Month: July 2014

A Fish Called Wanda – tape 1306

It’s Christmas on BBC1, and one of their big movies is A Fish Called Wanda.

BBC1 Christmas Logo 2

A Fish Called Wanda is great fun. It opens with a title sequence where each character is introduced with the actor’s name on screen – a habit I sometimes wish other films would follow – it makes it much easier to identify them.

The opening music, by Python musical stalwart John Du Prez, is so emblematic of British films of the 70s and 80s. Opening with a fanfare over a shot of Tower Bridge, and John Cleese summing up in court, and switching to a heavy drum-beat ‘crime’ theme for Jamie Lee Curtis which evokes The SweeneyThe Professionals and A Long Good Friday. It’s as if they’ve distilled the essence of 70s crime movies.

Wanda is a very funny film. Cleese does a good job playing the fairly straight hero, possibly as an attempt to distance himself from Basil Fawlty. The main beneficiary of this choice is Kevin Kline, who gets to play the manic Otto, a superb blend of charm and lunacy. He deservedly defied convention when he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, since comedy performances are often overlooked by awards.

After the movie, recording switches to an unlabelled recording, this time in Long Play (something I rarely did). It’s Jackie Chan in Police Story.

One of the advantages of having a subtitled film like this is that it’s broadcast in letterbox format, rather than pan & Scanned, and the subtitles are placed below the film frame.

Police Story


After the movie, a trailer for a series of programmes from the works of Graham Greene.

Then, Channel 4 closes down.


  • Yellow Pages
  • Vick’s Sinex
  • Hatfield Galleria
  • Sun Progress dishwasher powder
  • Guinness
  • Colman’s English Mustard
  • Black & Decker
  • Daz – Janet Ellis
  • Domestos
  • Ford Escort Encore, Orion Encore, Sierra Chasseur, Sierra Quartz
  • Fairy Liquid
  • Chatterbox
  • Bounce
  • Colman’s mustard
  • Vick’s Sinex
  • Kelloggs Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
  • Oil of Ulay
  • Wash & Go
  • Chatback
  • Ariel Ultra
  • Chatterbox
  • Chip Pan Fires – Keith Floyd

Soap – tape 1196

A tape full of Soap. But it starts with a pop video, on a show called Raw Power with Phil Alexander and Ann Kirk.

Then, an ITN news bulletin, leading with the news that Margaret Thatcher is to leave the House of Commons at the next election. “She hinted she would like a seat in the Lords.”

Then, we have another episode of Soap. Corinne’s son is possessed, Billy is in love with a member of a strange religious cult, and Burt has seen a UFO. Par for the course.

Before the next episode, another ITN Bulletin, leading with the missing billions from BCCI bank in Luxembourg.

The next episode is the one where Burt is kidnapped by aliens.

Before the next episode, more from Raw Power.

And again, before the next episode. Some forgettable hair band singing “Your Love is like a building on fire” ad nauseam.

Next episode – also preceded by Raw Power. They’re playing a top ten, and now I understand why I don’t recognise any of the bands – this is a dedicated heavy metal music show. What’s very odd is that almost every video is monochrome.

After the final episode, recording continues with Pro Beach Volleyball. There’s five minutes of this before the tape runs out.


  • Party Time chatline
  • Love Match Horoscope
  • More Than a Feeling – Teledisc
  • Volvo 940 GL
  • Finesse
  • Barclays
  • Capital Gold – Kenny Everett
  • Chatback
  • Love Match Horoscope
  • Federal Express
  • Sensodyne F
  • ICI
  • Too Hot to Handle
  • Partytime chatline
  • Shower Electric
  • HMV – Gipsy Kings
  • Carlsberg
  • Radox Shower Fresh
  • Woolworths – Bette Midler – Some People’s Lives
  • Royal Mail Stamps
  • Love Match Horoscopes
  • Carling BLack Label
  • Barclays
  • Love Match Horoscopes
  • Rose Royce/Chic – greatest hits
  • Allied
  • Paula Abdul – Spellbound
  • Thin Ice 2 – Woolworths
  • Fujifilm
  • Holsten Pils – Jeff Goldblum
  • Tia Maria
  • M&G
  • Karaoke Challenge
  • Labatts – Slatterywatch alert

Carrott’s Commercial Breakdown – Films of the Year 1991 – tape 1300

The tape starts with Carrott’s Commercial Breakdown already in progress. This is the second programme they did in this series, when it was one-off programmes. It was shown at Christmas 1991.

