Top of the Pops 15 and 22 Dec 1983

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. 15/12/1983.

Simon Bates: "Thursday night on BBC1. Welcome to Top of the Pops. With some familiar faces." Janice Long: "We're going to have a great party time tonight starting at number 25, it's Status Quo and Marguerita Time."

[25] Status Quo: Marguerita Time. Bad news. This is a pre-recorded episode of Top of the Pops so Simon Bates won't tell us the time. However, he does helpfully namecheck BBC1 for any viewers whose TV set is missing a channel tuning knob. Marguerita Time is the song that reveals Status Quo don't know how to spell Margarita but, more than that, it's also one of those rare Status Quo songs that doesn't sound like other Status Quo songs. (Fact John- Actually you can spell it either way according to Googlepedia. I think in this case it’s a cocktail. I can’t really imagine der Quo drinking cocktails though, it'd be more like Brown Ale Time) It joins Pictures of Matchstick Men, Living On An Island, and In The Army Now in a small pile vastly overshadowed by Status Quo's 3,623,217 other songs which all go dun-der-dun-der-dun-der-dun.

[24] UB40: Many Rivers To Cross. The promo film.

[3] Slade: My Oh My. Slade are in the charts twice. Merry Christmas Everybody is currently lurking down at number 35 for its 1983 rerelease. Slade have bought scarves for everyone in the studio to wave. They have Slade written on them, obviously. Director Gordon Elsbury (Michael Hurll is away for Christmas) forces Simon Bates to hold a Slade scarf but Simon Bates is incorruptible. He is sickened by crass attempts like this to curry favour with the audience. Observe the scornful way he holds the scarf and then throws it over the side of the balcony as soon as his introduction is over. In fact the balcony seems to be a bit of an anti-Slade zone. At the far right end, just behind Noddy Holder, is an incredibly bored looking teenager. She and a friend each have one end of a Slade scarf and they give it a few desultory waves before the whole thing becomes too much effort. Maybe they're Status Quo fans. Or maybe they're less than impressed by Noddy Holder's theory that a women needs a man and you should "try and catch one if you can."


Reacting to HMV going into administration

So HMV may not make its century anniversary after all. We’ve been here before of course. A major well known chain announces administration and in most cases cannot out run the inevitable but some may have viewed HMV as the great survivor. Until the past year predictions that physical media would no longer exist by the end of this decade have seemed wide of the mark. Though Bluray never really took flight DVDs and even CDs are still being bought in their masses whether in shops or  online. The glimmer of hope for HMV was that this could continue- and that the increasing resurgence of vinyl might help- but something in the past year has changed that. 


My Favourite TV Show of 2018- Strictly Come Dancing!

I’m not joking or spoofing you one little bit. Ok I don’t get to watch a massive amount of television and I literally don’t have time to watch dramas that run for more than about 10 episodes but I recently realised I have seen most of every season of the juggernaut which is still the BBC’s most popular programme. So I must like it. When you think about it its success is obvious. It plays against everything that critics, `serious` televisual commentators and` experts` tell us is good. You know what they like- tense, gritty four or six part serials in which every scene is set in semi darkness or which brings some harrowing subject to the fore. Obviously there’s a place of that sort of thing but lately we seem to have been overwhelmed by it. The opposite is those treacly series- often scheduled for a Sunday evening- which aspire to be feelgood. I’m turning away from drama to some extent because there is little in between these extremes. Plus when your life is not exactly filled with sunshine at the moment the chance to watch something uplifting is irresistible.


Top of the Pops 8 Dec 1983

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.

08/12/1983: Tommy Vance: "Well hello. A very good evening to you and welcome once again to Top of the Pops. And now to continue the story here is Uncle Rotter." Mike Read: "Once upon a time in The Adventures of Tintin there were two detectives who dressed just like this and they were called the Thompson Twins. Tommy Vance: "Now, the Thompson Twins are somewhat differently dressed but I'll tell you, they're down... [points] there and they've got a number four record. It's called Hold Me Now and here they are."

[4] Thompson Twins: Hold Me Now. Mike Read's description of the Thompson Twins from The Adventures of Tintin is 100% accurate apart from all the bits that are wrong. The detectives were called Thompson and Thompson. They wore black suits and white shirts with thin black ties. They didn't wear red scarves. They didn't wear sunglasses indoors, Mike Read. They had moustaches. Oh, and they carried walking sticks, not umbrellas. They did wear bowler hats. It's a virtually flawless impersonation as if a mirror had been placed between a picture of Thompson and Thompson, and Mike Read and Tommy Vance. 


20 Years of Grand Designs

Grand Designs has no right being as interesting as it is. After all it is a series about building houses and is suffused in the minutiae of the trade- rivets, render, budgets, bricks, mortar and mortgages. Yet for almost 20 years it has been one of the most watchable television programmes around. In case you’ve never seen it, the premise is filming ambitious building projects often over years from planning to completion. Every few months host Kevin McCloud pops in to check on progress often declaring that he’s not sure whether the thing will be finished let alone be aesthetically correct. At the end though he is impressed enough to deliver a three minute monologue about the qualities of the house often veering into poetic reverie over gutters or huge windows. 



As someone who has written several novels for Young Adult readers – albeit self published- I was interested to read extracts from the report `Bias in Britain` highlighted in The Guardian this week. In summary books were identified as one of ten areas named in which under representation of  ethnic minority characters was an issue. Children’s books were specifically mentioned- in 2017 only 4% of the 9,115 children’s books published that year featured any minority ethnic characters. Where such characters do appear they are often either in supporting roles or running a storyline that includes cliched problems like guns or drugs or poverty. Incidences where they are the lead character in a children’s novel are said to be rare. So far at least the report does not seem to know why this is the case and I’m sure no individual writer has an explanation, least of all me. However it is an interesting topic and something that has been in my mind when writing my books. I can only offer my perspective.