Chelmsford 123 – tape 842

Some episodes from the ancient Roman sitcom from the Who Dares Wins team. I’m fairly sure this isn’t the first one, as that one started with dialogue in Latin.

Jimmy Mulville plays Aulus, the Roman leader, and Rory McGrath plays Badvoc, the British leader.

In fact, going by the appearance of John Woodvine as a psychiatrist, this is the first episode of season two, Heads You Lose.

Also appearing, Chris Langham

Neil Pearson is Mungo

And the always wonderful Geoffrey McGivern is Wolfbane

It ends on a nice joke. “In next week’s episode the part of Badvoc will be played by Bonnie Langford.”

The next episode is Get Well Soon as there’s a heatwave and drought, and the search for a new source of water leads Badvoc to Aulus’ living room.

I didn’t mention Philip Pope as Grasientus in the last episode.

The next episode, Bird Trouble, opens with the gods on Olympus. That’s Clive Mantle there, as Vulcan, and John Savident as Jupiter.

Badvoc persuades Aulus to let him pose as the governor, because his wife is coming.

His wife is played by Sian Webber

Aulus is pretending he’s mad.

The next episode is Odi et Amo guest starring Warren Clarke.

The next episode starts in a modern history lesson, with Paul Clarkson as the teacher.

Geoffrey Whitehead plays Viatorus

There’s an appearance by Andy Hamilton as a judge in the chieftan of the year contest.

At the end there’s even a callback joke to the teacher from the opening of the show.

The next episode is Mine’s a Double in which we learn that Badvoc has a twin brother, and that his real name is Rosemary.

And in a massive coincidence, Aulus too has an identical twin brother.

I do like the way the Blag (Howard Lew Lewis) keeps making references to the modern world. “If you saw it on Television you’d never believe it.”

And Grasientus, wouldn’t you know it, also has a twin.

After this episode, recording continues with a bit of an episode of Secret Cabaret. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t record more of this, given how much I like magic. I wonder if Simon Drake annoyed me.

But here’s Ricky Jay with a typically astonishing display of card magic.

Watt The Man talks about temporal regression.

Normando Rojas does shadow puppets

Tony Andruzzi does a poorly filmed trick with a ruby. Too much cutting obscures it – or maybe the trick was rubbish and the editing covers that up.

The tape ends just after this.

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Gone With The Wind – tape 904

From BBC2, here’s the classic tale of how great olde time racists were, with Gone with the Wind. This was presented in two parts on consecutive days. I recorded the first part in Long Play, probably because I didn’t tend to use 4 hour tapes at this point. So the first half is even worse quality than VHS usually is.

I can’t remember if I tried to watch this before. I might have done, and got bored with it.

The opening introduction is rather puke-making, painting the ‘Old South’ as a bygone era, of ‘Knights and their Ladies Fair… A civilization gone with the wind.’

And beautifully framed shots like this, of a bell being rung, rather takes on a sinister aspect when you realise the little boys ringing the bell are all slaves.

The story revolves around Scarlett O’Hara, and her desperate search for a husband. She wants to marry a neighbour’s son, Ashley Wilkes, but ‘The Wilkes always marry their cousins’ apparently.

At a party at the Wilkes’, Scarlett is surrounded by ‘beaux’, but is still unhappy that Ashley is marrying someone else. She also sees, for the first time, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) who has ‘a reputation’. He also appears to be thirty years older than her. (In fairness, he’s only 12 years older than Vivian Leigh).

There’s talk of the coming war. The men are almost excited at the thought, and are outraged when Butler points out that the North is far more equipped than the South. “All we’ve got is cotton, slaves and arrogance” he says. The other men practically scream “Fake News” at him. I guess racists never change.

War is announced during the party, and Scarlett, picqued at Ashley’s marriage to his cousin, accepts an offer of marriage from the nearest chinless wonder who asks her. In short order, she’s widowed when he dies of pneumonia.

But mourning doesn’t stop a party. Rhett Butler is at the party too, currently a hero as a blockade runner, although he admits to Scarlett he’s only in it for profit. I hadn’t realised how much of this was cribbed for Han Solo. To raise money for the war effort, the party asks the men to bid for the first dance with the woman of their choice, and Butler outrages the party by bidding for a dance with Scarlett, still in mourning.

