Month: February 2016

The Roseanne Barr Show – The Late Show – Whose Line Is It Anyway? – tape 753

Here’s another mixed bag of a tape, although not quite as emblematic as yesterday’s.

First up, is The Roseanne Barr Show, which opens with a family scene which, presumably, pre-figures her sitcom family, and features a mystifying cameo from Freddie Krueger.

Freddie Krueger in Roseanne Barr

 

After this, recording switches to BBC2 and a Late Show special on Batman. It’s a look back at the history of the character to coincide with the release of Tim Burton’s 1989 feature.

Let’s see who’s being interviewed. Obviously, here’s Frank Miller, writer/artist of The Dark Knight Returns.

Frank Miller

Harlan Ellison, noted science fiction writer.

Harlan Ellison

Token academic Frederic Smoler

Frederic Smoler

Artist Jerry Robinson

Jerry Robinson

Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit and all-round comic book deity (who I met once at a book signing).

Will Eisner

Fred Finger, son of Bill Finger, commonly accepted as the co-creator of Batman.

Fred Finger

There’s a stagey re-enactment of Frederick Wertham, the man behind the moral panic over comics, with his book Seduction of the Innocent. Wertham is played by John Bird.

John Bird as Frederick Wertham

Artist Trina Robbins

Trina Robbins

Writer Denny O’Neill

Denny O'Neil

Producer of the TV Series William Dozier

William Dozier

Stanley Ralph Ross, one of the writers on the TV Series.

Stanley Ralph Ross

Anton Furst, the designer of Tim Burton’s movie, who died tragically young.

Anton Furst

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th June 1989 – 23:15

After this, another switch, and an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? featuring Archie Hahn

Archie Hahn 2

Josie Lawrence

Josie Lawrence 7

Paul Merton

Paul Merton 5

and John Sessions

John Sessions 8

After this episode, recording stops, and there’s a fragment of an older recording of After Dark talking (topically) about Europe, including Edward Heath, Peter Ustinov, and Shirley Williams. Recording stops during this.

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Film 87 – Micro Live – Saturday Live – tape 225

In many ways, this single tape could serve as a microcosm of my entire collection. Even the very start, featuring the end of an episode of Tutti Frutti, is something I love.

There’s a trailer for Sportsnight featuring the kind of 80s Computer Graphics that used to make me very excited, it being very new.

Sportsnight camera

Then, an episode of Film 87 with Barry Norman, where he reviews:

Barry interviews Julie Walters about Personal Services.

And there’s a location report on Haunted Honeymoon. Gene Wilder on incredibly melancholic form.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 10th March 1987 – 22:30

After this, recording switches to BBC2, with the end of The Week in The Lords.

Then, ‘The end of Micro Live as we know it’. It’s so sad.

This whole episode is available on BBC iPlayer here. But that’s a truncated version of the original live broadcast. Here’s the original live introduction.

The first part looks at Derek Jacobi playing Alan Turing in the play Breaking the Code.

Then there’s a look at the various ‘generations’ of computing, and talks to Donald Michie of the Turing Institute, about their work.

After this, there are a couple of items omitted in the 30 minute version of this programme on iPlayer. Ian Page from Oxford University talks about the problems of doing the massive computing tasks like weather programming, and how chips need to be a lot faster. Then it goes to America to talk to Shaun Hennessey about the MIPS RISC chip.

Plus, the first public showing of Acorn’s development RISC machine, based on the original ARM processor that now powers most mobile smartphones. I spent quite a few years writing software for the Acorn Archimedes range, having moved up from programming on the BBC Micro, so this was a watershed moment for me personally.

There’s another couple of segments missing, one on robotics and voice recognition, and face recognition.

The next segment, about Xerox PARC, is in the BBC version, as is the closing segment of the show. The end of an era.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th March 1987 – 18:15


Watch the episode on the BBC Computer Literacy Project website

After this, recording switches to Channel 4 and an episode of Saturday Live. After a topical intro from Ben Elton, there’s music from the Pogues and the Dubliners.

The Pogues and the Dubliners

Stavros does his usual turn.

