Last Night Of The Proms 1992 – tape 1395

Here’s 1992’s Last Night of the Proms. It opens with the overture to the Barber of Seville by Rossini. The BBC Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Sir Andrew Davies.

Soloist Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings arias by Massenet.

Next, more Rossini, with Soirees Musicales, orchestrated by Benjamin Britten. Enjoyed by Batman in the arena audience.

Next, it’s Shostakovitch’s 2nd Piano Concerto, played by Tatyana Nikolaeva. This piece is familiar to me mostly from being used in Fantasia 2000 in the Steadfast Tin Soldier segment.

This half of the concert ends here.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 12th September 1992 – 19:30

Recording switches to BBC1 for the second half of the concert which opens with Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture.

Next, three more arias performed by Kiri Te Kanawa. The second of which is instantly familiar to anyone who saw Diva, Jean Jacques Beineix’s debut feature about an opera singer and a bootleg tape, which used this aria as its opening, and the subject of all the subsequent plot machinations. It’s always amused me that the opera it comes from is called La Wally. I’m 53 years old.

Next, a piece by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Overture di Ballo.

It wouldn’t be a Last Night without a ‘modern’ piece, this time by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. At least this one is vaguely tuneful, and intended to amuse, rather than perplex. And there’s some orchestral hijinks.

On the minus side, there’s bagpipes.

But now we get into the traditional end of the programme, with Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March, Land of Hope and Glory. Followed by Sir Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs. Which I love, and would love even more if it weren’t for the stupid noises the audience feels compelled to make throughout.

Kiri Te Kanawa makes one more appearance to sing Rule Britannia, dressed in a dress definitely meant to invoke her New Zealand heritage.

Andrew Davies decides to do this year’s speech to the tune of the Major General’s song.

And the whole thing ends with Jerusalem and the National Anthem.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 12th September 1992 – 21:00

After this, there’s a trailer for The House of Eliott.

Then the news, which leads with the EC considering sanctions against Serbia. The tape ends during this bulletin.

 

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Film 92 – Omnibus – The Prisoner – tape 1397

An episode of Film 92 opens this tape, with Barry Norman’s reviews of:

There’s a retrospective look back at Casablanca. This was one of the gaps in my movie knowledge around this time. I’d never seen it, despite it turning up on TV umpteen times. I even remember messing up a recording of it, as if I was fated never to watch it. I watched it eventually (a few months after this, in fact) at a cinema screening, which I’ve written about before, and its classic status is totally deserved.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st September 1992 – 22:10

After this, recording switches, and we catch the end credits of Civvies (playing some Dire Straits).

There’s a trailer for Black and Blue and for The Elephant Man.

Then, Omnibus celebrates 70 years of Disney animation in Disney The Fairytale Years.

Among those interviewed is Looney Tunes creator Chuck Jones.

Disney Animators Ward Kimball

Marc Davis

and Ollie Johnston

Film Critic and Disney expert Leonard Maltin

Walt’s nephew Roy Disney, who ran the studio animation department in the 80s.

The new generation of animators is represented by Ron Clements

Gary Trousdale

Kirk Wise

Glen Keane

At the time, Michael Eisner was head of the company.

There’s a clip from Aladdin near the end, and as I was watching it I had a weird bit of cognitive dissonance. I’ve seen Aladdin, so I’m vaguely familiar with it, but the music under the clip (the scene where Aladdin is flying out of the cave of wonders, through lava) was far more familiar to me than I would have expected the Aladdin music to be. Then I realised the scene was scored with music from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with which I am far more familiar. But because it was attached to Aladdin I couldn’t place it at first. It’s funny how the brain works, and how much it relies on context for memory.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 22nd September 1992 – 22:25

After this, recording switches to Channel 4, and, after yesterday’s spoof, here’s the real thing, with the very first episode of The PrisonerArrival.

Sometimes, the show could be a bit stodgy, but the opening is great, full of mystery and barely suppressed anger from Patrick McGoohan.

The use of a big weather balloon as a security guard is typical of the show’s bonkers 60s sensibility.

Paul Eddington makes a fleeting appearance as another agent in the village.

After that brief detour, it’s back to Film 92, with reviews of the following films:

There’s a location report on Kenneth Branagh’s Peter’s Friends.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 28th September 1992 – 22:10

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Cheers – tape 1405

Channel 4 are still using their Christmas idents.

Here’s the final episode of Cheers season 10, and it’s Woody and Kelly’s wedding. Everyone’s dolled up and ready.

