17/04/2019

Space Time Telegraph- The blog about classic Doctor Who


If you’re a fan of classic Doctor Who that ran from 1963 to 1989 then check out my other blog Space Time Telegraph. You’ll find reviews and features on various aspects of the series and its fandom. Some of you will know this used to be a wider Doctor Who blog that ran for 3 years till it was stopped at the end of last year. Originally I thought of maybe putting the best posts into a book but there is so much visual material that an online format seems the best way to present it.

I’ve taken out all the posts about modern Doctor Who to turn Space Time Telegraph into a resource for the classic series. I’m not re-activating it on a regular basis so don’t expect new posts regularly but there will be occasional updates as and when I have stuff to put on there. Meanwhile reviews or articles concerning the modern series will be posted here. In terms of new releases of old stuff they will go onto STT so I’ve moved the recent `Macra Terror` review onto there for completism. This change in no way suggests I’ve given up on modern Doctor Who, merely that it’s taken this long for me to work out how best both blogs can work to complement each other. I am now handing the Terranium Core to Mavic Chen. Here you go, Mav. 





15/04/2019

Top of the Pops 29 Mar 1984


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Mike Read: "Hello flower people." Andy Peebles: "Hi. Good evening and welcome to another action packed edition of Top of the Pops. Mike Read: "That's right. Number 29 this week, great track from The Special AKA Free Nelson Mandela." 
[29] The Special AKA: Free Nelson Mandela. The limitations of the emergency strike studio cause a problem when The Special AKA turn up with too many people. They have to spread over two stages. Four singers are on one side of the studio and the band are crammed onto a tiny stage opposite. It ends up working really well and gives the camera operators lots of opportunities for good shots; including one looking across the studio with the band in the foreground, the audience in the middle, and the singers in the background nicely framed against the black cyclorama. Some of the audience are confused about where to look. Do you watch the band or the singers? The consensus seems to favour the four singers. They are on a higher stage so they must be more important. The Quantel box gets pressed into action a couple of times with a comet trails effect. It keeps the vision mixers busy. Yes, mixers, two of them are credited; Angela Wilson and Bill Morton. Let's hope the studio gallery isn't as cramped as the stage or everyone will be jammed in like The Special AKA. No wonder Michael Hurll has chosen this week to go on holiday. John Bishop grabs the producer's credit. 

14/04/2019

Review Round Up- Endeavour S6, Anna & the Apocalypse, Inside the Factory


Though at first it seemed like an unnecessary addendum to a franchise that had already continued beyond the demise of its principal character Endeavour has turned out to be quite a gem. Its 1960s setting allows for it to be both historical and have contemporary resonances within a decade rich with storytelling potential. As well as this it has two leads whose performances are amongst the best in tv today. While Morse enthusiasts no doubt scour every episode for links and references to the original series (of which apparently there are several) many of us simply enjoy the quality of the stories, setting and acting. Even the fact that our knowledge of the original series tells us that several characters are clearly not in mortal danger doesn’t detract from the tense scenarios writer Russell Lewis dreams up. 

12/04/2019

Shazam! review


In this lively addition to DC’s otherwise serious catalogue of superheroes we find out what happens when a fourteen year old boy becomes an adult man of many powers simply by shouting “Shazam!” It’s not actually his name as it goes; in fact the film is amusingly peppered with potential namesbut for obvious legal reasons he can’t really be called Captain Marvel as he was named in the original comics. The premise is reminscent of those Eighties bodyswap movies- and there’s a little homage to Big included – only with super powers. And it’s great fun!

Spoilers from hereon..

07/04/2019

Primeval Season 3


First published 2009. Words by Tim Worthington. When your big list of Things You Need To Write is headed 'SATURDAY - DINOSAURS', it can mean one of only three things - either that there's been a strange resurgence of interest in Simpsons-riffing early nineties Jim Henson-sponsored puppet satire Dinosaurs, or that it's time yet again to scoff at Jon Pertwee's vehicular vanity and complain about one of the most intelligent and thought-provoking Doctor Who scripts ever being rendered a laughing stock by 'special' effects that were lazy and rushed and generally rubbish even for 1974, or something that falls somewhere between the two. Ish. Yes, Primeval is back, and in the grand tradition of evolution it's looking like a very different show these days...

