Top of the Pops 1979 - 8.2.79

Watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4

Kid Jensen. “Hi There. If you've ever wondered if what goes up must necessarily come down then stay with us for this week's edition of Top of the Pops because this is it."
Chart music: Dan Hartman, This Is it [17].

Mick Jackson: Weekend [58]. Funky but forgettable. More interesting is the technician lurking behind Mick in the lighting gantry. He seems to be working a giant spotlight although when he first comes into shot it looks as if he's got hold of the worlds biggest telephoto lens.

Rod Stewart: Ain't Love A Bitch [29]. Rod Stewart's wearing a foul pair of leopard print trousers. In the high angle shots they make his skinny legs look like matchsticks.

Abba: Chiquitita [2]. As Legs & Co (dressed as flamenco dancers) slide around to Abba's dullest song we're three boring songs into the most disappointing edition of Top of the Pops for several months.
Chiquitita makes a suprise appearance as Abba sing


The Musketeers - The Homecoming

BBC1 23/02/14
Written by James Dormer / Directed by Saul Metzstein

It is Porthos’ turn in the spotlight this week. He finds himself accused of something he claims he is innocent of but is sentenced to…hang on isn’t this the same plot as D’Artagnan went through? Anyway rather than have him moulder in a cell he is due to be hanged immediately only to be rescued on his way to the gallows not by the other Musketeers but by masked vigilantes who reside in Paris’ Court of Miracles or the Crime Quarter as a modern city would call it. If you enter this area you’ll be greeted by hundreds of shady looking ragged residents banging pots and pans, sort of like a carnival without the fun. For an episode that starts so predictably there is an appealing series of developments leading to a strong climax.

"There are definitely less viewers out there. Let's kill Mr Selfridge"



It’s one of those things that I’m not sure about is Twitter. I did join for about six months but found two problems with it. The first was that I could only accrue about 20 followers which is considerably less than, say, read this blog or Friends I have on Facebook. 20 is reckoned to be the minimum you need to make it worthwhile Tweeting anything anyway. The other thing was that unless you keep checking back every half hour or so whole reams of Tweets come and go that you’ll never see. If, like me, you’re too busy at work during the day to look more than once at lunchtime you’re faced with a seemingly never ending scroll of messages to view long after the event.
I got to thinking too that the vast majority of Tweets were inconsequential. I can see why famous types might use it to communicate with fans and obviously it has an enormous value in spreading news. Some people seem to use it like a public email/text service arranging nights out with their friends as everyone else reads about it.
I read recently that Twitter plans to alter its look so it more closely resembles Facebook which is interesting because the predictions till now have been that the Twitter model would replace the Facebook one. Perhaps a combination of both is the way forward. Apart from the fact that apparently teens are abandoning Facebook (and Snap Chat where the messages vanish after a short time seems a more apt platform for them!) it is otherwise settled into being a useful tool a step away from the more sensationalistic Twitter. And it is a useful way of keeping up with everyone. Twitter scrolls by so fast that you can’t keep up with anything much at all.
And yet I do keep thinking; perhaps I’m missing out by not being on it. You see this is how they keep trying to snare you in the end!


Brit Awards 2014

19/02/14 @ 02 Arena, London

The thing about Awards Shows in general is that they are not really about the art form. What we really watch them for is to see who wears the most outrageous clothes and makes the most ridiculous acceptance speech. Nobody seriously believes for example that the Best Film wins the Oscar for Best Film. It may as well be called `Best Film Released in the past few months which a limited number of mainly older people believe is the best film`. That doesn’t necessarily make it any less worthy, it just means it’s probably not the Best Film. The Brits are similar drawing winners from a very small list selected by an even smaller panel. Whenever a public vote is involved some pop group critics hate win but who can really say that, for example One Direction are not the equal of Rudimental ? So the last thing worth doing is getting worked up about who wins, yelling at the TV and shouting “We wuz robbed! It should have been The Mighty Amps!!” 
"Excuse me, I can't actually move"


Top of the Pops 1979 - 2.2.79

As watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4

Mike Read. “Hello and welcome to another star studded edition of Top of the Pops."
Chart music: Edwin Starr, Contact [27].

Nazareth: May The Sun Shine [51]. "Nice to see them back on Top of the Pops, celebrating six years of hits," claims Mike Read. I've never heard of Nazareth. Am I revealing some terrible gap in my education? The song itself is good, although there's a mismatch between the band and the lyrics. Watching Nazareth, (a group of hard-looking hairy men) singing a song about sunshine is like watching Napalm Death cover Sugar, Sugar.

The Three Degrees: Woman In Love [3]. A repeat from the 18/1/79 Peter Powell edition.

The Members: The Sound Of The Suburbs [37]. Mike Read introduces this while clowning around with Nazareth's gong. It's a storming performance of a brilliant song so I'm going to forgive the lead singer who seems to have learned his performance ticks from Jimmy Pursey. The audience really get into the song as well, at one point a bloke in a red top can be glimpsed at the edge of the screen having a whale of a time and grinning; an actual human emotion from a member of the Top of the Pops audience! There's also a couple of shots of a multi-coloured crop-haired punk in the audience; the first time the BBC has allowed one of them into the studio.

