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**.


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



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.



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.


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?


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

Words by Chris Arnsby.

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)


Reviews - Damsel, The Sidemen Story



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.



Top of the Pops 16 & 23 February 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.


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...



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.