Before They Were Famous – Charade – tape 2543

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news…

But today’s entry is the last tape in my digitised collection.

There are still some gaps in my collection – tapes I haven’t yet tracked down to digitise, a fair number of tapes which weren’t possible to digitise, usually because the tape snapped, but some because the tapes were pretty unwatchable – just one that I can recall – Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive.

There is, somewhere, a box or two of tapes that I couldn’t locate. It’s possible that these went missing when I moved house, but it’s more likely that they’re just sitting in a dark corner of the garage in a box we haven’t opened. One day I might turn these up, and have a few more tapes to do, but until they turn up, this is it for the fully digitised tapes.

So let’s have a look.

At least this one is a Christmas tape – Christmas Day, even.

It’s Before They Were Famous IV presented, as usual, by Angus Deayton, who is kind enough to start with one of his old commercials.

There’s a lot of very young famous faces here. There’s Julian Clary appearing in an electropop band.

Robson Green

A very young Britney Spears belting out a big number.

Mel Giedroyc

Robbie Williams

A really young Jude Law

Celine Dion before she could afford a dentist.

Neil Morrissey not behaving badly for once.

Hugh Grant in A Very Peculiar Practice is one that I’ve called out before.

Dennis Waterman in what looks like a Children’s Film Foundation film.

Keanu Reeves selling Corn Flakes

David Jason plays a ventriloquist’s dummy in a frankly terrifying advert.

Sean Bean drinking non alcoholic beer.

A really young Nicholas Lyndhurst, in an advert for Spangles. Do you remember Spangles?

And Alan Davies in a genuinely freaky student film.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 25th December 1999 – 21:40

After this, there’s a trailer for Boxing Day programmes.

Then, the start of a news bulletin, then the recording switches to ITV and the end of what looks like a news programme, but which is pretending to be news reporting of the nativity. It’s about as cringey as you can imagine.

Then, a movie, and, in a slightly disappointing turn, it’s one that I’ve looked at before. It’s Charade starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, and it’s an awful lot of fun, so I didn’t mind watching it again, but I don’t really have anything else to add.

After this, in the ad break, there’s this bizarre item, obviously part of a series of short items, A Message For the Millennium. I have almost no idea what this chap is talking about.

Oh look, here’s another, although at least Ewan’s message is clear and comprehensible.

After this, there’s about an hour of the Dudley Moore movie Blame it on the Bellboy, during which the tape ends.

So, as I sign off for a little break, while I look for missing tapes, I’ll leave you with a compilation of all the adverts on this tape. Not a particularly momentous collection, but something to leave you with,

Thanks for reading. The blog will be back later in the year.

Adverts:

  • trail: The Turn of the Screw
  • John Smith’s
  • Archers
  • DFS
  • Debenhams
  • Homebase – Neil Morrissey Leslie Ash
  • Time Computers – Leonard Nimoy
  • Sony Wega
  • Archers
  • L’Oreal Recital
  • trail: Midsomer Murders
  • Hooch Light
  • Renault Megane
  • One 2 One
  • Budweiser
  • Ikea
  • Chatback
  • Persil
  • Renault Megane
  • Comet
  • Sony Wega
  • Rennie Duo
  • Courts – Paul Shearer
  • Budweiser
  • Baileys
  • Samsung Hands Free Phone
  • Comet
  • DFS
  • Abbey National – Alan Davies
  • House of Fraser Sale
  • Homebase – Neil Morrissey Leslie Ash
  • Guinness
  • Samsung Hands Free Phone
  • A Message for the Millennium
  • Chatback
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Sony Wega
  • Walt Disney World
  • Homebase – Neil Morrissey Leslie Ash
  • G-Wizz
  • Courts – Paul Shearer
  • trail: Pretty Woman
  • DFS
  • Walt Disney World
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Singles Bar
  • Sony Wega
  • Miller Genuine Draft

The X Files – tape 2530

Over to Sky One, and some episodes of The X Files starting with Kaddish. A member of a Hassidic Jewish community is murdered by some neo-nazis. Then the nazis start getting killed. A man who owns the Copy Shop is full of racist and anti-semitic conspiracies. We know the type far too well, now.

This is a sad episode, as the murdered man was due to be married and it’s his wife’s grief that has raised him back as a golem. Shades of WandaVision?

The next episode is Unrequited. A Vietnam veteran has an axe to grind with high ranking army officers, and he has the useful skill of being able to vanish.

Next, a two part episode. Tempus Fugit starts with a frightened man on board an airliner, when it encounters an alien visitation. Then it’s Scully’s birthday.

Joe Spano plays the officer investigating the airliner crash. It might have something to do with alien abduction, or it might have been downed by a local army base.

Mulder dives in the deep water near to the air crash where another aircraft might have gone down, and discovers – aliens.

Before the next episode there’s the end of Lois and Clark.

Then the second part of this X Files story, Max. We learn that there was definitely an alien encounter with the crashing aircraft, but the airbase sent a fighter to intercept the UFO, leading to the plane crashing. There’s a whole flashback showing what happened.

It all goes wrong when the fighter attacks, and the poor abductee, who was being returned to the plane, gets sucked out, as do several other passengers. This is quite an impressive sequence.

Mulder tracks a piece of the evidence that the abductee had found, and brings it back on a plane, but he’s followed by an agent working for the air force, who takes it from him – then the aliens turn up again and we presume the agent is abducted. So close, Mulder!