After the battle at Gettysburg, the people of Atlanta receive news of their dead. The ragged left margin of this list is annoying me.

Atlanta is attacked, and Ashley’s wife, Melanie (Olivia DeHavilland) is having a baby. Scarlett can’t find a doctor, as they’re all a bit busy tending the hundreds of wounded. The baby is delivered safely, with Scarlett’s help and the help of their slave girl (whom Scarlett slaps when she admits she doesn’t know anything about childbirth – so much for the tolerant right). Then she enlists Rhett’s help in escaping the city in flames.

He gets her out, then leaves her to get to her home, Tara, as he leaves to enlist in the army, and she whines at him for leaving her. She really is the most awful screen heroine. I really hope there’s some redemption coming. It doesn’t come when she finally reaches Tara, whips her horse one last time and it drops dead. No really, she kills the bloody horse.

And the emotional mid-way break sees her scrabbling around in the dirt for what little food is left. “If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” She really sounds like a Republican. I wonder why.

BBC Genome (part One): BBC Two – 28th December 1989 – 18:00

She doesn’t improve in part two. She’s still moping after Ashley Wilkes, and she marries a man who was intended for her sister, when she discovers he’s got a business after the war. She buys a lumber mill, and staffs it with convicts, because ‘free darkies’ are too expensive.

Her husband dies, and Rhett returns to ask her to marry him. Since she’s between husbands, she agrees, and they even have a daughter. But she’s still mooning after Ashley, and he can’t stand that.

They have a big argument, after which he carries her up to the bedroom and (I presume) rapes her. But in this world that’s a grand romantic gesture, and she wakes up looking radiant and happy.

Then, after he’s been away on a trip with their daughter, he returns to the news that Scarlett is pregnant again. She tells him she doesn’t want the baby, and immediately falls down the stairs, leading to a miscarriage.

As she’s recovering, their daughter is riding her horse, and she tries to jump a fence, is thrown from the horse and killed – a scary looking stunt, it has to be said.

The death toll continues with Melanie, Ashley’s wife, who’s taken Ill and dies, begging her to look after Ashley for her. But then she talks to Ashley, and when he tells her he can barely live without Melanie, Scarlett then accuses him of keeping her hanging on all these years, despite it being her who’s been unable to let go of him, ignoring all the evidence of his happy marriage. It’s always all about her.

But Rhett has had enough, and leaves her, which she’s suddenly sad about, and the film ends with her resolving to return to Tara, her family home, and find a way to get him back.

This is one of the worst ‘best’ films I have ever seen.

Almost everyone in it is awful.

Adjusted for inflation, this is the most popular film in history.

People are idiots.

Although I can’t help but reflect that Gone with the Wind perfectly explains modern America. Every Trump supporter is the Scarlett O’Hara of their own little world, imagining themselves the romantic hero(ine) rather than the selfish racist they really are.

BBC Genome (part two): BBC Two – 29th December 1989 – 18:00

After this, recording continues. There’s a trailer for Heavy Metal Heaven featuring Guns n Roses and Def Leppard.

Then, the start of Bookmark, with a biographical portrait of Iris Murdoch.

The recording stops after ten minutes of that programme.

Star Trek – The Next Generation – tape 965

Here’s some very early season one episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation. These ones are easy to identify – Riker has no beard and Tasha Yar is still on the crew.

In Code of Honor, there’s another diplomacy mission, this time with the people of Ligon.

They have a vaccine against a deadly disease that somehow the federation doesn’t have. And when they visit the Enterprise, their leader Lutan is impressed with Tasha Yar as head of security. So much so that he kidnaps her when they leave.

Beverley talks to Picard about Wesley. Patrick Stewart’s reaction when she mentions him is lovely, he’s almost embarrassed, as the last time he met Wesley he banned him from the bridge.

Picard goes down to the planet to ask for the return of Tasha, but Lutan announces that he intends to take Tasha as his wife. His current wife Yareena (Karole Selmon) naturally takes against that, and demands a fight to the death.

