Month: April 2014

An Actor’s Life For Me – Drop the Dead Donkey – tape 1301

The very end of an edition of Schofield’s Europe starts this tape. Only the briefest of clips from it, but from the available evidence, this must have been a programme where young Philip Schofield toured the saunas of Europe.

Schofield's Europe

“Is this your finger or mine” is the only dialogue audible in this clip

After this, there’s a trailer for the period spy drama Ashenden.

Then, the first episode in An Actor’s Life For Me, written by Paul Mayhew-Archer and starring John Gordon Sinclair and Gina McKee.

This was a fairly pedestrian sitcom, although the studio audience sound like they’re enjoying it. The leads are charming enough, but it’s not classic comedy.

Following this episode, a trailer for Saturday Night Clive, then the start of the Nine O’Clock news, leading on demands from Britain and America for Libya to hand over the Lockerbie bombers.

Recording switches to Channel 4, and after the ads, a trailer for another Alec Guinness film, The Card.

Then, an episode of Drop the Dead Donkey. It’s earlyish, since Haydn Gwynne is still there.

Next, more from An Actor’s Life for Me. There are cameos in this episode from Gareth Hunt and Henry Kelly. It’s followed by a trail for Canned Carrott.

Then there’s a frankly disturbing trail for Children in Need.

Then there’s the start of another Nine O’Clock News.

This cuts off after a few minutes, making way for another episode of Drop the Dead Donkey.

Back to An Actor’s Life for Me again. Interestingly, the extended title sequence that was used for the first episode, but not for the second, was back for this episode. I’d thought it was only for the first one, but they must have dropped it for the second, for timing reasons. This episode has John Woodvine as Gina McKee’s father.

Once again, it’s followed by another Drop The Dead Donkey. This is the last in this series.

It’s followed by a Christmas Comedy trailer featuring Vic & Bob, Barry Humphries and Bill Hicks.



  • British Gas – Anneka Rice
  • Vespré
  • Beverley Craven
  • Lyons instant coffee
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Sun Maid Raisins
  • Viz on Video
  • Carling Black Label
  • Ever Ready
  • Argos
  • McCain Oven Chips
  • Rank Xerox
  • Daily Mirror
  • Clerical Medical
  • World Cup Cricket
  • All-Bran
  • TDK Cassettes
  • Real English Cox’s
  • Lauda Air
  • Amstrad Double Decker video recorder
  • British Beef
  • Paul Young – From Time to Time
  • BHS
  • Holsten Pils – Jeff Goldblum
  • Kelloggs Fruit and Fibre
  • Michael Bolton – Time, Love and Tenderness
  • Knowing – Estee Lauder

Dinosaurs – tape 1297

Dinosaurs, was a Jim Henson Studios production, a family sitcom dinosaurs. It wasn’t bad, as I recall.

“We can figure this out, after all, we’ve got brains the size of walnuts.”

I’m not sure I quite agree with Lisa Simpson’s critique of it on an episode of the Simpsons:

“It’s like they saw our lives and put it right there on screen.”

In among the episodes, there’s a trailer for an Equinox episode on Rheumatoid Arthritis.

There’s also a trail for a film called Steps, a film which uses footage from the famous Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin. I mention this merely for the coincidence that earlier this evening I’d been telling the family all about Battleship Potemkin because it came up as an answer on Pointless, so it’s another weird coincidence that it’s cropped up here.

There’s also a short film about Ray Harryhausen, Big World Animators.

Following this, there’s a short piece from the start of the aforementioned Steps. Sadly, only about a minute before recording switches, as I would have been interested to see more of it.

The last episode now seems to be ensconced in Sharp’s Funday presented by king of the mullet Pat Sharp.

Pat Sharp full mullet


After the last episode there’s a trail for It’ll be Alright on the Night.

Then, the recording ends during a football match. Everton V Nottingham Forest.


