Month: July 2015

Ellen – tape 2270

First on this tape, Ellen, with a Christmas episode, Do You Fear What I Fear? in which Ellen is given a burial plot for Christmas by her parents.

Before the next episode, there’s the end of an episode of Moving People, with John Peel.

Next, Ellen’s back with Horshack’s Law. The gang go to a party for John Travolta – or at least they try to.

Another slice of Moving People before the next episode, Morgan, P.I. in which the store’s cash register is robbed, and Ellen goes all Neighbourhood Watch.

Next it’s Oh, Sweet Rapture in which Audrey has to buy a new car. But the owner’s club for the car are more than a little culty.

After this, recording continues, and we get an episode of the Paula Wilcox and Richard Beckinsale comedy The Lovers.

After this, there’s the start of an episode of American Gothic. The tape ends five minutes in to this.

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  • trail: Nothing But The truth – a programme featuring Jane Belson, who was also married to Douglas Adams.

  • trail: Fame Factor
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  • Swallow Hotels
  • Playstation
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  • trail: Desire
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  • Miller Time
  • Nissan Primera
  • Somerfield
  • Lea & Perrin’s
  • Swallow Hotels
  • trail: Doc Hollywood
  • Friends Provident
  • Superdrug
  • Ericsson
  • Chain Reaction in cinemas
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  • trail: Is It Legal
  • trail: The Real Holiday Show
  • VW Gold TDi
  • Baxter’s Soup
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  • Goldeneye on video – Woolworths
  • trail: Friday
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  • Audi A3
  • Poserbility
  • British Beef
  • trail: Wanted – a gameshow where players are pursued through the real world, helped or hindered by the public. Sort of like a non-lethal Running Man.

  • trail: Doc Hollywood
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Mr Bean – Robert De Niro Meets Frankenstein – The South Bank Show – tape 1861

First on the tape, Mr Bean with Back To School Mr Bean. Mr Bean isn’t a particular favourite of mine. Sometimes he can be very funny, but in this one he’s quite deliberately nasty to quite a few people.

After this, recording switches to BBC1 for De Niro Meets Frankenstein. Kenneth Branagh, director of the movie, talks to Robert De Niro about his work.

Kenneth Branagh meets De Niro

There’s surprisingly little here about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein here, given that this is basically an extended promo for the film, and it concentrates much more on De Niro’s earlier work.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 5 November 1994 0.00

And if your Frankenstein needs were not fulfilled by that programme, let’s go over to LWT where Melvyn Bragg looks at the film, plus the history of the story, on The South Bank Show. There’s archival footage of Boris Karloff being interviewed.

Boris Karloff

 

Contributions from some of the actors, including the lovely Richard Briers.

Richard Briers

 

One notable absence from this is De Niro himself. I wonder if the previous programme only happened because he was allowed to mostly talk about his older work.

End credit spot – thanks to Bryson Gore of the Royal Institution, presumably for all the electrical devices used in the show.

After this there’s a very breathless trailer for Open Fire with a very fetching looking Rupert Graves.

After this, recording switches to an episode of The Vicar of Dibley. In fact, this is the very first episode. I have an ambivalent attitude to The Vicar of Dibley. It’s often very funny, but for me, at the time, it wasn’t really ‘edgy’ enough. After The Young Ones and Blackadder it felt just a little too safe.

It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that I think I want something different from a sit com.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 10 November 1994 20.30

After Dibley, recording stops, and underneath there’s a fairly old film, with someone who I would swear is Boris Karloff.

Maybe Boris Karloff

A house is burning down. Who’s that on the roof? It’s Christopher Lee. Possibly.

Christopher Lee 2

Who then turns into a Blue Barbara Steele!

A Blue Barbara Steele

A google image search tells me it’s Curse of the Crimson Altar, written by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, who also wrote the two Yeti stories for Patrick Troughton’s Doctor Who.

This was the programme immediately after De Niro Meets Frankenstein, shown as part of Dr Terror’s House of Horrors.

There’s a trailer for Saturday Night programmes. Can you detect a bonfire theme?

Then BBC1 closes down with the national anthem.

