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Do Not Tape Over!

27 Mar

“Do Not Tape Over!”


I was slightly saddened to see that the VHS Player is being discontinued, and surprised because I thought they had stopped making them years back. I do tend to get sad at the drop of a hat, especially if it drops in a puddle, but I digress and the demise of VHS left me with mixed feelings. Compared to today’s media players the video tape is terrible but back in the early eighties it was a different story…

I was the first in my family to get a video player/recorder back in 1983. I couldn’t afford to buy one nor could many people, they retailed at around £599 in 1983 which is around £2000 in today’s money. I rented one from “Focus TV Rentals” which was next door to Ashton’s Tobacconists on Wallgate Wigan. In those days myself and Mrs T would be out every Saturday night visiting the fleshpots of Wigan town centre or if we were skint Newtown Workers or St Edward’s Club. Thanks to the video recorder we never missed an episode of Sight and Sound in Concert, Dynasty, Match of the Day and erm… Jim’ll Fix It

When bedtime came around we, like thousands of others across the land, covered up the glowing clock on the recorder with a cushion so that passing burglars couldn’t see the light emanating like a neon sign saying “Swag Here!” Sad but true. Blank tapes used for recording didn’t come cheap either costing around £7 for a 3 hour tape. That’s £22 in today’s coinage. So we tended to buy blank tapes sparingly and kept rewriting over them. The tapes came with stickers that you put on the cassettes to write down what was on it. Woe betide the man who ignored the message “Do Not Tape Over!” scrawled angrily over episodes of “Brookside”


To make sure programmes didn’t get copied over you could break a little black plastic square on the back of the cassette making it view only. Once you got tired of watching “Live Aid” for the umpteenth time you could always put a bit of sticky tape over the gap enabling you to record again. After a while your collection of tapes would begin to grow and take over the television corner. Piled high on and at the side of the telly was not the look to impress your friends when they popped round for a prawn cocktail. Then someone had a eureka moment and designed video covers that looked like books! Now you could stroll over to your “bookcase” and get a video for your guests to watch, very classy. Apart from the bit were you had to open every “book” to find the dammed programme you were after…

The VHS revolution gathered momentum and it wasn’t long before Video Shops popped up quicker than Norweb shirts on a Wembley outing. From these shops you could hire films for a night or two for around £1.50p and it’s hard to describe the excitement of watching a feature film in your own house! The very first video we hired was “The Fog” by John Carpenter and we watched it 2 or 3 times to get our £1.50p worth. Some video shops you had to pay a membership fee to join besides your hire fee. Loads of independent shops sprang up from nowhere and even the local off licence had a video corner.

You had to wait around 9 months for a film shown on the cinema to come out on video and it was a struggle to get the film because everyone would be after it and some shops would only have a couple of copies. New VHS films cost around £60-£80 sometimes and obviously small shops couldn’t buy these until the price dropped along with the demand. But the small dealers had something the big retailers didn’t have, a burgeoning pile of Pirate Videos (Copied and banned films nothing to do with swashbucklers. Well not in the “normal” sense anyway)

Ritz video

The video shop that myself and Mrs T frequented was based at the Saddle Newtown, think it’s a dodgy pizza place now. Anyway we, well I, were curious about these “behind the counter” videos everyone at work was on about. Mrs T would have nothing to do with this wicked deed so I had to go it alone. I wandered around the shop stroking my (behave yourselves!) chin and occasionally taking a video box out to peruse. Eventually the shop emptied and I was the only customer in there with the female assistant. FEMALE!!! Suddenly I got very nervous and sweat ran down my red face as I approached the counter, this was it, here goes…

I walked the short distance home clutching my copy of “Gandhi” with my reputation still intact and the behind the counter films undisturbed much to Mrs T’s amusement.