Things don’t go smoothly in the kitchens, as the gang are there to tend the bar. The priest drops dead, so they have to sober up Kelly’s Uncle, Milo O’Shea, who’s also a priest, so he can officiate.

There’s an extremely funny running gag about Carla in a dumbwaiter that’s milked almost shamelessly but never fails to get a big laugh.

Sam chats up a woman at the party, so obviously her husband is some kind of crazed German aristocrat in a uniform.

And the final gag, featuring the wedding cake that has survived through the whole show relatively unscathed, is perfect, so I won’t describe it here.

After this, recording switches to the first episode of the final season. It’s the one where Rebecca’s stray cigarette burns down the bar.

And because he needs money to rebuild the bar, Sam has to sell his corvette, the story of which we saw continued in a later episode a few tapes ago.

After this episode, the recording continues for the rest of the tape, catching a couple of interesting things.

First, a whole programme, Rory Bremner & The Morning After The Year Before, which is a look back at 1992. It’s the usual mix of political impressions and sports commentators. There’s an appearance from Red Dwarf’s Robert Llewellyn.

And finally on this tape, most of a rather odd programme. The Laughing Prisoner is a reworking of the episode of The Tube where Jools Holland went to Portmeirion to look back at The Prisoner. Goodness only knows what the regular Tube audience made of it, but as I enjoyed it at the time.

Stephen Fry appears as Number 2, and he also co-wrote the story.

Another village resident is Stanley Unwin.

It is The Tube though, so they have to have some music, all performed in the Village. First it’s Siouxsie and the Banshees.

XTC looking cool in the Village costume.

Rock band Magnum, on the other hand, brought their own clothes.

Also appearing are Terence Alexander as the head of Channel Four.

Hugh Laurie as his son/assistant.

There’s a last bit of music from Holland himself, supported by Chris Difford and Rowland Rivron.

The tape ends during this song.

One slightly annoying part of this film is the mismatch between the new stuff (all filmed) and the original Prisoner footage. The original footage looks considerably worse than the new stuff which is frustrating because it was filmed on 35mm, but they obviously only had access to some fairly old telecine conversion, probably from broadcast tapes. It’s a shame they couldn’t source some remastered footage, but I guess that was way beyond their budget.

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I Wanna Hold Your Hand – Twice Upon A Time – tape 1393

Now here’s a couple of very obscure films, very loosely linked by their Executive Producers. The first was Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg, the second by George Lucas.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand was the first feature directed by Robert Zemeckis, and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Zemeckis and Gale were friends with Steven Spielberg – I think they show up in Bob Balaban’s book about making Close Encounters, where they were known as the Two Bobs. Because he was a hot director after Jaws, and with Close Encounters shaping up to be another hit, Spielberg lent his name to the film as Executive Producer to get it made.

In return, Zemeckis and Gale wrote the screenplay for Spielberg’s next film, 1941. Which seems like a shitty way to repay that favour. But they made it up later when Spielberg produced Back to the Future so we all won in the end.

The film is set when the Beatles were in New York for their famous appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The opening shot sets the scene nicely, including the man fixing the spelling of the band’s name.

Sullivan briefs his crew with what to expect on the performance day. “Excessive screaming, hysteria, hyperventilation, fainting, fits, seizures, spasmodic convulsions even attempted suicides.”

The plot revolves around a group of girls who want to try to get into the hotel the Beatles are staying in. Among the cast are Nancy Allen, here glimpsing the fab four as they leave in their car.

Wendie Jo Sperber would later play Marty’s sister in Back to the Future.

Marc McClure plays their friend who has a car and drives them to New York.

The great Dick Miller turns up as a security guard.

 

Eddie Deezen plays an obsessive memorabilia collector. He also appeared in 1941 and Wargames.

This is really good. It’s almost a classic farce, as the group splits up, joins up with other people desperate to see the group, and hilarity ensues.

There’s also a moment when one of the group, having just scammed a man out of fifty dollars so she can bribe her way into the studio, is attacked by the man, and then McClure appears at the hotel room door and yells “Hey! Get your goddamn hands off her.” So that presumably means the line George has in Back to the Future is a callback to this film. Which itself might well be a callback to Charlton Heston’s line in Planet of the Apes.

The film only tangentially features the Beatles themselves, although they’ve licensed loads of their songs, which either cost a fortune, or it was much cheaper in 1978. The scenes at the Sullivan show also carefully hide the doubles they are using.

