Prime Suspect 2 – tape 1390

On this tape, the two-part Prime Suspect 2. It starts off well – Colin Salmon is the first face we see, being interviewed by Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennison about a sexual assault.

I got the feeling this might be a fake-out, because Salmon is using a West-Indian accent during the interrogation, and sure enough, the door is opened and we’re in a training exercise for the Met.

We also learn that Mirren and Salmon are involved in a quick fling, and Salmon is a bit upset when Mirren gets the call to a big case, and he feels rejected.

Meanwhile the police are investigating a body found at the house of an asian family. There’s a big, angry crowd outside as the large number of police are stomping around. “I pay my poll tax” says one of the onlookers, which places this in quite a small window – how long was the Poll Tax operating? A year?

The body found has been dead for years, and it might tie in with a long-standing missing girl, as well as a possible miscarriage of justice. Plus, because the area has a predominantly black and asian population, it’s important that the investigation is sensitive to the local community. It’s a pity, then, that Craig Fairbrass is one of her officers, and is clearly a massive racist.

He certainly doesn’t like it when Salmon is assigned to the investigation, as the Superintendent wants a black officer on the team. Neither is Mirren happy, as she’s embarrassed about their fling. This is one aspect of Tennison’s character I really don’t like. She’s doing to Salmon what a man would often do to a subordinate woman, and keeping him on boring work. It’s disappointing, as I always want my hero characters to be beyond reproach. I had a similar issue with that aspect of Gillian Anderson’s character in The Fall. It’s possible sexist of me to want better behaviour from Tennison, but I’d dislike this behaviour from a man too.

A facial reconstruction is done of the girl whose body was found. They’re still trying to identify her, as she’s definitely not the missing girl.

The prime suspect is an old man who used to rent the house where the body was found. He’s dying, and he has an alibi, plus a nephew who’s a) a photographer and b) very concerned about the police treating his uncle as a suspect. I reckon it’s him.

They find forensic evidence that the dead girl was probably killed inside the house, not in the basement, which was sublet, and go back to interview the old man, who promptly collapses and is taken to hospital.

Salmon finds a missing person’s report that coincides with the date of the murder, and traces the girl’s mother. At the same time, another detective spots her on a video of a Reggae event that year, and they confirm her identity as Joanne Fagunwa – and she’s played by Nina Sosanya, whom I should have recognised from the clay head, although she’s quite young here.

Salmon spots the son of the man who owned the house in the same performance, and becomes convinced he’s involved in the case. He’s clearly upset about the whole case, but seems unlikely to me. Maybe because asthmatics are rarely murderers. Probably. I have no data on this assertion.

The second episode begins with Salmon interviewing Tony Allen, the young man he’s convinced is guilty, while Tennison is at the bedside of the old man, David Harvey, obtaining his confession as he’s dying. I can see this is going to get complicated.

I like that fact that now Salmon is the one obsessed with getting a result from his suspect, and it’s now Fairbrass who’s looking at the situation and thinking it’s out of order. It doesn’t look good for young Tony, who’s obviously disturbed, and starts ripping his shirt up. So when the custody officer makes his rounds, he finds him strangled.


Tennison returns, and tells her superior that she’s got a deathbed confession to murder from Harvey, but she has her doubts about it. Good thing, really, as we’ve got almost a whole episode to get through.

There’s an investigation into the death in custody, which her boss, who’s up for a promotion, would probably prefer to be blamed on Tennison. She keeps digging, and notices a picture in Harvey’s flat where his nephew Jason Reynolds is wearing the same belt that was used to bind the wrists of the murdered Joanna.

They turn up more evidence there – a huge stash of porn, and evidence that Jason, the photographer, took naked pictures of women for ‘readers wives’ type magazines. Including, to some embarrassment, a teacher at a local school.

They track the scumbag Jason to a seafront caravan park, where he’s grooming a young girl, whom he takes back and assaults. Salmon finds him and manages to arrest him, while Jason is hurling out really horrible racist language.

