Third Rock from the Sun – tape 2552

This tape starts with a trailer for The Dynasty: The Nehru-Gandhi Story, and a trailer for This Life.

Then, a nice Sci-Fi themed BBC 2 ident.

This introduces the first episode of the second season of Third Rock from the SunSee Dick Continue to Run. Dick has been imprisoned in an invisible box by his evil doppelganger, who was sent by the Great Bog Head to take over the mission. “You’ve turned me into a mime!”

There’s a guest appearance from American sportsman Dennis Rodman. I remember him being famous, but rarely what for.

And I’m pleased that the episode doesn’t shirk its responsibility to give us a split-screen Double Dick.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th July 1997 – 21:00

Recording switches, and there’s the end of an episode of Tracks.

There’s a trailer for the World Athletics Championship, and one for This Life.

Then, Third Rock from the SunHotel Dick. The group go and see a big Sci Fi movie and are horrified by the way it portrays Aliens. Harry tells the audience waiting “At the end of the movie, when the President turns out to be an Alien, and he barbecues all the congressmen, don’t believe it because Aliens hate barbecues.” Is that another veiled comment on today’s current political circumstances. Is the current President an Alien?

To educate his colleague Mary about friendly aliens, they all go to a Science Fiction convention. There’s a nice gag where Jane Curtin sees two cosplayers dressed as Coneheads – Curtin played a Conehead on Saturday Night Live, and in the spin-off movie.

Mary tries some cosplay herself, so when Dick confesses that he’s actually an alien, she just thinks he’s joining in.

George Takei is the guest of honour.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st July 1997 – 21:00

Before the next episode there’s the end of another episode of Tracks. There’s a trailer for This Life.

Then, another Third Rock from the SunBig Angry Virgin from Outer Space. Sally has a boyfriend, although he complains that he’s never in control.

Harry tries Video Dating.

Young Tommy (he’s only 16 for God’s sake, let him be young) is being tested by his girlfriend who think he only likes her for her looks, and if she was horribly mutilated, he would dump her. So she tells him a hamster has bitten her nose off.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th August 1997 – 21:00

Recording switches to the end of Wildlife Showcase. There’s a trailer for Flightpaths to the Gods, and Room 101. They use an Alien themed ident, which is fun.

The another Third Rock from the SunDick the Vote. Wayne Knight appears as Officer Don.

Harry accidentally gets involved in city politics after he accidentally chains himself to a tree during a protest against closing the park.

Future ex-politician Al Franken plays a politician.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st August 1997 – 21:00

Before the next episode there’s the end of Jeremy Clarkson’s Motorworld, and trailers for Rab C Nesbitt and Mercury Music Prize.

Then Third Rock from the SunFourth and Dick. The whole school is obsessed with the big sports game. Dick is a face and body painter.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th August 1997 – 21:00

There’s some Top Gear before the next episode, along with a trailer for Holding On.

Then Third Rock from the SunWorld’s Greatest Dick. Tommy has to go to an advanced school. Danny Strong is one of the pupils there.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th September 1997 – 21:00

There’s another brief slice of Top Gear before the next episode, and trailers for Never Mind The Buzzcocks and a movie double bill of The Doors and Reality Bites – which readers might remember had been scheduled for the night Princess Diana died, and replaced by Ring of Bright Water.

Then, more from Third Rock from the SunMy Mother Is an Alien. A random baby has turned up. Hilarity ensues.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 11th September 1997 – 21:00

Yet more from Top Gear before the next episode. Also trailers for Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Radio One Night.

Then the last full episode on this tape, Third Rock from the SunDickmalion. Tommy is getting bullied at school.

Dick is invited to a party thrown by the posh set, until Mary realises they only invited him for the amusement factor.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 18th September 1997 – 21:00

After this, there’s trailer for Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show, and one for Holding On.

Then, there’s the start of an episode of Horizon. It’s about whether the brain has any effect on the immune system, and it’s presented as a bit of a ‘gosh wow, alternative medicine’ subject.

The tape ends partway in to this episode, which is a good thing because it was annoying me.

Mr Bell Goes To Westminter – Seinfeld – tape 2568

Today’s tape opens with the end of Computers Don’t Bite. The last item here was a ‘Watchdog’ style report into a software company whose products were rubbish. “We thought we should go to California to find out what’s going on.” I’ll bet you did.

These kinds of programmes are so interesting. As someone who had been using computers for the best part of 20 years by this point, I did find it fascinating that there was still a fear of using them. Basic things like using a mouse and navigating menus just seem natural, but we forget that we all had to learn it. It’s not difficult, but until you do it, you’ve no idea how difficult it is.

Some of the programme’s presentation is… interesting. This was a very short piece – not an excerpt from some ‘Lover’s Guide’ eduporn video, but a bit telling you to use an antistatic wrist band before you open your computer.

After this, there’s a trailer for Reputations on Bertrand Russell.

Then, a documentary, Mr Bell Goes To Westminter, following Martin Bell as he becomes the anti-sleaze parliamentary candidate standing against the infamous Neil Hamilton. Remember when it was possible for MPs to be disgraced by being sleazy? I miss those days.

God, the Hamiltons were (and are – he’s leader of UKIP now) the worst. They start by suggesting that the only reason he’s standing is he’s having a mid-life crisis and was looking for something to do.

He has to phone up the BBC Newsroom to complain at their coverage of his first walkabout in the town. “I had 25 in favour, 3 against, and you give me just one of the three against. What kind of journalism is that?”

“The people vandalizing Neil Hamilton’s posters are probably embarrassed Conservatives.”

Possibly the funniest moment is when the result is read out, and we learn that Neil Hamilton’s actual first name is Mostyn, which, as a Fry and Laurie fan, is very funny.

But the strangest moment for me was when Bell gives a speech, and they pan across the crowd and I think “that bloke looks really like David Soul, I’ll mention that, it’s a good joke.”

But then I’m thinking about it a bit more. Is it possible that Starsky and Hutch star and 70s pop idol David Soul had been interested in Martin Bell’s battle against corruption? Yes it was. In fact, Bell and Soul had met before the campaign, when Soul was developing a TV series about a reporter in a war zone, and he talked to Bell about the realities of that world. So when Bell was campaigning, and needed a bit of showbiz in his campaign, he called Soul, who was in a play in Lincoln, and he was delighted to help with canvassing, knocking on people’s doors. Amazing. Here’s an Independent article about how they met.

Here’s someone else’s upload of the documentary. Perhaps not coincidentally, the same person who uploaded the recent Breaking the News.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 26th May 1997 – 20:00

Recording switches to the end of an episode of The Nanny.

Then, there’s an episode of SeinfeldThe Face Painter. Jerry gets some tickets to a sports event, and Elaine invites boyfriend Puddy. She didn’t bank on him being a face painter.

Kramer gets into an altercation at the zoo with a monkey, and he’s summoned to the zoo to apologise to the monkey.

The next episode is The Understudy. Elaine isn’t popular at her local manicurist.

Jerry is dating a woman who’s the understudy to Bette Midler in Rochelle Rochelle The Musical. She cries a lot.

Jerry and his Improv team are playing baseball against the Rochelle Rochelle company. Bette Midler herself is playing.

George is running for a home run when he slams into Bette, injuring her and putting the understudy on in her place, so of course the rest of the cast think George did it on purpose.

Elaine bumps into J Peterman in the street, and winds up being offered a job.

The next episode is The Engagement. Elaine is being kept awake by a barking dog, so Kramer takes her to a mysterious someone who can get rid of the dog.

