W1A Series 3

It’s about the BBC but really W1A’s pin sharp observations of corporate behaviour would fit many a business.  Set mostly in the bizarrely colourful New Broadcasting House which is replete with gaudy impractical furniture and rooms named after television icons, the series follows the travails of Ian Fletcher the BBC’s head of Values as he tries – in the benignly careworn manner only Hugh Bonneville is so skilled at conveying – to steady the accident prone Corporation through the choppy waters of a landscape it is ill suited to exist in. There is a lot of truth in the narrative of the show if you choose to notice but it is also gloriously funny. 


Top of the Pops 21 Oct 1982

Watched by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: "Hello! Welcome to another edition of Top of the Pops! We've got Toyah! We've got Bauhaus! We've got Kool And The Gang! And we've got a new number one! But for openers it's The Piranhas and Zambezi!"
[37] The Piranhas: Zambezi. Top of the Pops is in full wacky party mode tonight. Check out the audience cheerleader dressed early for Halloween as a skeleton. The Piranhas are keen to join in for their first studio appearance in two years. Lead singer Bob Grover is dressed as Dennis the Menace, complete with a copy of The Beano sticking out of his pocket. The backing singers are done up as school girls. And the drummer is wearing a magnificent colourful budgie costume, lovely plumage. It puts to shame the lousy dead-eyed efforts The Tweets wore in 1981. (John- Brilliantly the lyrics include the line “Zambezi, Zambezi, Zambezi, Zam.”)


The John Lewis Xmas Advert

Well I’m not sure I get the new one actually. So child imagines monster under the bed, then becomes friends with it, then imagines he’s going to get it for Xmas and then gets something else and he’s fine with that. Mmm, its not a patch on that penguin one nor as playful as last year’s bouncing dog one. I sense a sixth album syndrome kicking in where expectation outweighs anything that anyone could possibly produce. I can also visualise a more surreal version where it turns out that this is all in the head of the monster and the last frame is of him opening a present in which there is a model of the child. Or is that too creepy for Xmas?


Top of the Pops 23 Sept & 14 Oct 1982

Watched by Chris Arnsby. 23/09/1982
John Peel: " Hello millions of humble admirers and welcome to another Top of the Pops. We've got a lot of treats for you, one rather a special treat. David Christie doesn't sound like a very French name, but French he is, here he is at number nine."
[9] David Christie: Saddle Up. The director (this week it's Brian Whitehouse again) has worked out a kind of walk-down routine for some of the Top of the Pops cheerleaders. At the start of the show they stand adoringly around John Peel and then as the camera pulls back they follow it and dance down to where David Christie has been set up on a podium. The move has a theatrical look that seems a little too stylised for Top of the Pops. Still, it's a very swish camera move. The crane pulls back and around David Christie to give us a wide shot of the studio. Eric Wallis is on Lighting, and he gives us a studio filled with pools of light and shadow. It looks great. Unfortunately someone has positioned the Zoo dancers (wearing skimpy cowboy outfits, natch) in shadow so their efforts go largely unseen.
[17] Fat Larry's Band: Zoom. Fat Larry has been hitting the rhyming dictionary hard. Boom/moon (a bit of a cheat). Rang/sang. Away/play. But wait. What's this? Bloom/wonderland. Why that doesn't rhyme a bit. Luckily the next line is whack/back and the natural order of things is restored. Wikipedia tells me this song was featured in the 1982 Only Fools And Horses Christmas special Diamonds Are For Heather, which would probably have started production around the time this episode aired. Someone is playing around with the caption generator at the end of the song. They've rigged the band name to appear vertically one word at a time with each word a different line; each word is also repeated horizontally across the screen. Unfortunately this means the first thing to appear is FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT.....


Thor: Ragnarok

The previous two Thor films struggled to match their Marvel contemporaries seeming over reliant on eye popping CGI effects and mythological gobbledegook while being somewhat portentous. They were great to watch on a big screen once but didn’t leave much of a deep impression afterwards. This third outing lightens the mood considerably bringing fun into the franchise and hurling our hero into fresh territory. The dialogue is zingy and packed with amusing asides meaning the film is never at risk of taking itself too seriously. This all does mean it is somewhat similar to Guardians of the Galaxy but that’s a good thing right?
Spoilers beyond this point


Don’t call us Remoaners! We’re Realists.

There’s nothing worse than winners taking every opportunity to take a pot shot at the losing side but the levels of abuse handed out to anyone who publicly now expresses views supporting anything less than the hardest possible Brexit says more about the abusers than their target. The number of times over the past 16 months I’ve seen the term `Remoaner` tiredly dragged out yet again makes me feel these people don’t understand at all what happened. Yes we had a referendum in which the side wanting to leave the EU won though not by a massive margin. That’s all it was. There was nothing in that referendum question about the nature or speed of our exit. In fact it was only because David Cameron was foolish enough to state he would abide by the outcome that we were more or less forced to trigger our departure so soon.  Now we have triggered it there is a process in motion which doesn’t seem to be quite exciting enough for some Leavers. Did they think we’d be leaving the week after the referendum or something?


Halloween vs Bonfire Night

A few decades back this time of year in the UK was all about Bonfire Night. People would attend large fireworks displays where there would also be a huge bonfire. Local inhabitants would have been piling up unwanted furniture and other items to burn for weeks and would gather in large crowds to watch. The sky was alight with fireworks of all sorts. Often people had their own bonfires or would buy fireworks and set them off. Millions walked around with sparklers and the media was full of warnings about the dangers of fireworks. Halloween was there of course but it was comparatively minor by comparison and seen mainly as an American thing we saw in films where people donned costumes and embarked on trick or treat trips. Now things are different and while Bonfire Night is less significant Halloween has become a huge event.  


Ten `Ordinary` UK TV Programmes

You know how there are tv programmes that generate enormous attention like Game of Thrones or Line of Duty?  Well there are far more that don’t and it is these that fill up the scheduled tv channels and lie dormant on demand somewhere. So here’s just ten of the hundreds of these programmes that most people don’t watch….
Money for Nothing

Not a Dire Straits bio-drama, this afternoon show sees the extraordinarily chirpy Sarah Moore bothering people who’ve gone to the local tip to chuck out things they don’t want. Just as they are breathing a sigh of relief that their flea ridden sofa is finally gone from their lives along she trots to take it from them. She and a seemingly limitless team of craftspeople will then transform the item into something that looks brand new. So you end up with lamps made of old pipes, a cabinet made out of chairs or a helicopter carved out of a desk.  Narrated drolly by Arthur Smith, we see the priceless expressions as Sarah arrives at the den where such craftspeople hide out with something faded, rusted or dull and tells them her plan. Amazingly these items usually sell and in the oddest part of the concept, she goes back to the person who was chucking them out to give them the profits. Thus they have money for nothing. 
Money For Nothing: In two days time this will be a car.