05/04/2019

Top of the Pops 22 Mar 1984


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: "Hey everybody! Welcome to another edition of Top of the Pops! It's Janice and I!" Janice Long: "Hey do you realise that this is the first time that -uh- we've done it together. In the show tonight people like Culture Club, Sade, and UB40." Peter Powell: "And a new number one! But for starters this is Depeche Mode! And People! Are! People!"

[29] Depeche Mode: People Are People. Depeche Mode have discovered the joys of hitting things with other things; there's a cymbal, a tom-tom, some sort of a-frame with dangling pipes, and a piece of corrugated iron with the word PUS sprayed on it. Experts in hitting things with different things will know that the word PUS makes all the difference to the sound of corrugated iron. The song's lyrics are sparse. It's almost as if they're a flimsy excuse to cobble together a song from exciting industrial noises. Keep an eye on the male dancer behind the band. What is he doing? It's almost robot dancing (appropriate) but he keeps hitting odd exaggerated poses. It's as if he's simultaneously invented walking like an Egyptian and Voguing several years early.

03/04/2019

Robin Hood review


In this lively, tightly edited action film, the familiar Robin Hood tale is refashioned as a revolutionary saga set almost entirely in the city rather than the woodland. We don’t see Sherwood Forest until the last couple of minutes of what is clearly intended to be the first movie in a new franchise. Poor box office and even poorer critical response means sequels look unlikely which is a pity as there are interesting foundations here. Critics are odd- if they like a film any similarities to other movies are declared to be interpretations or ` a new spin` or a homage. If they don’t like it such touches are dismissed as theft or lack of imagination. So while both direction and editing do bring to mind Guy Richie and Christopher Nolan this is a good thing. And if the idea of bows and arrows sounds a bit low key these days then this is the way to present them.

31/03/2019

Are referendums a good or bad thing?


Whatever happens with Brexit there is one lesson future Prime Ministers might take from the whole thing and that is never to have a referendum about anything again. On the other hand consider this- would it be a good idea to have a lot more of them? The way we have them now in the UK a referendum is at best a snapshot of how people feel at that moment.  With the EU one for example there’s a lot of focus on whether those who voted Leave would now choose Remain but there may equally be traffic in the other direction. If you were able to have a vote each week the result could fluctuate wildly but the point is that such important decisions should not be made on a snapshot. They require far more finesse, analysis and planning than that which is why we’re in the mess we’re in now.  If somehow there was a second referendum on the EU I reckon the Leave vote would be even higher simply because so many people are just fed up with the whole thing!

24/03/2019

Top of the Pops 8 Mar 1984


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: "Hi. How you doing? And welcome to Top of the Pops. Live Thursday night and the show tonight brought to you in black [points to Richard Skinner who is wearing a black shirt] and white [points to self, in white shirt].
Richard Skinner: What a great chart this week. Loads of new entries. We have the best of those nen...entries on the show. First, Phil Fearon, Galaxy."
[27] Phil Fearon & Galaxy: What Do I Do? Top of the Pops has gradually cranked up the number of live editions; three in 1981; 10 in 1982; 11 in 1983. This edition is the fifth live show of 1984 and in total there will be 23 across the year. Expanding the number of live programmes also means expanding the number of hosts who can be trusted not to disgrace themselves on prime time BBC1. John Peel, David Jensen, and Simon Bates have been the preferred live hosts, but now Mike Read, Mike Smith, Janice Long, Richard Skinner, and probably a few more, are added to the roster. Steve Wright has noticeably not been asked to front a live edition. Michael Hurll really doesn't seem to like him.
It's carnival night in the Top of the Pops emergency strike studio. That means free maracas for everyone, flouncy dresses for some of the female cheerleaders, and, erm, what appear to be UFO style string vests for some of the men. Footage from the Rio carnival is projected onto the big screen behind the band and at one point the caption "UNIAO DA ILHA" flashes along the bottom of the footage. Perhaps the footage is taken from Carnival in Rio with Anne Nightingale and Ivan Lessa [20/01/1983]. Alas my schoolboy Portuguese is inadequate to the task of translating the various websites that come up after a Google search of this enigmatic phrase.  (Portugese John- Apparently it means `Union of the Island`.)  A previously rehearsed spontaneous conga line forms at the end of the song. The spirit of Flick Colby still hovers over the Top of the Pops studio.

