With Crackerjack returning to the nation’s TV screens, here are nine other things from the 1970s that could be back in Brexit Britain
Brexiteers may say it’s about a swashbuckling, forward-looking Global Britain. But it’s increasingly clear that Brexit is about to take us back to the 1970s.
Boris Johnson has a weird obsession with the EU wanting to ban prawn cocktail crisps. Just days ago long-lost episodes of the Likely Lads were unearthed and are set to get an airing. And then today the BBC announced it is bringing back Crackerjack, the shambolic children’s TV show as redolent of the 1970s as Spangles and casual racism.
What with that and rumours of a Rentaghost remake, it’s clear we’re returning to what experts unanimously agree was The Worst Decade. So what else can we expect alongside stagflation, increasing prices, strikes, repeated power cuts and a three-day working week? Here are nine suggestions…
1 Public information films
The government has launched a publicity drive to prepare the public for a possible no-deal Brexit, with guidance on how the public can get ready for potential issues that may arise from a disorderly break from Europe.
In the 1970s, however, such government information was relayed by Charley, a cartoon cat with an unintelligible miaow whose safety warnings were translated by a boy called Tony.
While these focused on the dangers of the time, such as falling in rivers and playing with matches, it could easily be turned to ‘Charley says remember to check you have six months left on your passport’, ‘Charley says don’t stockpile insulin in your garage’ and ‘Charley says there will not be a transition period in the event of no-deal whatever Mr Davis says’.
2 Chorlton and the Wheelies
An impenetrable kids’ TV show set in a world where everybody has wheels rather than legs for the simple reason it was easier to animate, Chorlton was a dragon with a thick Yorkshire accent battling an oversized kettle with an anthropomorphic book called Claptrap Von Spilldebeans.
This made much more sense in the 1970s when much of Britain was high on drugs – a scourge which wasn’t eradicated until 1986 when the cast of Grange Hill released the single Just Say No.
3 Space hoppers
A rubber ball with handles which, once border controls bring the nation’s roads to a screeching halt and public transport collapses under the weight of demand, it is perfectly conceivable Chris Grayling will suggest as an alternative form of getting around. And Theresa May will say she still has confidence in him.
4 Wimpy restaurants
With Theresa May’s unloved Brexit deal being neither one thing nor the other – too hard for Remainers and too soft for Leavers – what better symbol for the new Britain than Wimpy, the chain which combines inferior fast food with all the inconvenience of having to wait for it to be brought to your table and eaten with a knife and fork?
The chain, which banned women from entering on their own after midnight until 1971, even has as its mascot a Beefeater with no eyes, a glorious, patriotic emblem of a Britain marching into the future with no need of metropolitan fripperies such as knowing where it is or where it’s going.
Wimpy restaurants do still exist, by the way, although you may not have seen them – a Venn diagram of their 72 locations and places which voted Leave would be pretty packed around the middle.
5 Robin Askwith movies
The British film industry in the 1970s revolved around the ‘Confessions of…’ series of sex comedies starring Robin Askwith as variously a window cleaner, driving instructor and holiday camp worker abusing his position to bed women in work time.
Mostly these films were a series of scenes of Askwith dangling from a window with no trousers on, hiding under a car with no trousers on, running into a bush with no trousers on etc, all the while hiding from husbands who would invariably be wearing a bowler hat.
Their return – Askwith is still alive and acting – would also be one in the eye for the #MeToo movement, which should please Tory MPs like Philip Davies and Christopher Chope.
6 Everybody smoking all the time
Unlike in these nanny-state times, in 1970s Britain everybody smoked all the time. Bus drivers smoked, primary school children smoked during lessons, heart surgeons would routinely smoke while in theatre. The prime minister even smoked a pipe.
With the economy tanking after Brexit, the government will make it clear it’s everybody’s patriotic duty to take up the habit again and keep the taxes flowing into the Treasury. People will be urged to ‘cut up’, starting with five a day and working up to 40, until it’s possible to fund the NHS again and everybody sounds like Joe Cocker.
7 Salt and shake crisps
In the 1970s even the people whose job it was to put salt on to crisps went on strike and Walkers were forced to come up with a crisp which required the consumer to add it themselves (note to subs – can you check this is right?).
in the economic and social turmoil of Brexit Britain this is likely to return as a generation which expects Amazon Echo to do everything is forced to relearn the skills our grandparents had, such as pouring a small blue bag of salt on to our crisps.
In the early 1970s, everything in Britain was brown. Cars were brown and clothes were brown, as were wallpaper, food and television. Then the country joined the European Community and instantly unelected bureaucrats started foisting gaudy foreign colours on to it, like yellow, green and purple.
This will all change after Brexit and Britain can plough its on furrow hue-wise, and our palettes will return to a choice of chestnut, chocolate or desert sand.
In fact the only thing which wasn’t brown in the 1970s was…
9 White dog muck
Back in the olden times, good old-fashioned British dog muck was white, caused by the calcium that came from them munching on dog bones. The BSE crisis put paid to that, as butchers stopped dishing out bones to dog-owners, and the dog mess became as uniform as the rest of the continent.
This will all change after Brexit. With what we feed our dogs toppling down the priority list, the bones will return – and, like our glorious blue passports, our dogs’ waste will once again stand apart from the rest of Europe.
And Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen will wave a piece of it around from the benches of the House of Commons and declare, with a tear in his eye, that we had truly got our country back.