Following this, some trailers, one for Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, and for Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun.

Then, we have Barry Norman and his run-down of Films of the Year 1991. For the record, Barry’s 10 best films of the year are:

Tom Brook reports from New York on how the recession was affecting Hollywood.

Barry’s list of Top Ten Turkeys is:

  1. The Bonfire of the Vanities
  2. Men at Work
  3. Problem Child
  4. Drop Dead Fred
  5. Look Who’s Talking Too
  6. Curly Sue
  7. Omen IV
  8. Life Stinks
  9. Rocky V
  10. The Rookie

Following Films of the Year, recording switches to Channel 4, and a recording not labelled on the tape – The Saw Doctors – Sing a Powerful Song. The Saw Doctors were an Irish band, from Tuam in County Galway, and I heard some of their music on family holidays. They were huge in Ireland, but I don’t think they made as big an impression in the UK. Lots of folky, singalong songs with loads of Irish references.

After the programme, there’s half a trailer for thirtysomething, then the recording finishes.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Something Wild – tape 1188

First on this tape is episode 6 of the classic BBC spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy.

This is immediately followed by a Moviedrome presentation of Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild.

When I first saw Something Wild I didn’t like it, and for a reason that might be very specific to me. At the start of the movie, Jeff Daniel meets Melanie Griffiths when she catches him walking out of a diner without paying his bill. Then, in short order, Daniel (married with kids, good, traditional job) goes for a ride with her, and ends up in a motel with her, lying to his boss about why he won’t be back that afternoon. Then he phones his wife, making some excuse about why he might not be back that night.

The story gets very wacky after this, but I’d already taken against it, because of his betrayal of his wife. I don’t know why, but men cheating on their wives really bothers me in movies. It happens all the time (hell, it’s even the core of the plot in some movies, *cough* Fatal Attraction *cough*) but it always bothers me. When I watched this movie first time, at this point I had already decided I didn’t like Jeff Daniel’s character because of this, and consequently had trouble enjoying the rest of the movie.

Which is a pity (for me) because towards the end of the movie, we learn that his home life is somewhat different than we had been led to believe, and throws his behaviour at the start of the movie into clear perspective.

In a way, I felt a bit cheated by the filmmakers – I had sat through the movie, disliking their main character for a completely spurious reason, when I could have just had fun following the increasingly bizarre situations he found himself in. But I realise the problem is mine for having such old-fashioned views on fidelity. Looked at now, the film is a lot more enjoyable.

Following the movie, Richie Benaud introduces some highlights from a Test match between England and The West Indies. The recording stops after about 4 minutes of this.

Dream On – tape 1302

More episodes of the slightly saucy sitcom from the future creators of Friends. Also, reputedly, the origin of the HBO screen static logo.

Kaufmann & Crane

The first episode here is “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told” but it’s part 2 of this two-part second season opener, packed with star guests.

There’s Tom Berenger.

Tom Berenger

Mimi Rogers.

Mimi Rogers

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone

Stephen Furst

Stephen Furst


David Bowie Dream On

The next three episodes are And Your Little Dog, Too, The Thirty-Seven Year Itch and Calling The Kettle Black.

Before the next episode, Channel 4 have a funky new logo to try out on us.

Funky C4 logo

Futile Attraction guest stars executive producer John Landis himself. Well, he does like putting directors in his movies.

Yes it's John Landis

The last two episodes here are No, I’m Just Happy To See You and Pants on Fire.

Following the last episode, there’s a trailer for Adam: His Song Continues, a soapy-looking TV movie. Then a quick trailer for The Word.