George is suddenly worried about being alone for the rest of his life, so he proposes to Susan.

Almost inevitably, in the next episode, The Postponement, George is already getting cold feet. He decides to tell Susan they should postpone the wedding.

The Rabbi in Elaine’s building helps with the barking dog. But he then tells Jerry all about their conversation

Next it’s The Maestro. Kramer introduces Jerry to his friend, who insists on being called ‘The Maestro’.

Elaine and he rather hit it off, despite the Maestro thing. I wouldn’t have recognised him, but Mark Metcalf, who plays the Maestro, played a similarly names character, The Master, in the first series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Kramer sues a coffee house when he pours hot coffee over himself. He gets Jackie Chiles to represent him.

George gets obsessed with a security guard in a shop having to stand all day, so he brings him a chair.

The next episode is The Wink. Jerry’s girlfriend serves mutton. Jerry doesn’t like it much.

George has to get a birthday card signed by all the Yankees players, for the boss, and he leaves it with Kramer, who then gets someone to sell it. George needs it back, so Kramer has to persuade the little sick kid who was given the card as a gift, to give it back.

The last episode here is The Hot Tub. Kramer gets a hot tub, because Kramer is exactly the kind of creepy person who would have a hot tub.

Elaine has a house guest, Jean Paul, a Marathon runner from Trinidad who famously missed the Olympic race because he overslept.

Jerry is obsessed with making sure he doesn’t miss the New York Marathon.

George has to entertain a group of men from Texas, and, as men do, they’re swearing and calling each other bastards. One of them is played by Charles Cyphers, a regular on John Carpenter films.

After this episode, the recording continues with the start of an episode of Mad About You.


  • trail: Beverly Hills 90210/Melrose Place
  • Peugeot 306
  • Ace Bleach
  • Ladykillers 2
  • Vaseline Intensive Care
  • Maxwell House
  • trail: Casino
  • trail: The Cape
  • Vauxhall
  • Comfort
  • Direct Line
  • Paramount Comedy Channel
  • Sula
  • trail: Rugby
  • trail: The Oprah Whinfrey Show
  • Tesco – Prunella Scales Jane Horrocks
  • Specsavers
  • Peperami
  • Sensodyne F
  • Sensodyne Gentle – Frank Bruno
  • Ford Puma
  • trail: The Practice
  • trail: Star Trek The Next Generation
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Impulse
  • McDonalds
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • Uncle Ben’s
  • Dairylea
  • trail: Rugby
  • trail: Chicago Hope
  • CRB
  • Garnier Movida
  • Nestle Fruitful
  • Rhinolast
  • Futuroscope
  • Dairylea
  • CRB
  • trail: The Pretender/The Cape
  • trail: Boxing – Judgement Night
  • Ski Fruitful
  • Reader’s Digest Prize Draw
  • Boots Soltan
  • Private Parts in cinemas
  • Red Bull
  • Safeway
  • Ski Extra Fruit
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • Nationwide
  • Pantene
  • One Fine Day in cinemas
  • AA Insurance
  • Dalton’s Weekly
  • trail: Rugby
  • trail: Boxing – Judgement Night
  • Robinson’s
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Royal Mail
  • Argos
  • Penguin
  • Kiss Smooth Grooves
  • Gillette Anti-Perspirant
  • Robinson’s
  • trail: Mad About You
  • trail: Mad About You
  • Citroen Saxo
  • L’Oreal Excellence
  • House of Fraser
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Batman & Robin in cinemas
  • The Brand New Heavies – Shelter
  • Bacardi Breezer
  • trail: Ibiza Uncovered
  • trail: Chicago Hope
  • Coca Cola – Neil Morrissey
  • Dairylea
  • Dalton’s Weekly
  • Sugar Hits
  • Gold Blend
  • trail: The Big Easy
  • trail: Mad About You
  • Vauxhall
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Daz – Shane Richie
  • Eagle Star Direct
  • Organics
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • trail: Live 6 Show
  • Cheerios
  • L’Oreal Colour Endure
  • Elmlea
  • Safeway
  • Clairol Herbal Essences
  • trail: The Pretender/The Cape

Friends – tape 2551

Here’s a tape full of Friends and this time, it’s from Channel 4. Let’s start with The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy. Chandler’s going out with Janice. I always enjoy it when Maggie Wheeler turns up, she’s so good.

Joey is being driven mad by Janice so she takes him out on ‘Joey and Janice’s Day of Fun’. It doesn’t help.

Rachel asks Ross when his bedroom fantasy is. He says “Have you seen Return of the Jedi?” So during the end credits… And I’m ashamed to say that it does slightly bug me that she didn’t have the right hairstyle for Jedi.

Next it’s The One Where No One’s Ready. Ross is giving a big speech, so everyone is going to see him, but nobody is getting ready. Ross, as usual, is horrible in this.

Monica is still sad from her breakup with Richard, and she leaves a message on his machine, then gets caller remorse and dials in to his machine (for which she has the code) and hears another woman leave a different message, then doesn’t know if that was a girlfriend or Richard’s daughter. It’s a whole thing. Answering machine plots – something that wouldn’t happen now. Now it might be email.

After arguing about Joey sitting in the chair he had been sitting in, Chandler hides Joey’s underwear, so Joey takes revenge by wearing all of Chandler’s clothes. Funny in itself, but this is raised to an iconic moment when Joey tells Chandler he’s “going Commando” i.e. not wearing underwear. I’d assumed this must have been an American idiom that I’d never heard before, but no, it was created by the writers, and it’s such a perfect phrase that it’s become a genuine part of the language. Sublime.

The next episode is The One with the Jam. Monica is still upset about the breakup, so she bought a ton of fruit from the docks to make jam. Monica: “I bet you didn’t know you could get it wholesale?” Rachel: “I didn’t know we had docks.”

Phoebe is followed by a creepy stalker played by David Arquette, who turns out to be stalking her sister Ursula.

Chandler has a problem with Janice, that’s she’s a hugger in bed, and he needs space to sleep. So Ross tells him about the Hug and Roll. But when he gets his arm trapped and tries to pull it away, he rolls Janice onto the floor.

Joey’s broken his arm, and it’s introduced in the teaser when we see Chandler listening as Joey is jumping on his bed, then hear him fall. “See, Joe, that’s why your parents told you not to jump on the bed.” I assume that this was a hastily written teaser to cover for Matt Le Blanc’s real injured arm.

The next episode is The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel and opens with a great segment, seeing Joey get a small part on Amazing Discoveries.

Ross doesn’t like the idea of young son Ben playing with a Barbie, so he indoctrinates him into taking a GI Joe doll.

The next episode is The One with Frank Jr. Joey decides to build a unit for the TV but his saw got away from him.

Phoebe meets her brother, who likes melting stuff, and who think Phoebe is a prostitute rather than a masseur.

There’s a discussion about lists of famous people who Ross and Rachel are allowed to sleep with, leading to a funny tag where Isabella Rossellini, who was originally on Ross’s list until he bumped her for Winona Ryder (“Local”), comes in to the bar, and Ross hits on her. He is the worst. “Don’t just dismiss this so fast, I mean this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.” “Yeah, for you.”

Before the next episode there’s the end of Brookside.

Then, more FriendsThe One with the Flashback. This was probably a lot of fun for the cast, and is set at some point before the start of the whole series. Of the cast, Chandler looks a little different, sporting a goatee.