Slightly less successful are the couple of scenes where we hear them talk, where they just sound like every other dodgy Beatles impression you’ve ever heard.

After this, another, even more obscure film. Twice Upon a Time in an animated film that feels like it’s taken inspiration from Yellow Submarine. The people of Din, known as Rushers, are always busy, but when they sleep, they get their dreams from a place called Frivoli, and their nightmares from the Murkworks.

But the Leader of the Murkworks, Synonamess Botch, tricks two of the Frivoli people to steal a spring from the Cosmic Clock, which stops time all over Din, and then he plans to send his vultures across Din to detonate all his Nightmare bombs.

It’s up to the two idiots he fooled into stealing the spring to foil his plan, Mumford and Ralph, the all-purpose animal.

Which they do with the help of the Fairy Godmother.

There’s also a superhero called Rod Rescueman and an actual damsel in actual distress, Flora Fauna.

None of this is as interesting as it might sound. And it’s nowhere near as funny or charming as those involved seem to think.

But the credits are interesting. Ralph is played by Lorenzo Music, famous for playing Carlton the Doorman in Rhoda (a show he also developed and wrote for).

Two of the sequence directors are Brian Narelle and Henry Selick. Selick is well known as the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline. Narelle was one of the actors in John Carpenter’s Dark Star.

But the credit that surprised me most was that for Special Photographic Effects. None other than David Fincher, now a powerhouse director, then a fledgling effects artist.

So this is certainly obscure, but I can’t claim it’s an undiscovered gem, unfortunately.

After this, the tape continues with a large chunk of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The tape ends during it.

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Kolchak – The Night Stalker – tape 1399

This tape starts with the end of a Moviedrome film. I have to say, I feel quite proud when I guessed the film just from the final credit that’s the first frame of the tape. Answer at the end of the blog.

There’s a trailer for the Albert Finney sort-of horror The Green Man.

Then an episode of Kolchak The Night Stalker. Something is stalking people in an area of the city populated mostly by old people. It guest stars Phil Silvers, Sgt Bilko himself.

Credit spot: This episode is written by Jimmy Sangster, writer of many classic Hammer films.

The old people are being killed by something that appears to them as something safe, like a Rabbi or a policeman. Phil Silvers thinks it’s the owner of the local Indian restaurant because he’s a hindu, and he’s seen him painting swastikas all over the neighbourhood.

The real killer is an ancient Hindu myth called a Rakshasa, who always appears as the person you most trust. So there’s a lovely climax where Kolchak, armed with the crossbow that can kill it, is slowly approached by the old lady, Emily, who works in his office, and wondering whether he can really bring himself to shoot her with the crossbow. Spoiler: He does.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th June 1992 – 00:05

Before the next episode there’s a trailer for Colin’s Sandwich and The Best of Saturday Night Clive.

Then, another episode of The Night Stalker called MR R.I.N.G. A robot kills its designer and goes on a rampage.

Mr R.I.N.G. is played by Craig Baxley, a stuntman who also directed the Dolph Lundgren actioner Dark Angel. I don’t know why I remember that.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th July 1992 – 01:05

The next episode is The Ripper. A murderer is killing women in Chicago. Kolchak thinks he’s a ripper. Perhaps the ripper. He’s up against another reporter, played by Beatrice Colen.

When the Ripper tries to attack an undercover cop, there’s a huge police effort to catch him. The stunts in this scene are quite something, with the Ripper jumping around like an acrobat. The scene is really effective.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd August 1992 – 23:15

The last episode here is Demon in Lace. A female demon is stalking attractive young men.

Kristina Holland plays a young reporter.

It’s quite fun watching them try to track down which attractive man is the next victim. “He has to be an eight. Well, imagine Mick Jagger is the only nine, and Quasimodo is a two.”

It all ties in to an ancient clay tablet that’s summoning a succubus.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th October 1992 – 00:35

After this there’s a trail for Blackadder Goes Forth. Then BBC2 closes down, and Michaela Saunders wishes us a good night.

I’ve kept a bit of the post-closedown, because although BBC2 is not transmitting, there’s some stray broadcast from another channel.

It’s Channel 4, and a foreign language film I’ve never heard of.

The tape ends after almost 50 minutes of this riveting stuff.

Answer: That film at the start of the tape was The Serpent and the Rainbow.

Lipstick On Your Collar – tape 1428

More episodes of Dennis Potter’s Lipstick On Your Collar. Young Francis is having dinner with his uncle and aunt, and Uncle Fred is being weird. I think this is episode 5.