Pirate videos began to really take off and even our Mrs Mop cleaner at work was loaning them out for 50p. Mind you the quality of these films was very hit and miss with “The Empire Strikes Back” pirate copy being a particular low point. Even at 50p I felt cheated and spent the evening trying to make out who was who and what was what through a haze of shifting interference and neon blurred colours played out to Japanese dubbing with what I think were English subtitles.

I eventually became a “pirate” borrowing my dad’s video player and setting it up at the side of mine so that I could copy my rentals to his machine. I got my tapes from Wigan Library and copied classics like “The Demolition of Wigan Market Hall” well my dad liked em’ anyroad.

Anything and everything came out on video back in the eighties and film makers took full advantage of this new medium to showcase their “talent” Someone let me borrow their copy of “The Evil Dead” saying it was the scariest film they had ever seen. I thought it was one of the most outlandish, funny films I had ever seen and my mate thought I was weird when I told him so but later films proved that it was tongue in cheek. Though I think the first film was so bad it turned out to be funny unintentionally.

The Evil Dead

It didn’t take long for Mary Whitehouse and her crew to take umbrage at these gory films and the “Video Nasties” were banned. Rumours abounded that some of these videos actually showed people being killed and mutilated in them and the term “Snuff Movie” was born. Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato was charged after killings in his film were accused of being real. The Italian director was only able to clear himself by getting the “killed” actors to appear alongside him in court.

Some of the old video films are worth quite a bit of money now and it’s worth your while having a root if you still have some tucked away. I say some so I doubt you’ll get much for most of them. Look on the internet for valuations etc.

People of a certain age, and younger ones actually who have never used a video player, still say “I’m taping it” when they refer to recording something today. Long may that tradition continue…

Back to today and I’m typing this article up in my little room surrounded by video tapes that were in suitcases in the garage, a portable television that I recovered from the attic and a VHS player that I found under a wheelbarrow in the old shed. All cleaned up and free from spiders, I hope, and it all still works! I have about 40 tapes or so that I taped stuff on and quite a few have football on. The quality is surprisingly good when you consider they’ve been left untouched for so long.

So I’m now going through those old tapes and seeing long forgotten images once more. It really is fascinating from old adverts to fashion, football to drama; I’ll keep you informed if I find anything of interest to you. Personally I’m thrilled to see the kids when they were kids, Mrs T and her sexy perm and me with hair that wasn’t quite so white…

 Take care kids

Tony Topping

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An Apple for the Teacher

4 Mar

IT WAS the hottest day of the year – 9 August 2003. I had awoken from a strange vivid dream of childhood to the reality of my son’s wedding day, and as I stood in the cool haven of a lovely old London church it was hard to shake off the past.

Images of my own wedding day, together with thoughts of my parents and my childhood home, drifted in and out of my senses. It was a day for dreams, and as we sang the majestic ‘Jerusalem’, I’m sure that every member of “our side” of the congregation sent a thought winging 200 miles through the sunlit afternoon to the “dark satanic mills” of our native Lancashire. Earlier in the year, Beccy’s parents, on their first visit to Wigan, had enjoyed a lesson in Wigan Pier’s Victorian school room, where they had to sing ‘All ThingsBright and Beautiful’under the stern eye of the schoolmarm.


As a reminder of their visit that lovely childlike hymn was also chosen for the wedding, and as we sang, my thoughts travelled once more – not across the miles this time, but across the years to the Babies class at Ince Central school where I first sang it. The school was in the old building then as the present school was still being built. We had to take 3d. every week to pay for a brick, our payments being entered onto a little pick card – do any Ince readers remember that? My memories of the old school are naturally hazy, but I can see high windows and a coal fire surrounded by a huge fireguard on which wet gloves and mittens steamed gently on winter afternoons. In the schoolyard stood two rows of smelly toilets, the seat of each one consisting of simply a board with a hole in it. Mrs Sandiford and Miss Ashurst presided over the “Babies” and they used to read Milly-Molly- Mandy stories to us just before home time, which was at 4 o’clock then.

