The Cable Guy – Coming To America – tape 2904

Staying with movies today with two this time, starting with The Cable Guy, which (I always forget) was directed by Ben Stiller.

Matthew Broderick has broken up with his girlfriend and had to move out, so he’s moving in to a new apartment.

He needs the Cable TV installed, so waits in for the Cable Guy to arrive, which he finally does in the manic form of Jim Carrey. If you like the Jim Carrey performance that Jim Carrey gives in virtually every Jim Carrey film, you’ll probably love him here as he’s taking the Jim Carrey to 110% here.

Sadly for me, I side with Tommy Lee Jones when it comes to Jim Carrey. When they were working together on Batman Forever, Jones didn’t like Carrey, and once, when Jones was eating at a restaurant, and Carrey happens to come in. Carrey himself tells the story:

“The maitre said, ‘Oh, I hear you’re working with Tommy Lee Jones. He’s over in the corner having dinner.’ I went over and I said, ‘Hey Tommy, how are you doing?’ and the blood just drained from his face,” Carrey said. “And he got up shaking  — he must have been in mid kill me fantasy or something like that. And he went to hug me and he said, ‘I hate you. I really don’t like you.’ And I said, ‘What’s the problem?’ and pulled up a chair, which probably wasn’t smart. And he said, ‘I cannot sanction your buffoonery.'”

I’ve always liked Tommy Lee Jones.

When Carrey sets up his TV, there’s a news piece about two former child stars, twins, one of whom killed his brother. You can tell this is going to be significant because a) it’s a news report on a TV and b) the accused killer is played by Ben Stiller.

Carrey wants to be friends with Broderick. Yet another element of the film that makes me deeply uncomfortable. But Broderick is persuaded to join him on a visit to the satellite. I like this shot in particular.

But Carrey keeps trying to insert himself into Broderick’s life, ruining a basketball game with his friends. Jack Black plays his best friend.

He takes him to a Medieval Themed restaurant and jousting place. Janeane Garofalo plays a waitress.

He and Broderick end up fighting – it’s the second reference to Star Trek’s Amok Time in a few tapes.

It gets creepier, as Carrey installs a whole bunch of new home cinema equipment in Broderick’s home, then hosts a Karaoke party. As Carrey does more Jim Carrey stuff, performing karaoke, he’s set up Broderick with another woman who (we later learn) is a prostitute.

To make up for this, when Broderick is appalled that the woman was a prostitute, Carrey starts working on Broderick’s girlfriend, Robin, who’s having a date with Owen Wilson.

That twin brother murder thing is still happening – now Eric Roberts is playing both brothers in the TV Movie.

Carrey, after Broderick tells him they can’t be friends any more, gets him arrested for possession of stolen goods. Charles Napier is one of the officers.

After a brief spell in jail, he’s out on bail, and now Carrey is organising a party for his family. His mother and father are played by George Segal and Diane Baker. There is an embarrassing game of Porno Password. This really is pushing all my social anxiety buttons.

After Broderick punches Carrey at the party, the revenge is quick, as Carrey has been bugging his apartment, and he sends a video of Broderick slagging off his boss to the whole company.

Then there’s a final confrontation, on the big satellite dish, and Carrey plummets to his doom vaguely unspecified injury.

And the very dull payoff of the twin murder Ben Stiller running theme is that his fall interrupts the cable signal for everyone watching the live verdict.

After this, over to Sky Premier for another movie, Coming To America. I’ve watched part of this before, but I think the first time I tried, the recording cut out before the end.

This is definitely a wish fulfilment fantasy, as Eddie Murphy is playing a 21 year old prince of the wealthy African country Zamunda.

James Earl Jones plays his father, the King.

Arsenio Hall is his best friend Semmi.

He doesn’t like the idea of an arranged marriage, so he persuades his father to let him to travel to America to find a wife. He flies to New York, and heads to Queens. Nice product placement for British Airways Concorde.

Visiting the local barber shop, the regulars are familiar. Here’s Eddie Murphy, under some impressive Rick Baker makeup.

This is Arsenio Hall.

And this, too, is Eddie Murphy.

They attend the ‘Miss Black Awareness’ pageant, where the host is another Arsenio Hall character.

And Eddie Murphy also has another character.

Prince Akeem is smitten by Lisa McDowell, who organised the event.

Finding out her father runs the nearby restaurant, McDowell’s, he gets a job there. Her father is played by John Amos.

But she has a boyfriend, the rather weaselly Darryl, played by ER’s Eriq La Salle.

Louie Anderson works at the restaurant.

He’s trying to stay undercover, but he’s recognised at the basketball game by a fellow countryman, played by Vondie Curtis-Hall.

Sam Jackson has a small role as a man holding up the restaurant, who is subdued by Akeem.

Lisa is upset with Darryl when he tells her father they’re engaged without asking her first, making for a very awkward moment at a party.

Semmi is finding it hard to live like a poor person, so he has their room upgraded.

There’s a nice callback to a previous John Landis/Eddie Murphy film, when Akeem gives a big wodge of cash to two homeless men, and it’s Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy from Trading Places.

Lisa’s sister Patrice visits their room, and Semmi tells her that he’s a prince, and Akeem is his servant.

It’s bad news for Akeem, though, when his father and mother arrive in New York, after Semmi sent a telegram asking for more money.

Mr McDowell is visited by the king, and all of a sudden he’s very nice to Akeem, but when the King learns that Akeem was seeing Lisa, he tells her that Akeem isn’t interested in her and is just ‘sowing his wild oats’. Then he tries to pay off Mr McDowell for his inconvenience, but McDowell stands up for his daughter. This film is doing everything right in my book.

Akeem follows Lisa onto the subway and tries to persuade her that he really loves her. But the fact he’s a prince has changed things, and she can’t be with him. Even after he says he’ll renounce his kingdom.

So Akeem has to return to his country, and his arranged marriage. That’s an impressive train.

But – surprise – it’s Lisa beneath the veil. Of course it is.

I really enjoyed that. It definitely pushes all my buttons, and I can see why it’s still regarded so highly by people. Now I’m quite looking forward to the sequel they’re promising.

After this, there’s the start of another film, The Myth of Fingerprints. The tape ends after about 20 minutes of that.