After this, recording continues with the start of another episode of The X Files, a repeat, and one that I’ve got on two different tapes, The Calusari. The tape ends shortly into this episode.

Adverts:

  • trail: Boxing: The Brit Pack
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Persil Washing Up Liquid – James Nesbitt
  • Mobil 1
  • Impulse
  • Royal Air Force
  • Clairol Nice ‘n Easy
  • trail: The Practice
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager/Poltergeist The Legacy
  • Sky TV Guide
  • Tango
  • Nike – Tiger Woods
  • Daihatsu Move
  • Eurostar
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Boxing: The Brit Pack
  • Nissan Primera
  • Polo
  • Sisters of Swing III
  • Donnie Brasco in cinemas
  • Diet Coke
  • Zanussi
  • trail: Millennium
  • trail: Why Planes Go Down
  • VW
  • Persil
  • American Express
  • The Relic in cinemas
  • Impulse
  • Toffee Crisp
  • trail: Rugby
  • trail: The Practice
  • Pepsi – Spice Girls
  • Vauxhall Corsa – Ruby Wax
  • Persil Washing Up Liquid – James Nesbitt
  • Ikea
  • Transitions
  • Metz
  • Kleenex
  • trail: Crimson Tide
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager
  • Ford Escort
  • Budweiser
  • McDonalds
  • Wrigley’s Extra
  • trail: Apollo 11
  • trail: JAG/Walker Texas Ranger
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager
  • trail: The World’s Funniest Wedding Disasters
  • Fiat Punto
  • Tampax
  • Nat West
  • Pantene
  • Carte D’Or
  • trail: Bad Company
  • trail: Le Tournoi
  • Maynards Wine Gums
  • Gillette Sensor Excel for Women
  • Gillette Satin Care
  • Pantene
  • Finish
  • Oasis – Mystic Meg
  • trail: The Net
  • trail: Millennium
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Red Bull
  • Goldfish Card
  • Rover
  • trail: The Cape
  • trail: Weeknights on Sky
  • trail: Sky Movies
  • Blockbuster Video
  • trail: Paramount Comedy Channel
  • trail: Disneyland Paris
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager
  • trail: The Cape
  • Futuroscope
  • Turbulence in cinemas
  • Boots Film
  • Right Guard – Desmond Lynam
  • Citroen Saxo VTS
  • trail: The Net
  • trail: JAG/Walker Texas Ranger
  • Vauxhall Vectra
  • Boots Soltan
  • Nestle/Planet Hollywood
  • Sainsbury’s
  • trail: Rugby
  • trail: The Practice
  • Mum Sport
  • Somerfield
  • Muller Corners – Joanna Lumley
  • Domestos
  • Daktarin
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Halfords
  • Bacardi Spice
  • trail: Le Tournoi
  • trail: Casino
  • US Robotics
  • Dragonheart on video
  • Magnum
  • Thorpe Park
  • trail: Blazing Infernos
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Ladykillers 2
  • Solpadeine
  • IBM
  • Ace Bleach
  • Jif
  • Konica
  • trail: Casino

Bad Boys – tape 2525

It’s Movie Time today, over on The Movie Channel, and it’s time for some Bayhem with Bad Boys. Where everything is orange.

Martin Lawrence is family man Marcus Burnett.

Will Smith is single ladies man Mike Lowrey. He’s rich, having been left money by his family. They’re both cops.

The bad guys do a heist in Police Headquarters, stealing a huge amount of Heroin that was part of Burnett and Lowrey’s biggest drug bust. Their head bad guy is Fouchet, played by Tcheky Karyo. He’s very good playing the foreign psycho.

Maxine, An informer and an old girlfriend of Lowrey’s, who he asks to look out for newly-minted playboys, gets hired as an escort for one of the gang, and she brings her friend Julie along with her. But Fouchet and his mob turn up, and murders Maxine. Yes, barely ten minutes after she’s introduced, she’s shot dead in order to motivate Will Smith’s character.

Her friend Julie escapes. She’s played by Tea Leoni. Max had told her that Mike Lowrey was the only person she trusted, so when she calls the cops, she insists Lowrey is the only person she’ll speak to, but he’s out chasing a lead, so Marcus has to pretend to be Lowrey. Even then, she’s rather suspicious. In fact, her character is written to be about as annoying as you could imagine. But this sets up the central schtick of the film – that slobby Lawrence has to pretend to be neat freak Smith, while single lothario Smith has to help out with Lawrence’s large family.

Joe Pantoliano plays their boss. If they don’t get the drugs back in five days, the whole department is going to be shut down. He shouts a lot. This is not a subtle, or original film.

There’s a small scene where Shaun Toub (who played Yinsen in Iron Man) plays a clerk in a store who sees Will Smith’s gun and thinks they’re going to hold him up.

Nice punchline. “Back up, put the gun down, and give me a pack of Tropical Fruit Bubblicious.” “And some Skittles.”

And of course, big explosions.

I remember enjoying this when I watched it before. But there’s a lot of stuff that I bump on now. There’s the standard bickering, which is part of the formula for these, but you do wish they’d try to get on.

But the worst aspect is the writing for the women in this. They fridge one of them within ten minutes, Marcus’s wife is portrayed as jealous and suspicious, Julie is a strange pot of random character traits, and the only other woman with any number of lines is the woman in the police precinct who turns out to be the one who gave Fouchet’s gang the inside information.

