Top of the Pops 15 Oct 1981

Top of the Pops 1981 currently on BBC4. Watched by Chris Arnsby.

David Kid Jensen: "Hi there! After my being away for over a year I must say it is good to be back... But right now there's thunder in them there mountains." (John- Now Chris you're not going to mention the edit are you because....oh you are going to mention it. We'll be in trouble for this.)
Gary Glitter: And Then She Kissed Me [44]. Kid Jensen is now credited as David Kid Jensen, that time away in Atlanta working for CNN has matured him. If the introduction seems a little abrupt it's because there's something missing from this BBC4 repeat; Gary Glitter singing a song which limped to number 39. For posterity David Kid Jensen's introduction runs as follows: "Hi there! After my being away for over a year I must say it is good to be back and it's a big welcome back for Gary Glitter." (John- Before anyone moans consider the more alarming fact that GG's film is available on dvd shortly and advertised on Amazon)
Toyah: Thunder In The Mountains [5]. Toyah's not available for Top of the Pops this week. Here's a chance to see the video instead. Watch as Toyah escapes from a post-apocalyptic multi-story car park in a two wheeled horse-drawn chariot made from a cut down car. The shots of Toyah driving this thing around seem surprisingly dangerous. The chariot looks difficult to stop, and there's precious little head room for Toyah; especially with the puffed up orange fright wig look she's got going on. The rest of the video is a little more sedate although the plot is obscure. Toyah drives around on the runway of an abandoned airfield past a couple of nice looking forced perspective miniatures. Occasionally she is psychically attacked by the cruel overseer of the car park before there's some business with a gate. The video ends with her gathering troops by sending messages attached to arrows. The message being a picture of, er, an arrow. Best bit the reverse shot of the chariot, recorded as night falls, which reveals that her dangerous looking vehicle has fully working rear lights. Well, no one wants to be pulled over by the post-apocalyptic Police.
Toyah, on her way to Aldi yesterday.


My New Novel!

Although it's intended readership is young adults and children I thought I'd share the cover of my latest novel The Spectres of Winter. It's the third book in the Heart of the World series.
I'm really pleased with this cover whic has quite an impact and it was designed by Glendon Haddix who also did the covers for the previous book Living Things and the Doctor Who fan article compilation Saturday Night Monsters. I'll post a bit more on here about the story soon as I've been working alot on it this year so if there've been gaps in this blog, the book is probably why! 


Top of the Pops 1 Oct 1981

Top of the Pops 1981 currently on BBC4. Watched by Chris Arnsby.

Mike Read: "Good evening. Welcome to Top of the Pops. And here's a chance for you to do something you've been wanting to do all week... dance to the Birdie Song with The Tweets."
The Tweets: Birdie Song (Birdie Dance) [7]. The lead singer - that's almost certainly not the right word- of The Tweets, the yellow one, has messed up his costume. At some point in rehearsal to avoid dying of heatstroke he pulled out the bib that goes down the front of the suit and he's left it hanging out. Shame on Jackie Southern, Costumes, and Floor Manager Tony Redstone for not picking up on this costume disaster. It's possible the pair did notice but had been driven mad by this song and didn't want to be the cause of a retake.
Godley &  Creme: Under Your Thumb [6]. Another chance to marvel at the fraught, twitchy performance by Godley -or is it Creme- who emotes like a first year drama student. If the strobe light and glass screen stage decoration seem familiar it's because they were also used on the last performance of this song; on the 17/09/1981 edition. John Coles is credited as Designer on both shows so presumably he just liked the way the set looked, but it's unusual to see such specific recycling between two different editions of Top of the Pops.


The Girl with all the Gifts

Considering just how many zombie stories have been told and the limitations of the subject you wouldn’t think there was anything new that could be done. Though not strictly speaking a zombie film, The Girl with all the Gifts uses the choreography of the genre but in an intelligent new way. In fact the z-word is not even mentioned. The result is a frequently thrilling yet thought provoking British film that is well worth seeing provided you don’t mind some gore and blood of course!