Stavros 3

Andy De La Tour

Andy De La Tour

Not sure I particularly like his anti-anti-smoking material.

Music from the wonderful Alison Moyet.

Alison Moyet

There’s a strange novelty act, Frederick Benson.

Frederick Benson

A young Paul Merton

Paul Merton 4

Then there’s a four-hander between Harry Enfield, Ben Elton, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, which contains the original version of a sketch Fry & Laurie would go on to do in their series. “You’re blind, Wicklow.”

There’s music from The Yes No People.

The Yes No People

Comedy from Joy Behar

Joy Behar

And after this, The Two Marks, one of whom is the great Mark Heap. Remember, a while back looking at Big Train, I noted that Heap was a good juggler? Well here he is showing his skills again.

The programme finishes with another Ben Elton set, and Alison Moyet closing the show.

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Doctor Who – tape 1738

You wait ages for some Doctor Who and three come along in quick succession. This time, more from UK Gold’s repeats, and we’re with Tom Baker this time, for The Invisible Enemy.

The story opens on a spaceship (a real one this time) with some grumpy crew, annoyed that they don’t get to fly it, because the computer’s in charge. It flies into an ‘unknown organism’ and the radio broadcasts the message ‘contact has been made.’

Nice mid-70s model work here.

Invisible Enemy model work

The Doctor and Leela are in the ‘No 2 control room’ for the first time in a long time since, presumably, the wooden control room was in use since Leela joined the show.

No 2 Control room

There’s more lovely miniature work, as the crew we saw earlier arrive at their destination.

Invisible Enemy miniature

The crew have been infected by something, and when they arrive on Titan they zap the existing crew. Then, quite shockingly, the Doctor is zapped by the same thing in the Tardis. Luckily, Leela is immune. She tells him that there is Evil outside the Tardis and tries to stop his going out.

When the Doctor meets the infected crewmen, he appears to be under the influence of ‘The Nucleus’, the organism that has infected the crew.

Michael Sheard makes yet another appearance in Doctor Who as the base administrator.

Michael Sheard in The Invisible Enemy

The Doctor is fighting the infection, and they take him to another outpost, where there’s an expert, Dr Marius. By this time, Sheard has been infected by the nucleus.

And this is where we first meet K9, who is Professor Marius’ computer assistant.

K9

The Doctor persuades Marius to clone himself and Leela, then uses a dimensional stabiliser to shrink both of them, and inject them into the real Doctor’s infected body. Cue a fantastic voyage… (as the UK Gold announcer also says).

The Nucleus, when they get there, is, frankly, disappointing. A black blob with a hairy crab claw.

The Nucleus

After their soul-searching dialogue, the Doctor and Leela’s clones self destruct – the clones could only exist for a few minutes – and the virus – the only instance of the virus it would seem, uses their proposed escape route through the Doctor’s tear duct (straight out of Fantastic Voyage) and is unshrunk, becoming, somehow, a prawn of some kind in the macroscopic world.

Macroscopic Nucleus

The Nucleus wants to breed more of his kind, so the Doctor has to stop him. Which he does with a strangely underwhelming fire effect.

Fire Bar

Not quite as much of a classic as Invasion of the Dinosaurs for me, but a solid enough story. I can’t help thinking the show didn’t always use Leela to best effect, though. There’s far too much here of her asking questions.

After the lest episode there’s a trailer for Horror of Fang Rock.

Then, there’s a bit of  The Late Show With David Letterman. He interviews a young cowgirl. Then some strange trails from whatever weird foreign satellite station was showing Letterman, and the tape ends.

Doctor Who – tape 1539

Flipping forward quite a bit in the collection, and we’re on UK Gold for some more Doctor Who. Jon Pertwee is the Doctor, in… a black and white story called Invasion? But wasn’t The Invasion a black and white Patrick Troughton story, one that’s partially missing from the archive? Hmmm.

London looks deserted. There’s some lovely, atmospheric shots of empty streets to open the episode. A bag is lying on the ground, cash spilling out of it. I can’t tell if it’s the poor picture quality, or if that’s not actually cash at all but just a bunch of metal discs.

