All American Girl – ER – Secret Passions – tape 2015

First on this tape, an episode of All American Girl, Margaret Cho’s sitcom. I think it might be the only episode I recorded, and it’s for a rather shallow reason.

Yes, it’s a Pulp Fiction inflected episode. And it guest stars Tarantino himself as a video salesman.

It’s a fun episode, with loads of dumb riffs on Pulp Fiction, and Quentin Tarantino isn’t completely annoying in it.

Recording continues for a bit with the start of Boy Meets World, which I’ve never watched.

Then, recording switches to an episode of ERHouse of Cards comes a couple of episodes after Love’s Labor Lost which was the last episode we looked at.

Dr Benton has to put his mother into a home, as they can’t look after her at home.

Dr Green is worried that his promotion is in danger because William H Macy has left, and Michael Ironside has replaced him, and he thinks he doesn’t like him. To make matters worse, Ironside has him present the case of the mother he lost in ER to all the residents as a case review, so he has to defend all his decisions.

And Jing-Mei Chen (Ming-Na Wen) is keen to have some more surgical procedures under her belt, so she takes it on herself to start a central line on a patient, and it goes wrong, almost killing the patient. She tells Dr Carter she’s going to quit.

The next episode is Motherhood. Kathleen Wilhoite, Susan Lewis’ deadbeat sister, finally has her baby.

Slightly coincidentally, this episode was (famously) directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Kathy Griffin (recently infamous for the Trump severed head stunt) plays a boy scout leader whose troop is suffering from uncontrolled farting.

Valerie Perrine appears as Wilhoite and Sheery Stringfield’s mother ‘Coolie’.

And Dr Benton is told that his mother had a heart attack at her new home, and died.

The last episode here is also the last episode in the first season. Carter, having failed to get his surgical placement, and having turned down Dr Green’s offer of an ER placement, is on his last day.

Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) is approaching her wedding with ‘Tag’. How can anyone marry someone who calls themselves ‘Tag’? Well, she’s already having cold feet, so I predict the wedding will not go smoothly, as it’s a rule of TV that a wedding cannot possibly go smoothly, particularly if it’s the centrepiece of a season finale.

(Spoiler: It doesn’t, but in a twist, it’s the boring Tag who has the cold feet and pulls out.)

After this, another in the Fourmations series Secret Passions. Two animators, Stephen Weston and David Anderson, talk about their short films The Wrong Brothers and In The Time of Angels.

After this, the tape continues with the start of an episode of Cheers. The tape ends during this.

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Children of the Video – NYPD Blue – The Silence – tape 2008

This tape dates from BBC2’s Forbidden Weekend. An exciting sounding themed weekend, where we’ll get to see some rarities.

The tape opens with the end of El Cid, apparently a newly restored version.

There’s a trailer for programmes on at 8:30 on BBC Two

Then, Children of the Video, “Is our modern culture destroying the age of innocence?”

This programme is a serious of interviews with young children, talking about horror films. The first film discussed is Child’s Play, not surprisingly, given that there was a suggestion that the film in some way influenced the murderers of James Bulger. This is even mentioned by some of the children.

These children are, on the whole, delightful. In fact it’s reminding me a lot of that other Child’s Play, the Michael Aspel TV series.

Lance and Royston are great. They’re talking about Candyman, and whether it’s realistic. “Like, Candyman, if you say it like three times, in the dark, then he comes. My sister Gillian did it, yeah? And he didn’t even come.”

“When I grow up I’ve got to get used to them. I can’t go to my wife and say ‘I’m still scared of them'”

“Do you two ever see things that your parents don’t know about?”

“Sometimes Match of the Day or Big Match Live while she’s out shopping.”

Annie and Clare have to watch the horror films because there’s nothing for them to watch, now they’re far too old for Disney. And they were probably right in the 90s.

James, on the left, when asked which films might be banned, says, after a long pause for thought, “Tarantulas and all that. Tarantulas in films. When it’s all running round, even on the show, putting tarantulas on your arms and people in the bath, and things, with tarantulas all over them, and when tarantulas jump on your face and suck all the blood out of you. It’s not a very nice thing to watch.”

