Month: November 2014

Have I Got News For You – The Hitcher – tape 632

Some topical fun, with Deayton-era Have I Got News for You. First episode features John Sessions and Griff Rhys Jones, who look frighteningly alike in this episode.

John Sessions and Griff Rhys Jones

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 16 October 1992 22.00

Following this episode, we switch to Sky Movies Plus for The Hitcher. C. Thomas Howell picks up Rutger Hauer on a quiet road, and quickly regrets it.

Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher

After the movie, there’s a trailer for American Kickboxer.

This recording stops, and underneath, an older recording where the first thing we see is someone asleep in a chair, with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom playing on a TV behind them.

Asleep at Christmas

It’s a documentary about Christmas, narrated by Noel Edmonds, So This Is ChristmasBBC One London, 21 December 1988 23.00

Following this, there’s a BBC news bulletin, unscheduled, because of the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

News reports like this starkly illustrate how different our world is now. In a fairly lengthy bulletin, with experts and people on the scene, not once was the word ‘terrorist’ used. ‘Sabotage’ is used once or twice, but even the expert thinks that structural failure or some other catastrophe is far more likely.

It was a different world. I think I prefer it.

After this, Barry Norman introduces The Cruel Sea, and because he does believe in ethics in film journalism, he admits up front that his father produced the film.

The tape finishes during the movie.

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A Masculine Ending – The South Bank Show – tape 601

Before the first programme on this tape, Lenny Henry trails Comic Relief 1992: Behind the Nose.

Then we have a good-looking BBC drama, A Masculine Ending, based on the novel by Joan Smith, adapted by Alma Cullen and directed by Antonia Bird. It stars Janet McTeer as a linguistics professor who, on a trip to Paris to attend a symposium on ‘The Masculine Ending in German and French’, finds evidence of murder, but no body, in the flat she’s borrowing from a professor at another college. This is the start of a low-key, very well behaved mystery which has much the same feel and rhythm as an episode of Inspector Morse, with many of the same trappings – colleges, porters, dysfunctional professors and lovelorn students.

Janet McTeer Imelda Staunton

It’s a nice film, which does its best to amp up the odd scene with shrieking violins, but which has very little incident, and also, it seems, very little detecting from the lead. In fact, the mystery is entirely revealed by the murderer themselves, who willing tells all to McTeer. It’s actually her friend, Imelda Staunton, who discovers about the only clue, too late to benefit McTeer.

But it has a very good cast – Bill Nighy plays McTeer’s ex husband, Kevin McNally plays an extremely shifty professor who only really needed a moustache to twiddle to make him look more suspicious, while Greg Wise plays a youthful love interest for McTeer.

Greg Wise Janet McTeer

BBC Genome:  BBC One London, 12 April 1992 19.45

After the programme, recording switches to ITV and The South Bank Show on the making of David Cronenberg’s fim of Naked Lunch. I’ve enjoyed many of Cronenberg’s films, but I have to admit, Naked Lunch didn’t really do it for me. Drugs in films have always really bored me, and this was no different. The programme contains interviews with Cronenberg, producer Jeremy Thomas, and William S Burroughs himself.

Following this there’s a trailer for another South Bank Show on Rudolph Nureyev. There’s also a trailer for Hale & Pace.

Then, the start of The American Match, some American football.

Recording stops shortly after this programme starts, and underneath is something a little more highbrow – A symphony orchestra playing something I’m not familiar with, possibly at the proms, since it’s definitely at the Albert Hall. It sounds vaguely Wagnerian.

Nope – it’s apparently Scriabin. This is Omnibus at the Proms, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lothar Zagrozek.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 5 August 1988 22.20 

Then, just before the tape finishes, there’s the beginning of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, a Hammer film starring Peter Cushing.

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Lost In Space – The Chronicles of Narnia – Testament pt 2 – tape 598

Before the programme, there’s a trailer for Hill Street Blues.

Then, an episode of Lost In Space, on of the later series, in colour. It’s The Prisoners of Space.

After this, a trailer for This is David Lander.

There’s also a trailer for Look Back in Anger.

Then there’s the beginning of The Big Parade, a silent movie with a score by Carl Davis.

After a couple of minutes of that, recording switches to BBC1 and The Clothes Show13 November 1988 17.10

Then, episode 1 of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. A brave attempt to do justice to C.S. Lewis’ books with 1980s TV technology. It could, perhaps, have done with slightly better child actors – always a problem.

After the programme there’s a trailer for Simon and the Witch.

Then, the start of Spelling It Out, an adult literacy programme featuring Don Henderson. 13 November 1988 18.10

Don Henderson Spelling It Out

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 13 November 1988 17.40

After a couple of minutes, recording switches to Channel Four, for an episode of Testament, John Romer’s documentary about the historical basis for the bible. This is the episode Chronicles and Kings.

Following this programme, there’s a trailer for the Paul Newman film Hombre.