15/03/2019

Captain Marvel review


There have been so many superhero origin movies now that it’s becoming difficult to put a new spin on it though Captain Marvel mostly manages to do so. Even if some of the scenarios are familiar there’s a breeziness that tacks closer to Guardians of the Galaxy than to Batman. With events unfolding at quite a speed there are not many slower, quieter moments which may be why some critics have described the results as “middling” or “generic”. In terms of the Marvel canon its far better than that even if it can’t quite reach the intelligence of Black Panther or the high octane thrills of Avengers- Infinity War. Coming in their wake it instead represents a fresh start down a new road.
Warning- Spoilers past this point.

13/03/2019

Slaughterhouse Rulez review


The first film from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s production company is a mixture of horror-comedy, public school manners and anti -fracking parable. If that sounds like an unlikely brew, it actually works well albeit with a few editing and character issues. Slaughterhouse public school luxuriates in its own grounds and woodlands; in the latter a fracking operation has begun disturbing the ground and whatever is living underneath them. Through new starter Northern lad Don (Finn Cole) we discover the sort of harsh, humiliating ritual you might expect from such an establishment, probably drawn from director and co- writer Crispian Mills’ own experiences at Stowe boarding school where alot of this film was shot.  A sign of Mills’ aspirations for the film might be a photo of Malcolm McDowell from the iconic If… spotted early on and while this film is also something of a hybrid of genres it’s a different beast.

11/03/2019

Why has St Patrick’s Day become a drinkathon?


We don’t seem to bother much with St David’s Day. A lot of people don’t even know when St Andrew’s Day is. And if there is some suggestion that we should do more to celebrate St George's Day it is met with a collective intake of breath and response that the English don’t do that sort of thing. Yet there’s at least one night when we do. St Patrick’s Day has become a byword for alcoholic excess. It’s the evening when everyone is suddenly Irish and this alone is an excuse to down ten pints of Guinness, drape yourself in an Irish flag and behave as if its Xmas and New Year on the same day! Why has this happened and who the jiggins was St Patrick anyway? 

10/03/2019

Top of the Pops 1 Mar 1984


Watched by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello and welcome to another Top of the Pops, and in this week's programme I can promise you nothing French. No French farmers. No French truck drivers. And no French football." David Jensen: Merci mon ami rhythmic. Et maintenant c'est Matt Bianco avec la mélodie Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed."
[17] Matt Bianco: Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed. Top of the Pops is broadcasting from another emergency strike studio. A smaller one. Last week's studio had three stages, this one only has two. Belts are being tightened.  John Peel's anti-French rant is due to France's 2-0 victory over England at the Parc de Princes stadium on Wednesday, rather than too much time spent listening to Mike Read in the Radio 1 canteen.
Mention of the Wednesday football raises the question, is this edition live? There's no reason why it shouldn't be. BBC Genome certainly thinks so, and John Peel and David Jensen are normally given the live shows, but it's unusual for the hosts not to mention the live status. I don't know if disruption from the Scenic Services workers strike could have caused a shift to pre-recording the show. The link from John Peel and David Jensen's introduction to Matt Bianco makes the show look pre-recorded (it's a cut from the hosts to the band via a Quantel effect where a live show would normally try and do a seamless camera move) but this could simply be a limitation of the studio space.
Incidentally, the French for Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed is Sortez de Votre Lit Paresseux.

06/03/2019

Ad Break#10 Cows, Birds and Pigs!


