Top of the Pops 12 May 1988

 Reviewed by Chris Arnsby

 It's time for some more master tape shenanigans. This recording was downloaded from the Well of Souls at https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw/folder/QgVgAShZ Things get off to an odd start when the titles play in silence and then, halfway through, pause and rewind. There's a black screen for around 20 seconds and then the VT clock appears again. It holds at 10 seconds, like a troublesome NASA launch, before the countdown begins again. Once again the titles play in silence. Is my television faulty? No. The titles rewind again and we're back to the VT clock. Followed by another black screen. Who's driving this editing desk?

The picture bursts into life. It's Mike Read and Simon Mayo, and a bloke in orange headphones, who I'm guessing is Floor Manager Tony Ravenscraig*. Simon Mayo looks nervous. Mike Read looks bored and is clutching something in his hand. Is it an autograph book? This all plays out in silence and then unexpectedly we have sound, but it's Toy Boy by Sinitta. A song that featured on Top of the Pops nine months ago.



Reviews: New Sparks album plus CBBC drama Silverpoint


Sparks- The Girl is Crying in her Latte (album 2023)  Sparks may have been around forever but that doesn’t mean they are trading on old glories like the handful of their contemporaries still out there. This is their twenty fifth studio album yet it sounds like the work of a vital, much younger group still pushing those envelopes around. People used to wonder why Sparks had never become mega successful but that has been to their advantage enabling both an independence and longevity other artists would love to achieve. They’ve had their moments in the commercial Sun of course- the imperial run of three albums in the 1970s, their dramatic move into dance music at the end of that decade, their groundbreaking `Lil Beethoven` album and more recently acclaim for recent albums, a documentary and a film. Yet Russell and Ron Mael, both in their seventies now, are not for dwelling on even the recent past and sure enough this new collection moves on from the richer sounds of 2020’s `A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip` being much more electronic and bleepy than you’d expect. On the other hand that is so them, shifting direction again.


Top of the Pops 5 May 1988


Bruno Brookes: “Good evening. Hello. Welcome to Europe's number one TV pop show. This is Top of the Pops and here's Adrian John.”

Adrian John: “Thanks Bruno, yes. Here we are kicking off with Joyce Sims at number twenty four with Walk Away.” 

[24] JOYCE SIMS: walk away. QuiƩn es Adrian John? He looks like someone doing a funny spoof of a Top of the Pops host. Could it be David Copperfield, promoting Coppers & Co? No. Adrian John is the Radio 1 DJ you got when the Roadshow visited Ellesmere Port. He's the host of The Early Show on Radio 1. It starts extremely early, 5.30am to be exact. Let's hope he's not sticking around after recording finishes or he'll have a rough start to the day tomorrow.




Picard Season 3 reviewed


It is difficult to understate just how popular Star Trek- The Next Generaiton was in 1987. Most of us had only seen the original series in re-runs but now we had a series of our own and over seven seasons this crew became very familiar to us. The third season of Picard is very much what people probably expected from the first two and  continuing the series’ evolution towards a more standard presentation. They’ve even done away with the lengthy, arty title sequence replaced by a no-nonsense metallic logo in space and a familiar musical motif. In a culture obsessed either with youth or staying young it feels groundbreaking though for a show incorporating plenty of action adventure to be led by much older characters still willing to engage at the centre of the action.


Spoilers following the break…



Top of the Pops 1988- April 1988 Mega Post !

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby 

Gary Davies: “It's the UK's number one pop show. Hello. Welcome to Top of the Pops. In an action packed programme tonight we have Hazel Dean, Ben Goldsmith, Scott Fitzgerald, and the Pet Shop Boys.”
Simon Mayo: “And we are starting at number fifteen. She's been chased by the press everywhere. Taylor Dayne, Prove Your Love.”

 [15] TAYLOR DAYNE: prove your love. The audience are rowdy tonight. To the left of Gary Davies a couple of blokes (one with a very eighties flattop) run through the gamut of Top of the Pops audience reactions; they applaud, they whoop, they wave at the camera (well, flattop appears to be waving not at the camera but at the image of himself on the monitor which suggests some remedial understanding is required of how television works), they smirk, and they round off by doing some ironic dancing.

Taylor Dayne has been “chased by the press everywhere,” according to Simon Mayo. A quick, free, search of the British Newspaper archive reveals 1988 was certainly Taylor Dayne's year; 486 results compared to 49 in 1987 and 80 in 1989. The most intriguing* result is from the Daily Mirror, 05/02/1988, “*SEXY new pop sensation Taylor Dayne has launched an attack on Madonna, with whom she is constantly compared. Taylor at No. 8 with her wonderful single Tell It To My Heart can't bear Madonna's tarty image. She ...” Alas for research, that's where the free preview ends. 