  • Coca Cola – Holidays
  • Jet Force Gemini
  • Smirnoff
  • Sky Digital
  • Murphy’s – Sisters of Murphy’s
  • Nescafe – Ian Wright
  • Bacardi Breezer
  • The Muse in cinemas
  • Gap
  • Nintendo 64
  • McDonalds
  • Kodak Advantix
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Lynx
  • One 2 One
  • Bacardi
  • Sega Dreamcast
  • More Music To Watch Girls By
  • Renault Scenic
  • BT Cellnet
  • trail: The Exorcist
  • trail: Senseless
  • trail: Dream Team
  • Hugo
  • Billy Connolly on video
  • Royal Mail
  • Kleenex Balsam
  • Calpol
  • Radox
  • trail: Blade
  • trail: The Exorcist

Office Space – tape 2913

A movie today, and it’s Office Space. I have a mixed attitude to writer/director Mike Judge. On the one hand, I never liked King of the Hill or Beavis and Butthead, but on the other hand, there’s Idiocracy, which is looking more and more like prediction than whimsy, Silicon Valley, which was mostly pretty good, and this film, which does the whole Office thing about as well as anything else. Like the painfully slow commute. I’m fairly lucky in that the only job I’ve had where I drove to work was ten minutes away from where I lived, so the drive was fine.

Gary Cole is great as the dull boss Bill Lumburgh. “You apparently didn’t put one of the new cover sheets on your TPS reports.” He also uses a phrase I hate that’s pervasive, particularly in the area of technical demos. “I’m just going to go ahead and…” It’s one of those placeholder phrases that people use all the time, seemingly just to fill up space, and it’s meaningless. It’s also been around forever – I swear that when Doug Englebart invented the YouTube tech demo in 1968, demonstrating the Xerox Alto windowing system, he used that phrase at one point.

One line that resonated deeply with anyone who has worked in an office: “PC Load Letter? What the fuck does that mean?”

I like the fact that Peter (Ron Livingston, who looks like a less buff Brendan Fraser) is reluctant to ask waitress Jennifer Aniston out because “I’m just another asshole customer. You can’t just walk up to a waitress and ask her out.”

Richard Riehle plays Tom, who’s the first to find out there’s an ‘efficiency expert’ coming in, as cover for major redundancies.

Hey, it’s Mike McShane as a hypnotherapist. He hypnotises Peter to be completely relaxed and chilled out until he snaps his fingers, but before he can bring him out of that state, he drops dead of a heart attack – this being the inciting event for Peter’s actions through the rest of the film.

John C McGinley and Paul Wilson are the efficiency experts. It took me a moment to place Paul Wilson – he’s one f the bar regulars at Cheers.

Stephen Root as Milton, who’s really possessive about his Swingline stapler, is really good.

In his newly chilled-out state, Peter doesn’t bother going in to work over the weekend as Lumbergh wants him to. Then, he drifts into the office on Monday, intending only to pick up his address book, but his ‘efficiency’ interview is that day, so he attends, and he’s so relaxed, and completely honest about his job and lack of motivation that by the end, the two Bobs are suggesting that maybe the company should be giving employees stock options.

He also asks Jennifer Aniston’s Joanna for a lunch date, where he explains he’s not going to bother going in to work any more. Later, she’s reprimanded by her boss because she’s only wearing the bare minimum number of pieces of flair – the stupid badges they have attached to their uniform.

When he learns that he’s getting a promotion when several of his coworkers are getting fired, he talks to Michael Bolton (not that one) about ‘a virus’ that takes all the fractional parts of calculations in the accounting software, and funnelling them into their own account. Exactly the same idea as Superman III which the movie is honest enough to reference in the dialogue.

As usual, I’m spending a lot of the time spotting old software packages in the background, like the Borland dBase box here.

It’s still a fairly enjoyable film

The tape ends after this.

In the ad break, there’s a Sky One trailer for The X Files featuring a brief appearance from the Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, off of Fortean TV.


  • Tesco – Prunella Scales
  • NHS Careers
  • Carte D’Or
  • AA Insurance
  • Burger King
  • trail: Lurve Night on Sky
  • trail: Mickey Blue Eyes
  • trail: The X Files
  • trail: Jawbreaker
  • Direct Debit
  • VW Golf
  • Macleans Whitening
  • Dairylea
  • The Emperor’s New Groove in cinemas
  • IBM
  • Nike
  • trail: Rugby
  • trail: Dark Angel
  • trail: Stargate SG-1
  • Buzz News
  • trail: The Talented Mr Ripley
  • trail: Wild Wild West



The Peter Principle – Jack Dee’s Full Mountie – tape 2912

Comedy today, and first on this tape is The Peter PrincipleUn Homme et Une Femme. It’s the bank-based sitcom starring Jim Broadbent as the ineffectual Peter. He watches a news report on his branch which suggests that bank managers are going to become a thing of the past.

The plot of this episode revolves around rather a lot of dodgy innuendo about transsexuals. Geoffrey tells a story about a Brazilian transsexual called Lola from Camberwell, who he met, and was surprised by her undercarriage.

Meanwhile, Paulo (Ivan Kaye) is a Brazilian restauranteur who wants a loan. Peter has been told to refer all loans to head office, but Paulo goads him into approving the loan by implying he takes orders from Susan, but that doesn’t stop him flirting outrageously with Susan, which puts David’s nose out of joint because he fancies Susan, despite being married. I’m really having a problem with this show’s attitude to women.

So David, to try to ‘win back’ Susan, suggests that he put her on the fast track management course. See what I mean?

So Peter has to go to his restaurant to ask for the loan back. But Paulo has already bought a ticket to Rio. He wants to meet someone there. Peter thinks he’s talking about a sex change (because of Geoffrey’s story earlier) but he’s talking about another chef, so as he describes what will happen to the chicken on the table, Peter thinks it’s surgery he’s talking about. Hilarity ensues.

Peter has to get £6,000 from somewhere. Geoffrey takes the opportunity to humiliate him a bit.

Peter doesn’t like Susan being on the fast track course, and using his computer (the only one in the office that can connect to the internet – those were the days).

He gets stroppy with a postman who has to deliver a message to Susan, and insists the message go through him, not realising it’s a strippergram from Paulo.

Susan is really embracing this fast track thing

Paulo’s sister, who is managing the restaurant while he’s away, comes into the bank, and of course Peter thinks it’s Paulo, returned from Brazil as a woman. Hilarity ensues.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd February 2000 – 21:30

After this, there’s a trailer for Muscle and one for the BBC Comedy Zone.

Then, there’s a few seconds of the start of Beast but recording switches to a bit later, and the first episode of Jack Dee’s Full Mountie. This is the first episode (after we saw Episode 2 a little while ago). We’ve seen a lot of the participants of this in the other episode, but here’s Jack Dee in 1990.

Even further back, a performance from Jerry Seinfeld.

Barry Humphries: “Edna is now claiming, in public, that I embezzle her.”

“Two or three agents came up to me and said ‘Really like what you do, but you swear too much, you’re no good to me'”

Mark Thomas talks about the agent who had laminated business cards for use in jacuzzis.

Graham Norton is staying in the hotel room where John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their bed-in for Peace.

There’s an appearance by Brian Blessed

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd February 2000 – 22:30

Recording switches straight to another episode of Jack Dee’s Full Mountie, opening with a comedy bit featuring (I think) Malcolm Hardee.

I remember this Harry Enfield routine the first time round.