Since Rachel met (most of) the gang in the first episode, in this one she’s not yet part of the group, and still the rich, entitled Daddy’s girl.

Joey moves in with Chandler, and when Monica invites him over for lemonade, he misinterprets the invitation.

Phoebe is secretly moving out of Monica’s apartment, taking one bit of furniture at a time.

In the next episode, The One with the Race Car Bed, Janice’s Ex is advertising his bed business on TV.

Monica and Phoebe go bed shopping, although they worry that by shopping at Janice’s Ex’s shop they’re somehow betraying Chandler.

Monica asks Phoebe to order the bed for her, but a mistake is made, and what’s delivered isn’t the one Monica wanted.

Ross has to have dinner with Rachel’s father, who hates him. Luckily, they later bond by ridiculing Rachel together. I mean, what the actual fuck?

Joey teaches a class in Soap Opera Acting.

Joey takes Monica to get the store to refund her for the race car bed, and Joey spots Janice kissing her ex-husband.

The last episode here is The One with the Giant Poking Device. Chandler is told about Janice’s kiss, and asks her who she’s really in love with. But when it comes to it he doesn’t want her to leave.

The gang think Ugly Naked Guy is dead, so they fashion a giant poking device to poke him.

After this episode, the tape ends.


  • VW Polo
  • L’Oreal Excellence
  • Vaseline Intensive Care
  • Acuvue
  • Blockbuster Video – Evita
  • One Fine Day in cinemas
  • Vimto
  • Clover
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • trail: Hollyoaks
  • trail: ER/Drop The Dead Donkey
  • Tony’s Freezer Cocktails
  • Minx
  • Wella Experience
  • Utterly Butterly
  • Independence Day The Game
  • Diet Coke
  • L’Oreal
  • Hooch
  • Oasis – Terry Venables
  • Daylight on video
  • Daily Mail
  • Citroen Saxo
  • Mirage
  • Ikea
  • Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum
  • trail: Snap
  • trail: Space Cadets
  • St Ivel Shape
  • McDonalds
  • Wella Experience
  • Kiss Smooth Grooves
  • Comfort Silk
  • Dr Pepper
  • Addiction
  • Boots
  • Wella Experience
  • The Old Skool Reunion
  • Magnet
  • Michael Jackson – Blood on the Dance Floor
  • Go-Cat
  • Kiss Smooth Grooves
  • Virgin Cola
  • trail: The Bigger Breakfast
  • trail: Space Cadets
  • Vauxhall
  • The Lost World in cinemas
  • Polaroid
  • McDonalds
  • Tango – You Know When You’ve Had Sprouts
  • Bacardi Breezer
  • Wella Experience
  • Rimmel
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Blockbuster Video – Ransom
  • Light Philadelphia
  • Walker’s Crisps – Spice Girls
  • trail: ER
  • The Best Disco Album in the World Ever
  • Diet Pepsi
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • Honey Nut Shredded Wheat
  • Talking Pages
  • Boston Beer – Elliot Gould
  • In The Mix 97
  • Weetabix Advantage
  • BT
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Schweppes
  • Chessington World of Adventures
  • Kilkenny Irish Beer
  • Wrigley’s Extra
  • WH Smith – Nicholas Lyndhurst
  • trail: Vic Reeves Big Night Out/Gas
  • trail: King of the Hill
  • Vauxhall Sintra
  • Carlsberg
  • McDonalds
  • Nutralia
  • Hellmann’s Deli Sandwich Mayonnaise
  • trail: The Omen
  • Teletext
  • Rowntrees Fruit Pastil-Lolly
  • Bean The Ultimate Disaster Movie in cinemas
  • Lucozade
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • The Best Disco Album in the World Ever
  • Foster’s Ice
  • Head & Shoulders
  • trail: Breasts
  • trail: True Love
  • Argos
  • The Best Dance Album in the World Ever part 7
  • BT
  • Fresh Hits 1997
  • Rimmel
  • Pot Noodle – Peter Baynham
  • Men In Black in cinemas
  • Kiss Mix 97
  • Argos
  • Domestos
  • Thomas Cook
  • Pete Tong Essential Selection
  • Mastercard
  • 45 Classic Hits from the Sixties
  • Vimto
  • South Bank University
  • 101 Dalmations on video
  • Smint
  • trail: Pond Life
  • trail: ER
  • Bacardi Breezer
  • Tampax
  • Tony’s Freezer Cocktails
  • Organics
  • Sure Ultra Dry Cream
  • The Best Dance Album in the World Ever part 7
  • Brita
  • Carte Noire
  • The Best Latino Carnival in the World Ever
  • Blockbuster Video – Mars Attacks
  • Tampax
  • Vimto
  • The Full Monty in cinemas
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • trail: TFI Friday
  • trail: King of the Hill
  • Kit Kat
  • Diet Coke
  • BNFL
  • Hits Zone Summer 97
  • Lil-lets
  • trail: ER
  • Smint
  • Pantene
  • Clinomyn
  • Bean The Ultimate Disaster Movie in cinemas
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • Direct Line
  • Carte Noire
  • Pantene

Breaking the News – The War – tape 2561

First on today’s tape, the last episode in the documentary series Breaking the NewsDishes and Digits, which looks at the birth of 24 hour Rolling News with Ted Turner’s CNN. When Turner made a bid for the CBS network, Howard Stringer was the Network President.

I best remember Howard Stringer from this amazing Tom Hanks presentation for Sony at CES. Nothing to do with today’s programme, but I guarantee you’ll enjoy it (and love Tom Hanks even more).

Vladimir Posner was a familiar figure in the 80s and 90s, as one of the few Russian journalists on British TV – a regular guest on Clive James’ shows.

There was a Russian version of Spitting Image? And it was prosecuted for slander in Moscow, although it was dropped because it was ridiculous. “To prosecute a satirical programme? You’d have to be a total idiot.”

Martin Bell was skeptical about the rolling news format. “You have to appear before this damned eye about fifteen times a day. And you don’t know what’s happening because you have no chance to find it out.”

When the programme starts talking about how the internet will affect news, Tony Hall, future Director General, calls it the third age of news.

Jeremy Bowen is eerily predictive of today’s news landscape. “If what you do is a product which is a homogenised pap of pictures which you’ve picked up from various satellite exchanges around Europe with scripts written by people who’ve never done anything but see life through the computer screen, of course it’s going to be rubbish and no-one’s going to want to see it.” Except, as we find, people are quite happy to see it.

This is a really interesting documentary, and somebody has already put it on YouTube.


BBC Genome: BBC Two – 6th July 1997 – 20:00

After this, recording switches to The Movie Channel for The War. Sometimes, I have no idea why I recorded particular programmes, but I know absolutely why I recorded this one. One of my sisters in law had the most massive crush on Elijah Wood (ever since Flipper, I believe) and would tell us about how great all these films were. So I would have recorded this one on her recommendation.

Wood plays Stu, a young boy in a poor rural town.

His father is Kevin Costner, recently returned from Vietnam, trying to get his old life back together, suffering from PTSD, but working hard to be a good father and husband.

Lexi Randall plays Lidia, Stu’s sister, a bit older than he is.

There’s an excellent, funny performance from LaToya Chisolm as Elvadine, a friend of Lidia.

Lucas Black, from American Gothic, has a small role as one of the Lipnickis, the family who are feuding with Stu and his sister.

Christine Baranski turns up as a racist Summer School teacher who sends all the black children to the back, and accuses Elvadine of talking in class when she didn’t.

Mare Willingham plays the mother of the family.