This whole episode is designed to explain the Prime Directive. At one point Picard starts lecturing Geordi and Data about the history and importance of the Prime Directive, then stops himself, “I’m sorry, this is becoming a speech.” Deanna says “You’re the Captain, you’re entitled.” and he replies “I’m not entitled to ramble on about something everyone knows.” A nice piece of lampshading, drawing attention to the expositional dialogue, but making it a joke.

It’s also painfully obvious how much this episode is a thin rewrite of the original series episode Amok Time in which it’s Spock who has to fight to the death to satisfy an ancient and stupid code of ‘honor’. The first season of TNG was littered with recycled ideas and some literal rehashes.

But Picard has a plan, and Tasha only has to win the combat, played with a spiky glove on a neon lit platform.

Satisfyingly, it ends with Lutan losing his position of power, but at least he’s got his honour.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th October 1990 – 18:00

The next episode here is Where No One Has Gone Before. A starfleet engineer, Kosinski (Stanley Kamel) has come aboard to make modifications to the warp engines, but Riker and chief engineer Argyle think his modifications are gibberish, and they have no effect in simulations.

Kosinski has an alien as his assistant. He talks to Wesley about the experiments, and seems to know more about the modifications than Kosinski seems to. In fact, Kosinski just seems to be spouting technobabble (according to Riker and Arglye) not that the viewer can tell the difference. But he’s a perfect representation of the kind of technologist who doesn’t really know much, but bluffs and bullshits to maintain the illusion of superiority, and everyone is too polite to call him. I’ve worked with people like that in the past.

They run the experiment, which hurls the Enterprise at massive speed out of their galaxy further than any ship has travelled. Wesley notices Kosinski’s assistant phasing in and out as the ship travels, as if the effect is something to do with him.

There’s an attempt to repeat the experiment, which only puts the ship even further out, somewhere that barely looks like space.

The crew start experiencing hallucinations. Tasha has a vision of being back on her colony, being chased by a rape gang. When I first watched this show, I thought ‘rape gang’ was a ludicrous, hyperbolic SF idea of the kind that the sexist writers of the 1950s would come up with. I was very naive in those days.

Wesley tries to tell Riker about the assistant, but Riker just does a ‘Shut Up, Wesley’. At least he sort of apologises later, when the truth about Kosinski and his assistant is revealed.

The assistant says he is a traveller, and has been using Kosinski as a cover so he can travel and experience our universe. He tells Picard that Wesley has some kind of gift, and should be encouraged to study science and engineering.

The traveller manages to return the ship to its home galaxy, but in doing so he phases out of our universe. And the episode ends with Picard making Wesley an acting ensign.

It’s really strange to see how my reaction to this episode has changed. In the 90s, I think I found Wesley a bit irritating, although I don’t think I hated him as much as some people. But now, I find myself quite moved when Picard makes Wesley an acting ensign, and generally rooting for him throughout the episode. I think this is a combination of a few things. I’m a lot older now, but I’m also a father with a son and daughters of my own, so any stories with even proxy father/son relationships strike more of a chord with me. But another thing is how Wil Wheaton has become something of a hero of nerd culture through his activities since TNG, and there was something very satisfying to see Wesley Crusher effectively winning at the internet. So retrospectively, I think this softens my view of the character.

Also, I can now appreciate the fact that the programme did take the trouble to pay off the traveller’s predictions about Wesley when it was time for him to leave the show.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th October 1990 – 18:00

The next episode is Lonely Among Us, and there’s more diplomacy for the crew. Two delegations from possible new members of the federation are being transported to the planet Parliament. They don’t like each other. But it’s always nice to see the crew in dress uniforms.

Meanwhile, a spatial anomaly appears, and Worf gets zapped by some energy, and starts behaving oddly.

Soon after, the zappy energy moves into Dr Crusher.

Then it leaves her and enters the computer. After a while, it enters Engineer Singh, but he gets killed by it.

Data starts cosplaying as Sherlock Holmes after a passing remark by Picard.

Then Picard gets zapped. Luckily, he doesn’t die. He orders the ship back to the energy cloud. There, he explains that the energy is a living entity that is trying to return to the cloud, and he intends to beam himself and the energy being into the cloud. Which he does, after zapping the whole bridge crew to stop them preventing him leaving.

But they manage to recover him in the end, of course.

