Given the amount of time that I dedicate to watching TV (don’t we all) I found it very difficult to put together a list worthy of assembling into a top ten. In fact only a few series stand out and no individual programmes.
It’s not that I’m particularly difficult to please. Most nights there is ample entertainment or education on offer but very little remains in the mind for years afterwards.
However, this page would be pointless without making an attempt so check out my choices below.
Films are a much easier subject to schedule. Good films do leave an impression and I’m spoilt for choice and our cupboards are full of reminders in the shape of DVDs lest we forget.
So scroll down to see what lit my rocket on the big screen.
My first choice is from my childhood and shares nothing in common with the big screen version. At least that’s my opinion judging by the shape of Thunderbird 2 on the movie posters. Although I must admit that, as at the time of writing I haven’t seen the film version. My memories go back to the puppetry of Gerry Andersson.
I suppose Mr. Andersson only got away with it because it was the sixties and we all thought we’d be in rockets by 2004. The rockets were fantastic and Thunderbird 2 (the real original version) is still my aeroplane of choice but the characters were abysmal.
Even at five years old I saw that. Those lips. Still, it’s nice that Alan Hanson got another job afterward leaving the show.
Of all the heroic characters I most associated with Brains, not because he was clever but because he looked like a dork.
And I’d still love to drive FAB 1. Yes, the Rolls not the 2004 pink Ford (groan) Thunderbird.
Just one criticism of the programme. Why does everyone say FAB? I never recalled this as a catchphrase, and still do not know what it means.
My second choice is also from my childhood, it just isn’t the same now.
My era was the John Noakes, Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves years. I recall Blue Peter being the first programme for me to call my own. I knew what time it was on and always made an effort to watch it. Other members of my family used to have their programmes and I had mine. It seemed a lot more interesting than my Dad’s stuffy Panorama.
I particularly recall an episode in which John Noakes went deep into the Amazon forest and met the locals who got him razzled on their local version of snake-bite and coke and tried to persuade him to jump from a tree attached to a fixed twine. This was their idea of a manly initiation and in the spirit of these sort of things the bravest were commended by the tribe, although the best appreciation was saved for those that actually broke their neck. I can’t recall if John Noakes did the jump, or if Shep did it tied to his lead, but this stuck in my mind as it pre-dated bungee jumping by years.
The decline of Blue Peter started when Valerie Singleton was replaced, sorry Leslie Judd but you just weren’t Valerie. A big disappointment for a growing lad.
Of course, all of my favourite presenters have now moved on. Valerie announced that she was a lesbian and started making serious programmes about money (presumably for my Dad, lucky man), Peter Purves got a part time job as a dog show presenter, which presumably kept the wolves from the door once his starring roles in Wacky Races had dried up and John Noakes, as far as I can tell sailed up the Orinoco in a coracle never to be seen again.
However, I may be a bit out on these facts.
Quite a leap from the heady days of 1960’s British TV to this modern all action American series. Just goes to show what a load of crumbs that I’ve watched over the years. But when I tried to think of any influential programmes in the past this frenetic thriller leapt out.
I’m talking about the first series mainly, although the second kept up the quality, it just wasn’t so fresh and new.
As for the third series it got swallowed up by (spit) Sky TV so I haven’t yet had the pleasure.
For those who are not familiar with this adrenalin rush of a programme imaging watching three TV’s at once whilst reading a book and setting your hair on fire and you’ll be somewhere there.
Keifer Sutherland was always an also-ran jobbing actor until this series and I now look upon him as my first choice in a crisis.
The supporting cast was equally excellent, even, and I’m going to be slated by the fans for this, Jack’s daughter.
Particularly outstanding was the presidential portrayal of the President (how else would he be portrayed?) by Dennis Haysbert although his whining wife was a pain.
The West Wing
I love words. You may have gathered this from this page alone. And The West Wing is full of them delivered at such a cracking pace.
There have been other intellectual dramas but this one, more than any I can recall, does not wait for the audience to keep up. If you miss a bit, tough, you just ain’t got what it takes to be in the White House with the team.
My favourite character is C.J. played sexily and intelligently by Allison Janney. And she should be proud to take such an accolade from this fine group. Clearly a demonstration of how quality is contagious.
However the true star of the show must be the creator and main writer, Aaron Sorkin. Aaron, you are a writing genius.
So, am I West Wing White House material? No way – I have a life.
The Green Wing
When looking for a comedy to include in my list I initially thought I was spoilt for choice.
Classics such as Some Mothers Do ‘ave Em, Fawlty Towers and the Blackadder series were strong contenders and programmes I’ll watch time and again but true timeless classics – I don’t think so. They do not rise significantly above others such as Red Dwarf, The Young Ones or even The Good Life (mainly watched time and again for Felicity Kendal). An excess of choice perhaps, or just that the standard is so high.
So I have chosen, somewhat illogically, my latest favourite instead. After all, new comedy is really the best flavour.
The Green Wing shares little in common with the West variety above but does break genuine new ground. Although set in a hospital, a venue that is hardly in short supply on British TV, and without much of a narrative the programme still seems fresh and exciting, as well as hilariously funny at times.
The edited pace changes suit the format of a comedy where some things need relishing in detail and others can be sped up to get to the next comedy moment.