  • Duplo
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Safeway
  • Nintendo – The Simpsons – Bart Vs The Space Mutants
  • Fosters
  • Tennents Extra – An interesting variation on most adverts of this time, which seem to exult in excess, this one features one of the McGann brothers as the owner of a boat builders who, rather than lay off staff, sells off the Directors’ company cars instead. Interesting counterpoint to Thatcher’s Britain.
  • After Eights
  • Clairol Foot Spa
  • Sherry
  • Habitat
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Ambrosia Devon Custard
  • Commodore Amiga
  • Coca Cola
  • Drinking and Driving
  • Kaliber
  • Braun hairdryer
  • Kelloggs Golden Oatmeal Crisp
  • Fantasia on Video
  • Memorex Rechargeable Batteries
  • Network South East
  • An American Tail – Fievel Goes West
  • Pickford’s Travel
  • Seat Toledo
  • Butlins
  • Billy Bathgate
  • Discovering Opera
  • PG Tips Instant
  • BT
  • Daily Mirror
  • Courts Sale
  • Blame it on the Bellboy
  • Philips Softone bulbs
  • Kleenex Velvet
  • Natrel Plus
  • Nintendo Gameboy
  • Nicorette
  • Tetley Instant tea
  • The Sun
  • BT
  • Seat Toledo
  • Creme Eggs
  • Sun Pat
  • Castlemaine XXXX

Soap – tape 1293

Another tapes with some more episodes of Soap.

The recap on the first episode reminds me quite how wacky the show had got towards the end – with Burt travelling through time having been replaced at home by a shape changing alien (or maybe a robot, I can’t remember).

The second episode is preceded by a piece of Music Box, a music programme, which this time features ‘Mind Funk’ (if my phone’s music recognition is working). Then there’s an ITN bulletin which mentions freed hostage John McCarthy, freed nine days ago according to the report.

Before the next episode, there’s the end of what looks like a cooking programme, doing some chinese cooking. What’s doubly weird is that this programme just seems to stop, there’s an ITV logo for a couple of seconds, then Soap starts. He doesn’t even seem to get to finish the recipe.

Before the next episode, it’s a discussion programme. Without seeing the start, it looks like a discussion programme about rape and abuse. A lot of time seems to be spent on the question of what women can do.

Man: Can I ask Ray, what has worked?

Other Man: I think the most important thing is to give women choices. If we look at hostage training and abduction training…

Useful, then. Although to be fair to him, the final and strongest point he has to make is “I don’t care what women do, I don’t care what children do, it does not excuse men either sexually or physically abusing them.

The programme is Hodson Confidential, hosted by one-time LBC pet psychologist Philip Hodson.

Next time, back to the chinese cooking, and once again, this programme just cuts off, almost in the middle of a sentence. Really odd presentation.

He’s back once more before the next episode, and this one has the benefit of an end title card.

The Magic Rock

After this episode of Soap (the last on this tape is an ITN news bulletin, dating the recording at Monday 7th October.


  • HMV – Natalie Cole – Unforgettable
  • Dishwash Electric – Creature Comforts
  • Majestic Wine Warehouses
  • Barclays
  • HMV – Rhythm Divine
  • Carlsberg
  • Sol (?) beer
  • Karaoke Challenge
  • Royal Mail Stamps
  • Nivea Visage
  • Rhythm Divine
  • Sentimental Journey – Teledisc
  • Talking Pages – John Cleese
  • Crunchie
  • Karaoke Challenge
  • Federal Express
  • Karaoke Challenge
  • Intercity
  • Karaoke Challenge
  • Crunchie

Dream On – tape 1291

Here’s one from the past. Dream On was a sitcom created by Marta Kaufmann and David Crane, who would later create Friends. It’s not one that people tend to reference much these days, although it was successful enough to run for six seasons.