Sometimes, “Bobby Beacon” came to give us road safety talks. He was a big, kindly policeman with black hair and rosy cheeks and he would hang a sheet over the blackboard depicting a road scene. To this he attached a character called “Little Tommy”, demonstrating what would happen if careless Tommy didn’t follow the kerb drill!

During lessons we sat round a table in the middle of which stood a sturdy cardboard ‘Tidy Box’, which housed our pencils and crayons.Sometimes we played with clay on little boards – I can still feel the clammy coldness of it – and sometimes we made pictures with Fuzzy Felts or played in the sand tray. That first Christmas I made a spill-holder complete with paper ‘spills’ for my dad to light his pipe with but I got measles and Miss Ashurst delivered it to our house. I can remember my family crowding to the door to see “our Irene’s teacher”, as she walked away – such was the awe in which teachers were held in those days!


Then came the day when the new school opened. How modern it was with light, airy classrooms and child-size indoor flush toilets – pink for girls and blue for boys. Best of all behind the infants playground was the Wagon Works where my dad worked, and he would often wave to me at playtime. Every child had a small bottle of milk to drink each morning, the milk-monitor having removed the foil top with a little gadget shaped like a flying saucer. Do you remember buying ‘Cheesettes’ from the biscuit- monitor? She counted them directly from her hand into ours from a big box, (no one bothered about plastic gloves in those days). If I had 3d., I would buy 24, and wolf the lot – (oh, happy days! – I only have to walk past a Cheesette now and I put 2lbs on!).

Outside in the playground, little Ince lads miraculously turned into Wild West cowboys and Indians, whilst girls linked arms and walked round chanting “who’s playin’ skilly?”, whereupon other girls joined the link until there were enough to warrant a game. Next day, someone might bring a sheet of ‘transfers’ to school. These were little stamp-sized pictures of perhaps, a Union Jack, a boat or a doll. We stuck them face-down on our arms by licking the backing paper which we carefully peeled off after a few minutes, leaving the picture behind like a tattoo.


As the contents of our classroom nature-table changed with the seasons so did the games we played. There was a craze for hula-hoops, and we played ‘two-ball’ against the wall, singing “Nebuchadnezzar, the King of the Jews, bought his wife a pair of shoes” or skipped in a rope being twirled by two girls singing, “Queen, Queen Caroline washed her hair in turpentine”. We played “The Farmer Wants a Wife” and “What Time is it Mr Wolf?”. You could always hear young voices somewhere, chanting the age-old rhymes – we were allowed to be children in those days.

At the end of playtime, the teacher blew the whistle, and we formed ‘lines’ before leading into school hoping “Nitty Nora, t’bug explorer” wasn’t waiting to examine our hair for unwanted guests! The teacher heard every child read from their “Janet and John” book daily, and in arithmetic (which we called sums), we chanted our times-tables in a singsong: “One two is two, two two’s are four”. It wouldn’t be considered the correct way to learn these days but it certainly stuck!

On a cupboard in the infants’ corridor stood a pottery rabbit which held a strange fascination for me – oh, how I loved him! One day, I spotted an identical one on Baileys Pot stool in Wigan Market Hall, which remained there all through my school days. When I started work I bought him with my first week’s wages. He had been there for so long that I can recall the assistant shouting to her colleague, “Ey, somebody’s buyin’ t’rabbit!” He is looking down at me from my kitchen shelf as I write and the little girl who loved him loves him still.

How nervous we all were when the time came to move across to the juniors school! The top class seemed like adults, and we dreaded the ‘nowty’ teachers we had heard about. It was here that girls where taught to knit and I can remember the simple bonnet I made. We learned to do joined up writing – “real writing” we called it – and I suspect we were the last generation to use the old scratch-pens, which we dipped into a porcelain inkwell in the desktop. My friend Christine and I used to buy shilling fountain pens from Tommy Enty’s (Entwistle’s) shop on Ince Bar, but they always leaked within a few days.


