Top of the Pops 4 February 1988


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Mike Smith: “Good evening. Welcome to Television Centre and Top of the Pops once again. We have Bros in the studio tonight, Elton John is with us, we have the Screaming Blue Messiahs, and over here with Get Out Of My Dreams. Billy Ocean.”

 [27] BILLY OCEAN: get out of my dreams. Eric Wallis starts off the show with a simple but effective Lighting trick. The camera pans across the studio during the introduction to the song (the bit that does the rising “wwooooooohhh”) and only Billy himself is visible, lit from above by a white spotlight, then as the song kicks in the rest of the studio lights are turned up revealing the group and, how many people are on stage? Three backing singers, two guitarists, two keyboard player, a saxophonist, a drummer, and Mr Ocean himself. There's a lot of people crammed on to one smallish stage. I think it's more people than featured last week with the inaccurately named Two Men A Drum Machine And A Trumpet.

Top of the Pops doesn't tend to open with performances on what I've always called the main stage, the one with the neon logo to stage left and the big screen to stage right. The trend recently has been to reserve then for big set piece performances, see Krush, 14/01/1988, or TMADMAAT as I've taken to calling Two Men A Drum Machine And A Trumpet (it's quicker than typing out the full name). Given the size of Billy Ocean's band, why don't they get given the bigger stage? What's the big set piece performance coming this week? Stay tuned listeners.

Fact. Billy Ocean's entire band could fit in the capacious pockets of his enormous coat



The Irregulars


The idea of a group of street urchins helping out the great detective Sherlock Holmes sounds like something dreamed up by a children’s programming producer in the 70s but they did feature in two of the original novels. The concept has been developed several times though rarely with the approach taken by Tom Bidwell’s series first shown in 2021 and filmed up here in Liverpool. He had considerable television writing experience by the time he came to make The Irregulars having worked on the likes of EastEnders, Casualty and My Mad Fat Diary amongst others. However, he described this series as his dream project and this definitely brings a sense of purpose to the narrative into which he toys with established Sherlock lore with glee. He introduces supernatural and fantasy elements into the mix and also changes a lot of the established story of Holmes as well as bringing a macabre touch especially to the first half of the series some of which is not suitable for the more sensitive viewer (and in instance me!)


Film Review round up- 2 Oscar nominees + latest Marvel


Everything Everywhere All at Once definitively lives up to its title. In a frenetic and remarkable narrative, there is so much content, so many twists and turns that you could feel overwhelmed yet you will likely end up satisfied. Middle aged Chinese American Evelyn Wang is deep in debt, struggling to run her laundry business with the IRS watching her every unpaid bill. Her husband Waymond is about to serve divorce papers (albeit for the sweetest reason) while she tries to find a way to explain to her demanding father that her daughter Joy is gay. Then one day when the family are in the IRS offices Waymond is suddenly taken over by a more confident `alternative` version of himself from the Alphaverse – one of an infinite number of alternatives - who is trying to stop his dimension’s version of Joy who could destroy the entire multiverse. 



Top of the Pops 28 January 1988


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Mike Smith: “Good evening. Welcome to Television Centre for another spiffing edition of Top of the Pops. Tonight we've all sorts of people in the studio who you'll meet later on.” Gary Davies: “But first we start with a lady who's first two singles went top five in America. She's the biggest climber in the chart this week at seventeen. Here's Debbie Gibson. Shake Your Love.”

[17] DEBBIE GIBSON: shake your love. As a jaded Gen X-er I'm mainly familiar with Debbie Gibson via the medium of Bill Hicks. Unfortunately all Bill Hicks’comments about Debbie Gibson are unrepeatable so maybe I should just swiftly move on. You know what Bill? Debbie's fine. It's not great art but I don't come to Top of the Pops for great art. I come to Top of the Pops for thirty minutes of flashing lights and an occasional bilious retch at Steve Wright which proves to me I can still feel anger. Speaking of anger. The keyboard player, well one of them there are two, is wearing a white tie with a black shirt. I feel this is some sort of terrible fashion crime.