Sadly, I also remember this one, where Smashie and Nicey die on their arses.

Vic Reeves and Charlie Higson puzzle over how Vic and Bob mystified the Canadian audience.

Talking of tough rooms, here’s Harry Hill.

Ross Noble just looks weird as a blond.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 17th February 2000 – 22:30

Next, another episode of The Peter PrincipleGreyhound Day. The nervous Evelyn is worried about her latest role at the bank. “No, you don’t look ridiculous.”

The Kopas brothers, two farmer’s sons, are in to listen to their late father’s will. Steve O’Donnell is familiar from Bottom, and Kenneth MacDonald is even more familiar from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.

David’s still having problems with his marriage. “She slashed all my suits. Luckily she missed this one.”

The two farmers want to know who gets their father’s prize greyhound. Geoffrey has the idea to mate the greyhound with another and sell the puppies. Hilarity ensues.

David and Susan go to a seminar which involves an overnight stay at a hotel. Bradley has mixed up David’s case with Geoffrey’s so when David asks Susan to take a look at what he’s got, she finds some unusual items. Hilarity ensues.

Trying to work out where this broadcast fell was a bit harder. The genome link goes to a Match of the Day listing, with the Peter Principle listing attached – I can only assume this was an OCR error, or possibly an artefact of the way the listing was printed. The actual broadcast time was 11:45pm.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 19th February 2000 – 22:30

Before the next episode there’s a trailer for It’s Only TV… But I Like It.

Then, The Peter PrincipleThere’s Something about Geoffrey. Geoffrey is retiring soon, and is enjoying winding Peter up. Although the show isn’t clear if this is early retirement or redundancy. Might be both, I guess.

This leaves a vacancy for his job. Bradley is interviewing.

Evelyn has brought her baby in, Cue inevitable ‘mistakenly drinks breast milk’ gag.

There’s a royal coming to visit, so Peter’s obviously excited. One of his customers is a photographer, played by John Rapley, who’s one of those familiar faces from loads of TV. There’s not a bad running gag about him wanting people to guess how many cameras he has. We never find out.

There’s another applicant for Geoffrey’s old job. Yes it’s an attractive woman who is obviously dressing in crop tops because it makes men behave like gibbering idiots and therefore give them jobs. Have I mentioned how poorly this series treats women? You could argue it treats men just as badly, I suppose, but it doesn’t make it less tiresome.

However, her entirely inappropriate dress code does give us a good gag. When David first meets her (and obviously turns into a gibbering moron too) he compliments the design on her top. “Nice Rrrrrs.”

Meeting the Royal, Peter gets stuck to the carpet tiles.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st February 2000 – 22:40

Next it’s another Jack Dee’s Full Mountie, this one looking at physical comedy.

I’ve always found Carrot Top almost unwatchable, just because he looks so odd. At least in this clip he’s got a shirt on.

Lee Evans talks about working with Jerry Lewis.

Jerry Lewis does ‘The Typing Thing”

Michael Richards, before his post-Seinfeld implosion.

Not all the acts are familiar to me. I don’t remember Elon Gold.

Bill Bailey does a bit on Starskey and Hutch music.

Walliams and Lucas.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 29th February 2000 – 22:55

After this, there’s a star-studded trailer for BBC Comedy, featuring Ronnie Corbett, Ronnie Barker, Harry Enfield, June Whitfield, Geoffrey Palmer, Jack Dee, Stephen Fry, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Peter Sallis, Richard Wilson, Paul Whitehouse, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash, Mark Williams, Charlie Higson, Neil Morrissey, Angus Deayton and Spike Milligan.

Then, another episode of The Peter PrincipleTruly Bradley Deeply. This one has a recording glitch right at the start, where a few seconds of the programme are missing. Clumsy fingers, probably. It’s just after Christmas, and Peter has to apologise for his behaviour at the Christmas party because he got so drunk he can’t remember what he did. He didn’t do anything, but everyone pretends they’re disgusted with him, giving them all a chance to slap him round the face.

David asks Susan how her Christmas was. “Oh you know. Family, Hemel Hempstead, Rain.” My favourite line in the whole programme, especially since Claire Skinner’s family actually do come from Hemel Hempstead.

After Susan makes it clear that she doesn’t want to pursue a relationship, he gets cross with Peter about a budget report, saying people have to be made redundant.

After Peter sacks Bradley, Barbara tells him he can’t sack him, because Bradley is his son, and tells him that he’d had a fling with Bradley’s mum when he was drunk, years ago. Of course Peter believes him.

David And Susan are keeping it on a professional level.

David still insists someone has to go, but Peter discovers security footage of David and Susan kissing, so he sends a fax of the picture to head office – but Evelyn sends it to David’s house instead. So Peter goes to David’s house and finds Bradley’s mother Jean, who is a cleaner, working at David’s house. Naturally, she’s a woman so she must be ready to hop into bed with anyone.

They’re interrupted by David arriving early, with a woman who we assume is Susan. Peter has to hide. Not very well.

Peter resigns, so David can have his cuts. But later at the branch he learns that Bradley isn’t his son – Barbara was lying to protect Bradley’s job. It’s all looking bleak until there’s a phone call from the Regional Director, saying he can’t fire Bradley, and that he’ll find the extra money. Because he’s actually Bradley’s father. We can tell that because he eats a Creme Egg the same way as Bradley. I’d really like to know where they’re getting all these Creme Eggs right after Christmas.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 29th February 2000 – 23:25

After this, there’s a trail for Justice In Wonderland which we saw a couple of days ago.

There’s Weather from Philip Avery. Nice to see Ouagadougou there.

There’s a trailer for The Wyvern Mystery and one for Shaft.

Then, this recording ends, and underneath, there’s the end of an episode of Tomorrow’s World with signing for the Deaf.

After this there’s a trailer for Monarch of the Glen.

Then an episode of See Hear on Saturday.

The tape ends during this programme.

Hamilton v Al Fayed – The Sleaze Trail – Justice in Wonderland – The Hamilton-Al Fayed Trial – Trouble at the Top – tape 2911

A little bit of politics today, starting with a short programme introducing the background to the main programme, Hamilton v Al Fayed – The Sleaze Trail presented by John Sweeney (later famous for shouting very loud at a scientologist).

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th March 2000 – 22:00

This is immediately followed by Justice in Wonderland – The Hamilton-Al Fayed Trial, a dramatised presentation of the libel trial itself, with a star studded cast.

Charles Dance plays Mostyn Neil Hamilton. Hamilton must have been chuffed with that.

Nadim Sawalha plays Al Fayed.

Belinda Lang plays Christine Hamilton – I wouldn’t have recognised her, and she’s very convincing.

Kenneth Cranham plays George Carmen QC.

Robert Hardy plays the judge.

I think this is actually the real Edwina Currie, who will clearly turn up to the opening of a fridge door.

