Top of the Pops 18 May 1989


Words: Chris Arnsby.
Anthea Turner: “Hell-o! Come up and join us! Welcome! To tonight's Top of the Pops! Now Mark and I have studied the form and we have got hot show for you tonight!”
Mark Goodier: “Yeah. Indeed. We have stereo hits from Paul McCartney and Stefan Dennis and Bobby Brown. And we start with a guy who has had thirty one hits. Shakin' Stevens.”

[28] SHAKIN' STEVENS: love attack. I'm not following Anthea Turner's “studied the form” comment. It sounds like it should be a lame horse racing pun but the Grand National was on the 8 April 1989 and the Derby doesn't take place until 7 June. BBC Genome offers no clues. The only sporting event I can find is International Pro-Celebrity Golf, at 11pm Thursday, Terry Wogan and Rodger Davis v Russ Abbot and Ian Woosnam. Terry Wogan and Rodger Davis won by three pins and a submission.

Shakey's career has been remarkable but we are now in the twilight days. This is as good as it's going to get for Love Attack. His next single will get up to [18] but after that his songs will mainly stall in the lower reaches of the Top 40 (if they are lucky). The one exception, a Christmas miracle when The Best Christmas Of All gets to [19] but we'll save that for next year.

 Trigger warning -References to the Hillsborough disaster are included in this post.



Doctor Who- 73 Yards review


People often talk of the flexibility of Doctor Who and while its true to say that the series has always encompassed a variety of storytelling types its much rarer to see it taking an abstract route. Steven Moffat is usually most associated with non-linear temporal storytelling but with `73 Yards`, Russell T Davies shows he can do it just as well.



Stuff: Soggy Sunak, Liverpool (Taylor's Version)


Why are political correspondents so often quirky? Is it because they have to listen to nonsense day in day out? I ask after watching both Chris Mason and Robert Peston’s attendance at Wednesday’s General Election announcement. They both, in their own way, tried to cover all possible ground eking out the time as the 5pm scheduled speech slipped by almost twenty minutes and I thought how unusual both of them were. What they do convey though is the excitement that ebbs around political circles at this kind of event. It has been a while. We’ve had leadership changes but the last actual General Election was four and a half years ago and current PM Rishi Sunak has decided now is a good time to go to the country. For Messrs Peston and Mason plus the cohorts of other correspondents and presenters this is, as one of them said, their `Cup Final`. As such it is treated with similar predictions as to what the speech might say. The difference from football is that the commentators do seem to know in advance what it will say and in some ways are part of the choreography of the whole thing.


Wet, Wet, Wet: Rishi wishing he was lucky


Top of the Pops 11 May 1989


Words: Chris Arnsby
This is a live edition, so the copy I'm watching has some background music to the BBC countdown clock, Good Thing by the Fine Young Cannibals. “Ooh oohh,” sings an unidentified mystery someone (might be Bruno Brookes), this is followed a few seconds later by an instruction to the audience, “c'mon, we want some more noise!” A few desultory cheers follow as the Floor Manager, Carmella Milne, starts a five second countdown into the opening titles.

Bruno Brookes: “Good evening. How you doing. Thursday night means another Top of the Pops and we are live-er than live. In the studio a little bit later on we've got Hue and Cry and the London Boys to name a few, there's a brand new number one as well. First of all, down here at number twenty eight, Swing Out Sister, You Are My Life.”



Doctor Who- Boom review

The return of Steven Moffat to Doctor Who relatively soon after his mammoth stint as showrunner is a genuine surprise especially as he seemed to be losing enthusiasm by the end of his period. It was an era that had somewhat of a mixed reaction- a lot of long term fans saw it initially as a return to traditional Who until they decided it wasn’t. The public meanwhile felt less certain about his twisting tales that made them think more than the previous era’s primary emotions. Moffat has written more Doctor Who than anyone (though I suspect RTD is catching up now) so you’d have to wonder- as he himself has publicly done- does he have any more ideas for the series?



Review of the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes


Kicking off an intended second modern trilogy, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a movie that appears to start small and builds towards a big climax. Yet there’s more to it than that, a real craftsmanship to every frame, a sense that this is a deeper, broader movie than the title may suggest. People might scoff at such a thought but regardless of whether you get the story or even the concept this is a very well posed movie that easily betters most other films in any iteration since the classic 1968 debut to which it owes a certain debt.