After the ads, a trailer for Rock the Box.

Then, before the end of the tape, we have Aaah! Sean, a combination Dublin travelogue and stand-up show, with cameo appearance by Bob Mortimer. “So do I look like Morrissey then?”

Bob Mortimer and Sean Hughes

The stand-up is the same as this one, but the framing material is different.

My recording stops about 15 minutes into this programme.


  • Pet Shop Boys – Discography
  • Maxwell House
  • Woolworths – The Little Mermaid
  • Accurist
  • HMV – Moods
  • Nintendo Game Boy
  • Samsara
  • Lisa Stansfield
  • Babycham
  • McDonalds
  • Pet Shop Boys – Discography
  • Habitat
  • Richard Clayderman and James Last – Together at Last
  • H. Samuel
  • Beechams Hot Lemon
  • HMV – Enya – Shepherd Moons
  • Canada
  • Midland bank
  • Yellow Pages
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • TV Licence
  • Renault Clio
  • Knorr stock cubes

GBH – tape 1186

I’ve written about GBH before on other tapes, most notably here. It’s brilliant, you should watch it and you can watch it on 4oD.

There’s an interesting aspect to this tape (for me). I clearly taped it twice, possibly because the first showing had poor reception, but a fragment of the introduction to the first episode is still there, before the second recording appears, and the two different continuity announcers are clearly using the same script, warning about ‘strong words’ – and no wonder, since it opens with Michael Murray and his entourage jogging, and chanting ‘Fuck that Lenin, Fuck that Marx, Fuck the Workers, Fuck the Bosses’ etc.  Definitely post-watershed material.

The first episode here is “Send a Message to Michael”. Tom Georgeson’s shadowy advisor to the left-wing ideologue Melvyn is revealed as an agent provocateur, inciting racial tensions by sending thugs to beat up black and asian men, and leaving police warrant cards near the scene. Seems like the most clumsy frame-up, but this show is nothing if not broad strokes.

After the programme, a trailer for Without Walls. Then, this recording ends, and reveals underneath the same episode, coming to an end, so I had probably recorded over it in order to remove the ad breaks (sorry to anyone who reads these for the advert listings).

After this other programme, recording switches to Right to Reply, Channel 4’s viewer feedback show, hosted by a very serious looking Rory McGrath. This episode, not coincidentally, looks at GBH, and features Derek Hatton, the former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council, who believed that GBH was a personal attack on him.

Serious Rory Mcgrath

But before that, they put the boot into Paul Morley and his programme The Thing Is….  It’s not kind.

“And one more thing. Always keep your bottom in shot. After all, how else is the sound recordist going to hear you speak.”

Paul Morley's Bottom

There’s some impressive facial hair from Richard Leighton, complaining about a programme about the M11 link road.

Impressive facial hair

Then, the meat of the show. Derek Hatton face the producer of GBH and complains that people believe it’s based on him and the events at Liverpool council in the 80s. It’s worth seeing if you’ve enjoyed GBH.

I don’t think the producer does a very good job of putting his case. Hatton makes a far better case that the fiction is barely disguised fact. I don’t know if Bleasdale has spoken since about the origins of GBH but I’d be amazed if it didn’t have its roots in Hatton’s council.

After this programme, another recording switch. There’s the tail end of a programme apparently called PoW – a regional TV round-up from Yorkshire TV.

Then, we have an episode of Soap. “We begin this episode shortly after Burt has found out he’s going to die.” It’s with episodes like this that the great sitcoms show themselves. Richard Mulligan gives a great performance.

It’s followed by an ITN bulletin. Then, an ITN World News programme. The lead story is the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. There’s also a strange report on barcodes – still relatively new at this time.

They even throw in The Terminator just to make it more scary.

The recording ends after this bulletin.


  • Air Power – 4 video set about fast planes
  • American Express – Chris Barrie voices a pompous commercial. “I only knew two words of Hungarian: American Express.”
  • Teledisc – Legends and Heroes
  • Federal Express
  • Talking Pages – John Cleese


Star Trek The Next Generation – tape 1170

Oh good grief, do BBC continuity announcers get no training at all in Star Trek technology?