Our exercise books came in different colours – blue, say for English, red for sums and so on. Do you remember the ones with shiny covers which had conversion tables on the backs? Ounces into pounds, inches into feet, and strange measurements like quarts and bushels and furlongs. I had (and still have) a passion for stationery, and I would spend hours in Starr’s or Wilding’s on Wallgate, buying daft things like telephone memo pads, when nobody I knew possessed a telephone, or packets of gold stars like the ones the teacher stuck into our books for good work. Sometimes, we listened to ‘Radio Broadcasts for Schools’, via a mesh fronted wooden speaker on the classroom wall and once a term, we had a film show in exciting, giggle-inducing semi-darkness on Friday afternoon.

Games lesson usually meant ‘rounders’ on the school field where we wore team bands in red, yellow, blue or green. For a treat, if it was very hot, the teacher took us outside to listen to a story. How we enjoyed such diversions from the usual time table, and we sat on the grass making daisy-chains as the bees droned in the clover flowers, (which we called ‘sucky-bobs’), and the distant playground shimmered in the heat. The actual story probably went in one ear and out the other, but the memory of those golden afternoons remains as clear as a bell.

Eventually, we reached the top class, were we sat the eleven-plus exam – “t’scholarship” – which marked the end of our primary school days. I remember the day the letter came to say I had passed for the grammar school, along with two boys – oh, if only another girl had passed! I was a very shy child who found it hard to mix and the thought of going alone to a new school terrified me to such an extent that I decided to go to Rose Bridge Secondary Modern with my friends. However, my teacher talked to me about the chance I was throwing away and I was made to understand that a grant was available for the uniform which I was aware my parents couldn’t afford. Very reluctantly, I resigned myself to becoming a pupil of Hindley and Abram Grammar School come September but I felt like an outcast from my class from that day onwards.

On the last afternoon desks were emptied, inkwells washed and cupboards tidied. Then the teacher called for “Hands together and eyes closed” for our final prayers before the whole school whooped and yelled its way out into the sunshine, free for five whole weeks. I hung back alone by the railings. How I envied those who were returning! Even the top class would still have ‘story time’ in the afternoon and playtime, (which would now become ‘break’ at the grammar school). In the Babies class, a new generation of children would play in the sand tray and would see my little rabbit every day. It is hard to put into words, the overwhelming isolation and dread that I felt but I can feel it yet….

A sudden jangle of keys heralded the arrival of the caretaker and the spell was broken. I turned and ran, only vaguely aware of every day sounds: the chant of the skipping rhyme: “On the mountain stands a lady, who she is I do not know”, a snatch of television from an open doorway: “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent”. I would be home in time to hear Leslie Crowther announce, “It’s Friday, it’s five to five and it’s CRACKERJACK!” from our black and white television, but today I would stare unseeingly at the screen…. Oh, I didn’t want to go!

But I went (and survived!), and now school days are far behind me, and their sights and sounds are long gone from our streets – the paper lads whistle and his cry of ‘Chronicle!’, a game of marbles on the cobbles, the clip-clop of the rag-bone man’s horse and children’s shrill voices echoing down some back entry: “Oh the big ship sails up the alleyalley- o”….. they exist only in memory now, but once, on a sad summers day long ago they were all around me – real and vibrant and alive. But my eyes were blind to them and my ears closed to everything but the poignant clang of the school gate as it closed behind me for the last time. 

Irene Roberts

My Honeymoon with Italian Ice Cream Men 1982

6 Jun

I got married on the 5th of June 1982 but we had a belated honeymoon in July after I agreed to loosen the purse strings and whisk my newish 20yr old bride off to Blackpool for a week. We stayed in a little boarding house in Charnley Road called “Bramlea House” and shared a dining table with two women in their 30’s and a lovely old couple Ethel and Neville from Rochdale. I got allocated the chair in the middle next to one of the women, the “brassy” mad blonde one of our grub group.bramlea dining room

(The actual dining room at the Bramlea)

Of course the mad blondie picked on me mercilessly “Have you come for a dirty weekend Tony?” she asked me on our first breakfast meeting “No, no” I said “We’ve come for a week” “You’ve come for a dirty week!” she replied just loud enough for the people on a passing tram to look at me with disgust. “No, no” I spluttered with a face redder than the unrealistic plastic tomato ketchup dispenser laid before me “We’ve come for a holiday” Except “holiday” came out in a reluctant elongated “Hollllllidayyyyy” Blondie laughed and nudged me with her sharp elbow “I’m only having you on kid” Aye maybe but it put me off my sausage that morning.