The Members got hungry during gigs


Breaking Bad Season Three

Created by Vince Gilligan
Starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul
First shown in 2010

It starts with a striking sequence in which an increasingly large number of people crawl across semi desert tracks through a remote village towards a shack inside which we see a cornucopia of items including a sketch of Heisenberg.  It’s doubtful whether any series has begun with quite such an obscure visual the (unexplained) significance of which adds a typically offbeat flourish to a season that, even more than the first two, uses some stunning photography against which the story unfolds. You feel the heat of the desert as much as you do the tricky situations in which our two `heroes` find themselves. Much of the first quarter of the season deals with the emotional fallout from the dramatic events at the tail end of season 2 but the slow pace works because we know these characters by now and there is no necessity for the sort of detailed plot turns that marked out the sophomore series. By the time the key firework are lit we’re fascinated by every moment. 
Warning- Major Breaking Bad spoilers lie beyond this point.


Midsomer Murders - The Killings at Copenhagen

ITV 12/02/14 Written by Paul Logue  Directed by Alex Pillai

The 100th episode of ITV’s venerable mystery drama sees Barnaby in Copenhagen but can he get back before his new baby is born

When Tom Barnaby had a case that took him away from Midsomer he managed to get as far as Brighton. John Barnaby on the other hand jets out to Copenhagen for this 100th episode of the series which includes guest appearances from two Scandinavian detective drama stalwarts Ann Eleanora Jorgensen and Brigitte Hjort Srensen. Both are as deadpan as you like, the former is fond of saying “Nonsense” in a dismissive yet self- aware way. The scenes where they are on screen- comparatively few considering the pre-publicity- make you imagine there’s another police drama out there just waiting to happen. “Nonsense!” Oh, alright then.
"Quick chorus of Mamma Mia, ladies?" "Sweden's over there Mr Barnaby"


The Musketeers - The Good Soldier

BBC1 09/02/14
written by Adrian Hodges
directed by Richard Clark

The Duke of Savoy – married to the king’s sister- arrives to sign a treaty but the Musketeers have a personal stake in a massacre that happened five years ago involving Savoy- and possibly Captain Treville.

There’s an unwritten tv series out there somewhere set amongst the espionage of the seventeenth century. Without modern accoutrements it would be far more difficult to write than something like Spooks but this episode demonstrates the rewards of such diligence. Adrian Hodges weaves an absorbing tale centred on a massacre of a dozen musketeers that occurred five years earlier and to which Aramis was a witness. Another survivor Marsac has arrived to try and kill the Duke whom he blames for what happened but it soon transpires that someone inside the Musketeers’ circle provided information as to the party’s location and a lie as to their intent. If the result occasionally teeters on the brink of melodrama, Hodges has thought through his story to make it intriguing to the end. The series’ already familiar signature speed stops things from getting bogged down while the writer leaves us guessing till the last possible moment as to Treville’s complicity. 
"Your majesty, I'd like some time off to go and find Gallifrey"  "Shut up Billy Connolly"


If we want people to vote we need to modernise the process

There’s been a lot in the media this week about the poor voting turnout at UK elections and an initiative to try and enthuse the under 25s to register to be able to vote after it was revealed a significant proportion of them have not. Meanwhile there are those who point to the fact that people once risked their lives here to get the vote and in some countries this is still happening. So the argument goes that we should make voting compulsory with a fine for those who don’t bother. Other theories suggest it is public disenchantment with politicians- especially after the expenses scandal- that had contributed to voter apathy. While all of this has merit surely the real issue that is preventing a higher turnout is the antiquated method by which we exercise our democracy?
Exciting isn't it?


The Musketeers - Sleight of Hand, Commodities

Sundays @9pm on BBC1 and on the iPlayer
`Sleight of Hand` written by Adrian Hodges / directed by Toby Haynes
`Commodities` written by Susie Conklin / directed by Saul Metzstein

 Of course any series can charge in with a great opening episode but the real test comes in the second and third weeks. Can The Musketeers maintain momentum like Ripper Street or will it take a Merlin like saunter down all sort of less dramatic lanes?  Thankfully the answer is the former; in fact it shares with the BBC’s unfairly cancelled (but possibly revived) Victorian series a glorious sense of melodrama and dark visual tones, Nobody is claiming it is period accurate or even faithful to Alexander Dumas’ book but it takes the key elements and gives them a modern sheen. Most of all it is hugely enjoyable. Some series- even those we like- do have episodes that are, frankly, a chore to get through but The Musketeers is so well constructed that this does not seem to be the case, at least not yet. In fact each of the opening trio seem a lot shorter than their hour running time.
She soon regretted going to Sainsbury's on a Saturday.


Top of the Pops 79 - 18.1.79

BBC4: Top of the Pops 1979 18/1/79
Watched by Chris Arnsby

Peter Powell. "Hi! It's Top of the Tops! And also the chart run down! Here is Shalamar!"
Chart music: Shalamar: Take That To The Bank [30]

Olympic Runners: Sir Dancealot [53]. Sir Dancealot is a song forgotten by history. None of the usual lyrics websites contain the words to this song. Via the cunning ruse of turning on the subtitles I can exclusively reveal that this song is about a man known as Sir Dancealot (not to be confused with Sir Oinks-a-lot the pig mascot of Springfield A&M from The Simpsons) and we should watch him dance because he's giving it all he's got. The tambourine player looks distractingly like Gil Gerard from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

Anne Murray: Lay Your Love On Me [28]. "Here's Anne Murray at 28," says Peter Powell. Apparently he means 1928 judging by the state of this faded and murky promo film which looks like a hand-tinted telerecording of The Quatermass Experiment. That's not Anne Murray. It's Reginald Tate defending Westminster Abbey from an alien life form.
In her later career Anne Murray recorded more serious songs.