The ‘gimmick’ of the show was the use of brief clips from old films and TV series to illustrate the lead character’s mood and thoughts. Also, since it was made for HBO there’s gratuitous sex and nudity. I’ve never quite understood why HBO interprets the lack of stricter censorship on cable as meaning that it’s compulsory to include sex and/or nudity in everything they make but that seems to be their thing.

Before the second episode there’s a brief clip from Garden Club. “Until we see you, then, don’t forget to enjoy your gardening” says one of the presenters, putting the wrong emphasis on almost very word. There’s also a trail for a season of Alec Guinness films. After the ads there’s a trail for something called Next Stop Hollywood.  There’s also a short trail for Equinox about using technology to beat the casinos.

After the last episode on the tape there’s a trailer for S&M, the improv show with Mike McShane and Tony Slattery. There’s a trailer for The Gravy Train Goes East which has cropped up before on these tapes. There’s a trailer for films on Halloween. And a very brief trail for The Word.

Then, there’s the start of an episode of Clive Anderson Talks Back. His first guest is Richard Branson, and the conversation starts with his recent failed attempt to win some of the ITV franchises. He seems rather distracted by the whole thing, and Clive Anderson suggests perhaps he’s jetlagged, or that Virgin Atlantic serves too much champagne.

The tape ends during this interview. I might have a full recording of this interview on a different tape.


  • The European
  • Lycra
  • Teen Agent
  • Horlicks
  • Abbey National
  • Fruitini
  • Talking Pages – John Cleese
  • Shell
  • A Rage in Harlem
  • Hamlet cigars
  • The European
  • MFI Sale
  • N&P
  • HMV – Absolution
  • Canon
  • Under Suspicion
  • Kindergarten Cop
  • Danone Bio
  • Cadbury’s Boost
  • Plenitude
  • Lunn Poly
  • Nintendo Game Boy – F1 Racer
  • Greene King IPA
  • Canon
  • Danone Bio
  • Mail on Sunday
  • Tesco
  • Vauxhall – mystery car advert with Nigel Hawthorne and Tom Conti
  • Raffaello
  • Sonia – Sonia – Woolworths
  • Toy Soldiers
  • Baileys
  • Vauxhall Astra – Hawthorne and Conti – clearly the car being teased in a previous advert
  • Amstrad Satellite system
  • Plenitude
  • Canon
  • Die Hard 2
  • Danone Bio
  • McEwan’s Export
  • Midland Bank
  • Milkybar
  • Wool
  • HMV – Hardcore Ecstasy
  • Capital FM
  • Danone Bio
  • Midland
  • InterCity
  • Hammer – Too Legit to Quit

Star Trek – The Next Generation – Clive Anderson Talks Back – tape 1295

First up on the tape, Star Trek – The Next Generation with the episode The Survivors.

After Star Trek, recording switches to the end of an episode of A Question of Sport. This was classic QoS with David Coleman in the chair and Ian Botham and Bill Beaumont.

After this, a trailer for Reportage on “the new tidal wave of teenage crime”. This would have been in 1991/2, which, according to statistics, is about the time the global violent crime epidemic started waning, directly contradicting the fears at the time that we were breeding a new type of supercriminal, and that crime rates would skyrocket.

Then, another ST:TNG episode, The Enemy, followed by The Price. 

Following these episodes, there’s an episode of Clive Anderson Talks Back. His guests are Glenda Jackson, UFO experts Arthur Tomlinson and Gerry Banyard, Robin Day.

The ‘UFO Experts’ interview was scripted by Gerry Banyard, who was an actor and played a ‘UFO expert’. Here’s the interview, and you can read some of his comments down below.

Following this, there’s a trailer for Comedy at Christmas, bookended by a custom trail by Vic and Bob. Then there’s a trailer for the Return of the Magic Roundabout, Channel 4’s revival of the classic children’s programme. After the ads there’s a trail for Pallas, then the start of an episode of The Word. Opening with an intro from Katie Puckrick, and with Lisa Stansfield performing Winter Wonderland. She then gets the pleasure of being interviewed by Terry Christian, after which the recording stops.