Caroline Langrishe gives evidence on behalf of Al Fayed.

Stephen Moore plays a Mobil executive testifying about accusations of bribing Hamilton.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th March 2000 – 22:05

After this, recording switches and there’s the first in a new series of Trouble at the TopSpend Spend Spend. It looks at the attempts to make a West End musical based on the true story of Viv Nicholson, a woman who won £150K on the pools, then blew the lot in ten years. She now lives on £100pw, and hopes to make some money from the show.

The producer hoping to put the show on is Andre Ptaszynski, who was also the producer on two Steven Moffat shows, Joking Apart and Chalk.

He’s having trouble raising the full cost of the show – over a million pounds. One of his investors is Jimmy Mulville, in his role as head of Hat Trick Productions.

Starring in the show, as Viv, is Barbara Dickson.

It’s an interesting documentary. The show is reasonably successful – it ran for almost a year, and won Best Musical at the big theatre awards (over The Lion King). But I was quite uncomfortable with Ptaszynski’s treatment of Viv Nicholson. He seemed to want nothing to do with her, and only ever spoke to her reluctantly. Even after the Premiere, he didn’t speak to her. It doesn’t seem like actual malice, just a rather posh man who has no use for an older, working class woman, despite using her story as the basis for the show.

So I feel like it’s a victory for Viv at the end of the show when we see her receive her first cheque from the show, and learn that she made more than £10,000, while Andre had yet to cover his costs.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th March 2000 – 21:50

After this, there’s a trailer for the next episode, and for Grandstand.

Then recording stops. Underneath is the remaining recording from earlier, with the end of a BBC film, Speak Like a Child.

There’s a trailer for Children of Drugs. And one for Journeys to the Bottom of the Sea.

Then there’s some Pages from Ceefax.

After this, the start of some BBC Learning Zone programmes, starting with Bitesize Revision in English. Norman Lovett appears.

The tape ends shortly into this.

Not The Nine O’Clock News – People Like Us – Bookworm – tape 2905

First on this tape, a compilation episode of Not The Nine O’Clock News starting with an apology over the squashed hedgehogs.

‘All Out Superpower Confrontation’ is a banger. I still know most of the words.

The Pint of Guinness joke is good.

They did a variation on the ‘Made in Wales’ adverts a few times, like this one.

Can we just appreciate Pamela Stephenson’s impressions. Always very over the top, and yet nailing the core of the subject. Here she’s doing Annie Nightingale.

Her Judith Hann is a favourite of mine. “That is, until now” is a phrase I’ve used before.

Plus, the classic “A microprocessor base”

I’ve always assumed that Billy Connolly appeared on the show because he would hang out with Pamela Stephenson during rehearsal and recording, so they stuck him in the odd sketch because, well, you would, wouldn’t you?

This episode is showcasing all of Stephenson’s greats, with possibly her greatest of all, Janet Street Porter.

Stout Pride was always a favourite of mine.

I don’t think I’d ever noticed before that Rowan Atkinson the skinny person who’s identifying as a stout person (how current does this sketch feel?) is wearing an oversized suit.

Yet another Pamela Stephenson tour de force, as Esther Rantzen in the That’s Life sketch. The way her voice goes super high on the ‘we’ in the classic line “It was then that we contacted the Electricity Board”. With the reply “I’m sorry, this really has got nothing to do with us.” Lines that I have definitely repeated myself.

Griff’s Cyril Fletcher might be a little cruel.

And can we just appreciate the detail of Esther’s huge dress, pegged down like a tent. Magnificent.

The programme closes with Lufthansa Terminal’s classic, ‘Nice Video Shame about the Song’.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th September 1999 – 22:00

After this, recording switches and there’s a trailer for The Cops.

Then, an episode of People Like UsThe Police Officer. This is a TV Version of an earlier Radio series, both written by John Morton, who would later write Twenty Twelve and W1A.

This episode features Tom Goodman-Hill as a police officer during a day on duty.

TV’s Emma Kennedy plays his colleague.

David Cann plays a senior officer. He’s plotting burglaries, to see if there’s a pattern.

It’s a Rabbit.

The Chief Constable is played by Geoffrey Whitehead. The scene where everything he says has a wig or hair subtext is very funny.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th October 1999 – 22:00

before the next episode is a trailer for drama on BBC Choice.

Then, People Like UsThe Photographer. Bill Nighy plays Will Rushmoore, a former council planner who became a photographer five years ago.

He has a lodger, Emma, played by Jessica Oyelowo.

I love the tiny moment when he’s showing his portfolio, and one of the pictures is blurred, and the camera operator slightly adjusts the camera focus to try to focus the blurred picture.

I liked the rather predatory salesman in the camera shop. “You read Practical Photography? What for?”

There’s Tony Gardner and Tamsin Greig as slightly stroppy customers.

Joanna Monro plays Ros, Will’s ex-wife. I remember her from Angels.

This one is quite bleak, but also pretty funny. But it has a happy ending.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 18th October 1999 – 22:00

The next episode is The Head Teacher. Philip Fox plays the eponymous head teacher.

Another appearance by Mark Heap as a deputy.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th October 1999 – 22:00

After this, recording switches and there’s an episode of Bookworm presented by Griff Rhys Jones.

There’s a piece on the cookery writer Elizabeth David, featuring contributions from Terence Conran. It’s just over a month since he died, so I don’t feel like this was my fault, but nevertheless, I’m so very sorry.

Prue Leith

David’s biographer Artemis Cooper.

David’s niece Julia Caffyn.

There’s a profile of Iain (M) Banks. David ‘Kid’ Jensen is a fan.

He’s another great writer who died far too young. And he comes across in this as a really lovely person. I should read more of his stuff.

Finally there’s a chilly piece about travel writer Colin Thubron, who travelled to Siberia, the coldest inhabited place in the world.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 26th October 1999 – 19:30

After this, there’s a trailer for Modern Times and one for Food & Drink.

Then the recording ends, and underneath there’s a chunk of BBC News 24. No era-defining news, here, that I could see. There’s an episode of Hard Talk with former hostages Brian Keenan and John McCarthy, but this was long after they’d been released.

At the end of this recording there’s a little nugget, Zero 30, an arts and entertainment round-up presented by Christopher Price. It covers the recent death of Frankie Vaughan, the announcement that analogue TV would be switched off by 2006 (I checked, and the switch-off actually started in 2007 and wasn’t completed until 2012), and the start of a feature on American Beauty.

The tape ends during this programme.

The Simpsons – Futurama – The Strangerers – Film 2000 – tape 2894

Today’s tape is a mixed bag with some familiar programmes, and the occasional novelty.

First, The SimpsonsKing-Size Homer. Homer decides to gain weight so he can be put on disability, and work from home. This is in no way reflective of my own working from home lifestyle.

Next, more from The Simpsons and an episode called Faith Off. Homer attends a fundraisers at his old college.

