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.



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

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.”


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.



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



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.



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.


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.