Month: January 2015

Crime Traveller – tape 2396

In the 1990s, the BBC was forever trying to find a family-friendly drama for Saturday Nights. Bugs was one of them, which we’ve seen before, but they also decided that what would be perfect would be a sci-fi show featuring time travel. But the obvious candidate, Doctor Who, was tied up with an eventually abortive US version, and some nebulous film version which never got close to being made, so the BBC came up with Crime Traveller.

Michael French, an ex Eastender, is Jeff Slade, who teams up with Chloe Annet (the faux Kochanski in later Red Dwarf) and her father’s time machine to solve crimes.

The first episode here is Death Minister, not the first episode in the series. Sue Johnstone, Slade’s boss, is suspicious at Slade’s success, and sets one of her detectives to watch him while, coincidentally, Annett tells him he should avoid using the time machine for a while.

One of the characters in this episode refurbishes old telephone boxes and sells them as ornaments, which allows the show to mercilessly troll the viewer with this shot, while the incidental music craftily quotes part of the Doctor Who theme. And they wonder why we hated it so.

Trolling Doctor Who fans

It really is the most perfunctory story. There’s no particular mystery, and since the murderer is someone we haven’t seen until he’s revealed, it’s not very engaging. And the one gimmick the show has – that it repeats a day, so the characters are in two places at once, isn’t even used to any great effect.

But the music is jolly enough, by Anne Dudley.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 5 April 1997 20.10

The next episode is The Lottery Experiment in which Jeff tries to get someone to buy a lottery ticket with the winning numbers. He spends the whole episode trying to contact anyone who might buy a ticket for him, since he can’t buy one himself because it would fade out of existence when he travelled forwards again. This is a story which relies on limited communication options. One of the policemen is showing off his brand new, state of the art mobile phone – which he happens not to have charged. So Jeff is left to try to find a phone somewhere, and keeps being interrupted by the stake-out they’re on, trying to prevent some gold bullion being stolen.

In many ways, this is a more playful episode, and examines a genuine theory about time travel – the if it were actually possible, it would still be impossible to create paradoxes because the universe would somehow prevent it. So each time Jeff tries to leave a message for Holly (Annett) to play the lottery he’s somehow foiled.

Not quite sure which lottery they’re playing, though – here’s the ticket.

Lottery ticket


BBC Genome: BBC One London, 12 April 1997 20.10


The next episode is The Broken Crystal. After going to the cinema to see Les Enfants du Paradis Jeff and Holly qre on the way back to her flat when a man tries to talk to Holly, but is run over by a spooky looking car in the most unconvincing car stunt ever. (I suspect they couldn’t actually afford a stunt, so tried to do it all in editing. These days you’d just do it in AfterEffects.)

The man was a scientist working for a biotech firm. Another scientist working there had also been found dead, and one of the remaining scientists happens to be Holly’s old boyfriend. Naturally, Jeff is suspicious and thinks he’s a suspect, and Holly doesn’t.

Then there’s the driver of the spooky hit and run vehicle. He leads Jeff to an old abandoned factory where he tries to kill him.

Spooky car

The way this episode is going, I’d suspect an evil time traveller, since the suspect has strangely strong alibis. Sure enough, Holly’s old boyfriend has his own time machine, and when Holly shows him hers, he tries to kill her by tying her up in a cryo-freezing lab and freezing her. He doesn’t want to shoot her because he cares about her too much.

And we never find out why he was driving such a weird old car.

This was the last episode of the series, and despite ending on a suggestion of more adventures, the BBC inexplicably declined to commission any more.

It’s hard to quantify quite why this programme doesn’t work, since its failings seem to be many. The plotting is perfunctory at best, there’s no decent characterisation, and all the principals, including the usually reliable Sue Johnstone, seem to be desperately underplaying everything. As a result, there’s little chemistry between any of the principals. It’s as if they’ve all been taking acting lessons from Paul Nicholas.

This was another production by Carnival films, who appeared to have a stranglehold on Saturday evening drama, also producing the marginally more fun Bugs.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 19 April 1997 20.10

After this, there’s a trailer for Hamish Macbeth, then recording stops, and underneath is a mini-series, A Season in Purgatory (BBC One London, 12 April 1997 21.00). The tape ends just as this programme ends.

Babylon 5 – tape 2400

No waiting here, as the tape goes straight into Babylon 5. All the crew are now wearing the black uniforms, so this is post Severed Dreams. The Shadows have started using planet-killer weapons to attack planets supporting the Vorlons. And Londo is plotting against Emperor Cartagia because he’s allowed Shadow ships to hide on Centauri Prime, and the Vorlons are coming for them.

This is season 4, the one where everyone narrates the opening titles.

This episode is The Long Night. The big war is coming.

They really manage to generate a great sense of foreboding by this time in the series. The stakes seem genuinely high, and it does seem as if anything could happen.

And reminding us that Babylon 5 pioneered the 5 year epic storyline, there’s a guest appearance from a remarkably young looking Bryan Cranston, as the captain of a WhiteStar vessel. Walter WhiteStar?

Walter WhiteStar

His entire performance is played out on a viewscreen, but it’s a scene with a gut-punch as he’s asked to give his life and those of his crew to let the Shadows have information that will take them into direct confrontation with the Vorlons. It’s a very emotional scene, played out with immense stoicism.

