In 2000, the BBC did a television series called "I Love The Seventies", which was screened on Saturday evenings, and focuses on a different year in the 1970s each week. Each programme lasted for an hour, and contained 12 mini-features about that year.
[Visit the BBC Online - Cult - I Love 1979 web site (there's no page dedicated to Monkey within these pages).]
At 8.55pm, on Saturday 23 September 2000, BBC2 screened an edition of the programme focussing on 1979, which of course was the year that Monkey was first screened on BBC2. As part of this show, there was a 6 minute mini-feature about Monkey. This feature consisted of:
Masaaki Sakai did a television interview in Tokyo during the evening of Thursday 24 August 2000 for the Monkey feature in this programme.
Here's a little information from my friend in Tokyo who attended the BBC interview with Masaaki Sakai:
"Tonight I went to the interview with Sakai san by BBC. The interview was done in Japanese and will translate. It is a part of memorial of '70s program.
Now he has 2 shows every day on stage as main actor. So he was tired, but when the interview started, he was very active and talked with some jokes.
The interview crews live in Japan, and they have worked for the BBC for a long time. The interviewer asked Sakai san to write his autograph for the producer who is living in the UK. She said it is was her first experience that the producer asked for someone's autograph! The producer's a Monkey fan too!
About the interview, to send the video tape , the crew used PAL video camera. They had only one camera and small monitor. So their camera angle was very limited. When Sakai san was speaking the camera was not moving. But after the interview they took Sakai san's stick action too. Maybe you can see it on the show."
[Here's some information about the stage show that Masaaki Sakai was starring in at the time he recorded this interview: Between 1 August and 27 August 2000 at the Meijiza Tokyo, Masaaki Sakai starred in a stage comedy, a period drama based on a very popular character of early Edo era. The show was called "Gozonzi Isshin Tasuke" ("The famous Isshin Tasuke"). Tasuke Isshin is a legendary person in fiction like Robin Hood. Sakai plays Tasuke, a fish peddler, who is honest and straight without fear of authority. This story has been repeatedly made into movies, stages and TV dramas. Actually NHK made Tasuke story for prime time television in 2000. Here's a newspaper clipping advertising this stage comedy.]
A possible consequence of this Monkey feature was that the interview that Masaaki Sakai did in August 2000 for the BBC for The Guardian newspaper (to publicise BBC Choice's Japan TV weekend), but which wasn't published as it missed the deadline - may have got published as promotional material for this "I Love The Seventies" TV show - but unfortunately, it didn't... For more information on this interview, see the Monkey Interviews - Masaaki Sakai - Guardian newspaper page.
The BBC contacted me for information that would help them produce this Monkey feature. Here's what they told me:
- They contacted David Weir (who wrote the English adaptation) for the show, and they found out that he's very ill, and therefore unavailable.
- They contacted Toshiyuki Nishida's (Pigsy) agent for an interview with him on the same day as Masaaki Sakai's interview, but he wasn't in the area so couldn't participate.