ARCHIVE TV ADVENT CALENDAR DAY NINE: 9 December 1985

Here’s a find: The Gong Show (C4).

Second attempt at a Frankie Howerd-hosted British version of the USTV mainstay (after an unaired pilot for Southern in 1978). This second pilot at least made it to air, Channel 4 putting it out following a mid-afternoon run of the US original, the judging panel comprised Babs Windsor, Barry Cryer, Mike Newman and Tony Blackburn. A panel who, it’s fair to say from the footage I’ve found, weren’t especially enamoured with the acts on offer.

Sadly, the full episode doesn’t seem to be online (c’mon All4, raise your game), but at least here’s the full segment starring Avril A, from a YouTube channel dedicated to the offkilter self-styled Housewife Superstar.

BONUS CONTENT: I can’t find much on the 1978 ITV version in the press, and it appears not to have made it to air. Despite that, it had been bigged up in a 1/1/78 Daily Mirror feature on the most promising television output of the coming twelve months:

While it never aired, that Southern TV pilot is commercially available on the Kaleidoscope DVD Frankie Howerd: The Lost Television Pilots. So, that’s another one for my lengthy DVD wishlist.

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