 

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The Larry Sanders Show – tape 1854

Back to BBC2 for more from The Larry Sanders Show. In The Stalker, Larry becomes convinced an obsessed fan is stalking him. Corbin Bernsen and Phil Hartman are guests.

Corbin Bernsen and Phil Hartman

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 28 October 1994 23.45

The next episode here is Larry Loses Interest and is written by Judd Apatow. Larry is getting bored by the show, and works on a script for a movie.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 4 November 1994 23.45

The next episode is Artie’s Gone, where Artie is unable to get to the show due to bad weather, so Paula is tasked with getting the show on the air, but she’s not allowed to tell Larry that Artie’s not here. Bruno Kirby and Steven Wright appears as themselves.

Bruno Kirby Steven Wright

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 11 November 1994 23.45

The next episode opens with a double-strength warning about strong language.

The episode is The Hankerciser 200. Hank endorses an exercise machine, and Francine injures herself using it. When she threatens to write an article about it, Hank uses the extremely strong language.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 25 November 1994 23.45

Broadcast Nudes sees Hank trying to pressure Darlene into posing for Playboy to help promote his restaurant. Hugh Hefner is a guest.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 2 December 1994 23.45

The next episode is Larry’s Agent.

Guest on the show is film director Barry Levinson.

Barry Levinson

Bob Odenkirk appears as Stevie Grant, the agent trying to tempt Larry away from his long term agent Leo.

Bob Odenkirk Larry Sanders

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 9 December 1994 23.45

Before the next episode, there’s a bit of the end of an episode of Fantasy Football League (BBC Two England, 16 December 1994 23.15)

After this, there’s a trailer for World Cup Hellas, and one for KYTV.

Then, more Larry Sanders with Life Behind Larry. Larry wants Bobcat Goldthwaite to host the show following his, but the network affiliates don’t want him. Everyone else wants the gig.

David Letterman is one of many cameo appearances in this show, winning the TV award that Larry really wanted.

David Letterman

The only problem with this episode is that, for UK viewers at least, the punchline of the show, the reveal of the chosen host, doesn’t quick pack the same laugh because it’s someone we’ve never heard of over here (although the show cleverly cues up the name earlier in the show for viewers like us who will not have heard of him). But because we have no history with him, the joke is incomplete.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 16 December 1994 23.45

After this, recording continues with a trailer for Thelma and Louise, and one for JFK.

Then an episode of Human Rights Human Wrongs, presented by Marina Warner, looking at the worldwide plight of refugees. BBC Two England, 17 December 1994 0.10

There’s a trailer for Frankie and Johnny. Then some Weatherview with Richard Edgar.

After this, a trailer for two Muhammed Ali themed programmes The Rumble in the Jungle and Parkinson Meets Ali.

Then, we get an episode of The Fugitive. Tonight’s episode: Angels Travel on Lonely Roads. It’s a Quinn Martin production, so it has literal acts, with captions. Doctor Richard Kimble doesn’t look happy.

The Fugitive

 

After this episode, another chance to see the trailer for JFK.

Then the tape finishes during the Barbara Stanwyck film No Man of her Own.

Space Precinct – tape 1951

Ah, Space Precinct. You promised us such happiness, but instead delivered only vague disappointment. I suppose Terrahawks should have been a warning.

It pains me that I didn’t like this series more. Or is it simply that I’m too old to fall in love with the show, like I fell in love with Thunderbirds or Space 1999. Or perhaps it’s because at this time there was a lot more TV science fiction, and a lot more good TVSF at that. Babylon 5 was starting, Star Trek The Next Generation was just coming to an end, so there was serious competition.

This is the pilot episode, Protect and Survive, written by Paul Mayhew Archer, a writer more comfortable writing comedy. It was directed by John Glen, veteran director of several Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton Bond films, so there’s truckloads of experience there. And the special effects, such a core part of any Gerry Anderson show, were handled by Stephen Begg and model maker Bill Pearson, both longtime Anderson collaborators. Most of the effects here look practical, so I would presume it’s mostly miniature photography, probably augmented by CGI for compositing.

