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!


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.


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.


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.


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? 


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.


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. 


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.