Top of the Pops 21 July 1988


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.
Peter Powell:
“Good evening! Welcome to tonight's edition of Top of the Pops! It is Europe's most successful TV show! It's non-stop pop! And making his debut on the show, Andy Crane!”
Andy Crane: “Thanks Pete. Good evening. How are you? In studio tonight we've Ziggy Marley, we've Everything But The Girl, but to get things underway over here, the highest new entry this week, at number twenty S-Express, Superfly Guy.

 [20] S-EXPRESS: superfly guy. Andy Crane? The bloke from the broom cupboard? Yes indeed. 1988 is a year of transition. Michael Hurll out. Paul Ciani in. Mike Smith off. Mark Goodier on. Simon Bates goes. Nicky Campbell arrives. It makes sense to refresh the pool of hosts and it makes sense to hire a familiar face from children's television. It draws in a new audience to replace those jaded teenagers drifting out of the habit of watching Top of the Pops. It's not even the first time the series has used children's television hosts as presenters. For a lot of Top of the Pops viewers, myself included, that was the job description for Noel Edmonds and Mike Read.





As his career progresses, Christopher Nolan has become a less commercial filmmaker. His movies were always serious and highbrow but lately they’ve become intense feats of endurance for all concerned, not least the audience. I don’t mean by that to say they are bad, far from it, just that they require a level of focus most movies do not. You'll soon forget the popcorn, Coming on the back of the mind puzzler that was Tenet in which science and science fiction collided head on, Oppenheimer is a film that takes us into the world of real science. A dense and talky three hour affair containing a lot that the viewer will not understand, this is a film for nuclear physicists and political students more than anyone. At times you'll feel like the Rocket Man who doesn't understand `all the science`. It doesn't matter though because underpinning everything are the ramifications of what happened, ripples we still feel to this very day.


Top of the Pops 14 July 1988


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.
Simon Bates: “Hi. Welcome to studio four at Television Centre. It's one minute past seven and this is Top of the Pops live. We have the new Michael Jackson video later on, we have the charts, and we have Bruno Brookes.”

Bruno Brookes: “Yes, and off to a great start. Down here on the centre stage at number fifteen on the chart this week Transvision Vamp, I Want Your Love.”

 [15] TRANSVISION VAMP: i want your love. This is going to be rocky. In 1988 some silly sausage at the BBC stuck the EAR lead in the MIC socket, and vice versa. The result was the audio from the hosts' microphones didn't get recorded to videotape, their words were only picked up by the general studio microphones. You can just about make out what Bates and Brookes are saying but the pair are frequently drowned out by the sound of the crowd.

I normally watch Top of the Pops from a comfy chair in front of the television but this time I'm hunched over my computer listening via earphones and having to decipher the soundtrack like some pioneering radio ham trying to pick up Hilversum on a crystal set.

The other oddity of this archive copy. It has no on screen captions. Apparently 14/07/1988 was a technical nightmare at Television Centre. And, speaking of technical nightmares, check out the moment 45 seconds into the Transvision Vamp performance -just after the first transition to a crane shot- when the camera bashes into one of the neon lighting units hanging from the ceiling and the picture shakes violently. Who's driving that thing?

Two notes about Transvision Vamp. One, I've persisted for decades in calling them Transmission Vamp. Two, it turns out Transvision Vamp are the reason I don't remember The Primitives, my memory amalgamated them into a single group.



In the Pink


Greta Gerwig's Barbie is fun and mostly fantastic

Well, it’s pink. Pinker than the pinkest Pink Panther, carnations or flamingos. They should issue shades on entry to protect us from the eye bruising colour that shines from every pore of this bravura attempt to bring a doll to life. It seems a bizarre conceit but then again why not? For millions of kids Barbie was / is real and they have shared many good times with her. Also the movie is in the hands of Greta Gerwig, a director known for doing good stuff and it stars Margot Robbie whom I have never seen being anything other than great in a variety of different roles. Did I mention it’s pink? 


I watched Titans season 4 eps 1-4, Wham! documentary


Titans Season 4 episodes 1 -4

There are a lot of villains in the first couple of episodes of this season of Titans. There’s Lex Luthor, big of beard and somewhat more urbane, even laid back than expected. There’s the occult woman he sacks in the opening sequence who turns out to be exactly the sort of person you shouldn’t sack. There’s bird faced man, a frankly disturbing character whose visage is hidden behind one of those medieval masque masks. And there’s’ super powered staff wielding woman who manages to sort of out the Titans in a motorway dust up at the end of part two. There’s also mild mannered Sebastian who seems to be a Jekyll and Hyde type hardly able to suppress the beast within. It’s not clear at this stage if he’s a villain or not but I wouldn’t invite him to dinner. Are all these people connected? What is going on exactly? Welcome to the chaotic world of Titans.