Next episode is Into the Fire and it’s do or die time. Will the plucky interstellar alliance succeed against the gigantic forces or the Shadows and Vorlons? Well, given that this is only episode 6, I think we can assume somebody will survive.

Ed Wasser returns as Morden, the emissary of the Shadows, and Londo discovers that Morden was responsible for the murder of his lover. So Vir finally gets to do what he told Morden he wanted to do way back in the mists of time – wave at Morden’s head on a spike.

Then there’s a big confrontation, which starts off as a big battle, but then becomes something a lot more philosophical as Sheridan and Delenn reason their way to victory. I won’t say it’s an anti-climax, but it did seem a trifle abrupt when it first came. We’re not used to having TV Shows effectively change the major direction of the show so drastically, and now B5 has done it a couple of times.

Before the next episode, there’s a trailer for Miller’s Crossing.

Then, more Babylon 5. After a frankly pathetic fireworks display and a cheesy party, attention turns to Earth, and Psi Corp headquarters which, judging by the establishing planet shot, is in the UK.

Home Sweet Home

This episode is Epiphanies, in which Earth’s President Clark starts to move against Babylon 5. Garibaldi receives a weird message that makes him go a bit Manchurian Candidate and resign. And Bester turns up on Babylon 5.

This is not much of an episode. It moves pieces around the game board, but it’s a quite episode after what’s gone before.

Next up is The Illusion of Truth with a news team from Earth who come on the station, promising to try to represent the Alliance’s side of the story to Earth. Of course, as the interviews go on, all the principals manage to say loads of things that are so easily taken out of context, it’s almost as if it’s deliberate. Not the most subtle writing the programme has seen.

And naturally, the resulting broadcast has all the fairness and balance of a Fox News programme.

After this episode the recording continues with a trailer for Equinox. Then a trailer for Under The Moon. After the break there’s a trailer for Cutting Edge: The Complainers.

Then a trailer for Marc Bolan: Dandy in the Underworld

Then there’s a short programme called Yes, Yes? No, No? Jonathan Watson plays Frank Macavennie, talking about Scottish devolution.

Then, trailers for Football Italia, Jo Brand: Like it or Lump It, followed by an episode of Under The Moon, a football ‘banter’ show that sets out its stall early by featuring a ‘page 3 stunner’ in amongst its monosyllabic footballers. It’s presented by Danny Kelly, and features what looks like a cameo appearance from Sacha Baron Cohen as ‘the Moldovan bloke’.

Alexei the Moldovan

The tape stops after half an hour of this programme.


  • Conspiracy Theory
  • Budweiser
  • 101 Dalmations
  • Autoglass
  • Renault Clio
  • Safeway
  • Harvester
  • Pantene
  • Vauxhall Frontera
  • Event Horizon
  • Head & Shoulders – Men In Black
  • PC World
  • Just for Men
  • NPI
  • Clearasil
  • Blockbuster
  • The Rock – on video
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Clearasil
  • Budweiser
  • Inland Revenue
  • Australia
  • Pantene
  • Air Canada
  • Adidas
  • First Direct
  • Renault Scenic
  • Terminator 2 on Video
  • Levis 501
  • Blackthorn Gold
  • Vauxhall Sintra
  • cK
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum
  • Blackthorn Gold
  • XFM
  • Air Canada
  • Levis
  • Carlsberg
  • Blockbuster
  • Royal London
  • Pantene
  • Rover
  • Ford
  • Sony Minidisc
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding
  • Dulux
  • Pringles
  • Blackthorn Gold
  • Rennie
  • imodium
  • Ford
  • Blackthorn Gold
  • Snickers
  • Chatline
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Thompson’s Roof Seal
  • Royal London
  • Royal Mail
  • Aquatonic
  • GayXChange
  • B&Q

The Fast Show – Chalk – tape 2310

First on this tape is episode 4 of season 1 of The Fast Show. I’m presuming it’s a repeat, as it’s followed by an advert for Fast Show videos, which I doubt existed when the series first premiered.

BBC Genome (I’m guessing): BBC Two England, 26 January 1996 21.30

Recording switches to BBC1 and the end of a news bulletin. Then there’s a trailer for The Mrs Merton Show.

Then we get the first episode of Steven Moffat’s Chalk. Following Joking Apart and coming before Coupling its regarded as a bit of a failure, not least by Moffat himself who reportedly doesn’t like it.

I remember enjoying it on its initial run, although I can see why people might have taken against it. David Bamber is perhaps too oleaginous as the deputy head. He’s clearly supposed to be somewhat of a Basil Fawlty figure, but Fawlty’s baseline setting was fairly normal, but Bamber plays ever scene as if he’s turned up to eleven. It gets a bit tiring.

However, balanced against this, Nicola Walker plays it straight, and gives an excellent performance, looking quite naturalistic against some of the other performances.

The first episode exhibits all of Moffat’s love for farce, as a teacher is found dead at his desk. “He’s already taken two classes like that.”

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 20 February 1997 21.30

Before the next episode, more Newsroom South East, and weather from Suzanne Charlton. then there’s a trailer for The Vicar of Dibley, and for Hot Shots.