Ah but Blackpool is not known as the Plastic Jewel of the North for nothing and our spirits soon lifted as we walked along the heaving promenade. With the smell of chip fat and burgers adding to


(Blackpool 1982)

hedonistic atmosphere we went for a paddle in the grey/brownish sea whilst children happily shifted the sands with their buckets & spades playing “Find the buried Nappies” Raising my voice so that my wife could hear me over the bingo callers, I held her in my arms and said “Isn’t this bliss darling?” She said nothing in return but looked like she was about to cry. Yes Blackpool has that effect on you…

Now I find it best if you start a relationship by being honest and laying your cards on the table so to speak. With this in mind I got on my wife’s best side by treating her to a pot of tea in Woolies café. Whilst she was putting wrapped cubes of sugar in her bag (for emergencies, novelty value, impress her workmates, passing horses) I told her that I loved her and I also loved football but I had known football for longer therefore I should put that first, seemed reasonable to me. Seconds later I was picking sugar lumps out of my hair, shirt and eyeballs and we came to a new mutual arrangement…

(She didn't buy this by the way)

(She didn’t buy this by the way)

The World Cup Final took place on the Sunday and I was on a promise with Mrs T. Yes I could watch the final if I promised to buy her something nice from Clockhouse in the nearest C & A store. Now then back in the early eighties you didn’t have televisions in hotel bedrooms, crikey you were lucky if you a sink to pee in, you had what was called a “Television Lounge” Which was basically like you Nan’s front room minus your Nan.

A lot of pubs didn’t have televisions either and besides I wanted to watch the final in relative comfort and an armchair pulled up to the TV was the best option. But this was not as simple as it sounded, you see other people were in the hotel and they might want to watch something else that evening, the selfish old buggers.

A plan formulated in my mind and we set it in motion. On the first strike of the dinner gong we would rush downstairs and be first in the dining room. Ignoring the soup of the day starter (Oxtail) we would move directly on to our main meal TV Lounge Blackpool(Chicken with it being a Sunday) and then pass up on the sweet option (Ice cream with tinned mandarins)

It worked like a charm and we rushed back upstairs with the brassy blondes parting retort “Ooo can you not wait you randy little sod?” echoing round Blackpool and District. Mrs T was on first shift in the lounge and she made sure the television was on the BBC channel as I preferred that channels coverage. In the meantime I would get washed and changed for an immediate exit to the pub once the final had finished. I get ready as quick as I can and hurry back down to the TV lounge to see Mrs T sat alone “Has anyone been in?” I ask slightly out of breath “No not a one” she replies before adding “Right I’ll get changed and meet you here later”

Now a lot of the older generation like a bit of a walk after tea before returning to the hotel and I was prepared for this sexagenarian surge pulling my armchair a little closer to the TV in the unlikely event of someone sitting in front of me. There was one flaw in my plan and I would need all my courage to stick to my guns. BBC 2 had “The Alamo” on at the same time as the final so it was my guns against John Wayne and his elderly fan club. alamoposter

They came in the room in bibs and bobs, sat down for a while and said “Are you watching this?” “Oh yes” I replied to which they glared at me and shuffled out the room banging the door behind them. You see the Alamo actually started before the World Cup coverage so I had to pretend I wanted to watch the programme that was on BBC 1 prior to the final. Thanks to the internet I found out what that programme was and I cringed with embarrassment while Mrs T laughed her head off. I wouldn’t let them switch the TV over for “The Alamo” because I wanted to watch “Songs of Praise” with Thora Hird…

I was left in blissful isolation albeit labelled a religious fanatic by half the hotel and a sex maniac by one. Mrs T joined me for the second half which she spent painting her nails as Italians painted their country Azzurro after a 3-1 win over Germany, a game immortalised by Marco Tardelli’s ecstatic celebration after he scored the second goal.


