Top of the Pops 14 June 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: "Hello! Welcome to another edition of Top of the Pops!" Mike Read: "And we have a group who [indecipherable] their very first appearance on British television. They have been number one in Holland and now they're.. doing... pretty well over here. This is Art Company and Susanna."
[20] The Art Company: Susanna. The Top of the Pops audience are really into this song. I don't think I've ever heard such an enthusiastic response. There are whoops and cheers on almost every line and the crowd go crazy for the accordion solo. It's not healthy for them to get this excited. The crowd know all the call and response bits. They really love whatever the lead singer does when he walks out of shot to do something hilarious with the accordion player. (This is why we have camera rehearsals, people. There is no point in doing funny business if the camera operators don't know it's going to happen). Frankly it's all rather odd. My memories of 1984 can be hazy but surely I should remember The Art Company? They're huge, and this feels like not remembering Ghostbusters or Fingal the Hampster (for those of you old enough to remember 1984 and the way the whole country seemed to go mad for Fingal's catchphrase, and constantly doing the happy banana dance). (John- Weirdly I can't recall this song either and I knew everything in the charts in 1984)
The mystery is solved by listening to the original song on Youtube. It's not my first guess, which was that The Art Company paid someone to stand off camera and provoke the crowd with gestures. It's also fortunately not my second guess, which is that my memory has fractured and all of reality is up for grabs. No, The Art Company have just added the  audience reaction as part of the single. Which is cheating.


Years and Years Episode 6 review

As the series concludes further into its harsh future than ever, yet worryingly easy to recognise, we have a finale that will be slightly more familiar to those of us who followed Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who than those who haven’t seen it. Not in plot terms but in the way it draws together its themes amidst a cacophonous turn of events and delivers powerful speeches and character moments. In its final quarter of an hour it even looks like Doctor Who as ailing Edith’s memories are uploaded and she summarises what they amount to. RTD has said he wrote this scene many years back and I’m glad he saved it for this rather than using it in other series because it fits the Lyons family perfectly even if family (actual or acquired) has always been one of the central themes of much of his work. Some cynics may scoff at such a simplistic conclusion but I think as they get older or wiser they may come to agree with it. It’s a fitting end to a series that has somehow not clicked with large audiences possibly because it is so difficult to promote. Yet if you like your drama filled with vibrant life and wild ideas yet tethered to the here and now you should really give it a watch. 


Top of the Pops 7 June 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello and welcome to another Top of the Pops. Another half hour in the company of attractive young people wearing extraordinary trousers." David Jensen: "Not only that but everybody on the programme tonight is live except of course for the DJs." John Peel:"Yes, we're miming I'm afraid and not awfully well. Gonna start the programme with Spandau Ballet."
[5] Spandau Ballet: Only When You Leave. Spandau Ballet are dressed in black leather jackets with white trousers and shirts. It's a stark monochrome look. Tony Hadley's gran presumably refuses to pay the extortionate £34 annual cost of a colour TV licence and is watching in black and white (£18). With this in mind there's no point in the band wearing a rainbow of colours. Speaking of clothing, t-shirts with big block printing are becoming a fashion thing. Behind the band can be read "Oui" "WET" and the 1984 classic "RELAX".


Years and Years Episode 5 review

Rather like the neurons that coalesce to allow Bethany’s somewhat frightening augmentation into the entire Internet and its hinted beyond, this episode draws together storylines with a masterful touch. While it may appear low key compared to what’s gone before it contains some of the most intriguing scenes and pulls together when Bethany discovers her father’s worst deed yet at the end. I had been wondering if the stories of the Lyons would or even should collide directly with Vivienne Rook; till now save for Rosie’s brief interaction with her at a hustings they’ve remained separate. Yet here in a scene that plays out all sorts of potential directions, Vivienne meets Stephen who has now accepted a job in dodgy mate Woody’s property outfit. It’s a tense meeting alright yet with a tiny sign of weariness, even fear from Vivienne at the idea she might sail away from everything, “They would have me killed” she says in a tinier voice than we’re used to. 


Top of the Pops 17 May 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Simon Bates: "Hello. Thursday night on BBC 1 welcome to Top of the Pops with two number ones, a future one and a present one, as well as two great new videos." Peter Powell: "Also on the show we've got Hazel Dean, we've got Ultravox, and for starters we've got Break Machine and Break! Dance! Party! Here it is!"

[16] Break Machine: Break Dance Party. Break Machine are turned out in the height of 1984 fashion; black polyester tracksuits splattered with yellow, red, and blue geometric shapes, and matching yellow headbands. The patterns on the tracksuits make Break Machine look like real world versions of the 1986 Top of the Pops title sequence when the theme tune changed to The Wizard by Paul Hardcastle. I'm always interested in the lengths Top of the Pops will go to hide even the most trivial production mechanics. When the lead singer wants to show off his break dancing skilz he hands the microphone to another member of the band. This is done while the camera is pointing at the third member of Break Machine to avoid even the slightest breech in the illusion that Top of the Pops is broadcast from some mythical endless dance party rather than anything so mundane as a television studio in W12. Likewise, towards the end of the song the lead singer sidles up to the edge of the screen and hands the microphone off to an audience cheerleader so that he can windmill away until the music stops. At the same time the second member of Break Machine dances to the back of the stage and quickly bends down to pick up a cloth so that he can do what I believe is called the-spinney-hands-thing. It's all so carefully choreographed so that it's easy to miss.


Years and Years Episode 4 review

This series is sort of like the news in that whenever you think you’ve seen the worst thing that can happen to people something even more horrific turns up. So it is with episode 4 which has a noticeably heavierm desperate tone from the start and goes on to present two key developments. For now at least the leering presence of Vivienne Rook becomes more shadowy as we focus on Stephen’s affair and Daniel’s attempts to get Viktor home and safe. Its fair to say that these are things that are never going to end well for the characters.


X Men Dark Phoenix review

Supposedly the last X Men film for a while, Dark Phoenix can’t quite muster the physical or emotional heft of Avengers Endgame but is a pacey piece of work that is better than the messy Apocalypse by a considerable distance and definitely not the dud some critics have made it out to be. On the other hand it’s no Days of Future Past either. If a certain feel of déjà vu does creep in from time to time its mostly offset by some gymnastic set pieces and a sense of purpose that, rather like its antagonists, will not be stopped by anything. In attempting to tie together the myriad of loose ends and contradictions littering the franchise however it actually makes matters even more complicated!

Spoilers past this point


Britain's Got Talent Final 2019 review

The more agreeable of Simon Cowell’s twin headed ITV behemoth is guaranteed to deliver on entertainment value. This year’s competition continued the trend of including both more professional performers and more non British talent moving further from the concept of homespun acts cooked up in someone’s living room. The appeal of the show lies partly in its instant rewards with the live shows running across just a week rather than the drawn out X Factor routine. Even the prize- £250,000 and a slot on the Royal Variety Performance is done and dusted well before the following series whereas X Factor victors have to wait a year by which time interest has palled. What appeals to the voting audience is someone’s story which explains why 89 year old Chelsea pensioner Colin Thackery triumphed with 25% of the final’s votes over slicker, riskier and more entertaining acts in this year’s finale. 
Ant and Dec missed the wardrobe memo