After Homer gets a metal bucket glued to his head, they accidentally visit a revivalist preacher, voiced by Don Cheadle.

Bart miraculously gets the bucket off Homer’s head, and becomes a preacher himself.

After this, there’s an episode of FuturamaWhy Must I Be a Crustacean in Love? Dr Zoidberg has to return to his home planet for mating.

But he’s rubbish at courting, so Fry helps him, a la Cyrano de Bergerac. Trouble is, when his intended, Edna, discovers it was Fry saying all the things, she wants him instead.

So Fry and Zoidberg have to fight to the death. Since the plot of this episode comes from the classic Star Trek story Amok Time (there’s a musical cue from that as well) there’s a cameo appearance from the same weapons they used in that story.

After this, recording continues briefly with the start of an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun but then switches.

Then, there’s an episode of the Rob Grant SF comedy The Strangerers9: The Getawaying. I don’t think I have all the episodes of this, so I have no idea whether it will make sense. But Grant had enough clout to get his name above the title.

Jack Docherty and Mark Williams are aliens.

Morwenna Banks plays the Super Supervisor.

Nina Wadia turns up as a waitress.

Mark Heap and Sarah Alexander are humans, involved with a group trying to kill the aliens.

This, although it might be hard to tell, is Paul Darrow and David Walliams.

And it all ends with a lie. This was the last episode, and there was no second season. I found it rather dull, if I’m honest.

After this, recording continues with a bit of the start of Third Watch. Then recording switches to BBC One, and a trailer for Home Truths.

Then, randomly, an episode of Film 2000 in which Jonathan Ross reviews the following films:

He talks to Michael Caine on the set of the film Shiner.

he also talks to Kristin Scott Thomas about her latest film Up at the Villa.

And following the success of East is East at the Baftas, he talks to Jimi Mistry. It’s strange because in this he talks about East is East being ignored, but my memory is that you couldn’t move for coverage of it, which is partly why I don’t like it at all, because all of the coverage was of a nice, light comedy, and what it actually was was a grim slice of life drama with the occasional bit of dancing. I felt missold.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 11th April 2000 – 23:15

After this, there’s an advert for BBC Talent featuring Jamie Theakston.

Then the tape ends during a trail for the London Marathon.


  • trail: Star Trek Insurrection
  • Rover 45
  • Woolworth’s – Gormenghast
  • Vodafone
  • trail: Friends
  • trail: Prickly Heat
  • Land Rover Freelander
  • Apple iMac
  • Rolo Cookies
  • trail: Channel 4
  • – I’m fairly sure this is Robert Webb
  • Travel Choice
  • BT – ET
  • Sky Digital
  • Fiat Brava
  • Mars
  • Any Given Sunday in cinemas
  • Woolworth’s – The Tweenies
  • Street Vibes 4
  • trail: World Magic Awards
  • trail: The X Files
  • McDonalds – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
  • Charmin
  • Motorola
  • Ronseal Quick Drying Clear Varnish
  • Kiss UK Garage
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Sunny Delight
  • trail: 72nd Academy Awards
  • Blockbuster Video
  • Mitsubishi Shogun
  • One 2 One
  • trail: The SImpsons
  • trail: The 10th Kingdom
  • Tempo Plus
  • Paul Weller – Heliocentric
  • Hyundai
  • 4unet – John Thompson
  • Channel 800 – no, I’ve no idea what this was about
  • Diet Coke
  • Runaway Bride on video
  • Nationwide
  • trail: Sky Sports
  • trail: Good vs Evil
  • Apple iBook
  • first-e Internet Bank
  • Mitsubishi Shogun
  • Erin Brockovich in cinemas
  • National Lottery
  • Moneyextra
  • Sky Digital
  • Sky Digital
  • trail: The 10th Kingdom
  • Charmin
  • Lambrini
  • Heinz Salad Cream
  • Paramount Comedy Channel
  • Lenor Enhancer
  • National Lottery
  • Gap
  • Bacardi Breezer
  • Sky Digital
  • trail: Good vs Evil
  • Huggies Pull Ups
  • Living TV
  • Philadelphia – Caroline Quentin
  • Bodyform String
  • Red Square
  • trail: Thursday On Sky

Jam – The X Files – tape 2922

First on this tape, from Channel 4, some episodes of Jam. This is the TV version of Chris Morris’s late night ambient ‘comedy’ Blue Jam. Which, I have to admit, I find hard going. Is it even a comedy? Is it intended to be? Is it actually just being ‘edgy’? It’s certainly that.

It’s definitely full of recognisable comedy faces. The first item features Amelia Bullmore, Mark Heap (returning from yesterday) and the Actor Kevin Eldon. But the alienation starts immediately with the strange colour grade, the picture stretched up from the source 16:9 picture (where the show started), the ‘ambient’ music bed. All these serve to disorient the viewer. And that’s before you consider what the item is about – gay panic, homophobia, fear of paedophiles, and incest.

The second item doesn’t help things. “The Day Kilroy Lost His Mind” features a lookalike of Robert Kilroy Silk rampaging naked through a shopping centre, including the rather unpleasant image of him pissing on a shop window. Perhaps this was supposed to be like the item in Brass Eye where Noel Edmonds had killed Clive Anderson, but at least that had jokes in it. This is just unpleasant. I fear this will be a frequent reaction from me.

Also not helping, brief inserts like this.

In the next item, David Cann plays a doctor who has diagnosed ‘symptomless coma’ in patient Kevin Eldon. Which is just an excuse to keep him drugged in hospital where he can abuse him.

The next piece features Eldon talking about how he picked his car up from the garage, and it’s only four feet long. In case there’s a danger that this might be funny, it’s presented at a frame rate of about one frame every two seconds. Chris Morris hates comedy.

The man who married himself is the germ of a funny idea, but without anything else it does just sit there.

So far, the closest thing to a proper comedy bit is this one in an Indian restaurant, when Kevin Eldon breaks the poppadoms by hitting the whole pile, and Mark Heap hurls the table aside and starts beating him up. This, at least, feels like it has its roots in a real observation of behaviour.

Julia Davis appears in a bit about ‘thick people’. This one even almost has a punchline.

Chris Morris himself describes watching a man throw himself off a first floor balcony over and over again. Much like the experience of watching this show.

I have literally no idea. This one’s performed to Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’.

Oh good, now there’s a rape joke.

Another creepy doctor. This is a theme.

The show also eschews credits for a website – which of course no longer exists (although it’s on the wayback machine).

The next episode starts with a warning that I’m willing to bet had never been used before. “This programme contains strong language and sexually explicit images using prosthetic body parts. You may find some scenes disturbing.”

Julia Davis plays an inappropriate Midwife, Kevin Eldon playing the unfaithful husband.

The weird transitions have some merit. The creepy doctor is back.

“Help yourself to a fingerbell if you like.”

