Month: September 2015

The Twelve Chairs – tape 323

After Love and Death yesterday, here’s another film with which I frequently mix it up. It’s Mel Brooks’ The Twelve Chairs, a film also set in Russia, although this is post-revolution Russia. An old woman, on her deathbed, reveals that she sewed her diamonds into the upholstery of one of her dining chairs before the revolution. Her son-in-law, Ron Moody, goes in search of them.

Ron Moody

Along the way, he is joined by Frank Langella, back when he was a heartthrob.

Frank Langella

And Mel Brooks, who used to be his servant.

Mel Brooks

Also after the jewels is the family priest, Dom DeLuise, who found out about the jewels when the old woman made her last confession.

Dom DeLuise

Diana Coupland, from Bless This House, appears as well.


Diana Coupland

And she’s not the only familiar face from 70s UK sitcoms – here’s Nicholas Smith, Mr Rumbold himself from Are You Being Served.

Nicholas Smith

The film is basically a broad farce, and naturally, the protagonists are foiled at every turn. But it has some fun, and the locations and production looks great for a film which presumably didn’t have a huge budget. Some of the crowd scenes are really busy with lots of people in period costume.

After this, there’s a short film in a season called Christmas Crackers, a polish animation called Gwozdz. It’s like a communist version of Morph.


After this, recording continues with an episode of Countdown. In dictionary corner is Carol Thatcher (with ‘dictionary lady’ Julia Swannell). Thatcher seemed almost surprised when the camera cut to her, and seemed very nervous. Check out those shoulder pads.

Carol Thatcher and Julia Swannell

There’s a whole episode here.

Recording stops just after the episode ends.


  • Ever Ready Gold Seal
  • DuPont SilverStone
  • Audace
  • trail: Films for Christmas
  • Sandeman’s Port
  • Ariel
  • Tweed
  • Shloer
  • Dishwash Electric
  • Royal Bank of Scotland – nice animation, looks suspiciously like the Brothers Quay

  • Sekonda
  • Emva Cream
  • Audace
  • Old England Cream Sherry
  • Flash Liquid
  • 7Up
  • Simplicity
  • Woolworth’s – Lindisfarne
  • British Coal
  • Hall Mark
  • Piat d’Or
  • Stone’s Ginger Wine
  • Interflora
  • Dishwash Electric
  • Milk Tray
  • Woolworth’s – Five Star
  • Sekonda
  • Tweed
  • DuPont SilverStone
  • Sandeman’s Port
  • trail: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby
  • Ariel
  • Sinutab
  • Ever Ready Gold Seal
  • The World of Survival
  • trail: 42nd Street
  • Tweed
  • Fiesta kitchen towels
  • Interflora
  • VW
  • Cream
  • 7 Eleven
  • trail: Keeping Love Alive
  • Just Brazils
  • Milk
  • TCP
  • Daz

Love And Death – Tomorrow’s World Christmas Quiz – tape 324

First up, Love and Death, one of Woody Allen’s early, funny ones, and one which I’ve never watched in its entirety until now.

It starts off well with theme music by that up and coming film composer Sergei Prokofiev. Allen plays a cowardly young man who has to fight in the war against Napoleon.

Woody Allen

Diane Keaton plays the woman he loves, who loves everyone else but him. So that’s Woody’s sexual politics staying consistent.

When, later in the story, he’s gripped by a suicidal feeling, she seeks the advice of a priest. He recommends “Blond twelve year old girls. Two of them.” Hmmm.

Napoleon is played by James Tolkan, Mr Strickland from Back to the Future.

Emperor Strickland

Also in the film, Jessica Harper, off of Phantom of the Paradise.

Jessica Harper

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th December 1987 – 21:00

After this there’s a trailer for Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV Special.

Then, Recording switches to BBC1 for the Tomorrows World Christmas Quiz. Lots of celebrity guests, like Keith Chegwin, Rod Hull and Emu, Christopher Timothy and star guest George Takei.

George Takei

Here’s the whole programme

BBC Genome: BBC One – 17th December 1987 – 20:00

After this there’s a Radio Times advert, and then there’s the start of an episode of A Question of Sport – classic era with David Coleman in the chair, and Emlyn Hughes and Bill Beaumont as team captains.

The recording finishes after five minutes of this programme.

KYTV – Quantum Leap – tape 327

Some vintage comedy on this tape from the Radio Active team transferred to television, and their satellite channel KYTV.