It helps that most of the actors are relative unknowns so you don’t get the tedious David Jason’s in it factor, each actor can be seen as the character rather than the personality.
If you haven’t seen it catch it soon. It will be repeated several times I’m sure and like Fawlty Towers that is a good thing.
Favourite TV Programme
So what is my favourite of all time? My vote goes to The West Wing.
Nothing on TV comes close. Nor anything in real life by the look of it.
And finally, the worst TV programme I can think of.
My first thoughts are the modern ‘gentle’ comedies. By gentle read not funny. These are the modern day Sunday night lightweight dramas, usually starring Alan Davies, a quite funny man when he does stand-up.
Or if they are even more ‘gentle’ then starring Sarah Lancashire.
But none of this vacuous TV wallpaper can top the condescending John Craven’s Newsround. I’m starting to yawn now.
The mark of a great film is the enjoyment when watching it over and over again. Repeated showings engrain the movie into the psyche and thus it becomes a classic.
This is a difficult task for the films that are story driven as familiarity destroys any surprise that had such an impact when the film was first shown. That is why there are so many action films in my list.
And so few comedies.
It is a true credit to the makers of Airplane that it features at all in this list. But the litmus test of a film being accepted on repeat performances stacks up as there always seems to be something else to note when this film is played.
Quite possibly the funniest of all films.
Bridget Jones’ Diary
On pure comedy this film would not have featured. The laughs are not clever enough to sustain repeated performances so the credit for this film’s inclusion is in the performances of the characters, both central and supporting.
It is a feel good movie and I can’t fault something that makes me feel good time and time again.
Some critics have argued that this movie is nothing more than an adrenaline rush with no depth and poorly constructed two-dimensional characters. Even if it is – so what. I’ve never regretted watching it.
I’m quite happy to leave my brain switched off if the rest of my aural and visual senses are so well rewarded.
I thought carefully about including one of the Bond action films in my list and realised that individually some are very good, if not great but as a series it is up there with the best.
My favourite is usually the latest and unlike most commentators my favourite Bond is Timothy Dalton. Sean and Roger are just so yesterday and Pierce’s version has no edge.
However, one nagging doubt remains. Arnold Schwartzeneggar’s True Lies ‘Bond’ film is more watchable.
Jurassic Park, for me, was the beginning of modern epic cinema.
As a child I loved the rubber dinosaurs of Ray Harryhausen but it took a theatre’s leap of faith to really believe in the effects.
Even modern efforts such as the re-make of King Kong left me wondering at the animatronics rather than the gorilla.
Jurassic Park was one of the first films I could really immerse myself into and believe that the monsters were real. And I do like to feel that sense of fantasy.
A first in effects, lifetime memorable scenes all coupled to a fascinating subject just about makes up for the ‘oh, look the cute kids are in danger’ slushiness of the script.
Life of Brian
Another amusing film worth repeated viewings, this time set against the biggest myth of modern times.
I don’t take religion seriously at all so a parody should fall flat on its face. The fact that it doesn’t is testament to the inspired writings of the Monty Python team.
I was just too young to appreciate their TV shows (I had to go to bed at nine, or I’d be a very, very naughty boy!) so there wasn’t even a comfort and familiarity to ease me into the film but I got it all the same.
Now, if only they could do the same for the writings of the Koran.
For a long time I used to class this film as my favourite of all time. I loved the realism and haunting Ennio Morriconi score. Now there have been so many better movies that I don’t make this claim but its previous position should earn it a place in this list.
Midnight Express is probably the least know film in this list and if you haven’t seen it yet get hold of a copy, you will not be disappointed.
Mind you, it was on the TV recently and I watched Big Brother instead. Oops.
The only thing that could improve Quentin Tarantino’s blood fest Reservoir Dogs would be a menu option on the DVD to allow the viewer to see the film time-sequenced.
I am not a fan of flashback concepts and the Dog’s is riddled with time discontinuity.
I would just like to know if it would still have as much impact as the director’s cut.
Or even Michael Madsen’s cut.
Ronin has the best car chase scene ever. Better than The Driver, or Bullit. Do I need to state another reason to keep it in this list?
The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects is one of those rare films that having seen it you would like to watch it through again immediately. the clever script is wonderfully played out by a talented team of actors, engaging the viewer’s attention.
The only downside being Benicio del Toro’s unintelligible accent. Method acting too far I feel.
Possibly the best film ever and I include ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in that assumption.
Wonderful Life had no aerial jet dogfights for one thing.
One of the most quotable movies, filled with the phrases that became the cliches.
Tight story-line plotting, economy of language, foot tapping music and stunning visuals.
Top Gun is so good I still look out for films by the same producers. And that is rare, usually I judge a film by itself not it’s actor, director or key-grip.
So what is my favourite of all time? My vote goes to Top Gun.
Cheesy perhaps, but I like the taste of cheese.
Author: Vince Poynter
From the about section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 11 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005, with photos added in 2018
The first photo shows the author in 1966 playing with his new 5th birthday present, a plastic model of Thunderbird 2
The second photo shows the author stood outside the barriers fencing off The White House, in Washington, North America in May 2015
The third photo shows the author dressed in a Tuxedo whilst stood in a cabin on board the QE2 in October 2005
The final photo show an US Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat, designation AE 212 in flight and was taken around 1975