The War of the title not only refers to Costner’s experiences in Vietnam, but also the feud with the Lipnickis, which culminates on an attack on Stu and Lidia’s treehouse they’ve built by the Lipnickis who want to take it over. It all gets a bit out of hand, lives are in danger, but ultimately, lessons are learned.

I have to admit, I rather enjoyed this. Maybe it lays on the sentimentality a little thick, and maybe Lidia’s final speech is a little like He-Man telling us what lesson we’ve learned this week, but along the way there’s plenty to enjoy, and Costner’s father in this is that rarity in a film that’s ostensibly about kids – a good father.

The tape ends just after this film finishes, with just a trailer for Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead.

Star Trek Voyager – tape 2560

Sky One today for four episodes from Season Three of Star Trek Voyager starting with Distant Origin. Nice volcano.

This is a fun story. A race of Lizard-based aliens discover the skeleton of a dead Voyager crewmember (presumably from a previous story). When they analyse the remains, they make the remarkable discovery that they share a significant amount of DNA with the dead human.

Unfortunately for him, suggesting that his race might have evolved on a star system far away from where they currently live (the Distant Origin of the title) goes against the rigid doctrine of his species, which the rulers are keen not to contradict.

So, to try to find more evidence, the two scientists use their superior technology to find Voyager, sneak on board and observe the crew. This bit was a lot of fun, as they observe the crew, and try to speculate on their social culture. But it goes a bit wrong when the crew detect the intruders, and disrupt their cloaking devices. One of them panics and shoots a tranquilizer dart at Chakotay, and the other grabs Chakoty and transports off the ship.

The crew examine the remaining alien, and in the course of their tests, they also spot the shared genetic heritage with humans. In the holodeck, they look at the most recent shared ancestor, and the most recent earth species in the database, a hadrosaur.

It wouldn’t be Star Trek if they didn’t get evolution wrong a bit, and they ask the holodeck to extrapolate how the genetic pattern might have developed, so get something which looks a bit like the aliens. This, of course, is bullshit, given that the thing that drives evolution is the pressure of natural selection, caused by things like changes in environment, or competition from other species, or changing availability of foodstuffs. You can’t extrapolate DNA without knowing exactly which pressures would have been in place. Unless, of course, you’re the Star Trek holodeck.

The main colony ship of the aliens finds them, takes Voyager inside itself, and the ruler demands the scientist recants his theory. Chakotay makes a spirited speech about the dangers of dogmatism, but it’s not enough, and they threaten to permanently imprison the whole Voyager crew, at which point the scientist relents and agrees to withdraw his theory. It’s all a bit Gallileo versus the Pope.

Before he leaves, Chakotay gives the scientist a parting gift – a small globe of the Earth.

I liked this episode, although I’m not a fan of very advanced species being quite to tied to ancient texts.

The next episode is Displaced. A bit of a runaround, in which members of the Voyager crew are randomly disappearing and being replaced by aliens from somewhere else. The aliens claim to be as confused as the Voyager crew, so it’s a while before they work out it’s deliberate and the ship is being invaded.

Next is an episode called Worst Case Scenario and is also a hoot. The opening is great, as Chakotay approaches B’Elanna and asks if she’s happy with the way Tuvok is running security, and ends up asking her to join him and his Maquis chums to take over the ship while Janeway is off on a shuttle mission. Oh great, just what I want from my escapist fiction at this particular moment in history – a story about insurrection.

When Seska turns up I was a bit confused, but I didn’t know where in the series chronology this sits, and didn’t know if Seska had already been unmasked as a traitor.

The insurrection goes on for quite a time until the episode (not very surprisingly) pulls the rug out when Tom Paris walks in and asks B’Elanna what’s going on. Of course it’s a holodeck story, but it’s one that B’Elanna found, hidden behind security codes.

Now Paris knows about it, lots of the senior staff find out, and lots start playing it, but there’s general frustration because the holodeck story isn’t finished – there’s no ending. Janeway convenes a staff meeting to find out why everyone’s spending so much time on the holodeck, and they all have to fess up.

Tuvok admits that he was the one who wrote the program, which he did right at the start of their voyage, when it seemed like the Maquis might to be reliable crewmembers and might revolt. He wrote it as a training exercise for security staff, but abandoned it when he realised that the Maquis were working really well with the Federation crew, and using the simulation might actually create divisions between the two factions. Yes, reader, it’s a story about how fake news can polarise and radicalise an already divided population. What was I saying about this episodes hitting close to home?

But the staff enjoyed the story so much, they want to see an ending, so they decide to program an ending into it. This is a great sequence, as everyone is giving their opinions as to where the story should go, and which parts they think aren’t realistic. This was totally written by a writer who’d got far too many notes recently.

And in case you think (as I had up to now) that the story didn’t have any stakes, when they unlock the program for editing, it triggers a new part of the program, created by the (now dead) Seska, which has disabled the safety interlocks on the holodeck, disabled the holodeck doors, the ship’s transporters, and the security, meaning now Paris and Tuvok are in imminent danger of death from the holo Seska. They have to evade her, while Janeway and the crew outside the holodecks attempt to reprogram the simulation and get them out. Holodeck episodes can be a bit hit or miss, but this one is great, because they’ve turned it into a contemplation of storytelling.

The last episode here is Scorpion, the season finale. It has what must be one of the shortest teasers of any episode, as two Borg cubes approach, beaming out their standard message of ‘You will be assimilated’ and they’re both immediately destroyed by an unseen assailant.

I’ve sort of looked at this episode before, when I looked at the second part of this two-part story. But just to remind you, Janeway plays on the holodeck with Leonardo DaVinci (John Rhys Davis, who’s currency onscreen has been vastly diminished since that time on Question Time when he was rather vile, condescending and right wing).

It also features the first appearance of Species 8472, the Borg killers.

After this, recording continues for a few minutes with the start of an episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy, one of several cheap Horror series that cashed in on a familiar title without remotely connecting with any of the actual content of those names. The tape ends shortly into this episode.