Moneybag

The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive, puzzled by the quiet. The Doctor has to find a phone box to call UNIT HQ – I guess he was still waiting for BT to fit his landline to the Tardis.

This recording is plagued by a lot of satellite encryption dropouts, which is annoying. It’s the 90s version of buffering.

The only sign of life is a car that won’t stop when flagged down. When they follow it, they find it belongs to a thief, who menaces them before speeding off in his car. They hear a loud noise and a crash, and find his car (and him) rather smashed up.

Cut to UNIT headquarters. At last we’ll get some answers. The Brigadier is hoping the Doctor will return soon. They’re worried about gangs of looters, but more concerned about tracking something else – sightings of something they’re marking on a map.

The Doctor and Sarah see another vehicle, and follow it to a lock-up. And while they’re investigating, they’re attacked first by the looters, then by a flying dinosaur. KKLAK!

KKLAK

That’s a joke for anyone who read the old Target novelisations.

They get picked up by the military as looters, and the Doctor is at his most Doctorish as he gently has fun being questioned and photographed. “How about one of us together? You can join in.”

Then we finally get to see a big dinosaur, as a group of soldiers confront a T-Rex. Not quite as impressive as I remember it being when I first watched this story, but it’s not bad for the budget.

Big Dinosaur

The episode ends of a cliffhanger when The Doctor and Sarah are being driven to a detention centre, and they come across another huge dinosaur.

The next episode is in colour. The reason for this is that the first episode was called merely Invasion so as not to give away that there were dinosaurs in the story. Subsequent episodes have the full title, Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

But why would that mean the first episode is in black and white?

The answer lies in the rather shameful way the BBC ran its archive in the 70s and 80s. At that time, the archive was only seen as valuable if there was an overseas broadcaster who wanted to show the series. By the late 70s, most of the stories had been sold to all the likely customers, so the episodes themselves were seen to have no value. Home video recorders didn’t exist, there were only three channels, and no real scope for repeats.

So the BBC decided to start saving space in their archive by junking the old episodes.

They started with the Hartnell and Troughton stories, which is why so many of those are still lost, but they also junked the colour masters of some of Pertwee’s early stories. Several of his first season exist solely or partially as black and white film recordings – 16mm film shot from a synchronised TV screen, made for sale to overseas TV stations who didn’t have the equipment to play from videotape. Film was the one format everyone could use.

But why only the first episode? That’s because of the trick they played with the title. Because the episode was only marked as ‘Invasion’ it was mistaken for one of the episodes in the Troughton story of the same name, and the colour master was junked.

Ridiculous, and appalling that the BBC treated their archive so badly. They weren’t alone – many of the ITV companies threw out many programmes from their archive – but you expect better from the national broadcaster.

Rant over, back to the show.

Now in glorious colour (or as close to it as 1970s video recording technology can manage) Sarah and The Doctor escape from the Land Rover while the soldiers are shooting at the T-Rex, and take refuge in yet another garage. There they find a strange man babbling about wizards and witches. There’s a nice moment where the Doctor asks him “What year are you from” and Sarah then asks “What’s the name of your King?” as she realises that an uneducated man from long ago probably has no idea of the calendar, but would absolutely know who was on the throne. It’s a nice character bit, and another reason why we all love Lis Sladen’s Sarah.

Then they’re finally found by the Brigadier, and taken to UNIT’s command centre where they’re reunited with Sergeant Benton and Captain Mike Yates, last seen in The Green Death.

After observing another dinosaur, a stegosaurus this time, the Doctor figures that they’re being brought through time deliberately, and starts planning to stun a dinosaur and track the power source of the time eddy.

We then cut to the people responsible, Martin Jarvis and Peter Miles, working as part of something called Operation Golden Age, and in a shocking twist, Captain Yates turns up there to warn them about the Doctor’s plan. I never trusted him.

So when the Doctor is facing a T-Rex, his sleep gun doesn’t work. Cue titles.