Muller Quark Yoghurt- “Yes, baby yes!”
Have you ever heard of Quark?  Here’s me thinking it was an elemental particle and a key constituent of matter but here’s erstwhile Pussycat Doll and X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger to tell me it’s an ingredient in the very latest Muller product Quark Yoghurt. We find her in a “secret Alpine village” sporting a milk maid’s costume. She is positively giddy about this product which, she tells us, combines Quark and Yoghurt (obvs) to create, erm, Quark Yoghurt. “Its so creamy”, she declares, “Its…” “Mooollerlicious” booms a passing cow. Covering more or less all the Alpine cliches you can think of the ad certainly leaves an impression even if the product looks as if it might double as putty in an emergency. 

04/03/2019

Primeval Season 2

(Originally published in 2008) The first season started shakily but hit its stride with the latter trio of episodes and an end of season twister that had us pondering all year. Given a second season halfway through the first run, it also has the confidence of ITV behind it which counts for a lot. Yet watching the second, slightly longer season, there is a sense that the series is still playing safe. Visually it can hardly be faulted, with longer more exciting action sequences, excellent FX and a neat line in surprises. Where it remains underdeveloped however is in the characterisation. No amount of mind bending plot turns can obscure how little some of the people at the centre of this series make us care about them. Some attempts have been made this year to attend to this weakness but it remains and manifests itself in meaningless arguments and characters doing things for no apparent reason. Also, while Primeval can surprise it has yet to take our breath away with something as jaw dropping as some of last year’s Doctor Who to use an obvious but pertinent example. And, while we’re comparing consider how sophisticated ideas are drip fed into the rival series like seeds that grow whereas Primeval chucks away its best ideas in an offhand manner.

27/02/2019

Top of the Pops 23 Feb 1984


Watched by Chris Arnsby. Mike Read: "Due to an industrial dispute we're doing tonight's Top of the Pops live from the canteen at the BBC." Janice Long: "Oh thanks, I'll have a cup of tea. We've got some great stuff in the show people like Carmel, and Nik Kershaw, and this lot over here. It's Hot Chocolate at number 28."
[28] Hot Chocolate: I Gave You My Heart (Didn't I?). A strike? At the BBC? Yes, it's true. The BBC was seeking to change pay and conditions in the Scenic Services department and decreed that changes would be implemented on 14th February 1984 with or without the agreement of the unions. The deadline passed, Scenic Services workers walked out and the strike spread. Even Blue Peter was affected (*clutches pearls in horror*) and you can see a lovely clip here https://twitter.com/BBCFOUR/status/883025323243253760
This edition of Top of the Pops is coming from a smaller studio and the scenery has been assembled in a haphazard way. Mike Read and Janice Long stand in front of a photographic enlargement from the title sequence. The neon logo is present but it's jammed between scenery units from another stage. Lights are hung from a lower ceiling, or from scaffolding off to one side. The audience are packed in more tightly because there is less space for them, and less space for cameras. The rigid walls of neon lights that made a definite edge to the performance space have gone and once again Top of the Pops looks like it's coming from a black void rather than a television studio. If I'm honest, I like the way it looks. The band stages seem a lot lower, and the audience intrude on shots more that they do in the usual studio.
There's a brilliant long shot Errol Brown. The audience are clapping their hands over their heads and because the camera is focused on Errol the hands (and balloons, and flags) become weird soft-focus shapes in the foreground. Frustratingly I can't grab a good still image to illustrate the effect. In motion it looks great. In still form it looks as if Errol is being attacked by an out of focus octopus.

22/02/2019

The Kid Who Would Be King review


A modern take on the King Arthur story delivers lively results in Joe Cornish’s long anticipated follow up to the brilliant Attack The Block. Aimed mostly at a slightly younger audience it nonetheless contains enough of interest for all ages harking back to simpler times when pure adventure was about heroic deeds, inspiring words plus an essential sprinkling of magic. These days it seems like a preferable option. 


Spoilers past this point…

20/02/2019

Top of the Pops 16 Feb 1984


Watched by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: "On video we've got The Thompson Twins, in the studio we've got The Style Council, we've got Matt Bianco, and Nena but for starters this is Slade and Run Runaway!" Simon Bates: [laughs].