James also has the solution for the whole problem. When asked what should be done so that kids don’t see films that aren’t suitable for them, he says “I think they should ban films altogether.”

I love all these kids. Even James. I really wish we could find out what they’re all doing now. This is genuinely the best thing I’ve seen in a long time.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 29th May 1995 – 20:30

After this, the recording continues with a short programme, Talking Xs, in which Saskia Reeves talks about her first X Film, Don’t Look Now.

There’s a trailer for Doing Rude Things, a documentary with Angus Deayton looking at British Sex Films.

Then, there’s the start of part 2 of Empire of the Censors, but after a couple of minutes, the recording switches to Channel 4 and an episode of NYPD Blue. Once again, and with apologies to Steven Bochco, I won’t be watching it. Sorry. Here’s a picture of Jimmy Smits by way of apology.

After this, recording switches again, back to BBC2 for the end of the Forbidden weekend, and a treat for all you Moviedrome fans, as Alex Cox introduces Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence.

All right, I admit it, I fast fowarded through this one reading the subtitles. I’m not a Bergman completist.

After this, a trailer for The Outer Limits. Then BBC2 closes down, and Matthew Jackson wishes us a good night.

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Babylon 5 – The X Files – tape 2005

More from Season Two of Babylon 5, with Knives.

Sheridan plays baseball. I remember when this episode aired, there was a long thread on the Babylon 5 newsgroup (newsgroups were the 90s version of a messageboard.) about whether the ball was obeying the correct laws of physics, since there’s no actual gravity on the station, only simulated gravity due to the station spinning, and a struck baseball would have quite different behaviour than a ball hit on Earth. Proof if proof be need be that serious discussion over trivial things has always been the bedrock of the Internet.

Londo and Vir bond over Centauri Opera.

An old friend of Londo, Urza, visits him. He’s after Londo’s support to help save his family, as he opposes the new Emperor.

Sheridan decides it’ll be fun to visit the lower depths of the station, and he comes across a wounded, dying alien who, before he dies, grabs Sheridan’s face and does a glowy thing.

Soon, Sheridan is seeing some trippy things.

Londo keeps his drinks stash in his tumble dryer.

Sheridan has one heck of an infestation problem in his quarters

Londo talks to Lord Refa about Urza, and is told he’s already been condemned as a traitor, and if Londo supports him, he might be branded a traitor too.

Sheridan learns about the last season’s encounter with Babylon 4, and how it might link with his hallucinations.

When Londo tells Urza that he’s spoken to Refa, and can’t support him, Urza challenges him to a duel.

Londo kills him, which means under Centauri law, Urza’a family becomes Londo’s and will not suffer because of the resolution saying he’s a traitor.

And Sheridan takes a Starfury out to sector 14, where Babylon 5 appears, to release the alien intelligence that was inhabiting him.

After this, recording continues for a short time with an episode of Deputy Dawg.

Then, recording switches to Sky One, and the end of an episode of M*A*S*H.

Then, More X Files. An army guy crashes his car into a tree that has a voodoo symbol on it, and so Mulder suspects supernatural causes, especially because his wife found the same symbol on a decorative seashell.

Daniel Benzali plays the army officer in charge of the refugee camp holding lots of Haitian refugees.

Things definitely get strange when the dead soldier turns up walking around. Of course he’s a zombie.

And Benzali turns out to be the one killing people to prevent an investigation into his running of the camp. So naturally in a twist, he ends up buried alive at the end of the episode.

Back to Babylon 5, and Confessions and Lamentations. Redshirt Lieutenant Keffer has been doing extra trips to see if he can find the strange vessel he saw in hyperspace.

Dr Franklin is suspicious of the death of a Marcab. The resident Marcab doctor, Lazarenn, certifies it as death by natural causes, but Franklin finds that it was a disease. Lazarenn admits that it’s a Marcab plague that’s 100% terminal and 100% infectious.

I can’t remember the name of this alien race, but I’m fairly sure it’s a homage to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Ah yes, it’s called a Gaim. Do you see what he did there?

Soon there’s a panic, and a mass quarantine. It’s not helped by the Marcab believing that the disease is a punishment from God.

This is a pretty dark episode, as by the end of it, the entire Marcab race has been wiped out by the plague.

