ITV’s 50 Greatest Shows

Louise Gold featured (uncredited) performing The Queen from Spitting Image, and (credited) as herself a Muppet Puppeteer on The Muppet Show. Broadcast on ITV1 from 19:00 on Saturday 10 September 2005




Cat Deely

Philip Schofield

Credited Participants

Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden)

Elkan Allan (Executive Producer of Ready Steady Go)

Susie Amy (Chardonnay Pascal)

Peter Andre

Ant & Dec

Michael Aptus (Producer of 49 Up)

Michael Aspel (Subject of This Is Your Life, 1980; Presenter of This Is Your Life, 1987-1990)

Mark Austin

George Baker (No 2 in The Prisoner)

Richard Bates (Executive Producer of The Darling Buds Of May, Writer on The Avengers, and Executive Producer of A Touch Of Frost)

Cilla Black

Tony Blackburn

Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale)

Roy Bottemly (Writer and Programme Consultant of This Is Your Life)

Lord Melvyn Bragg

Caroline Brett (Writer and Producer of Survival)

Fern Britton

Paul Burrell

Todd Carty (PC Gabriel Kent in The Bill)

Nicki Chapman

Eric Chappell (Producer and Writer of Rising Damp)

Ted Childs (Director of The Sweeney, Executive Producer of Inspector Morse)

Mark Chinnock (Martin Dingle)

Irene Cockcroft (Producer of Jimmy’s)

George Cole (Arthur Daley)

Simon Cowell

Russell T Davis (Television Writer)

Angus Deayton

Les Dennis

Mark Durden-Smith (Judith Chalmers’s Son)

Christopher Eccleston (Trevor Hicks in Hillsborough, and a DCI in Cracker)

Peter Fluck (Co-Creator of Spitting Image)

Derek Fowlds

Neil Fox

Philip Franks (Cedric Charlot)

Robin Gibb (from The Bee Gees)

Louise Gold (Puppeteer and Voice Artiste from The Muppet Show)

Trudie Goodwin (Sgt June Ackland in The Bill)

Robson Green

Shobna Gulati

Trevor Hicks

Paddy Joe Hill

Amanda Holden

Engelbert Humperdinck

John Hurt

Sally James

Sir David Jason (Pop Larkin, and, Inspector Frost)

Mark Jordan

Professor Simon Kay (Plastic Surgeon at St James’s Hospital, Leeds)

Lorraine Kelly

Matthew Kelly (Presenter of Stars In Their Eyes 1993-2004)

Martin Kemp

Patsy Kensit (Sade King)

Judith Keppel

Kermit The Frog (probably Steve Whitmire)

Verity Lambert (Executive Producer of The Naked Civil Servant)

Claire Lewis (Producer of 49 Up)

David Liddiment (Producer of Stars In Their Eyes, and, Producer of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire)

Sally Lindsay

Gaby Logan

Gary Lucy (Kyle Pascoe)

Sir Trevor MacDonald

Art Malik (Henry Kumer)

David Mane

Paul Marquis (Executive Producer of The Bill from 2002-2003)

Jean Marsh (Co-Creator of Upstairs Downstairs / Rose Buck)

Julian Maynon (Reporter Death On The Rock)

Ian McBride (Producer of World In Action)

Davina McCall

Patrick McNee

Jackie Melton (Script Consultant on The Bill)

Dame Helen Mirren

Sheree Murphy (a real Footballer’s Wife)

Al Murray

Denis Norden

Hermione Norris

Cyril Nri

Michael Palin

Tara Palmer-Tompkinson

Brian Park (Executive Producer of Footballers Wives, and, Producer of Coronation Street from 1997-1998)

Michael Parkinson

Nicholas Parsons

Trisha Penrose

Dr Raj Persand (This Morning psychiatrist 1994-2003)

Arlene Phillips (Choreographer of Hot Gossip)

Tim Piggott-Smith (Reginald Merrick)

Miss Piggy (probably Eric Jacobson)

HRH The Queen from Spitting Image (voiced and probably performed by Louise Gold)

Diana Quick

Neil Reid (Opportunity Knocks winner)

Sir Cliff Richard

Keith Richardson (Executive Producer of Heatbeat)

Fay Ripley (Jenny Gifane)

William Roache (Ken Barlow)

Denise Robertson (This Morning’s Agony Aunt)

Alan Root (Writer and Producer of Survival)

