Ad Break#15 John Lewis vs Mariah Carey!

One’s a dragon that breathes fire which burns things to a crisp, the other’s a singer who uses her high pitched voice in order to get some crisps! Yes, Noddy, its Chriiiiiiiistmas again and John Lewis have a rival for the 2019 season’s best ad in the form of Walkers Crisps and yer actual Mariah Carey her very self. Last year to have us in tears John Lewis teamed up with a big star, Elton John , for an ad centred around a piano even though they don’t actually sell pianos. This time though they’re back on more familiar ground while Walkers have somehow managed to persuade Mariah to do an ad you sense just wouldn’t work quite as well with their usual muse, Gary Lineker. And do you know what? Walkers have nailed it with a frothy, funny ad that trounces John Lewis’ (sorry John Lewis and Partners) (sorry John Lewis and Waitrose and their Partners) somewhat mixed up offering.


Top of the Pops 8 Nov 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Richard Skinner: "We are live tonight from Television Centre. In the studio Eugene Wilde, Billy Ocean, stars all of them."Simon Bates: "And we also have a new number one tonight. [looks at watch] It's exactly what? Twenty minutes past seven tonight. Here's never ending song Limahl. The lady with Limahl over here happens to be called Mandy and she's a Spurs supporter. She sings quite well though."
[10] Limahl: Never Ending Story. The effort of speaking and checking the time appears to make Simon Bates throw a cog in his brain. Richard Skinner throws several knowing looks to camera as Bates rambles through what can only be described as a never ending intro.
Meanwhile, Wikipedia credits Beth Anderson and not Mandy as the female vocalist on this song. Why would Simon Bates lie about that?
Regardless of who is, or isn't singing, Limahl and [finger quotes gesture] Mandy have been placed on a circular rostrum with alternating black and white stripes around the edge. It looks like a garden trampoline and I keep expecting Mandy and Limahl to start bouncing and doing pikes and tuck jumps. Obviously this doesn't happen.
During the musical break the pair start slow dancing in a way that gets whoops of approval from the audience, but possibly not from Producer Stanley Appel in the studio gallery.
Finally, although I bear no personal ill will to Limahl I hope he doesn't appear on Top of the Pops again. I find his name very fiddly and irritating to type. Although it's not as bad as Kajagoogoo.


How to demolish a flyover!

Flyovers are not for life- just about fifty years and the time soon comes round for them to either be repaired or demolished. In Liverpool we have a large flyover called Churchill Way that takes traffic into the centre of the business district avoiding many more congested roads but half a century after it was built it is coming down. The 240 metre long stretch of flyover was opened in 1970 supposedly as part of a larger city ring road project that was never finished. Last year inspections revealed issues involving drainage, barriers, internal support and bearings and the edifice was closed for further examination. So it had to come down!


His Dark Materials episode 2 review

After the bustle of the opening episode, the second is predominantly set in Mrs Coulter’s well- appointed London apartments which Lyra soon finds to be a gilded cage. The nature of her character is being trusting and adventurous so the promise that Mrs Coulter will help find her missing friend Roger was enough for Lyra to believe in. Thus the scene is set for a tense episode in which Lyra soon becomes suspicious that Mrs C is far from the helpful patron she seems. With rules aplenty, a locked lift and plenty of locked doors something is up. The episode is a showcase for both Dafne Keen and Ruth Wilson whose performances are nuanced and interesting with each turn of the plot.


Space 1999 - Guardian of Piri & Force of Life

Guardian of Piri
You can’t accuse this show of stinting on the unusual when you see a planet like Piri. With a red sky and lots of white globes sitting about like exotic lollipops this has to be one of the more unusual planet surfaces of the era. It may well be a set but it’s a busy and impressive one so perhaps it’s the design that lures the Alphans to the place! The episode opens with an Eagle taking a look to see if the latest planet to pass by may be suitable for the Moonbase crew to move to. Suddenly the ship starts to malfunction and appears to crash while Alpha itself is suffering multiple computer related failures. They don’t switch it on and off again and the sole IT expert David Kano vanishes quite soon after we learn he has the equivalent of a microchip in his head through which he can directly connect to `Computer` as its unimaginatively named. I suppose its better than an embarrassing acronym.


Top of the Pops 18 Oct 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Janice Long: "Hello and welcome to Top of the Pops. Some great stuff on the programme tonight including Ultravox and Meatloaf, and the very first appearance from Julian Lennon." Gary Davies: "And it's almost exactly four years ago that this band first appeared on Top of the Pops. They're with us tonight. Spandau Ballet, Highly Strung."

[25] Spandau Ballet: Highly Strung. Gary Davies’ "four years ago" comment is calling out for some diligent fact checking... He's right. Spandau Ballet first appeared on the 13/11/1980 edition with To Cut A Long Story Short. Here's what one perceptive critic wrote about that first appearance. "Spandau Ballet arrive in the Top of the Pops studio a month after Adam & The Ants. Too slow boys. The New Romantic movement has already been invented." Steve Norman is overdoing it a lot. If he keeps waving that saxophone around he'll have someone's eye out.
The Spands- "Tony, mate, it's over there!"


His Dark Materials Episode 1 review

The first attempt to dramatise Philip Pullman’s exceptional novel didn’t work because the film exorcised the one of the main themes of the story for fear of offending anyone. It looks like this lavish 8 part tv series will not make the same mistake. While modernising some aspects of the setting- at least from what I recall reading- the opening episode conjures up exactly the sort of world we imagine Pullman created. There’s the airships gliding over a slightly exaggerated Oxford, the slinky deamons beside or above people and there’s the whiff of academic panic when Lord Asriel presents Jordan College’s finest with facts they’d rather not hear.


How Europe Stole My Mum review

However serious Brexit may be, the whole thing is also becoming increasingly absur which makes it the perfect time for this one off special  by comedian Kieran Hodgson. He tries to make sense of how we came to this pass and filters it through the idea that his mother voted Leave whereas he voted Remain. The results are an often funny, always light yet equally informative and perceptive trip back in time to the 1970s and our joining what was then the Common Market. Turns out we had as much hassle joining as we are leaving. Helped by excellent turns from Harry Enfield and Lisa Tarbock and peppered with pin sharp impressions of bygone political heavweights this is a must see for anyone with an interest in this divisive topic.