The tape ends just after this film.

Adverts:

  • Ford Fiesta
  • trail: Boxing – Judgement Night 2
  • trail: Boxing – Judgement Night 2
  • Fiat Bravo/Brava
  • Lucozade Low Calorie – Fat Slags

Dark Skies – tape 2521

Staying on Channel 4, there’s another few episodes of Dark Skies starting with The Warren Omission. I’ve missed the start of this episode, and it starts with John Loengard talking to Robert Kennedy.

Jeri Ryan makes her first appearance as Juliet, and is pretty bad-ass, threatening Loengard before he’s supposed to testify before the Warren Commission.

There’s another vaguely pointless cameo character, as congressman Gerald Ford is a member of the Warren Commission when Loengard testifies.

RFK and the feds launch a raid on Majestic. They try to get information about the building from the Captain in command – a young Norman Schwarzkopf. This is almost becoming parody.

Now Juliet is paying a clandestine visit to J Edgar Hoover.

Oh God, now they’ve got film of Marilyn Monroe with JFK on the day she died, and they’re using it to blackmail RFK into dropping his investigation into Majestic.

The next episode is White Rabbit. This one actually features a UFO, something of a rarity in a show that’s supposedly about UFOs. This one appears near some Russian members of Aura-Z, the soviet Majestic, in the Gulf of Tonkin. Which lets Frank Bach use it as a pretext to start the Vietnam War.

Bach wants the wreckage of a UFO. The Aura-Z team tried to get it but are missing. So he enlists Loengard and they go to Vietnam. “You said it was dangerous to travel by day. Maybe we should lay low for a while until dark.” Yes, this is supposed to be daylight. I don’t know if it’s particular to my VCR, or my reception, but this whole show is always incredibly dark. Is it bad NTSC conversion? Loads of shows of this era suffer the same, but Dark Skies seems to be particularly bad.

They meet a US soldier who appears to be out of his head on drugs, and some evidence that aliens have been around.

Back in the US, Kimberley doesn’t know where they’ve taken Loengard, so she kidnaps Frank Bach’s wife.

Loengard gets to go Full Rambo to rescue Bach from the Viet Cong.

The next episode is Shades of Gray. We see a flashback to Juliet’s childhood in Moscow – Gorky Park no less.

And she meets an alien.

Back in the ‘present’ there’s a plan to attract a UFO using a crop circle, so they can capture an alien.

It gets away, but is found by a little girl. Yes, they’re really trying to do ET.

She almost gets abducted.

Kimberley can communicate with the captured alien, and she learns, through it, that she’s pregnant.

Now we’ve skipped an episode, Kimberley has had her baby, and she’s with the creepy bug eyed Hive man. She appears not to have been implanted, though. This episode is Both Sides Now.

This episode is all about the anti-war activism, and features Jerry Rubin (not a name I’d heard of).

Kimberley chooses to join the Hive to be with her baby.

After this, recording continues, with most of an episode of Cheers – Those Lips, Those Ice. Eddie is back in town, with an attractive East German ice skater in tow. Sam is a fan. “She is amazing, she actually grabs the blade and touches the back of her head with it… Can you do this?” Ted Danson is a great dancer, and obviously still pretty supple.

The tape ends before the episode does.

In the ad breaks there’s this advert – it fills the whole ad break, and I bet you won’t guess what product/company/service/whatever it’s advertising until the final shot.

Adverts:

  • Vauxhall Astra
  • BT Friends and Family Reunion
  • AA
  • LG
  • Coca Cola
  • Peugeot 406
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Spain
  • Ronseal Floor Varnish
  • Rennie
  • Lotus Domino – Denis Leary
  • Boddingtons Gold
  • L’Oreal Excellence
  • Rover
  • trail: Witness: Men who pay for sex
  • trail: Melissa
  • trail: ER – Ewan MacGregor
  • Fanta
  • Esso
  • Adidas
  • Motorola StarTAC
  • Ford Escort
  • UPS
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • Nat West
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • Esso
  • Swatch
  • Ford Escort
  • Bacardi
  • Hovis
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Ronseal Clear Varnish
  • Ford Ka
  • Carphone Warehouse
  • trail: Melissa
  • trail: Heroes of Comedy: Kenny Everett
  • RAC
  • Volvo
  • Royal Air Force
  • British Midland
  • Nat West
  • BT
  • First Direct – Bob Mortimer
  • Argos
  • Peugeot 306
  • Bodyform
  • Cuprinol Woodstain
  • trail: Father Ted
  • trail: The Crow
  • VW Passat
  • Eagle Star Direct
  • Ray-Ban
  • Nouvelle
  • Ray-Ban
  • Cuprinol Woodstain
  • Fanta
  • Bacardi
  • Organics
  • Nissan Primera
  • Metz
  • trail: Melissa
  • trail: Wyrd Sisters
  • The Rescuers on video
  • Volvo V70
  • American Express
  • Direct Line
  • Kodak Advantix
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Strongbow
  • First Direct – Bob Mortimer
  • The Relic in cinemas
  • trail: Sitcom Weekend
  • trail: Wanted
  • trail: Father Ted
  • Renault Megane Scenic
  • Wrigley’s Extra
  • Daktarin
  • Iceland
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Caffrey’s

Discworld – A TV ROM – Wyrd Sisters – tape 2522

This tape opens with the end of a travel documentary that I can’t identify.

