Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, British TV made plenty of attempts to introduce synthesizers to a mainstream audience, but perhaps none stranger than the one that featured former 10cc keyboard player Duncan Mackay explaining his impressive rig to comedian Mike Reid and a robot called Metal Mickey in an episode of children’s game show Runaround.
In the clip, which was recently unearthed by Are Sounds Electrik? and was previously posted by Littlepixel (see above), the surreal scenes kick off around the six-minute mark, when a be-tracksuited Reid approaches Mackay and asks him to explain "In layman's terms - because it gets a bit confusing - what's this all about?"
Mackay is happy to indulge the ebullient East End entertainer, first by starting up his Roland CR-78 rhythm box and then turning to his impressive collection of synths. These include a Yamaha CS-80, a Roland RS-505 string machine and a pedal-powered Moog Taurus. You’ll spot a Roland Space Echo there, too.
And then the pièce de résistance. After battling to hold a conversation with Mackay while the synths do their thing, Reid reaches down out of shot and picks up a keytar. “What sir, is that?” he enquires, with Mackay explaining that it’s a keyboard that can be played like a guitar.
Metal Mickey’s bemused expression probably reflects how most of the audience was feeling while all of this was going on - the whole thing is made weirder by the fact that, for reasons that remain unclear, the names Rick Wakeman, Oscar Peterson and Ernest Hemingway are written on the set wall. Once he’s had enough, Reid ends up asking Mackay to turn everything off so that he can quiz him on his departure from 10cc and his future plans.
Having joined in 1978, Mackay left 10cc in 1981, which suggests that this is when the clip dates from. His illustrious career also saw him playing keyboards on Kate Bush’s first three albums, and it’s said that he was once considered for the position of keyboard player in Yes.
Reid, meanwhile, went on to enjoy considerable success playing the roguish Frank Butcher in BBC soap opera EastEnders. He died in 2007.
As for Metal Mickey, he had his own show at the time, which ran until 1983. His current whereabouts are unknown, but given the current obsession with all things AI, now could be the perfect time for a comeback.