After this, there’s another episode of Deputy Dawg, then recording switches to Sky One again for more X Files.

This is Colony, the first part of a two parter. We’ve already seen the second part, End Game on a recent tape.

It starts with Mulder being rescued from the ice, which we’ll see again at the end of the second episode.

And there’s a shapeshifting alien rushing around.

Of course, having seen the next episode, the big reveal isn’t a surprise – the return of Mulder’s missing sister.

After this episode, the tape ends.

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Cybill – Father Ted – Roseanne – The Mark Thomas Comedy Product – TFI Friday – tape 2133

A selection of shows from Channel 4 on Friday nights.

First, the first episode of Cybill. Cybill picks up Tim Matheson on the freeway.

She also learns that her older daughter is having a baby.

There’s a cameo from Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers at the end.

In the next episode, How Can I Call You My Ex-Husbands If You Won’t Go Away? there’s a nice Moonlighting reunion, as Curtis Armstrong and Jack Blessing play two producers casting a role.

She’s wondering whether she should do a nude scene. I’m very unsure about a show that’s supposed to be about women, especially older women, spending such a lot of time having her ex husband reassuring her about the varied qualities of her breasts.

There’s a cameo by George Hamilton. Edit: Not George Hamilton IV who was, I am reminded, a country singer, but whom I had totally forgotten, and whose IV had attached itself to the otherwise unnumbered actor.

And by Erik Estrada

Before the next episode there’s a nice trailer for the new series of Father Ted

The next episode is Death and Execs. Cybill is rather upset when she just misses being killed by a falling light. Then she starts to rekindle her relationship with ex husband Ira.

Next, it’s an episode of Father Ted. It’s Hell, and Ted can’t remember why July 19th is an important date. It’s their holiday, which they spend in a miserable caravan.

It has the famous Small or Far Away scene.

Graham Norton appears as Father Noel.

Sublime.

Next, an episode of Roseanne.

Roseanne gets tickets to a band which Dan used to play with, and Dan gets upset about losing his musical dreams. So Roseanne goes to see the lead of the band, John Popper, to tell him how bad Dan is feeling.

So he gets Dan onstage to perform a number.

After this, an episode of The Mark Thomas Comedy Product which I realised I have been calling The Mark Thomas Comedy Project every time it’s listed in my database.

I don’t like the way the standup is shot. The close-up camera is doing that shaky cam thing that was so popular in the 90s (another reason I can’t watch NYPD Blue) and it’s so artless.

He goes to the Conservative Conference, and gets to talk briefly to Malcolm Rifkind. Talking of artless, look at that caption.

He meets Arthur Scargill, who patronises him enormously. We don’t get to see what leads up to this response from Scargill, so it’s hard to tell why Scargill would take against him, given that, as Thomas admits to him, he was quite a big fan of Scargill.

He also meets John Prescott

And Donald Dewar

There’s a strange encounter with a former MP of the area, who tells Thomas, in quite a conspiratorial tone, that he only watches Channel 4 for “the sex programmes late at night”.

After this, recording continues with the start of The Girlie Show. Then, shortly into that, recording switches to an episode of TFI Friday.

There’s an introduction from Hughie Green.

Music from Edwyn Collins

Betty Boo has a brief appearance because she was 26 last Wednesday.

Pete Townshend

Menswear play a song

After the break, there’s the baffling sight of a Bob Geldof lookalike building a fireplace with bricks thrown through his window.

Pop pirate Gabrielle sings a song.

More from At Home with Chris and Cher.

Sportsball pundits Andy Gray and Martin Tyler.

There’s another of their one minute debates, this time on the question ‘Are push up bras a good idea?’ Oh dear.

Music from Honeycrack

Eva Herzegova, famous only, it would seem, for wearing a bra in an advert. This is a painfully leery interview.

And Edwyn Collins plays the show out. The tape ends just after this episode.

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The Fast Show – Seriously Funny – Stuff The White Rabbit – tape 2135

Here’s a tapes that offered a double-edged sword of surprise. The label (and my database) only listed The Fast Show, but also on the tape is an episode of the BBC2 magic show Stuff the White Rabbit (yay!) and another episode of humbug Howard Jacobson’s Seriously Funny (boo). But any surprise is nice.