Game over we bounded out the hotel and headed for the nearest pub but before we got there we witnessed the amazing sight of a line of Italian Ice Cream vans driving round, all playing jingles and sounding their horns. Carried away with the euphoria I started waving and yelling at them “Italia, Italia…” Mrs T pulled my arms down and told me to stop it, when I asked her why she said “They’ll be thinking you want to buy an ice cream!” Women eh?


Looking at the hotel now on “Tripadvisor” it’s rated 831st out of 900 B & B’s it wasn’t quite that bad in 1982 I assure you. Mind you that Television Lounge where I watched the World Cup being won is probably split into two bedrooms now. Ah well it lives on in my mind.

Tony Topping


The Addams Family v The Munsters

25 May


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Are you ready children of the night for a little “family” entertainment? Then come with me into the old dark house, through the creaking door, watch those cobwebs now dearie, as we turn the clock back to 1964 and the old television flickers into life thanks to the sudden electrical storm raging above the rickety rooftop…

Two strange families emerged onto our TV screens that year and battled it out to the death for our affections. Who won? Well that’s up to you to decide, I will provide you with the evidence my children but tis you who decides the Crypt Champions.

The Addams Family


Gomez the father of the family is a smooth suited cigar loving millionaire who was a mean sword fighter. He loved to dabble on the stock market but he also liked to blow up his model train set frequently with massive explosions. His one true passion though was for his wife Mortica, the black dressed vamp who would send Gomez wild with passion when she spoke in French. These two liked nothing better than to dance the tango. She was the matriarch of the family. Mortica also loved gardening and would cut rose blossom heads off just so she could admire the thorns. These two hated sunshine but would describe a wet stormy day as “beautiful”

Uncle Fester is the uncle of Mortica and he was a very manic man always up to mischief. With his bald head and sunken eyes he loved to perform his trick of making a light bulb light up by placing it in his mouth. Grandmama is the mother of Gomez. She is a scraggy haired old witch who likes nothing better than mixing spells & potions. Next up is Lurch a shuffling 8ft tall butler who has more than a passing resemblance to Frankenstein’s Monster. Lurch tends to groan a lot and is not the chatty type, His catchphrase being “You Rang” every time he answered the door. Thing was a disembodied hand that would appear from all sorts of containers and unusual nooks & crannies. He loved to answer the phone and would often appear to light Gomez’s cigar. Cousin Itt was short, covered completely in long hair and spoke in a high pitched gibberish way that was impossible for normal humans to understand, although all the members of the family could all understand Itt. Puggsley was Gomez and Mortica’s eldest child. Quiet and thoughtful he spent a lot of his time building engineering projects, collecting road signs for his bedroom, and feeding his pet octopus Aristotle. His younger sister Wednesday liked to play with dolls, well she liked to guillotine their little heads off particularly her doll Marie Antoinette. She also liked unusual pets especially her spiders. Her best friend was the butler Lurch.

Addams Family Actors 

Gomez was played by John Astin born 1930. Once married to actress Patty Duke. Now teaches method acting.

Mortica was played by Carolyn Jones born 1930 died 1983 (Colon cancer) once married to film maker Aaron Spelling. After the Addams Family her acting career was sporadic.

Uncle Fester was played by veteran actor Jackie Coogan born 1914 died 1984 (Heart Disease) Coogan was a former child actor who made his first appearance in silent movies as an infant. In 1921 he starred in “The Kid” with Charles Chaplin. The following year he wowed audiences with his performance in “Oliver Twist” He was a huge child star and merchandise featuring his face included chocolate bars, peanut butter, toys dolls & records.