I should give a quick mention of a very early appearance by Colm Meaney, credited here simply as ‘First Security Guard’. It’s not even his first appearance, as he appeared as bridge crew in the pilot, Encounter at Farpoint. But I like Colm Meaney, so I mention it anyway.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th October 1990 – 18:00

After this, recording continues for a bit. There’s a trailer for 40 Minutes. Then, the opening minutes of DEF II, with the start of Dance Energy Update when the recording stops.

The A-Z Of TV – tape 897

I like clip shows. I know they can be a bit cheap, and some of the talking heads have the whiff of people talking about clips the team have just shown them, rather than actual nostalgia, but if the clips are well chosen they can be fun.

Here is Channel 4’s The A to Z of TV.

A is for Ally Pally, the home of British TV. Michael Palin plays an announcer from 1936.

John Logie Baird explains how the service will work.

A young Benny Hill explains how television has helped his career.

B is for Beginners. Here’s A young Michael Caine in William Tell.

Valerie Singleton presents the segment.

And appears in an advert

Ben Kingsley appeared in Corrie

Prunella Scales in the Secret Garden

Bob Hoskins in an acting class.

Anna Ford sings a song and brushes her hair in This England.

David Dimbleby goes to Kendall to snort their famous cocaine snuff.

In ‘Tonight’ Cliff Michelmore talks to the founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long Haired Men, a 17 year old David Bowie, then still Davy Jones.

Michael Crawford sings a song

And that radical feminist Margaret Thatcher wonders why women are so underrepresented in the great offices of state.

Next it’s C for Credits.

Oh bugger, this segment is presented by Rodney Bewes. I thought I’d got away with that, but no, it’s less than two weeks ago (as I write this) that he sadly died, so I’m afraid the blog’s Death Watch has to mark up another fallen star.

It’s a lovely segment, looking at the importance of the opening credits in setting the tone for a programme.

Their choices to illustrate this are The Avengers, Z Cars, Adam Adamant Lives, Harry Worth and The Trouble Shooters.

Next it’s D for Derring-Do, presented by noted man of action John Sessions.

Next, obviously, is E for…? Raymond Baxter looks at early broadcasts from across the channel, even from Paris. But it’s not E for Europe.

Baxter describes the attempts to get TV signals across the Atlantic, via the first TV satellite Telstar, and then from Australia with the satellite Earlybird, the subject of this segment. Here’s Baxter explaining how the satellite works with the help of a brillant 1960s model.

F is for Farson – Daniel Farson, one of the first investigative reporters. There are some lovely clips in this section, particularly the one where he talks to a ‘witch’ and asks “isn’t it just an excuse for sex orgies?” “No, it’s usually just tea and some dancing.” “What do you wear when you dance?” “The traditional witch’s costume. The Skin.”

G is for Gourmets, presented by the Smash robots.

H is for Hancock’s Half Minute, looking at the adverts he made for Eggs.

I is for Innocence, in which Michael Hordern presents some Children’s TV.

J is for Jive, as Janice Nicholls presents some clips showing how TV has presented music for young people. Nicholls became famous when she appeared on Thank your Lucky Stars as one of the teenagers reviewing records, and had a catchphrase “I’ll Give it Five”.

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Syd Barrett are interviewed by a man called Hans Keller, whose only question for them is ‘Why is it so loud?’

K is for Kitchen Sink dramas, looking at the social realist dramas of the 50s and 60s, presented by Joan Bakewell.

There’s a clip from Stand Up Nigel Barton featuring Keith Barron, who died less than three weeks ago. I’m so very sorry.

Bakewell talks about the number of these plays which were either never recorded or which were junked after broadcast. “Four of David Mercer’s plays were wiped after broadcast, to save just £119 in tape costs.” Fans of Doctor Who (which was mentioned along with the ‘more prestigious’ dramas) know this all too well. So it was no surprise at all to learn that this whole programme was devised and written by Dick Fiddy,

L is for Lifestyle, as Katie Boyle looks at the way lifestyle was advertised to us.

M is for Morgue. George Melly looks at TV designed to terrify, opening with a clip from the Peter Cushing version of 1984.

N is for Noughts and Crosses, in which Beryl Reid looks at quiz shows.

O is for One Minute Wonders. Interludes and public information films, presented by the Japanese American Toy Theatre of London.

