19/04/2024

Top of the Pops 6 April 1989

 

Words: Chris Arnsby
Simon Mayo: “Hi. Welcome to Top of the Pops. BBC1 and Radio 1 together one more time. In order of alphabetical things coming up today we have Paula Abdul, and Cold Cut, and Simply Red, and Anthea Turner.”

Anthea Turner: “Thank you very much, Simon! Hello! Listen can you keep a secret!”
Simon Mayo: “Only on Thursday nights.”
Anthea Turner: “Okay! At number 22 it's Brother Beyond they're on stage now!”

[22] BROTHER BEYOND: can you keep a secret? Simon Mayo can keep a secret on Thursday nights, what a shame Top of the Pops is recorded on a Tuesday. I know this fact, among others, thanks to a link to an auction house sale of five Top of the Pops camera scripts, forwarded to me by commenter mumu03; https://content.easyliveauction.com/auctions/images_lots/59C27F972E0E337C9017486B42435C8C_bou01/1100329224.JPG




16/04/2024

Alex Rider Season 3 reviews Episodes 5 - 8

 

Episode five

A gripping episode sees this season really earn its spy points courtesy of three separate yet intertwining strands. Alex is sent on what seems like a traditional mission to infiltrate a house to lift the contents of the safe. Yassin will be joining him and needless to say there aren’t any funnies on the way. Yet this turns out to be different from expected – after all Scorpia don’t specialise in conventional crime- challenging Alec’s moral stance over killing people as he watches Max Grendel being shot. After Alex is incensed by this he uses some of the kit from the job to break into Julia’s office which of course he was expected to do. Scorpia’s sneakiness knows no bounds.



14/04/2024

Alex Rider Season 3 reviews Episodes 1 - 4

 

Though it doesn’t always seem to receive a lot of high profile support in the media Alex Rider is a class show. Compared to how much publicity and hype other shows have it has slipped in though a side entrance rather like its main character might do. It hasn’t helped that the show has had to sprawl over a lengthy period due to actors’ availability and the pandemic.  This time there seems to have been a more concerted effort to push it though this is the final season, partly I imagine because the teenage characters are now being played by actors in their mid twenties, and promises to complete Alex’s story.

It’s not just the actors who are maturing, the production this time seems geared towards a slightly older audience – and I note that Otto Farrant gets an executive producer’s credit too. Whereas we had the school setting of season one and the game background of season two, this third offering is less contained and wilier as a good agent would be.  There is a layer of sophistication to things, the kids are no longer fumbling about but this time are being more proactive and prepared for things. They’re operating on their own too unaware of the Department’s dealing with a new Scorpia threat. There are lies and deceptions but played out in a very human context with a pleasing minimum of unlikely ideas.  Of course, a James Bond adventure is done and dusted in less than half the run time this eight part series of 45 minute episode so the pace is slower though this only adds to the tension. Along with the series’ trademark understated electronic score it also helps distinguish Alex Rider from other spy genre material.

 


 

08/04/2024

Film Reviews- Two current releases and two Seventies films

 Last week's watches!

If you like huge monsters constantly battling each other you are a match for this film. So over the top that you can’t actually see the top, Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire is a chaotic noisy stew of various giant creatures in successive dust ups levelling cities as they go. Any characters or messages that might be lurking are swept aside by relentless monster action edited so sharply we leap from one scene to another. It works fairly well for the first half but the longer it goes on and the more creatures turn up the more repetitive it becomes. 





07/04/2024

Top of the Pops 30 March 1989

 

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.
This is a live edition (kindly supplied by commentator Billy Smart, who is keeping these write-ups on life support by sending me the relevant episodes to download) so there's some pre-show chatter over the countdown clock. The talk starts in media res with someone briefing the crowd.

 “I don't wanna see no silly faces. None of that. All right we know its live. Still get your meet and...” (?)He's interrupted by someone else, probably Floor Manager Carmella Milne: “Stand by...”
[The two voices jumble over each other]
Male voice: “Somebody catch me... [giggles from the crowd]... no one.”
Carmella Milne: “Good luck everyone.”
Male voice: “Sorry about that... [inaudible]... look Dennis the Menace top... 
Carmella Milne: “Here we go ten, nine, eight...seven... six... five... four... three... ” Titles roll.