  • trail: September On Sky
  • trail: Mad About You
  • Sky TV Guide
  • Rice Krispies
  • Asda
  • Ribena
  • Pantene
  • Rice Krispies
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • trail: 3rd Rock from the Sun
  • Max Factor
  • Knorr Marinade in Minutes
  • Zoflora
  • Pringles
  • Maltesers
  • trail: Sky Sports
  • trail: Operation Dumbo Drop
  • trail: Reds In Europe
  • trail: Sky Movies
  • Johnson’s Baby Lotion
  • Rennie
  • The Rock on video
  • trail: Nature’s Fury
  • trail: The Nanny
  • Audi Quattro
  • Cadbury’s High Lights
  • Spawn in cinemas
  • Nizoral
  • Lombard Direct
  • trail: Get Shorty
  • trail: Reds In Europe
  • Vauxhall Sintra
  • Huggies
  • Royal Air Force
  • Organics
  • Chappie
  • Vanish Liquid
  • Rolo
  • trail: Jumanji
  • trail: Tuesday Night on Sky
  • trail: Suddenly Susan
  • Sony MiniDisc
  • Peperami Cheezie
  • Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire Puddings
  • Pizza Hut – Luke Perry
  • trail: Sky Mega Movie
  • trail: Music for Monserrat
  • Indesit
  • Lynx Inca – Jennifer Aniston
  • Heinz Spaghetti
  • Chappie
  • trail: Sinbad/Tarzan
  • British Lamb
  • Macleans
  • Carlton Select
  • The Times
  • Zoflora
  • trail: LAPD
  • trail: 1997 Emmy Awards
  • Sanyo Digicam
  • Photographing Fairies in cinemas
  • Daz – Shane Richie
  • Fairy
  • Whiskas
  • trail: Reds In Europe
  • trail: Music for Monserrat
  • Carpet Right
  • Sainsbury’s Microban
  • Domestos
  • Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire Puddings
  • Kiss Ibiza 97
  • Boots
  • Liquid Nails
  • trail: Sunday Night on Sky
  • trail: WWF One Night Only
  • Iceland
  • Vanish Liquid
  • Kiss Ibiza 97
  • Disney’s Jungle Boogie
  • Heinz Spaghetti
  • trail: Eat My Sports
  • The Black Cauldron on video
  • Sony MiniDisc
  • trail: Sky in October
  • trail: Tuesday Night on Sky
  • Kill Your Speed
  • Tomy Lullaby Dream Show
  • Wella Experience
  • Kit e Kat
  • Iceland
  • Rennie
  • trail: The Johnnie Walker Ryder Cup
  • trail: WWF One Night Only
  • Peperami Cheezie
  • Scottish Widows
  • Clarks
  • Sanatogen Gold
  • Indesit
  • Goodfellas Pizza
  • trail: Jury Duty
  • trail: Get Shorty
  • Persil Performance
  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup
  • Chappie
  • Indesit
  • Huggies Pull Ups
  • Sure Ultra Dry Cream
  • trail: Sunday Night on Sky
  • trail: Deep Space Nine
  • Ariel
  • Argos
  • L’Oreal Elvive – Jennifer Aniston
  • trail: Highlander/Walker Texas Ranger

The Works – The Jewel in the Crown – Ring of Bright Water – tape 2550

First on today’s tape, on BBC Two an episode of the documentary series The Works on Arthur C Clarke. It’s a bit superficial, and a lot of it is a bit of a travelogue around his adopted home of Sri Lanka, but Clarke was an interesting writer. I’m sure I’ve mentioned about the time I met him – it was at a book signing, and I rushed in just as they were about to start packing up, so he was a bit grumpy, but he did sign my book.

I did like the section where he takes part in a celebration of his life and work, via satellite. I was waiting for someone to say “You’re on mute! Press the microphone button.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th July 1997 – 20:55

After this, recording switches to Channel 4 and the end of a programme about using disabled people in advertising.

Then, the announcer says “We return to our original schedule now for the concluding part of The Jewel in the Crown”. I wonder why the schedule changed?

I honestly can’t remember much about the story, although I’ve watched a lot of other episodes. What strikes me is that, although this was a flagship ITV drama, it really shows its age, and some performances, like Tim Piggott-Smith’s sadistic police chief Merrick, is almost pantomime.

He does come to a sticky end, though. Punished for his homosexuality, possibly, rather than his racism and sadism?

Guy Perron (Charles Dance) and friends board a train. There’s some standard British racism towards the two muslim members of Perron’s party, one of whom is played by Peter Jeffrey, always great at pompous Englishmen.

But, ominously, someone chalks a mark on the door of their compartment. And when the train stops in the middle of nowhere because a cow is tied to the tracks, it’s even more ominous. Sure enough, the train is attacked by a large group of men, and the call in to the first class carriage they are in to send Kasim out. At this point it starts looking a lot more like a quality drama. This is chilling. Then one of the mob puts his head into the compartment and says “Sorry to disturb you sirs, ladies. On to Ranphur.”

But the true horror is only clear when the train arrives, and most of the Indian travellers on board have been killed or horrifically injured.

After this, the recording switches, but just before it does, we hear the Channel 4 announcer say “Following today’s news” with this slide. So this must be the day Princess Diana died in the car crash in Paris. That would explain the schedule having changed. Will there be more clues later?

Recording switches to BBC 2, and there’s a film, Ring of Bright Water. I saw this film as a child, and it stuck with me for reasons I will explain. It stars Bill Travers as Graham Merrill, a man who is working in London, staring at a lot of numbers on computer printouts, and presumably doing a very important job.

His colleague Colin Wilcox is played by Peter Jeffrey – two programmes in a row for him roday.

Graham buys an otter, not the best animal to keep in a small London flat.

He has to Otter-proof his room.

There’s something you never see any more – the green circle on the edge of the picture is a reel change marker. Film reels generally hold about ten minutes of film, so a feature film would come on several reels, and they’d be shown with two projectors. One would be projecting the film, and the other have teh next reel laced up and ready to go. The projectionist would have to watch for the reel change markers. There’s usually two of them, about five seconds apart. When the second one appears, the projectionist has to switch to the second projector to play the next reel, then they have to remove the previous reel from the first projector and lace up the next one. Today, when most projection is digital, you never see it, and because digital versions for home use are no longer scanned from actual cinema prints, you never see them there, unless the film is very old.

Graham has to move out, and rather than give Mij away to a zoo, he decides to buy a cottage in a Rural Scottish village where Mij will have space to be an Otter. It needs a little DIY.

In the village he meets the doctor, Mary MacKenzie, played by Virginia McKenna.

They become friends, and spend a lot of time together. They even go shark fishing, to catch a basking shark, to supply food for Mij – which Mij tires of within a week.

Mij finds a mate.

This is a lovely, quiet film, full of Highland beauty, Travers and McKenna are great, as they always are, but the reason this film is seared into my memory comes when Graham has to return to London for business reasons, for a week, and Mary looks after Mij while he’s away. She’s just returning from a swim at a waterfall, with Mij and her dog, when she passes a local farmer who’s digging out a drainage trench next to the road. They exchange pleasantries, and she walks on, then the farmer sees Mij running down the trench. And kills him with a spade. “I thought it was just an otter” he says, as if that’s any explanation at all. What kind of a sick otter snuff film is this? This traumatised me as a child, and frankly, I’m still not really over it. And let’s take a moment to consider who might have thought this film was a suitable replacement for the scheduled films, on the day that the People’s Princess was killed in a car crash. The scheduled films were Reality Bites and The Doors. Would they have been so much worse?

The film ends on a more uplifting note, though, as Graham and Mary see three baby otters come to Mij’s favourite pond, with their mother, and they assume they must be Mij’s children. Then Graham finally decides to start on his book – not a history of Marsh Arabs, but ‘Ring of Bright Water’.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st August 1997 – 23:20 – note, this was a replacement programme, so the broadcast time is correct, but it’s not listed in Genome:

After this, there’s Weatherview with Helen Young, and I’m sure I’m not imagining that she’s a little more sombre as she starts, and that’s a black suit she’s wearing. She also wishes us “A very peaceful night to you.”

There’s a look at programmes for Monday, and an assurance that the schedule is back to normal.

And then, the tape plays out with what is, let’s face it, a rather historic set of Pages from Ceefax. (Scroll to the bottom for the video, complete with sombre classical music rather than funky library music.)

Have a very peaceful night.


  • trail: Byzantium
  • Colgate Total
  • Army Soldier
  • Foster’s Ice
  • American Express
  • Renault Scenic
  • IBM
  • Vauxhall Frontera
  • Kodak Advantix
  • Kenco
  • BT
  • Somerfield
  • Just for Men
  • Kit Kat
  • Mastercard
  • Rover
  • Inland Revenue
  • BT – Hugh Laurie

Hyperland – Film 90 – tape 995

Back to 1990 for this tape, and it starts with the end of an episode of the Leeds Piano Competition.

