Gilbert – Escape from Drill

There are probably very few readers who recognise Gilbert, the slimy (snotty) green alien who appeared in the UK’s Get Fresh TV show. Gilbert and co-presenter “Gaz Top” were a regular feature of my Saturday mornings for a few years but my memories of these two odd-balls are not as fond as they could be.

I did genuinely enjoy watching Gilbert travel around the country in his “Millennium Dustbin” spaceship, not least because it featured The Centurions (Power Xtreme!) and a cool section where callers to the show could play Amiga videogame classic Xenon LIVE on air – seriously, hearing people shouting LEFT, RIGHT, SHOOT down a telephone was as good as TV could be back then :)

So if my young mind thought the TV show was good, why the sad face? We can thank a ZX Spectrum game for that, the horrendous Escape from Drill. For a brief time in my youth I owned one of Sinclair’s marvellous machines, and some part of me thought that the Gilbert game looked like a fun addition to my collection. It was not. Take a look at his walk-through and let me know if you see anything ‘fun’…

Ignoring the usual failings of the Spectrum’s limited hardware, playing this game was an exercise in drudgery which tasked you with finding missing parts of your spaceship in numerous rooms and by playing a few single screen arcade games. I recall the mini-games were a highlight, despite being simplistic clones of Space Invaders, Light Cycles and Arkanoid. Wandering through a dozen screens, firing snot at bad guys and being rewarded by 2 minutes of a TRON-a-like is not the makings of a great game. You would hope that completing the challenge of the mini-game would provide the player with progression but Escape from Drill’s prize was a ‘clue’ for a ship part which you’d then need to go and hunt for… Oh, Gilbert…

The one highlight of this crime against videogames was the rather lovely art in the magazine advert and box-art. Take a better look at the magazine scan over at Atari Mania.

I think the best way to remember Gilbert is to watch him on Get Fresh, in all his snotty glory:

If reading about Get Fresh has inspired happy memories with you, perhaps you’d like to catch my earlier post about No. 73?!

Have you got The Krypton Factor?

The Krypton Factor

For almost 20 years, one game show stood head and shoulders above all others in the UK – The Krypton Factor. Starting in 1979 and running through to 1995, this multi-format show pitted 4 contestants against each other in a series of mental and physical challenges and, for my family, was must-watch TV each week.

This 1983 episode was a ‘Great Britons’ special, featuring some of Britains’ finest. I love the number block puzzle in round 3 which really foxes one of the contestants.

Sadly this episode doesn’t include the true star of the show – the flight simulator – introduced in 1986. Watching random people trying to land a variety of aircraft was thrilling, especially when they would accidentally ditch Concorde into the sea. Here’s a little of the simulator from some of the early 90’s episodes.

I would have loved to have taken part in this show… or at least that is what I tell myself…

Sapphire and Steel

Sapphire And Steel

Between 1979 and 1982, the British TV network ‘ITV’ aired a wonderful sci-fi show called Sapphire and Steel starring David McCallum (as Steel) and Joanna Lumley (as Sapphire). The programme followed two interdimensional operatives as they investigated strange events with the integrity of time.

In the series, it is explained that Time is like a corridor that surrounds everything, but there are weak spots where Time – implied to be a potentially malignant force – can break into the present and take things. There are also creatures from the beginnings and ends of time that roam the corridor looking for the same weak spots to break through.

The intro was a bit trippy and is a good indication of how the show plays out:

Thanks to the wonders of Youtube, you can watch many of the 34 episodes online, including the first assignment, which I’ve included below:

If you’ve not seen Sapphire and Steel before, it’s a great show and well worth your time. You can’t really lose having The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and a New Avenger share screen time!

Hey you, get down to 73

No. 73

If the No 73 isn’t familiar to you as anything other than just a number then you probably aren’t a Brit who grew up in the 80’s. This Saturday morning TV show aired between 1982 and 1988 and was a staple of my weekend viewing. The show was essentially a shell for a broad range of children’s entertainment including comedy sketches, animated series, competitions, music and interviews with celebrities.

Here is the introduction trailer that ran a week earlier to show viewers what was coming next week:

And here is the intro to the show when it first started, followed by the much better update that started less than a year later:

The show featured some classic parodies, most notably for me, The Z-Team which expertly mocked The A-Team with a group who were convicted as toddlers of a crime they did not commit. The parody featured Corporal Tom “Cannibal” Stiff, Dimpleton ‘Skates’ Wreck, Marginally Mental Murky and Mr. P as B.A. Brat who were on the run from the Parks Department.

Sadly I can find no footage of the Z-Team so I’ve had to settle with a 1985 montage of clips from “The Sandwich Quiz” which is entirely as crazy as it sounds!

British fashion in the 80’s was brilliant, wasn’t it!