Nicola Shindler (Producer of Hillsborough)

Paul Smith (Creator and Producer of It’ll Be Alright On The Night)

Jerry Springer

Charles Starridge (Director of Brideshead Revisited)

Melaine Stykes

Claire Sweeney

Chris Tarrant

Sue and Alex Tatham

Gillian Taylforth

George Jesse Turner (Camerman on World In Action)

Tony Walker

Bradley Walsh

Don Warrington

Dennis Waterman (a Sergeant in The Sweeney, and, Terry McCann in Minder)

Gary Webster (Ray Daley)

Kevin Whatley (Inspector Lewis)

Alan Whicker

Simon Williams (James Bellemy)

Holly Willoughby

Dale Winterton

Dale Winton

Glenda Wood (Make-up Designer for Stars In Their Eyes)

Susan Wooldridge (Daphne Mamer)

Dan Worrington (Philip Smith)

Natasha Znack (Executive Producer of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here)


Probable Uncredited Participants

Louise Gold (voicing and probably performing The Queen from Spitting Image)

Eric Jacobson (as Miss Piggy from The Muppet Show)

Steve Nallon (voicing Margaret Thatcher from Spitting Image)

Steve Whitmire (as Kermit The Frog from The Muppet Show)


Production Team

 Graphics – Hello Charlie

Post Production Fascilities 3 Sixty Media

Archive Courtesy of – Granada, Freemantle Thames, Talkback Thames, 19 Television, Ralph Edwards Productions, Canule Image Uk Ltd, Celador, ITN/Pathe, Shed Productions, Endmol, International BV, The Muppets Holding Company, Buena Vista International Inc, Universal Studios, Fauna Productions And Southern Star International, ITV Sport Archive, and, ITV Archive

With Thanks To – Julian MacDonald Adler

Camera -  Jeremy Bishop, Dave Hamilton Green, Paul Ream, and, Steve Stands

Sound – Ryan Chandler, Richard Eades, and, Mick Close

Studio Camera Supervisor – Cameron Whitle

Studio Sound Supervisor – Andy Wenhan

Lighting Director – Tom Kinane

Set Designer – Alex Craig

Online Editor – Dave Dill

Dubbing Mixer – Dave Sanson

Production Accountant – Phil Crabb

Production Co-ordinators – Annette Capstick, Liz, Phillips, and, Samantha Parkin

Production Executive – Samantha Stamp

Head Of Production – Carol McKenzie

Script Consultant – Andy Milligan

Research – Becky Swale

Archive Researcher – Suzanne Thompson

Assistant Producer – Archive – Camilla Wheeler

Assistant Producers – Louise Ireland, and, Yvette Lyons

Editors – Doug Faircloth, and, Nigel Davies

Insert Producer – Nickie Lister

Studio Director – Chris Power

Executive Producers – Clare Pizey, and, Mark Robinson

Produced & Directed by – John Piper

Copyright - (c) – Yorkshire Television Ltd 2005

Production Company – A Granada Yorkshire Production


50 Greatest Shows

50. Family Fortunes

49. It’ll Be Alright On The Night (1977 to Present)

48. Opportunity Knocks

47. Whicker’s World

46. The Jewel In The Crown

45. Tonight With Trevor MacDonald

44. Candid Camera

43. This Is Your Life (1969-1995)

42. The South Bank Show

41. Ready Steady Go

40. Death On The Rock

39. Survival (1961-2001)

38. Heartbeat

37. Sunday Night At The London Palladium (1955-1967)

36. Jimmy’s

35. Blind Date

34. Brideshead Revisited

33. The Benny Hill Show

32. World In Action

31. Seven Up

30. The Prisoner (1967-1968)

29. The Naked Civil Servant

28. The World At War

27. The Darling Buds Of May

26. An Audience With

25. The Kenny Everett Video Show

24 Hillsborough 1996 (programme about the Stadium disaster)

23. Upstairs Downstairs (1971-1975)

22. Stars In Their Eyes (1990-present)

21. Rising Damp

20. Tiswas (1974-1982)

19. The Sweeney (1975-1978)

18. Prime Suspect (1981-Present)

17. The Avengers (1961-1969)

16. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (1998-Present)

15. Minder

14. Footballers Wives (2002-Present)

13. This Morning (1988-Present)

12. Cracker (1993-1996)

11. Cold Feet (1997-2003)

10. Spitting Image (1984-1996)

9. Pop Idol (2001-2003)

8. The Muppet Show (1976-1981)

7. The Bill (1984-Present)

6. I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (2002-Present)

5. Emmerdale Farm

4. Inspector Morse (1987-2000)

3. A Touch Of Frost (1992-Present)

2. Ant And Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (2002-Present)

1. Coronation Street


The Bill, Up The Garden Path, ABBA - The Reunion, Spitting Image Must See TV, ABBA – The Mamma Mia Story, The Ghost Of Faffner Hall, Best Ever Spitting Image, and, Coronation Street were all first shown on ITV 1, as well as The Muppet Show, and, Spitting Image.