Captain Yates has second thoughts, and fixes the stun gun to save the Doctor and stun the T-Rex.

Sarah has been doing some digging, and has found a Professor Whitaker, who had published some results on theoretical time travel, but the minister in charge, a man who has written at length on the perils of pollution, dismisses him as a crank. But Sarah’s reporter’s instinct tells her it’s a real lead. She persuades the General in charge to get her set up with a pass, so she can try to find the missing professor, so he sends her off with his driver.

She goes to the Minister, and asks him if there were any secret installations built in the last 20 years that might have been able to generate enough power to run the time fields. He’s skeptical, but takes her into his document archive to look. Amazingly, after trying only one or two files, she finds exactly what she’s looking for, and it’s built right beneath the building she’s in. Then the minister opens the door, and she’s not where she was – the whole room was a secret lift. Sladen’s perfect in this scene, going from surprise, to a glimmer of fear, then straight into a beautifully annoyed look, that she’s been tricked this way. She really was the best.

Sarah Jane Trapped

She’s taken to a room in the underground lab, and locked in. Then, light and sound start playing, clearly some sort of hypnotic device, and she drifts off…

…and wakes up in what I think is one of the most brilliant plot turns in all of Doctor Who. She’s greeted by a man called Mark. “Welcome to the people” he says, that kind of turn of phrase that immediately starts alarm bells ringing for anyone who watched telefantasy in the 70s. When she asks where she is, he says “The spaceship. You see, it’s all come true. We’re on our way. Soon we shall arrive at the planet that will become our new home. We left Earth three months ago.”

I think this is as good a cliffhanger as any other in Doctor Who history, as it pivots the entire story.

The next episode starts back at UNIT. The general is angry that the T-Rex they captured escaped, but the Doctor points out the chains holding it were broken, sabotaged.

When he leaves the room, Yates confronts the General, and complains that he didn’t agree to murder. So the General’s in it as well. Is there nobody in power who isn’t involved in the scheme.

But none of that’s important, as the Doctor’s got a new car. It’s the Whomobile. This must be its first appearance in the show.

Whomobile

Meanwhile, in space, Sarah meets more of her fellow travellers, including Allo Allo’s Carmen Silvera as Ruth, a former member of the House of Lords and anti-pollution campaigner.

Carmen Silvera

They explain to her that they’re on their way to ‘New Earth’, a planet much like Earth, but at an earlier stage of development, and it will be their job to guide the indigenous population, to avoid all the bad things people wrought on Earth. There are seven ships, each carrying hundreds of people in suspended animation.

Sarah’s not sure. “I’ve been asleep for three months?” she wonders as her hand feels her forehead, and the recent cut there from a dinosaur attack…

The Doctor is tracking the power surges, and finding his way to the secret lair. But the scientists set another pterodactyl on him, which he just manages to escape thanks to skillful use of a broom.

Naturally when he returns with the Brigadier, the lift to the underground bunker has been deactivated, and just looks like a storage cupboard. And the Minister, of course, assures him that no such underground bunker was ever built.

Sarah is sent for Re-education because she’s deemed a disruptive influence. And the evil Ruth says that if she continues to be disruptive, they’ll have to destroy her.

And because the Doctor is getting too close, they lure him to the hangar where they had the T-Rex, materialise a dinosaur there, then the evil General walks in with the Brigadier and says “There’s your monster maker.”

It all looks bleak, until Yates instructs Sergeant Benton to lock up the Doctor. Benton knows things aren’t right, so he believes the Doctor, and allows him to escape.

Sarah, also, escapes, after telling Mark that the whole spaceship is just a fake, and they’re actually in a building under London.But then, as soon as she’s back at UNIT, the Brigadier isn’t there, but evil General is, except she doesn’t know he’s evil, so she takes him back to the Minister’s office, and gets to do yet another furious look as she’s captured again.

After another cliffhanger, with the Doctor menaced by dinosaurs outside Kensington Olympia, he evades them again, only to be found by the Brigadier and the General. We get a lovely stand-off as the Brigadier insists he’s a UNIT prisoner, and the General has to back down.