Then, the next episode of Chalk. Both Slatt and the headmaster are being interviewed for the same job, while Suzy discovers that the music department is almost entirely fictitious.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 27 February 1997 21.35

Next, another snatch of Newsroom South East, then a trailer for Goodnight Sweetheart.

Then, more Chalk. I think one of the problems with the show is Slatt’s relationship with his wife Janet (Geraldine Fitzgerald). He’s really incredibly rude to her all the time, but she doesn’t appear to warrant any such hatred. With Basil and Sybil you could see why they wound each other up, but in Chalk it just seems like Slatt is a psychopath.

But in this episode she does have some revenge as the staff are locked in the staff room, and he’s desperate to use the toilet.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 6 March 1997 21.30

More Newsroom South East, followed by a trailer for Have Your Cake and Eat It. Then a trailer for Comic Relief.

Then, another Chalk in which one of the pupils has twins, and a huge crush on Mr Slatt.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 13 March 1997 21.35 (although the synopsis for this episode doesn’t appear to match).

Next, we get the end of an episode of Men Behaving Badly. It’s interesting that this and Chalk have swapped around in the schedule, possibly indicating the BBC’s disappointment with Chalk’s reception. And it’s ironic that MBB was produced by Hartswood films, run by Moffat’s mother in law.

There’s a trailer for programmes in April on BBC1.

Then, another Chalk. There’s an inspection coming and somehow, all the children are missing.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 20 March 1997 22.00

Next, another chunk of Men Behaving Badly, a trailer for programmes on Sunday.

Then, more Chalk, where Eric Slatt has mummy issues. It’s the annual staff v pupil football match. This was the episode listed in the radio times for 13th March.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 27 March 1997 22.00

After this episode, there’s a trailer for 25 years of Last of the Summer Wine.

Then, there’s the start of The Big C, during which the tape ends.

Star Wars trilogy – The Force Returns – Have I Got News For You – tape 2402

It’s over to the Sci Fi channel first, for Star Wars Trilogy: The Force Returns celebrating the return to cinemas of Star Wars with George Lucas’ universally loved Special Editions.

This is not a brilliant documentary. Typical US breathless narration, and the tendency to use the most bombastic music cues over the whole thing lends it an overwhelming air.

But it’s interesting to remember this particular moment in time. Star Wars was back, and for a very short time, everyone loved it again. The fans were even excited for the new scenes and new special effects. It’s a far cry from now, when the special editions are virtually spat upon. Seems like a long time ago.

After this recording switches to BBC2 and Have I Got News For you. Guests on this episode are Fred MacAulay

Fred Macaulay

And a spokesman for a single-issue pressure group given unaccountably large amounts of airtime by the BBC. Not, not Farage, it’s Swampy.



For the benefit of our younger readers, Swampy was famous for digging tunnels underneath the proposed location for an airport runway extension, to protest the new runway. Since he spent most of his time underground, his contributions to a topical news quiz were slight.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 18 April 1997 21.00

After this, recording switches again to the end of Newsnight with Kirsty Wark. (BBC Two England, 18 April 1997 22.30) Then a trailer for Call of the Sea.

Then, we have a Party Election Broadcast by the Natural Law Party. Utterly bonkers. They have graphs and everything.

Theres a trail for Bad Company.

Then, a trailer for Shoot Out in Swansea: The Making of Twin Town.

Next, an episode of Space: Above and Beyond, called The Angriest Angel.

I’m convinced that this show decided to make their CGI more realistic simply by only using black and white. It’s really dull.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 18 April 1997 23.35

Following this, there’s a trailer for The Sack Race about the short careers of football managers.

Then, we have the start of an episode of This Life, the ‘sexy lawyers’ show that I could never bring myself to watch at the time. Nothing I’ve seen since has convinced me to change that.

shortly into the programme, that recording stops, and underneath we’re back to the Sci Fi channel for more Star Wars documentaries. This is a different documentary, with lots of people reminiscing about the original release of Star Wars – Star Wars: The Magic and Mystery.

There’s also a repeat for the documentary shown earlier. Then a short piece about a man with a large Star Wars collection – Steve Sansweet, who also worked as head of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm.

Last on the tape is the start of an episode of Friday the 13th – The Series, a TV show that had virtually nothing to do with the film series. The tape stops not far into this episode, Shadow Boxer.


  • Lombard Direct
  • Currys
  • McEwans
  • Sheba
  • trail: Night of the Creeps
  • trail: Sightings
  • Heineken Export
  • Kellogg’s
  • Mr Kipling
  • Fruitang – Trevor and Simon
  • Fiat Marea
  • Midland Bank
  • Dance Party
  • Bacardi
  • trail: The Moldiver
  • trail: Night of the Creeps
  • Double Burner
  • Sci-Fi Entertainment magazine
  • VW Passat
  • Quick Chat
  • Mini Battenburg
  • Tesco
  • Chicken Bisto – Julie Walters
  • trail: Friday the 13th (tv series)
  • trail: Damien: Omen II
  • trail: Tales of the Unexpected
  • Burning Heart
  • Bodyssage
  • trail: The Thriller Domain
  • In Tone Rider Pro
  • trail: Sightings
  • Duzzit Handy Hanger
  • Easy Glider
  • trail: Friday the 13th
  • trail: Damien: Omen II
  • trail: Sightings
  • trail: The Moldiver
  • Classical CD collection
  • Buttoneer

Star Trek Voyager – Matinee – Seinfeld – tape 2337

Sky One first, and an episode of Star Trek Voyager. This one’s Elogium, and the teaser suggests it’s all about sex. Chakotay is annoyed at ‘fraternisation’, Neelix is suspicious of Paris’ intentions towards Kes, and the crew want to observe a novel space-borne lifeform. Then Kes starts chomping on some insects when tending plants. She’s going through Pon-Farr or whatever her alien version of it is.

