Midsomer Murders- The Killings at Badger's Drift


The very first episode from twenty five years ago has some differences and a lot of similarities with the series that runs to this day!

This was the first episode of the series shot as a pilot in 1996 and it’s not hard to see why it was subsequently commissioned for a full season and beyond till today! A little quirky, slightly eye opening in its themes and very atmospheric it became the UK television drama hit of 1997 with ratings north of thirteen million,  the highest rated drama of the year. The episode is a little different to the house style to which viewers became accustomed- notably in the tame opening sequence made up of quaint country drawings-  though its more surprising just how many of the programme’s signatures were set from the start. Because it’s based on a novel it is extremely tightly plotted and has a succession of twists each of which cause our assumptions of the villagers to sink a little lower! They’re quite a bunch in Badger’s Drift!


"What a lovely day, nothing nasty going on here!"


Top of the Pops 19 March 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Simon Bates: “Hello. Welcome to Top of the Pops. We've got Genesis recorded live in concert later on...” 
Peter Powell: “..!”
Simon Bates: “... and Peter Powell.” 
Peter Powell: “... We've also got The Mission! And we've got Erasure! And to start with Respectable at number two! Mel and Kim!”

[2] Mel & Kim: Respectable. I can't decide if Simon Bates is just a bit hopeless at this broadcasting lark or is he actually really quite devious? Observe the way he immediately takes the wind of out Peter Powell's sails by sneaking the “... and Peter Powell,” bit into his introduction and talking over the point where Powell thinks it's his turn to start speaking. This week Mel & Kim have come in two nearly identical outfits. Can you spot all the differences; there's the hat, the belt, the trousers not tucked into the boots, oh and buttons only on one top. What do I win if I spot all the differences? A night out with Simon Bates! Hope I don't get second prize.


TV Review - Doctor Who- Legend of the Sea Devils


Can the turtle's power be restored in Jodie Whittaker's penultimate run out?

It is surprising that any Doctor Who has been made in the past two years and its worth remembering how difficult a production it is in normal times never mind in the midst of a pandemic. This iteration of the programme has actually delivered some of its best moments under these restrictive conditions. Several episodes of the six part `Flux` last year were excellent while the New Year special `Eve of the Daleks` made a virtue of its limited resources. `Legend of the Sea Devils` though seems to be showing the strain a little. While it is pacy and great to look at there is something missing from the final production though our aquatic cousins have never looked cooler!

"There be spoilers past here.."


Film Review- The Secrets of Dumbledore


In this third instalment of the Harry Potter spin off, the younger Dumbledore has to rally his allies to try and stop Grindelwald becoming the Wizarding World’s top dog.

I’ve never been convinced that this slice of the franchise’s pie has enough filling to entrance audiences as the parent story did. The first film was enjoyable but the follow up missed more than it hit I felt. The Secrets of Dumbledore is better with a lighter touch all round, a more involving plot and well placed humour. Some strong performances, deeper material and lovely cinematography elevate what remains a slight story but a worthwhile watch.


Film review: The Green Knight


Messing with (your) heads…

Although it tells a traditional tale there is little that is traditional about The Green Knight. Washed in beautiful light and shade, every shot looks like an album cover so watching it makes you feel as if you have entered another dimension. It’s a shame that it was only fleetingly in UK cinemas as visual impact is tailor made for the largest screen you can find. What unfolds is a story with a flawed hero on a weird quest that is anything but triumphant or heroic leading to an elliptical conclusion. At the end its not entirely clear what happened or indeed why it happened. Amusingly one of the most asked questions on Google is `What is the point of the Green Knight? I’m not sure this movie will provide that answer; about the only recognisable aspect of any previous version is the round table.



Alex Rider Season 2


The first Alex Rider series was an impressive adaptation and while it was slow to get started packed quite a punch when it did. With an interesting idea, strong cast and central performance as well as several key set pieces it was a welcome addition to the current overwhelming number of TV shows around right now. Season 2 dropped at the end of last year, not sure if Channel 4 will be buying it, but you can stream it on Amazon. It retains much of the style of the first season and utilises both Alex’s improved skills but also the after effects of what happened to him into a plot that ramps up the threat considerably.


Top of the Pops 12 March 1987


Review by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright : [Wandering on from the left side of the screen] “Ah!! There you are!! Good evening!! And welcome to another Top of the Pops!!”
Mike Smith: “Don't shout at me please.”
Steve Wright: “Sorry!!”
Mike Smith: “We have a marvellous show...”
Steve Wright: “Marvellous!!”
Mike Smith: “... for you this evening. Marvellous show coming up... ”
Steve Wright: “Super!!”
Mike Smith: “... Including down here, Alison Moyet”
Steve Wright: “Yaaaaaaayy!!”

[16] Alison Moyet: Weak in the Presence of Beauty. Alison Moyet's been given one of those late-eighties power hairstyles which involve applying copious amounts of styling mousse and facing a fan set to King Lear. “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!”  The resulting storm-tossed look is great but has one design flaw. When Alison shakes her head a rogue strand of hair sticks right to the side of her face with the tip almost in her mouth. In the low angle shots it also casts an unattractive shadow. What's a pop star to do? Fortunately there's about to be a trumpet solo and while the eye of the camera is distracted Alison wipes the offending strand back into place. What a pro.



Dear Evan Hansen movie review


Amongst the performers at last September’s West End Live event in Trafalgar Square were the cast of Dear Evan Hansen, led by (current Evan) Sam Tutty, who performed `You Will Be Found`. Apart from the emotion of the event marking the widespread re-opening of theatres, this song seemed to resonate on many levels, really holding your attention. I knew little about the musical but that song was so powerful I thought it’s parent show must be good. I couldn’t get to the cinema to see it but now its available to buy or stream so finally I have been able to find out all about it. Unfortunately I was to be disappointed…