Back at UNIT HQ, Yates tries to take them all prisoner, and the Doctor gets to make a nice speech about how you have to make the best of the world you’ve got.

Sarah returns to the ‘spaceship’ and tries to persuade everyone there they’ve been duped. But it’s hard to persuade the single-minded, as Twitter tells us every day.

The plan for Operation Golden Age is to use the Professor’s time experiment to send the Earth back to an earlier era, before man had polluted it so much. The people on the ship will be protected from the time shift, so when they emerge, it will indeed be a new world.

The Doctor and the Brigadier set some explosives in the Underground to get into the bunker, and the Brigadier does his best Jeff Goldblum impression.

The Brigadier and a dinosaur

It all comes to a climax in the bunker control room. Sarah has led the spaceship people out to seek answers, and the Doctor and the Brigadier made it down there to stop the plan. Whitaker starts the time slip, but the Doctor uses his mad Timelord skillz to get to the control panel and turn the switch off. Then, the Minister tries to start it again. “No” warns Whitaker, “He’s reversed the polarity” and as they struggle, they’re sucked back in time. “Back to their Golden Age,” says the Doctor. “I hope they like it.”

Now, I realise nostalgia is a big factor, but this really is a corker of a story. Even the dinosaur effects, limited though they are, have a Thunderbirds miniature vibe that’s quite charming, and because they’re shot on film, the look OK. Some of the CSO foreground work is as clunky as you’d expect, but at least they want to deliver dinosaurs fighting.

This period of Who was really working. Lis Sladen is always excellent, and she’s given plenty to do in the story. Even her multiple captures make sense, and her reactions to them are wonderful. Pertwee is on form too, and the scene where he’s been captured as a looter is the kind of scene that wouldn’t be out of place in a modern episode.

As a six parter, it does have a little bit of back and forth, but it doesn’t feel slow, thanks to the brilliant pivot into the spaceship plot. And in this story, the Doctor and Sarah are also heading into the story for the whole of the first episode, as they were in Revelation, but here they’re not bickering and wandering aimlessly, they’re actively investigating the mystery.

Even the mad scientist plot was mostly staffed by idealists wanting a better world, and most of them had no idea of the true implications of the plot. Much better than armies of evil henchmen.

It’s not Genesis of the Daleks or Caves of Androzani, but this does show that even average Who can be jolly good fun.

There’s nothing else on the tape, and I was ruthless in excising the UK Gold ad breaks, so it’s just the programme.

The Simpsons – tape 8

This is one of my oldest tapes. I think the first thing it had recorded on it was Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I bought that on sell-through eventually, so I recorded over it with a bunch of Simpsons episodes.

First is Blood Feud, in which Bart donates blood to Mr Burns, but when Burns doesn’t thank them with lots of money, Homer is miffed.

In Mr Lisa Goes to Washington Lisa wins an essay competition, and gets a trip to Washington, where she becomes disillusioned after seeing a congressman take a bribe.

When Flanders Failed sees Homer being rather jealous of Ned Flanders, and hoping his left-handed shop venture would fail.

Homer buys an RV and the family go on holiday in Call of the Simpsons. Homer gets mistaken for bigfoot.

Call of the Simpsons

There’s a classic opening scene for Bart The Genius when the family play scrabble, and Bart coins the word KWYJIBO.

Kwyjibo

The next episode is called Life in the Fast Lane, but it’s sometimes called Jacques to be Wild. Which doesn’t make any sense until you learn that Albert Brooks’ character was originally meant to be Swedish and the title was to be Bjorn to be Wild, but Brooks’ Swedish accent wasn’t working, so they switched to French.

Jacques to be Wild

In Homer’s Night Out, Bart photographs Homer dancing with another woman. Hijinks ensue.

Homer's Night Out

The next episode, The Crepes of Wrath sees Bart go on an exchange trip to France.

The Crepes of Wrath

After this episode, there’s no more Simpsons, but there’s a short fragment of a very bad recording of Monsters Inc afterwards – just a minute or so. I was probably trying out dubbing from one tape to another. Then there’s a handful of adverts before the tape ends. For a Sky tape I was pretty zealous at removing all the ad breaks in those days. Can you tell I was single, and didn’t go out a lot?