The first episode here is their Sunday morning religious programme God Alone Knows. It features such worthy and serious items as Rabbi Rabbit.

Rabbi Rabbit

Appearing here with the much-missed Geoffrey Perkins.

Michael Fenton Stevens as Martin Brown is their version of Harry Secombe, singing in various parts of the host village, Humpingham.

Martin Brown Sings

Philip Pope is Scabby Danger, Heavy Metal rock star, “famous for sleeping with numerous under-age girls and taking over 100 different types of illegal narcotics.” That joke wouldn’t get past Editorial Policy today.

Scabby Danger

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th March 1992 – 20:30

The next episode is Good Morning Calais, celebrating the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

There’s a surprising amount of nudity in this episode. More than it might have today, unless it was on HBO.

This episode has the brilliant European Quiz, where Mike Flex taunts the German, French and Italian contestants.

Mike Flex asks the questions

And the arrival of the first train through the tunnel isn’t a total success.

Channel Tunnel train arrives

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st March 1992 – 20:30

In the next episode, it’s war, in a crisis special.

Crisis Special

Helen Atkinson Wood’s Anna Daptor reports live from the potential war zone.

Anna Daptor

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th April 1992 – 20:30

The next episode is a change from the published programme, according to the announcer.

Sir Kenneth Yellowhammer hosts KYTV’s Speak For Yourself.

Sir kenneth Yellowhammer

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th April 1992 – 20:30 (broadcast date) BBC Two – 21st April 1992 – 20:30 (actual episode)

Following this, an episode of Quantum Leap. Quite a notable one – it’s The Leap Home part II: Vietnam following the first part in which Sam jumps into his own teenaged self, and has to try to prevent his brother from leaving for the war, or to prevent his death in action. Even the ‘previously On’ made me cry.

In this episode he jumps into a member of his brother Tom’s patrol. It guest stars Andrea Thompson as a reporter.

Andrea Thompson

And a pre-Wayne’s World Tia Carrera as a Vietnamese fighter working with the Americans. But naturally, being a foreigner, she was a traitor. And Thompson’s last pictures showed American POWs held by the Vietcong – one of whom had a familiar face.


BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th April 1992 – 21:00

After this, an advert for BBC Select – a subscription service that showed programmes overnight for various professions. In my mind, it was mostly for osteopaths.

Then there’s the start of 40 Minutes with a documentary about the  love lives of over 65s.

When this recording stops, underneath is a discussion of books with Sue Townsend and AS Byatt. Also featuring are Nigel Williams, and the presenter is AN Wilson. The tape stops before there’s any credits so I can’t pinpoint the series. It didn’t look trendily lit enough to be the Late Show.

A Book Programme

S+M – tape 591

I’ve had to take out the batteries from the Slatterywatch klaxon for this one.

After the huge popularity of Whose Line is it Anyway, some of the regular performers got their own shows. We’ve seen Josie Lawrence and John Sessions in previous tapes, so here’s Tony Slattery and Mike McShane in a show which is (like Sessons’ show) completely improvised. Here’s Tony Slattery failing to convincingly improvise looking through a microscope (because he’s presumably watching McShane on a monitor to see what he’s doing).

Tony Slattery in S+M

I think I got improvisation saturation during this period. I think it’s fine in a live gig, where the stakes are a tiny bit higher, but in a recorded show like this it becomes wearing. And the nature of the show precludes much in the way of props or staging – the microscope pictured above was the most complex prop in the whole show.

That’s not to say it’s not funny, just that I personally prefer my comedy to have had just a little more thought put into it.

All seven episodes of the series are on this tape.

The last is followed by the start of My Childhood, a film by Bill Douglas, who died the previous year.


  • Amstrad Double Decker
  • Burger King
  • Wrangler
  • British Airways
  • Paul Young – From Time To Time
  • Guinness
  • Michael Bolton – Time Love and Tenderness
  • Guerlain
  • trail: Late Films for Christmas

Dark Star – Byrne About Byrne – tape 483

First on this tape, Dark Star, John Carpenter’s first film, co-written with Dan O’Bannon, It’s a fun film, perhaps hamstrung by its tiny budget, and longer than it ought to be. I could have done with less of the running around with the beach ball alien.

O’Bannon himself plays Pinback.

Dan O'Bannon

I particularly like the on-screen displays throughout the film, the early work of John Wash, who would go on to form Video Image and specialise in simulating computer displays.

