What’s it Harry Worth?

The BBC is celebrating 100-years of broadcasting.  Growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it had a major effect on my life.

As a kid, I would frequently walk down Balham High Road wondering why I couldn’t lift both feet off the ground in shop doorways. 

My mother always wanted me to have elocution lessons; this would have been pointless in south-west London – I’d have been better off copying Bill & Ben.

It was a great vehicle to see what possible lines of career you might take: I couldn’t have been a rag ‘n’ bone man due to my fear of horses; life on the open seas looked attractive except no episode of Captain Pugwash ever mentioned getting scurvy, being attacked by Spaniards or being only ten-years-old on board, having been pressganged into joining the Navy; nor could I have been Bluebottle as I don’t like big bangs.

The Good Life encouraged us to become self-sufficient; having a goat in a fourth-floor flat wasn’t terribly practical, but we did always have nice mohair coats.

The BBC connected people with one another: every Sunday you always wondered where Paderborn was and thinking it must be so awful that the people there were constantly looking forward to coming home for Christmas!  Even in January.

But there was little choice. If you’d been living on Mars and returned and turned the TV on and it was showing The Big Country, Billy Smart’s circus or Val Doonican with a particularly thick jumper on, you’d know it was Christmas.  There was no escape – especially not from Stalag Luft III, which usually preceded Val’s Christmas Jumper fest.

Goodnight children, everywhere.


On 21st December 1963, the Daleks first appeared on UK TV.

Such was their popularity (anyone who owned a sink plunger wanted to be one when they grew up), the Radio Times ran a competition asking kids to draw and name their own Dalek.  I can’t remember the prize – probably a promised trip in the TARDIS – the thing which influenced Honey, I shrunk the kids!

Dalek drawn, my dad (who worked in advertising so, by default, creative) suggested “Ironside” (I spent years thinking Raymond Burr was inside the chief, black Dalek).

I didn’t win first prize, but did receive a cardboard kit, so you could create your own model Dalek.  As I wasn’t allowed scissors until my early ‘20s, the Dalek remained unconstructed.

I did continue interacting with various TV programmes and collected a copious amount of silver foil for Blue Peter – much to my relatives’ chagrin.  I’d nick the foil protecting their cigarettes inside the packets, whip the tops off milk bottles and steal sixpences and florins to melt down with my Amateur Alchemist kit.   My dad smoked so much, he could have created a life-sized guide dog from the insides of one week’s fag packets!

My last creative submission was for my school magazine in 1968: I drew a spider.  So terrifying, it has subsequently been removed from all back copies due to protests from the Tooting Tarantula Protection League – the people who believe arachnophobia is a fear of medieval torture.