After this, we have Joe Dante’s Matinee. It’s an odd film, fusing a love of 50s schlock cinema with the paranoia around the Cuban Missile Crisis. And it wouldn’t be a Joe Dante film without the great Dick Miller.

Dick Miller in Matinee


After the movie, recording switches to Sky One for an episode of Seinfeld. It’s The Lip Reader in which Jerry dates a deaf tennis lineswoman, played by Marlee Matlin.

Following this, there’s an episode of Duckman.

Then, the beginning of an episode of 60 minutes, at which the tape stops.


  • trail: JAG
  • Granary
  • Vaseline Intensive Care
  • Karvol
  • trail: Beverley Hill Cop 3
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • Royal Mail
  • Boots
  • Royal Insurance – Ken Dodd
  • Family Channel – Brian Blessed
  • Huggies Pull-Ups
  • Biactol
  • X Files on video
  • trail: Sports
  • trail: JAG
  • Bold
  • Abbey Life
  • UK Gold
  • Safeway
  • Karvol
  • trail: Getting Even with Dad
  • trail: Mysterious Island
  • Peperami
  • Bran Flakes
  • BUPA
  • Mars
  • pataks
  • Premium Search
  • trail: True Lies
  • Sightings
  • Ulay
  • Iceland
  • Kleenex
  • British Meat
  • Daily Mail – Nick Leeson
  • Citroen Synergie
  • Hoseasons
  • Cheltenham & Gloucester
  • Esso
  • Sun Alliance
  • trail: ER
  • Harvester
  • BT
  • Persil – James Nesbitt
  • Hall’s
  • Mars
  • Biactol
  • Commercial Union
  • Renault Clio
  • The Times
  • Wilkinson Sword FX Performer
  • Hula Hoops – Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse
  • Lil-lets
  • Renault Clio
  • Teletext
  • Kiss The Girls – James Patterson
  • Hayes and Jarvis
  • Wispa
  • Guardian Direct
  • Allied Dunbar
  • Oxo
  • Bodyform
  • Rolo
  • Pantene
  • Oxy
  • Nissan Almeira
  • Capital FM
  • trail: Without Walls: The Writing Game
  • Fiat Bravo/Brava
  • Kellogg’s Sustain
  • Territorial Army
  • Virgin Radio
  • Carling Premier
  • Just For Men
  • Bird’s Eye Panflair
  • Playboy TV
  • Oral B
  • Boots
  • Citroen AX – Bryan Brown
  • Shape Yoghurt
  • trail: Beverley Hills Cop III
  • trail: Tomorrow Night on Sky
  • Colman’s sauces
  • UK Gold
  • Persil
  • Leon on video
  • Organics
  • trail: Valentine’s Day
  • trail: JAG
  • Gillette Sensor Excel
  • Biactol
  • Chicken Tonight
  • Playboy TV
  • Surf
  • Jeyes Parozone
  • trail: Getting Even with Dad
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • trail: The Commish
  • Colman’s Sauces
  • Virgin Radio
  • Peperami
  • Apprenticeships
  • Royal Insurance – Ken Dodd
  • Citroen Synergie
  • trail: Beverly Hills Cop III
  • Intertext
  • Chicken Tonight
  • Surf
  • Playboy TV
  • Fruit and Fibre
  • Mitsubishi Carisma
  • PAL
  • trail: True Lies
  • trail: Sightings
  • trail: JAG

The Making of Hunchback of Notre Dame – Grease – tape 2319

This tape opens with some Newsroom South East. Then there’s a trailer for programmes later on, on this Bank Holiday Monday.

Then, The Making of Hunchback of Notre Dame, narrated by Father Dougal himself, Ardal O’Hanlon. I guess they wanted a catholic.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 26 August 1996 13.15

There’s a trailer for The Great Antiques Hunt. Then a Tom & Jerry Cartoon, Royal Cat Nap. After a minute or two of this, recording switches, and we’re back with Hunchback of Notre Dame, but this time it’s the end of Summer Disneytime. presented by Michaela Strachan from Jordan.

Michaela Strachan

Then there’s a trailer for Multicoloured Saturdays.

There’s also a trailer for Roger Roger, starring Neil Morrissey.

Then, the big afternoon movie. Grease. A film I’ve never watched, and avoided watching all my life. When I was young, its stupid songs hung around the top of the charts forever, like a bad smell. John Travolta couldn’t sing. The dancing was stupid.

But, as a service for my loyal readers (both of you) I’m watching it now. I’m slightly cheating by watching it online, so I get a full widescreen picture instead of the horrible pan & scan TV showing (or, for the cartoon titles, horribly squashed. I bet Travolta wishes he were this thin now.)

Skinny Travolta

The entire cast of high-school students look so old that this movie is almost its own parody. Olivia Newton John was 30 in 1978, when the film was released. Travolta was only 24, but already looked like a grown-up.