The creature work is handled by Neill Gorton who, after some early work in The Revenge of Billy The Kid, a movie I’m sure he’d prefer to forget, although his work was perfectly good, he’d go on to be the go-to guy for prosthetics on Doctor Who and Torchwood.

The first episode concerns illegal immigration by aliens, compounded by a deadly disease brought in by them. Oliver Tobias plays a shadowy bad guy who’s bringing in the illegal aliens, and the great Burt Kwouk plays a police informer who leads hero cops Brogan and Haldane (Ted Shackleford and Rob Youngblood) to the courier.

Kwouk and Tobias

It’s nice to see that door locks on space cars haven’t changed that much.

Space Door Locks

Back at home, Officer Brogan’s son is rocking the Oculus Rift version 10.0, but for some reason he’s still using a wired gamepad.

Wired Gamepad

 

In the end, something about this show just doesn’t gel. All the alien characters with masks just serve to (ahem) alienate the viewer – because most of the dialogue is re-recorded, it puts distance between us. And the human characters aren’t much better. Brogan is the workaholic cop whose son is hanging around in the bad part of town, but he deals with that just by getting grumpier with him. Haldane just wants to lech after Simone Bendix’s Officer Jane Castle, and she appears to be permanently manning the precinct desk, rather than going into action with ‘the boys’. And after an argument over video-link with his wife, Brogan paces the room muttering ‘Stupid woman,’ which doesn’t endear him to me.

It’s the uneven tone which most jars, though. Much of it is light, seemingly aimed at a younger audience, and some of the acting definitely has ‘bad kids tv’ written all over it. Yet other parts seem to be trying to be more like Hill Street Blues. But in the end, it fails to be comfortable doing either thing.

One last thing is the music. The title music starts off promising, very kinetic, but then it goes into the main musical theme which is a clunky, half-tempo brass motif that woulds like it’s from a different show. It totally derails the music, which is a shame, because the incidental music is occasionally very good. They clearly spent money on a full orchestral recording, which definitely adds production value. But that ponderous theme really irks me.

 

After this episode, recording switches, and we’re treated (?) to some Coca Cola Hit Mix presented by Terry Christian.

Then, thankfully, there’s more Space Precinct. That’s not much praise, though, is it? “Space Precinct: Better than watching Terry Christian present pop videos”

The next episode on this tape is The Snake. An extortionist reptile with acid for blood is attempting to extort money from big corporations, and he puts four bombs on a large freighter, so the team have to try to disarm all four bombs before the ship explodes. This one has a nice plot, and the design for the Snake is very good.

The Snake

Next episode is Time To Kill. A police raid on a counterfeiting facility goes wrong when a cyborg appears and starts shooting everyone. The cyborg causes Brogan to shoot an innocent bystander, who then falls into a vat of acid and is horribly scarred, so Brogan naturally feels guilty.

The cyborg kills Took, Castle’s partner, in what would be a shocking scene, but it’s slightly undercut by the fact that Took was the character in jeopardy in the pilot episode, so my immediate thought was this is going to be a running gag, like Kenny in South Park.

The cyborg then does an odd thing – it injects the bystander who Brogan accidentally shot with some kind of drug, which they later discover has halted his tissue degeneration.

Things go from bad to worse when Brogan and Haldane have a mid-air shoot-out with the cyborg. Brogan ejects, but Haldane goes down with the ship, and is (we presume) killed.

Now, unless Space Precinct has suddenly become Game of Thrones, alert viewers might sense where this story might be going. it tips its hand somewhat when the cyborg attacks the police department, shooting loads of policemen, in order to get to someone who’s there for protection from this very cyborg. If this plot doesn’t strike a familiar note by now, you’ll surely get it when the cyborg, in a stand-off with Brogan, says “I’ll be back for you Brogan”.

Suddenly all is clear, and they’re doing Terminator. And because now, officer Castle is also dead, it’s not hard to see how this whole story will resolve itself. Let’s see if I’m right…

Ceasing to exist

Yep, that’s Brogan in the past seeing Brogan from the future and the cyborg ceasing to exist because he’s manage to correct the timeline.

