Month: June 2014

David Lean – A Life in Film – tape 1173

First on this tape (aside from 6 seconds of bacon frying, from an episode of The Real McCoy) is David Lean – A Life in Film, first shown in 1985 and broadcast here as a tribute to the late Director.

It’s presented by Melvyn Bragg, although it’s not a regular South Bank Show, as evidenced by the lack of SBS titles. It’s a very good film, talking a lot to Lean on location for A Passage To India and watching the shooting of several scenes, with Lean talking about the needs of the scenes, and how he has to sometimes change things on the day of shooting.

Perhaps the most striking part of the interview is when Bragg talks to Lean about his previous film Ryan’s Daughter, a film which was famously reviled by the critics. Lean admits candidly that part of the reason he waited 14 years to make another film was due to the mauling he got, specifically when he was invited to a luncheon at the Algonquin hotel by the National Society of Film Critics in New York. It didn’t start well, with Richard Schickel opening his remarks with the question “How could the man who made Brief Encounter come up with a piece of shit like Ryan’s Daughter?”

At the end of the event, feeling rather beleaguered, Lean said “I don’t think you ladies and gentlemen will be satisfied until I do a film in 16mm and Black & White,” to which Pauline Kael retorted “No, you can have colour.” He didn’t make another movie for 14 years. Mark Kermode, in his book Hatchet Job puts forward the thesis that critics don’t have much effect on a film’s performance at the box office, and indeed Lean claims the film was popular with audiences: “It played at the Empire for a year” he said. But here’s an example of critics virtually forcing a filmmaker into retirement.

Unusually for this type of documentary, it even boasts an original score, by Howard Goodall. Perhaps that was cheaper than licensing film music for use outside of film clips.

Following the documentary, there’s a trailer for Drowning by Numbers.

Then, recording switches to part of an edition of Manhattan Cable, the show which presents excerpts from programmes broadcast on Manhattan’s cable-access channel, where they have to show basically whatever people send in. Most of it is pretty bad – it’s like a pre-internet version of YouTube. One interesting participant is Al Goldstein, publisher of porn magazines, who had a regular show called Midnight Blue, which, on the basis of the clip shown here, consists of him sitting in his garden complaining about his neighbours. More entertaining is a very early TV appearance for RuPaul, who talks to the denizens of New York’s meat-packing district at night (RuPaul characterises them as “transvestite hookers” but I suspect there’s a far more sensitive label we could use today).

The presenter of Manhattan Cable, Laurie Pike, became something of a minor Channel 4 celebrity, even getting a home-grown show, Ring My Bell, where a gaggle of minor celebrities would answer calls from random members of the public. It was never as interesting as you think it might have been.

Laurie Pike

Recording stops during this episode.


  • NatWest – Daniel’s Mum
  • Scottish Power Companies – Alan Cummings as Caesar

Alan Cummings Scottish Power

  • Air UK
  • Kit Kat
  • Access – Steve Steen
  • Air UK
  • Gini – looks like a teaser ad for a primary campaign
  • BT Business Catalogue
  • Castrol GTX
  • Ronseal
  • Norwich Union Healthcare
  • McDonalds
  • Midland Bank
  • Renault Clio
  • Telford
  • Tango
  • BT Business Catalogue
  • Bernard Matthews Turkey Steaks
  • Repossessed – the movie on video
  • Norwich Union Healthcare

Quantum Leap – tape 1181

Well, sometimes these tapes are like a palimpsest, with recordings over recordings, occasionally revealed underneath. This one hints at past lives at the start, with not one, but four recordings, layered over one another. It’s almost like geological strata.

I’d be particularly interested in knowing what the Channel 4 new comedy programme was. Also, it probably lets you form some kind of value judgement about me, that I’d tape over The Killing of Sister George with episodes of Quantum Leap.

The Quantum Leap episodes recorded here are:

Before the third episode, there’s a slice of Wimbledon (coincidentally, since Wimbledon is running as I type) with Gabriella Sabatini vs Jennifer Capriati.

After the third episode, recording switches to something new. There’s the end of a documentary about disability rights, called Disabled Lives.

There’s a BBC self-promotion advert for its Natural History productions.

Then, a bespoke trailer for The Best of Saturday Night Clive featuring Mel Brooks.

Next, a lovely unlabelled treat, with an episode of Mel Smith’s sitcom Colin’s Sandwich. This episode is A Piece of Cake.

I’m not sure if I’ve got many episodes of this show on tape, so it’s a treat for me to find this one. As well as featuring 90s comedy mainstays Tony Haase and Lee Cornes, Red Dwarf’s own Robert Llewellyn appears looking incomprehensibly young as a priest officiating at a wedding.

