Here’s an unusual tape. From December 1994, the BBC had a whole night of programmes dubbed Weird Night. Later in the evening, there was a selection of culty films, but most of the early evening was a mixed bag of strange phenomena.
I’m not convinced the graphics department were entirely sober when they designed this show. Here’s the talking head that introduces the segments.
The night opens with a short introduction from Roger Corman.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 20.35
The first programme is The Fortean Review of the Year 1994. Narrated by Tom Conti, and with no sign of the Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe.
I have to confess, I fell asleep through much of this. It’s been a long week.
I find the whole Fortean Times thing a bit odd. I’m too used to either unthinking credulity on one side or rigid skepticism on the other, so the straight presentation of ‘odd stories’ with no attempt to explain or embroider leaves me slightly unsatisfied. But I think that’s mostly my problem.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 20.40
Next is Strange Days, not, sadly, the Kathryn Bigelow millennial Brainstorm riff, but a short programme where people recount their stories of the weird. This one os about coincidences, and they are great stories – there’s something extremely mysterious about extreme coincidences, even when you think about the fact that billions of people live on the planet, so odd coincidences are happening all the time just by the law of averages.
And the woman who tells the last story really comes across as a horrible person.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 21.05
The next programme is The Last American Freakshow, talkng to Ward Hall, an old-time carnival barker.
I don’t share the fascination that some people seem to have for carnival freakshows. I just find them demeaning or creepy. But again, that’s just me.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 21.15
After this, there’s a trailer for The Blue Boy.
Then there’s another Strange Days. This one is Visions. These are slightly less interesting, for me
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 22.00
There’s a trailer for Midnight Movie.
Next, Roger Corman’s back to introduce WSH – the Myth of the Urban Myth.
This is an interesting film, taking discussion of urban legends and using them as the backbone for a fictional story. It’s certainly surreal. At one point the lead character becomes a smurf.
A lot of the people appearing in the film are professional folklorists, playing themselves.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 22.10
Next is a programme X-Files Fire. It’s an X-Files episode, Fire. Mark Sheppard likes to set fire to politicians. And why not?
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 23.00
There’s a trail for Oliver Stone’s JFK.
Then, the final Strange Days on the tape, Beasts.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 23.45
After this, Tony Wilson presents Weird Thoughts, a round table discussion of reason which follows a stroll through the Odditorium.
The guests for the discussion are Dave Punter, a literature professor specializing in the literature of terror.
The Amazing James Randi
Lynn Picknett, a ‘supernatural agony aunt’
Professor Mary Beard
And Jenny Randles, an expert in UFOs and time travel.
At one point, someone talks about ‘a paradigm shift’ and Tony Wilson says he doesn’t understand what that means. Which is odd, given how well read he was.
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 23.50
Following this, there’s another trailer for The Blue Boy featuring Emma Thompson.
Then, the tape ends just as George A Romero’s vampire movie Martin is starting.