He was a big earner as a child accumulating as much as $4 million dollars. Sadly for Coogan his mother and stepfather took the money. He sued them in 1935 but he only received $126,000. The court case did produce a new law to protect child actors “The Coogan Bill”

Once married to Betty Grable.

Grandmama was played by Blossom Rock born 1895 died 1978 (Natural causes) Rock was the elder sister of singer/actress Jeanette McDonald. Her Addams Family role was her best known.

Lurch was played by Ted Cassidy born 1932 died 1979 (complications following heart surgery) Cassidy also played the part of “Thing” He was 6ft 9ins tall… Appeared in a few early Star Trek episodes also did voice overs for it. Was a radio DJ for a while and later was the  narrator in the opening scenes of the TV show “The Incredible Hulk”, he also did the growls of the Hulk.

Cousin Itt was played by Felix Silla born 1937 only 3ft 11ins tall he was officially classified as a dwarf. Born in Italy he went to America in 1955 with a touring circus, Silla being an accomplished tumbler, trapeze artist & bareback rider. He moved into movies as a stuntman often playing children in films such as “The Towering Inferno” He married another “little” person, Susan and they have been married since 1965. They have two children.

Puggsley was played by Ken Weatherwax born 1955. Weatherwax won the part despite 500 other kids auditioning for the place. In 1967 when the show was dropped he went back to school. He had a short stint in the Army before moving back in to the film business as a studio grip were he has remained ever since.

Wednesday was played by Lisa Loring born 1958. Loring’s best known role was as Wednesday. After the Addams Family run ended she appeared in several TV shows before working in the Porn Industry as a producer. She then got involved in drugs and her life went into a downwards spiral. Thankfully after rehab she got her life back on track and today often attends Addams Family conventions.

Addams Family Trivia 

Their home address was 000 Cemetery Lane.

It took Carolyn Jones two hours to get made up as Mortica, her wig was made of human hair.

Ted Cassidy played “Thing” sometimes using his left hand to see if anyone noticed.

Gomez & Mortica were the first married couple on American TV implied to have a sex life.

Gomez favourite food was eye of newt.

The sign in the front yard said “Beware of the Thing”

We saw Gomez kiss Mortica up her arm but never on her lips.

The family’s pet lion was named “Kitty Cat”

Mortica had a man eating plant named Cleopatra.

The Munsters 


Hermann was the dad in this family. He was obviously the star of the show, 150 years old and like Lurch another Frankenstein monster clone. He was prone to tantrums often resulting in him stamping his foot like a petulant child and when he did the whole house shook. He was always scared or worried.

Slightly camp he worked as a gravedigger for a funeral parlour. His true love was Lily his wife of 100 years. She liked to cook unusual meals and when she did her housework she would spread rubbish about the house and her vacuum cleaner worked in reverse blowing dirt out, she was very proud of her unkempt house. Grandpa was the Dad of Lily. Like Lily he is from vampire stock, seemingly Jewish he turns into a bat when he is in a huff. He loves to experiment in his basement lab building mechanical devices such as a robot or making spells and potions. Marilyn was the daughter of one of Lily’s sisters. Why she ended up living with her Uncle and Aunt nobody knows. She is the one “normal” person living in the house though the family think she is ugly and she feels the same way about herself because she never seems to keep a boyfriend. Little does she realise it but her male admirers run away because of the rest of her relations. Last but not least is Eddie the little werewolf son of Hermann & Lily. Eddie like to hide away in cupboards and when he is not hiding he can be found helping Grandpa in his lab. He is a good student and is often seen doing school homework. His pet dragon Spot lives under the stairs and is seldom if ever seen. Eddie does have a bad habit of howling like a wolf at night though.