The scene with the prosthetic body parts is a piece about porn. Features Chris Morris doing his Harfynn Teuport accent.

This week’s celebrity meltdown is supposed to be Richard Madeley.

Amelia Bullmore persuades plumber Kevin Eldon to fix her dead baby.

Mark Heap doesn’t understand how a hold-up works.

David Cann is a happy man who decides to have his funeral when he’s at his happiest.

On to Episode 3, and another bit containing rape references and homophobia.

Another creepy doctor sketch.

After her rent was doubled, Julia Davis has been spreading filth around the area to lower property prices.

The TV which is filled with lizards.

Job negotiations, including farting on somebody’s head. At this stage, I’m feeling like I’m in an abusive relationship.

“I’ve got a gun in my stomach and it’s pointing right at you.”


OK, so the parents who sing a song about their kidnapped four year old son is actually funny. Still bleak as anything though.

Parents who want their kids to get into the best school are sabotaging the other children in the area.

Now it’s Episode 4. I haven’t mentioned the opening sequences, mainly because they’re all batshit. Here’s one.

More from the creepy doctor. This show hates doctors. And everybody else, admittedly.

Small Hoover

The little girl who comes in to clean up a dead body is another proper comedy idea. I’m trying to work out if the actress is now famous as she looks familiar.

“I think someone’s put superglue on the handle.”

That’s the last episode that I have here. after this episode there’s an announcement that “there’s a six part late version of Jam starting this Saturday at 12:25 on 4 Later.” Which implies, maybe, that they only showed four episodes in this timeslot. But I think it’s more likely that either I taped the other two on another tape, or that I gave up, as the two missing episodes are the last two (according to Wikipedia).

So instead of more Jam, it’s over to Sky One for an episode of The X FilesThe Amazing Maleeni, and I’m immediately intrigued, as it features Ricky Jay being as Ricky Jay as possible. Slightly mixed feelings, though, as I’ve just got a YouTube copyright strike because somebody issued a takedown on a clip of Ricky on The Secret Cabaret, so I was upset about that.

The writers didn’t even have to write his material, as he performs a treatise on the cups and balls that I’ve seen him do other times. In the context here, though, performing at a seaside amusement park, it’s possibly the worst audience for his rather intellectual presentation, and there’s an idiot heckling him.

So when he talks about a mysterious magic trick involving removing a head and sewing it back, I was imagining him just letting loose with an axe, but instead he does this. It’s an effect that even the show has little faith in, because it cuts away (at this precise point) to show the bored reaction of the heckler, only returning to Jay to show the last few degrees of the 360.

But this effect has taken something out of Jay, as when he returns to his van, he comes apart.

After that pretty good opening, the story keeps up the mystery and the surprise. The Amazing Maleeni was called Herman Pinchbeck. Autopsy seems to suggest he had been dead for over a month, and he didn’t die of his head being sawn off, he died of a heart attack. But he had a twin brother (also played by Ricky Jay) called Albert, who works in a bank. Could he have been posing as his brother in order to stage the remarkable ‘last performance’? Unlikely, as he had recently suffered a severe car accident in Mexico, and had lost both his legs.

Also somehow involved is the man at the start who was heckling Maleeni during his performance. Mulder and Scully track him down, and he’s also a magician, apparently very dismissive of Maleeni’s magic.

I really liked this episode. It was a smaller version of that movie recently, Now You See Me but with fewer annoying characters. And I’m just a sucker for magic.

After this, recording continues for a few minutes with the start of American Sex. Then the recording stops, and underneath, there’s the end of an episode of Ally McBeal. I didn’t watch all of this, but the little I did watch didn’t change my largely unfavourable opinion. Especially to Peter MacNicol’s character, who comes across as a high-functioning Incel.

Then, 4 Later starts with this strange opener. The voices sound familiar. The woman’s voice sounds like Aleks Krotowski, but I’m not sure about the man’s voice. I presume this was a regular bit.

After this, there’s the start of an episode of Oz, another show I’ve never watched, but this is less surprising, as it’s a prison show, one of my least favourite genres.

The tape ends during this.

In the ad breaks, there’s a trailer for Dotcomedy, featuring a very young Chris Addison and Gail Porter, presumably doing a whole show of the kind of thing Graham Norton did with the internet for five minutes on his show.

Plus friend of the blog Paul Putner in a nice Weetabix advert.


  • Bupa
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Lloyd’s TSB
  • Motorola
  • Renault Megane
  • trail: The Usual Suspects
  • trail: The 11 O’Clock Show
  • trail: Da Ali G Show
  • trail: Dotcomedy
  • trail: We Can Rebuild You
  • Citroen
  • Vodafone
  • Metz
  • Woolworth’s – The Sixth Sense
  • Aquafresh Flex Tip
  • Twix
  • trail: Suicide Kings
  • trail: Football
  • Ford Focus
  • Baileys
  • One 2 One – Zoe Ball
  • Bold
  • Circus in cinemas
  • Benadryl
  • Sunny Delight
  • Smirnoff Ice
  • trail: Sky News at Ten
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • trail: American Sex
  • Rigo
  • Toyota MR-2
  • Barclaycard – Angus Deayton
  • Lynx Phoenix
  • Specsavers
  • trail: Dream Team
  • trail: Best
  • trail: The West Wing
  • Orbit
  • Travel Inn
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Orbit
  • Sky Digital
  • American Psycho in cinemas
  • Apple iMac
  • Dulux Once
  • Transitions
  • Paul Weller – Heliocentric
  • Homebase – Neil Morrissey Leslie Ash
  • Clairol Herbal Essences
  • Peugeot 406
  • trail: ER
  • Nationwide
  • MFI
  • Tia Maria
  • The Story Of Us in cinemas
  • Tesco – Prunella Scales
  • BT – ET
  • National Lottery
  • Rapid Chat
  • Homebase – Neil Morrissey Leslie Ash
  • Guinness
  • trail: Dotcomedy
  • Walker’s Max
  • Dr Pepper
  • National Lottery
  • Switched On
  • MFI
  • The Sun
  • Rapid Chat
  • Give Blood
  • GayXchange
  • Tesco – Prunella Scales
  • BT
  • Guinness
  • National Lottery
  • Homebase – Neil Morrissey Leslie Ash
  • Weetabix – Paul Putner
  • GayXchange
  • Learndirect
  • American Psycho in cinemas

Spaced – tape 2897

I do love Spaced, but there’s also a sense in which it was an early sign of my own mortality. Having grown up watching comedy, I was used to new comedy often speaking directly to me, and yes, Spaced spoke to me a lot, with its nerd culture references, but this came out in 1999, and that’s where I most noticed the subtle shift. I’d been married for a few years, and at the point this came out, my wife was less than a month away from having our first daughter. So I was now firmly in my thirtysomethings, with our own house, and a family on the way. So suddenly, this new sitcom about twentysomethings, flatsharing and raves was definitely not reflective of my life. I was definitely more like 2point4 Children.