Gary Davies: “Hello, good evening, we are live on BBC1 and Radio 1FM we have five bands live in the studio tonight including Roachford, Fuzzbox, The Cult, and The The.”

Bruno Brookes: “Okay we start on Europe's number one TV pop show at number sixteen, Pat and Mick I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet. Right down here.”

 


01/04/2024

Review- Wreck season 2

 

Season one of Wreck was a low key success largely through word of mouth. Framed with horror iconography it’s killer wore a duck mask representing Quacky, the mascot of a cruise ship company Velorum. A duck mask may not sound that scary but there is something unsettling about it’s expression and also the fact that its wearer is carrying a very large knife. Yet in between the frights were characters who were more than the standard potential victims and had interesting lives of their own plus a central character searching for the truth about his missing sister. The media seem to have flagged up the LGBTQ+ aspect of the show though this is included as being part of the everyday lives of the two main characters despite the official title of episode one.

There is a lot of violence – and I mean a lot- which is both realistic yet absurd at the same time and if this sounds like something that would disturb you its probably better to avoid. Also I’d recommend for maximum effect watching an episode a day rather than bingeing because it really draws out the tension and the mystery. I’d actually advise this with any thriller or mystery. Binge watching may seem more convenient but you are missing out on a whole part of the appeal of such shows which is that gap where you speculate and anticipate. The episode reviews that follow were penned directly after I’d watched each episode on different days so they make no reference to subsequent events. It’s a bit like live reacting except obviously not live.

Spoilers lurking in the dark after the beak, I mean, break…

 


31/03/2024

Top of the Pops 23 March 1989

 

Words: Chris Arnsby

Mark Goodier: “Hello. Welcome to a special Easter-stylee Top of the Pops.”
Andy Crane: “A lot of girls on the show tonight. Live in the studio there's Kim Wilde, also Alyson Williams and Lisa Stansfield with Cold Cut.”
Mark Goodier: “Of course. And you get them all in FM stereo on Radio 1.”
Andy Crane: “But first...”
Mark Goodier: “...The Reynolds Girls.”
Andy Crane: “I'd Rather Jack.”

 [10] REYNOLDS GIRLS: i'd rather jack. Merry Easter. Through zero planning I've found myself writing up the Easter 1989 episode in the week running up to Easter. Will I actually get it sent over to John in time for the Bank Holiday weekend? Watch that space.

Speaking of Easter, Mark Goodier unironically describes tonight's show as “Easter-stylee.” He must be hunted down and neutered for the good of the species. I don't know if it was Mark Goodier's thing* to refer stuff as BLANK-stylee, but it's driving me nuts trying to remember what I associate this with. I've got a vague memory of a song lyric which goes “something something dance hall-stylee something,” but I don't want these write ups to turn into middle-aged man noodles about half remembered things from 40 years ago so I'll just stop this sentence here**.



29/03/2024

Film Review- Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

 

The second `new` Ghostbusters film opens with a bang before slowing to a crawl and a little while in you realise it is essentially a remake of the 1984 original with more characters. You've got the original Ghostbusters and the new ones plus sundry additions and the result is an enjoyable if crowded production. It seems to fall into a category of movie that is becoming more prevalent of late- the film that is fine but not exceptional. I don't think its as good as Afterlife though it doesn't have that nostalgic kick to propel its finale. On the plus side it looks great, has some exciting sequences and a strong comedic performance though not from who you think it will be from. 

Spoilers after the break

 


26/03/2024

Review- Doctor Who Season 15 Collection

 

Just released in the ongoing Collection series of box sets, Doctor Who Season Fifteen brims with character and is bristling with ideas. If the production values sometimes flag you hardly notice because there is so much going on. Admittedly it’s not always cited as a fan favourite because it was the point at which Tom Baker’s presence became larger than life but if you enjoy that- and I certainly do- this is essential classic Doctor Who. Season Fifteen is a changeover season and these can be the most interesting ones where a production team are finding their feet and yet aspects of their predecessors remain. The results here are more varied than you’d expect.