We also learn, from Tony’s sister, they they all witnessed Jason’s rape of Joanna, but didn’t do anything and agreed to never talk about it. That’s why Tony was so upset and uncommunicative when he was being interviewed.

And at the end, Tennison’s boss gets promoted, and she’s not even considered for his replacement – it goes to another of the old boy’s network.

A typically grim outing for Jane Tennison.

In the ad breaks, there’s an advert for Carlton TV, soon to replace Thames. A dark day.


  • Budweiser
  • Hero
  • trail: Christmas Movies on Thames
  • Ever Ready
  • Murphy’s
  • Red for Men
  • Bodum
  • Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
  • Wash & Go
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Samsara
  • Piat D’Or
  • Heineken – Blues
  • UK Gold
  • Heritage
  • Baci
  • Genesis Live
  • Chaplin in cinemas
  • Croft Original
  • trail: News at Ten
  • Kouros
  • After Eights
  • Fairy Excel
  • Daz Ultra Liquid – Danny Baker
  • Tesco
  • Oil of Ulay
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol in cinemas
  • Glayva
  • Belinda Carlisle – The Best of Belinda
  • Drinking and Driving
  • Safeway
  • Always
  • Finish Ultra
  • Kaliber – Billy Connolly
  • trail: Buster
  • Erasure – Pop
  • Carling Black Label
  • Satinelle
  • Carlton TV Launch
  • Remegel
  • Corn Flakes
  • Benylin – Jeremy Beadle
  • Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
  • trail: Aliens

The Simpsons – tape 1388

Here’s a tape packed full of early Simpsons episodes from Sky One, and I was clearly watching while recording, as I don’t think there’s any adverts in here at all, which makes a nice change for Sky tapes.

First it’s The New Kid on the Block. The Simpsons’ neighbours are moving, and she comes to complain that animals are eating his garbage. Cue a Northern Exposure reference.

The new neighbor has a daughter, played by Sara Gilbert, for whom Bart rather falls.

Her mother is played by Pamela Reed

Moe goes on the hunt.

Next, it’s Mr. Plow. There’s a guest appearance by Batman himself, Adam West.

There’s a joke where Homer fantasizes about using a plow to clear protesters at the White House that definitely wouldn’t play today.

Next, back to an older episode, with the strange Walter Matthau impression that Dan Castellanetta used to use. It’s Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.

Homer doesn’t get his annual bonus, and tries to raise money by working as a store Santa.

And the family gets a new pet.

Next, a flashback episode, with Lisa’s First Word. I like the young Dr Hibbert.

Next, Homer’s Triple Bypass. Homer has a heart attack.

Marge vs. the Monorail is a parody of the musical The Music Man. It even features a musical number. Phil Hartman (sob) plays the huckster Lyle Lanley who persuades the town to spend a windfall on building a monorail.

Leonard Nimoy guest stars

Next it’s Selma’s Choice and the family go to Duff Gardens, the great theme park sponsored by a beer company. As if such a thing would happen.

Lisa drinks the water in a ride and has an adverse effect.

Finally on this tape, Stark Raving Dad, Homer’s shirt turns pink in the wash, and as a result he’s declared insane.

While in a mental institution he meets a man who thinks he’s Michael Jackson, who’s voiced by Michael Jackson.

After this episode, the tape ends. There’s a very short piece of an advert (for Milk I think) that looks like it was animated by the Who Framed Roger Rabbit team – shading and style looks exactly the same.

Witchcraft – tape 1389

This tape has a programme I genuinely don’t remember at all. I can see why I might have recorded it, though – a two part drama called Witchcraft directed by Peter Sasdy, veteran of Hammer.

Is it just me, or do the titles have a Knightmare vibe to them?

It starts off with a scene of a witchfinder hanging a witch, but it’s for a film. The writer of the film is Jamie Matheson, played by Peter McEnery. That’s almost the same name as a Doctor Who writer.