P is for Polling Day. Trigger Warning, as it’s presented by Cyril Smith. But if you look past that horror, it’s a good look at how election coverage changed over the years, with various gimmicks, personalities and technology. Here’s a young Robert McKenzie

Q is for Questioning, hosted by Shaw Taylor, looking at police programmes.

R is for Restricted presented by journalist Duncan Campbell, looking at the way the government has banned various programmes over the years.

S is for Safari Suits, presented by Johnny Morris

T is for Things to Come. Presented by Bob Danvers Walker via the Duo Set, two televisions that interact with each other.

U is for Undressed, presented by Stanley Unwin.

V is for Vitality, looking at Pan’s People.

W is for Why? Mark Lawson looks at TV calamities.

Although he describes Blake’s 7 as “Star Trek for the educationally subnormal”. I wonder who wrote that line? Still, at least we get a clip from Come Back Mrs Noah.

X is for XXX – lots of lingering kisses.

Y is for Yeti (and other ‘unexplained’ phenomena) presented by Lady Penelope Creighton Ward.

To end the programme, Z is for Zebedee. Time for bed.

After this, recording continues briefly with the start of a Short & Curlies short film called The Zip featuring Denis Lawson. The tape ends just after this starts.

In among the adverts, one with a young Ross Kemp for Fruit and Fibre cereal.

Adverts:

  • Harrods Sale
  • Kleenex Velvet – Frank Bruno
  • Reader’s Digest Prize Draw
  • Maxwell House
  • Radion
  • Pizza Hut
  • Look after your Heart
  • Thomas Cook
  • Bird’s Eye Healthy Options
  • Payless DIY
  • Allied Dunbar
  • Phileas Fogg
  • Hoseasons
  • Horlicks
  • British Telecom
  • Fruit & Fibre – Ross Kemp
  • London Underground
  • Australia – Paul Hogan
  • Bird’s Eye Healthy Options – Michael Fenton Stevens
  • Rumbelows
  • Gold Blend
  • St Bruno
  • Buxton
  • Vauxhall Astra
  • Clorets – Hale & Pace
  • Rowenta Aquaglide
  • Napolina
  • Panasonic Nicam Stereo
  • Frish
  • Flora
  • Special K
  • Oxo
  • Allied Dunbar
  • Listerine
  • Bird’s Eye Healthy Options
  • 7Up
  • Findus Crispy Pancakes
  • National Savings
  • Sinutab
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  • Whitbread White Label
  • trail: Because We Must
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  • Hitachi
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  • Bird’s Eye Healthy Options – Michael Fenton Stevens
  • trail: Soviet Spring

A Small Mourning – tape 811

Here’s a drama from BBC2, A Small Mourning. Alison Steadman’s husband has died suddenly.

A few weeks after the funeral, she meets Stratford Johns, a publican who takes a shine to her, and offers her a job in his pub when she tells him she hates her factory job.

Her son is sensitive and artistic.

He makes puppets, and dresses his young girlfriend up as the Snow Queen.

He’s not happy with his mother’s relationship. Johns asks Steadman to marry him, ‘purely a business relationship’ so they can be landlord and landlady. He decides to upstage the wedding by dressing up his grandmother as a bride and walking her down the aisle.

Johns is apoplectic, but the wedding goes ahead, and his bad heart can’t take the strain. He drops dead just after taking the vows. So the series ends with another funeral, but this is a happy ending, as Steadman ends up with the pub, and without having to put up with Johns.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th September 1989 – 21:25

After this, there’s a trailer for Under African Skies and for The Late Show.

Then, a whole episode of Newsnight, leading with changes in the Soviet Union Politburo by Mikhail Gorbachev. At one point, Peter Snow actually asks one of the speaker “are you going to let him get away with that?” I was half expecting a declaration of war a la The Day Today. It’s scary how accurate it was.

There’s also a report on the recent success of the Green party in local and European elections, and on the eve of their conference. I’m not saying the Greens were sticking to type, but here’s a Green councillor spokesman. He’s even named after a type of herb.

At this point, the Greens were still a loose bunch of slightly anarchistic environmentalists, to the extent that they were unwilling to elect a single leader.

At least Jonathon Porritt was still around.