This is followed by Discworld – A TV ROM. It’s a documentary about Terry Pratchett and his Discworld book, and all the fandom that surrounds it. It’s presented in the style of a CD-ROM which is annoying because it means every single image is smaller than it could be. It includes Mark Thomas doing a couple of interview bits.

There’s also some clips from Late Review where Tom Paulin rails against Pratchett. “Selling thousands of copies, a complete amateur, doesn’t even write in chapters!”

After this, there’s all six episodes of the Cosgrove Hall animated version of Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters. It’s not bad, and it has an amazing voice cast, I mean look at this.

Christopher Lee plays Death, a perfect voice.

Annette Crosbie plays Granny Weatherwax

June Whitfield plays Nanny Ogg

Jane Horrocks plays Magrat

Eleanor Bron plays the evil Duchess Felmet

Les Dennis plays The Fool.

I have to say, I’m not a fan of the general look of the show, but I’m probably brainwashed by the Disney style too much. And I do wonder if Pratchett works better on the page, since so much of his comedy is in the words, not all of which is dialogue. I’m not a massive Pratchett fan myself – I’ve read a few Discworlds, and I liked Good Omens, but I haven’t read them all (and he did write a lot of books, didn’t he?).

After this, the recording stops, and underneath, there’s the end of an episode of The Monkees.

Then, there’s the start of an episode of Wanted. I don’t think I ever watched it when it was on, but it looks like a remake of Interceptor, but roping in the general public to dob in the contestants, which seems a bit nasty. I’d still like to see someone take one of these formats, and re-imagine how it can work in our modern world of GPS, smartphones and video-calling. Treasure Hunt would be my choice to rework (best theme tune) but I’m genuinely curious to know if it’s been considered and/or tried out.

The tape ends during this programme.

In the ad breaks, there are a couple of short news bulletins, one of them featuring a very young Alex Thompson.

Adverts:

  • trail: Moving People
  • Ford Escort
  • Transitions
  • Royal Mail
  • Hoover
  • Goldfish Card
  • trail: To The Ends of the Earth: The Wrecks of Condor Reef
  • VW Passat
  • McDonalds
  • Wrigley’s Extra
  • Direct Line
  • Diet Coke
  • Kodak Advantix
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Transitions
  • Shredded Wheat – Glenn Hoddle
  • Liar Liar in cinemas
  • Carphone Warehouse
  • trail: Planet Showbiz
  • trail: Wanted
  • Vauxhall Corsa – Ruby Wax
  • Viennetta
  • Babylon 5 on video
  • Wrigley’s Extra
  • PG Tips
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • Fanta
  • trail: Phillip & Emma on GMTV
  • Fanta
  • Renault Megane Scenic
  • Specsavers
  • BT EasyReach Pager
  • Solero
  • Discovery Channel
  • Moben
  • Renault Megane Scenic
  • trail: Father Ted
  • Fanta
  • Smarties
  • Ford Escort
  • BT EasyReach Pager
  • Organics
  • trail: Up Pompeii
  • Renault Megane Scenic
  • Lynx Inca – Jennifer Aniston
  • Dockers
  • Barclays Online Banking
  • Solero
  • Persil
  • Currys
  • Sarah Brightman – Timeless
  • trail: The Big Breakfast – Zig and Zag
  • Michelin Energy
  • American Express
  • Frizz Ease
  • Transitions
  • Right Guard – Desmond Lynam
  • Pedigree Chum
  • Chrysler Neon
  • trail: Inspector Morse
  • trail: Weekly Planet
  • trail: Wanted
  • Transitions
  • Microsoft
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Lucozade NRG
  • Kiss in Finsbury Park
  • Futuroscope
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • Kronenbourg 1664
  • trail: The Jewel in the Crown
  • Microsoft
  • Rover
  • Gillette Series
  • Herbal Essences
  • Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum
  • Listerine – Keith Allen
  • Microsoft
  • Ford Escort
  • Ford
  • Coca Cola – Neil Morrissey
  • Gillette Series
  • Batman & Robin in cinemas
  • Parcelforce
  • Ford
  • trail: Making Mr Right
  • Diet Coke – Wimbledon
  • BT
  • Michelin Energy
  • Renault Clio
  • Prudential
  • Salon Selectives
  • trail: The Big Breakfast
  • trail: Springhill
  • trail: Bramwell
  • The Devil’s Own in cinemas
  • Right Guard – Desmond Lynam
  • Salon Selectives
  • trail: NYPD Blue

 

A Weekend on Mars – tape 2524

Sport is overrunning on this tape as it starts – but at least they tell me immediately. Must have been slightly nerve-wracking, since both programmes have a live component.

There’s a a trailer for Wildlife Showcase.

Then, Clive Anderson presents A Weekend on Mars, programmes to look at the landing of the Mars Pathfinder probe, and its rover, Sojourner.

He’s joined by expert Dr Monica Grady,

Patrick Moore,

and SF author John Clute.

There’s not much time in this first part, presumably because of the tennis overrunning, so John Clute gets abruptly cut off by Clive so he can introduce a special Horizon looking at the history of probes to Mars.

This includes Ray Bradbury reading some of his work.

Carl Sagan points at some pictures.

After this, Ian McCaskill gives a weather forecast for Mars, then it’s back to the studio. There’s ostensibly some tension, as the scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory wait to get a signal back from the lander to tell them it didn’t break up during the landing. This is a little underwhelming, since there’s nobody there to narrate what’s happening, so all we see is a lot of men (and a couple of women) start clapping.