I know musicals tend to exist in an alternative universe where everyone knows the words to the songs, and the steps to the dances, but this is stagey even for a musical.

It’s not even a good musical, really. It’s more like a very bad sitcom with some songs at random intervals. When Olivia Newton John sings ‘Hopelessly Devoted to you’ they even fade up the introduction. This is very poor.

By the way, have you ever noticed that you can segue from singing ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ into ‘Summer Nights’ during the ‘dum… dum dum’ bit in the former?

When Kenickie and Rizzo (Jeff Conaway and Stockard Channing) are smooching in the back of his car, and she says ‘Call me by my first name’ I half expected him to say ‘Ratso’.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but this looks like nothing more than a perfunctory assemblage of all the most cliched scenes from every high-school film we’ve ever seen. Even the obligatory car race is boringly shot in broad daylight, eliciting almost no drama at all.

Maybe the original musical had a little more coherence. Most of the big songs in this are new, written by other songwriters than the original show. And the title song, written by Barry Gibb, doesn’t even sound contemporary.

It’s just a horrid mess. It’s very hard to see why this is held in such esteem by an entire generation, to such an extent that it was voted the best musical of all time in a Channel 4 poll, although to be fair it might be the only musical that half the voters had ever seen.

I’m not even going to start on the weird gender politics the film presents because the film is so incoherent I’m not even sure what message it’s trying to give us. The leads fall in and out of relationships so quickly, with so little motivation, that it’s hard to care at all about them.

And can anyone explain the car flying off at the end?

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 26 August 1996 15.20

Following the movie, there’s a trailer for Muppets Tonight that on its own is better than anything in Grease.

After this, recording continues, which is a good thing because, to make up for the pain of having to watch Grease, now I can watch Multicoloured Saturdays – a look back at 20 years of Saturday Morning BBC children’s television, going from Swap Shop to the then-current Live and Kicking. Here’s John Craven and Noel Edmonds in what looks like a Premier Inn hospitality suite.

Edmonds and Craven

The programme also acknowledges the existence of Tiswas. “The BBC’s task was therefore simple. To rescue the viewer from a breakdown in society otherwise known as Tiswas.”

Phantom Flan Flinger


There’s a clip from a Star Trek sketch – not a bad set for a short sketch.

Swap Trek

When the programme turns to the other morning shows, here’s Mike Read (and crow).

Mike Read and Crow

Sarah Greene

Sarah Greene

There’s even a crossover.


Phillip Schofield tells of how he wanted to present Saturday Morning TV ever since he saw the first episode of Swap Shop.

Phillip Schofield and Gordon

Dame Judi Dench meets Trevor and Simon

Dame Judi Dench meets Trevor and Simon

As do Erasure

Erasure meet Trev and Simon

Live and Kicking even cause a flashback to Grease when they do ‘You’re The One that I Want’

Live and Kicking

But for all the clips of presenters’ last programmes, the saddest part of this documentary is the executive saying “I don’t see why it shouldn’t continue for another 20 years.” What’s on Saturday Morning these days? A cooking show.

Here’s the whole show on youtube

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 26 August 1996 17.05

Following the show, there’s a trailer for Children’s BBC. Then a trailer for Small Talk and Mastermind.

Then, an episode of Neighbours. I have nothing to say about this. BBC One London, 26 August 1996 17.55

There’s another trailer for Bank Holiday programmes, with a nice cut from the mine-cart chase in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to a rollercoaster scene in Eastenders. Top work from the editor, there.

Another trail for The Great Antiques Hunt.

Then, a news bulletin. It’s a slow news day when the top story is the banning of a video of real operations, following worries that the footage was not properly cleared. “Educational or sick entertainment?” BBC One London, 26 August 1996 18.20

There’s a trailer for a brand new look to daytime TV.

Then, a trailer for the new series of Telly Addicts.

Then, we have the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Possibly the lesser of the trilogy, but a film I love a lot. It came out when I was at University, and I think I must have seen it six times in the first couple of weeks. I can still sing along with Kate Capshaw to Anything Goes in Cantonese (or is it Mandarin?).

There’s not much of the film here, but it does include Harrison Ford’s cheeky look to camera on the line ‘Mummies.”


The tape stops about 15 minutes in to the film.


ER – tape 2321

Here’s a few episodes of the Michael Crichton developed medical drama ER. Since I was quite cross about Michael Crichton with Disclosure, perhaps I should leave ER alone.

The episodes here are A Shift in the NightFire in the BellyFevers of Unknown OriginTake These Broken Wings

There’s one of the C4 character idents with Frasier’s John Mahoney.

And another, of Dennis Franz, which appears to have some extra graphics overlaid – fat fingers in presentation?

After the fourth episode, and some ads, recording stops, and underneath there’s an episode of Cheers in progress.

After this, there’s a programme called Get Netted. Do you see what they did there? In it, Medusa  talks about how she started the website for the fetish magazine Skin Two. It’s a short programme.

This is followed by Night Sports wherein Gary Imlach looks forward to the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. With him on the sporty sofa, sprinter Allan Wells and hurdler Kriss Akabusi.

There’s about ten minutes of this before the tape ends.