Here’s David Icke when he was a credible spokesman for anything at all.

And all of a sudden, I’ve realised that the Greens actually dodged a huge bullet by not wanting a single leader. Imagine if they’d decided to elect a leader, and naturally the charismatic former sports commentator David Icke would have been a front runner. How things would have been different if he had been leader of a political party when he had his apparent breakdown and announced he was the Son of God.

There’s a story about the Channel Tunnel, asking whether public money would be needed to complete the project. A young Rory Cellan-Jones reports on the story.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th September 1989 – 22:30

After this, there’s a great advert for the Radio Times featuring a rehearsal for Blackadder Goes Forth. I checked on YouTube to see if anyone had already uploaded it, and found that someone had – me, in one of the earliest entries in this blog.

Then there’s an episode of The Late Show with an introduction by Alexei Sayle.

James Wolcott does a strange profile of Martin Amis on the publication of London Fields. This is the second time Amis has appeared on the blog in short succession, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed he’s in good health. But it’s mostly about Wolcott talking about Amis anyway.

There’s yet another piece about the Broadcasting Bill, and how it’s likely to destroy public service broadcasting.

And an interview with opera singer Frederica Von Stade who has released an album of Rodgers and Hart show tunes, along with a performance.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th September 1989 – 23:15

There’s a trailer for A Wanted Man. Some weather from John Kettley, and a look ahead at programmes for Thursday.

Then the tape continues with the start of Open University programmes.

There’s a programme about Professional Judgement. The tape ends just after this programme.

The Media Show – The South Bank Show – tape 812

Now this tape is interesting to me for a very specific reason. This episode of The Media Show looked at videotape collectors, and I saw an advert for them looking for possible interview subjects. My collection was already fairly large at the time, so I wrote to them giving them some details on what I had.

I got called back by a researcher, asking me a bit more about the collections, and she was trying to get me to characterise what my collection was about – what was its theme. In the end, they weren’t interested, because “Telly I like” isn’t much of a story for them.

In the event, watching the end result, I wonder if I dodged a bullet.

Les Warren collects episodes of Lost in Space. See, he’s kooky because he loves a kid’s show.

John Watson records old theatrical cartoons. See, he’s kooky because he likes cartoons.

Carole Gardiner records news bulletins. See, she’s kooky because she records the news. Nobody records the news.

Michael Laney and Patricia Davis record the musical numbers from Hollywood musicals. See, they’re kooky because… No, they’re definitely kooky.

To be honest, Les Warren is fairly odd. He keeps a log of what happens in every episode and cuts out the TV Times listing for each of them. Wait, that’s what I’m doing here. OK so I link to the Radio Times Genome archive, but if I could link to a scan of the listing yoou know I would. And I accept it’s fairly odd behaviour on my part.

Les also rates all the episodes, and most of them are 10 out of 10. The lowest score he’s ever given is 6.

I wonder if Carole is still going? Her news archive would probably be quite interesting today, even though she restricted her collection to items about Eastern Europe.

There’s a short piece about adverts on pre-recorded videotape, including this advert for Schweppes featuring John Cleese, that went out on A Fish Called Wanda.

The next item is a look at the Reporting Ban on Sinn Fein after a year.

Then there’s an interview with producer Gale Anne Hurd on being a woman and a producer of action movies, tying in with the release of The Abyss.

Some of the questions are typical. “Why don’t you make women’s films instead of action films” presupposes that action movies can’t be women’s movies.

The final piece looks at the changes in the Polish media since the legalisation of the Solidarity trade union, and free elections.

Then recording continues a bit with the start of Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, and then it switches to ITV with the end of an episode of Hale and Pace.

Then it’s The South Bank Show. And it’s a weird one, as it’s Ken Russell’s film autobiography, A British Picture.

It’s a lot of fun, as his life story is reenacted by a young boy (possibly a grandson or nephew?) Here he is projecting Metropolis on his living room wall.

Russell himself appears as various authority figures in his life.

There are clips from some of his BBC documentaries, including his famous film about Delius, which inspired a song by Kate Bush.

He tells the story of a film he made about Richard Strauss, and it’s shown accompanied by music from Johann Strauss. He says that Strauss’ son objected to the film and withdrew permission to use his music, so Russell just replaced it with Johann’s music.