There’s a trailer for Greek, an opera based on a Steven Berkoff stage play.

Then, we have Hyperland. It’s a ‘fantasy documentary’ by Douglas Adams which starts with Douglas imagining throwing away his television.

I wonder if the inclusion of a clip of Filthy Rich and Catflap is meant to demonstrate something bad about television? If so they picked the wrong thing.

The really interesting this about this programme is that, because it was made before Tim Berners-Lee created the first World Wide Web server, and thus set in motion what we think of as ‘the internet’, which in turn annoys the kind of people who insist on pointing out that the internet is a lot more than the web, this programme is almost like a snapshot of all the ideas that eventually found their most popular expression in the web. To guide us through this potential future world, here’s Tom Baker as ‘Ask Jeeves’.

Actually, he’s being a ‘software agent’, an idea that never really became a thing. It was supposed to be something you could customise with all the things you were interested in, and it would go out onto the internet and look for things that matched your interests, and return them to you when it finds them. Like a search engine, except you might not get anything back for weeks. But at least you can customise your ‘agent’

As a Mac user, Douglas would have been familiar with the error dialog on which this graphic is based. Another fun story from The Digital Village days. Being Douglas’ company, plenty of the senior staff were big Mac advocates. My colleague Tim, who I also worked with at Computer Concepts, was the lead developer on the game Starship Titanic, and he was mainly a PC user, as that was by far the biggest games platform. He was arguing with one of the bosses about reliability, and he said he thought, at that time (1999) Windows (I think he was talking about NT) was actually more reliable than MacOs (still running on the PowerPC chip). The boss bet him that Tim would get a blue screen of death before his Mac unexpectedly quit.

I believe it was less than half an hour before Tim heard his boss in the next room swear very loudly, shortly followed by the unmistakeable sound of a Mac restarting. Tim won his bet.

One of the potential innovations that Hyperland presents is ‘Micons’ – motion icons, invented by Hans Peter Brondmo at MIT just the year before. The idea of having all the buttons and icons on your screen constantly animating must have seemed enticing here. The reality, when the Web became the principal hypertext platform, was that micons (or, as everyone knew them, animated GIFs) were actually a very bad idea, and soon became shorthand for a badly designed website. But at this time everything must have seemed potentially magical.

One person who gets a lot of time in this programme is Ted Nelson, who had been thinking about hypertext systems for a very long time. Since 1960, in fact. It’s a great example of the right idea at the wrong time.

After a few ‘clicks’ from one subject to another, Douglas says “I noticed when we went off on our ramble…” and Tom interrupts with “The technical term is ‘browse'”. This, of course, before the Web, or Web Browsers existed, but browsers were clearly named from the same source.

There’s live satellite pictures.

It’s all connected. A brief stroll through literature arrives at Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his poem, Kubla Khan. This gave Ted Nelson the name Xanadu for his never-built hypertext world. But Douglas used Coleridge and the same poem as a central plot point in his novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which was about a private detective who believed that everything was connected.

One existing example of hypertext the programme looks at was Robert Winter’s CD-ROM looking at Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. I can’t remember if I ever owned this, but I definitely have a memory of using it. We might have had a copy at work, where there were a few Macs, but it might also have been released for Windows. A quick search doesn’t reveal a version for the web, but surely some enterprising soul would have done a Hypercard to Web converter?

Robert Abel talks about Project Guernica, another Hypercard-based interactive project which looks at Picasso’s painting Guernica, painted at the time of the Spanish Civil War, and which allows users to investigate the history and social links to the painting. Robert Abel was also a hugely influential figure in the world of Computer Graphics, and did a lot of the early CG in movies and TV.

Kristee Kreitman from the Multimedia Lab here, talking about the ‘diverse, rich talents’ they have, accompanied by icons of three nerdy white men. Well, at least there’s a woman there, I guess. And one of the men doesn’t have a beard. That’s true diversity.

The interest for me in this section is a prototype they developed, based on the BBC Horizon drama documentary Life Story, one of my favourite programmes.

The project also included archive footage of the older Crick and Watson talking. They’re saying that their ‘discovery’ probably only happened because the two of them happened to meet at Cambridge, and if either of them had been a little older or younger, it wouldn’t have happened. Casually ignoring that pretty much all of their insights were only possible because of the X-Ray Crystallography work done by Rosalind Franklin, who featured heavily in Life Story but who is ignored in this section.

There’s a ‘hyper realistic human face’. The two creators say “We had to back off on the lighting to make it clear that this was not a real person” they say. “We’ve got about ten seconds in one of our rehearsals which most people think is live.” We don’t get to see this footage, though.

I love the BBC Branded VR helmet.

The VR sequence is obviously a bit cobbled together. It starts off with a VR Glove and a ‘cityscape’ that looks like it was probably constructed in a Quantel paintbox, then it cuts to this art gallery flythrough which I’ve seen before – a combination of rudimentary CG and motion control, created by the Moving Picture Company.

Now it’s… what? Minecraft meets Terence and Philip?

Here’s someone else’s upload. It’s well worth watching as a glimpse of a might-have-been world.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st September 1990 – 21:30

After this, over to BBC One for an episode of Film 90 in which Barry Norman reviews:

There’s a nice report on film trailers, starting with a look at vintage trailers, with film collector John Kane. The name rang a bell, and he looked familiar – he played the character of Tommy in Jon Pertwee’s final Doctor Who story Planet of the Spiders. One of my favourites, and Tommy was brilliant in it.

Also featured is Christopher Fowler, who would go on to have a fine career as a writer, with books like Roofworld, and the Bryant and May detective series.

There’s also a look at where the home video market is in 1990.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 25th September 1990 – 22:20

In the next episode, there are reviews of the following films:

There also a report on the spate of gangster movies coming out.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 2nd October 1990 – 22:25

Next, Barry gives his verdict on:

There’s a report on the introduction of the new NC17 film rating, to replace the X rating in America.

There’s also a report on 25 years of The Sound of Music.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 9th October 1990 – 22:20

In the last episode here, there are reviews of:

There’s an interview with Robert De Niro about Goodfellas.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 16th October 1990 – 22:20

After this, the recording stops, and underneath there’s the very end of some golf, then a trailer for new documentaries on BBC Two.

Then the tape ends during a film, Where Danger Lives. There’s about 15 minutes of this before the tape stops.

A Small Summer Party – Correspondent – Victoria Wood’s Sketch Show Story – tape 2958

Today we’re on BBC2, starting with A Small Summer Party, a full-length prequel to Rob Brydon’s series of short monologues Marion and Geoff. It starts off with a familiar perspective. This came way before YouTube, and it’s interesting to note a subtle way in which you can see this predates YouTuber culture – in the brief opening sequence there’s a cut, but it’s a fade between the two clips. The standard YouTube grammar of just cutting is something no professional editor would have done, and this demonstrates it.

This programme is still made as if it’s entirely shot on camcorders. But there’s someone else, whom we never see, operating the camera for this, which is established when Keith (Brydon) exits the car, then asks the cameraperson to join him. Technically, this whole programme is very well done.

Keith gives the camera (us) a look around his house. As a parent of (once young) children, those plastic cups are incredibly familiar. We’ve got loads of them in cupboards.

Since this is a prequel to Marion and Geoff, if you’ve watched that you’ll know what Keith’s domestic situation was in that, but for those coming to this fresh, we’re given plenty of hints that there’s dissatisfaction in the family. Keith is very proud of his wife Marion and her career in sales, as demonstrated by the framed magazine cover with her picture on it. (Also featuring her colleague Geoff.)