Top of the Pops 30 June & 7 July 1988


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: [Tight close up of Peter Powell's head, the picture slowly widens through the  introduction] “Good evening everybody! And welcome to this special summer live edition of Top of the Pops! It was Gary's idea that I should wear the shorts! So blame him! It's his fault!”

Gary Davies: “Ha ha ha. Nothing to do with me. It is supposed to be summer. Hello and welcome to the show, in the studio tonight we have Matt Bianco, we have T'Pau, but first we start off with the lady who's in the middle of a UK tour. She's at number eighteen with Maybe We Should Call It A Day. Here's Hazel Dean.”

 [18] HAZELL DEAN maybe we should call it a day. Hope you like DJ's knees because we're going to see more of them tonight. It's a bit of a running gag. Well, they reference it twice more and forget about it.  Hazell Dean is doing her best and she gets the crowd nicely worked up but this is the most generic pop song I've heard since Sinitta's last one.



Review- Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One


The Mission Impossible films have always been great cinema events and this seventh installment manages to outdo its predecessors not by radically re-working the tried and tested formula but by pushing it just a bit more. So there are breathtaking chases, awesome stunts, lots of double crossing and a basic plot that enables so many different avenues to run from it. It’s a hybrid of some of cinema’s oldest tricks combined with a story inspired by today’s headlines and it works so well it could be a contender for film of the year.

 Some spoilers after the break...


Review- Shadow and Bone Season 2


There’s definitely a different feel to this second season not least the episode specific episode openings. Shadow and Bone doesn’t really seem to have a title theme but each instalment shows a differently designed logo. The gets off to an exhilarating start compared to the slow manner in which the first season began. It looks like the production has more of a handle on the best way to present the material with a fluidity of narrative and more interesting locales. By part two we’re already hunting a creature called a Sea Whip in a thrilling underwater cavern sequence. Like some mythical sea monster from one of those old maps it proves a formidable foe and a visual powerhouse in what is the best encounter of the whole series to that  point. Everything looks promising.



Top of the Pops 16th & 23rd June 1988

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.


Mike Read: “Good evening. Welcome to Top of the Pops. We've got a real stunner lined up for you tonight. First of all here's a word from my good mate Gary Davies.”
Gary Davies: “Thank you very much. Hello. We start tonight with something really special. She's literally just flown in by helicopter to perform live tonight. Last year she took Europe by storm. This year she's taking Britain by storm. At number four, here's Sabrina and Boys.”

[4] SABRINA: boys (summertime love). Norma Ann Sykes? No. This is the other Sabrina. The one from Italy. The one who's artfully-cropped-into-widescreen video caused such consternation on last week's Top of the Pops. “As you can see! They're pretty liberal with some of their videos! In Europe!” was Peter Powell's verdict.

Well here she is in the flesh, so to speak. Wearing a flimsy top, and tight jeans. A lot of the blokes in the audience are crammed round the front of the stage. I would be remiss not to mention the moment towards the end of the performance when Sabrina reaches for the zip at the front of her flimsy top... and pulls it up. The real star of this segment is up on the balcony, behind and to the left of Gary Davies. A bloke with cropped hair wearing a white shirt and light grey suit. While Gary introduces the show he's constantly bopping, shifting from one foot to the other with grim determination. He can be glimpsed all through Sabrina's performance whenever the camera angle favours the balcony. Bopping and clapping away like a metronome. He's here to dance. Dammit. And he does.


Review- Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny


The Indiana Jones movies were never meant to be taken too seriously even if the demeanor of their hero suggested otherwise. Intended as a homage to the episodic cinema serials of the 1940s, as much time has now passed since that first film as had since those movies that inspired it. Not much has changed though and this belated fifth instalment ticks all the expected boxes- crazy chases, banter under pressure, grouchy Indy, perky sidekick, scenery chewing villain and some supernatural / sci-fi nonsense to finish. It is a relentless story that zips around the world stopping in each location only for a chase or a dust up in the manner of James Bond or Mission Impossible. Great fun to see at the cinema for sure and you cannot ask for more.

Spoilers after the break