  • Use a Condom
  • Red Rock Cider – Police Squad
  • Intel i486 SX
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Prince – Diamond and Pearls

The Fall And Rise of Reginald Perrin – tape 1287

The tape starts with the end of an episode of Eastenders. Old-School Eastenders, with Pete Beale and Arthur Fowler, and Christmas trees. This’ll be the best Christmas Walford’s ever had. Although, shockingly, Dot Cotton is listening to Gary Glitter on the radio. Do you think the BBC would have to redub all the episodes of dramas featuring Gary Glitter music if they’re ever repeated? They’ve already excised him (and others) from repeats of Top of the Pops.

There’s a trailer for a double Christmas Only Fools and Horses. And an advert for the Christmas Radio Times.

Then, there’s a repeat of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. This is the start of the third series, with the founding of the Perrins self-help community.

“Then when we’re rich we’ll really be free to shake off the bonds of our greedy, materialistic society.?

Between episodes three and four, there’s a trailer for Spender, in that brief glorious time when Jimmy Nail was a huge star. There’s another, different trailer between episodes four and five.

Following episode six, there’s a trailer for The Brit Awards 1992. Yes, there was a time when that huge advert for the recording industry was shown on BBC1. And presenting the advert was Simon Bates, in such a laid back mode you think he’s going to start reading out Our Tune.

Just before A Question of Sport has a chance to begin, the recording stops, and an old recording underneath appears, a trailer for the Winter Olympics. Then yet another trailer for Spender.

Then we have the start of the Nine O’Clock News. Stories include Labour warnings that the Tories will increase VAT to 22%, and President Bush announcing arms cuts.

The recording stops shortly into this programme.

The South Bank Show – Wogan – The Pall Bearer’s Revue – tape 1294

It’s a Melvyn Bragg Double Header, as the next tape out of the box again starts with The South Bank Show. This time, Douglas Adams.

(Not my upload).

I worked with Douglas Adams at his ‘multiple media’ company The Digital Village in the late nineties. Before that, I was also a huge fan, although to be honest it’s unusual to find anyone of my age and technical inclinations who wasn’t, so pretty much all the developers at TDV were fans.

They say you should never meet your heroes, but I’ve found that does’t count if you choose your heroes well. Douglas was lovely. And working for him was an interesting experience. I’m primarily a Microsoft-based developer (I’d been hired because I knew how to build data-driven websites, which they needed for what would become h2g2) and Douglas, of course, was very much entrenched on the Apple side of the OS Wars. So I always felt slightly like I was on the enemy side. We did look at some Mac products in the beginning, but after a couple of bad experiences (losing a whole day’s work when the stuff crashed) we eventually went down a more Microsoft-flavoured route.

This documentary was made in 1992, around the publication of the fifth Hitchhiker’s book, Mostly Harmless. I’m not a big fan of the dramatic reconstructions the SBS tend to do for authors. They can only ever come across as cheap and cheerful. However, in this one, at least we get the pleasure of seeing long-time friend and collaborator of Douglas’, Michael Bywater, playing Dirk Gently, a character which Douglas has said was based in a large part on Michael himself.

However, this programme suffers from the fatal flaw that pretty much all programmes about Douglas lapse into – writing narration ‘in Douglas’ style’. The way Douglas wrote seemed so simple and effortless to the reader (despite all the stories about how hard he found the process himself) that we all imagine it’s easy to sound like Douglas when we write. This was a problem we suffered from in the early days of h2g2 because everyone imagined they had to write ‘like Douglas’. This show is no different, and it clunks loudly when, early on, it segues from actual Douglas prose, about the electric monk from Dirk Gently, into an original intro involving Douglas himself.