 




24/03/2024

Top of the Pops 16 March 1989

 

Words: Chris Arnsby
Simon Mayo: “BBC1 and Radio 1 together as the Breakfast Crew stay up late for you, introducing the nation's number one newsreader Rod McKenzie.”
Rod Mckenzie: “Among tonight's hot headline acts weve got Chanelle and Fuzzbox.”
Sybil Ruscoe: “But first tonight. They're live in the Top of the Pops studio with Round and Round, down there it's New Order.”

 [22] NEW ORDER: round & round. Justice for the Rod McKenzie one! His first Top of the Pops appearance, 12/01/1989, was officially unacknowledged. He didn't get a credit in the Radio Times or an on screen caption. This time he gets both. This presumably also means he got paid for this repeat under the BBC's arcane rules about who gets a lick of the shiny brass ring that is the licence fee.

With all this said. It's a shame Rod wears the same outfit as last time; yellow long-sleeved polo shirt and blue jeans. Rod, if you come back again you need to make a quick raid on Man at C&A. Speaking of ampersands (what a link), the BBC caption generator can do them. I don't think I've noticed that before.



22/03/2024

Reviews - Wandavision, Love and Monsters

 

Two gems from 2021

When it debuted three years ago Wandavision offered a radically different scenario to the Marvel movies’ scale and approach.  Having not watched it till now I obviously know most of the twists (though not as it turns out all) but the true test of a great show is how well it works under those circumstances. Is it all twists or is there something more?



18/03/2024

Top of the Pops- 2nd & 9th March 1989

Words by Chris Arnsby.
02/03/1989

Gary Davies: “Hello. A very good evening to you. It's Thursday night, welcome to another Top of the Pops.
Anthea Turner: “And tonight in the studio we've got Sam Brown, Tyree, Texas, and Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine!”
Gary Davies: “But first we're going to blow the house down will you welcome Living In a Box.”
Anthea Turner: “Yeeeeess!”

 [17] LIVING IN A BOX: blow the house down. More thunderflashes. The BBC has invested in a new type which send up a shower of sparks and a less smoke than the old ones. The first round of sparks go up following the line “don't be afraid, let it show.” This is a bit of a shame because the next line is, “don't be afraid, just let it explode.”

Did someone hear “don't be afraid,” and press the button too early? This speculation is confirmed when the second time the “let it explode,” line is used a nice shower of sparks busts up behind the band. And the third time. At least whoever's finger was on the button got the timing right for the final round of explosions at the climax of the song. (John- If, as previously confirmed, they live in "a cardboard box" blowing said dwelling down would not be that difficult)




12/03/2024

Reviews - Damsel, The Sidemen Story

 

Damsel

The idea of a damsel in distress who rises to the occasion rather than waiting for a prince to rescue her is a fun idea that this film starring Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things leans into. In an unspecified time and place that borrows from English history and mythology, a struggling family offers their eldest daughter Elodie to the royal family to marry a prince which seems fairytale enough till we -and she – learn the terrible truth about what the marriage will mean. I should have said awful truth really because the central conceit of the film is so unintentionally silly which somewhat undermines the subsequently deadly serious proceedings resulting in an uneven if enjoyable enough result.

 


08/03/2024

Top of the Pops 16 & 23 February 1989

 

16/02/1989
More housekeeping: Top of the Pops cannot be stopped! (except by the BBC in 2005). Many thanks to Billy Smart and mumu03 who both stepped in and offered help to keep these write ups going. Billy Smart has kindly hooked me up with the relevant episodes and I understand from the Popscene forum (in other news, I've learned there's a Popscene forum) that efforts are being made to get the whole huge archive back online somewhere. Let's see what happens.

Mark Goodier: “Yo. Good evening and welcome to Europe's number one pop show.”
Andy Crane: “It's two days after Valentine's Day but we're still feeling romantic, we're still feeling mushy.”
Mark Goodier: “Well almost, with our first band. They are the biggest British rock band in the world.”
Andy Crane: “This is single number six from Hysteria, Def Leppard...”
Mark Goodier: “Woh!”
Andy Crane: “... Rocket!”

 [20] DEF LEPPARD: rocket. The biggest British rock band in the world? Iron Maiden make a note to never appear again on Top of the Pops.