  • Dennis Potter’s Karaoke
  • Cellnet
  • Utterly Butterly
  • Soft & Gentle
  • Citroen Xantia
  • Black & Decker Versa Pak
  • trail: The Gaby Roslin Show
  • trail: Witness: Abandoned Babies
  • BMW 5 Series
  • Still Tango
  • British Meat
  • Doublemint
  • Alex Lawrie
  • Lloyd’s Bank
  • Kingsmill
  • Gold Blend – a new, fake gold blend couple
  • Audi A8
  • trail: City Slickers
  • Kill Your Speed
  • Muller
  • Fiat Bravo, Fiat Brava
  • Doublemint
  • Alex Lawrie
  • Robinson’s Barley Water
  • Alex Lawrie – boy they’re really trying
  • KFC
  • Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum
  • Robinson’s Barley Water
  • Vauxhall Corsa
  • Boots
  • Ford Galaxy
  • Nivea
  • Sun Alliance
  • Gordon’s & Tonic
  • Alex Lawrie
  • Alex Lawrie
  • Palmolive 2 in 1
  • Kenco
  • Rover 600
  • Dolce Vita
  • Centrum
  • Citroen Saxo – Bryan Brown
  • Kronenbourg 1664
  • The Times
  • Citroen Saxo – Bryan Brown again
  • Clearasil
  • Citroen Saxo – Bryan Brown for the third time (different ads)
  • Alex Lawrie – the same ad.
  • Alex Lawrie
  • PPP Healthcare
  • Barclaycard – Rowan Atkinson
  • Mercury
  • trail: Cold Lazarus – the other final work by Dennis Potter
  • trail: American Gothic
  • Citroen Saxo
  • Pantene
  • Zanussi – David Schneider
  • Botanicals
  • Citroen Saxo
  • Carlsberg
  • Citroen Saxo
  • trail: Life After Birth
  • trail: TFI Friday
  • Nokia
  • barclaycard
  • Skoda
  • trail: Cold lazarus
  • trail: Fair Game

The New Adventures of Superman – tape 2293

We’re straight in to an episode, with a long recap of previous events, since this is the second part of a story. Lois is in prison for murder, so Superman has to break her out to prove her innocence. Then the credits roll, and… hang on, what’s this?

Lois and Clark

Yes, it’s the original US title of the series. Because this isn’t from the BBC1 run, it’s from Sky.

After this episode, recording switches to the BBC to catch the end of an episode of Dad’s Army.

Then, it’s another episode of The New Adventures of Superman. Except it isn’t new. It’s the same episode as we’ve just had from Sky, but this time on BBC1.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 22 March 1997 18.15

Recording switches to the end of another episode of Dad’s Army.

Then, more Superman with Bob and Carol and Lois and Clark in which Superman faces off against Deathstroke.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 29 March 1997 18.15

Another recording switch, more Dad’s Army.

Then, the Superman episode Ghosts. Guest starring Drew Carey.

Drew Carey

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 5 April 1997 18.15

After this episode the recording continues with the first episode of the Gaby Roslin game show Whatever You Want in which people compete for a chance to get something they really, really want.

It doesn’t start well, as the first group of contestants are girls who want to be famous. Then three teams of 11yo footballers who are really bad compete for a trip to Barcelona to meet Bobby Robson and do some training. And three people compete for a chance to swim with dolphins by trying to stay on a mechanical bull that looks like a dolphin for the longest.

You know, this is a worse programme than Jim’ll Fix It even after we know the truth about Savile.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 5 April 1997 19.00

The recording stops before the programme finishes. Underneath there’s a small bit of a news bulletin. Then the tape stops.

Adverts & Trails:

  • trail: Boxing
  • Pringles
  • Ariel
  • Pantene
  • Puma
  • Ribena
  • Wrigley’s Extra
  • trail: Miami Rhapsody
  • trail: Mad About You
  • trail: Nash Bridges
  • trail: Football & The Italian Job
  • Pilsbury Toaster Pockets – Harry Enfield

  • Buttercup Syrup – Simon Pegg

  • Peperami
  • Peperami Gobbler
  • Cellnet – an astonishingly young John Simm

  • trail: Indictment
  • trail: Boxing
  • Kellogg’s Frosted Wheat
  • Eagle Star
  • Halls Soothers
  • Just For Men
  • Post Office
  • trail: Millennium
  • trail: True Tilda
  • trail: Six Go Mad In Somerset
  • trail: Before They Were Famous
  • trail: Mrs Merton in Las Vegas
  • trail: Holiday featuring Neil Morrissey
  • trail: They Think It’s All Over
  • trail: Goodnight Sweetheart

Interview with the Vampire – tape 2294

I think I have a mental block when it comes to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. I’ve tried to read the book a couple of times, but just can’t finish it. I had a theory that it was the typeface that was making it difficult to read, but I actually think its just the whole ‘aren’t vampires just sexy and misunderstood’ thing that she has going. Let’s face it, when the first scene of vampirism in the whole movie features Tom Cruise embracing Brad Pitt while sucking blood from his neck and levitating fifty feet in the air, with romantic music swelling in the background, I think we can see how Anne Rice views vampires.

I’m with Buffy. Slay them all.

After the movie, there’s another movie recorded here – looks like a TV Movie – called State of Emergency starring Joe Mantegna.

