16/04/2021

Top of the Pops 27 March & 7 April 1986

 Presented by Chris Arnsby. 27 March 1986

[4] Samantha Fox: Touch Me (I Want Your Body). “It's the show that brings you Britain's biggest hits. Here's Samantha Fox,” Mike Smith. The off-air copy of Top of the Pops I'm viewing (downloaded from the very heart of Silbury Hill https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw ) begins excitingly with a glimpse of the old BBC1 computer generated globe. Nostalgia eases the pain.

Less excitingly, Top of the Pops starts with Samantha Fox's hit song which is drearier than I remember. It's... `Kids In America` at the wrong speed, isn't it? The synths, the electric guitars, the bit where the guitarists sing/chant “this is the night” is like the call and response “woh-oh” from Kids In America. This is Kim Wilde's better song fed through a system of filters designed to really maximise the mediocrity.

1986 was a good year for Samantha Fox. The end of her Page 3 modelling career was followed by four singles (although released to diminishing returns the last, I'm All You Need, didn't make the Top 40), and software house Martech released the “erotic” (yuk) video game Samantha Fox Strip Poker for anyone desperate to gawp at her grainy pixels. One of the charming qualities of VHS is the way the picture quality degrades as the tape is rewound, paused, watched, rewound, and watched again. There are a lot of tracking errors as Sam Fox starts singing, suggesting our mystery home taper watched this section a lot to ensure it had recorded properly.



14/04/2021

Words

Words don’t come easy according to Eighties singer FR David but he was wrong was FR. There are in fact as many as a thousand new words or phrases added to dictionaries every year as language evolves and develops endlessly. If you were a social influencer you could probably popularise a word so much it would be added to dictionaries. So how does this happen, who are the keepers of the Dictionary (I’m imagining characters in purple robes in an underground cavern chanting each new word) and what are the very, very latest up to date new words? 



11/04/2021

Tina

 This valedictory documentary about Tina Turner is an absorbing if incomplete attempt to put her amazing life and career into perspective. Time and again we see clips of her declining to answer questions about her abusive former husband Ike Turner yet his presence looms throughout this official film sometimes at the expense of her music. The story is so rich its already inspired a film and a stage play while the singer co-wrote an autobiography. Surely this production is an opportunity to push forward her musical claims and focus more on her voice and also her remarkable comeback in the Eighties? Instead there seems a reticence on behalf of the participants to explore her musical legacy and its slightly disappointing to hear all concerned talk of that comeback in terms of success rather than in terms of the music itself. It gives an impression that Tina Turner wasn’t especially interested in the musical side of things yet the numerous electrifying clips suggest otherwise. In fact her whole body seems to channel the songs resulting in stunning performances. She seems to give her all for every syllable but as to why and how we can only look for clues here.

 


08/04/2021

Top of the Pops 20 March 1986

 

Presented by Chris Arnsby. (5] Jim Diamond: Hi Ho Silver. Simon Bates, “on Top of the Pops it's Jim Diamond.” Last time Jim and his eight-piece band were crammed onto the thinnest stage in the Top of the Pops studio. This week he's been upgraded to the main stage, and ironically he's brought along one person fewer.
Who's been given the push? There's still two backing singers, a keyboard player, guitarist, drummer, trumpeter and saxophonist. Ironically the person missing from the last performance is the guitarist who kept leaping up and down to be visible on camera.
Jim Diamond is wearing a huge leather coat. The length is fine but the material is all bunched up around his shoulders and arms, and the lapels look way too big. I remember the eighties as being the decade of shoulder pads, but I don't remember this trend for oversized clothing and yet it's something we've seen worn by a whole parade of people.


04/04/2021

Pixie

Once upon a time Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie made movies that zipped along at a million miles an hour punctuated by jump cuts, fractured timelines and casual brutality. In their wake other filmmakers tried to imitate this style yet many only drew attention to the mechanics of film making rather than immerse us in a story. Pixie borrows liberally from this well yet is not without charm and thankfully is less frenetic than many. It also has- courtesy of director Barnaby Thompson and cinematographer John de Borman -some awesome natural landscape shots of Ireland in all its beauty while a good cast work hard to make matters resonate more than they do on the page. 