Francis meets Sylvia late at night, and it seems like they’ve had some kind of connection, but she tells him he shouldn’t get involved with her (presumably because she’s married to his superior officer, played by Douglas Henshall).

And Roy Hudd is still skulking around, obsessed with Sylvia. That’s another one to tick off the Potter Bingo.

He gets so upset at being rejected by Sylvia that he drives his car at them to try to run them over, then drives off erratically, and by a massive coincidence, happens to run over Sylvia’s hubby Corporal Berry.

Ewan McGregor and girlfriend Lisa (Kim Huffman) go to the theatre to see Chekov’s The Seagull. She gets frustrated because he doesn’t appreciate it like she does. In fact, he doesn’t seem to understand a word she says. They’re not a good fit.

In the final episode, Jim Carter plays a policeman interviewing Hudd after the car collision.

In one of the interminable musical sequences, McGregor does some cosplay as Jerry Lee Lewis.

There’s a policeman who looks astonishingly like Jude Law, although iMDb doesn’t list him, so it’s not him. He’s Benedict Martin. Cursed with a name that means if you search for pictures of him, you also get a lot of pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Oh for goodness sake. There’s a funeral scene, for Henshall’s character, and sure enough, Private Francis falls into the grave. About the biggest cliche imaginable.

But, on the plus side, Roy Hudd’s wife is played by Ysanne Churchman, a name familiar to many Doctor Who fans as the voice of Alpha Centauri, and the Spider from Planet of the Spiders.

But the funeral wasn’t a waste, because Francis meets McGregor’s intellectual ex girlfriend, and they hit it off, and so do McGregor and Sylvia. So at least there’s something of a happy ending, not that I cared about any of these characters.

I hope I’m not this grumpy when I get to The Singing Detective.

After this, the tape continues for about 40 minutes, with the start of Chicago Joe and the Showgirl with Kiefer Sutherland and Emily Lloyd. Seems thematically similar, although I’ve never seen it.

The tape ends during this film.

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Prick Up Your Ears – tape 1426

On this tape, fro,m Channel 4, Stephen Frears’ movie of Alan Bennett’s adaptation of John Lahr’s biography of the life of playwright Joe Orton, Prick Up Your Ears!

Gary Oldman plays Orton.

Alfred Molina plays his partner Kenneth Halliwell.

They met at drama school, where we see Joe auditioning with a strange scene from Peter Pan, while Halliwell strides on and starts declaiming “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt” from Hamlet. “We seem to be taking anything that moves” says one of the casting directors. “At least he’s got the coat” says the other.

The story is told in flashback after Joe has been bludgeoned to death by Halliwell, who then took his own life. It’s structured with Wallace Shawn playing biographer John Lahr.

He’s talking to Joe’s agent, Peggy Ramsay, played by Vanessa Redgrave, about Joe, and his papers, including his infamous diaries.

There’s a funny scene when Lahr’s wife Anthea, played by Lindsey Duncan, is trying to transcribe the diaries, but sections of them are in shorthand, which she doesn’t read. So she asks her mother, Joan Sanderson, to read them for her. “Then went into mother’s bedroom, arranged the dressing table mirrors, and had a lovely, long, slow wink.”

Orton’s mother was played, as was mandatory in the 1980s, by Julie Walters. Here complaining about the mess Joe makes on her bedspreads.

His sister was played by Francis Barber.

Richard Wilson appears as a prison psychiatrist, after Orton and Halliwell were sent to prison for defacing library books.

It’s a good film, and Oldman and especially Molina are excellent, bickering and tolerating each other. Orton was six years younger than Halliwell when they met, and Halliwell was definitely the more confident of the pair, and the one who wanted to be a writer. But when Orton found his voice and became the lauded playwright, Halliwell found himself demoted to Orton’s ‘personal assistant’, and the jealousy that stemmed from that failure was what eventually led to Halliwell killing Orton.

I do like the scene when Peggy Ramsay and Orton’s sister are intermingling Joe and Kenneth’s ashes. “I think I’m getting more of John than I am of Kenneth.” “It’s a gesture, dear, not a recipe.”

After this, there’s a short programme, Raising the Roof as part of Channel 4’s Gimme Shelter season about homelessness.

Then there’s an introduction by poet Roger McGough to an early Nick Broomfield documentary Behind the Rent Strike. The tape ends as the film starts.

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