First, The Fast Show. I find it really hard to locate these episodes in the schedule, especially when there isn’t really any surrounding material to go on. The Fast Show is the kind of show that has spotty coverage in episode guides, and they rarely catalogue the sketches in each episode.

This episode features;

  • I’m Ed Winchester
  • Fat Sweaty Coppers. They have a title sequence so it might be an early appearance for them.

  • You ain’t seen me

  • Anyone Fancy a pint?

  • Ron Manager
  • Panpipe Band
  • Unlucky Alf and his greenhouse

  • The Unpronounceables

  • Brilliant Kid talking about Terminator 2
  • Ed Winchester
  • Whoever these two are working on a bridge

  • Channel 9 news – featuring an advert for the Garden Gizmo

  • You ain’t seen me again

  • Ted and Ralph – “Are you interesting in French cinema?”

  • Professor Denzil Dexter

  • Suits You Sir

  • Pan Pipes again
  • Our Janine, who really likes Lisa Stansfield

  • Ed Winchester

  • Indecent Exposure

  • Arthur Atkinson, in what sounds like an introductory sketch

  • Ted & Ralph
  • Roy & Renée have been to Stratford upon Avon, but they prefer Jasper Carrott

  • The Off-Roaders

  • I’ll Get Me Coat

  • Back to the Off-Roaders
  • More Pan Pipes
  • More Unlucky Alf
  • The Happy Skinhead
  • The Comedy Vicar
  • Level 42
  • Ed Winchester

Trawling through the internet I’ve found that this is the first episode of the first series, although a repeat. So I reckon its:

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th January 1996 – 21:30

The next episode features:

  • Isle of Man couple

  • Football Managers

  • Unlucky Alf buys a parrot

  • Football Managers again
  • The joking doctor

  • Pan Pipes in Trafalgar Square
  • Tommy Cockles talks about Bogart and Bacall

  • Liver and Bacon on the Isle of Man
  • Country Matters to Bob Fleming

  • Ron Manager
  • Anyone Fancy a pint? Bomb disposal

  • Ted & Ralph
  • I’ll get me coat – classical music
  • Brilliant Kid – holidays
  • Chanel 9
  • You ain’t seen me
  • Roy & Renée talk about Turkey
  • Bob Fleming goes fishing

  • Yes I am from the Isle of Man

  • Fat Sweaty Coppers commandeer a vehicle

  • Suits You
  • Dave the Pub Vacillator

  • Ed Winchester
  • The Off Roaders. Day 4 – The Forest
  • Denzil Dexter – Bear’s Urine
  • You ain’t seen me play pan pipes

  • The Isle of Man
  • The Cheery Milkman
  • The Annoying Irishman

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 12th January 1996 – 21:30

After this, recording switches to Channel 4 for an episode of Howard Jacobson’s dredge through what makes comedy comedy. Let’s see how much joy he can quash with this episode, called How the Devil became a Holy Fool.

We’re off an running with the opening, a reflection of his boyhood obsession with ‘On with the Motley’ from Pagliaccia, about the tortured clown, and how he was a tortured twelve year old. “Laugh though your soul is in hell.”

After a long digression on satyrs and their foreshortened penises, during which he fails to invoke even a single dick joke, he then moves on to some of his interviews. Here’s Roseanne saying that nothing is out of bounds for comedy.

Roy Chubby Brown (real name Royston Vasey) explains his homophobic worldview. “The thing that frightens me is with the amount of lesbians now, and the amount of homosexuals we have, we’re going to get lost in our own race. We don’t know who’s who.”

Vile racist Bernard Manning doesn’t do sick gags “about tampaxes” like Ben Elton.

Jim Davidson, who is definitely not a paedophile, condemns Spitting Image because “It’s the easy way” to poke fun at the royal family.

Here’s some clowns brought in to ‘entertain’ old people in a home. Is this to make them wish for a swift death?

Jacobson argues really vociferously with the doctor who does the caring clowning, that it’s impossible to bring joy because we live in a pain universe.

Once again, Jacobson succeeds in sucking the joy out of everything, which isn’t surprising since he appears to deny event the possibility of joy.

