Monday, January 9, 2012

1977: I nearly lost my head last night

Now that TOTP has glided into 1977 the memories are really kicking in.

As the very first entry in this blog explains, I was now on the very brink of being a fully paid-up member of the chartwatch brigade and record-buying public. What we see on our screens from now I was watching religiously back then, though I have to say some bits are sketchy. For example, I don't remember that Clodagh Rodgers song charting at all, though I was warmed to see that when this episode was shown she was trending on Twitter. Now THAT'S the kind of world I want to live in. Boney M were dreadful too weren't they? That orchestra has a lot to answer for.

What really jolted me though was the inclusion of Don't Give Up On Us by David Soul. My next-door-but-one neighbour, a girl a year older than me from a family of well-to-do if rather showy butchers - they had an ironing machine and went on the QE2 - we were fast friends with was mad mad mad on him. She played this record to death. On the Private Stock label, B-side Black Bean Soup. We heard it so much there was nothing we didn't know about it. She wasn't the only one going mental for him though. It was a classic case of girls wanted him, boys wanted to be him. Not so with Starsky, though Mrs P has confessed a soft spot for him over Hutch.

It's hard to imagine now unless you were there, but Starsky & Hutch was massive, wasn't it? I mean HUGE. No time was wasted in spin-off merchandise either, and my brother and I had annuals and toy cars, etc. However we never once bought the records. They didn't appeal. Soppy ballads in the main, though of course Silver Lady's a corker, suffering from weak production, but the rest you could keep. Especially this one. As '76 became '77 their fanbase just got stronger. But IIRC, by the end of the year fashions had changed.

Still, in the interim we never missed an episode. Saturday nights were Starsky & Hutch night. I don't remember many of the eps, except one in which Starsky's girlfriend died. Watching with our friends, the three siblings - girl, 13, boy, 12, girl 11 and my 11-year-old brother and 11-and-a-half-year-old me along with the teenager from their dad's shop sent to babysit us for the evening, the room became a river of tears. The babysitter looked rather uncomfortable with it all. It seemed it had got us right in the heart. Or were we just following the crowd? Anything the eldest did, we did too back then. At that moment I felt rather foolish.

I don't think I've ever cried at a TV show since. I've certainly never seen Starsky & Hutch since its first airing. Is it actually any good? Is there singing in it? It's one of the rare things I'd like to leave frozen in time. I can't imagine it's aged at all well, much like David Soul - and his music.


  1. I love(d) this and remember getting 'Playing to an Audience of One' for Christmas in 77 or 78. Starsky and Hutch was a big feature in our house on a Saturday night, I had a huge crush on Starsky and remember writing on a poster of a tiger in my room 'Starsky Forever', but spelling it wrong and putting 'Startsky Forever'. During our sojourn in Deutschland where TV was dire, we worked our way through the original S&H series. I think it has aged well and was amazed at all the drug and sexual references that clearly went right over my head as an eight year old. Still shed a tear when Starsky's girlfriend died.

  2. There's a lot about Alan Davies I dislike, but his routine in the mid-90s about watching Starsky & Hutch is absolutely brilliant.

    I've found it here - 30 seconds in...

  3. The pilot of Starsky and Hutch does stand up; though Starsky is a lot quieter and more intelligent than the later shows. As for them; the usual cookie cutter plots used on every 70's cop show, but some great music.

  4. That's brilliant Hels. Perhaps I should give it another go seeing as both you and Hannibal Cat say it stands up.

    Thanks for that link Matt, that's great.

  5. Crumpet factor apart, it did seem head and shoulders above all the other imported US crime shows - Kojak, Cannon and McCloud all had their respective charms, but Starsky and Hutch seemed to have genuine edge. It was unmissable (though I was a confirmed Starsky Girl and sneered at Hutch with his thin hair and weedy songs.).

    To add to the excitement, my big sister's best friend at the time looked just like the saucy dancer in the opening credits. I would watch the pair of them getting ready (jeans so tight they had to be done up by inserting the hook of a coat hanger in the zip and tugging) and forcing their combined mass 70s hair into her Mini before they were off into the night and the wine bars of Chigwell. Then I'd watch Starsky and Hutch and plan how I was going to look when MY turn came.

  6. That's exactly it - 'Saturday nights were Starsky & Hutch night'. All the bonnet bouncing, fast talking, cockiness was incredibly cool if you were 11 years old. And I wanted those Starksy trainers (Adidas SL 76S) more than anything else in 76/77..I had the poster mag's, one annual, the Corgi car, the monthly magazines.

    I bagged the box sets in the sales some years back - and some episodes hold up pretty well - certainly the dirt and grime, gritty cityscapes of paper blowing around, dodgy shops and characters look fantastic. My two tots chowed them down..

    Don't mention the film though - Ben Stiller playing Starksy as Ben Stiller (uptight, shoulder-cringing angst) was criminal. I don't think I've ever left a cinema frothing with such anger