Last week I did a piece on the current rickety state of summer morning programming, and judging by the reaction I received, a lot of other people are similarly displeased. But not only do People Of A Certain Age still have a great appetite for the shows they loved so well back then and would happily spend errant mornings even now gorging on them, the level of recall about the shows is pretty astonishing: minor characters are discussed with perfect clarity, plots of landmark episodes relayed as if they'd been seen yesterday and not thirteen years ago.
But while a place in the hearts and indeed memory banks of an entire generation must be very gratifying, you don't notice an awful lot of those Kids TV stars graduating to the big time, and sentiment doesn't pay the bills. Unless you work for Hallmark. So what exactly are the stars of summers past doing now?
Not a star exactly, but it seems logical to start with TV producer Peter Engel, mastermind behind feel good Americana gubbins Saved By The Bell, California Dreams and Hang Time, the heart warming show that proved that if women work hard enough they can account for 16% of the workforce. He left the world of TV in 2003 to become the Dean of a religious university run by lunatic Televangelist Pat Robertson because The Lord told him to, but returned to Hollywood a couple of years later to produce Last Comic Standing.
If you think packing in teen comedies to work for a college run by a man who thinks Haiti is cursed by the devil is daft, then his ex-colleague Dustin Diamond takes it up a notch. The artist formally known as Screech has done a range of things since leaving Bayside - stand up, sex tapes, Celebrity Fit Club, badass MCing - and none of them all that well by the sounds of it. Better yet, two years ago he released a tell-all book called Behind The Bell, which he promotes in this video while dressed as a guest star in Starsky And Hutch, that alleged the cast were involved in antics not seen since Caligula used to throw house parties. He also claimed to have slept with over 2,000 women, habitually picking up foreign girls who recognised him at Disney Land. Which is possibly the most tragic thing I've ever heard.
While Screech was and still is something of an outsider of the cast, the world of Kids TV has forged some unlikely friendships. Danielle Fishel, the girl who played Topanga in Boy Meets World took N-Sync's Lance Bass to her prom. And do you know who Neil Patrick Harris, possibly the single biggest star in the world right now, counts as one of his best friends? This guy.
Alas, it's not been a life of boyband dances and magic tricks for everyone. Eagle-eyed aficionados of heartburn-related ads for instance will notice that the Renford Rejects' coach, he of the trick leg and away Chelsea kit, now plies his trade as a promotional talking hot dog. Thankfully, some of his former colleagues have had better luck in the field of crime fighting: Hang Time equivalent Lucy Punch starred in enjoyable cop romp Vexed, while Alex Norton gave up his burger bar to solve murrrrdurrrs.
But if you thought the cast of Renford Rejects have had contrasting fortunes, then the familiar faces from Sister Sister's activities of late have been just plain bizarre. Tia and Tamera's hapless next door neighbour and inevitable restraining order recipient Roger, aka Marques Houston, has transformed himself into a derivative, irony-free rap star. But, Tim Reid who played Ray Campbell, has recently signed up to my favourite undertaking of all: he's on the board of directors of an American Civil War education centre. Makes a difference from driving limos, that's for sure.