Robert Llewellyn as The Priest

In this episode, Colin is asked to be best man for his friend. He tries to do things differently, but his attempts at novelty and subtlety are less than successful. I also spotted the voice of Geoffrey McGivern on the phone at one point, Radio’s Ford Prefect.

Following this, there’s a trailer for an Alan Bennett season. Then a trail for the documentary series Town Hall.

And finishing off the tape, the start of the previously trailed Best of Saturday Night Clive.

The Wonder Years – tape 1165

Here’s a fairly unremarkable tape, with episodes of The Wonder Years.

In amongst the episodes are a trailer for A Love Divided. Also, a trail for GBH. Following the final episode on the tape there’s a trailer for Teenage Health Freak. And a trailer for Hard News. Plus a trailer for the fascinating looking Go Fishing.

Then, before the tape stops, there’s the start of Fragile Earth: Safari.


  • Mr Tom Peanut Crunch
  • Nat West – Filling The Machine – “It’s not all work, work, work”
  • Garnier Grafic
  • Canon
  • Sharwoods Curry Paste
  • Daily Mirror
  • Tesco
  • TV Quick
  • Holsten Export
  • Hi-Tec
  • Canon
  • Baileys Irish Cream – Jesse Birdsall delivers ice
  • Orangina
  • Tesco
  • Ferrero Rafaello
  • Braun Curling Tongs
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • Volvo 940 GL
  • Sunkist
  • American Airlines
  • Yellow Pages
  • TSB
  • Herb Tea from the Londond Herb and Spice Company
  • Sainsburys
  • Samsonite
  • The Two Scottish Electricity Companies
  • St Ivel Shape
  • Volkswagen Polo

Arena – Whose Line is it Anyway – Dancing With The Devil – tape 1153

Here’s another mixed bag of a tape. Something for everyone?

We start with an episode of Arena profiling Kenneth Anger, chronicler of the seedier side of Hollywood with his book Hollywood Babylon.

The programme uses Mike McShane (see later) to play Fatty Arbuckle, the disgraced silent movie star, in faux documentary footage.

Mike McShane IS Fatty Arbuckle

Following Arena, there’s Whose Line is it Anyway?, with some American editions, still presented by Clive Anderson. These editions featured:

  • Josie Lawrence, Mike McShane (told you), Colin Mochrie & Ryan Stiles
  • Mike McShane, Jim Meskimen, Christopher Smith & Sandi Toksvig
  • Archie Hahn, Mike McShane, John Sessions & Ryan Stiles

Before the second episode, there’s a trailer for Only Joking, part of the Banned season, featuring Andrew Dice Clay, and Sexual Intercourse Began In 1963, about the Lady Chatterly trial. There’s also a trailer for a 4-Play called Seduction.

Before the third episode there’s a trailer for The Last Crop.

Following the third episode, more trailers for Banned programmes The Truth About Lies and The Front.

Then, there’s another programme in the Banned season, Dancing with the Devil. This is a fascinating documentary about the campaign among some religious groups in America against ‘satanic’ music. It also looks at the PMRC and their ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers, including a footage of John Denver and Twisted Sister’s Dee Snyder testifying before congress against censorship of music.

Dee Snyder

After a couple of tragic stories where Heavy Metal music was tangentially invoked as a factor in suicide and teen murder (despite one of the murderers himself saying it was ridiculous to suggest the music was a cause) the programme moves to the UK, and starts to get a bit silly, with Alex Maloney from Burton on Trent demonstrating the sinister practice of ‘backmasking’.

He rather trips himself up with his first stab – with a genuine section of backward recording from a Prince track which, when reversed, says “Hello, how are you? I’m fine, so fine, ‘cos I know that the Lord is coming soon.”

Alex then asks, portentously, “Which Lord is it that Prince refers to? Is it the Lord Jesus Christ? Or is it the Lord Satan?” To which anyone who knows anything about Prince would answer “It’s Jesus, isn’t it?”

Sadly, on this tape we only have part one of this documentary, so we’ll have to wait for part two, in which Rob Halford from Judas Priest finds his own hidden messages in his music .

Recording stops at the ad break (where I was switching tapes) and underneath, there’s the start of Seduction – Four Short Plays. Just before this, there’s a brief trailer for the film version of Scum, whose TV incarnation was banned by the BBC.

Recording stops shortly after the play starts.