I’m not quite sure of the status of this film. It looks like a fairly high budget affair, but the discussion after the filming of the scene implies that this is some kind of student film at a film school. Matheson, the writer, doesn’t even know why the Witchfinder is hanging his own wife in the story. So he goes to visit his old history professor, Alan Oakfield (played by Alan Howard).

He’s married to Meg (Lisa Harrow) who Matheson has some kind of attraction to.

Oakfield is the expert on the witchfinder portrayed in the film, so he produces some more details about his life. He’s also rather bitter about the relationship he imagines McEnery and Harrow might be having. In general he’s fairly annoying.

McEnery sleeps with a student (or maybe she’s just an actress, I’m still not clear), Georgia Slowe, who is playing the ‘harlot’ in their film. We find she also had an affair with Howard, so Harrow doesn’t like her. Slowe is not above getting some digs in at Harrow either. Basically everyone in this programme is horrible.

Howard is also being needled by the Professor at his university about his research.

After an argument between Oakfield and the Professor, there’s a fire, and Oakfield is burned to death.

McEnery starts to believe that there’s some real evil force at work, and that the witchfinder Oliphant really did have some kind of pact with the devil. He even starts seeing ghostly figures of Oliphant.

But I’m getting so bored with these characters that I’m more interested in the BBC Micros in one of the classrooms.

I’m forever surprised at the amount of gratuitous nudity in these dramas. I mean, I can understand it in cable shows which are practically porn channels anyway (*cough* Game of Thrones) but not in BBC dramas. But this was the early 90s, and this is how it was.

After Howard’s death, McEnery and Harrow do start having an affair, and someone is lurking outside the house watching. There’s also things creeping, and a cupboard full of rats.

The episode ends when they are filming a scene where the witchfinder is burning his own house because of all the witchiness, and McEnery keeps thinking he sees the real witchfinder, and he can’t decide between the two women, and oh God this is quite poor. Why are all these stories about middle aged academics sleeping with lots of women and being angsty. It’s just awful.

Plus, if Alan Howard doesn’t turn up alive in the next episode having faked his death and murdered his academic rival at the same time, I will be very surprised.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th December 1992 – 21:00

Before the next episode, there’s the end credits for Bookmark, and a trailer for films at Christmas.

And onto the second and final episode of Witchcraft. Peter McEnery is wandering in the woods when he suddenly encounters a lot of peopl from the English Civil War. No, he’s not fallen through time, it’s members of the Sealed Knot, the historical reenactment society. I was vaguely amused by this because the Sealed Knot have occasionally put on one of their battles in our local park on a Bank Holiday, and (for reasons that have faded with time) the mere mention of the Sealed Knot was a running joke amongst me and my friends.

I feel sorry for Georgia Slowe, playing Judy Lomax, who’s playing ‘the harlot’, spends all her time in the film taking her clothes off for various tenuous reasons.

About the only character in this whole thing who isn’t really annoying me is the actor playing the witchfinder, Clive Wood.

Lisa Harrow is researching in the university library, trying to find out what historical bombshell her husband had found just before he died. She finds it in the writings of the real-life witchfinder, finding that he predicted the ascent of Oliver Cromwell to the head of parliament three years before it happened. But she’s also plagued by ghostly shadows, falling bookcases and swinging lights. And when she’s at her most disturbed, she sees a few rats, and faints. Yes, a woman faints in a drama made in 1992. I used to get annoyed when they did it in Space:1999 but this is twenty years later.

It’s a vaguely interesting conceit to have Clive Wood, still dressed in his Witchfinder costume, banging on the window trying to reach McEnery, who’s convinced he’s being visited by the real Oliphant. This could be a disturbing story about mental illness, but when McEnery goes full manic, and is being possessed by the spirit of Oliphant, it just looks like he’s doing his pelvic floor exercises.

Harrow is told to go to her husband’s grave, to discover that Oliphant was actually his ancestor, and – to nobody’s surprise – Alan Howard is still alive, and living in the crypt.

