Top of the Pops 29 Nov & 20 Dec 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. 
29 November: Janice Long: "Hello and welcome to a very live edition of Top of the Pops." Peter Powell: "And for starters one of my favourite records of the moment. It's from Nick Kershaw and it's called The Riddle!" 
[4] Nik Kershaw: The Riddle. Peter Powell is wearing a FEED THE WORLD white t-shirt. So is Nik Kershaw. So is everyone in Nik Kershaw's band. The story behind Do They Know It’s Christmas? is too well known to go into here, but this is where the single started to make its mark; four days after it was recorded and four days before release on Monday 3rd December. A quick turnaround that would allow Frankie Goes To Hollywood exactly one week at number one with The Power Of Love. It's often stated that the Band Aid video premièred on Top of the Pops before the single was released. That's not quite what happened. David Bowie introduced the video on BBC 1 25 minutes earlier between the end of the regional news and Tomorrow's World. You can see his introduction here https://twitter.com/BBCFOUR/status/929078810137497601 
Presumably it made more sense to show the video outside of Top of the Pops where it would be seen by a much more general audience. Top of the Pops doesn't seem any shorter this week. David Bowie's introduction and the video fit neatly into a five minute slot and presumably the regular 6.55 start time for Tomorrow's World was designed to flex back to 7pm when required. It would be interesting to see how the schedule was amended to cope. I guess they showed a few less trailers, and shaved a little time off the regional news and Tomorrow's World. (John – But what about the Riddle? What’s the answer? What??!!)

Nik Kershaw: The gardening was not going well.


His Dark Materials Episode 8 review

This excellent concluding episode has the rhythm of a feature film with sweeping action sequences interspersed with quieter character moments. It successfully brings the plots together as both Lyra and Will’s storylines seem to converge and clues are lain for the already confirmed second series. In some ways it has the most straightforward plot of any of the episodes as the Magisterium converge on Asriel’s isolated mountain bolt hole he struggles with the conflicting demands of his ambitious scientific work and feelings for the daughter he thought he’d left safely back in Oxford.


Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker review

Showing before this screening of the final Star Wars film is a `prologue` from the forthcoming Christopher Nolan movie Tenet. At nearly 10 minutes it certainly had some of the audience I was with confused the cinema might be showing the wrong film and despite such a lengthy look the content left us only vague clues as to what it might be about. Yet it was challenging and intriguing, qualities we look for in vain when it comes to the Star Wars universe which prefers to deal in certainties. Expectations around The Rise of Skywalker are far too heavy for it to possibly support. Can it wrap up a sprawling forty plus year saga that has spun many stories across different media? Can it satisfy Star Wars aficionados whose reaction to some actual character development (gasp!) in The Last Jedi suggested resistance to any change?  Well, considering the 1977 original was never intended to be more than a one off space adventure you could say they’ve been winging it for decades. This latest instalment is certainly more traditional than the last one which for me makes it not quite as satisfying but which I suspect fans will prefer. It is definitely worth seeing on the largest screen possible – there are moments when it feels it won’t even all fit on a massive IMAX screen- and as a thrilling cinema experience is hard to beat. Anyone looking for something deeper or more meaningful however may feel short changed.
Mega spoilers past this point!


Ad Break #16 M&S, Chanel No 5, Edinburgh Gin

M&S – Go Jumpers!
Simple ideas are often the most effective and taking the idea of `jumpers` we see a variety of people each wearing one of fifty different jumpers from M&S’s  knitwear range while jumping around to the 1992 House of Pain song `Jump Around` (obvs). It is as if the jumper is controlling them.  Its brilliant and the first time I saw it was a real laugh out loud moment. The store does have a separate advert for food which follows last year’s model of celebrities wandering around sampling goods from a Xmas market without paying for them. It’s nowhere near as fun as Go Jumpers!