“Even more surprisingly, the monk believed that Douglas Adams was working feverishly on a new book”

The conceit of having characters from his work wandering about in the background of the documentary is occasionally funny, but to be honest, I’d much rather see this time spent on interviews. When Melvyn asks him about his well-documented propensity for missing deadlines he replies:

“That story has assumed the proportions of an apocryphal story, and I have to remind people that it is actually true.”

Having criticised the faux Douglas narration, I do have to admit that Marvin’s monologue is quite funny.

“Oh the usual thing. I went to Cambridge, that was very interesting, I joined footlights, that was very interesting, I left Cambridge, that was very interesting. They all lead exactly the same lives and say exactly the same things about it and then claim, against all the available evidence, that it’s very interesting.”

The BBC Micro geek inside me is amused that, when refused permission to film inside St John’s College (or rather, when the production team balk at the £200 per hour fee they would be charged) he apologises for this fact while sitting in the Baron of Beef pub, also the infamous setting for the time when Clive Sinclair and Chris Curry of Acorn got into a fistfight over the awarding of the contract for the BBC Micro.

The footage from the original Hitchhiker’s radio show rehearsals and recordings is always good to see, it’s a shame they had to crop them down to fit them in to a ‘hyperland’ style computer interface.

What does make this profile interesting is that Douglas hasn’t actually finished writing the book when the interview takes place, although it’s supposed to be finished and well on its way to publication,

There’s no writer credit for the show. I wonder if Michael Bywater had a hand in the linking sections.

Following the South Bank Show, there’s an episode of Wogan interviewing Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. This interview also includes a roundup of exercise videos, including one by Angela Lansbury. “Money for Old rope” as Hugh Laurie says.

Recording switches after this to a trailer for Acceptable Risks.

Then we have something that it’s hard to believe ever happened.

BBC2 got Jerry Sadowitz to make a TV series. 10 O’Clock on weekdays. If you know anything about Sadowitz’s stage act, you’d know why this is quite a feat to pull off. And how successful it was probably depends on what you think of Sadowitz in the first place. I’ve never been a big fan, so I can’t say if this worked well as a reflection of his usual work, but at least it had a lot of energy.

It’s called The Pall Bearer’s Revue, and you can find the odd episode on YouTube. One surprising thing that comes out of it is that Sadowitz is actually pretty good at playing other characters. It’s not something he does much elsewhere (I presume people are too afraid to ask him) but here he does a lot of different characters, and makes a good job of it.

This was the last episode in the series. It even featured an early appearances by Alastair McGowan, Nick Hancock and even Ben Miller as one of Sadowitz’s acolytes.

Ben Miller as Jerry Sadowitz

Followig this, there’s a trailer for The Late Show, then Newsnight. Amusingly, the top story is whether the Scottish Secretary’s attempts to preserve the Union are causing electoral disaster in Scotland.

Halfway through Newsnight, that recording stops, and underneath is a previous recording, once again of The Pall Bearer’s Revue. This implies I didn’t like the programme enough to want to keep them, and taped over ones I’d already recorded. That’s not like me, so I feel slightly guilty about it.

There’s only a small part of this episode left, but afterwards, there’s another whole episode, with yet another appearance by Ben Miller.

"Who's your favourite comedian." "Ben Elton"

“Who’s your favourite comedian.” “Ben Elton”

Following this episode, recording switches, to the end of an Arena special on Desert Island Discs. Then, a trailer for another Arena, where artist Peter Blake wants to paint the wrestler Kendo Nagasaki.

Then we have an advert for TV Licensing, performed by the cast of Birds of a Feather. It’s as hilarious and heartwarming as a typical episode of the sitcom.

Then, there’s another episode of The Pall Bearer’s Revue. This one features a guest appearance from Arnold Brown.

This is followed by a trailer for A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and another for Victoria Wood. Then a trail for The Late Show talking about who really killed JFK, in the wake of Oliver Stone’s film.

Then, Newsnight, leading on the brand new Citizen’s Charter from John Major.

The recording finishes about 8 minutes in to Newsnight.