Then, the start of a third movie, again, looks like a TV movie, called Not Our Son starring Neil Patrick Harris. There’s only 26 minutes of this movie, though.


  • Johnson’s Baby Breatheasy Bath
  • Tesco – Scales & Horrocks
  • Just for Men
  • Rolo
  • Eggs
  • trail: Boxing
  • trail: Die Hard with a Vengeance
  • Trail: Football and The Italian Job
  • Allied Dunbar
  • L’Oreal Excellence
  • trail: Bravo – John Noakes

  • Flexon
  • Knorr Marinade in Minutes
  • branston
  • Halls Soothers
  • Clear Blue
  • bupa
  • trail: Boxing
  • trail: Chicago Hope
  • trail: Indictment
  • Panadol Night
  • GayXChange
  • trail: Jerry Springer
  • Pension Store
  • Quick Chat
  • Next Directory
  • Oxy
  • Baxter’s Soup
  • Wispa & Wispa Gold
  • OXO
  • trail: Boxing

Disclosure – Zombie Flesh Eaters – tape 2295

I don’t like the phrase ‘guilty pleasure’ as it implies we should be ashamed of enjoying art, whether low or highbrow. I’m old enough to be comfortable liking what I like without needing everyone else in the world liking it.

Disclosure, though, comes as close as it’s possible to get to a guilty pleasure for me.

It’s a glossy, hi-tech thriller, which gets quite a lot of its macguffin technology right – even its virtual reality setup wasn’t totally stupid, and in fact had some neat ideas, which I’ll touch on shortly.

But its representation of gender politics is (to my taste) appalling, and almost every single character is repellent to some degree. Michael Douglas is once again cast as the lead in a sexy thriller, presumably because he’s experienced at playing a character who can’t keep his trousers done up. Demi Moore plays the power-hungry business woman almost as a younger Cruella DeVille. Dennis Miller plays his usual politically incorrect man boy, and Donald Sutherland plays another in his long list of silken tyrants.

For me, Michael Crichton (who wrote the novel) is a bit like Richard Wagner – someone whose art you appreciate but whose personal politics you would probably despise. What with this story’s misogyny, Rising Sun’s xenohobia, the fear of nanotechnology in Next and the climate change denialism of State of Fear, many of his apparent positions are quite opposed to my own. But he knows how to put a story together. It’s almost as if he’s got a formula.

In fact, sometimes the formula shows itself. Jurassic Park had the same basic plot idea as Westworld, and Airframe has almost the identical plot to Disclosure.

It’s a shame, when he wanted to tell a story about sexual harassment in the workplace, he chose to ignore the overwhelming examples of women being harassed and passed over by men because he couldn’t resist being ‘clever’ and switching things around. But now he’s straying into science fiction since instances of women harassing men in this way are vanishingly rare. I’m sure it happens, but it’s more like a statistical error when balanced against the huge amount of institutionalised sexism against women.

It’s as if he wanted to write a story about rape, but decided to make it about a woman raping a man (which this movie does come dangerously close to). It’s not that it doesn’t happen, but presenting it that way just serves to deflect from the real problems.

It’s especially problematical when Douglas has to defend himself against accusations that he harassed Moore, not the other way around, since all of his protestations of innocence do, in fact, sound exactly like the kinds of things abusers say. By framing the story so that the audience knows for certain that Moore was the abusive party, it naturally makes the arguments against her seem reasonable and plausible, which can’t help but make actual male abusers’ protestations and excuses seem reasonable.

It gets even worse when Douglas reacts to Dennis Miller’s wife talking about Barbie, and how women are oppressed, with “80% of suicides are committed by men, they’re dropping like flies from heart attacks. I don’t have my own crisis hotline” and suddenly he’s sounding like all the people posting on a reddit Men’s Rights forum.

And then Dennis Miller, who’s been told about the recent events by Donald Sutherland, although obviously from a skewed point of view, and is worried he’ll lose a fortune if the company merger falls through, starts victim blaming. “You’re like one of those goddamn women, Tom, who think they’re going back to the hotel room at 2 in the morning drunk to watch HBO. Could you possibly be more lame?”

Even Douglas’ (female) lawyer can’t help but speak with the authorial voice. She’s talking to Douglas’ wife Susan after a long mediation hearing where both sides have told their version of the story.

          You married your boss?
          Classic case of sexual harassment, 
          he asked me out five times before I 
          said yes. Today if I had said no once 
          he would have been afraid to ask again.

So the movie has a fairly poisonous moral agenda (from where I sit). Does it work just as a thriller? Well here it’s better. It efficiently puts its protagonist in a deeper and deeper hole from which he must escape, and clearly paints the villains as villains. There’s almost no grey area there. Only Michael Douglas’ inability to initially resist Moore’s seduction gives the movie any real ambiguity, and frankly that behaviour was required to make the rest of the plot work better.

And then, when Demi Moore is played the answering machine tape of the encounter, and she’s asked “Doesn’t no mean no?” she replies “Sometimes no means that person wants to be overwhelmed, dominated. But we can’t talk about that. The way we’re supposed to have sex nowadays we’d need the UN to supervise it.”

There’s that blasted authorial voice again.

How about the depiction of technology? Well, it doesn’t start off well. The first image in the movie is of a huge spinning ‘you have mail’ icon.

