It’s that time of year again. The decorations are up, the shops are busy, children are on their best behaviour. Yes, it’s Movember.
Everyone’s counting off the sleeps until the Great Moustache appears. On the last night of Movember the Great Moustache creeps into every house and leaves facial hair for all the good girls and boys… while bad children get nothing but a lump of coal, an Xbox and a copy of Fallout 3.
Meanwhile, well-built office workers in tight-business shirts are all growing Swedish porn-stars (also known as “the droop” or “the Pancho Villa”). As a bonus, it raises money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Beyond Blue. Really, there is no downside to this. You can read about donating at the Movember website.
So while attending one of those celebrity Coburg parties the other day, someone said “you know, The Outland Institute should write about moustaches on television“.
It seemed a good idea. So we followed the usual procedure when preparing a column for the Institute. We sent a telex to Dr Alberto Longenin, the foremost expert in this field; we sent Debbie from the gift shop down into the catacombs to retrieve the appropriate books on the subject; we contracted seventeen work-experience children to go through The Institute’s cabinets of index cards; and we mentioned it on our facebook status.
So without further ado, here is part one of our surprisingly long celebration of TV’s greatest moustaches.
Thomas Sullivan Magnum (Magnum, P.I., 1980 – 1988)
The gold-standard for television moustaches.
Dr. Deane Hutton (The Curiosity Show, 1972 to 1990)
The Curiosity Show was a science-based children’s show hosted by Professor Rob Morrison and Doctor Deane Hutton. Oddly, while Deane had a moustache, co-host Rob had a small chin tuft, which made it look like they were sharing a goatee between them. Hutton‘s website shows he is still active in the world of science and education, and describes him as “one of Australia’s best-known Science Communicators and Futurists“. The mo’s back, too.
Garthe Knight (Knight Rider, 1982 – 1986)
You probably knew that Michael Knight (played by David Hassehoff) had a talking car called Kitt, but did you also know he had an evil twin named Garthe (played by David Hasselhoff)? We know Garthe is evil through the universal signifier of “evil doppelganger” – he has facial hair. He also has a completely extraneous “e” at the end of his name, so it must be really evil. Apparently a part-time African dictator, Garthe returns to the US and attempts to destroy Michael‘s life – possibly by making him star in a television series about a talking car.
Incidentally, Garthe isn’t actually Michael‘s brother, as Michael Knight‘s real name is Michael Long and his face is not his own. In what seems a wholly unnecessary back-story, Michael Long was critically-injured and rebuilt – Six Million Dollar Man-stylee – by industrial tycoon Wilton Knight, who gave him a brand new face. And a new surname. And a new talking car. Wilton conveniently dies before the series really kicks off, so we don’t know if Garthe is genuinely Wilton‘s son, or whether this face-changing thing was a semi-regular hobby of his. Possibly Michael‘s face is a copy of Garthe‘s. Honestly, how did they get this stuff past the ethics committee? No wonder Garthe is upset. Also, he has a monster truck called Goliath. Cool.
That Guy From Beyond 2000 (Towards/Beyond 2000, 1981 – 1999)
It was Towards 2000, then Beyond 2000, then Beyond Tomorrow, then cancelled. That Guy From Beyond 2000 – or Iain Finlay, as he was also known – appeared in the first two incarnations, although his moustache seems to have appeared slightly less often than he did. It does appear on the box of the Beyond 2000 board game, however. These days he writes books, and his moustache has retired completely.
Dick Dastardly (Wacky Races, 1968-1970, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, 1969 – 1971)
Dick Dastardly and his asthmatic dog Muttley were the villains in Wacky Races, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon about rally driving. In what now seems a somewhat limited concept, every episode featured 11 different cars racing against each other to become the “World’s Wackiest Racer”. According to wikipedia, “Originally he was to be called Dick Bastardly, but apparently this was too obscene for children’s TV”. Curiously, although they were the villains the show was centred around them – they even had their own spin-off series, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. They also turned up in Yogi’s Treasure Hunt in the mid-80s, not looking a day older.
Australian Sportsmen Of The 1970s
Alan Border, Dennis Lillee, Merv Hughes, Rod Marsh… They all had one, and everyone knew it. They also had moustaches. While not strictly television stars, they were on television all the time. Dennis Lillee, in particular, was inescapable – with his swaggering charisma, he was part matinee-idol, part porn-star. Here he stars in a slightly odd commercial for Crystal Clubs shirts.
Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Doctor Who, 1968 – onwards)
He surely has one of the longest names of any recurring character in science fiction. The Brigadier was the head of UNIT, a spectacularly under-funded organisation that helped the third and fourth Doctors save south-east England from alien invasion every week. The actor didn’t actually have a moustache, so he was fitted with various types during his run on the show – in many ways he’s a one-man moustache catalogue. In a startling reversal of accepted parallel-universe evil doppelganger etiquette, in the story Inferno we discover the Brigadier’s evil double has no facial hair at all (he does have an eye-patch, however). The Brigadier has appeared on screen with the majority of the Doctors, and while there’s no word yet of a cameo in New-Who, he will be appearing next month in an episode of spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventure.
In 1980 Donikian became the first news presenter of SBS. His moustache and suitably non-Anglo look was perfect for the fledgling multicultural broadcaster – like having Omar Sharif informing you about the Dow Jones Index. Donikian has shown commendable commitment to the mo over the years, although the colour has changed from brown to silver. Donikian now presents the Adelaide news for Channel 10 (although he presents it from Melbourne, which somehow seems like cheating).
Mike Watt (Spaced, 1999 – 2001)
Regular readers will know we will never pass up an opportunity to mention Doctor Who, Spaced or Wong Kar-Wai Slippers (which – apologies – are out of stock again. The last lot had to be sent back as they were defective – the melamine soles were inadvertently manufactured out of milk solids). Mike was the first acting role for Nick Frost, who was Simon (“Tim”) Pegg‘s best friend in real-life. Mike once tried to single-handedly invade Paris with a chieftain tank, but only got as far as Euro Disney (where he was apprehended on Space Mountain).
Battery Sergeant Major Tudor Brynne Williams (It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum, 1974 – 1981)
Does anything say “sitcom” more than the Second World War?
That concludes the first 10 in our series – but here’s part 2!
The Movember website beckons here… remember, it’s for charity… and buy stuff from amazon! Magnum P.I. (Season 1), Knight Rider (Season 1), Wacky Races – Complete Collection, Spaced – Definitive Collectors’ Edition, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum – Complete Collection.