And the children’s pictures certainly tell a story.

The ‘found footage’ nature of the programme isn’t afraid to use some techniques you might otherwise see in a horror film, like the panning camera that pans past Marion in the doorway, then pans back to find her gone.

The show gets around the obvious narrative drawback of a single point of view by establishing there’s more than one camera in the house, and Keith’s small children, dressed as astronauts, have got it, so they get different angles when the drama hots up.

Some guests arrive for the party, and one of them also has a camera. One of the guests is played by Mark Benton.

Our first glimpse of Geoff in the flesh.

Whilst I appreciate this show, I do find it deeply uncomfortable. Keith’s almost pathological denial at what’s happening to his marriage, combined with a cringingly awkward social event makes it a tough watch. Made sadder by brief shots like this, of Keith, sitting in his car before heading to the off licence, just staring into space.

It really does play like a horror film sometimes, like when the kids see Geoff at the top of the stairs staring down at them, run away to the kitchen, to meet Mark Benton staring down in the same way. Benton’s character, we learn, was also romantically involved with Marion, so he doesn’t like either Keith or Geoff.

Things come to a head when Marion’s father goes upstairs, finds Marion and Geoff in the act, and he comes downstairs with Geoff’s suit and shoes, and dumps them on the barbecue.

So Geoff has to do the walk of shame down to the garden. Steve Coogan doesn’t mind getting his trousers off, does he? We saw his bum in Dr Terrible too.

He can’t get his car out of where it’s parked in the cul de sac, so Marion comes out, brandishing a kitchen knife., but then cuts off the giant red bow that’s wrapped around the car she had just been presented with (by Geoff) so she can drive him away.

We get the only clear look at Marion here. She’s played by Tracy Ann Oberman.

And as they drive off, trailing the bow behind them, the neighbours from next door, watching from an upstairs window, are still complaining. “oh there we go. That’s exactly what we mean, all the ribbon trailing behind for the children to trip over, that’s exactly what we mean. See? Exactly in front of our house.”

I think I appreciate this more than I like it.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd September 2001 – 21:00

After this, recording switches to later in September 2001, for CorrespondentOne Day of Terror. A programme composed of footage of the events of September 11th in New York. All these years later, as these images have been repeated so much, you’d think they’d lose their power to shock. And yet, as I watched this show, it still felt shocking and visceral.

Perhaps this felt a little more real because I was watching it on January 7th, the day after a mob invaded the US Capitol, attempting to change the result of the Presidential election, at the urging of the current President.

But I also remember watching this as it happened, in a BBC office, on the ringmain. And one image in particular struck me as one that looked exactly like a shot from a disaster movie – I was thinking the Emmerich Godzilla, where there was lots of building destruction. And here it was happening for real.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 30th September 2001 – 19:20

After this, recording switches again, and I get something to really cheer me up. It’s Victoria Wood’s Sketch Show Story, in which Victoria takes us through the high points of TV Sketch Shows, talking to the performers involved, and looking at the various ways the shows influenced later shows, or innovated.

“That was a classic piece of sketch comedy from Sid Field. So well done, Sid. Yes it’s me, I’m not in an old film at all.”

There’s an impressive list of interview subjects. Bob Monkhouse explains how sketches arose from the need to have short pieces performed in front of the theatre curtains, so the stage can be reset behind the curtains.

Charlie Higson: “Radio shows would be on week after week after week so they would build up a shorthand with the audience. They were doing what we did years before we do.”

John Cleese loved The Goons. When they made a TV show “I remember getting very excited when I heard about Son of Fred, and then terribly frustrated because I discovered it was not to be seen in Weston Super Mare, it was only seen in the London area.”

David Frost talks Beyond The Fringe and The Frost Report.

Ian Hislop, not surprisingly, talks about Peter Cook, who founded Private Eye.

Harry Enfield was also a fan.

Ronnie Barker talks about the pressures of doing the Frost Report live. “It was necessary in the case of the Frost Report because it was topical. But anything else done live was only to give the director a rush of adrenaline, I used to think.”

I’m sure it’s come up before on here, but I’ve performed the Class sketch on stage.

Ronnie Corbett on the enduring influence of the Class sketch. “Weekend magazine about ten days ago, they do something on class, that is the picture, after all these years.”

Sanjeev Bhaskar talks about Monty Python’s influence.

Naturally, Morecambe and Wise are featured heavily.

The Two Ronnies next – This sketch was one I always remember – German with initial letters.

I used to love Dick Emery

At this point, there’s a Victoria Wood sketch.

I was watching this, enjoying its meta wordplay, and it took me a minute to realise that the reason it wasn’t that familiar to me from As Seen on TV is that it was made specifically for this programme.

Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith talk about Not The Nine O’Clock News. They describe how the BBC hadn’t done a new sketch show since Python because they couldn’t top Python, “These two guys went to see them and they both came and said why don’t we do a topical sketch show so he gave them a fiver, and sent them off to have a curry. And they had a curry together and came up with the concept of doing Not The Nine O’Clock News”.

Lenny Henry, who was doing Three of a Kind at around the same time: “We were very jealous of Not The Nine O’Clock News because they could be much ruder than us.”

On Spitting Image, Ian Hislop: “Spitting Image very briefly sold one series to America, and we presented the first script, and the man from NBC called Nick Newman, who I used to write with, and myself in to explain the script and his view was ‘Are you suggesting that the President of the United States is an asshole?’ and we said Yeah, that was very much the view.”

I used to love Kenny Everett’s shows. There was always such imagination.

Lenny Henry tells of how people would repeat Joshua Yahlog’s catchphrase to him when they saw him in the street, but they would often mispronounce it.

Julie Walters thinks Victoria Wood is completely unique. And she loved getting all the best lines in her sketches.

On to A Bit Of Fry and Laurie. “I don’t think we had a grand scheme.”

Stephen Fry: “One of Hugh Laurie’s extraordinary talents is being hit.”

Dawn French: “It’s almost criminal that we can earn a living doing this.”

Jennifer Saunders: “I think our first series was particularly poor.”

Moving on to Harry Enfield, he explains “Only Me!” as his antidote to the annoying mother-in-law character.

Smashie and Nicey were the best.

Charlie Higson outlines the Fast Show style. “The idea was to just cut the fat out. At its simplest it would be a character coming on, doing their catchphrase and coming off.”

Sanjeev Bhaskar talks about the ‘signature sketch’ of Goodness Gracious Me, ‘Going For an English’. When I worked for Douglas Adams (have I mentioned that before?) he once told us that this was one of his favourite sketches.

There’s a brief discussion of Smack the Pony – Julie Walters loves it.

And that’s about it. Apart from a final specially written sketch. This really is like finding a Monet in your attic.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 25th October 2001 – 21:00

We briefly see David Dimbleby trailing Question Time, and then the recording switches. At this point, the recordings on this tape stop making any kind of sense.

There’s the end of a programme, Body Briefs, about ageing. Then there’s a trailer for Linda Green.

Then, the start of the first episode in the second series of Attachments. Remember when a trailer for this came up a while ago, and I said I was a bit sad I didn’t have any episodes recorded, because, although I remember hating it at the time, I’d be interested to see it now. Well I should be careful what I wish for.