You have Mail

And whatever email client everyone is using insists on animating a piece of paper unfolding to show the email. It’s not quite as egregious as Mission Impossible where he emails ‘max@job.3:15’ but it’s close.

The film does better with its Virtual Reality gimmick, ‘The Corridor’. This one was pretty good. Head-mounted 3d visor, data glove, 3d scanning to display your avatar in the system, and a treadmill to let you walk around.

The Corridor

This is pretty much state of the art for today. Their system also has some clever conceptual ideas. If you’re accessing the system but not using the full 3D scanning system, it will display a generic avatar with a flat photo of you as its face. And, importantly to the plot, their demo system, which visualises the filesystem as a big library, is just plugged straight into the company’s file server with no security.

Now, some might argue this is stupid, and of course there would be security, but even this part of it rings true. This is a proof of concept demo system, so it’s quite likely that features like file security wouldn’t be a first priority. And in a small company, the people making the VR system are also probably sysadmins too, so they would have full access to everything.

Naturally, this all comes int play later in the movie, when Douglas has to get to files in the system after he’s been locked out of his own account, so he goes to the hotel where the company have set up their VR system to show it off to their potential partners, and we get a nice tense scene where he’s trying to find the vital evidence while elsewhere, Demi Moore is logging in from her terminal to try to delete the files. And since she’s not using the VR system, it naturally uses the generic avatar for her.

Disclosure Generic Avatar

So if we set aside the clunkiness that any 3D filesystem visualisation would inherently have, I think the filmmakers really nailed this one.

The other part of the technology plot, the magical ‘arcamax’ CD ROM drives, also make sense. I’m not sure why they decided to change the name from the book, where the drive was called ‘Sparkle’ – trademark search, probably. But the drives and their manufacturing problems, on which the major plot hinges, is all completely plausible.

I’m less sure about Douglas’ mobile phone, another plot pivot. I wonder if there were ever any phones manufactured that used LED matrix displays, rather than LCD displays.

LED phone

And when Douglas retrieves the answering machine tape which proves much of his side of the story, he still can’t help himself, and gives Mr Levin a big kiss.

Now let’s get to the other major plot device used in the film. Douglas keeps receiving cryptic emails from ‘A Friend’ like this:

A Friend

He gets several of these over the course of the movie. This is such a common conceit in movies that we barely notice it – characters withholding information they have for no reason other than to build tension or evoke mystery. The emails could easily have said “Your job is at stake unless you find out why the drives aren’t working” or even, if they had more information (which is never made clear) “The factories were built to the wrong specification” But instead, the emails are kept cryptic to generate false tension. The Pelican Brief did a similar thing. The contents of the titular brief are known to everyone in the movie, and yet it takes half the movie before we even discover what its deadly secret is, despite it not actually being a secret to anyone at all in the film. False Tension.

I feel like I’ve kicked this movie enough. Its thriller elements are well done, it’s rare in being a realistic depiction of technology, and its viewpoint on gender politics is repellent. But still a guilty pleasure. I watch it, but I’m not proud to watch it.

Afterwards, recording switches, and we get the end of an episode of The Persuaders on the old Bravo channel.

Then we get a film that I can’t describe as a guilty pleasure, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters. I’ve watched this before, and it’s quite bad. Grungy gore effects, gratuitous nudity, awful synthy music, bad dubbing, murky cinematography, bad acting, slow editing. It’s just bad. And I suspect this version is cut, too. At least it’s letterboxed.

After this, there’s a short film from an old Popular Science newsreel, this one about aircraft testing.

Then the tape stops.


  • trail: Robocop
  • Barclaycard – Rowan Atkinson
  • The Times
  • Abbey Life
  • Look Again
  • trail: The New Look Bravo Channel
  • trail: The Playboy Channel
  • trail: Manga
  • Newcastle Brown
  • Army
  • Bisto ready-to-pour – Julie Walters
  • Boots
  • Nimble
  • Grattan
  • Gillette Sensor Excel
  • The Singles Network
  • trail: New Bravo
  • trail: Playboy Channel
  • trail: Twilight Zone
  • Tetley’s Bitter
  • Australia
  • Mr Muscle
  • The Times
  • Andrex
  • Options
  • American Express
  • Just For Men
  • Grattan
  • trail: Manga
  • trail: Robocop
  • Hooch
  • Wella Experience
  • Boots
  • MFI
  • Kelloggs Hot Krumbly
  • Mail On Sunday
  • The Post Office
  • Options
  • Look Again
  • The Singles Network
  • trail: Redemption films – with a voiceover that sounds like it was recorded in someone’s kitchen.
  • trail: Vampyros Lesbos
  • Mail on Sunday
  • Wellaflex
  • Next Directory
  • Barclaycard – Rowan Atkinson
  • Hot Krumbly
  • Johnson’s Baby Breatheasy Bath
  • trail: Boon
  • trail: The Paradise Club
  • trail: The Chief
  • Craftmatic adjustable bed
  • trail: Playboy Channel
  • trail: Discovery Channel
  • trail: Robocop
  • trail: Twilight Zone
  • Tetley’s Bitter
  • TCP
  • barclaycard
  • mail on Sunday
  • Look Again
  • Nimble
  • Singles Network
  • trail: Trouble TV