Dark Star Graphics

Also on the effects crew are model maker Greg Jein, and the brilliant Ron Cobb, who would go on to design some of the greatest SF films, including Alien and The Last Starfighter.

BBC Genome (probably): BBC Two – 26th March 1988 – 17:20

After the film, recording switches to a strange black & white film of two French farmers drinking wine in a cellar. It turns out this is part one of The Sorrow and the Pity – which I only really know as a reference from Woody Allen films.

There’s a trailer for The Dresser.

Then, an Arena film, Byrne About Byrne, a film by writer John Byrne, a sort-of autobiographical film by the writer of Tutti Frutti. It has a good cast, including Bill Paterson.

Bill Paterson

And Robbie Coltrane

Robbie Coltrane in Byrne about Byrne

Some unexpected faces pop up in the fil. Here’s Muriel Gray serving sodas in a Paisley diner.

Muriel Gray

And Richard Wilson as Eddie Clockerty

Eddie Clockerty

And Robert Carlyle (credited onscreen as Robert Carlysle) played young Byrne’s co-worker Spanky Farrell. This is his first credited role in iMDb.

Robert Carlyle

The whole thing ends with an imagined funeral for Byrne. Given my past history with celebrity death and coincidence, I sincerely hope Mr Byrne is in good health.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st April 1988 – 21:15

After this, there’s a trailer for Brazil (see earlier entry).

And then, recording continues with a whole episode of A Bit of Fry and Laurie. It’s the pilot episode, a BBC2 repeat. Brilliant stuff, of course.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st April 1988 – 22:10

There’s a trailer for the BBC2 Film Club – Diane Keaton’s Heaven and Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life And Death.

Then there’s the start of The Dresser, and the tape ends 12 minutes into the film.

Hot Metal – tape 481

This tape opens with a fawning piece of documentary about the royal family – Hello magazine levels of banality.

Then, the first in the second series of Hot Metal, Andrew Marshall and David Renwick’s brilliant newspaper sitcom. Geoffrey Palmer’s editor has gone missing, so he’s replaced by Richard Wilson. The Daily Crucible’s newest columnist is God himself, speaking through a retired naval man. And scurrilous reporter Greg Kettle looks for the government’s central register of Aids carriers.

Greg Kettle

As always, the programme is pitch-perfect with its television advertising.

The Crucible moves its operation to a highly fortified building in Chiswick, mirroring News International’s move to Wapping, and their move to computer-aided publishing. The Crucible’s results aren’t promising.

First computerised edition

Before the next episode there’s the end of a drama – A Place of Safety, written by Kay Mellor.

Episoe 2 sees Greg Kettle stirring things up at a local primary school. And young reporter Maggie Troon, played by Caroline Milmoe, inadvertently gets a tip-off to a story that could be huge. Milmoe’s character replaces John Gordon Sinclair from the first series in the young idealistic reporter role.

Caroline Milmoe

Investigating some mysterious deaths at the home of a high court judge she visits the village where it happened, and learns there’s a psychopathic killer on the loose.

Next episode sees Greg Kettle rescue a horse in El Salvador.

Dicky Lipton is trapped in a conjuring trick when the magician has a heart attack, so they have to bring in the experts to free him. Cue the great Ali Bongo (playing himself).

Ali Bongo

And Maggie’s story gets more complicated when she tracks down the high court judge’s lover, and finds her dead.

Next episode sees Maggie finding more anomalies in her murder story, while Twiggy Rathbone launches Rat World.

Greg Kettle gets demoted to the lowliest rank possible on a national newspaper – Showbusiness Reporter. In his new role, he inflitrates an Eastenders story conference.

Russell Spam and Twiggy Rathbone plot to put pressure on Dicky Lipton, and he shows signs of cracking.

Richard Wilson and Sooty

He wakes up in what he thinks is a hospital bed, and in his confused state he goes wandering naked, looking for a nurse, straight onto the set of Blue Peter (or an approximation of such).

Blue Peter Interrupted

Before the next episode, there’s the end of a drama about Diabetes.

In the next episode, Greg Kettle acquires what purport to be the bones of Elvis, and the Crucible offers them as a competition prize.

Meanwhile Maggie gets ever closer to the truth about the story. A neighbour claims to have seen a large-footed alien creature lurking around the house, and the local US airbase say there was unusual activity on that day.

Dicky is caught in Saudi Arabia with the videos he was promoting in Japan, and sentenced to a public flogging.

