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.”


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.  


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.



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.



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).


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.



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.