After this segment, which also includes a famous clip of Patrick Moore trying to do some stargazing live, only to have it be completely overcast, there’s a short compilation of some alien-themed comedy, including one of my favourite sketches, Rowan Atkinson as ‘Zak’, broadcast to us from a planet very different to ours. Including my favourite line “We have no death, no gravity, and a different shaped gearstick on the Mini Metro.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th July 1997 – 20:30

After this, there’s a trailer for Capricorn One, then a short programme, United Kingdom.

Then, an episode of Newsnight, leading with Labour’s plan to ‘encourage’ single mothers back into work, conflict over the marching season in Northern Ireland, the Mars Pathfinder landing, and art fraud. Presented by Huw Edwards.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th July 1997 – 22:30

After this there’s a trailer for One Foot in the Past. Then a Budget Response from the Lib Dems.

There’s a trailer for This Life.

Then the tape runs out during an episode of The A Force.

The Peter Principle – tape 2523

This tape opens with the end of an episode of Eastenders. Duff Duff.

There’s a trailer for The Other Half. Plus one for Bird’s of a Feather.

Then, the first episode of The Peter PrincipleSex, Lies and Videotape. It’s not a promising opening, as Peter has an appointment with two men wanting a mortgage to buy a flat together. “So you want a mortgage to buy a two bedroom flat…” This was 1997. There’s no excuse for it.

But at least my old school friend Claire Skinner is here as assistant manager Susan, so it’s not a complete loss.

I’m not saying Susan’s work life is stressful, but this is her desk drawer.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 2nd June 1997 – 20:30

The next episode is Health Matters. The bank’s cleaner is retiring so there’s a collection. Peter makes a big show of putting £30 in, then tries to weasel out of it, losing the money, forgetting to buy the gift, having to get someone to wrap the plant from his office (which the cleaner recognises) and giving a really offensive speech. I know sitcom characters are usually awful, but there’s literally no way someone this venal and stupid could retain his job for a second.

The company want all the bank employees to take a physical. Of course, Peter tries to avoid this, but Susan is taking it extremely seriously.

Peter returns from an expensive meal with a customer, and manages to puke in a wastebasket just outside where the staff are being briefed about the Health campaign.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 9th June 1997 – 20:30

before the next episode, there’s a trailer for Wimbledon. And a trailer for Smith & Jones.

Then, another episode of The Peter PrincipleUpwardly Mobile. Peter has a new phone. Remember when mobile phones were novel and interesting?

It’s bonus time, and Susan has brought in a lot more new business than Peter, so Peter tries to land the business of a new sports superstore, run by Craig Hunter. He’s the kind of obnoxious businessman I don’t really like. He needs a 24 hour telephone service because he ‘works all hours’. So Peter gives him a number – his mobile number – telling him it’s a 24 hour call centre.

Sadly, the small bank branch isn’t equipped to cope with all the cash that’s coming through the superstore, as Susan correctly predicted when she declined to take the business.

Peter is having to answer calls from Craig Hunter at all hours – even when he’s roped in to page turn for a pianist. There’s some good farce in this show, in among the terrible, awful people who I hate.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 16th June 1997 – 20:30

Before the next episode, there’s a trailer for programmes in July.

Then, The Peter PrincipleThe Midas Touch. It’s another episode where Peter’s incompetence and unwillingness to admit a mistake, and unwillingness ever to spend money, means he digs himself deeper into a hole. He forgets tp buy the lottery tickets, and one of them has won £250, so Peter tells her she should invest it, assuming that the investment will go bad. He keeps doing this, but the investments all start paying off hugely.

There is another nice bit of farce, as both Peter and Susan are handcuffed to the same secure briefcase, and Susan has to have a meal with David from Head Office, so Peter has to hide under the table.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 23rd June 1997 – 20:30

There’s a bit of Eastenders before the next episode, and trailers for Hot Gadgets and Driving School.

Then, The Peter PrincipleInsecurity. There’s a nice Rashomon-style bit at the start, where Peter and Susan have very different recollections of a recent security incident.

Once again, Peter tries to save money buying furniture for a local old folks home. The results aren’t really suitable.

Peter continues to ask Bradley (David Schneider) for help despite him being a bit useless at everything.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 30th June 1997 – 20:30

Before the next episode there’s a trailer for Crimewatch and for Scent of a Woman.

Then the next episode, Bank Holiday. Susan is applying for a promotion to manager of a bigger branch, so Peter has to apply as well. His proposal isn’t starting well, especially since he’s writing it in Notepad.

It’s a Bank Holiday, so Peter should be using the time to prepare for the interview, but he locks himself into the branch and is trapped there. With only a goldfish for company. And nothing else to drink. Somehow, this bank branch doesn’t have anywhere to get drinking water.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 7th July 1997 – 20:30

I really wish I enjoyed this series more. It’s full of people I really like, but so many of the characters are awful. Even the lovely Stephen Moore, who ought to be avuncular, is actually quite horrible here. And Susan is written as the antagonist, despite simply being confident, competent and generally right about everything.

After this, there’s a trailer for Auntie’s Natural Bloomers. And a trailer for Panorama looking at the crash of TWA 800.

Then, The Nine O’Clock News, leading with trouble in Northern Ireland, Labour’s education policy, doubt over the Euro, and pictures from a Mars moon rover – always an echo of news today, it seems.