His Dark Materials Episode 7 review

Trickery and deceit are on the agenda this week as Lyra tricks King Iofur, Boreal does his best to fool Elaine and the final scene suggests that Asriel is most definitely not to be trusted either. Punctuated by some well composed landscape shots and a powerful battle between two mighty bears the episode is a bridge to the finale that starts to draw all the strands together if a little too hastily at times. 


Now it’s time for Labour to decide…

The UK General Election result suggests that the Labour party needs to make one crucial decision during the so called `period of reflection`. Do they want to win a General Election again or are they content to remain in opposition indefinitely? Regardless of personalities or leaders or pressure groups this is the moment they have to decide. Political parties do have to make this kind of decision and it’s wrong too for them to cling doggedly onto `traditional` values when the world has changed so much. Surely politicians are there to carry out the will of the people whatever that may be? They may guide, persuade, cajole, even lecture us but as yesterday proved the people will have their own way. The Conservatives in general- and Boris Johnson in particular- now seem to understand this. Its time Labour did too- or else they won’t be in government any time soon.


His Dark Materials Episode 6 review

However good this series has been till now, episode six is a masterpiece containing drive, action, tension and some superbly pitched emotional scenes. The horrific core of Philip Pullman’s story is rendered pulling few punches in an hour that is certainly not for younger viewers. Terrible truths mingle with triumphant actions that a multi million dollar film might muster with far more resources. And there’s still two episodes to go!


Top of the Pops 22 Nov 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello admirers and welcome live to another Top of the Pops, and it's great to be back on the programme, huh Tommy?" Tommy Vance: "It's going to be a real blisterer this one. We are live this week. We have loads of good music for you, starting with this man, Nick Heyward. Here is his Warning Sign." 
[34] Nick Heyward: Warning Sign. This is Tommy Vance's last go at hosting Top of the Pops. He will be appearing in sound only from now on, on wunnerful Radio 1. Rumour (ie some bloke on the internet) suggests the new Controller of BBC 1 wanted changes made   to the line-up of hosts. That Controller's name? Michael Grade. He joined the BBC in the summer of 1984, becoming Controller on 1st September. Fortunately that's pretty much the only change he makes while running BBC1. Whether some bloke on the internet is correct about Michael Grade wanting Top of the Pops to be less of a wrinkly's roadshow, it's notable that 1984 sees the departure of a lot of long term presenters. J**** S***** goes after the 30/08/1984 edition (the one on the train). D*v* L** Tr*v*s' last show was 25/10/1984. And, Andy Peebles shorter run came to an end on 20/09/1984.


The War of the Worlds Episode 3 review

“Somethings got to happen soon” says Amy mid way through a drawn out siege but I wouldn’t bank on it! I’m not sure what to make of this closing episode at all as it feels like a large chunk of storyline has somehow been removed from what should surely have been a 4 part series. Then again the pace of episode 3 is so languid it sometimes feels like there isn’t enough material to fill it. If the results stop short of the epiphany that Peter Harness might be expecting his audience to have then it’s affecting enough on an emotional level. However it is very slow indeed and some crucial moments of tension just don’t seem to work. Can hiding under a reasonably tall table really mean a whopping great Martian won’t spot you? Where is the `let’s pull someone from under the table` drama? Harness certainly goes for the profound aspects of the scenario but when it comes to the scares or the action this episode is lacking which is a shame.


His Dark Materials Episode 5 review

When you reach the end of this compellingly morbid episode you suddenly realise Mrs Coulter isn't even in it! It’s an interesting idea to go into the second half of the series with a different intent. For all the talk of how dark a story this ultimately is the action so far has stayed mostly on the side of easier to digest fantasy save for the odd outburst from Mrs Coulter. There’s been no real clues as to what might be happening with the stolen children yet here matters take a different turn. Edgier than the four episodes preceding it, `The Lost Boy` takes the story down a dark alley of mental instability, shock discoveries, grief and nasty murders. Each key scene revolves around the dead and the lost giving it the feel of an episode of Game of Thrones with equally sudden moments that will make the viewer gasp.