But, I was bravely able to put aside the dawning realisation of the inexorable passage of time and just enjoy one of the best new sitcoms around. Plus, it’s not like there’s an age limit on being a nerd. I hope.

Right from the first scene, the show demonstrates that it’s going to play with the rules of narrative. It establishes Tim and Daisy breaking up with their respective partners, but first intercuts them together so we think they’re breaking up with each other. It’s the kind of narrative joke that makes you feel clever for having got it which, I’m afraid, are my favourite kinds of jokes, because I’m shallow and like feeling clever.

Or maybe it was “I can be emotional. I cried like a child at the end of Terminator 2, you know, with the thumb, and the molten…”

The lovely ‘Getting to Know You’ montage is really simple – passage of time via costume changes – and then it throws in a character-defining costume gag for Tim.

The Green Card bit where they have to research each other’s backgrounds is lovely, including the pictures of them as a child.

Bill Bailey as Bilbo

There’s a fleeting appearance by Peter Serafinowicz as Dwayne Benzie, Tim’s friend who got off with his former girlfriend.

Nothing says “My kind of people” than the picture of a young Jessica Stevenson reading the Beano.

I love that they went to the trouble of doing a Hitchhiker’s style animation of the mouse spider for such a throwaway gag.

The house is perfectly chosen. Plenty of personality, and nicely juxtaposed with the boring, newer development next door.

I love Julia Deakins’ Marsha.

Twins are always scary. “It’s bob-a-job week.”

Daisy’s squat is another of those amazingly attractive adverts for doing lots of drugs.

Is that Edgar Wright?

The Scooby Doo sight gag is perfect.

First appearance of Mark Heap as the artist Brian.

You can tell The Matrix had just come out, as there’s a couple of shots in Brian’s art montage that pretend to be bullet time – although I think they’re just done with flashing lights, a moving camera and Mark Heap standing still.

The captions using elements in the scene are good.

James Lance as Daisy’s boyfriend in Hull. We can tell he’s a loser because his ‘cute’ phone sign-off is a Dukes of Hazzard reference, and the Dukes of Hazzard were never cool.

After this episode there’s a nice trailer for the next episode using the Space 1999 theme music.

On to Episode 2. Daisy is struggling to write. Possibly because her typewriter carriage is all the way to the right of the page so she can’t actually type anything.

I love the glee on Brian’s face when Tim knocks on the door and says “It’s Father Christmas”.

The mashed potato is a Close Encounters reference.

I love Daisy’s glitterball.

We meet Nick Frost’s Mike properly.

He brings a landmine as a housewarming gift.

Daisy’s friend Twist, played by Katy Carmichael. I remain convinced that I’ve met her, when she was working part-time in Ed’s Diner in Soho. However, I have no actual information, and it’s equally possible she just looks similar. But I cling to these little brushes with celebrity to burnish my otherwise very boring life. Forgive me.

Tony Way appears as the paperboy.

The next episode opens with the Zombie shooter scene that served as an inspiration for Shaun of the Dead.

We learn about Brian’s past with a conceptual artist called Vulva, played by David Walliams.

Daisy gets an interview with a new women’s magazine called Flaps. The editor is played by Claire Rushbrook.

I love that young Mike in the recurring flashbacks has a moustache.

Vulva’s art performance is everything I imagine modern art to be.

Her co-performer, Hoover, is played by Paul Kaye.

Daisy also tries her hand at the art thing.

The next episode is Battles. Brian wants to borrow a teabag.

Daisy almost blows their subterfuge of being a couple with Marsha. Her consciences are curiously Exorcist flavoured.

I just like this moment.

Daisy goes to adopt a dog. The warden at the Dog’s Home is Richenda Carey, who appeared recently in Victoria Wood with All the Trimmings.

Tim and Mike go paintballing. “Groovy!”

Dwayne Benzie is also there.

Hey, there’s Paul Putner as a teammate. I hope he survives.

Oh no! RIP Paul.

It’s a standoff.

Mike throws himself in the path of a paintball. This is a very silly show.

The next episode is Chaos. This jumpcut from a bone to a spaceship made me laugh.

Colin the Dog gets kidnapped by a vivisectionist, so the gang has to go and get him.

There’s a nice moment when we discover it was the security guard who sent them the anonymous note telling them where Colin was.

And the vivisectionist gets his comeuppance on Hampstead Heath, along with a quote from American Werewolf in London. “I assure you this isn’t in the least bit funny.”

The next episode is Epiphanies. There’s a flashback to 1983 which leads me to wonder quite how old Brian is.

A guest appearance from Michael Smiley as Tyres, the clubbing courier.

Most of this episode takes place at a rave, reinforcing my belief that every scene ever featuring a rave in movies and TV is desperately dull. I am an old man. I like the yoof nicknames, though. I wonder if this shot needed makeup or if Michael Smiley can really make his face do this.

Mike leads the dance to a dance cover of the A-Team theme.

The final episode in the series is Ends. Tim is contacted by his Ex, Sarah, who tells him she’s split up with Dwayne Benzie.

Daisy suggests that skateboarding are for kids. Tim disagrees.” iMDb suggests that one of these kids is Alfie Allen.

Tim takes Mike to his interview with the TA to see if they’ll readmit him, after he stole a tank and drove it to Paris. “Will you come in with me?” “I’m not your dad. Here’s your sandwiches, I’ll pick you up at 5.”

Tim and Daisy have an argument when she suggests that trying to get back with Sarah is a mistake. There’s a nice videogame joke, but I’ve no idea which particular fighting game this was. It was never my genre. But this was an early glimpse of the kind of thing Edgar Wright would do in Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

There’s an Officer and a Gentleman reference as Mike gets reinstated in the TA.

Brian takes Twist to an exhibition of all white paintings.

And there’s a nice happy ending where Tim doesn’t go back to Sarah, and he and Daisy are still friends.

Also, when I rewatched this, I watched it with a couple of my daughters, and my youngest (14) really enjoyed it. But then, she loved The Good Place too so I think her taste in comedy is pretty good. But it’s nice to see these shows working just as well with the next generation, just like I used to devour the great comedies of the past.

The tape ends after the last episode.


