Ten Things We Loved About Bad Influence!

Bad Influence presented by the effervescent Violet Berlin and Andy Crane  was one of the only reasons I ever bothered watching CITV.  Whilst GamesMaster was arguably more adult-oriented, Bad Influence gave something specifically for us kids – I was 10 when the programme first started in 1992.  It ran for four series until 1996 and included reports on current technology as well as video games.  There were plentiful things I loved about the show and here is my top ten:


10. The Data Blast!


bad-influence-datablastThe show ingeniously decided to wrap up all the episode’s cheats, hints and other bits into a 50 page document you could “view” by recording the show’s credits (that lasted about 20 seconds) and then playing it back in Frame mode.  I did this ALL THE TIME, mostly praying for some Master System tidbits.


9. The sheer number of reviews


bad-infuence-review-imageWhilst GamesMaster featured a minute slot containing reviews, Bad Influence focused more on reviews time-wise.  This usually consisted of a couple of the reviewers (one boy, one girl) giving the lowdown on three games.  Whilst GM matched the same number, the reviews here would be longer and less edited which admittedly led to some cringeworthy moments (more on that later).  But for game viewing time alone, this was ace.


8. The non-video game featurettes


bad-influence-features-1I was a big fan of Tomorrow’s World, despite not understanding half of it, and Bad Influence has been coined as the Tomorrow’s World for children.  It’s hard to disagree with that.  Although some of them went on too long it was refreshing and probably the most intellectual thing they had on ITV at the time…unless Corries taxes your noggin.


“…do remember it wasn’t just gaming, Bad Influence was just as much a technology show.  When the computers that controlled one of the big rides at Blackpool pleasure beach went wrong we did a film on why and how it was mended.” – Andy Crane Interview


7. Streets of Rage 2


Ah, the hallowed SOR2.  Where did I first see it?  Bad Influence of course!  You gotta admire the hutzpah of the producers – “we’re launching a kids video games show, what better game to lead with than the massive sequel to one of the most violent games out on 16-bit!”.  This actually inspired my mate to nag his folks into getting a Japanese version (Bare Knuckle 2 of course) which after having the casing ripped off it, eventually worked in the PAL machine.  Hallelujah!


6. Z Wright


z-wright-bad-influencejpgIt’s impossible to dislike Z, Zee or Zed if you will.  Having been subject to a few American imports at the time (Roseanne, Blossom etc…) it was nice to know what was going on the other side of the pond.  What was not nice was Z telling us that a Mega Drive (Genesis) was available for a paltry $99 – around £60 at the time – some games over here were almost that price!  Jealousy aside, Z’s chipper attitude and concise (mostly) reports were easy to like.  I wonder where he is now…


5. Nam Rood


nam-rood-imageHis name confused me and when I first saw him I thought “who on earth is this scary old man and why does he live like a tramp?”.  He had around 2 minutes an episode to rattle off cheat codes, mostly by shouting a lot and sticking them to his forehead via bits of cardboard.  Kids like shouty things, end of story.  Gamers like cheat codes.  Nam was a resounding success and I was slightly miffed that he didn’t turn up for the last series.


4. The video game features


bad-influence-featureThis is an obvious one, Bad Influence had features on everything (I was going to say pretty much everything but looked again…) video game and PC game at the time.  The legendary battery test for handheld consoles revealed that battery-wise, a Game Boy runs for 8p a minute whilst the Game Gear would cost you a whopping £4 an hour!  Sega released their own long-life batteries not long after this.  Coincidence?  I think not.  This was also the first time I’d heard of the Amiga 1200 (oooooooooh) and Nigel Mansell’s flywheel (more on that at some point in the future…).


3. “More on that later” – hee hee!


Nothing like tantalising the taste buds and then delivering later on.  Bad Influence always delivered so the aforementioned catchphrase always meant good things to look forward to.


2. The presenters


Bad-Influence-violet-berlinNeedless to say, a lot of us had a thing for Violet Berlin (sorry Gaz!  And also, sorry Violet!) but in she had the perfect foil.  Both had the requisite enthusiasm for the subject matter and were well-known enough for us all to respect them.  They were easy to understand and likeable (current day presenters, take note).  It’s easy to be patronising to children but Violet and Andy were definitely not.  A mention goes to some of the regular older game reviewers (the teenagers), your names elude me but your opinions were digested in full I can assure you.


1. Diversity


bad-influence-diversityBeing an Asian kid and one of the few in my school at the time, it was refreshing to see a programme that contained kids and adults from all walks of life.  Diversity in the early nineties was hardly what it is today twenty years later (god that makes me feel old) and Bad Influence was certainly pioneering in this aspect.  Not only did it have people from all races and both genders, it also had kids of all ages, which sometimes didn’t work, but ultimately meant that any kid could say “this programme represents me”.  And it certainly did.


Less said about…


The kids doing reviews who were clearly way too young to form a constructive sentence; cringeworthy “music” guests like Brooklyn and Fresh; the thing about Ballet choreography via computers; those odd dinosaur mascot things and the terrible opening sequence; replacing Nam and Z with Sonya Saul.

4 thoughts on “Ten Things We Loved About Bad Influence!”

  1. Hold you said gameboy cst 8p per min and game gear a whopping £4. you do know 8p per min is £4.80 an hour… :I DONUT LOL

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