Incidentally, this episode was written by Hans Beimler and Richard Manning, both of whom were on the writing staff of Star Trek The Next Generation, and who both have writing credits on Yesterday’s Enterprise, another time travel story in which major characters die before the timeline is restored.

So, this is doubly derivative. But it works fine, as there’s nothing like an alternate timeline story to add drama to a show.

Next episode is Body and Soul. Brogan and his son are on a Father-Son bonding trip into space when they discover a derelict spaceship, with a dead body on board. This story has some interesting twists in the way the story develops. First, the ship belongs to a big corporation run by a reclusive genius. When they are told of the discovery, suddenly the ship’s self destruct is triggered, and Brogan and Son barely escape. Clearly, the head of the corporation didn’t want the dead body to be discovered.

But when DNA analysis of bits of the dead body left on Haldane’s son’s hands shows the body was the reclusive company head, we find that his second in command had killed him, and replaced him with an AI hologram.

The twist comes because the AI was a) self aware and b) unaware he was a hologram. Lucky for him he’s a hologram that can fire lightning from his fingertips, and he kills his treacherous assistant. But then, he decides that he’d rather like to have a family, so he kidnaps Brogan’s son.

It’s not the predictable trajectory for this story, so I give it credit for that.

After this episode, recording stops, and underneath there’s some remnants of older recordings, with part of an episode of Cops.

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Doctor Who – Nightmare of Eden – tape 1816

Here’s a Doctor Who story I’m not very familiar with, a rare solo outing for writer Bob Baker. Nightmare of Eden starts with the pilots of a space cruise ship. One of them is all business, but the other one is played like he’s high on drugs or something. I presume this will be explained. There’s a collision, with the cruiser rematerialising in the path of another ship, and the two are fused together.

That’s when the Doctor and Romana (II) arrive. She urges caution.

                    ROMANA
        I don't think we should interfere
                    THE DOCTOR
        Interfere? Of course we should interfere. 
        Always do what you're best at, that's what 
        I always say.

The pilots of the two ships have an argument about whose insurance should cover the damage. “I’d say it was knock for knock” says the Doctor.

We discover the co-pilot is on drugs after all, one that induces apathy and complacency, called Vraxoin.

One of the passengers is Professor Tryst, played by Lewis Fiander with an extremely odd mittel-european accent.

Lewis Fiander

He’s a biologist who wants to catalogue every living species in the galaxy. Quite a task. He has developed a machine which shrinks specimens down to a tiny size and stored them in data crystals, where they continue to grow. It sounds a bit like the Miniscope in Carnival of Monsters.

Romana flips through some of the locations stored in the machine. This one looks a bit like a stock shot from Space 1999.

Stock shot

I like the way the production team have made no effort to disguise some file drawers.

File Drawers

The big reveal of a monster at the end is a little disappointing.

Mandrell

While looking for K9, the Doctor spots a suspicious character and gives chase – it looks like Trevor Horn off of The Buggles.

Evil Trevor Horn

There’s some outrageous doubling and tripling of identical sets and corridors t make the ship look bigger, especially when the Doctor runs through the same set, and the same set of extras three times.

The cliffhanger of episode two is interesting, as The Doctor and Romana, running from some excessively bureaucratic cops, jump right into Professor Tryst’s projection from his collecting machine into the sample from the planet Eden. This is quite a cerebral cliffhanger, more mystery than threat.

Episode Three sees the Doctor and Romana meeting Evil Trevor Horn, who turns out to be Professor Tryst’s lost crewmember, thought to have died on Eden, and who further turns out to be a drug enforcement officer on the trail of people trafficking Vraxoin. We also discover that when the Mandrells die, their bodies dessiccate into pure Vraxoin.

The episode reaches its climax when they attempt to separate the two fused ships, and the vision mixer’s effects sliders go all the way up to 11.

Effects Sliders

Episode Four reveals that it’s Tryst behind the smuggling, and sees the crew using ray guns to round up a load of Mandrells, which seems excessively cruel. But when their guns run low on energy, and the Mandrells turn on them, The Doctor brings them under control with a dog whistle, which is a very Doctor Who thing.