But enough of that. These write ups have been given a new lease of life so lets use it to talk about camera positioning. This edition opens with an odd, and very dark, shot of the audience. The camera then rises up to reveal our hosts in the crow's nest. But where is the camera? The crow's nest sits at the join of the two arms of the main stage and the camera has been placed behind the stage right arm, in the gap between the back of the arm and the black drapes used to cover the studio wall. This is why the crowd shot looked so murky, they've been gathered in a part of the set that was never lit or designed to appear on camera.

This angle also allows a good look at the painted flat that hangs behind the crow's nest. I think it's been there since the twenty fifth anniversary party revamp, 31/12/1985, but you don't normally get to see it because it's behind the hosts. We get a much better angle here, although it's partially obscured by a combination of Mark Goodier, some bloke, and a couple of heart-shaped balloons. The logo is a canvas flat hung from the ceiling (it's gently swinging backwards and forwards, and you can see one of the ropes suspending it from the lighting grid) with the Top of the Pops logo stuck on; the big white circle in the middle casts a shadow.



06/03/2024

Film Review- Dune Part 2

 

This is a proper thrill of a movie which faithfully represents the book while keening towards making as exciting a film as possible. It sets a different pace from the first part being dynamic and exciting where that was thoughtful and moody while succeeding in painting a place that seems realistic. Even though there are plenty of digital effects they are rendered to fit in with the picturesque locations. The book is famously knotty, filled with the internal thoughts of many of the characters and this film captures that aspect even better than the first part without resorting to endless narration. There are also some of the most thrilling battle sequences you’ll see peppered through the film. If part one had a stillness, part two barely stops for breath and is certainly the zippiest two and three quarter hour film I’ve seen. At the end I felt like I had sand in my shoes.

Spoilers follow in this review...



 

01/03/2024

Reading the original Dune novel

 

With the second part of the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune now with us, I have been re-reading the book and oddly I’ve done it in two parts. I’d hoped to finish it in 2021 to post just before the first film was released but circumstances meant I had to stop half way. So, in a way that paralleled the film this year I’ve finished the book and completed this post before the second film! It’s a hefty tome as you might imagine and despite the reach of the movies there is still some material left out though this is not one of those book versus film comparison articles. Rather I wanted to re-live the novel itself.



28/02/2024

Happy Twenty Ninth!

 

Are you a leapling? Tomorrow is 29th February – that date that only comes round every four years because of temporal oddities. As people ascribe superstition to anything a bit out of the ordinary there are a lot of Leap year traditions many of which relate to the old fashioned concept that only on this day a woman can propose to a man. In ye olden times only a man could propose marriage so women had to wait till 29 Feb to do so. Nowadays of course a woman can propose on any date of the year if she chooses and people don’t accuse her of breaking the laws of the land nor does she change into a turnip. So where does all this nonsense come from? The answer it seems involves an unlikely mash up of the Moon, Julius Caesar and St Patrick.

 


25/02/2024

Top of the Pops 2 & 9 February 1989

 

Housekeeping: The Mega folder I've been using to download these episodes has gone very AWOL. If anyone can use the comments to link me to another source of episodes then that would be really helpful. If not, these write ups have come to a very unceremonious end...
(John- Which would be a pity because nobody wants to end in February. Plus these are the most viewed posts on the blog and without them the whole future of the blog is at risk. And possibly also the world. OK maybe not the world. So if anyone knows of an alternative source - as the iPlayer only keeps a random handful un-chronologically - that would be wonderful. Otherwise Chris is going to start reviewing every episode of Weather starting in 1950)

Words by Chris Arnsby

02/02/1989
Steve Wright. “Hi!! Hello!! Good evening!! Hello and welcome to another exciting Top of the Pops!! I'm Steve Wright!! This is Simon Mayo!! Tonight we're going to be in full effect!!”
Simon Mayo: “We certainly are and we're going to check out the hat parade first of all. At number five, on the Love Train, this is Holly Johnson in the crowd in the middle there.”
Simon Mayo: “Yeeah!!”