[34] Slade: Run Runaway. Recently I watched an old episode of Crown Court (this is going somewhere, honest) in which Roy Marsden played a shop manager wearing a floral-patterned, grey-green, shirt with hideous matching fabric tie. The combination was so criminal he should have been immediately sent down for 20 years hard labour with no possibility of parole. Fortunately he wasn't the defendant. He was there to give evidence. I haven't thought about Crown Court since before it ended in 1984, whenever I was last off from school sick and lounging in front of the television with a Lemsip. Despite that, in the moment between hitting play and the theme, I realised I could make a reasonable stab at singing the tune. It had lodged itself deep in the recesses of my memory. Here comes the point. Run Runaway had exactly the same effect. I don't know how long it's been since I last heard this song but it popped into my memory fully formed. Even the cheerfully nonsensical lyrics about chameleons. It's a great song and a terrific way to start the show.

18/02/2019

The World is Flat....


It is remarkable that in an era that has brought us fake news, an actual proven and obvious fact is apparently now being questioned by an increasing number of people. In the past couple of years there has been a considerable rise in the number of so called Flat Earthers who believe the world is not round but flat and presumably if you sail too far you’ll tumble over the edge into some inky void. As far as I can tell there’s no Inky Void Cruise available. This trend comes despite the proliferation of photographic and filmed evidence showing the Earth from above that has been taken by countless space missions. It is a rather unfortunate coincidence that this year also sees the fiftieth anniversary of the first Moon landing (which of course some people believe was faked). It says something about our thinking that in the half century since that `giant leap` we’ve shifted from marvelling at the wonder of space to questioning the shape of the planet. 

15/02/2019

Fantastic Noosha Fox


Every time a slightly quirky female singer emerges comparisons with Kate Bush are never far behind. Yet in 1975, some three years before `Wuthering Heights`, there was Noosha Fox. Though she was not a solo artist nor penned her own material there is something in her charismatic presentation that seems to foreshadow Bush’s subsequent image to some extent. Noosha Fox’s time in the spotlight was comparatively brief and she remains destined to be a footnote rather than a chapter in the history of pop music but it’s an intriguing note nonetheless.  At a time when most of pop’s unconventional performers were male she brought something a little different to the party.
 

11/02/2019

Ad Break #9 Mixed Veg Messages


“Eat them to defeat them!” declares this rather dynamic advert in which evil looking veg emerge from under the ground to bare their teeth and terrorize the neighbourhood. “For years the grown ups have been keeping the veg invasion at bay… but they can’t do it alone” the voiceover continues over scenes of people battling broccoli and clashing with courgettes. Kids can help apparently by eating more veg hence the slogan. “Peas- you’re going down” yells a girl as the offending items are brandished on a fork before she eats them. This admittedly well- made amusing ad seems to give off some very mixed, even confusing messages about vegetables. You can see where they’re coming from but I’m not sure it will have quite the intended effect especially amongst younger children who may be put off by some of the imagery used. So what’s going on?

10/02/2019

Top of the Pops 2 Feb 1984


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello there and welcome to another live Top of the Pops. Usual mixture this week, cute DJs, lots of dry ice, and some hot music." David Jensen: "And our first toe-tapper tonight comes from Musical Youth with Sixteen. Say John, were you ever sixteen?" John Peel: "No. Not really. No." David Jensen: "Take it away boys."
[27] Musical Youth: Sixteen. The studio microphones are faded up early with the result that an audience member's excited shriek is audible during the title sequence; maybe she's a real fan of slit-scan. "I'm sixteen" lies Kelvin Grant (born 1971) as if he's trying to sneak into a matinee of Police Academy. I realise the band has hitched their image to the "youth" part of their name but maybe an older band member could have taken this one? Sandra Lobba looks to be risking long-term spinal damage each time she hunches down to gaze lovingly into Kelvin's eyes.