Catching up with Picard Seasons 1 + 2


In all the Star Trek series since The Next Generation finished nearly thirty years ago there’s never been a character quite like Jean Luc Picard. His thoughtful demeanour, emphasis on talk rather than phaser blasting and fondness for Earl Grey tea (hot!) made Next Gen the Trek series for me. Bringing him back all this time later was a risky decision but in terms of audience interest seems to have paid off. It took me a while to watch it (typical) partly because I wasn’t sure. Television’s default treatment of former icons is to show them broken at the end other career before making some miraculous yet barely credible return to action. Instead what this series, limited from the start to three seasons, has done is to engineer a Next Gen reunion with enough panache and love to make it seem a believable addendum to the series. Best of all it’s still the same Picard we remember, older for sure but with the same values and beliefs he always had. He does take decaf Earl Grey now though! Well he’s ninety three according to one episode!



Netflix & the reality of modern television


It is often been said that there is more quality television drama than ever before now we have so many platforms on which to see it. By that measure its not too surprising to find there are more dramas cancelled than ever before. You see it happen often, a well liked or indeed beloved series is axed provoking a storm of protest, talk of petitions, boycotts and much else. Occasionally fan pressure has worked and brought back a show on another platform but generally this noise, however loud, is like shouting into the wind. What the platforms know is that people who engage in such an outcry are a small but noisy coterie and also that people do get over the cancellation of a television show however much of a shock it may be at that time. 

N for Netflix or for No?


Eurovision 2023!


Me several months ago be like “Well I suppose Eurovision will be interesting..” Me earlier this week; “Pleeese let me win those Final tickets” (spoiler- I didn’t win them!). That’s what happens when something like Eurovision pitches up virtually on your doorstep. Yesterday afternoon I popped into the city centre for no other reason than to soak up the atmosphere and it struck me that it would be great if life was like this all the time. I don’t mean a perpetual song contest (that would be too much!), rather the bonhomie, fun and pure joy that has exuded from this whole thing. Then you wake up the next day and realise the only reason it was held here was because of something terrible going on in Ukraine who should have been staging it and of course there is no separating those things. I really hope one day soon a city in Ukraine gets to experience what Liverpool has this week and when it happens it helps heal things a bit.



The Ocean at the End of the Lane @Liverpool Empire reviewed


“There’s things that lurk down there” warns old Mrs Hempstock in this National Theatre touring production has rightly garnered much acclaim for its unusual take on folklore and families based on Neil Gaiman’s 2013 novel. This adaptation is from Joel Harwood and is directed by Katy Rudd. She’s not wrong is old Miss H. Over the course of the play the audience will face some scary creatures and even scarier people in a visually stunning slice of theatre.



Top of the Pops March 1988 Mega Post !


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby

Gary Davies: “Hello. Good evening. Welcome to another Top of the Pops. We've got a lot of rapping, scratching, and singing going on here tonight. In the studio we have Derek B, we've got Erasure, and The Sisters of Mercy.”
Simon Mayo: “And we're starting at number nine with a great house record. With Coldcut featuring Yazz and the Plastic Population. Here we go. Doctorin' the House.

 [9] COLDCUT FEATURING YAZZ & THE PLASTIC POPULATION: doctorin' the house. Second time round for Yazz, and all the other people on stage. Paul Ciani keeps the presentation the same as last time, 18/02/1988, with in-performance Quantel effects to add visual interest and long sweeping wide shots during the chorus. Let's take it as read that it looks great. Like it did last time.

Yazz, is the singer, obviously. And Cold Cut are the two blokes fiddling with the record decks. That means the bloke in the bowler hat must be, the Plastic Population? I wish he'd chosen something better to wear. He's dressed in a brown boiler suit about two sizes to big and someone's decorated the suit with a couple of hand drawn, coloured stars. The overall effect is as if he was wearing a giant toddler's romper suit. It don't look great. “Watch out for Yazz, she's about to record her first solo single,” is Gary's hot tip. This would be The Only Way Is Up. A song with which I have a complicated relationship but we'll get to that in July.

I can't work out what Gary says before that. It sounds like “Do you know what the equiminal stage there is come out of their bedroom.” I'm pretty sure that can't be right. I don't think equiminal is even a word. Less cloth-eared readers might like to submit their guesses. On repeated listening at high volume (that reminds me, I need to apologise to the cat) I think it might actually be “do you know all the equipment on stage there has come out of their bedroom.” A statement so mundane I'm not sure it was worth the effort or indeed stress to the cat; she simply cannot abide Gary Davies.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 reviewed


It’s rare for each film in a trilogy to be equally good, however Guardians of the Galaxy have managed it. This third instalment is just as packed with action, quips, character and heart as the previous two yet still has something different. Just like its predecessors the pace is fast, the ideas keep coming and there are plenty of dramatic moments plus a rousing climax. Yet what has always made this particular strand of the MCU stand apart is the characters and each of the principals gets more to do this time courtesy of a very well rounded script. In a sense it’s the Guardian’s growing up movie- and appropriately includes the MCU’s first ever f-bomb – yet not without losing the sense of fun that has been with them from the start.