 

31/03/2021

Space 1999 - The Dorcons

These days we’re used to the `season finale` in which various plots merge together and its all very dramatic. Back in the 70s tv wasn’t really like that- the only people who had conversations about story arcs were tv producers. Most episodic tv was made to be shown in any order so that whatever the peril everyone was fine by the end of the episode in time for some bantz and a jokey freeze frame. It does become a bit of a problem with a series like this. Consider- the half Moon has been juddering about the Galaxy now for 2,409 days according to the opening voiceover. In all that time and given all the adventures we’ve seen the place still looks spotless (we never see a cleaner), all the damage is repaired (where do they get the spare wall sections?) and the uniforms remain pristine (we never know where the laundry is). More importantly the psychological status of all concerned seems to be no more stressed than after a full day at the office. Sure someone occasionally has a meltdown (as happens in this episode) but it never lasts and only serves a plot point. It reminds me of the Star Trek Next Generation episode where someone changed into a different life form but three days later they were fine and back on duty! Really? So as we reach the end of our lunar trek it seems appropriate to point out how much better a series this would have been had the strains taken their toll both on the structures and the personnel. I’d love to have seen a stretch of corridor with a patchwork repair noticeable on it. Or some people no longer in uniform. Or Helena perhaps engaging in some counselling that involves talking about mental health rather than using some medical device that heals instantly. The aesthetic of the series is too clean in every respect.


 

28/03/2021

Top of the Pops 13 March 1986

Presented by Chris Arnsby [20] The Blow Monkeys: Digging Your Scene. “Good evening and welcome to this week's Top of the Pops,” at number twenty The Blow Monkeys Digging Your Scene.”FORMAT CHANGE KLAXON! We cut straight to The Blow Monkeys, with Mike Smith in voice-over, instead of the usual Quantel blur from the titles to the two Top of the Pops hosts. This is week two of the All-New Top of the Pops Show which is drip feeding its format tweeks rather than dropping them on the audience in one go. Michael Hurll was presumably afraid of the Max Headroom-style blipvert spontaneous combustion which would result from too concentrated a burst of Pop Power. Michael Hurll? Yes, the King o'er the water has returned after leaving Brian Whitehouse in charge for, ooh ages*. In actual fact he returned last week and I didn't notice, much to my embarrassment.
Michael Grade's big BBC1 relaunch is now just over one year old. Top of the Pops has settled at 7pm between the Regional News Magazines and Eastenders, and someone has suggested a few nips and tucks to keep Top of the Pops looking fresh in the second half of the eighties. Just to keep track, the changes so far are; daft new Top 40 Countdown format; only two breakers instead of three; closing the programme with a video instead of the audience dancing; and now a cut straight into the first song. It's a minor change but it works because it suggests a greater focus on music. Ironically the only thing these format tweeks can do is hint at change, because ultimately Top of the Pops is wedded to the hosts introducing studio performances and videos. It can't shift back to being exclusively studio performances because the audience also wants to see videos, but it also can't shift to just showing videos because they're promotional material and 30 minutes of videos would be too commercial for the BBC's remit.


 

26/03/2021

Space 1999 - The Immunity Syndrome

An unexpected late gem, the series’ penultimate episode packs action and intrigue into a familiar sort of scenario and has the air of a Star Trek episode in a good way not just because it duplicates a title from the other series. Exploring a new planet (which bears more than a passing resemblance to the previous episode’s planet) initial findings of a safe atmosphere and bountiful produce soon start to go awry. First, Tony is attacked by a crew member who has seen some sort of powerful light before he himself is affected and goes rogue. As he is chased down, two other crew die after drinking water, another after tasting fruit. Then when an Eagle attempts to take the injured Tony back, all its metal parts begin to corrode causing a forced crash landing back on the hostile planet from which there seems no escape.