08/02/2019

Primeval Season One


Primeval has always lurked around the edges receiving nowhere near as much respect as many other well known fantasy shows yet if you talk to anyone who watched it they actually quite enjoyed it. Perhaps the word `quite` is the clue here. Somehow the programme never managed to be outstanding. Its flaw was built in from the start- dinosaurs emerge from anomalies and then they have to somehow have to be sent back through them. This led to some repetition though to their credit the writers did their best to introduce human drama in which to frame the monster chasing characters. Set up ostensibly as a family show the amount of gore or horror they could get away with was also limited. The first three seasons were originally reviewed in the fanzine version of This Way Up between 2007-9. Seasons 4 and 5 are already reviewed on this blog so it’s time to complete the set starting with this review first published in 2007 and we’ll also be reviewing the Canadian iteration for the first time. 

03/02/2019

Doctor Who Scratchman review


The elusive Doctor Who movie may always remain just that but this story idea from the minds of Tom Baker and Ian Marter appears to have made it further than some back in the Seventies. Now its finally been realised albeit in a novel credited both to Tom along with James Goss. If it is unclear who pens the lion’s share of the words the source of a lot of these ideas certainly reeks of Tom’s frothing imagination. And select any random paragraph and you can easily imagine Tom’s mischevious tone reading it out loud. That being the case this does not particularly seem like a Doctor Who story either of 1975 vintage or indeed any other era. It imagines the series taken into full on horror territory and frankly makes `Talons of Weng Chiang` look all sunny and pleasant in comparison. Had it been made back then few of the Doctors’ fans would probably have been allowed into the cinema to see it such is the level of violence.

01/02/2019

Review round up- American Animals, A Headful of Dreams, Goodbye Christopher Robin


Theft caper movies appear often but its rare to see one where the job goes so awkwardly wrong. Based on a true story American Animals tells how four students attempted to steal several priceless books from a University library. It may not sound too exciting but director Bart Layton gives it the edge of a more ambitious caper reflecting the way the students themselves approach the job. There is infinite planning and prep, even disguises (that amusingly only draw attention to their presence) and some tall stories along the way. Ringleader Warren Lipka may or may not invent an entire sojourn to Holland to contact dealers who will handle the goods. The first run at the job is aborted but the second is even less successful with the wannabe thieves beaten by a series of practical problems like finding keys and the sheer physical weight of a volume they attempt to lift. It could be a comedy but the dark palette and serious faced acting means it is a rumination on how reckless ideas and peer pressure can carry people a long way from their comfort zone.

30/01/2019

Top of the Pops 12 and 19 Jan 1984


Watched by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright: "Hello, good evening, welcome to another Top of the Pops!! With me!! And him!! Mike Read: "I'm pleased to say straight in at number twenty-eight Icicle Works and Love is a Wonderful Colour."

[28] The Icicle Works: Love Is A Wonderful Colour. Steve Wright is terribly excited to be back in the Top of the Pops studio. It's a bit like watching Peter Powell. However, Peter Powell tends to have a kind! of! puppyish! enthusiasm! while Steve Wright brings his own krazy!! brand!! of!! wackiness!!

1984 is Steve Wright's breakthrough year. He'll be hosting six editions of Top of the Pops. It's not many, but it's more than the two he did in 1983 or his one outing with Richard Skinner in 1982. It's also the year when he starts to build his reputation as Radio 1's craziest DJ while Adrian Juste glowers in the corner and grinds his teeth. It's notable when Steve Wright is allowed onto other BBC1 programmes that his character Mr Angry, from Purley, is mentioned in the listings for both; On The Road 01/09/1984 (BBC1 follows the Radio 1 Roadshow around the UK) and Saturday Superstore 17/11/1984. This makes me wonder if it was Steve Wright or Mr Angry who was seen as the real draw? A few clips of Mr Angry have made it to Youtube. The material is pretty thin. Sample gag: Mr Angry gets angry when he finds out he doesn't need to go on a ferry to vote in the European elections. It's easy to sneer, and I just did, but I'm sure I'd have found the character hilarious in 1984. However, listen to the 1985 Mr Angry single on Youtube if you dare.
Meanwhile on Top of the Pops; The Icicle Works are also here. They don't appear to have any connection to the 1985 computer game Icicle Works. (John- It’s also a great single with urgency, melody and a chorus that soars like a bird. )

28/01/2019

The Story of Britannia High


Launched over a decade ago Britannia High was a curious colourful amalgam of 80s leg warming perennial Fame and the then film de jour High School Musical. It’s set in a UK performing arts school but check out that American logo. Wedged between that film’s popularity and the later television success of Glee, it has been largely forgotten even though it involved several heavyweight industry people. Cancelled after just nine episodes when it had only just got started, the show never picked up the sort of ratings the broadcaster wanted though an early evening Sunday slot may not have been the best location for it. So what was Britannia High, what was it really like and what went wrong? Why, in short, was it not – as the title song suggests- the Start of Something?

