Retro Corner 11: Look In edition

That resolution to make regular blog posts is going well, eh? It’s been a bit of a busy week, so the big serious post on writing and money will have to wait till next week, but for now it’s the return of the occasional Retro Corner series, featuring… the 1982 Look In annual.

The 80s is back in a big way, what with Deutschland 83 on our screens and BBC Four’s regular Thursday (and Friday) night showings of 1981 episodes of Top of the Pops. Good news for me, Edinburgh’s premier 80s throwback. Not that I just bought a Casio calculator watch because of a certain German Cold War TV drama or anything. Hrrm.


Basically how I dress for the office.

Basically how I dress for the office.


Anyway, I dug out my Look In annual the other night and it turns out there’s more than a few gems in its pages. I mean, come on kids, this was pre-Internet when you had to rely on glossy magazines to provide you with useless Wikipedia facts about your favourite stars! And there are some real quality factoids in this feature on music videos. Take this Boney M scrapyard zinger, paired nicely with a scandalous Sex Pistols story. But they look so sweet and innocent as well. Who knew they were really unruly punk scamps?


~She- She- Shepperton, that's where broken cars come from~

~She- She- Shepperton, that’s where broken cars come from~


Look In also did a rather nice series of comic strips. Lots were your usual cartoon celebs, like the Smurfs and Danger Mouse, but over the years they also made doodly heroes of Adam Ant, Metal Mickey and, erm, lovable comedy duo Cannon and Ball. Think a sort of Tesco Value Ant and Dec, who look like Hall and Oates after several decades of overindulging on pints of bitter, and you’re most of the way there. And yet, still funnier than Citizen Khan and Mrs Brown’s Boys combined.


It was a simpler, less funny time.

It was a simpler, less funny time.


No magazine would be complete without puzzles, quizzes and jokes. Yes, before Candy Crush was a gleam in a greedy games company CEO’s eye, we contented ourselves with word searches about Buck’s Fizz, tricky questions about the cast of Crossroads and hilarious photos of… oh, er, right. Well, this escalated quickly. *slams hand on Yewtree alarm*


'Ha, ha'.

‘Ha, ha’.


MOVING ON. A neat thing, with the benefit of modern knowledge on folk in the public eye, is to look back at how they were viewed decades ago, fawned over as dewy-faced twenty-somethings and squealed at by girls who probably feel a bit sheepish about it now. Hard though it is to believe, Lord Coe used to have a life before international corruption and doping scandals. And that life was athletic Look In pin-up, pre-Conservative walking political omnishambles. If only the future still looked as bright as the past for poor old ‘Super Seb’, eh?


Ah, the innocence of youth.

Ah, the innocence of youth.


Och well. At least we have Top of the Pops current favourite, Adam Ant, as a reliable back-up plan. The man’s almost illegally beautiful, and has a squeaky-clean lifestyle to please the most worried of mothers. I mean, I’d probably still date him here, when he’s wearing mustard paisley shoes and appears to be sitting in one of those living rooms from a Grattan catalogue. It throws up so many questions, like ‘are those light sabers in the fireplace?’, ‘does Adam tape Coronation Street or Brookside off the TV?’ and ‘if you’re telling people to look proud and feel good, why does it look like you’re somewhere between constipated and terrified?’


Ladies and gents, we've reached peak 80s.

Ladies and gents, we’ve reached peak 80s.


That’s quite enough of that. Back to editing the short stories, but join me and the rest of the Twitter mob for ‘writing research’ disguised as drinking wine and shouting at a 1981 Top of the Pops, tonight and tomorrow at 7:30pm on BBC Four. There’s some top-notch music (and some less so), dubious Legs and Co scantily-clad dancing, and the three presenters that haven’t got outstanding, um, investigations going on. Good times.

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