put in a toaster?
-Er... Oh, good - bread, bread.
-That was good!
-I see where you were going there.
-Another sandwich, please.
Thank you very much.
-Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side.
Ah, you see, a comic.
We should ask some currant ones.
Why did the tomato blush?
Er, because it was...
-Because it saw the salad dressing.
KLAXON Oh, you were doing so well!
You should come on Fifteen To One.
I'm telling you, the physics questions were next.
Would have been great.
Do you think that this would work well on Fifteen To One,
-Yeah, why not?
I love the fact that this is your idea.
This is something that you thought of.
Well, it's a long time ago, but maybe it's ripe for a comeback.
Shall we see what we can do?
-You said we should work together.
-Ready when you are.
Does it seem weird, watching yourself?
Yeah, it is very strange.
Because it was live, I never really watched it.
So it is very odd and dear Lord, I look young.
-Mm, you still do, though.
-You are gorgeous.
I may be on the turn, Brian, I'm just saying. I really like you.
God bless you.
So, Sandi, to bring us up to date,
what do you enjoy watching now on TV?
I've loved all the Danish dramas that have done so well -
The Killing, Borgen, The Legacy - I love the international element.
So, as a guest on the show, you get a choice, now,
to pick a theme tune...
-..that we're going to play out on.
-There's only one.
It's got to be Cagney & Lacey. I love those feisty ladies.
I dreamt of striding down a street like that.
-It reminds me of my American childhood.
Ladies and gentlemen, this wonderful lady,
Sandi Toksvig, God bless you.
And here is Cagney & Lacey to play us out.
We'll see you soon. Bye-bye.
Legendary entertainer Brian Conley takes radio and TV presenter Sandi Toksvig on a trip down memory lane to enjoy a nostalgic look at the classic television moments that made her into the one-woman comedy powerhouse she is today.
Sandi joins Brian on the sofa in his vintage sitting room to relive her childhood memories through the television that shaped her as she grew up. Along the way, we learn about the lengths she went to in order to watch Top of the Pops, why the television coverage of the moon landings has such a special place in her heart and why on earth she was so disturbed by the nation's favourite stuffed fox, Basil Brush.
They talk about the classic Britain programmes which helped her understand the UK when she moved here in her teens, from the eccentric British public in That's Life to the vagaries of the class system in The Good Life. Brian also surprises her with a snack her dad used to bring home after his trips abroad which she hasn't had in decades. Brian discovers how all these TV influences came together to bring her to our screens for the first time in the kids show Number 73 and finds out whether she can still play the sandwich game.