Sin on Saturday

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Sin on Saturday
Sin Sat gfx.jpg
Title card
Genre Discussion
Created by Sean Hardie
Starring Bernard Falk
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 3
Production
Executive producer(s) Charles Nairn
Running time 35 minutes
Production company(s) BBC Scotland
Release
Original channel BBC1
Original release 7 August 1982 (1982-08-07) – 21 August 1982 (1982-08-21)

Sin on Saturday was an ill-fated late night BBC1 chat show commissioned from BBC Scotland. It was scrapped less than halfway through its intended eight-week run amid a storm of public criticism, not least because of the actor Oliver Reed drunkenly disrupting the first programme in the series.

Synopsis

BBC Scotland's contribution, Sin on Saturday, was the brainchild of its head of light entertainment, Sean Hardie. The idea was that each programme would be based around one of the 'seven deadly sins'. However, because the commission was for an eight-part series, a final programme entitled 'Getting Away With It' was concocted.

It was biggest and most ambitious venture by BBC Scotland to be networked for some time.

Bernard Falk

Bernard Falk presenting Sin on Saturday at the BBC's Queen Margaret Drive studios in Glasgow

The programme was presented by Bernard Falk, former war correspondent and roving reporter for the BBC's Nationwide programme. Falk, born in Southport, Lancashire, Falk had a career in print journalism before moving to Scottish Television as a reporter on the Scotland Today nightly news programme, quickly graduating to Scotland Today Report, a weekly current affairs programme. He also had a short spell at BBC Scotland appearing on Reporting Scotland before hosting a series of controversial late-night entertainment shows called Falk On....

Immediately prior to Sin on Saturday Falk presented a number of BBC programmes. In August 1981 he acted as reporter on a four-part network series by BBC Scotland, The Four Seasons, which documented "common experiences which highlight people's lives". Around the same time he provided the voiceover for a BBC Birmingham series entitled Now Get Out of That, in which teams from Oxford and Cambridge battled it out in an outdoor adventure. The popular show was recommissioned a number of times and ran simultaneously with Falk's time on Sin on Saturday.

Episode guide

Programme 1: Lust
In the first programme Linda Lovelace, star of Deep Throat, a reformed womamser, a nun and a writer of romantic fiction talk about lust, as did an audience of 'saints and sinners', including members of the Salvation Army, strippers, and prostitutes. BBC1, Saturday 7 August 1982, 10.55pm.

Programme 2: Covetousness
Guests included pools winner Viv Nicholson and disgraced former Labour Minister John Stonehouse, who looked back on his parliamentary career and the events that followed the discovery that he had assumed a dead man's identity and feigned his death by drowning. BBC1, Saturday 14 August 1982, 10.55pm.

Programme 3: Envy
Explored with the aid of MP Willie Hamilton and his new bride, Margaret, and look-alikes pretending to be Alan Whicker, Billy Connolly, Glenda Jackson and Kojak. BBC1, Saturday 21 August 1982, 11.15pm.

Programme 4: Gluttony (never aired)
With bounty hunter Tiny Boyles, Fanny Cradock and George Best. Chef d'humeur Patrick Barlow. Was due to air on BBC1, Saturday 28 August 1982, 10.35pm, but the series was scrapped before transmission.

Reviews

After the first programme, the Glasgow Herald TV reviewer Don Whyte wrote: "Anyone expecting lascivious entertainment was due for a disappointment. Although suitably light-hearted, Mr Falk's first-ever chat show was more academic than titilating. The majority of a studio audience appeared to accept lust as a fairly harmless part of human nature."[1]

The Glasgow Herald's Julie Davidson described it as "not so much a sin as an offence" and "a novice to television chat shows". "Bernard Falk, an able if predictable radio broadcaster, seemed bent on self-destruction from the start, fending off viewers with a striped tie which caused painful picture dazzle."

In the same newspaper the following week, reviewer Helen Graham wrote that the programme was "quite dreadful" and "a very sorry affair". She criticised the episode for failing to establish more accurately the meaning of covetousness, the dictionary definition of which is: "To desire eagerly, to possess, especially property of another." "So when Bernard Faik's unfortunate guests whined about coveting happiness, or a future for their children, then the whole thing got even further out of hand than it was already."[2]

Mr Falk, retaliating at in a Sunday newspaper column, wrote: "Nuts to the TV critics. It turns out that even though the television writers described the show as appalling and rubbish, the British public disagree." He claimed that the first programme about lust attracted 5.1 million viewers.

Demise and fall-out

On the Monday following the transmission of the third programme, BBC Scotland production staff, who were already preparing the next weekend's edition, were told that the series was being cancelled with immediate effect. In a front page splash the next morning, the Glasgow Herald confirmed that the series had been axed "by order of London".

In a terse statement, Mr Aubrey Singer, managing director of BBC Television, said: "These programmes were not judged to have achieved a satisfactory standard." In his statement, Patrick Ramsay, controller of BBC Scotland, said: "The series started off badly, but I feel it was getting better. However, there are always disagreements about such things. Since it is not my channel, there is nothing more I can do."[3]

Three days after the announcement, Sean Hardie, the head of light entertainment at BBC Scotland, resigned from his post. Without commenting exactly on the reasons behind his decision, he told the Glasgow Herald that he was "deeply disappointed" that he had found no option but resign from his £16,000-plus post.[4]

Less than three months later, BBC Scotland's Controller Pat Ramsay announced that he intended to retire early the following year.[5]

Production credits

  • Presenter: Bernard Falk
  • Research: Carolyn McAdam; Philip Differ; Rob Smith
  • Script: Colin Gilbert; Ian Pattison; Laurie Rowley; Kate Crutchley
  • Production Team: Gillian Ewing; Irene Livingstone; Valerie Matheson
  • Production Manager: Liz Scott
  • Graphics: Catriona Millar
  • Costume: Elaine Nichols/Rona Anderson
  • Make-Up: Jean Lombardini
  • Technical Manager: John Morrans
  • Senior Cameraman: Charlie Ringland/Ian Turner
  • Vision Mixer: Trish Girot
  • Sound: Alan Miller
  • Lighting: Clive Thomas/George Ferguson/James Craig
  • Designer: Helen Rae
  • Editors: Sean Harvie; David Martin
  • Director: Rod Natkiel
  • Producer: Charles Nairn/Leslie Mitchell

Programme 3 only:

  • Film Cameraman: Dick Johnstone
  • Film Sound: Jeff Smith
  • FIlm Editor: John MacDonnell

References

  1. 'Weekend View', Glasgow Herald, 9 August 1982, 16.
  2. 'Weekend View', Glasgow Herald, 16 August 1982, 14.
  3. 'Sin on Saturday no more, saith BBC', Glasgow Herald, 24 August 1982, 1.
  4. 'Sean Hardie quits BBC Scotland in 'Sin' row', Glasgow Herald, 27 August 1982, 1.
  5. 'BBC Scotland Controller retires early', Glasgow Herald, 11 November 1982, 1.