Steve Wright died on 12th February this year. After I'd written up this episode. A quick re-read has shown I didn't say anything rude about him -this time- and given me cause to reflect. Steve Wright was part of the Radio 1 furniture by the time I tuned in so I don't really remember having an opinion about him. If you tuned in between 3-5.30pm he was just there. What I do remember is his move to host the Breakfast Show in 1994 which drove me away from Radio 1. The antics of Wright and his Posse were too much for my fragile 7am state as I was preparing for a day at work. And that was it, until I started watching the Top of the Pops repeats. Steve Wright's first show was 07/02/1980 and going back I find I was surprisingly positive about him:

 “It's Steve Wright's first show. He only started as a Radio One DJ in January 1980 so he's really been rushed on to Top of the Pops. Simon Bates had to wait ages for his turn. The classic line-up I remember is almost completely in place. Only Gary "sloppy bit" Davies is missing. So how does Steve Wright do? Not bad. It's a more polished performance than Simon Bates gave at the end of 1979 but Steve Wright needs to learn to stop waggling his head around so much.”



23/02/2024

Reviews- Madame Web, Dumb Money

 

Madame Web is not the dud that critics have been making it out to be, it’s a perfectly enjoyable and sometimes tense thriller that can be enjoyed even if like me you don’t know the intricacies of Spiderverse lore. It is true to say though that the premise would be more suited to the nuances of a TV series and can come across as sluggish in this format. That said, when the film does ramp up it does include a couple of stand out action sequences.

 


18/02/2024

Oil Strike North

 

The North sea oil boom was a huge thing in the 1970s. In theory it was supposed to make the UK self-sufficient in oil supplies instead of relying on the Arab countries who dominated the market. It was controversial in many ways. There were suggestions that Scotland, off whose coast the oil fields sat, did not receive enough of the profits while others argued that the environmental cost was not worth it. For a period, the industry thrived and there were benefits for the communities adjacent to the fields. Given such topicality it is no wonder a tv drama was commissioned in the form of Oil Strike North. The name sounds exciting and the series suggests that oil companies competed, sometimes ruthlessly, over the fields and there was much wheeling and dealing. It also depicts the pressurised environment on the rigs themselves, cut off from land amidst harsh weather

 


14/02/2024

Reviews - Declan McKenna, The Magic Flute (2021)

 

If the first two Declan McKenna albums were earnest and sometimes epic this third release. `What Happened To The Beach?` sees him easing back a little. It is still ram packed with ideas but they are contained in a far more laidback environment that gives space for some strange sounds, odd moments and snatches of in studio mutterings. Lyrically too he has eased back on message songs offering more reflective, chilled thoughts. Nothing stops the songs from being catchy and memorable but this is an artist maturing and he has produced his best work yet.

 


09/02/2024

Reviews - Argylle, Big Boys S2, Merlin S1 (2008)

 

If you like a film with twists at every juncture then Argylle, Matthew Vaughn’s latest, is the one for you. It regularly pulls rugs from under your expectations so to reveal much about the plot would spoil the fun. It is an espionage movie focussing on a fictional spy Argylle and the woman who writes the books Elly Conway. However, it doesn’t take long for fact and fiction to blur with an idea that anyone who is a writer will watch thinking `I wish I’d thought of that`. It’s a dazzling narrative though by sheer repetition eventually undermines itself because the viewer will start to correctly guess what the next twist is.



06/02/2024

Top of the Pops 26 January 1989

 

Words: Chris Arnsby.
Gary Davies: “Hello. It's a new-look fast-moving Top of the Pops. Not only on BBC1 but also in stereo on Radio 1FM. Tonight we have seven bands in the studio.”
Anthea Turner: “And we've got a brilliant band to start off with. They're the highest new entry at twenty one. They're here, they are, Then Jericho.”

 [21] THEN JERICO: big area. Do none of the hosts watch Top of the Pops when they're not on? Gary Davies seems to think this is the week of the big relaunch, or does he just feel it doesn't start until he says it does?

New caption effect. The one for Then Jericho is drawn line by line a bit like the way loading screens used to appear on the ZX Spectrum (sweet sweet nostalgia, où sont les neiges d'antan? etc) but out of order rather than neatly. It looks good.




31/01/2024

Top of the Pops 19 January 1989

 

Words: Chris Arnsby. Bruno Brookes: “Thursday night. It's that time of the week again,and welcome to Europe's number one TV p”op show. This is Top of the Pops and we have six live acts on the show tonight.