Z Nation Season 2


First shown in 2015, the second season finds a surprisingly varied amount of things to do with its premise across fifteen episodes. Setting itself up as an epic journey across the country it  doesn’t fudge on the cliffhanger of the first season despite some unlikely escapes (how far is that blast zone?). Fact is the bomb does obliterate the centre sending a wintery shockwave for many a mile adding to the perils our heroes have to face. Having literally shed his skin at the end of season one the now zombie tinged Murphy has also had a change of heart. This may be because he is a wanted man, thanks to Citizen Z’s unwitting broadcasts a lot of armed people are eager to catch “The Murphy” as he has become known and which is also the title of the opening episode but he has other ideas. Raiding clothes stores he and the now feral Cassandra are determined to avoid any fellow travellers. The first episode certainly knows how to pile peril on peril but somehow our friends are reunited by its conclusion though then they are propelled into the second episode.



Top of the Pops 21 January 1988


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: “Hello, good evening. Welcome to Top of the Pops. Nice to see you. In the studio tonight we have The Christians, we also have Dollar, and Joyce Sims, and a born again trendy.” Steve Wright: “Thank you!! Thank you very much!! Listen!! We've got Bros to start!! They are so young!! They are hideously young!! When Will I Be Famous!! On Top of the Pops!!”

 [16] BROS: when will i be famous. Steve Wright and Bros in the same edition? The gods must be angry. I don't have anything constructive to say about Bros. I hated them at the time. I don't much like them now. Which I'm sure comes as a terrible disappointment to the trio. Still, I sat through the song on repeat which is more than I can say about Lady In Red.

Speaking of the trio. Viz used to dismiss Bros as “Matt, Luke, and Ken.” I always assumed Ken was the drummer. Watching now I realise Ken played the guitar and Matt or Luke, probably Luke, did the drums. (John- Actually Ken was really Craig, the bass player and the member of Bros who was not a brother. He was called Ken for some obscure reason. I always thought Smash Hits invented that but if it featured here then perhaps it was Steve Wright?)

Bros: Ken looks fed up from the start


Burt Bacharach


One of my earliest memories is being left in the car with the radio on and there were was one song that stood out - `I’ll Never Fall In Love Again`. Of course at such a young age I had no idea what the lyrics were about but there was something engaging about that tune, something memorable. The way the middle eight soars out of the verse is spectacular. Like all great songs it feels unusual yet familiar. Burt Bacharach, who died this week, was the composer of that and many, many more gems. Its incredible now how he was viewed for a while as outdated when these are songs with a timelessness that allows them to be updated and remade.



Top of the Pops 14 January 1988


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Simon Mayo: “Hi. Good evening. Welcome to Top of the Pops. In our London studio we have Krush, and we also have Terence Trent D'Arby.”Gary Davies: “In our American studio we have Tiffany and Belinda Carlisle but first we start with a band who are really living up to their name. At number ten Clime Fisher, Rise to the Occasion.”

[10] CLIMIE FISHER: rise to the occasion. Gary Davies is wearing a really nasty jumper.  The bulk of the front is orange but the collar is black and there's a black and white chequered band across the middle. It's decorated with various yellow triangles which look a bit like warning signs and number plates; is the jumper road themed, or Formula 1?

We're in a medium long shot so it's difficult to be sure, but I expect there will be further chances to study this disaster over the next 30 minutes.

Lead singer Simon Climie has been given Pop Star lessons in the two weeks since the band first appeared. Then he looked uncomfortable and clutched a denim jacket like a security blanket. This time round he at least gives the appearance of being more relaxed and roams across the stage interacting with the backing singers, and fellow band member and keyboard player, Rob Fisher. They've worked out a little bit of business to go with some of the samples, including Simon Climie pretending to fiddle with the keyboard before the “don't touch that” sample is played, better known from Pump Up The Volume. Climie Fisher is also boldly using a sample from The Jungle Book, Baloo saying “come on buddy, get with the beat.” Disney could crush them like bugs.



Lockwood & Co episodes 7 and 8 reviewed


There’s an art of finishing a series that isn’t always easy. Lockwood & Co nails it I’m pleased to say bringing together its multiple strands to create a satisfying finale


Spoilers past this point…