After the news, and Newsroom South East, and the weather, there’s a trailer for You Decide and for the National Lottery Show.

Then there’s an episode of Birds of a FeatherThree Up Two Down.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 7th July 1997 – 21:30

After this, there’s trailers for Scent of a Woman and for Causes of Death.

Then, there’s the start of Panorama. The tape ends shortly into this programme.

 

The Man With The Golden Gun – Film Night – tape 2508

It’s movie time today, over on The Movie Channel, and time for “Bank Holiday Bond” and The Man With The Golden Gun. It’s unusual (possibly unique – I haven’t checked) in that the pre-title sequence doesn’t feature James Bond at all. It’s all about the villain of the movie, Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee.

His manservant, Nick Nack, is played by Herve Villechaise – He was the Verne Troyer of the 70s. He greets an arrival to Scaramanga’s island who couldn’t be more of a cartoon mobster if he tried. The gun-shaped case he’s carrying might as well be a violin case.

Nick Nack pays the mobster a wad of cash to kill Scaramanga, and sends him into what appears to be a rather dull funhouse to hunt and kill his prey. Scaramanga doesn’t appear to be expecting this, so we get a rather tepid scene of each of them stalking the other with various lighting effects and dummies.

Nick Nack is controlling everything from his control room. He’s certainly not giving Scaramanga any advantages. After Scaramanga kills the mobster with his golden gun, there’s an exchange which implies that Nick Nack will inherit all his money if Scaramanga is killed, which gives him a strong motive to get the best possible killers, and presumably means Scaramanga gets to practice against the best.

I did say that Bond doesn’t appear in this sequence, but Scaramanga does have a mannequin of Bond in his hall of mirrors, and shoots off the fingers just before the titles start. And it’s far too good a likeness to be an actual wax dummy, so I’m assuming Roger Moore had to stand still for a while when they shot this. But it’s still not really Bond.

Cue the titles, as always by Maurice Binder. The title song is sung by Lulu, and is a bit boppier than most Bond songs, but I’ve always quite liked it. And it does start with the words “He’s got a powerful weapon” so they’re not waiting a single second before deploying the outrageous double entendres.

Bond is summoned to see M, who shows him a golden bullet just delivered to them, almost literally a bullet with his name on it. Moore gets to drop a huge amount of exposition in this scene. First about the ‘Energy Crisis’ and his current mission to protect a scientist researching solar power, then to say everything they know about Scaramanga. His biography is incredibly detailed, in that he’s the son of Circus folk, and was a master marksman at age ten. There’s no photographs of him anywhere, so nobody knows what he looks like, but it’s commonly known that he has a third nipple (which we got a close-up of in the opening). M tells Bond that, since the bullet means Scaramanga is coming after Bond, Bond is taken off his current mission and is to either resign or take a sabbatical, since he can’t work usefully if he’s going to be killed at any time.

Bond decides to try to find one of Scaramanga’s golden bullets, one that killed another agent, 002, but which was never recovered from the scene. The trail takes him to a cabaret, because of course it does, that’s the rule. The dancer who was with 002 when he was killed is wearing the flattened gold bullet in her belly button, and Bond needs to get it. He accidentally swallows it when he’s struck by a goon, and after the fight, he rushes for a taxi. “Hotel sir?” “No, the nearest pharmacy.”

The hope is that they can trace who made the bullet. But as a custom calibre round, that’s tricky. “You’ve no idea what it went through to get here” complains Bond. But the nickel content (which somehow Q and the scientist can determine by looking through a microscope) suggests a man named Lazar, working in Macau. It’s never Croydon, is it?

This trail leads to the person picking up the custom bullets, Andrea Anders (Maud Adams).

Arriving at destination, Bond is met by another agent, Holly Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland. You just know she’s going to be a bit rubbish, and desperately swoony over Bond.

In his hotel room, he discovers Andrea in his shower. She’s got a gun, but he’s able to rough her up a bit. Not a pleasant scene.

Andrea tells Bond he has to go to another strip club. It’s all work work work for Bond in this. We see Scaramanga there, aiming his gun, so there’s some tension, but it’s not Bond he’s there for, it’s Gibson, the Solar Engineer, and Nick Nack steals the macguffin from Gibson’s body – the Solex.

Bond is arrested at the scene, but instead of going to the local police station he’s taken to a secret British base in an old ship that’s in the harbour almost on its side, leading to some really interesting production design.

Bond thinks that a businessman, Hai Fat, was responsible for the hit, and decides, because nobody knows what Scaramanga looks like, to visit Hai Fat and pretend to be Scaramanga to get more information. The first person he meets is a girl swimming, and when he asks her name, she replies “Chew Mee”. “Really?” replies Bond. Shameless.

He meets Hai Fat, who sees the extra Nipple Bond got Q to make, and Bond talks about his favourite subject – himself, and how Hai Fat should put out a contract on him too. Hai Fat invites him for dinner. Unknown to Bond, though, Scaramanga has already made contact. It’s a Trap!

Arriving for his dinner date, Bond is attacked by two Sumo wrestlers, one of which he foils by giving him a wedgie.

But Bond is subdued, then taken to Hai Fat’s training school where we presume he’ll get beaten up by all the martial artists. This is all feeling like a bit of warmed over Bruce Lee. But the kick in the face while his opponent was bowing is funny.