Richard Skinner: “And don't forget we are live in stereo, on Radio 1 FM. Let's kick off with Roachford, this week's number eleven here's Cuddly Toy.”

 [11] ROACHFORD: cuddly toy. This episode (downloaded, as always from Al Capone's vault at https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw/folder/g8EVjYrY ) opens with a BBC VT Clock with an enigmatic additional message that reads: “STEREO 0 LEVEL PPM4 FIRST 2 MINS THEN -3”. How mysterious. What can it mean? It's obviously something to do with the sound levels but the first two minutes only takes the programme into the middle of Roachford's performance. Wikipedia tells me that PPM stands for Peak Performance Meter that “indicates the level of an audio signal.”



28/01/2024

The Mind of Mr JG Reeder season one

 

The Mind of Mr J. G. Reeder was made by Thames Television based on Edgar Wallace’s books and set in the Twenties, the character JG Reeder is a shabbily-dressed, somewhat unglamorous investigator at the Public Prosecutor's office. He is the antithesis of the usual 1920’s hard -nosed investigator and prefers a cup of tea and some cake to anything stronger. His self-effacing exterior masks a sharp mind which allows him an insight into criminal behaviour ahead of his time. In some respects, the story and this adaptation are ahead of their time focussing on deduction based on typical criminal behaviour rather than simply evidence. The role is played by a familiar face in sixties and seventies television, Hugh Burden. It’s unusual for an actor who was essentially a supporting player to be given the lead role in a series, especially one that ran for two seasons but this was, as one contemporary reviewer commented “the part of a lifetime” for him and remains a highlight of the actor’s varied career and he even wrote an episode. There are two seasons, each of seven episodes that last about forty-five minutes each, as they would have been punctuated by adverts. Season one was first broadcast during the Spring of 1969.

Born in 1875, Edgar Wallace was a British writer whose output stretched across several genres including the original script for the classic King Kong. His output was vast and includes plays, short stories, and scripts as well as novels including the sci fi story Planetoid 127 which suggested the concept of mirror Universes, the same idea as parallel worlds or multiverses with which we are now familiar. He was often a controversial author whose vast output and subject matter led to several controversies. A lot of his work has been dramatized including in a tv film series The Edgar Wallace Mysteries which ran from 1960-65.  There are six JG Reeder novels and this tv series wasn’t the first adaptation of the stories. A 1938 film Mr Reeder in Room 13 is based on the first book in Edgar Wallace’s series and starred Gibb McLaughlin in the role as Reeder is called in to investigate forgers. The same novel was adapted in 1964 for a German film simply called Room 13. However, JG Reeder himself isn’t in it which seems a bit like making a version of a James Bond film without 007.  



21/01/2024

Top of the Pops 12 January 1989

 

Words: Chris Arnsby
Simon Mayo: “Hi welcome to Top of the Pops, featuring for the first time in FM stereo on Radio One and BBC One, colour pictures... the brek... breakfast crew live in the flesh.
Sybil Ruscoe: “Including the nation's favourite newsreader Rod McKenzie.”
Simon Mayo: “Yes.”
Rod McKenzie: “We start tonight with the Darling Buds, Hit The Ground.”
Simon Mayo: “Yes sir.”

[33] DARLING BUDS: hit the ground. Rod McKenzie doesn't get a credit on screen or in the Radio Times. Is he not being paid?

Can you spot the point midway through Simon Mayo's opening sentence when he starts to regret not pausing and taking a breath. 

Someone, either Graphic Designer Margaret Horrocks or Vision Mixer Kathryn Randall, has been experimenting with the captions. Last week they just faded on and off screen. This week they're doing all fancy transitions; Simon Mayo and Sybil Ruscoe's caption rises up from the bottom of the screen and disappears the same way; the caption for the Darling Buds folds up and back off the screen as if it was attached to a piece of card.

It's January and as is traditional it's time to use all the thunderflashes which are just about to expire. They've been sitting on a shelf at the back of the Visual Effects workshop and now it's time to set them off. The Visual Effects Designer responsible used to get a credit but that seems to have been dropped. The nameless effects minion has fun detonating the thunderflashes throughout the song.

