Robotic Dancing Competition - UK TV, 1983 - RARE!
A very weird and rare segment from the Sunday magazine show "That's Life!", presented by our very toothy but lovely Esther Rantzen. Although sadly, We don't get to see some more creepiness from our zillions of winning Robotic dancers doing their solo's as the tape ends. Metal Mickey, a small-ish robot with a stolen R2D2's head, with a smiley face on it, had his own children's show at the time, (I'm sure I've seen him on Mike Reid's "Runaround" too)voiced and controlled by Johnny Edward. Here we see robotic dancers, young and old, some still affected by the New Romanticism bug, trying to win this bloody thing. End up, Metal Mickey pops up and cruelly zaps the losers, with hundreds still left, being proclaimed winners. A stupid-ending segment, but it's still interesting to see how different we were back then.
A modern day example of that today would be, an urban dance contest. Perhaps better than what could've been a 90's version of a fad dance, "The Macarena".
Robotic dancing was invented in the late-60's by Charles "Robot" Washington, at the time of the soul and funk movement in the US. It was popularised by the teenaged "Jackson Five" in the late-70's in the song "Dancing Machine". It tied in well, with the breakdancing explosion in the early 80's, and also, people in the 80's became obsessed with technology and the future of technology, as electronic gadgets started to be rolled out at breakneck speeds, compared to the more barren 1970's.
And let's not forget "That's Life!". Running from 1973 - 1994 - a nice long run - always presented by Esther Rantzen, frequenting at the weekends. I remember it being mostly on Sunday evenings, it was mostly on Saturday's. It was like a more entertaining, fluffy wuffy version of "Watchdog". The aim of the show was to protect consumer rights, as well as light-hearted elements, like talking dog, vegetables that seemed to make funny faces or looked like a "meat and two veg". It would sometimes try to charm our socks off with amusing anecdotes read from a person's letter, a bit like "Points of View" except less moaning. There was also some Arts thrown in, with poetry by Pam Ayres and comedy songs by Richard Stilgoe.
Esther would be be the main star, while the other 2 (3?) presenters would be behind desks reading the letters from sad and happy aspects of life. There were many that came and went. The ones I most remember are Adrian Mills and Gavin Campbell, In the older 70's version, you had comedian Cyril Fletcher with his gimmick of sitting in a comfy chair with a large book reading "odd odes" and amusing misprints.
Right I won't go on much longer about this, there will be other "That's Life!" here on this nostalgia blog. I liked the show enough, and it was never really replaced, but it was criticised for being dated and now too old fashioned. As cheesy as it was, strangely entertaining, profiling the absurdities of life. Can't see it being revived.