Adverts:

  • Nationwide
  • Terminator 2 toys

  • Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum
  • Weetabix

 

Doctor Who – tape 43

Oh, the Saturday afternoons of yore. This tape opens with Final Score. Not something I paid close attention to, as it was just in the way of me watching Doctor Who, but at least Watford were in the first division at that time.

Watford in Division One

I have no interest in football myself, but all three of my sisters are massive Watford fans, so I do like it when they’re doing well. Sadly, this week they didn’t do very well against Coventry.

There’s even a pools news section – is that a thing any more?

After this, it’s straight in to the main feature, with Doctor Who and Revelation of the Daleks. I’m afraid it’s Colin Baker’s Doctor. I really like Colin Baker, but his run as The Doctor wasn’t great. He was ill-served by a producer sick of the show, and a script editor who (by all accounts) wasn’t getting on with the producer.

His companion is Peri, played by the lovely Nicola Bryant, and again, the way her character is written really puts her in a bad light. And all of the problems with this era manifest themselves in the first minute of this serial.

The Tardis lands somewhere snowy. Peri comes out, mumbling grumpily, and walks down to the nearby stream. The Doctor emerges from the Tardis wearing a blue cape, shows it off flamboyantly and asks “How do I look”

“More comfortable than I feel” replies Peri. “This thing I’m wearing is too tight.”

“You eat too much” snaps The Doctor.

In that brief exchange is so much that I dislike about this Doctor. The first words out of his mouth are ego, the second are fat-shaming his friend. Whatever happened to “never cruel or cowardly.”

The Doctor and Peri in Blue

So now that my biases are out in the open, let’s continue the story. They are on the planet Necross, and the blue is for mourning. They’re there to honour Professor Arthur Stengoss, “one of the finest agronomists in the galaxy.”

As they bicker, they don’t notice the shambling figure lurking nearby.

We cut to what appears to be a funeral home, with Trevor Cooper, Clive Swift and Jenny Tomasin. An important client is being prepared. After some bickering, in which we learn that Tomasin has a crush on Swift, but Cooper tells her she’s wasting her time. So there’s a character dynamic there.

The Doctor and Peri are menaced by The Singing Detective, so the Doctor calms him down by going all Pertwee on his ass, and hypnotising him

You're back in the room

Then suddenly, Alexei Sayle is doing an impression of Alan Freeman auditioning for Hair. His first words are “for those of you appreciative of the female form…” in reference to Peri. Oh Saward.

Alexei Sayle in Doctor Who

He’s a DJ, entertaining all the people in cryogenic suspended animation.

Then, all of a sudden, with no dramatic build up or anything, there’s a dalek and Davros, who appears to be a Futurama head in a jar. I guess he’s in the right place, then.

Davros in a Jar

There are two unidentified characters running around with guns. They’re looking for ‘the truth’ about something as yet unknown – she wants to find her father’s body. At one point one of them says “I’m a doctor, not a magician”

Davros is being referred to as ‘The Great Healer’ and he’s also doing a deal with Goth Eleanor Bron of some kind.

Goth Eleanor Bron

Our two mysterious truth seekers come across a perspex dalek casing with her father’s head inside. I think it’s Jony Ive’s iDalek prototype.

iDalek

Yet another star guest turns up to visit Eleanor Bron. It’s William Gaunt, playing Orcini, an assassin, as he tells us in practically his first line of dialogue.

William Gaunt

Bron produces a low-cost foodstuff and Davros is extorting money from her. So she wants Orcini to take a transmitter to Davros, activate it, and her forces will destroy Davros.

We also learn that one of our mysterious truth seekers is the daughter of the same Professor Stengos that the Doctor came to visit.

The Doctor and Peri are still wandering around outside, when they come across a tombstone for the Doctor, who makes the immediate assumption that it’s really his, and that he must die soon. Chin up!