And there’s a nice cliffhanger when Maggie has an unknown someone or something in the back of her car.

In the next episode, the lurker is revealed to be a Sun reporter. There’s a Leveson-like investigation into press abuses.

And the murder story is resolved with the discovery that the judge’s family died from a deadly artificial virus accidentally released by the US airbase. And when the Sun kidnap the dying judge from his house, 27 journalists die from the virus in Wapping.

After this episode, there’s the very start of The South Bank Show profiling Doris Lessing. The recording stops shortly after this starts. Underneath, there’s a short segment of some kind of drama that I can’t pinpoint. Then the tape stops.


  • Daily Express – Waldheim The Missing Years
  • Holsten Pils – Griff Rhys Jones, Marilyn Monroe
  • Volvo 340
  • Nationwide Anglia
  • Real McCoy’s
  • B&I Line
  • trail: The South Bank Show – Lenny Henry
  • Save & Prosper
  • Renault 5
  • CU
  • Philadelphia
  • Ski
  • Daily Mirror – The Untold Story of Michael Jackson
  • British Telecom
  • Brook Street
  • Duckhams
  • Mobil Green Shield Stamps

  • Belle Colour
  • DHL
  • Quality Street
  • Hitachi
  • trail: The British Academy Awards
  • Prudential
  • Amstrad Televideos
  • Esso Superlube
  • Ross Chip Shop Ships
  • Tennent’s Extra – Dick Spanner
  • trail: Countdown
  • Esso
  • Prudential
  • Hotpoint
  • Ford Montego
  • Today – Michael Jackson
  • Eagle Star
  • Nat West – Jesse Birdsall
  • AA – “In the sand”
  • BP
  • Daily Mail – yet another Michael Jackson story
  • trail: ITV telethon

  • British Telecom
  • Today – More Michael Jackson stories

LA Law – tape 484

The first episode here has the first appearance of Diana Muldaur as Rosalind Shays

Rosalind Shays

Arnie is being sued for his divorce advice video, which he made with Dave Myers. And Douglas is suing a breakfast cereal company when they refuse to pay out on a competition that had too many winners.

The episode is Lie Down and Deliver (7D06)

Next episode is Placenta Claus Is Coming to Town (7D07) which opens with Benny asking Alice’s father for his permission to ask Alice to marry him.

The long running Earl Williams trial has reached the penalty phase, there the jury have to decide whether he gets the death penalty.

Ann goes into labour.

And It’s Christmas, so Victor has to be the office Santa.

Jimmy Smits as Santa

In the next episode, an old friend of Jonathan turns up, and it’s Janice from Friends.

Maggie Jakobson

She has an inoperable brain tumour, and wants Jonathan to represent her as she petitions to be cryonically frozen until science develops a treatment.

This episode is The Good Human Bar (7D08).

After this, recording stops, and underneath there’s a bit of The City Programme. This doesn’t last very long, and when that stops, there’s yet another recording underneath, which is a strange bit from Night Network. The Cutting Edge Happy Hour possibly.


  • Ford Fiesta
  • Bird’s Eye Fish Fingers
  • Philadelphia
  • Gold Blend – another in the classic series of ads featuring Anthony Stewart Head

  • Bounty
  • McDonalds
  • trail: The City Programme
  • Holsten Export
  • Batchelor’s Micro Chef
  • Harrod’s Sale
  • Vitalite
  • Royal Tournament
  • Green Giant Niblets
  • trail: Darlings of the Gods
  • Grolsch
  • Haze Crystalaire
  • She’s Out of Control in cinemas
  • Vortex
  • World of Leather
  • Peugeot
  • Go-Cat
  • Piat d’Or
  • Fuji Film
  • trail: The City Programme
  • National Power
  • Melody FM
  • Peugeot
  • Fuji Film
  • trail: 01
  • BSB

  • Match
  • Mattesson’s
  • Halifax
  • Fuji Film
  • trail: The City Programme
  • Dream
  • Renault
  • Cheddarie
  • Dick Tracy in Cinemas
  • The Enterprise Initiative
  • Dreamland Margate

  • Volvic
  • Dream
  • trail: Consuming Passions
  • trail: The Bill
  • trail: Consuming Passions
  • Peugeot 309
  • Dettol
  • Blockbuster
  • BAA
  • National Power
  • Heineken – Suzy Blake
  • Don’t Do Drugs