18/01/2018

Hard Sun Episode 1



Written by Neil Cross / Directed by Brian Kirk / showing on BBC1 and available on the BBC iPlayer
I’m not sure anyone’s tried to splice an apocalyptic (or as it’s been described pre-apocalyptic) drama with a police series before but I am sure that it’s a long time since the opening episode of anything matched the intensity of this. You’d probably have to go back to The Shadow Line for that.  Hard Sun seems to play by the same rules which are that you take the viewer one step at a time from something that seems routine and becomes more surreal as it goes. Whereas The Shadow Line chose to open with a very long atmospheric scene, Hard Sun on the other hand smacks you- and indeed its chief protagonist- in the face right away. And it never looks back.
Spoilers past this point.
 

14/01/2018

Top of the Pops 20 Jan 1983



Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: "Hi. Good evening. Welcome to Top of the Pops. What a great show we've got for you tonight and what a way to start."
Janice Long: " It's with a band who've been together for a year. They come from Leighton Buzzard. It's their first appearance on Top of the Pops. It's Kajagoogoo. Too Shy."
[33] Kajagoogoo: Too Shy. Kajagoogoo, the subeditor's nightmare. Limahl has very eighties hair; bleached and spiked to perfection. The computer magazine Zzap!64 used to have little thumbnail sketches of the reviewers and Limahl looks like one of those come to life. I didn't have a Commodore 64 you understand. I was a proud Crash reader and Spectrum owner. I just used to glance at the magazine for a glimpse into a strange otherworld. A bit like sneakily trying to read Tammy in John Menzies. It's probably too late to complain but the lyrics really are nonsense. "Modern medicine falls short of your complaints/Try a little harder/You're moving in circles/Won't you dilate." You wot? (Wikijohn – The Kaj’s went on to have two more top 20 hits and an album `White Feather` before sacking Limahl and trying to carry on without him. `Lim`had a couple of hits including the title song to The Never Ending Story. The group briefly reformed in 2003 before fully getting back together in 2007 and technically are still going today!)

08/01/2018

Top of the Pops 13 Jan 1983



Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. [John Peel and David Jensen are both wearing Mexican mariachi hats] John Peel: "Hello. We're on a five pounds a man bonus for wearing these hats. Welcome to another Top of the Pops. We're the Burke and Hare of British broadcasting. I'm John, he's the likeable Canadian." David Jensen: "And this week we're going to kick off, amigos, with Incantation and Cacharpaya."

It's a new year on Top of the Pops. Michael Hurll (now credited with Production, rather than as Producer for some reason) has resurrected the dual presenter format. Wisely he's gone for two Radio 1 DJs instead of the terrible DJ plus guest format used in 1980 that gave us such combinations as Peter Powell and BA Robertson, or Tommy Vance and Roger Daltrey. Also different, weirdly, are the Top of the Pops titles. The 23/12/1982 edition introduced a modified version where the Top of the Pops logo was superimposed over the flying records rather than being on its own slide with a black background. This week we're back to the original film which strobes as it rapidly cuts between the logo and the records. Three editions of Top of the Pops have just been skipped by BBC4 and a quick check of Youtube shows all these (25/12/1982, 30/12/1982, and 6/1/1983) used the old titles. Was the new version done as a one-off technical demo, or did Michael Hurll hate it, or was it just lost in the Christmas hangover? Lets see what version gets used next week.

05/01/2018

Will we ever all use driverless cars?



It all sounds a bit weird. You get into a taxi and instead of there being a chirpy (or sometimes taciturn) driver there is just some sort of control panel. It is probably made of silver because we are after all in the future. You slide your all- purpose card into the slot and key in your destination and –whoosh- off the taxi goes. There is no driver at all, just technology whirring away which interacts with all the other driverless cars on the road in a seamless, traffic jam free ride. It sounds idyllic doesn’t it but think for a minute- would you really want to get into a car driven by a machine rather than a person?

03/01/2018

Doctor Who Underworld



Season 14@40 There it sits, unloved, at the foot of many a fan poll almost from the moment it was shown. It came bottom of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society series vote in 1978 and has remained rooted nearby ever since. With `Underworld` there is no leeway. It’s hardly even Marmite; in this case nobody likes it. So, why is this? Has anybody in fact really watched it? Well, I did. And do you know what? It’s the best Doctor Who story ever. Ok, I’m exaggerating but it is certainly not the disaster it is often described as. I think this may be the first time I’ve actually watched it properly because I saw things I’d not noticed before.

30/12/2017

A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong



The funniest thing on tv this year since Peter Pan Went Wrong! Mischief Theatre have tapped a rich vein with their anarchic take on theatrical traditions and this translates well into the television environment too. Here a Derek Jacobi fronted version of the festive classic is hijacked by the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society in their usual manner. The result is pure fun which unlike a lot of modern humour does not try to poke fun at the text rather at the production process. So while the story more or less follows the familiar route it’s safe to say you won’t have seen an interpretation quite like this one!

29/12/2017

Top of the Pops 9 and 23 Dec 1982



9 Dec 1982. Watched by Chris Arnsby. Simon Bates: "Welcome to BBC1 on a Thursday night for an action packed Top of the Pops. We've got Shalamar to kick off with, over here at number 19 with Friends."

[19] Shalamar: Friends. Top of the Pops must have some money left over from the budget because this performance uses both dry ice and smoke. Unsurprisingly the effect is to gradually obscure the studio while Shalamar do their best to penetrate the fug. Shalamar singer Howard Hewett is wearing a smart Darth Vader t-shirt, and seems to be going for a Han Solo look in general with a holster slung low on one thigh. Watch out in the background -at least until it's obscured- for the bloke wearing the same white slit top as the lead singer from Blue Zoo a few weeks ago. It's possible that it is the lead singer from Blue Zoo. Damn this fog.
Shalamar wonder if the buses will still be running in this fog

26/12/2017

Doctor Who Twice Upon A Time



For about 45 of these 60 minutes `Twice Upon A Time` only occasionally sparks. The scenario is rather thin, the gags slightly laboured, the visuals a vague mashup of familiar looking things. For something shown at the heart of Christmas Day there is a distinct lack of  fun. The performances are excellent but it feels as if the actors are doing their best with flimsy material. Then the final segment delivers the sort of emotion, hope and symbolism we might expect from something as momentous as a Doctor’s finale topped off by one of those to -be -treasured Peter Capaldi speeches. And then a new Doctor! Hopefully people stayed watching that long…
Spoilers ahead…