BRING THEM BACK!

INDEX | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1 | YOUR SUGGESTION

Buzby

5 Buzby
- WHAT WAS IT?
A chummy cartoon canary with Bernard Cribbins’ voice and a penchant for phoning his mum, which was handy seeing as he was the official mascot for British Telecom in the days before it flogged off all its shares to anyone with fifty pence or more in the bank and was still Owned by the Nation.

- WHY SHOULD IT COME BACK?
There’s just something undeniably endearing about a government-controlled organisation deciding to embody itself in the form of a cuddly, chummy anthropomorphic pal (see also the Milk Marketing Board’s British Cheese Men, or the Royal Mail’s Union Jack-vested philatelic Stamp Bug). We’re sure a new age of respect and trust for our rulers would soon follow if, say, the daunting edifice of the DTI was adorned with the friendly visage of Melvyn the Manufacturing Mole, and DSS press releases could be lightened up no end with The Adventures of Benjy the Benefits Badger.

The BBC Micro

4 The BBC Micro
- WHAT WAS IT?

The corporation’s very own home computer. Released in 1981, for a few years it popped up on almost every BBC1 programme going (even implausibly doubling as the TARDIS computer in an episode of Doctor Who). In the real world, you would mostly find it in the home of bearded academics or young would-be programmers. However its real ubiquity was in the arena of academia. The BBC Micro made its way into almost every school in the land – not that teacher ever allowed you to play with it mind.

- WHY SHOULD IT COME BACK?
Because hobbyists and boffins deserve their own home computer too. Because if you’ve never played Suburban Fox you’ve never lived. And because without the BBC Micro there wouldn’t have been the ill-fated 1986 Domesday Project.

Green Shield Stamps

3Green Shield Stamps
- WHAT WAS IT?
The godfather of the Nectar Card, in the 1970s these perforated mint tokens were liberally distributed alongside every transaction at supermarkets and petrol stations as a promotional incentive. At their peak, the Green Shield Stamp almost acted as an alternative national currency, enabling collectors to dutifully stick them into albums which could be bartered for a tantalising array of household goods, like toasters and pressure cookers, at their neighbourhood "redemption centre". It was just like being on the Generation Game conveyor belt!

- WHY SHOULD IT COME BACK?
Because a generation raised on Air Miles has been denied the thrill of licking and sticking a hundredweight of Green Shield Stamps that have been clogging up the glove compartment of your dad's Morris Marina for the last month, and gazing longingly through the latest Green Shield Stamps catalogue, hoping for a Spirograph and pondering just who would be able to collect enough of the things to acquire a new speedboat.

Whizzer and Chips

2Whizzer and Chips
- WHAT WAS IT?
’Two comics in one – double the fun!’ The simple concept of splitting a common-or-garden comic into two 'rival' sections – perhaps the inspiration for the Sunday Times – was a masterstroke. For 21 years, the nation's kids nailed their colours to the mast and proclaimed themselves either a Whizz-kid (official colour: red; leader: Sid, an unexceptional kid with a pet snake) or a Chip-ite (official colour: blue; leader: Shiner, a hapless boy who couldn't help getting into scrapes).

- WHY SHOULD IT COME BACK?
The all-conquering Beano and Dandy aside, kids' comics as a genre seem to have disappeared from our shelves in recent years. A generation of children are therefore detached from a world of dodges and capers, and will remain forever ignorant of the word 'yikes'. In the 1970s and 1980s, Whizzer and Chips was the epitome of the fun paper, offering up school dinner-sized portions of laughs for the price of an Aztec bar.

Nationwide

1Nationwide
- WHAT WAS IT?
A regal teatime institution that fielded the Beeb's star turns to reassuringly explain everything from ironing boards to inflation. So much more than erratically behaved wildfowl and bespectacled eccentrics, the 'Wide was the all-time definitive curtain-raiser for a night in front of the box.

Debuting in September 1969 with a lonely-looking Michael Barratt "co- ordinating" rickety monochrome link-ups between fledgling Beeb regional outposts armed only with a standard issue Corporation telephone, the show's three-way discussions on overheated British Rail axle boxes soon gave way to Cook of the Realm competitions, Frank Bough gently quizzing Prince Phillip and Richard Stilgoe documenting the collapse of the British economy through song. Affable, freewheeling and able to switch from matters trivial to tragic with dignified ease, Nationwide was beans-on-toast TV at its best.

- WHY SHOULD IT COME BACK?
Since its demise there's never been anything on telly at that time of day that's done its job anywhere near as well - fact. Whether the pitfalls of climbing Snowdon or the price of a stamp, the show cheerily set about charting an entire way of British life that TV can't be doing with anymore, and that's a real shame.

Mike, Frank and co managed to become one big family of friendly faces, and at their peak you felt the country was safe in their hands. During the three-day week they even sought to revive the population's spirits with the cry '1973 Was it Really that Bad?' So let's raise a cheer for Nationwide, the greatest teatime tonic TV has ever served, and demand its return forthwith. After all, what's not to like about, say, Dermot Murnaghan segueing between the National Nursing Awards and a Christmas Carol competition? Bring it back now!

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