  • McDonalds
  • Chicken Tonight – Ian Wright
  • Currys
  • National Lottery
  • Orange
  • The Sun
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream in cinemas
  • Barclaycard
  • Tetley’s Bitter
  • Vauxhall Vectra
  • V2 – Italian Job
  • Pentium III
  • Alpen
  • British Gas
  • You’re Dead in cinemas
  • Bart Wars The Simpsons Strike Back on video
  • Pentium III
  • Iceland
  • Maybelline
  • The Independent
  • Time Computers – Leonard Nimoy
  • Detroit Rock City in cinemas
  • Comet
  • Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife
  • Airwaves
  • One 2 One
  • Comet
  • Iceland online shopping
  • Citroen Xsara – Claudia Schiffer
  • Harrods
  • Foster’s
  • Vodafone
  • Pot Noodle
  • Snickers
  • Playtex
  • American Pie in cinemas
  • trail: Johnny Vaughan’s Film Show
  • McDonalds – Alan Shearer
  • Enemy of the State on video
  • Mars
  • Harrods
  • Smirnoff Ice
  • Heinz Spaghetti
  • trail: Sleepers
  • National Savings
  • Lycos
  • National Lottery
  • Nescafe – Ian Wright
  • Danepak
  • Orange
  • National Savings
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Argos
  • Dino Crisis
  • Daily Mail
  • trail: Father Ted





Jeremy Paxman Interviews Bill Gates – Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure – tape 2896

First on this tape, Jeremy Paxman Interviews Bill Gates. It’s not a bad interview, although Paxman’s almost legendary disdain for all technology, and his sneery questions about money don’t make him the best interviewer. And I remain convinced that Gates has no sense of humour.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th October 1999 – 20:00

After this, there’s an advert for the BBC’s Statement of Promises. And a trailer for The Cops.

Then, part one of Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure. I wonder if the world’s greatest living Englishman can really make me interested in the macho bullshit of Hemingway.

The titles have lots of pictures of Hemingway where the other person in the picture is replaced with Palin’s face. That’s not always a good idea.

It starts in Pamplona, and what looks like the worst possible thing for me. I know I’m old now, but I’m pretty sure I thought the same thing when I was 20. I sometimes think I was born middle-aged, and I don’t have any problem with that at all. You can keep your boozing, puking and running away from charging bovines.

Palin meets a bullfighter, and tries to understand how he can say he loves the bulls, and also kills them. It’s not an edifying conversation.

There’s a fireworks display in the middle of the day, where the point is to make the biggest noise possible. Surely the worst aspect of fireworks? Again, I’m an old man.

It’s not just the animals that get treated poorly. When he’s in Africa, he sees a 13 year old boy recovering from a ritual circumcision.

It’s interesting hearing the young Masai ‘warriors’ explaining to Palin what being a warrior means. It boils down to killing anyone who tries to come to the village without permission, and sounds exactly like the US gun nuts and their militia.

Here’s Mount Kilimanjaro. That’s lovely, at least.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 17th October 1999 – 21:00

In episode two, Palin goes to Hemingway’s place of birth, Chicago.

He visits his childhood home, where he charts a connection – Hemingway’s Grandfather, who owned the house, emigrated from Sheffield, Palin’s birthplace.

“This is the place where American literature was changed forever.” I’d have imagined something a little less frilly.

Trying to understand Hemingway, he asks a local to teach him to shoot.

It’s slightly disturbing to see lovely Michael Palin going hunting, with his guide pointing out all the little animals for him to shoot. I wondered if this was all just a setup, and Palin was just firing at nothing, but he does say “after I started hitting things” so I wonder.

He visits a Native American Casino. This woman explains she’s using traditional native medicine, burning various substances to “purify the area”. With smoke. I’m not convinced this medicine has had double-blind randomised controlled trials.

Over to Milan, Italy, where Hemingway trained as an ambulance driver. Palin visits a class with the Italian Red Cross.

And he gets to drive an ambulance.

He stays in a Paris bookshop which takes guests.

He drives a tank around the Arc de Triomphe. This programme is severely damaging my image of Michael Palin as our nation’s most avuncular uncle.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 24th October 1999 – 21:00

Recording switches, and there’s a trailer for Macintyre Undercover. Plus this slide for Death Becomes Her which looks like someone’s stuck googly eyes on them all.

Then, because we’ve skipped a week, it’s the last episode of Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure. He’s in Havana, where Hemingway lived for some time. He orders Hemingway’s favourite drink, ‘Papa Doble’. It has a bit of a kick. The fetishization of drinking alcohol is yet another way in which I seem to be completely at odds with most other people. I gave up drinking when I was 20, and I can honestly say I’ve never missed it since. So cocktails and liquor are a bit of a closed book to me.

He’s very excited to see Hemingway’s room in the hotel where he lived. He wanted to stay there, but it’s now a museum, so he got the room next door.

He visits Hemingway’s boat.

He visits a cigar factory. I don’t think they’ll be keeping him on.

He goes on a fishing trip but doesn’t catch anything.

Back to the States from Cuba, he visits a Dude Ranch.

The journey finishes at Hemingway’s grave site.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 7th November 1999 – 21:00

After this, there’s a trailer for Wives and Daughters. Then the recording stops.

Caligula – tape 2895

Over to Channel 4 for Caligula, the soft-porn Roman epic. This showing is a specially edited version, and is introduced by the good Doctor Mark Kermode.

I’ll have to be upfront and say that I bailed on this film fairly early on. This might not be the Bob Guccione hardcore version, but the amount of random nudity in the first ten minutes just got boring, and coupled with the strange incongruity of hearing the deep tones of Patrick Allen coming from the mouth of an Italian actor, I couldn’t really face watching all of it, despite some famous names in the cast, starting with Malcolm McDowell.

John Gielgud

Peter O’Toole has looked better.

And Helen Mirren.

After this, recording continues, and there’s a black and white film called Najda, but the tape ends before the film does.


  • Dino Crisis
  • Snickers
  • Citroen Xsara – Claudia Schiffer
  • Red Bull
  • Kwik Fit
  • Norwich Union
  • Air Canada
  • Vodafone
  • Chatterbox
  • United Airlines
  • Singles Network
  • United Airlines
  • L’Oreal Elvive – Jennifer Aniston
  • McDonalds – Tarzan
  • Renault Kangoo
  • Kit Kat Chunky
  • Vodafone
  • Belinda Carlisle – A Place On Earth
  • John Smith’s
  • Chatback
  • Stella Artois
  • St Ivel Gold
  • National Lottery
  • No7
  • Ambrosia Creamy Crunch
  • The Exorcist on video
  • Kit Kat Chunky
  • Cadbury’s Heroes – Tom Lenk
  • Philips
  • Dreamcast
  • Vodafone
  • Friends chatline
  • Nescafe – Ian Wright
  • British Pork
  • British Gas
  • John Smith’s
  • AOL
  • Playtex
  • Pantene
  • Essential Soundtracks
  • Carlsberg Export
  • Kwik Fit
  • Philips
  • Boots Opticians
  • trail: Film Four
  • Stella Artois
  • Pot Noodle
  • Heinz Tomato Soup
  • Singles Network
  • Citroen Xsara – Claudia Schiffer
  • Lotus Software
  • Red Bull
  • AOL
  • The Blair Witch Project in cinemas
  • 1st Line Mobile
  • Chatterbox
  • Playtex
  • Stella Artois
  • AOL