09/01/2019

Top of the Pops 5 Jan 1984


Watched by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Well hello fans. Now you might think what we've got here is some kind of tribute to Mike Read but actually what we're celebrating is the 20th anniversary of Top of the Pops. " David Jensen: "And I think we really look fab gear." John Peel: "Yeah, there is that. This is very 1984 though this. Frankie Goes To Hollywood." David Jensen: "Take it away boys."
[35] Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Relax. We're 38 seconds into the first Top of the Pops of 1984 and there's a lot of stuff to unpack. Let's deal with the important stuff first. Who's been fiddling with my picture settings?
John Peel and David Jensen are suffused with a nuclear glow. Threads won't be shown until September so this can't be pre-publicity. A quick trip into VLC Media Player settings reveals a ticked box labelled Image Adjust; unticking it makes John Peel and David Jensen 300% less lurid.
The magic of CSO is used to add a shower of glitter behind the exploding TV screen in the opening titles. This is followed by a caption; SPECIAL EDITION.
The presence of certain DJs normally makes it impossible for BBC4 to repeat special editions of Top of the Pops. The last acceptable Christmas Day show was presented by Peter Powell in 1979, along with some bloke called Kid Jensen. BBC4 also missed out the 1000th edition, 05/05/1983, and the Radio 1 15th anniversary special, 30/09/1982.
Michael Hurll seems more keen on celebratory back-slapping than his predecessor Robin Nash which might explain why special editions dry up pre-1980. Coming up later (30/08/1984) is a live edition following an Intercity train on a speed run from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads. On arrival in Bristol leading power car 43002 was named Top of the Pops. Don't bother looking for this on BBC4 as J*mmy S*v*l* was the DJ on the train. It all sounds a bit high concept but this sort of thing was needed to keep up national morale in the long gap between royal weddings.
Relax is a single more notable for its absence from Top of the Pops, and the performance here only makes the subsequent ban seem even more ridiculous. Still there's something pleasingly circular about the first song of 1984 also being the most controversial.

08/01/2019

They Call It Nutbush!


One of the most striking hits of 1973 was Tina Turner’s `Nutbush City Limits` with its fuzzy guitars, strutting beat, high pitched synth solo and vividly sketched portrayal of a “one horse town in Tennessee”. It was significant for the singer on three counts as it was the first self written song she recorded, being inspired by her upbringing and also the last single released credited to Ike and Tina Turner before the couple’s divorce. It has been described as her declaration of musical independence. The song has been covered by a number of artists and Tina Turner herself has re-recorded it. There is even a dance named after it that originated in Australia. The real Nutbush doesn’t actually have city limits as it’s not a city but `They call if Nutbush unincorporated rural community” just doesn’t sound anywhere near as catchy!

02/01/2019

Doctor Who Resolution review


As series 11 unfurled, I got the impression that Chris Chibnall was holding back, pootling around the block rather than going in for the shot. If he was a footballer – and he’s penned some soccer related stuff for sure- he’d be the player with dazzling midfield skills which don’t quite end up amounting to a goal for the team. I recently re-watched `The End of Time` and whatever you think of the story it is jam packed with incident, excitement and drama. It involves you every step of the way and it’s exciting. 2018’s Doctor Who has been fine, good but never properly exciting. It has been polite but on a leash,  just a bit too careful, a bit too concerned with making factual sense when all that really matters for a programme like this is fictional sense. `Resolution` from a more melodramatic opening to thrilling climax seems to make amends. Is it simply a finishing flourish or a taster for next series? Hopefully it’s the latter.



Spoilers beyond this point..