It gets a bit Panto when he leads them back into the crystal projection of Eden. “My arms! My legs! My everything!”

This isn’t the show at its best. The budget is starting to look very stretched, and the monster design doesn’t really inspire fear. I like the fact that it’s touching on issues like drugs, and the aliens being the source of the suggests Frank Herbert’s Dune might have been an inspiration.

This was part of the season when my old boss Douglas Adams was script editor, and you can occasionally glimpse his voice in the dialogue, especially between The Doctor and Romana. It never reaches the exquisite peak of City of Death, but the style is there.

After the last episode, there’s a trailer for other programmes, which is cut off as the recording stops, and underneath there’s one of the previous episode recordings continuing, with a black and white movie. According to the credits at the end it’s The Last Appointment

After this there’s a trailer for The Million Pound Note, Then we get some pop videos. There’s Dreams by The Cranberries, On A Leash by Salad (me neither), Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm by the Crash Test Dummies, It Will Be You by Paul Young and Lick a Shot by Cypress Hill.

UK Gold closes down with a look at programmes for Friday Evening.

Friday Evening on UK Gold

Then, UK Gold switches over the What’s In Store – basically a whole channel dedicated to long-form infomercials.

The first one, though, is quite interesting. Dick Van Patten invites you to buy a Magic course, from Mark Wilson, author of one of the most respected general books on magic.

Mark Wilson

Of course, this is exactly as annoying as all the other infomercial, but at least he’s also doing magic tricks.

The next infomercial is in the Amazing Discoveries series wherein regular host Mike Levy eschews his usual woolly jumper for an equally ugly shellsuit. They’re selling diet and exercise in this one, hence Mike showing off ‘Mr Fat’.

Amazing Discoveries

Such a programme wouldn’t be complete without the mulleted personal trainer, here it’s Tony Little, ‘America’s top certified personal trainer.’

Tony Little

He’s very enthusiastic. Whatever his exercise regimen is, it makes you shout a lot.

The next one is selling you a Wok. Yes, this was the 90s when the Wok was an exotic and mysterious implement virtually unknown to western households.

There’s a game I used to play with programmes like this. Look at what they’re selling, then imagine the absolute maximum you’d pay for it. In almost every case, the selling price turns out to twice my absolute top price.

In this one they’re selling a wok, with a couple of implements thrown in, for £40 + £5 p&p.

Then there’s a programme that will help you ‘win the war against Acne.’

But wait! There’s more. Quick ‘n’ Brite cleaner. Only £25 for a 2 litre bucket.

The tape runs out during this one.

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  • Viennetta
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  • trail: Cher Extravaganza

Have I Got News For You – tape 1852

A new series of Have I Got News For You (the 8th according to Angus Deayton) with guests Martin Clunes

Martin Clunes

and Judge James Pickles

Judge Pickles

One of the news stories is the emergence of Neil Hamilton as a dodgy politician, prior to his metamorphosis into a third-rate TV personality.

Look at those petrol prices.

Petrol Prices

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 28 October 1994 22.00

Next episode features guests Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith on HIGNFY

And a post-communards, pre-ordination Richard Coles

Richard Coles

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 4 November 1994 22.00

We’re missing a couple of episodes here (according to the Radio Times) which skips an episode featuring David Icke, sadly. The next episode here features Angus Deayton’s KYTV colleague Helen Atkinson Wood

Helen Atkinson Wood

And Tory MP Teddy Tylor

teddy Taylor

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 25 November 1994 22.00

The next episode features Hattie Hayridge

Hattie Hayridge

And Glenda Jackson

Glenda Jackson

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 2 December 1994 22.00

After this episode, there’s a trailer where they basically throw out an entire published schedule to accomodate Opera from the Royal Opera House. Not sure it’s quite as respectful and pompous as Opera trailers normally are, but I guess that’s all to the good.

I must have been amused by this trailer, as I kept the whole of it, before recording switches to the next episode of Have I Got News For You. Guests on this episode are Jack Docherty

Jack Docherty on HIGNFY

and his Absolutely compatriot Moray Hunter

Moray Hunter

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 9 December 1994 22.00

Next episode sees guests Hugh Dennis

Hugh Dennis

And Michael Buerk

Michael Buerk on HIGNFY

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 16 December 1994 22.00

The next episode is a christmas special, and sees two polar opposites as guests. Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle

And former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie.