Now it seems to have lapsed into a revenge drama with the ‘wronged’ husband coming after all the men. He ties Harrow and McEnery to trees, then goes after Judy (Slowe).

Meanwhile, Clive Wood is trying to get back tot he house, having been left at the graveyard, and he flags down a milk float, driven by Andy de la Tour – recently seen in Bottom.

After putting his daughter in the boot of his car, he returns briefly to the two people tied to the trees, slaps Harrow a couple of times, then complains of McEnery “He only got a second class degree!” I think that sums up this whole stupid story.

There’s even an almost car crash between volvo and milk float. I think it’s symptomatic of this programme that not a single milk bottle breaks.

There’s an appearance by Jason Flemyng as an assistant director.

At least we appear to be heading towards an actual climax now, as Howard, dressed as the witchfinder, goes to the set, where they’re preparing to film the hanging of Slowe as the servant/harlot. It’s the first time I’ve felt even a tiny bit of jeopardy.

In the end, after Howard is fought off, stabbed (by his own knife) and falls into a fire, they even manager to contrive a happy ending in their film for the witchfinder, who was simply misunderstood. Just what the world needs, redemption arcs for witchfinders. I call bullshit.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 16th December 1992 – 21:00

After this, there’s a trailer for Crossing Delancey. Then there’s the start of Fifth Column. The tapes ends just as this starts.

Bore of the Year Awards 1993 – Hearts Of Darkness – tape 1444

First on this tape, a one-off, the Bore of the Year Awards 1993, presented by Angus Deayton, and based on the feature in Private Eye Magazine.

It kicks off with Peter Cook as Lord Gnome, a not very thinly disguised Robert Maxwell.

In the Worst Prediction category, one of the nominees was Neil Kinnock for ‘Next prime minister’ and they play the ‘We’re All right’ speech, still deeply cringe-making. Ken Livingstone picks up the award on his behalf.

I wonder if they had to pay Mitzi Cunliffe for the design of the award.

Michael Palin previews his new documentary, ‘From Kerb to Kerb’.

Sarah Dunant presents the award for best supporting female bore.

Mike Smash and Dave Nice present Youth Bore of the Year.

Clive Anderson presents Rudest Interviewer.

Vinnie Jones accepts on Jeremy Paxman’s behalf.

Mark Arden and Steve Frost present the most irritating advert.

Rather wonderfully, it’s accepted by J R Hartley himself.

Richard Ingrams presents the Old Bore award.

Caroline Quentin presents the award for the most unnecessary sex on TV.

Melvyn Bragg gamely accepts the award.

So does Linford Christie..

Haydn Gwynne presents Luvviest Actor

John Sessions is there to accept the award in person.

There’s a film by Victor Lewis Smith on the life of Nigel Kennedy.

Rory Bremner presents Sports Bore of the year.

David Gower accepts, live from India.

Ha Ha – Tony Slattery is the sole nomination for Ubiquitous Bore of the Year. Sound the klaxon. Presenting the award, who else but Tony Slattery.

The winner, in a shock surprise, is Angus Deayton.

Grand Bore of the Year, and accepting in person, Diana biographer Andrew Morton.

The Show ends with Mike Oldfield and Dave Nice doing Tubular Bells. Actually rather lovely.

Here’s the whole thing. Quite a lot of fun.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th March 1993 – 21:15

After this. recording continues. There’s a trailer for The Last Romantics and Goggle Eyes.

Then, there’s a Moving Pictures presentation of the documentary Hearts of Darkness, about the making of Apocalypse Now. Here’s Howard Schuman’s introduction.

“This movie was made in the tradition of Irwin Allen” says Coppola. I have to say, I enjoyed many Irwin Allen movies a lot more than I enjoyed Apocalypse Now.

Laurence Fishburne was only fourteen when the movie was made.

Sofia Coppola was even younger – she was four when the whole family went to the Philippines to shoot the movie.

There’s interview footage from some of the people involved. George Lucas was originally going to direct it when it was a much lower budget movie.