When he was sued for a million dollars, supposedly for walking off Moll Flanders, he could barely afford representation, until Richard Golub (sp?) the singing lawyer, struck a deal, and Russell directed a video for his latest single.

After this, recording continues. There’s a fascinating programme called World of Golf looking at golfing holidays on the Algarve.

Then, The ITV Chart Show, There’s Eric and the Good Good Feeling, Chris Rea doing Road to Hell, and Oh Well performing Oh Well. No, me neither. By the way, did Chris Rea wrote Road To Hell before, during or after his Driving Home for Christmas.

There’s also a song by Living on a Box. Love these pop facts.

Other acts on the show are Martika, the Perri Sisters and Constant City. The tape ends during an ad break.

During the ad breaks, there’s one for Tennent’s Extra which appears to predict the use of drones for photography and paparazzi.

Adverts:

  • Bupa
  • Seat
  • John Smith’s
  • Sharps
  • Panache
  • Water Share Offer
  • trail: The Wrong Man
  • Evening Standard
  • Sunkist
  • Tennents Extra – Drones
  • The Observer
  • Harvey’s Bristol Cream
  • trail: Japan Live Performance
  • trail: The Late Late Show
  • Shredded Wheat
  • Finesse
  • Perrier
  • Seat
  • Woolmark
  • Heinz Weightwatchers
  • Working Girl/The Dead Pool/Scrooged on video
  • trail: Dial M For Murder
  • trail: Next Friday on ITV
  • Samsonite
  • Sunkist
  • Comet
  • UPS
  • trail: Eyewitness
  • Barclays
  • Amstrad PCW9512
  • trail: Crime Monthly
  • Bupa
  • Guardian Royal Exchange
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Amstrad PC2286
  • Samsonite
  • London Talkback Radio
  • Crimestoppers
  • trail: Beauty and the Beast
  • Heineken
  • Renault 21 – The Prisoner
  • 7Up
  • Royal Mail Stamps
  • Ski
  • Invicta FM
  • trail: The Match
  • Panache
  • UPS
  • Perrier
  • Barclays
  • Working Girl/The Dead Pool/Scrooged on video
  • Radion
  • Crimestoppers
  • trail: The Ruth Rendell Mysteries
  • Heineken
  • Seat
  • Gale’s Honey
  • Flake
  • ICI
  • Sanatogen
  • Capital Radio

Saturn 3 – Film 89 – Network – tape 874

This tape opens with the end of the Nine O’Clock News., and Newsroom South East, on how London is unprepared for the new dialling codes in London.

Weather from Ian McCaskill, followed by a famine appeal for Ethiopia, from Cliff Michelmore.

After this, there’s a trailer for the Joss Ackland Hillwalking drama First and Last.

Then, a film which doesn’t get much remembered. Saturn 3 was directed by Stanley Donen, better known for some classic Hollywood musicals, but Donen was the replacement for the original director, John Barry, not the composer but the great production designer. The story is still credited to Barry, but the screenplay is by Martin Amis of all people, which might explain why it’s rather misanthropic.

(That title typeface looks like the same one used for Raiders of the Lost Ark to me).

It opens with a man in a spacesuit who kills another man by opening an airlock so he’s sucked out and diced by some poorly positioned cables. The killer takes on the other man’s name and mission, to the food research  station Saturn 3.

Some of the opening shots actually look like they might come from a musical.

The man arrives on Saturn 3, and we learn he’s Harvey Keitel.

The residents of Saturn 3 are Kirk Douglas

And Farrah Fawcett

We already know Keitel failed his mental test from his first scene, and his behaviour here is unnerving. He seems emotionless and rulebound, warning Fawcett off touching his equipment. “No taction contact” he says.

The film wastes no time getting Kirk Douglas out of his clothes, something he clearly delights in (as we saw way back in The Fury). Farrah Fawcett is similarly decostumed, merely increasing the ick factor.

The Ick Factor only increases when Keitel asks Fawcett “You have a great body. May I use it?” Although I guess he gets points for asking consent. “I’m with the Major” she replies. “For his personal consumption only? That’s penally unsocial on Earth, do you know that?” So it’s yet another future where women are reduced to the property of men. Or even worse, consumables.

