TV… Terrific 1980s TV Leads



Leading the show with 1980s telly actors and actresses…


A wee list of some of my TV favourite leading stars, from the 1980s.



It’s back for another 80s League weekly post, this time discussing favourite our favourite leading actors and actresses of this time. And I’ve deliberately not added Prime Time soap stars here as got a wee post on that coming up very soon…


Tom Selleck in Magnum PI (1980-88)

MAGNUM, P.I. Theme HD, AMB Production TV

The leading man in Magnum P.I., Tom Selleck’s leading role of Thomas Magnum was synonymous with Hawaiian shirts, red Ferraris and moustaches. Guys wanted to be him, girls wanted to have him. Well, our mums did anyway. Selleck played the charming, charismatic, handsome private eye supported by Higgins.

John Hillerman played Higgins perfectly Englishly as one does. To my later surprise, I discovered Higgins was played by an American actor. Hillerman’s American accent confused me when I watched Chinatown (1974) years after this series.

Of course, as well as catching the bad guys, Magnum also caught the eye of many a damsel in distress too – but what do you expect if he’s played by Tom Selleck. Britain also cashed in on the investigator on an island theme fighting the bad guys in Bergerac (1981-1991) set on Jersey. Which wasn’t as glamorous and with totty for a certain age this time played by John Nettles. But the moustached one won my vote… as I  often counted the minutes before Bergerac ended as the powers that be put it on right before Dallas (1978-91).


Gil Gerard and Erin Gray in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century(1979 – 81)

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century – Intro, Jack T

Shown on Scottish telly in the early 80s, and headed by the chiselled Jon Hamm of his day, Gil Gerard this sci-fi tale. Buck Rogers was a pilot accidentally frozen in 1987 who woke up in the 25th Century. He was usually accompanied in his adventures by on/off love interest Dr Wilma Dearing (Erin Gray) – a pin-up for more than a few adolescent boys – and Twiki, an oft annoying robot.

The opening credits might seem familiar as they were mercilessly parodied by those South Park (1997-) writers. Their version is well worth tracking down. Many grown-up men will remember Buck Rogers’ visit to the planet of the slave girls. A similar “predicament” also happens to Captain Kirk in Star Trek (1966-69). From what I’ve been told by a grown-up man who will remain nameless. However, I do also remember Gil Gerard’s movie with Dallas‘ Victoria Principal in Not Just Another Affair (1982).


Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote (1984-1996)

Murder, She Wrote – Intro Season 4, Laurent Seghers

Angela Lansbury is the essential leading lady of the 1980s. And after that, this series is often seen as a staple of the British daytime schedule (which I miss for this and many other reasons). This series is now a cult favourite and guilty pleasure for my sister and sister-in-law. To name but two.

The episodes usually involved amateur detective and crime writer Jessica Fletcher (Lansbury) investigating a murder. Thus saving her nephew (lost count on how many she has) from being thrown into jail due to being implicated in said murder. However, Fletcher would usually unmask the murderer leading to happiness all around. A friend however has a theory that the murderer in all these episodes is Jessica and she’s a serial killer.


Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers in Hart to Hart(1979-84)

Hart to Hart – Opening Theme – Season 2, hart to hart online

My favourite leading man and lady had to be Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as the Harts.  Jonathan and Jennifer Hart were probably the most loved up couple on 80s TV, Much more loved up than Bobby Ewing and Pam in Dallas. And Blake and Krystle Carrington in Dynasty (1981-89). But they were super annoyingly loved up.

The Harts also had a butler Max – played by Lionel Stander – for comic relief.  Just about everyone can recite Max’s narration as heard with the theme tune. In full. With only a few of us mastering Stander’s voice, but usually, a throat infection helped to get the right level of croakiness. Weekly episodes had the Harts investigate some criminal wrongdoings in between their more romantic scenes. And solved them too, usually leading to a wee quip from Max at the end or Max’s dog Freeway barking leading to uncalled for much hilarity. Or some seriously loved up scene between the leads.

So that’s the lot. Having written this review. I’m definitely looking up more on these great actors and actresses in these series on t’internet. Or boxset. As to paraphrase that line from 3 Men and a Baby (1987) from possibly the Magnum PI in one of the more loveable. baby themed movies of this decade. So many boxsets, so little time…



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