Besides working on The Muppet Show, and, Spitting Image, Louise Gold has also appeared in The Bill, and subsequently in Coronation Street. Her mother also acted one shot parts in The Bill and on Inspector Morse.

Steve Whitmire had also worked on The Muppet Show, though not performing Kermit.

Philip Schofield, and, Nicholas Parsons had previously appeared in The Wonderful World Of Puppets.

It is not quite clearly whether It’ll Be Alright On The Night producer Paul Smith could also be the BBC Producer (and puppeteer) of the same name who appeared in The Wonderful World Of Puppets, or whether he could be the writer of the same name who worked on Laugh...? I Nearly Paid My License Fee.

Honour Blackman had previously appeared in Nunsense (Stage Show) and on the associated album Nunsense (recording).

Les Dennis, and, Derek Fowlds took part in Kids At Heart, which Lord Melvyn Bragg may have also taken part in. Some actors from The Bill also took part.

George Cole had previously appeared in The Pirates Of Penzance (Stage Production), and in the associated galas: The Pirates Of Penzance (Gala Performance), The Pirates Of Penzance (Gala Preview), and, The Pirates Of Penzance (Benefit Preview), as well as appearing as a member of that cast in The Royal Variety Performance (1982).

Dennis Waterman also took part in The Royal Variety Performance (1982).

Angus Deayton, Michael Palin, and, Sir Cliff Richard took part in Comic Relief 1986, and appeared on the associated album Utterly Utterly Live Comic Relief.

Peter Fluck worked on Spitting Image and of course the Spitting Image Pilots. He also contributed to the Spitting Image Auction, he appeared at Spitting Image – BFI Event, and on Best Ever Spitting Image.

Derek Fowlds, Sir Trevor MacDonald, and, Nicholas Parsons appeared in the Side By Side By Sondheim 30th Anniversary Gala.

Philip Franks has appeared in Noises Off.

Trudie Goodwin appeared in The Bill.

Shobna Gulati, and, William Roache appeared in Coronation Street.

John Hurt starred in The Alan Clark Diaries.

It is not clear whether of not the Claire Lewis who produced 49 Up could be the same person as the actress of the same name in Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire.

Sir Trevor MacDonald appeared on Best Ever Spitting Image.

Michael Palin appeared in A Celebration Of The Life And Work Of Dick Vosburgh, and may have appeared in Comedy Tonight.

Nicholas Parsons, and, Chris Tarrant appeared in Roland Rat – The Series.

Tim Piggott-Smith took part in the Regents Park 70th Anniversary Gala.

Claire Sweeney presented A Week In The West End, and was Guest Of Honour at Dress Circle Grand Re-Opening. Her recording credits include Defiant Dames.

Dennis Waterman also appeared in A Week In The West End.

Simon Williams appeared in Alice In Wonderland.

Steve Whitmire also puppeteered on The Muppet Show (though not performing Kermit) and as such appeared in the documentary Of Muppets And Men. He also puppeteered on The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Go To The Movies, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Tale Of The Bunny Picnic, and, The Animal Show. He has puppeteered Kermit on: Sesame Street, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and, I Love The Muppets. He has also appeared in The All Time Get Around Sometimes Play Together Every Other Friday Night Vaudeville Show, and, at Jim Henson’s Memorial Service. His recording credits include: The Muppet Show Music Album, The Great Muppet Caper (Soundtrack Album), John Denver & The Muppets A Christmas Together, John Denver & The Muppets Merry Christmas 45RPM, Favourite Songs From Jim Henson’s Muppets, Muppet Music Sampler, Muppet Hits 1, Muppet Hits 2, Muppet Music Mix, The Muppet Christmas Carol (Soundtrack Album), Music Mayhem & More, Christmas For Kids, John Denver Christmas, and, Put Some Zing In Your Spring.

Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson’s recording credits include A Green & Red Christmas.

Steve Nallon was a voice-artiste and a puppeteer on Spitting Image itself, he also took part in: Spitting Image Auction, Spitting Image BFI Event, Spitting Image Must See TV, and, Best Ever Spitting Image. His recording credits include Spit In Your Ear.

Jeremy Bishop, Richard Eades, Samantha Parkin, and, Samantha Stamp also worked on Best Ever Spitting Image, which was also produced by Yorkshire Television Ltd.

The Studio Director Chris Power may possibly be the dancer and choreographer of the same name who worked on The Pirates Of Penzance (Film), The Royal Variety Performance (1982), and, Kids At Heart.

Kevin Whatley went on to appear in Gypsy.


Critics Comments




by Emma Shane, ©August 2011

This is a very long documentary, it lasts something like two and a half hours, as far as I can recall, and watching it can get very tedious. However, it does have some memorable moments, and a lot of participants many of whom worked on ITV’s greatest shows. The last two segments, which deal with the shows 10 to 6 and finally the top five respectively are perhaps the most interesting. The only trouble is you have to watch everything else first. The second to last segment is the only one really of great interest to puppetry enthusiasts, since tenth place goes to Spitting Image, and eighth place to The Muppet Show. However both legendary puppet programmes are quite well represented, in so far as any legendary television programme can be well represented in a slot on a big compilation such as this. The lead into the commercial break immediately before this segment shows both Kermit The Frog from The Muppet Show and The Queen from Spitting Image, so we sort of know those two programmes are coming next.

The slot about Spitting Image includes a variety of contributors, such as for no apparent reason Trudie Goodwin (from The Bill), Michael Aspel, and, Mark Austin. We also have Lord Melvyn Bragg, who remarks of Spitting Image “They sent me up rotten”. There is a delightful contribution from co-creator Peter Fluck who says of the programmes “We used to rely on terrific puppeteers”, at which point the programme immediately cuts to a shot of the Thatcher puppet in action. It is not clear who is performing her, but it is obvious that Steve Nallon is voicing her, all be it uncredited. However, the highlight of the segment, is an appearance by The Queen puppet, credited as HRH The Queen. Watching this I’m pretty sure that, although uncredited, that doyenne of Spitting Image puppeteers Louise Gold is performing her, and of course Louise is voicing her. The Queen has a lovely (rather well scripted) statement to camera “I had a wonderful time working on it. Lovely crew, and the only snag for me was there weren’t enough corgis.”

Even better, however, is the slot about The Muppet Show. Again we have a number of miscellaneous contributors comprising Christopher Eccelstone, Robson Green, and rather more appropriately Michael Parkinson (after all he did once infamously attempt to interview Kermit and Miss Piggy, during which Frank Oz attempted to puppeteer a seduction scene). Even more appropriate is an appearance by Kermit The Frog, probably performed by Steve Whitmire, though the puppeteer is uncredited. However the creme de la creme of this slot is when one of The Muppet Show Eight actually appears on camera as themselves. This honour goes, rather appropriately on a British documentary, to British member of The Eight, Louise Gold, who says: “My memory of working on the show is laughing. We used to laugh all the time. And if two of you were working a puppet you would be very very close, one person doing one hand, one person doing the other. If it wasn’t uncomfortable, probably it was wrong”. While she is speaking although some of the time the camera is on her, there are several moments when the camera cuts away. At one point it cuts away to a clip from Of Muppets And Men, which rather appropriately shows Louise Gold laughing (in the recording studio). Another cut-away has Kermit The Frog looking down, as though noticing his performer. However, when Louise explains about two people working a puppet together the camera is very much on her, as she uses her hands to illustrate what she is saying. If one watches the segment closely, one may also note that Louise has clearly dressed for the occasion, it’s not entirely clear whether she is wearing her Jim Henson Company Employee’s watch, although she could be, however, it is clear she is wearing her Kermit The Frog necklace.

All in all quite a jam packed celebration of ITV, with some unusual contributors, but one where specific bits will be of interest to particular people (those who follow whichever of the 50 programmes is under the spotlight at that moment). Probably there is something there for nearly everyone. But at the same time nearly everyone will also find many parts of it tedious and dull, with a few scattered gems.


Links about ITV’s 50 Greatest Shows

IMDB Entry for the Programme:


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