 


20/01/2024

Film Review: Poor Things

 The latest offering from director Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things riffs on the Frankenstein myth and is unflinching in its depiction of everything and that is the point. It concerns a woman called Bella Baxter who, though fully grown, appears as a blank slate when we first see her behaving like a baby. We accompany her as she develops, learns and eventually matures taking a journey through all the stages of life in a relatively short time. Her gauche behaviour evolves over time though she never loses her directness. It’s a story whose style takes some getting used to with a nagging sense that behind the impressive window dressing there is less substance to the fantasy than its creators would suggest but it is definitely a unique film to watch.

 


12/01/2024

Top of the Pops 5 January 1989

 

Words: Chris Arnsby
Mark Goodier: “Hi and happy new year. This is Top of the Pops, now into its twenty sixth year.”
Andy Crane: “And in its twenty sixth year this is edition one thousand three hundred.
Mark Goodier: “My goodness. On tonight's show, Climie Fisher plus a-Ha and also Neneh Cherry.”
Andy Crane: “But we start with Erasure and Stop, number two.”
Mark Goodier:”Oooh.”

 [2] ERASURE: crackers international. Episode one thousand three hundred starts with a new title sequence. It's all right. It reminds me, weirdly, of the titles to Blake's 7 series D which replaced shots of the Liberator being chased through space with a pilot's eye view of a spaceship taking off.

The new Top of the Pops titles are a first person view as the camera zooms through a series of ducts. A few graphics are overlaid on the ducts, head-up-display style; a test cardesque pattern; a circle within a square with the numbers 40, 30, 20, and 10 at the north, east, south, and west of the circle; a soundwave; circles, like singles, with chart positions on them; and then the camera flies backwards out of the duct which is revealed to be the O of the new Top of the Pops logo attached to a textured backgroud which looks a bit like the hull of Red Dwarf (but blue).



08/01/2024

Film Review: The Great Escaper

 

Two acting icons take their final bow

In 2014 a pensioner sneaked out of the care home where he resided and took himself to France to attend the seventieth anniversary of the D- Day landings.  Bernard Jordan’s story soon attracted international media attention and he was dubbed `the Great Escaper` but as this film shows he also had a more personal reason to make the pilgrimage. Penned by William Ivory and directed by Oliver Parker this film tells the side of the story that a lot of the media missed highlighting the lingering effects of being in a conflict and the ultimate senselessness of war. In a scene at the French cemetery Bernard casts his eyes over the site and declares “What a waste” whereupon the camera pulls away to reveal just how many graves surround him.

 


05/01/2024

Top of the Pops 31 December 1988 25 Years of TOTP!

 25 Years of Top of the Pops

Words: Chris Arnsby

 Mike Read: “This is where Top of the Pops started life on the first of January 1964. A converted church in Dickenson Road, Manchester.”
Paul Gambaccini: And this is was the very first disc jockey. He's still going strong as well. Despite groups leaning on them these cameras as still working.”
Mike Read: “And they are still rolling the cameras 25 years later as we head into twenty five years of Top of the Pops.”
Jim Moir: “Yes it's number one! It's Top of the Pops.”

[Roll credits].

 Welcome to 25 Years of these writeups Top of the Pops. Extensive research (I used Google for nearly five minutes) has told me Jim Moir was the voice of the introduction. That's Jim Moir, director of a couple of episodes of Top of the Pops, and producer of Juke Box Jury and assorted other Light Entertainment programmes. Not the Jim Moir latterly known as Vic Reeves.



 Let's start as I mean to go on, with a conspiracy theory. Look at that picture of the Manchester studio. Does the sign over the door look odd to you? I can't find a comparable picture of the building but others show the BBC using a much simpler sign, black background with white BBC letters. And, wouldn't it  read BBC North rather than BBC Television Service Manchester Studios?

The sign is very bright with an overexposed look to the white background compared to the rest of the photo and there's an odd stepped black line at the bottom. Let's stop beating around the (Shepherds) bush. The picture looks doctored. I could believe the sign was an electronic overlay but if it is, it's a stunningly good one. The photo is clearly mounted on a caption stand, look at the way it wobbles, and the sign moves with the wobble and matches the zoom out perfectly. Maybe I'm overthinking it. The picture could be genuine but printed with boosted contrast on the sign to make it stand out.