School's Out Forever

If I’d seen this film a year ago, I might have freaked out! Remember that time when there was enormous uncertainty about the nature and scope of the Covid pandemic and nobody knew quite what to expect? That it could even be the end of the world..? It is that unsettling unknown that is evoked in this lively and frequently thrilling adaptation of Scott K Andrews’ book.  Writer and and also director Oliver Milburn homes in on the fear and chaos that could easily have become reality in 2020 though this film was made back in 2019 when no-one had heard of Covid. Thankfully such prescience only adds to the sense of tension running through this movie which explodes in a series of incidents.



Top of the Pops 10 April 1986

 Introduced by Chris Arnsby. [25] Bronski Beat: C’mon C’mon. Mike Smith. “Good evening and welcome to Top of the Pops. We start this week with Bronski Beat, C'mon C'mon.” 
Bronski Beat have invoked the spirit of Fiesta. The stage is filled with balloons; tinsel has been nailed to every surface which doesn't already glow, spin, or rotate; and every pot plant from the production office has been dragged on stage to stuff the background with greenery. And, what is lurking at the front of the stage? We never really get a proper look but it appears to be a weird cairn of potted fern, balloons, and a stuffed snake posed in mid-strike. It's all very odd. Is it is an anthropomorphic representation of the Top of the Pops Animus of Fun? Fortunately we're a couple of months away from Midsummer so I think we can rule out human sacrifice.



Last Days of Debenhams

 “Do a bit of Debenhams” was one of the more recent slogans used by the ailing high street chain in an attempt to relaunch itself a couple of years back. Now Debenhams is nearly done, the brand bought by online retailer BooHoo for £55m, the physical shops due to all be closed by mid - May. About 12,000 people are being made redundant. On 21 January a court issued a winding up order against Debenhams and appointed the Official Receiver as liquidator. On 25 January the name and website only were snapped up by BooHoo but the shops were not part of the deal. After so called non- essential retail shops were allowed to open last week Debenhams stores started a closing down sale with some items being offered for as much as 70% off.



ESL- Football's Worst Own Goal?

 Anyone who has watched the evolution of our national game should not be too surprised at the latest development. Our so called Big Six clubs are joining a European Super League (ESL) to play the cream of the continent’s teams in mid-week matches. As well as appointing themselves to this elite they have declared somewhat unilaterally that they will continue to participate in existing domestic and national competition. The move has resulted in a barrage of criticism from fans, senior figures, celebrities and politicians suggesting that, despite its distinctly pro-European approach, this is nothing less than Football’s Brexit. The idea has been swirling around for years though and simply confirms what even the most ardent supporter really knew- that those who run big football clubs are more interested in money than sport.



Midsomer Murders- Dance with the Dead

This episode seems to turn up a lot on repeat channels and is well worth a look or even another look if you’ve seen it. By 2006 Midsomer Murders had reached its tenth series, an achievement only a handful of non -soap dramas ever get to mark but was it still as bizarre as it had started out? This series started with a typical PJ Hammond mystery centred around the charms of a wayward girl in a story that mixes wartime nostalgia with modern day concerns and throws in some ballroom dancing as well. Hammond’s characters this time round are a strange lot but all are in different ways dancing to the tune set by Laura who we only see fleetingly at the start in a midnight liaison with a local boy Simon Bright. Next morning his body is found in a fuel filled vintage car at a disused airfield. Though this is initially believed to be suicide it soon becomes apparent it is not.


Top of the Pops 27 March & 7 April 1986

 Presented by Chris Arnsby. 27 March 1986

[4] Samantha Fox: Touch Me (I Want Your Body). “It's the show that brings you Britain's biggest hits. Here's Samantha Fox,” Mike Smith. The off-air copy of Top of the Pops I'm viewing (downloaded from the very heart of Silbury Hill https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw ) begins excitingly with a glimpse of the old BBC1 computer generated globe. Nostalgia eases the pain.

Less excitingly, Top of the Pops starts with Samantha Fox's hit song which is drearier than I remember. It's... `Kids In America` at the wrong speed, isn't it? The synths, the electric guitars, the bit where the guitarists sing/chant “this is the night” is like the call and response “woh-oh” from Kids In America. This is Kim Wilde's better song fed through a system of filters designed to really maximise the mediocrity.

1986 was a good year for Samantha Fox. The end of her Page 3 modelling career was followed by four singles (although released to diminishing returns the last, I'm All You Need, didn't make the Top 40), and software house Martech released the “erotic” (yuk) video game Samantha Fox Strip Poker for anyone desperate to gawp at her grainy pixels. One of the charming qualities of VHS is the way the picture quality degrades as the tape is rewound, paused, watched, rewound, and watched again. There are a lot of tracking errors as Sam Fox starts singing, suggesting our mystery home taper watched this section a lot to ensure it had recorded properly.



Words don’t come easy according to Eighties singer FR David but he was wrong was FR. There are in fact as many as a thousand new words or phrases added to dictionaries every year as language evolves and develops endlessly. If you were a social influencer you could probably popularise a word so much it would be added to dictionaries. So how does this happen, who are the keepers of the Dictionary (I’m imagining characters in purple robes in an underground cavern chanting each new word) and what are the very, very latest up to date new words? 



 This valedictory documentary about Tina Turner is an absorbing if incomplete attempt to put her amazing life and career into perspective. Time and again we see clips of her declining to answer questions about her abusive former husband Ike Turner yet his presence looms throughout this official film sometimes at the expense of her music. The story is so rich its already inspired a film and a stage play while the singer co-wrote an autobiography. Surely this production is an opportunity to push forward her musical claims and focus more on her voice and also her remarkable comeback in the Eighties? Instead there seems a reticence on behalf of the participants to explore her musical legacy and its slightly disappointing to hear all concerned talk of that comeback in terms of success rather than in terms of the music itself. It gives an impression that Tina Turner wasn’t especially interested in the musical side of things yet the numerous electrifying clips suggest otherwise. In fact her whole body seems to channel the songs resulting in stunning performances. She seems to give her all for every syllable but as to why and how we can only look for clues here.



Top of the Pops 20 March 1986


Presented by Chris Arnsby. (5] Jim Diamond: Hi Ho Silver. Simon Bates, “on Top of the Pops it's Jim Diamond.” Last time Jim and his eight-piece band were crammed onto the thinnest stage in the Top of the Pops studio. This week he's been upgraded to the main stage, and ironically he's brought along one person fewer.
Who's been given the push? There's still two backing singers, a keyboard player, guitarist, drummer, trumpeter and saxophonist. Ironically the person missing from the last performance is the guitarist who kept leaping up and down to be visible on camera.
Jim Diamond is wearing a huge leather coat. The length is fine but the material is all bunched up around his shoulders and arms, and the lapels look way too big. I remember the eighties as being the decade of shoulder pads, but I don't remember this trend for oversized clothing and yet it's something we've seen worn by a whole parade of people.



Once upon a time Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie made movies that zipped along at a million miles an hour punctuated by jump cuts, fractured timelines and casual brutality. In their wake other filmmakers tried to imitate this style yet many only drew attention to the mechanics of film making rather than immerse us in a story. Pixie borrows liberally from this well yet is not without charm and thankfully is less frenetic than many. It also has- courtesy of director Barnaby Thompson and cinematographer John de Borman -some awesome natural landscape shots of Ireland in all its beauty while a good cast work hard to make matters resonate more than they do on the page.