The Tomb of the Doctor

And this almost comes true when the tombstone topples over on top of him, leading to the episode’s cliffhanger.

So that’s the first episode, 45 minutes long, and the Doctor hasn’t even really entered the story yet.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 23rd March 1985 – 17:05

The tombstone turns out to be “all part of an elaborate theatrical effect” according to The Doctor, contradicting himself from a few minutes previously when he said it would have cost far too much to set up such a thing just for a prank.

The Doctor gets caught by the Daleks, and put in the same prison as Stengos’ daughter, so she can explain the plot to him. This is after she’d been tortured by one of Clive Swift’s lackeys. This wouldn’t be Saward-era Who without some turture.

Eleanor Bron is brought to Necross by some Daleks. And Jenny Tomasin is told by Davros to kill Clive Swift. Which she does, reluctantly. Then she’s exterminated by some Daleks.

This is all kicking off.

Peri, meanwhile, has been talking to Alexei Sayle, who, handily, has CCTV of the whole place.

Orcini finds his way to Davros, and shoots him a lot. Davros deflates. This is not the behaviour you expect of a major intergalactic warmonger.

Deflated Davros

But that Davros was a dummy, and the real Davros appears, blowing off Orcini’s false leg and doing Force Lightning on hom, while floating in the air (although because of the effects, it’s not 100% clear that he’s floating).

Floating Davros

Alexei Sayle and Peri are under seige in his studio from Daleks, but luckily he can kill them by playing very loud music at them.

Concentrated Rock and Roll

But he’s soon exterminated, and pretty soon most of the rest of the cast are brought before Davros. Bron is killed, Orcini’s steward manages to blow Davros’ hand off (which, by the way, explains his metal hand in modern Doctor Who) and Davros explains the rest of his plan – turning all the rich frozen corpses into Daleks, and turning all the poor frozen corpses into food for the rest of the galaxy.

But then, a bunch of grey daleks appear, wanting to take Davros back to Skaro. They also want to take over his batch of new white and gold daleks, but Orcini makes the ultimate sacrifice and blows them (and him) up.

So about the only people in the cast who make it through the story unscathed are The Doctor, Peri and good old Trevor Cooper.

Saward (and this season in particular) has a reputation for a lot of violence, and this story is no exception. He even has The Doctor firing a sub machine gun at a dalek. Not really my cup of tea.

After this series, the show was almost cancelled, and was off the air for 18 months, coming back with a shorter season, and the Trial of a Time Lord season, which was Baker’s last. But I put most of the blame at the feet of the producer, John Nathan Turner, who wasn’t a writer, and therefore was rather at the mercy of his script editor. He’d eventually fall out badly with Eric Saward in the next series, but I’ll save those stories for when we get to those tapes.

BBC Genome:  BBC One – 30th March 1985 – 17:20

Afterwards, recording stops, and underneath, here’s Guy Kewney talking about computers. in the end of an episode of 4 Computer Buffs. One of the things he’s reviewing is a huge Commodore 64 Mouse.

Commodore 64 Mouse

Here’s what remains of this recording.

After this, Ray Alan hosts the travel quiz Where in the World?

One of the teams features Anneka Rice and Kenneth Kendall. And their captain John Carter. Not, one presumes, the one from Mars.

Anneka Rice and Kenneth Kendall

Recording stops after a few minutes of this.

Adverts:

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  • Olivetti
  • What Micro magazine

Micro Live – tape 176

Here’s some classic BBC technology programmes from the era of the BBC Micro and the ZX Spectrum.

The first episode is dedicated to the subject of computers and cars. Fred Harris looks at how Tyrell uses a CAD system to design cars.

There’s a look at how computers are starting to be used for engine management. Here’s Fred in a test car. “This lapheld computer…”

This Lapheld Computer

I’ve always loved the BBC Micro graphics they used on Micro Live. Here’s their illustration of the processing loop of an engine management program.

Engine loop

Freff looks at how American car makers are using technology. I like the way Fred Harris is skeptical about using a touch screen. He might have a point.

Fred looks at how multiplexing can help with the complexity of the car’s wiring loom.

