1980’s TV Shows - The A Team

“If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.”

It’s time for another trip down TV memory lane and this time it’s the hugely successful 1980’s TV show The A Team that gets a mention. The show, which ran from 1983 to 1987 was about a US Special Forces unit who, having been wrongly accused of a  crime they did not commit, went on the run and, while they were running, found time plenty of time to help  out people with problems who had no one else to turn to.

To say that the plot was a bit thin, would be a massive understatement, every episode followed pretty much the same format and always ended with The A Team winning the day, usually by using weapons that they were able to make from everyday objects that they could find. It was great fun, though, and no one ever died or got seriously injured, so it was very much a family show.  In fact, even after the A Team had sprayed the bad guys with thousands of rounds from their automatic weapons, the bad guys still got up and walked away with nothing more than a limp.

The main characters in The A team were pretty cool too. We had their unshakable leader who loved it when a plan a came together, John "Hannibal" Smith, played by George Peppard. Then there was Templeton Peck, or Faceman, the smooth talking con man played by Dirk Benedict. The man mountain who hated flying; BA Baracuas, played by Mr.T and finally, there was Howling Mad Murdock, played by Dwight Schultz.  If that all sounds a bit far-fetched; it was, but it was great entertainment at the time.

So, without further ado, for all of those people who are already humming the theme tune (I was all the way through writing this post) here are ten weird and wonderful facts about the A Team that you probably didn’t know.

1. The A team van was not black and red
Despite the fact that many of the A Team toys that were produced had a black van painted with a red stripe, the van was actually black, underneath the red stripe, and metallic grey above the stripe.

2. Mr T and George Peppard didn’t get along
The show was originally devised with Mr T in mind and, even though George Peppard was already a well-known movie star, it was Mr T who was paid the largest amount of money to appear in The A Team. The two actors did not get along in real life and Peppard is said to have resented Mr T’s popularity in the show and his larger pay check. At one point, the bad feelings between the two became so bad that they refused to talk directly to each other.

3. Hannibal and his cigars
Hannibal was usually seen on screen puffing on a large cigar, but George Peppard was a cigarette smoker. Peppard supplied all his own cigars for the show and he died aged 65, in 1994 from pneumonia, while being treated for lung cancer.

4. George Peppard had to audition for the part of Hannibal
George Peppard wasn’t the only actor in the running for the part of Hannibal Smith; he had to audition for the part. Another name that was in the frame was James Coburn, but the producers decided that Peppard was better suited to the part.

5. Mr T has now stopped wearing his gold
The gold that BA’s and Mr T’s trade mark weighed about 35-40 pounds. The jewellery was worth around $300,000 and it took an hour to put in. He gave up wearing virtually all of his gold in 2005 after he had spent some time helping to clean up after Hurricane Katrina because he said it would have been disrespectful to those people who had lost everything in the disaster for him to carry on wearing so much gold.

6. The return of the Cylons
In the opening credits, you see Face (Dirk Benedict) looking rather perplexed at a Cylon walking past him. The scene is taken from an episode of The A tea that was shot at Universal Studios and Dirk Benedict had previously played the part of Lieutenant Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica TV series where he battled with the Cylons.

7. Howling Mad Murdoch nearly got written out of the series
Howling Mad Murdoch, my favourite character, nearly got written out of the series because the producers felt that the character was too much for audiences to take and that he would be hated. It turned out that they were completely wrong and test audiences said that they loved Murdoch, and so the character was kept in.

8. Boy George guest starred in the A team
In case you forgot, Boy George played himself in an episode of the A team called Cowboy George. I remember watching this episode and thinking how much it made me cringe. Boy George in cahoots with the A team was never really going to work, now was it.

9. How to A Team was pitched to the producers
When the series was being devised, it was described as a combination of The Magnificent Seven, Mission Impossible, Mad Max, Hill Street Blues, and The Dirty Dozen, all mixed together, but with with "Mr. T driving the car" Work that one out if you can!

10. The series died in season five
In season four the ratings had started to drop and the repetitive format of the show was said to be to blame. In season Five, the producers tried to resurrect the show by changing the format. The A Team was captured by the military and offered pardons if they went a series of secret missions. Viewers liked this new “mission impossible” like format, even less, and the show was dropped in 1987.

There was some talk of there being an A Team reunion back in the later part of the 1990’as, but George Peppard died before anything could come of it. Then, in 2010, there was the big screen remake of the series, but that didn’t get good reviews and was criticised by some of the original cast members. I am no fan of trying to remake shows like the A Team. To bring them up to date you have to lose some of what the show was all about. In the case of The A Team movie, this meant bringing realistic violence into it and adding elements if sex too, both of which were completely absent in the original series. I wish the filmmakers would just come up with new ideas, and stop trying to re-invent old classics like the A Team.

You may also like:

1980’s TV Shows - Knight Rider

1980’s TV Shows - Dukes of Hazard

70’s TV Shows - The Six Million Dollar Man