Bond tries to escape, helped by Inspector Hip and his two schoolgirl daughters, until they are faced by a large number of enemies. “Stand back, girls” says Bond, at which point they push past him and start taking out all the bad guys with their martial arts prowess.

There’s a river chase. A young boy selling tourist stuff jumps on Bond’s rather slow boat trying to sell him something. “I’ll tell you what, sonny, I’ll give you 20,000 Baht if you can make this heap go any faster.” The kid turns a valve and the boat starts accelerating. “20,000 baht” he says. And Bond rather cruelly pushes him overboard saying “I’ll have to owe you.” “Bloody tourist.”

It’s at this stage that we see a character who appeared in Live and Let Die, Clifton James as Sheriff Pepper. Why the producers thought this character was worth bringing back escapes me, especially since almost every line that he has in this is basically racist.

Scaramanga kills Hai Fat with his Golden Gun. I remember thinking the gun was cool because it was made out of different bits, like a pen and a lighter. To be honest it looks a bit underwhelming to my old eyes now.

Andrea makes contact with Bond again, and he learns that it was she who sent the 007 marked bullet to MI-5. She arranges a meeting to hand over the Solex, but when he gets there she’s already been shot by Scaramanga. They meet for the first time. Bond manages to get the Solex device to Inspector Hip without Scaramanga seeing.

There’s a car chase and Bond just happens to commandeer that car the Sheriff Pepper was going to test drive.

This chase has a stunt with Bond’s car jumping a river while spinning that was so amazing, the producers decided to undercut it by putting a slide whistle on the soundtrack as it jumps.

The final stand-off is a repeat of the opening sequence, except with Bond vs Scaramanga, and Bond uses the dummy in the funhouse to fake out Scaramanga and shoot him.

This feels like an anaemic ending, so we then get more jeopardy as Goodnight clobbers the solar technician, who falls into a supercooled chamber.

This means that the chamber isn’t at absolute zero – which it couldn’t have been anyway since its contents were liquid. I’m beginning to think that these movies might not all be 100% scientifically accurate.

So there’s more tension as Bond and Goodnight have to do something or other, then escape before the shole island blows up, because solar energy acts just like a huge tank of gas or something.

The thrills aren’t over, as Nick Nack is on the Junk that Bond and Goodnight escape on. So there’s a funny fight, then a smooch, and the obligatory telephonus interruptus call from M. “Where’s Goodnight?” “She’s just coming.”

After this, recording switches to Channel 4, and an episode of Film Night. Presented by Janice Forsyth.

The first item is “Are there too many blockbusters opening in the summer?” Which feels like the same piece that all the film programmes do every year. Admittedly, Speed 2Batman and Robin and The Fifth Element (which I love but many hated) weren’t the greatest, and even The Lost World is a disappointment after the original. There’s the obligatory Hollywood Reporter writer to tell us what blockbusters are and why that’s bad if there’s too many of them. It’s Jeff Kaye in this case.

In the Movie News, there’s the story that a studio has paid $1m just for a pitch – it was Cowboys and Aliens, which was eventually made in 2011.

Marianne Jean-Baptiste talks about her favourite film, the French film La Haine.

There’s a profile of film-making poet Tony Harrison. His was not a long career in film, if iMDb is to be believed.

And there’s 2-minute film school, looking at the surrealists. Laugh a minute.

After this programme, the recording continues, with a fair chunk of Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo. But the tape ends before the film finishes.

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Have I Got News For You – tape 2514

Over to BBC 2 today, and after a trailer for programmes at 6pm, we have the start of a whole series (Series 14) of Have I Got News For You.

The first episode has guests Ken Livingstone

And Bob Monkhouse

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th October 1997 – 22:00

Before the next episode, there’s the end of Shooting Stars, a trailer for Pulp Fiction and for I’m Alan Partridge.

Then more Have I Got News For You with guests Alex Salmond (interesting, given the news coverage of the SNP over recent weeks) looking a bit younger.

And Max Boyce, who you don’t tend to see these days.

Talking about New Labour, and their spin doctors, he observes that Labour politicians are now always “Absolutely clear” about everything. Clearly a lesson that today’s Conservatives have taken and run with.

There’s also a Gaffometer, featuring the Duke of Edinburgh. I do hope he’s getting better.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st October 1997 – 22:00

Straight into the next episode, with guests Dermot Morgan

And Francis Wheen

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th November 1997 – 22:00

Before the next episode there’s the end of a Fast Show.

There’s trailers for The Lily Savage Show and I’m Alan Partridge.

Then, Have I Got News For You with guests Graeme Garden

and Kirsty Young

There’s a joke about Kirsty Young sitting behind a desk instead of on a desk – Ian demonstrates how it should look.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th November 1997 – 22:00

In the next episode, guests are Arabella Weir

And then-editor of the Sunday Sport, Tony Livesey.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st November 1997 – 22:00

There’s another bit of the Fast Show before the next episode, along with trailers for Love Bites and the World Cup Draw.

Then more Have I Got News For You with guests Hattie Hayridge

and Warren Mitchell

There’s a joke about the show being the only comedy programme on BBC 2 that’s not a US sticom, so the end titles have a different style.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th November 1997 – 22:00

More Fast Show precedes the next episode, with a rather storming trailer for Christmas on BBC 2.

(Apologies to viewers in Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea, who can’t watch it because the music has been blocked.)