The Inconvenient Truth about Jeremy Corbyn

Nobody was too surprised to see Jeremy Corbyn re-elected as Labour Party leader except perhaps those who had vehemently opposed him. Their vigour in doing so failed to achieve anything except both reinforce and strengthen Corbyn’s hold on the post which he seems likely to keep until the next election at least. His opponents’ strategy appeared to be to treat both the incumbent and the Momentum movement as some kind of invading enemy. “They” have infiltrated our party, it was declared and made it unelectable. The inconvenient truth that they failed to grasp- or perhaps did not even recognise- is that Corbyn is the most traditional Labour leader in over thirty years. His and Momentum’s ideals are much, much closer to Labour than anything Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband had to offer. If you flip it over it is Blair and co who were the invaders, changing Labour beyond recognition, and now the party has taken back its purpose and re-linked with its origins.


Top of the Pops 24 Sept 1981

Top of the Pops 1981 currently on BBC4 and being watched by Chris Arnsby (and presumably others)

Simon Bates: "Just 35 minutes away from Britain's number one. Welcome to Top of the Pops with a good loud start from Slade. Right over here."

Slade: Lock Up Your Daughters [45]. I was going to speculate on how many years it has been since Slade were on Top of the Pops but its actually only been seven months. They were last on in February singing We'll Bring The House Down. Shortly before the start of the Joe Dolce Music Theatre's reign of terror. Noddy Holder is on fine Tom Baker style eye-bulging form and this is a song which deserved to do better than the number 29 it reached. Vision Mixer Carol Abbott and the camera crew (Top of the Pops has started crediting the Senior Cameraman, this week it's Geoff Feld) are on fine form, and capture some nice images; the best being a shot of the drummer through the guitarist's legs (the one that's not Noddy Holder or Dave Hill... I'm going out on a limb and guessing Dave Lea).
Slade: Lock Up Your Daughters. Clearly an instruction that was not followed by many.


Things you don't see in pubs any more

Pies on plastic shelves

Pub food never used to be associated with good food and generally people did not even entertain the idea of having a meal at the pub. However there was food- of a kind- if you were peckish. Nobody expected a menu because essentially there was one option and that was a pie. These were those pies with very thick pastry which of course makes them look voluminous but doesn’t guarantee the amount of meat inside. The filling itself would be mincemeat and assorted hard to chew bits. People never really dwelt on what they were. These pies could be warmed up in a microwave oven but the real issue was- just how long had they been there? Traditionally they sat on one of three shelves in a plastic unit somewhere on the bar. This wasn’t refrigerated so depending on the temperature you might not even need to have your pie warmed up! You’d go in one week after another and this selection of pies would be sat there and you never knew whether they were the same ones from last week. Or indeed last month. You could opt for a cold pork pie of similar dimensions; you’ll notice the absence of the word `enjoy` there. Nowadays pubs offer properly cooked food of endless variety but perhaps it would be nice if they could have a pie on a shelf display. The pies would of course be plastic – come to think of it, weren’t they always? 



The Great British Bake Off will never be the same again. 
On the face of it a programme moving from one channel to another should not make much of a stir in this day and age. After all we are continuously told that people don’t bother with scheduled TV much now and prefer to watch on demand  However the news that The Great British Bake Off will be moving to Channel 4 next year has provoked quite a furore (plus some witty headlines). More than anything It seems to symbolise the declining power of the BBC which is snared in a trap whereby success is discouraged. Which rather seems at odds with the idea that it is a public service broadcaster therefore should offer what a lot of people (ie licence fee payers) actually want to see. People have (rightly) made a fuss about this yet just a few months ago wasn’t there a call for the Corporation to offload its greatest successes and not try to compete with commercial channels? The BBC cannot do both so which is it to be? Or is this just another cut in a death by a thousand cuts?