Long before the contemporary screen idols such as Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade and Ramsey Noah, there was a time when Television Series was the prime source of entertainment. The 80’s and 90’s were great years for TV Series and great shows filled our airwaves both on the radio and on TV. What was really special was that these series insisted on telling the Nigerian story in the real sense of the word. The influence of the West was not as strong in the shows and they were trying to constantly impart values that were dear to Nigeria as a country. The thought of series such as Papa Ajasco, The Village Headmaster, Basi and Company, etc will fill any child born in the 80’s and 90’s with nostalgia. Here are BuzzNigeria’s Top 5 Nigerian TV shows of the 80’s and 90’s.
5. COCK CROW AT DAWN
Initially released in 1980, Cock Crow At Dawn was an agriculture promotional drama co-sponsored by UBA and produced by Peter Igho for the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). Shot in Jos, the series captivated the Nigerian audience, with the performances by Sadiq Daba starring as Bitrus, Ene Oloja as mama Bitrus, Tola Awobode as Lare and Karimu Yero as uncle Gaga. Throughout the early 80’s, 6pm every Friday, people gathered around the available TV sets to watch Sadiq Daba (Bitrus) play the role of a mischievous child in a Nigerian Family that struggles to adapt to city life but eventually goes back to the rural area to engage in farming, a decision that finally helps the family rebuild its economy. The story was not one that was uncommon at that time and as such, many people were able to connect to the characters which must have helped make the show so popular. Sadiq Daba’s acting as Bitrus was also spectacular which is fitting for a man that is now considered one of the oldest and biggest acting names in the industry.
4. TALES BY MOONLIGHT
If you grew up in Nigeria in the 90’s and have never watched an episode of Tales By Moonlight, then you probably never saw a television at all. This riveting series was a children’s programme narrating traditional African folklore. The show debuted in 1984 way into the late 90’s.
The show was created also by NTA’s Victoria Ezeokoli, an attempt at telling Nigerian folk stories and creating a sense of “Nigerianess” among young kids. Its stories majored on extracting the moral virtues in the traditional stories. Folklores have always been a big part of Nigerian culture and each tribe has a folktale that has been passed down from generation to generation. This show realized this and packaged the folktales for the next generation of Nigerians and even children today deserve to see and hear the great folktales packaged in this show.
3. THINGS FALL APART
Arguably the greatest fictional story to come out of Nigeria, originally written as a novel by the legendary Chinua Achebe of blessed memory, the Television series was released in 1987 and aired into the early 90’s.
The series also gave the iconic Pete Edochie his break as an actor after honing his skills earlier as a broadcaster. It also featured Nollywood greats Nkem Owoh and Sam Loco.
2. THE NEW MASQUERADE
Another hugely popular production that initially started out as a radio programme in the East Central Broadcast Corporation Enugu. New Masquerade, created by James Iroha as a comic to relieve the tension and stress faced by the Civil war turned out to become the longest-running sitcom in Nigeria Broadcasting history.
When it began airing nationally, it boasted of a thrilling cast including the late James Iroha (Gringory Akabogu), late Claude Eke (Jegede Shokoya); Chika Okpalla (Chief Zebrudaya); Tony Akposheri (Zakky); Lizzy Eveome (Ovuleria); late Christy Essien-Igbokwe (Akpena); Davis Offor (Clarus); and Nnati; the New Masquerade offered viewers 30 minutes of undiluted humour.
Touted as one of the best and earliest television series exports during the famed “golden age of Television”. Staring famous faces such as Richard Mofe Damijo as Şegun Kadiri, Bob-Manuel Udokwu as Richard Haastrup, Kunle Bamtefa as Chief Fuji, a polygamous chief Francis Agu as Benibo ‘Benny’ Haastrup, Mildred Iweka as Ada, Nduka’s wife and Norbert Young as Professor Okon, a UNILAG academic