Top of the Pops 9 Aug 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello and welcome to another half hour of the hardest street sounds around like Hazell Dean and Frankie Goes To Hollywood."
Richard Skinner: "We've got street-credible Blancmange and beach-credible Tracey Ullman here's Sunglasses."
[26] Tracey Ullman: Sunglasses. Gordon Elsbury has been credited as Producer since the start of August. This normally means that Michael Hurll is off doing something else. In this case something else might be organising the new series of The Noel Edmonds Late Late Breakfast Show which starts on 01/09/1984 with an ambitious live cross Channel (English, rather than BBC1 and 2) extravaganza. Who's going to be directing that outside broadcast? Oh, it's Gordon Elsbury again, in his ongoing role as hired gun for Michael Hurll.
Designer Rod McLean and Gordon Elsbury are trying something different for Sunglasses. They've constructed a new set rather than invite Tracey Ullman to perform in front of the standard perspex scaffolding. It's just a blue backcloth with a spotlight shining a sun in the middle but it's surprisingly effective and it's good to see the production team thinking of simple ways to ring changes in the presentation.
Also on stage is the world's largest deckchair. Now, Google tells me that Tracey Ullman is 1.66m tall (that's about 5'4'' in old lengths) and the seat of this deckchair is at the height of her waist. Why does the BBC have a deckchair that big in stock? What's it for? Who had it made? And why? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it exists. Having impractical and bizarre props on hand is exactly the sort of thing the BBC should do but I'd love to know what programme requested the oversized deckchair. A strange Lilliputian version of Summertime Special?


Ad Break#14- Confusion, Ketchup and being Perf

Confused.com – Get past the confusion? 
Well I’m confused. The latest in a long campaign by Confused.com has the usual ubiquitous driver (played by Timothy Murphy) stuck behind a large vehicle dubbed 2019- The Year of Confusion. Yet the tone has altered from previous ads which understandably focussed on the dazzling amount of offers and products about. This time we are firmly in political territory as the confusion includes “votes about votes about votes” (a clear reference to the Commons votes earlier this year on different forms of Brexit), the circus being in town (Trump) and “another delivery”. The latter re- imagines Amazon’s famous symbol as a sort of monster. Quite how a comparisons website can get us past such issues is a mystery. I’m sure if they could MPs might have consulted them! 


Benjamin review

From his early days sarcastically undercutting pretentious pop stars Simon Amstell has trod a fine line between being an outsider and becoming exactly the sort of person he’s cynical about. And he’s aware of it as well. Benjamin marks both his big screen writing and directing debut and is set in a world he clearly knows well enough to poke fun at. It concerns a filmmaker concerned about his new project as it nears release but unlike his character, Amstell has made a well rounded, small scale movie that even those outside the milieu in which its set will appreciate.


Top of the Pops 2 Aug 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Simon Bates: "Welcome to Top of the Pops. We have a world exclusive on the new George Michael video coming up later." Gary Davies: "And we've got lots of other great music as well like Prince, Tina Turner, the Kane Gang, but first to get us underway here's Black Lace. Agadoo."

[19] Black Lace: Agadoo. So soon? I knew it had to be coming but these repeats have only been running since 2011. I hoped I would have more time to prepare.
Black Lace, the very name sends a chill up the spine. Hang on. I've used that "the very name" line from The Daemons before. *checks card index* Yes, 13/04/1983. I was going on about Black Lace's other terrible song Superman. And on that occasion I misquoted the line as "the very name sends a shiver up the spine." Oh the shame. The shame. I've done Doctor Who wrong. I'll never be allowed in The Tavern again. *tears up Anti-Dalek Force membership card and ceremonially burns pile of Top, Faze, and This Way Up*.

This is Black Lace's third song to make Top of the Pops after the terrible Superman, and the terrible, terrible Mary Ann, the UK's Eurovision 1979 entry (7th place).

In total Black Lace made nine appearances on Top of the Pops. Two for Mary Ann, don't ask how when the song didn't even break into the Top 40. Superman also got two performances as will their post-Agadoo song Do The Conga. Agadoo itself will clock up three appearances; two on regular editions and one on the review of 1984. For those of you keeping count this was performance number five of nine. (John- Surely there was a review back then that just said: Agadon’t)


Blinded by the Light review

The idea of an Asian teenager in the Eighties taking inspiration from Bruce Springsteen sounds unlikely at first but not only is this film inspired by a true story but if you look at the Boss’s lyrics they have a universal appeal. Based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s book `Greetings from Bury Park`,it tells the story of a British teenager of Pakistani descent whose outlook is transformed when he hears Springsteen’s music and lyrics for the first time. Conveyed via a striking sequence in the film it is the words in particular that galvanise Javed into rebelling against his strict family to become his own person whoever that may be. If this sounds like a standard rites of passage movie the result is much more than that. Gurinder Chadha’s film niftily staples Javed’s awakening to the political times in which he lives. It’s as feelgood a movie as the posters suggests though in a down to earth manner where Javed’s aspirations start and end with getting out of Luton, getting a girl and making some money. These may seem limited ambitions but in a family hamstrung both by tradition and the economic state of the country plus a swathe of racism swirling around not as easy as it might sound. 


Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition

Today I did something different with my lunchtime and checked out the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at Liverpool’s World Museum which is actually only a short walk from where I work. Open since May and running till 1 September the exhibition features dozens of images from The Royal Observatory Greenwich's competition which has been running for ten years now with a prize of £10,000 for the overall winner. The exhibition shows the winners, runners up and several commended entries in each of the ten categories. Judging from what I saw today the standard is incredibly high with dazzling photographs that display incredible detail or camera skills. 


Top of the Pops 19 July 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Richard Skinner: "Hello and welcome to Top of the Pops where the music may be recorded but the stars are all here live and here in person." Peter Powell: "On the stage you're going to see Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Divine, Billy Idol, Blancmange, but for starters The Mighty Wah! and Come Back!"

[28] The Mighty Wah!: Come Back. The Mighty Wah! finally make it on to BBC4. Their previous song Story Of The Blues got all of 90 seconds airtime on the repeat of the 03/02/1984 edition. The full performance went unrepeated as it featured on an edition blocked by the estate of Mike Smith [06/01/1983]. Of course, on that show the band appeared as Wah! Lead singer Pete Wylie has got through more band names than Spinal Tap; Wikipedia lists Wah!, Wah! Heat, Shambeko! Say Wah!, JF Wah!, The Mighty Wah! and Wah! The Mongrel. It's entirely possible Pete Wylie isn't taking seriously this whole being a pop star thing. Regardless of name, The Mighty Wah! are the ideal band for Peter Powell. They've even got his preferred punctuation built into their name.


How Not To Hurdle!

It’s the summer and the season of athletics, the sport people can’t seem to get worked up about however enthusiastically we are told we should. As it goes my most embarrassing public moment occurred on an athletics track many, many years ago. It’s not what you’re thinking- and no, it wasn’t that either. Once upon a time I found myself in the school sports day. This in itself was something of a miracle, maybe everyone else was on holiday or something. The event was held on the university’s playing fields which had an actual stand on one side meaning potentially hundreds of people might be there. Sports Day in fact was very well attended as it was held the same weekend as Founder’s Day. Yes, it was that sort of school that even had us in at the weekend (ok only once a year) though we didn’t have a school swan as you’ll know if you’re a regular reader. Anyhow I was in the sprint relay team which was fine because I could sprint 100 metres and that was basically it, I was out of energy by then. Then, on the actual day, in the actual changing room I was informed that due to some detail I can’t recall now I was also running in the 100m hurdles. OMFG!!!
Hurdles. What is the actual point???!!!