John Milius wrote the screenplay

The film started chaotically. It was originally to star Harvey Keitel as Willard, but after shooting for a week, Coppola replaced him.

His replacement was Martin Sheen, who had no idea of the scale of the project he was entering, but then, nobody did.

Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro


Robert Duvall played Kilgore. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th March 1993 – 22:15

After this, there’s an archive interview with Marlon Brando from 1965, Meet Marlon Brando.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th March 1993 – 23:50

After this, there’s a trailer for The Last Romantics.

Then the tape runs out during the start of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Bottom – tape 1372

Before the first episode, a short trail for Thunderbirds and The Invaders.

Then, Bottom and an episode called Digger. Richie and Eddie are joining a dating agency.

Richie pretends he’s aristocracy, and scores a date with Helen Lederer, a foreign aristo whose family is destitute.

Her credit is quite something.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st October 1992 – 21:00

Before the next episode, the end of Top Gear and a trailer for Later… With Jools Holland.

Then Culture. The telly has been repossessed, so Eddie and Richie have to amuse themselves. They try chess.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th October 1992 – 21:00

The next episode is Burglary. In which a burglar burgles Richie and Eddie.

They don’t end up well.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th October 1992 – 21:00

The next episode is Parade. Richie and Eddie are taking part in an identity parade. Andy de la Tour plays a police detective.

Young Ones alumnus Christopher Ryan appears.

Nice to see comedy veteran Patsy Rowlands

Julia Sawalha plays a barmaid.

Red Dwarf’s Robert Llewellyn make a brief appearance.

Chris Langham also pops up.

Brian Croucher appears as a pawnbroker.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd October 1992 – 21:00

The last episode here is Holy. It’s a Christmas episode.

Richie has a mishap while cooking and lops a finger off. I’m really impressed with the constant spray of blood the finger sends out – it’s going for a couple of minutes.

Richie discovers a baby left on his doorstep. “The three kings. Gold, Frankenstein and Grrr.”

Roger Sloman turns up as the landlord, and it’s his grandson who had been left. I don’t think Roger Sloman gets nearly enough credit for being great in virtually everything.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 29th October 1992 – 21:00

I’ve probably said this before, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Bottom. I love Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, right back to seeing them as Twentieth Century Coyote on Friday Night Saturday Morning (that was both Rik and Ade wasn’t it?). And some of this did make me laugh, particularly the nativity scene in the last episode. But I think they did their best work when they had other writers to shape their energy more. Left to themselves, the slapstick and pratfalls become the whole gag, and it doesn’t fully satisfy me. I’m sad, though, because I know a lot of people love it, and I wish I could love it as much as The Young Ones or Filthy, Rich and Catflap, but I just don’t. Definitely my loss.

The tape ends right after the last episode.



A Very Polish Practice – Arsenic And Old Lace – tape 1377

This tape opens with the weather from Bill Giles.

There’s a trailer for a new series of Inside Story. And it’s Hello to Jason Isaacs with a trailer for Lynda La Plante’s Civvies.

Then, Screen One presents A Very Polish Practice. I’m very disappointed they’ve not kept Elkie Brooks’ theme tune. But hooray, the nuns are still there.

Dr Daker (Peter Davison) is living with Grete (Joanna Kanska), and they have a small child.

Bob Buzzard (David Troughton) is also travelling to Poland, being his usual obnoxious self. He gets caught up in a drug bust as the passenger he was sitting next to turns out to be a heroin smuggler.

Trevor Peacock (off of Vicar of Dibley) plays a former communist who’s in charge of the hospital, and who Daker needs to get drugs for the hospital.

Alfred Molina plays a shady businessman who Buzzard wants to contact for business purposes, and who Grete used to have a relationship with. And she now feels she has an obligation of some kind to him. Will she leave Daker for him?

It has an almost happy ending, but generally it’s a little depressing.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th September 1992 – 21:25

After this, recording switches to much later into the year – in fact it’s after midnight on Christmas Eve, so the announcer wishes us all a Merry Christmas.