Kelvin Mackenzie

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 23 December 1994 22.00

This is the last episode on the tape. Just after, recording stops, and underneath there’s a 30 minute still caption from Sky One. Gripping stuff.

Friday on Sky

And that’s it for this tape.

LA Law – tape 1855

Late-vintage LA Law here, as evidenced by the Bentley in the opening sequence, replacing the lower-class BMW the series started with.

The first episode is Dead Issue and has guest appearances from Fritz Weaver, playing a scientist suing a man for publishing articles accusing him of experimenting on soldiers with radiation.

Fritz Weaver

Charles Martin Smith plays a deadhead ex-husband suing for half the joint property from his more successful wife.

Charles martin Smith

Babylon 5’s Peter Jurasik plays a pornography enthusiast accused of pandering for prostitution by making a porn film with his girlfriend.

Peter Jurasik

In the next episode, Tunnel of Love,  we’ve had a Babylon 5 alumnus, now it’s the time for the competing space-station show, Deep Space Nine, as Ramin Shimerman guests in this episode.

Armin Shimerman

Also guesting in this episode, Shelley Duvall, as another dog owner suing Shimerman.

Shelley Duvall

In one of the junctions between the ads and the show, there’s a brief glitch where a Star Trek episode gets played in on top of the LA Law episode.

In the next episode, How am I Driving, the DA with whom Arnie had been starting a relationship gets very paranoid and accusatory – almost comically so, so he breaks off the relationship. So, because women are obviously always motivated by jealousy and pride, she starts investigating him. Seriously, this character is almost risible in how suspicious and paranoid she is, right from the start.

And there’s a missing episode (according to the episode guide) which should go here, as the final episode on the tape is actually the final ever episode, Finish Line. Leland announces at the staff meeting that he’s retiring due to illness.

Lyndsay Crouse guests.

Lyndsay Crouse

Wendie Malick, from Dream On, also appears.

Wendie Malick

 

Leland tells Douglas that he’s dying, but won’t elaborate. Stuart insists to the rest of the staff that it can’t be that bad, since prostate cancer is quite manageable. And to add to the mystery, Leland is inquiring about medicaid benefits. Why would the managing partner of a prestigious law firm need medicaid?

It all wraps up with a nice goodbye, though. The tape ends just after the episode.

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  • Quality Street
  • ITC
  • trail: Indecent Proposal
  • trail: Coppers
  • Colmans
  • Energy Saving
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Fun Size
  • Duplo
  • Best of Cyndi Lauper
  • trail: Alive
  • trail: Sunday on Sky
  • The Best Dance Album in the World Ever part 4
  • Thornton’s
  • Boots
  • Salon Selectives
  • Toys R Us
  • TV Licence
  • trail: Cricket
  • trail: Chicago Hope
  • Shell Helix
  • Dance Zone 94
  • Organics
  • Mumfie on video
  • Surf
  • Fun Size
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • QVC Diamonique Week
  • trail: Dr Giggles (starring Larry Drake)
  • trail: Chicago Hope
  • Black & Decker
  • Homepride
  • Chanel
  • Christmas in Vienna II
  • Philips Ladyshave
  • Mike Reid’s Pussy In Boots on video
  • national Lottery
  • trail: Melrose Place
  • trail: Chicago Hope
  • Martini
  • Philishave
  • Bisto Beef in Beer
  • Terry’s All Gold
  • M People – Bizarre Fruit
  • Timex Indi-glo
  • trail: Cricket
  • trail: Scarlett
  • trail: The Andrew Newton Hypnotic Experience
  • Kylie Minogue – Woolworths
  • Fifa 95

  • Iceland
  • Best of the Beautiful South
  • Dumbo on video
  • Vaseline Intensive Care
  • Halfords
  • Barbra Streisand The Concert
  • trail: Loaded Weapon 1
  • trail: A Mind To Kill
  • Snickers