After this, recording switches to something that’s definitely joyful. It’s an episode of Stuff The White Rabbit, the BBC2 magic showcase presented by John Lenahan.

Featuring performances from Otiz Cannelloni

Jerry Sadowitz

David Williamson

The amazing Rene Lavand, who does sleight of hand with only one hand.

Here’s (most of) the programme. I’ve removed Jerry Sadowitz’s routines because the last time I put any Jerry Sadowitz up, he issued a copyright strike on YouTube, and I’d prefer to avoid that, so here’s the programme without him.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th March 1997 – 00:00

After this, recording continues for a short time, with a trailer for Match of the Day Live.

Then there’s the start of a Swedish movie, The Pram. Then this recording ends, and underneath there’s a segment of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct. The tape ends during this.

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ABBA In Concert – ABBA – The Movie – Glam-O-Rama – tape 1996

We’re back to Channel 4’s Glam season, but this time with slightly less problematic material.

First, ABBA In Concert. A film which follows the band during their 1978 (I think) concert tour.

It was quite a disappointment to me that none of the ABBa concert shows that were made ever showed the very opening of the concert. I went to see them in Wembley Arena, with my older sister Frances. She was the huge ABBA fan, and really wanted to see them, but I don’t think my parents were happy with her going on her own, so I got to go with her. I was only a year or so younger, but it was my first concert. I was probably 14 at the time. And I also liked ABBA. I wasn’t the huge fan my sister was, but I didn’t have to be, because I could still listen to the records, and read the fan club magazines that she got. To this day, I remember some of the details – their recording engineer was called Michael B Tretow, and their drummer was Ola Brunkert. I’ve no idea why certain facts stick in the mind, but they do.

So, we got to go to Wembley Arena for a concert, probably 1979, and I have a vivid memory of the opening of the concert. I remember the stage was surrounded by a huge blue curtain, and when the concert started, it wasn’t with the intro of one of their hits, it was with something that sounded more traditional, being played on a synth or organ. I didn’t really remember the tune very well, but I do vividly remember the point during the music where the organ swells, it plays two rising chords, and at that moment the curtains opened (maybe they rose, but I remember them opening, like theatre curtains) and there were the band, including all their musicians, all dressed in blue costumes, and as the opening music ended, it then went into their hits.

Ever since then, I’ve been hoping to see that opening, but no concert footage has ever included it. Then, the band released their Live at Wembley album, and it opened with a track called Gammal Fabodpsalm. I bought the album almost as soon as it was released, and played that track, wondering if it was the piece I remembered.

It sounded… familiar. But as I didn’t really remember the actual tune (I’d only ever heard it once) I couldn’t tell if it was the same opening I’d remembered.

Then, at 1:10, there were those two swollen rising chords, and the audience starts cheering and clapping. It’s precisely how I remembered the concert opening, almost 40 years ago.

As I said before, it’s strange how the oddest things stay in your memory. I talked about this to me sister, and she told me she had no recollection at all of the opening. I think I must have been in that state where you’re just trying to absorb everything that’s happening.

So, back to this programme. It starts with them in the US, and there’s plenty of backstage scenes of the band doing publicity, or just hanging out.

A short section in the US, it moves to London and Wembley Arena, probably the same set of concerts I saw. But the concert footage frustratingly starts on the stage just as the first song, Voulez Vous, starts, missing out that intro.

One memory my sister definitely had about the concert, as she told me recently, was when the children’s choir came on to sing I Have A Dream, and she really wanted to be able to go on stage and sing with the group.

I really like the version of Summer Night City in the concert, particularly the intro. This has always been one of my favourite ABBA songs, but it’s not as well known, I think because it was only a single, and wasn’t on one of the original albums.

And now, watching this again, I find that the end credits run over the opening music, that piece I wanted to hear, albeit with lots of audience applause and cheering, but the reason I didn’t properly recognise it is that it stops right before those two chords, the only part of it that I remembered, and so I didn’t properly recognise it. Frustrating.

Following this, more ABBA goodness, with ABBA The Movie. This is a movie I first saw one Saturday afternoon in 1978 in Watford, and we were only going to see it because Star Wars, which we had gone there to see, was sold out. So by rights I should have hated it, having been cheated of my chance to finally see Star Wars, and film I’d been obsessed with for months.