(I notice, apropos of nothing, that earlier that evening BBC1 was showing Sea of Love)

Then, we have Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace. This is a film which I remember seeing when I was fairly young, and I used to think the brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt was the funniest thing, particularly the way he runs up the stairs shouting CHAAARGE! I also saw the revival of the play in the West End, which starred Seinfeld’s Michael Richards.

Cary Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a writer and confirmed bachelor, who is getting secretly married.

Priscilla Lane is the woman he’s marrying, who grew up living next door to Brewster’s childhood home.

He visits to say hello to his aunts, who still live there.

And his brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt

But things start getting strange when he discovers a dead body in the window seat, put there by his aunt. They’ve been poisoning men for years, and there are 11 more bodies buried in the basement.

As if that weren’t enough, Mortimer’s brother, Jonathan, played by Raymond Massey,comes to the house. He’s definitely a bad-un, and has had plastic surgery, so there’s a running gag that he looks like Boris Karloff.

He’s there with his doctor and conspirator Dr Einstein (Peter Lorre).

And he’s got a dead body of his own. Which sets the stage for a classic farce. It’s a lot of fun. And Teddy running up the stairs shouting CHAAARGE still makes me laugh.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 25th December 1992 – 00:35

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

There’s a brief look at the weather, then a public information film about driving in the fog. Then BBC1 closes down, with Christmas greetings from Richard Straker, who also namechecks the team with him, Mike, Charmian, Robin, John, Philip and Bronwen.

Then the channel closes down with the National Anthem.

A Touch Of Frost – The New Statesman – tape 1383

Here’s a programme I didn’t really have much of, and I’m not even sure I watched. It’s A Touch of Frost, starring David Jason. And it’s the first episode, Care and Protection. A young girl goes missing, and Inspector Frost has to take over the case when the lead detective is taken ill.

First things I notice – the picture looks really dark and low contrast at the beginning. I wonder if it’s a broadcast thing.

There’s also a brief flash of casual nudity which feels a bit more Sweeney than Frost.

The missing girl turns into a kidnapping when the mother is phoned asking for a ransom. And there’s a discovery of a very old dead body in the woods while searching for the girl.

The dead man was a bank employee who went missing while transporting a large amount of money handcuffed to his wrist. And mysteriously, the other man involved turns up more freshly dead.

During all of this investigation, his wife, long sick, dies of cancer.

There’s a very sedate stand-off with the murderer of the second man from the bank job.

And the little girl turns up, more or less unharmed. It turns out it was the local cat lady.

After this, recording switches and there’s an episode of The New Statesman. Alan B’Stard is enjoying the chaos in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He’s working in the EU now, as Piers is an EU commissioner. He wants to use Piers to install himself as leader of the new Far Right in Europe. David Calder is the current leader, a Le Pen type.

Alan wants to scam money off the nazis by offering the frozen body of Hitler. He gets into character.

There’s a brief appearance from Paul O’Grady (billed as Paul Savage) doing Marlene Dietrich.

The next episode is A Bigger Splash. Alan is on a ship heading towards Bosnia, as Piers is hosting peace talks, and is negotiating with Robert Maxwell, believed by the world to be dead, but here actually alive, for the return of his yacht. The footage of Maxwell comes from an interview, which is a little bit obvious, but it’s a nice idea.

Meanwhile, Piers is negotiating with the two sides in the conflict. One side is represented by Don Henderson.

The other by John Challis.

The tape ends after this programme.


  • Yellow Pages
  • Elizabeth Shaw
  • Duracell
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Comet
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • BT
  • Baileys
  • trail: The Blackheath Poisonings
  • Heineken Export
  • Mercury – Mr Cholmondeley-Warner
  • American Express
  • Scottish Amicable
  • Heat Electric
  • Halls Soothers
  • Glayva
  • trail: Columbo
  • Ever Ready
  • Orbit/Extra
  • Bodum
  • Midland Bank
  • Vodafone
  • Archers
  • Piat D’Or
  • trail: The Field