Top of the Pops 4 May 1989


Words: Chris Arnsby
Andy Crane: “And good evening and welcome to a truly international edition of Top of the Pops. Lot's of pretty ladies on the show tonight and making her debut is one of them.”
Jenny Powell: “And I'm very happy to be here. But I'm not the only girl on the show, there also Debbie Gibson, Kylie Minogue, and there's someone down there with my hair on their chin. It's Edelweiss”.

 [28] EDELWEISS: bring me edelweiss. I'm terribly sorry. I appear to have fallen into the wrong parallel universe. This one has a band dressed in Lederhosen opening Top of the Pops and doing baffling things to SOS by Abba.


Doctor Who: Space Babies, The Devil's Chord reviews


Doctor Who is a series that has enjoyed so many iterations due to its evolving nature. Pick any era of the show at random and it will reflect the values and style of tv and wider society at that time. Yet its fans often fail to appreciate this flexible quality and would prefer it if the series remained the same hence the usual outcry anytime there is a change of Doctor, showrunner or even scheduling. For me the criteria of what makes good Doctor Who has never changed and that is simply do I like it? I don’t care who makes it or what platform it sits on, I just want some good storytelling.

This season is, oddly, the third season one in the show’s history (though there have been many resets that could have qualified for that number) and is being pushed as a good jumping on point for viewers unfamiliar with the concept. American viewers especially are likely targets as this version of the programme more than any other needs to succeed in that market to win a longer term future. You know how streamers like to cancel shows, right? Russell T Davies returning as showrunner combined with a bigger budget and promotional reach (adverts on the New York subway!) raises the potential of Doctor Who becoming bigger than it has ever been. So, as you can imagine American studio executives saying, “Let’s see if the content delivers…”


Film Reviews: Challengers, The Fall Guy


Tennis is an intimate game. However many spectators and officials may be watching it’s a physical contest between two people and Challengers, the latest from Luca Guadagnino, definitely gets that. The whole film centres around a match in a lower rung tournament where former friends Art and Patrick find themselves at different points in their tennis careers. Art is a top player but on a losing run and pondering retirement, Patrick has passed his best (partly due to his own lack of discipline) and for him these events are a lifeline. The key connection between them is Tashi, who has dated them both but is now married to and coaching Art. It is her idea to make him play in an event that is really beneath his status. As the two players progress towards an invertible final match, we are privy to flashbacks charting the oscillating three way relationships between them over a period of thirteen years.


Watching (some of) a 64 day Twitch Subathon


It’s often said that the under thirties enjoy most of their entertainment online rather than through conventional media like television, radio or cinema and this has led those of us more familiar with the latter to scratch our collective heads and go “Huh?” Last year I explored the world of streaming only to find the actual gameplay was too busy for me yet what I did discover was that this is often only the best known part of this online community. One the most gruelling ideas someone had was the subathon where a streamer will remain online IRL all the time. Even when sleeping!! What would this be like I wondered so this year I decided to dip in and out of one of the most ambitious subathons there has so far been and what did I find? Joy and whimsy! Brain rot! Burning toaster! Storms!


I Went to Devon!


Where is Torbay? That was the vexing question when I recently visited Devon. It keeps getting mentioned yet there seems to be no such actual place, no town called Torbay. Turns out it’s the collective name for Torquay, Paignton and Brixham and I suspect the title originated as an amalgamation of Torquay Bay. It’s a unitary authority and more importantly one of the UK’s favourite homegrown holiday areas also sometimes referred to as the English Riviera due to the topography, large number of boats and balmier sunny temperatures. So, I went in April.


Top of the Pops 27 April 1989


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
Gary Davies: “Hello. Good evening. I hope you're well. Welcome to an action-packed Top of the Pops. As you can see tonight I'm all on my own so they've enlisted a little bit of help. Who have we got in the studio tonight.”

Mystery Lady 1: “Beatmasters and De La Soul.”

Mystery Lady 2: “And the Fine Young Cannibals and Yazz.”

Gary Davies: “But to start off with, at number eleven in the charts, with a song called Requiem, the London Boys.”