“Now on BBC2 we blast into hyperspace with the Next Generation of Star Trek”

Hyperspace? Oh dear oh dear.

After greeting some new arrivals to the ship, Riker joins Picard for a game of Quasar.

Picard and Riker play Quasar

Picard offers Riker the chance to take part in an exchange trip to a Klingon ship. Oh dear, more Klingon bollocks. You can tell this, because it’s titled A Matter of Honor.

Meanwhile, an alien from another race is doing his exchange on board Enterprise, and annoying everyone with his suggestions at ways they could improve their procedures.

And over on the Klingon ship, Riker’s duty to serve the Klingon ship is tested when they decide they have to attack the Enterprise.

The next episode starts with the almost ubiquitous Poker game. Geordie, Data, Riker, O’Brien and Pulaski play. Perhaps I was wrong about Klingons. I find Poker to be even more boring than Klingon honor.

Nice to see some of the old models from the movies getting reused.

Old Trek Models

Picard meets an old flame/nemesis n the space station, so you know she’s going to play a major part in the plot. This episode is The Measure of the Man, one of the best episodes of the second season (although that’s not necessarily high praise).

A Starfleet officer wants to disassemble Data so he can better understand the technology, since Data’s creator died some time ago. Data, and the rest of the command crew, mistrust his competence and grasp of the technology, and have to try to assert Data’s right to refuse to submit to the procedure.

Data is transferred to the command of the officer, Maddox, so his only option is to resign from Starfleet.

Maddox is a bit of a dick. When Picard talks about Data’s right not to submit, Maddox says “Rights, rights, I’m sick to death of hearing about rights. What about my right not to have my life’s work subverted by blind ignorance?” He sounds like he’s be right at home on the internet.

Maddox won’t let Data resign, and claims that he’s the property of Starfleet, and has no rights. Picard has to defend his right to be treated as a sentient being, and Riker, as the next ranking officer, has to represent the case against. Riker goes first, and makes a compelling case that Data is merely a machine that mimics the appearance of sentience. His presentation culminates in him switching Data off.

The next scene is the heart of this episode. It is a scene between Picard and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg in a recurring role as the Enterprise’s wise bartender and old friend of Picard). It’s a beautifully written and delicately played scene, as  they talk about the implications of judging Data as property, and then, of making more of him. “You don’t have to think about their welfare, you don’t think about how they feel. Whole generations of disposable people.”

Picard’s defense of Data is no less brilliant. The casting of Patrick Stewart in the role pays off in spades, but the writing is also top-notch. In many ways it’s a superb example of what Star Trek is specially good at – taking philosophical questions with contemporary relevance and examining them through a science fiction metaphor. It’s always better when it’s about people.

The next episode isn’t quite as much of a classic. It’s The Dauphin, in which a young girl Salia, the future ruler of a planet, and her governess, join the Enterprise so she can return to her planet and (it is hoped) bring peace to a long warring planet. Her governess seems to be a shapeshifter, occasionally becoming some kind of ewok.

A princess and her ewok

However, she’s distracted from her noble purpose because she met Ensign Wesley in a corridor, and now he’s all she can think about. And the same is true of Wesley.

Yes, Wesley’s in love, so we have scenes of Wesley asking the crew how he should approach the girl, and he gets advice with varying levels of cringe.

And her governess is roaming the ship looking for threats against her charge. She discovers a sick man in sickbay, determines there’s a miniscule chance of infection, so demands he is killed. When Doctor Pulaski demurs, she goes crazy-mad-humongous ewok.

Big ewok

And it also turns out Salia is also a shapeshifter. Wesley is upset at first, but in the end he must still be in love, because he brings her chocolate to say goodbye. She changes into her true form before transporting to her planet.

Goodbye Salia

Poor Wesley.

After this episode, there’s a look ahead to tonight’s programmes on BBC2, then the very start of Rough Guides, at which point recording stops.