It’s about as bad as I remember. A dull office drama which could just as easily be about an office of chartered accountants, as there’s absolutely no interest in what they’re supposed to be working at, and it’s all about who’s sleeping with whom. I’m disappointed that, in the bit that’s here, there wasn’t a single instance of a character typing furiously saying “I’ve got to get the coding finished or the client will go ballistic” when their screen shows some HTML in Notepad. Oh wait, it wouldn’t be Notepad because it’s always Macs in these shows. Still, at least we can see a young David Walliams not being given anything funny to do.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th October 2001 – 22:00 which means this was directly on the other side just as the Victoria Wood Sketch Show Story ended, so I presumably just switched over.

Which is when it gets even odder. because after about 8 minutes of this, it switches to another recording. It’s not an older recording underneath, it’s a brand new recording, from later the same evening, It’s the last ten minutes of the film Viva Knievel! starring motorcycle jumper over things Evel Knievel. This is all we had to entertain us in the dark days before the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Middle-aged men jumping motorcycles onto very large trucks while wearing a star spangled helmet and a gorgeous Orange jumpsuit.

Leslie Nielsen is one of the bad guys.

The movie co-stars Gene Kelly, and yet at no time does he do any dancing. I don’t want to live in that world.

The end credits feature a song about the eponymous Mr Knievel, and it’s a banger. Here it is on the opening credits. “A King of the Road with a Helmet for a Crown.”

BBC Genome: BBC One – 26th October 2001 – 00:40

After it, there’s a public information film about the importances of reading (shown in the wrong aspect ratio).

Then, BBC One joins BBC News 24, and the rest of the tape  is just the news. I have no explanation why this particular recording is here. What did I think I was taping?

However, there were a couple of reports of interest. Most of the news was the ramping up of the American war in Afghanistan in the aftermath of September 11th, but there was other stuff going on – like the launch of Windows XP, which took place in New York, which explains why then Mayor Rudy Giuliani appears on stage with Bill Gates to thank him for bringing some business back to the city.

There’s also a later item which features Steve Ballmer making a promotional video, always a toe-curling sight.

Here’s all three WIndows-related items.

The tape ends at 3:30am.

In Search of James Bond – Coogan’s Run – Have I Got News For You – The Saturday Night Armistice Party Bucket – tape 2086

Here’s a slightly earlier tape then the ones I’ve looked at recently, from 1995, starting on LWT with In Search of James Bond. Jonathan Ross presents a look at the whole Bond phenomenon, starting with a briefing from Q himself, Desmond Llewellyn.

And another star of the series.

There’s a fair number of interviews, and quite a few Bonds.

The current Bond, Pierce Brosnan

His predecessor, Timothy Dalton (looks like an archive interview).

George Lazenby wasn’t too busy to talk to Jonathan Ross.

Roger Moore is interviewed in a casino.

Judging by the hair and beard, this interview with Sean Connery happened during filming of Rising Sun.

Plus plenty of supporting characters, like Famke Janssen

Robbie Coltrane

Sean Bean

Plus several classic guest stars like Honor Blackman (returning from a couple of days ago)

Christopher Lee, who mentions that Ian Fleming was his cousin.

Lois Maxwell says she was in so many she was treated like the Queen Mum of the Bond set.

And he had to talk to Desmond Llewellyn.

I suspect he interviewed Hugh Hefner just so he could visit the Playboy mansion. He gets a disturbing amount of screen time in this.

Paul McCartney talks about the music.

General Anthony Stone is a real-life counter espionage expert.

He talks to some ‘real Russians’ one of whom I think is a journalist, and he’s appeared on tapes before, called Vitali Vitaliev.

After this, recording switches to BBC2, and, also returning from a couple of days ago, it’s Steve Coogan in Coogan’s RunThe Curator. Coogan plays Tim Fleck, the boring curator of the Little Ottle Museum.

The cast includes Alison Steadman

Adrian Scarborough

John Clegg from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum plays Alf, the janitor.

John Thomson runs a competing museum.

Tim’s mother dies, so he has to pick a coffin. I like the Dickens branded coffin range. “The Smike? Not, don’t have that. it’s not very strong. There have been… incidents.”

Hooray, there’s Claire Skinner. She’s trying to console Tim.

The Little Ottle Museum has been closed and turned into a Dick Turpin themed Steakhouse. Tim has decided to take fatal action.

There’s a Paul Calf cameo.

John Thomson is shot by a masked Dick Turpin.

But it wasn’t Tim – Alf the Janitor had stolen his guns, and he also shoots the doctor. Then, after a passage of time, he’s now the curator of the Little Ottle Murder Museum, which Tim has disappeared.

But Tim returns as a rich man, his friend having discovered a genuine stash of Dick Turpin’s treasure, and manages to buy the museum back.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd December 1995 – 21:30

After this, there’s a lovely Wallace and Gromit ident.

A trail for Shooting Stars and Knowing Me Knowing Yule, and a trail for The Player.

Then, a compilation of the best bits from Have I Got News For You. Highlights include Paula Yates asking Ian to be nice to her. Before calling him ‘Sperm of the Devil’.

Ian does a Jimmy Somerville impression.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd December 1995 – 22:00

After this, there’s a trailer for Fantasy Football League.

Then, The Saturday Night Armistice Party Bucket. I like Armando’s Christmas outfit.

In that shopping mall, there’s a giant Mr Tony Blair.

Casualty as Silent Slapstick

David Schneider plays one of Santa’s elves.

I might have asked this before, but is Michael Portillo in the miniaturised area played by Chris Morris?

A celebration of all that’s Best about Britain, starting with a recorder ensemble playing the theme from EastEnders. This whole bit just made me think of the Festival of Brexit.

Hunt the Old Woman might still be my favourite part of the show.

Blair Flambe

Here’s someone else’s upload.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd December 1995 – 22:30

After this, another nice W&G ident.

Then a trailer for Christmas Eve programmes.

And the tape ends here.


  • Barclaycard – Rowan Atkinson
  • Sony Super Trinitron Wide
  • Olympus Sport
  • Strongbow
  • Carphone Warehouse
  • Bendicks
  • Energy Centre
  • Orange
  • Martini
  • Freepages

Gods and Monsters – tape 2956

Today, there’s another tape from a New Year time, although the content isn’t New Year themed.

On BBC2, it’s the film Gods and Monsters in which Ian McKellen plays the film director James Whale, who made Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein and was openly gay, a rarity at that time in Hollywood.

I’ve never watched this before. It’s a rather good film, with Whale reaching the end of his life, slightly affected by recent strokes, but still determined to enjoy his life. There’s a lovely (and Oscar nominated) performance from Lynn Redgrave as his stern, disapproving housekeeper, who’s nevertheless always ready to make sure other people aren’t out to do him wrong. So much side-eye.

Brendan Fraser also give a great performance as the young man who cuts Whale’s lawn, and who catches his eye. Whale asks him if he will sit for him to sketch.

Whale frequently remembers his past, so we get to see recreations of the film of Bride of Frankenstein

There’s also fantasy sequences which cast Fraser as Frankenstein, and Whale as the monster.

Whale has recurring memories of a young man he knew and loved during the Great War, who died in the trenches.

There’s a Hollywood party, where Whale is introduced to Princess Margaret by the host, director George Cukor (played by Martin Ferrero off of Jurassic Park).

He’s also reunited with ‘his monsters’ Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff.

It’s a very good film, and reminds me once again how good an actor Brendan Fraser is, and why he deserves a much better career than he’s had.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st December 2000 – 22:15

After this, there’s a trailer for a drama, In The Land of Plenty, and then the tape ends just as Jools Holland’s Hootenanny starts. Happy New Year again!