Then, in a changed to the scheduled programme, The Television Revolution is a studio debate on the future of television, given the recent changes in legislation (which would result in major upheaval in the ITV landscape). As Sissons outlines, the changes include:

A fifth commercial channel, more satellite channels in addition to those already in the pipeline, a move towards subscription instead of licence fees for the BBC, and the auctioning of ITV franchises.

It’s a shame there’s only a few minutes of this programme, as it might have been interesting to see more than just Peter Sisson’s summing up of the current state of the television landscape.

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Mean Streets – Midnight Movie – tape 1888

First on this tape is a Channel 4 showing of Scorsese’s Mean Streets. as part of their DeNiro season.

DeNiro Bust

Following Mean Streets, recording switches to the end of The King and I. Then there’s a trail for The Addams Family, then another trailer for programmes for Holiday Tuesday.

Holiday Tuesday

Then there’s a trailer for Soldiers for Peace about the UN.

Then, a Screen Two presentation of Midnight Movie, starring Jim Carter, Louise Germaine and Brian Dennehy, and written by Dennis Potter. It was the last film written by Potter before he died.

I’ve tried to like Dennis Potter’s stuff. I really have. I quite enjoyed Pennies from Heaven, but mostly because I was young at the time, and it was a bit rude. But Potter’s work always seems to boil down to middle-aged men having sex with beautiful young women. And not much else. Midnight Movie fits that mould perfectly. If movies and TV haven’t been lying to me all these years, I seem to be the only middle-aged man who doesn’t fantasize about having sex with attractive young women, so Potter’s endless bonking just bores me.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 26 December 1994 21.10

Following the movie, there’s a trailer for a drama starring Emma Thompson (who, coincidentally, would be one of my fantasy dinner party guests) called The Blue Boy.

Then, there’s a trailer for Thelma and Louise.

The tape eventually finishes with the start of Woody Allen’s Another Woman, one of his serious films. BBC Two England, 26 December 1994 22.50

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It’s Garry Shandling’s Show – tape 1886

Now we have the first tape recorded off Bravo. Remember Bravo? The satellite channel that really didn’t know what it was, and seemed to change its identity (and target audience) every six months.

Before the programme, there’s a trailer for Master of the World.

Then, we have an episode of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. A sitcom that’s not afraid to admit it’s a sitcom, and which has removed the fourth wall entirely.

In this episode, following the Writers’ Strike, Garry has had to take a job in a travel agents.

In the next episode, Garry’s family and friends start advertising their products and companies on his show.

Leonard Smith cigarettes

 

It gets even more meta when Ian Buchanan, who plays Nancy’s boyfriend, also appears on the set of General Hospital as the character he plays on that show.

Before the next episode, there’s a clip of Lulu, from the sixties by the look of it, performing Shout.

Lulu

 

The next episode opens with credits over black, in silence. It’s a strange episode where Garry reminisces about playing ping pong when he was young, ending in a terrible injury that ended his ping pong career. 18 years later he’s asked to play in the condo ping pong tournament.

The next episode is a live election special. Much fun is had with Garry calling the 1988 election for Michael Dukakis.

Following this, a switch to BBC1, and there’s a trailer for a magic show I’ve never heard of, The Rudy Coby Show.

Then, an unlabelled treat (for me, at least) with Jonathan Ross Presents David Copperfield. It’s mostly a compilation of his TV illusions, with some conversation between Ross and Copperfield. But his TV stuff is usually pretty good, if you can handle the mullets and baggy jackets.

This looks like a repackaging of a previous Copperfield special, the one where Claudia Schiffer ‘interviewed’ him, and some parts of that are included. Among the illusions presented here are:

  • Vanishing the train carriage – a very good effect where he appears to levitate, then vanish an entire carriage from the Orient Express
  • Vanishing Train Carriage
  • Graffitti – a lower-key illusion where he predicts things that are shouted out from the audience
  • Passing through the Great Wall of China – not one of my favourites. Too much of the illusion relies on shadow effects, which I never find too impressive, and there’s a moment where it’s supposed to look like Copperfield is reaching out through the other side, pressing into a sheet, which is fairly obviously just the hands of the two assistants holding the sheet.
  • Death Saw – One of my favourites. It uses James Horner’s music from Aliens, which I love, and it’s set up as an escape, which goes horribly wrong. But mostly because it’s an exquisitely constructed illusion that really does look impossible. Frankly, even if it’s done in the most obvious way, it means that Copperfield must be pretty limber to fit into a space that just doesn’t look like he’d fit.
  • Death Saw
  • Flying – hands down my favourite of his illusions, and possibly my favourite illusion ever. OK, when all is said and done, it’s a man flying on wires, albeit incredibly cunningly designed and disguised wires. But what makes this a great illusion is not the pure mechanics of it, superb though they are, it’s the whole presentation. He starts by talking about the dreams he used to have as a child, of pushing against the air and flying, and when the illusion starts, he doesn’t start from a standing position – he’s lying down. He performs the flying well, really selling the idea he’s flying under his own power, and the narrative of the illusion works to reinforce that. First, there’s the rotating hoops, a classic way to ‘confirm’ there are no wires, then he’s ‘trapped’ in the glass box, which can’t prevent him flying. Finally, he takes a member of the audience and flies with her in his arms. The show finishes with him flying offstage, as a hawk flies to his arm. It’s just beautiful, and I can’t watch it without crying – I’ve had those dreams too.
  • Flying

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 26 August 1994 20.00

Following this, there’s a trailer for a season of classic ITC programmes.