  • Sunday Telegraph
  • Just Juice
  • Hermesetas Light
  • Lunn Poly
  • Renault Clio – this advert is on virtually every tape from this period. I hope they sold a lot of cars, because they spent a ton on adverts.
  • Sunday Telegraph
  • Garnier Grafic
  • Hermesetas Light
  • Turkey tourism
  • Bradford & Bingley
  • ADT
  • The London Secretary Show
  • Midland Bank
  • Polaroid
  • Tia Maria
  • Midland Bank
  • Rumbelows
  • Setlers Tums
  • Carlsberg
  • Sunday Telegraph
  • Renault Clio (you see what I mean?)
  • Quorn
  • Esso Collection
  • Love Talk – chatline
  • Del Monte
  • ADT
  • Michelin
  • Sunday Times

Inspector Morse – Truckers – tape 1135

It’s Inspector Morse again, with the episode Promised Land. Directed by John Madden, later to direct Shakespeare In Love. It’s a special episode – Morse and Lewis have to travel to Australia to interrogate an old gangster for information about a case in Oxford. Naturally, while they’re there (incognito, since the gangster is under witness protection) a crime is committed, and Morse spends much of the programme sniping at the methods of the local policeman, who doesn’t know Morse is a policeman.

This is all a bit of a travelogue – it even ends with a shot of the Sydney Opera House, because naturally Morse has a ticket for Der Rosenkavailier.

Morse is followed by Episode 6 of Truckers, the Cosgrove Hall adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel.

Then, recording switches, there’s the end of an episode of Animaniacs, some ads, then Episode 7 of Truckers.

More Animaniacs precedes Episodes 8 and 9. Then, recording continues with an episode of Spatz, the children’s sitcom set in a fast food restaurant. The recording stops right after this programme.


  • Burger King
  • Milky Bar
  • Finish
  • Clearasil
  • Ready Brek
  • Weetos
  • Spiller’s Good Life
  • Rapeze
  • Pampers
  • Frosties
  • Disability Benefits – Ian Dury
  • Rapeze
  • Maxwell House
  • Rice Krispies
  • Ideal Home Plus
  • M&Ms
  • Vileda Supermop
  • Homepride
  • Disability Benefits

Up Pompeii! – tape 1133

On this tape, some episodes from a repeat showing of Frankie Howerd’s Up Pompeii.

Before the third episode, there’s the end of an episode of On The Line – a sports news programme looking at football agents. There’s a trailer for Video Diaries, and a trailer for Divorce.

Before episode 4 there’s more from On The Line. A trailer for Vamp.

Another chunk of On The Line precedes the fifth episode, with a trailer for Knightriders.

After the fifth episode there’s a very boring trailer for Paramount City, then recording continues with the start of an episode of Divorce, a documentary series about, well, divorce. Recording stops during this programme.

Sex and the Censors – A World Apart – tape 1149

Before the first programme, some ads, and a trail for A World Apart, later on the tape.

Then we have Sex and the Censors, part of Channel 4’s Banned series. It “contains scenes that some viewers may consider too forthright for their personal taste.”

Derek Jarman and Ken Russell are interviewed. Russell talks about a specific scene in Crimes of Passion which the censor thought was too much, and he talks about the ‘fair deal’ he got from the censor, where the offending shots were removed, but other shots were substituted to avoid cutting the music.

This is a good documentary about the history of film censorship, although I could do without the ‘Lover’s Guide’-style specially filmed sequences supposed to demonstrate the limits of censorship at various times and in various places.

When it gets to to the 60s, “Female and male nudity wasn’t only allowed, it was almost compulsory.” Sounds like the HBO programme-makers’ guidelines.

Derek Malcolm on Death Wish 2: “I wouldn’t have cut it, I’d have burnt it.”

After this programme, there’s a trailer for more Banned shows – The Truth about Lies and Woody Allen’s The Front.

After the ads, a trailer for Defence of the Realm (a brilliant film, by the way). Then, we have A World Apart, directed by the great British Cinematographer Chris Menges, and written by Shawn Slovo, based on her childhood growing up in Apartheid South Africa.

Just as the film finishes, recording stops – it was on a timer, and I guess I didn’t leave enough buffer time. Underneath is an older recording, with a bit of Antoine de Caunes and Rapido. There’s a report on Heavenly Records. There’s about 8 minutes of this before the tape stops.


  • Crown Advance Paints
  • Walkers Crisps
  • Crunchie
  • Rover 800
  • Royal Mail
  • Tennent’s LA
  • Stella Artois
  • RAC Reflex
  • Del Monte
  • Telford
  • Esso Collection
  • Ireland
  • Andersen Consulting
  • Tennent’s Extra
  • Abbey National
  • Kit Kat
  • Cheddarie
  • Quorn
  • ICI
  • Reebok
  • Castella Classic – Russ Abbot
  • Herta
  • Crown Advance
  • Census
  • Michelin
  • Cadbury’s Twirl
  • Sharwood’s
  • Granary
  • Old El Paso Tacos
  • Tate & Lyle & Silver Spoon
  • Renault Clio
  • Vanity Fair
  • Tia Maria
  • Equity & Law
  • Hamlet
  • Lycra
  • BT
  • Daily Mail – “Royal Wives Who Break The Rules”
  • Nationwide