But how could I dislike this film? After all, it’s ABBA, for one, and for another, it has one of the coolest opening sequences in movies. The film opens with a bucolic montage of scenes from the outback in Australia (where the film was shot), conplete with kangaroos, with some country music on the soundtrack, as we meet an australian disc jockey, Ashley Wallace, who will become the narrative glue of what is otherwise a concert movie. He even gives a shoutout to all the truck drivers out there.

It’s all shot in 1.85 aspect ratio, as his boss at the radio station tells him he wants him to go and get an exclusive radio interview with ABBA, to be broadcast on the night of their last concert in Australia. And at the and of the scene, when Ashley asks him if he really wants him to do ‘this documentary’ he replies “Don’t use that word. It’s not a documentary it’s an event. This is gonna be worldwide.”

And as he says that, he flings his arms wide, and the 1.85 screen opens up into a much wider Panavision aspect ratio, as the music kicks in.

I appreciate the fact that this presentation has attempted to maintain this effect, except that it’s slightly undercut because going from a 1.85 letterbox to a 2.35 letterbox on a 4:3 TV screen actually ends up with a smaller area picture – not really the same effect as it had in the cinema.

I love Agnetha’s expressions singing Tiger.

Some of Ashley Wallace’s Vox Pops are a bit Mary Whitehouse Experience. “It’s got a good beat.”

He’s not that good a journalist, failing miserably to get anywhere near the band. He arranges an interview on their last day, then oversleeps and misses it. Then, wouldn’t you know it, as he’s going up to his hotel room, who does he meet in the lift but ABBA? Amazing!

Of course, the jeopardy is not over, because he’s still got to edit the programme together, which he does by hand.

I still like this movie. I got to see Star Wars a couple of months later anyway, so that was OK.

After this,there’s another programme, Jack Dee’s Glam-O-Rama. Featuring guests Annie Nightingale

Lily Savage

Jo Brand

and Alvin Stardust.

Here’s the whole thing. Enjoy.

The tape ends right after this programme as the next programme is The Token King which we saw previously.

Adverts:

  • Salon Selectives
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  • Flora
  • Swatch
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  • Sunkist
  • TSB
  • Disneyland Paris – Space Mountain
  • Honda Civic – James Fleet
  • Neutralia

ER – tape 2001

Three episode of ER here. First is Feb 5, ’95. Bobcat Goldthwaite guest stars but spends all of his screen time under a sheet.

Next, Sleepless in Chicago. Benton hasn’t slept for 48 hours. Carol (Julianna Margulies) learns that she can’t adopt the little Russian girl with Aids because of her suicide attempt last year. Dr Greene’s wife tells him she can’t keep the marriage together if he accepts a residency at the hospital and she continues working in Milwaukee. And because Dr Benton sleeps through his alarm, his mother suffers a fall.

Finally, Love’s Labor Lost, quite a famous episode, as it deals almost exclusively with a single case, a woman whose pregnancy develops life threatening complications. I remember it as a rather harrowing episode. What I didn’t remember (and why would I?) is that the husband is played by Bradley Whitford off of The West Wing.

After this, recording continues with Four-mations and another in the Secret Passions series. The animators featured in this one are Ange Palethorpe

Petra Freeman

and Tamsin Gilbert

This is followed by an episode of Cheers – it’s the first episode of Season 5, Shelley Long’s last. The previous season had ended with Sam phoning either Diane or Janet Eldridge (Kate Mulgrew) and asking them to marry him. This episode reveals who he was calling.

And the tape runs out during an episode of LA Law. Bryan Cranston appears as a guest star.

Adverts:

  • Sun Alliance
  • Nivea Visage
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  • Bupa
  • Mazda
  • Axa Equity and Law
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  • trail: Short Stories: Terry Pratchett’s Jungle Quest
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  • Diet Coke
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  • Jack & Sarah in cinemas
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  • trail: Bonfire of the Vanities
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  • Capital Radio
  • True Romance on video
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  • trail: The World of Lee Evans
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  • Pink Floyd – Pulse
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  • trail: Fridays on Four
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  • Dalton’s Weekly
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  • World in Union Anthems