The Munsters Actors


Hermann was played by Fred Gwynne (Born 1926 died 1993 pancreatic cancer) Gwynne was an excellent character actor. Standing 6ft 5ins he was a perfect choice for the role of Hermann even though he had to wear boots with another 4ins insole. He had already made a name for himself with the excellent TV show “Car 54, Where are you?” which ran from 1961 to 1963. He served in the US Navy in World War 2 and after the war went to Harvard where he majored in English. His first source of income was as an illustrator but he made his film debut as a thug in “On the Waterfront” His last film appearance was as the Judge in “My Cousin Vinny”

Lily was played by Yvonne De Carlo (Born 1922 died 2007 aged 84 heart failure) Born in Canada her Father left home when she was only 3 and her Mother worked as a waitress to make ends meet. She was determined that Yvonne would have a better life and enrolled her in a dance school and drama classes. When Yvonne was 15 they left for Hollywood but she never made the breakthrough and so they returned home. In 1940 she tried again and did manage to get small unbilled parts in films. In 1945 she made her first starring role in the picture “Salome, Where She Danced” She played alongside top stars such as Burt Lancaster and her finest film moment came in 1956 when she played Moses wife in “The Ten Commandments” In 1964 she took the part of Lily primarily to pay medical bills for her husband Bob Morgan who was a stuntman and had been hurt filming “How The West Was Won” They divorced in 1968.

Grandpa was played by Al Lewis (Born 1923 died 2006)  Early in Lewis’s life he had tried all kinds of jobs, working as a private detective, teaching, writing, circus performer to name just a few. In 1949 he turned to acting and joined a drama school were one of his classmates was Sidney Poitier. He eventually worked on Broadway before making his TV debut with “Car 54, Where are you?” alongside Fred Gwynne. After the Munsters he made many TV and theatre appearances throughout his life. He was also a Basketball scout and owned several Italian restaurants named “Grandpa’s”

Marilyn was originally played by Beverly Owen (Born 1939) but she left after the first 13 episodes. Owen disliked her role in the series but her contractual obligations meant she had to accept the part. She left to get married and took to playing live theatre. She was replaced by Pat Priest (Born 1936) Her mother was a big wheel in American Government and once served as United States Treasurer. Priest had a very privileged lifestyle and with her good looks even won the local beauty pageant   Encouraged by this she took to modelling work and appeared in commercials. This brought her to the attention of the Munsters crew who were desperate for someone to replace Owen. Sadly after the Munsters she found work hard to come by, the ultimate insult being considered too old at 30 to play the part of Marilyn in the film “Munster Go Home” though the rest of the original cast appeared in it. She finally retired from acting in the 80’s and now restores and sells homes in Idaho.

Eddie was played by Butch Patrick (Born 1953) He made his acting debut aged 8 in 1961. While living with his Grandma he was summoned to Los Angeles to audition for the part of Eddie. After the Munsters he appeared in small parts on TV and in commercials.  In 1971 he hosted a Saturday morning kids show and was back in the limelight for a while but it didn’t last long. He quit show business to become “A hellraiser” and the world forgot about Butch Patrick for a while. Eventually the money ran out and he had to do odd jobs around the country to survive.  He formed a band called “Eddie and the Munsters” and released a single entitled “Whatever happened to Eddie?” the record caused MTV to create the “Basement Tapes” so that unsigned bands could parade their talents in the media. His main source of income nowadays seems to come from personal appearances. You can book him for corporate events, birthday parties, Halloween etc. You can even email him at

Munsters Trivia

They lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane

Someone in Texas has built a replica of the Munsters house, they live in it.

The original house can still be seen in the series Desperate Housewife’s.

They had two custom cars the “Drag U La” and the “Munster Koach”

The Raven in the clock was voiced by Mel Blanc.

So my pretties who is the winner in this ghoulish game? I’ll let you decide, I love them both dearly but Hermann is my favourite character, Fred Gwynne played him to perfection.

Well bye for now my little werewolves and if you are out and about in my neck of the woods do call in for a bite. Goodnight.


Tony (Transylvania) Topping