Then there’s a short report on Lotus’s active suspension, and Freff looks at a pre-satnav navigation system. It had to store maps on ‘high speed data cassettes’.

Digitised maps

And there’s a look at possible futures, which even vaguely hints at self-driving cars. Here’s the end of the episode.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th December 1986 – 19:30


Watch the episode on the BBC Computer Literacy Project website

Before the next episode, there’s the end of Choir of the Year 1986. I like their still-frame trail image.

Choir Competition

The next episode of Micro Live looks at electronic mail. One case study is IBM Fellow, the brilliantly named Kitteridge Cowlishaw.

Kitteridge Cowlishaw

“In business, email could rival the telephone by 1995” – I wonder if that was optimistic or not.

Mac tries to demonstrate email live, but his modem connection is clearly flaky, as he’s getting a lot of noise in the data.

Noisy Data

Mac also demonstrates searching the Guardian text database. He searches for “micro live” and “screens” and gets a single hit. Google is a long way away.

Jack Schofield, long-time technology correspondent, gets a namecheck. Here he is, pictured in his unsuccessful audition for a part in Tron.

Jack Schofield

Kit Cowlishaw talks about how she met her husband over email. “By the time we met in person, I knew so much about him, and was so much in love, it didn’t matter what he looked like. When I discovered that he was rather too tall for my tastes, the other things so outweighed it that I married him anyway.”

Kit Cowlishaw and Husband

Lesley looks at the amazing technology of packet switching. And she looks at using email while travelling. She even has to take her own acoustic coupler.

Acoustic Coupler

Lesley Judd’s Telecom Gold ID is BBC007!

BBC007

There’s a lot of interesting questions asked of the representatives of the telecom companies, at that time the main providers of email. It’s interesting to note that email only took off when it became independent of the phone companies.

I did laugh at the viewer’s question asking for a paper directory of telecom gold users. The BT bod even said they were working on one.

Here’s part one:

And Part Two

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 12th December 1986 – 19:30


Watch the episode on the BBC Computer Literacy Project website

More Choir before the next episode.

Then, a Christmas episode of Micro Live, so the team have all brought it board games.

There’s a look at music software from Steinberg with Tony Hastings.

Tony Hastings

In a round-up of what’s available to the consumer, there’s a look at the Music 5000, a BBC synthesizer which I had at one time. You had to use a programming language called AMPLE to program the music, rather than any graphical stave editor.

There’s a report on whether a computer can analyse the smell and taste of wine, and improve the wine’s quality as a result.

In the studio, Mac gets a wine expert in to ask if these techniques can really improve wine quality. I quite like Hugh Johnson, as he sounds like an expert, but doesn’t seem to be overly precious about the idea of improving wine generally.

Lesley talks to graphics designer Ian Slaney about the Quantel Paintbox.

Ian Slaney

He seems to be putting this huge computational power to work on the age old question ‘Who ate all the pies?’

Who ate all the Pies?

Hugh Johnson is back to render judgement on the wines, and he gets them all right. Then there’s a bit of a knees-up to close the show.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 19th December 1986 – 19:30


Watch the episode on the BBC Computer Literacy Project website

Before the next episode, there’s the end of a televised Bridge tournament. Even in the 80s, there are some TV programmes for which you have to dress up. And check out the amazing graphics.

Then, another Micro Live, the first of the new year. We’re back in Oxford and it’s a return to the programme for Kitteridge Cowlishaw. Or is it Kittredge? Her name is spelled differently on this programme, so I wonder which one is correct.

Kittredge Cowlishaw

She’s teaching a course on ‘Computers for the Terrified’. One of the students on the course looks remarkably like Patrick Marber. I wonder if it’s him.

Possibly Patrick Marber

There’s a piece about accessing online databases, and their use in schools.

And a piece about the City of Miami using frequency hopping radio to improve their radio communication.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th January 1987 – 18:15


Watch the episode on the BBC Computer Literacy Project website

After this, recording continues with Jan Leeming and David Icke presenting NewsView. The tape stops during this.