Then, Have I Got News For You has guests Jeff Green

and Brian Sewell

This was looking familiar, and I realised I’d seen a repeat of this an another tape.

And it was nice to hear the strange, rogue final clap, which for a while was always on the applause for the end titles.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th December 1997 – 22:00

There’s another Christmas trailer following the end of another Fast Show, along with a trailer for Murray Lachlan Young’s Vice and Verse.

Then the final show in the series, featuring guests Alan Davies

And Matthew Parris

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 12th December 1997 – 22:00

The tape ends just as this episode ends. That’s a perfectly packed tape. I feel a great sense of pride.

The Matchmaker – tape 2515

Here’s a tape that I knew almost nothing about until I looked at it. It’s a movie, a Sky Movies Exclusive, no less, The Matchmaker. I’ve seen trailers for this over the years on other tapes around this vintage, so here’s the movie.

It’s a comedy, starring Janeane Garofalo as Marcy Tizard.

She works on the election campaign for a US politician, Senator John McGlory (Jay O Sanders).

McGlory’s chief of staff is Denis Leary.

They’re slipping in the polls during election season, so Leary hatches a brilliant idea – send Marcy to find McGlory’s Irish roots, in the West of Ireland. His father used to tell him stories of the old country, so he wants to follow in John F Kennedy’s footsteps and visit any family he has there. So Marcy has to travel there to find them.

The Irish were very proud of JFK’s visit, and I have a very small family connection. My Uncle, Stan Shields, was a press photographer all his life, and one of his first assignments was covering Kennedy’s historic visit to Galway. He decided to chance it, leaned into the car and gestured to the camera to ask if it was OK. A secret service agent tried to stop him, but Kennedy waved him away saying “It’s OK, he’s my friend.” And Stan got this picture.

In fact, the rural Co Galway setting of this film is really setting off all the nostalgia buttons in my head. My mother was born in Co Galway, and every couple of years, we’d spend a family holiday staying there with her family. So these small coastal villages feel very familiar.

There’s a script credit for Father Ted’s Graham Linehan. Was that to punch up the authentic Irish atmosphere? I did notice a “You will, you will, you will” in there.

Marcy arrives in the midst of a Matchmaking festival, so the town’s a bit busy. She gets the last, tiny room on the hotel, and finds a strange man in her bathroom. It’s local former journalist Sean Kelly, who’s only in the bathroom because it’s nicer than his. He’s played by David O’Hara who is, despite the name, Scottish, although I suspect his own family has Irish roots.

The local Matchmaker, famed for his success rate, is played by Milo O’Shea.

If they’ve cast Milo O’Shea, can David Kelly be far behind? No, he cannot, as he plays the man who runs the local family registry for searching for your Irish roots. For absolutely years, I half believed that Kelly only had one arm, because of the character he played in Robin’s Nest.

Matchmaker O’Shea is secretly trying to set up Marcy with Sean, but the course of true love in a rom-com can never run smooth, and after Marcy and Sean have had a nice trip to the Aran Islands, when they return home, Sean’s ex wife is there, played by Saffron Burrows.

Senator McGlory arrives in town, and in the absence of any actual members of his family (David Kelly drew a blank) they decide to hire a local family to pretend, for a photo opportunity. It doesn’t go well. “The shit bucket’s full.”

Sean goes to visit the Matchmaker, to find, sadly, that he’s died.

There’s a funeral, and it isn’t raining. Is this a record?

In a last-ditch attempt to get a viable photo opportunity, Denis Leary sets up McGlory with a matchmaking meeting with Sean’s ex. “Hi, I’m Senator John McGlory.” “I’m Moira Kelly. Well, Kelly is my married name.” “What’s your maiden name?” “Kennedy.” At which point Leary knocks a tin plate off the wall in surprise.

Marcy has to go back to Boston, and can’t find Sean to say goodbye – because the man running the pub won’t tell her that Sean’s in the hospital after a slight car accident. Sean tries to hobble to the airport to catch her, but her plane’s taken off before he can.

Back in Boston, the Senator squeaks through the election. Marcy meets his father, who drops the helpful information that they’re not Irish at all, but from Hungary, and the name McGlory is an Ellis Island name, which didn’t hurt for a politician in Boston.

Denis Leary gets a bit of a comeuppance, when he’s letting off steam after the press event to Marcy about what an idiot McGlory is, not realising, as Marcy says, “You have a thing on your tie.” This feels like it might be a beat from an earlier draft of the script where Leary’s character is a lot worse than he is here. He’s abrasive but not appalling, so this didn’t feel as much karma as it might have.

What Marcy doesn’t know is that Sean, on crutches, has followed her to Boston, but he can’t catch her attention among all the hoop-la outside the election building. So he finds the guy with the microphone, and starts singing a song really badly, something he did earlier in the movie. It’s a nice, funny way to get them back together, and calls back to an earlier scene where Marcy has to judge a local singing competition, and as the prize is a kiss from her (presumptuous but unsurprising) He gives it a go and sings terribly.

And they all lived happily ever after. Honestly? This was about as predictable as you can imagine, and the only Irish cliché I didn’t spot was a horse walking though town, but a combination of a place that means a lot to me, and plenty of familiar faces, meant I thoroughly enjoyed it.

After this, the tape continues, and there’s part of another movie, William Friedkin’s Jade starring David Caruso, trying to forge his big screen career after quitting NYPD Blue. The tape ends during the movie.

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