Oh yuck, now Keitel is watching them have sex on a CCTV.

But never mind, Fawcett and Douglas are keeping healthy.

Keitel is there to deliver and set up a new robot. Once it’s operating, one of them will be obsolete. Naturally this raises the tension.

The new robot, Hector (first of the Demigod series) is impressive.

But he’s a bad loser. Douglas plays him at chess and beats him, so Hector destroys a chesspiece. Keitel’s training him using direct input (“Brain to Brain”) so there’s no secret where his attitude is coming from.

There’s a genuinely scary scene where Fawcett gets a chip of rock in her eye, and he gets Hector to get it out, much against her will.

Keitel is having problems with Hector’s ‘education’. They even argue.

Before we know it, Hector’s killed Fawcett’s dog, and starts on Fawcett before Keitel intervenes. He tells her Hector wants her because he wants her, and Hector then turns on him, trying to crush him with a crane, until Douglas saves them both.

They think they’ve deactivated Hector, but he starts reassembling himself. Keitel comes to Douglas and Fawcett’s quarters while they are in bed, announcing his intention to leave, and demanding that Fawcett leave with him. “You’re inadequate, in every way” he tells Douglas, who won’t take that one lying down, and attacks him. Wouldn’t you know it, Douglas sleeps in the nude. Eew. No screengrab of that.

Keitel tries to drag Fawcett away with him, but the newly reconstructed Hector appears, and grabs him, slicing off a hand in the process.

After an unsuccessful attempt to trap Hector (by literally digging a pit for him to fall into) Hector blows up Keitel’s ship, cutting off their only means of escape.

Returning to the base, they are surpised to hear Keitel’s voice talking to them, but it’s not actually him. Hector has repurposed him.

Hector keeps them prisoner, puts a neural link in Douglas’ head, and sets them to work towards an unspecified goal, but Douglas has a plan, and manages to push Hector into the pit, falls in with him, and lets off a grenade, destroying Hector and himself.

The film ends with Fawcett finally travelling to Earth, where she’s never been. The music is very ominous at this point, but for no reason that’s adequately explained here.

I read the novelization of this when it came out – I used to read a lot of novelizations – and I’m fairly sure that ended with Fawcett either having Douglas’ mind along with hers, or in a synthetic brain, and travelling to Earth with that. A slightly more interesting ending, and one that I feel might have been intended here, but possibly lost in the edit, if it was ever shot. The violence and nudity in this version seem quite heavily cut too, although perhaps that’s for the best.

At the end, a couple of names in the credits caught my eye. Chris Corbould, on the list of Special Effects Assistants, would go on to provide physical effects for a lot of the recent Bond films, and for many of Chris Nolan’s films. And Roger Limb, providing Electronic Sound Effects, would regularly provide effects and music for BBC productions.

And one final note – something that isn’t in the credits is that Keitel’s dialogue was replaced by Roy Dotrice, doing an American accent, which lends a further layer of oddness to his performance.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 5th December 1989 – 21:30

After this, there’s a trailer for Crimewatch UK.

Then, an episode of Film 89, with reviews of the following films:

There’s a report on Kylie Minogue’s first film, The Delinquents.

In the movie news, yet another story about how a big movie studio (Universal this time) are going to build a big Theme Park in the UK.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 5th December 1989 – 22:55

Recording continues with an advert for the Radio Times featuring Mick Jagger.

Then, Network. Not the Paddy Chayevsky movie, but the occasional BBC current affairs programme about broadcasting. This one is about the forthcoming Broadcasting Bill, and whether it will cause a drop in quality. There’s a film by the campaign for Quality Television, featuring David Bellamy

Esther Rantzen

John Cleese

George Harrison

Ludovic Kennedy

John Cleese actually does the Fry & Laurie joke about choice between plastic cutlery.

Inevitably, on the other side of the argument, Sky mouthpiece Jonathon Miller, who was a fixture on these kinds of programmes, standing up for the Murdoch point of view.

Teresa Gorman represents the government.

Tony Banks talks for Labour, and gets a shot in at Murdoch, leading Miller to whine on about personal attacks.

It’s quite a spirited debate.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 5th December 1989 – 23:25

The tape ends right after this programme.