Then a trailer for Common as Muck, a comedy about dustmen.

Then, the start of Commonwealth Games athletics. 26 August 1994 20.50

After a couple of minutes of that. recording switches back to Bravo, with a trailer of The Mind Benders, and The Wild Affair, and a trailer for a season of films from ‘the wild generation’.

Then, another episode of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, with the second part of the two part story – I’m missing the first part on this tape. Leonard is marrying a girl in Las Vegas, so Garry is on the plane when the episode starts.

After the show, there’s a trailer for 9 1/2 weeks.

After some ads, recording switches to BBC2, and a trailer for programmes on Bank Holiday Monday.

Then, another unbilled programme – an episode of Michael Moore’s TV Nation. In the first segment, they try to find out how suspicious a neighbour has to be before the neighbours notice something wrong.

Suspicious behaviour

They try to find out if you can buy small sized condoms. And Merrill Markoe looks at the national talk show guest registry.

Michael Moore tries to get tax breaks by threatening to move the show to New Jersey.

And Louis Theroux looks at the war in Mexico between Coke and Pepsi.

Louis Theroux in TV Nation

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 26 August 1994 21.30

Following this, there’s a long trailer for ATV Night.

Then, a trailer for Stages: Low Level Panic.

Then, an episode of Sean’s Shorts from Norwich.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 26 August 1994 22.15

There’s a trailer for a new series looking at technology, White Heat. Then, a very short  episode of Video Nation with a young girl from Cardiff receiving her exam results.

There’s then a trailer for War Babies, looking at the generation of children in Northern Ireland who grew up during the ‘troubles’.

And Northern Ireland is the lead story on Newsnight, which closes out the tape with 3 minutes of this episode.

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Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush – tape 1905

The 90s. For a brief, shining moment, Chris Evans was the most powerful man on television. And Dont Forget Your Toothbrush was his prime-time Saturday Night Channel 4 entertainment show. This was the first of a new series, and the first episode in 1995.

It’s hard to believe that Channel 4 even had a prime time Saturday Night.

Jools Holland’s big band provide the music, and former Grange Hill and Eastenders star Michelle Gayle performs Say A Little Prayer.

One of the stunt challenges is for a member of the audience to change a duvet – on her own bed, on a platform in the middle of the Thames. She wins all her rent paid for 1995 – only £2100, remarkably.

It’s all very shouty, a bit laddy, though not quite as bad as it might have been, and Chris Evens even insists on singing.

Only in the 90s.

After the show there’s a trailer for Ride the High Country. Then a trailer for Classic Trucks.

Then there’s a trailer for Murder in the Heartland, a miniseries starring Tim Roth.

Then, there’s 5 minutes of the beginning of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, at which point the recording stops. It’s a very short tape, this one.

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Drop the Dead Donkey – The Wimbledon Poisoner – tape 1873

The tape opens with an episode of Drop the Dead Donkey, Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton’s newsroom satire.

The staff go on strike (well most of them) when Sir Royston sacks all the technicians, so Gus has to run the newsroom with only Sally, George and Damien, and a group of Russian technicians, whose English skills are suspect, but their taste in magazines is exemplary – it looks like one is reading Doctor Who Magazine.

Doctor Who Magazine

After this, there’s an episode of Equinox. “If you’d like to follow the programme live via the Internet, please mail the code shown”

Please mail the code shown

This episode is Cyberville. Look at how big a VR headset used to be. It probably had CRTs in there.

Cyberville VR headset

Douglas Trumbull talks about huge screens, high resolution and subwoofers.

Douglas Trumbull

 

Lots and lots of talking heads, with lots of theories. Some of them were even close to the truth. Enjoy it.

Following this show, recording switches to BBC1 and The Wimbledon Poisoner. Robert Lindsay, Alison Steadman, Ian MacNeice in a film of Nigel Williams novel, directed by Robert Young, who also directed Lindsay in GBH. It’s a whimsical, genteel, terribly middle-class comedy about wife murder. Well, intended wife murder, as the titular poisoner isn’t actually very good at poisoning his intended target, but rather good at poisoning everyone else. It’s a two part drama, and this is the first part.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 11 December 1994 21.10

In part two, things get rather more manic, as the plot twists, and it all culminates on an angry mob marching on a windmill. It even almost has a happy ending.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 18 December 1994 21.15

Following the second  episode, there’s a trailer for Christmas One Foot in the Grave. Then a trailer for Christmas Worship.

Then, the start of an episode of EverymanMary’s Miracle. A woman in Co. Wicklow claims that her statue of Jesus is weeping blood. There’s about ten minutes before the tape stops.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 18 December 1994 22.30

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