Bafta Production Awards 1994 – Without Walls – tape 1660

Before I start today’s tape, I should mark another small milestone in this blog. This tape marks the start of the sixth 4 Terabyte hard drive of digitised VHS recordings. So I have so far watched around 20 TB of old TV since I started this project in 2014.

Still plenty to come, though, as there are still two more after this one.

First on this tape, the 1994 Bafta Production Awards. As was usual at the time, it’s a regional affair, from the Grand Opera House in Belfast. On presenting duties are Kenneth Branagh (a Northern Irish lad himself)

And Amanda Donohoe.

Best Television Drama Serial is presented by Patrick Malahide.

Winner is Prime Suspect 3. No acceptance speeches are shown.

Best TV Makeup is presented by Catherine Cusack and Charles Lawson.

Frank Carson does rather too many ‘my wife’ jokes I think, before presenting the Best Children’s Programme Fiction or Entertainment.

Richard Attenborough and David Puttnam announce the results of a Lloyd’s Bank and Channel 4 competition for young filmmakers.

There’s a look at the work of the Don Bluth studio, in Ireland

Alison Doody presents Best Make Up

Milo O’Shea presents Best Cinematography

Winner Janusz Kaminski actually gets some of his speech shown. Shame he’s my least favourite DP.

Bill Paterson presents a special award, the Writer’s Award, to John McGrath.

Who also gets to speak.

Miriam O’Callahan from Newsnight presents Best Factual Series.

There’s a whole song by Eleanor McAvoy, taking time away from actual awards. It’s not even a film related song.

Former hostage Brian Keenan presents Best News or Actuality.

Next it’s Anthony Clare, a ubiquitous face on TV when you wanted anything about psychology. He’s presenting Best Photography Factual.

Then, here’s a real treat. Alan Partridge, “the new voice of sport” according to Amanda Donohoe, presents an award for Best Sports Photographer.

Yes, that’s actually Cornish curmudgeon Patrick Marber as photographer Mark Mathers. A rather shameless plug for Knowing Me Knowing You, but I’m delighted they did it.

Next presenter is Adrian Dunbar. They really are making a proper effort to have lots of actual Irish people presenting, aren’t they? He’s presenting the Flaherty Documentary Award.

Gordon Burns presents Best Production Design

Costume Designer Phyllis Dalton wins a Special Craft Award.

We don’t get to hear her speak, because we’ve got to listen to Princess Anne, and that’s it for the Bafta Production Awards for 1994.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th March 1994 – 20:40

Next, recording switches to Channel 4, for a special edition of Without Walls about swearing. This programme contains strong language.

There’s an edition of Call My Bluff in which three people explain the etymology of various swear words for host Auberon Waugh.

The panellists are Barry Cryer.

Jeremy Hardy

and Donna McPhail

In between the sweartymology, Waugh looks at some of the history of swearing on TV, including Johnny Speight.

Verity Lambert, uber-producer and mother of Doctor Who talks about the swearing in GBH.

Here’s the bottom of the swear word league. I wonder if they’ll be brave enough to show the top.

Andrea Milwood-Hargrave of the Broadcasting Standards Council talks about this league table, and immediately gives the words at the top. It’s so jarring to hear these words reeled off in a list. She also mentions another word “that comes from abuse” and namechecks the N-Word.

Sir Peter Hall is appalled at a BSC ruling against his posh costume drama The Camomile Lawn. “I gather it was one person who was shocked.” “Apparently the whole country may be deprived of such things in the future.”

What was the shocking moment that was complained about, and that we may now be deprived of? In the first fifteen minutes (right after the watershed) one of the characters used the word ‘fuck’. And because of this ruling, nobody can now make adaptations of Mary Wesley novels ever again because as any fule kno, Mary Wesley is like Irvine Welsh, and to strip her of her trademark effing and jeffing would be like burning every copy of her books and wind-wiping anyone who has already read them. Apparently. According to Sir Peter Hall.

(I have never read anything by Mary Wesley. I might be mischaracterising her oeuvre.)

Look, I don’t particularly mind swearing, although since I had children I became more sensitive to it, but in this case, I do think Peter Hall is being a little over-dramatic. I guess having some tabloid stories about you makes something seem more important than it is.

On the other side of the argument is posh dullard Lady Olga Maitland. She thinks the watershed is too early and would be happy to move it back to midnight “because there are many young people who are still up, at home, watching television.” I’ve mentioned before that Lady Olga Maitland came to speak at our school. She wasn’t very good.

Jonathan Miller always seems to be interviewed holding his hands on his head. Perhaps he’s being interviewed under duress.

Ken Loach has to defend having swear words in his films about poor people. That’s like asking Gary Lineker to defend footage of ball kicking on Match of the Day.

The second part of the show sees close-up magician Jerry Sadowitz present a look at some of the landmarks in TV swearing.

There’s some interesting clips, including one where French sex pest Serge Gainsbourg tells Whitney Houston that he wants to fuck her.

Most of the stuff covered was the usual suspects. The Pistols on Bill Grundy, David Frost vs Hippies, some Mary Whitehouse.

I would post a video, but last time I posted anything containing Jerry Sadowitz he slapped me with a takedown notice. He doesn’t like his stuff on YouTube.

After this, recording switches (I think) to Late Licence, a late night programme strand hosted by (once again) Jeremy Hardy, this time with Jack Dee. Their bits in between the programmes are quite long, but also, I’m afraid, a little bland and forgettable. Improvised whimsy, it sounds like.

The first programme is One Night Stand, featuring Norm Macdonald. I haven’t seen him before, or if I have, he’s fairly forgettable, and judging by this set, he is. It’s indistinguishable from a parody of 90s stand-up. I can’t actually remember a single gag.

Next, it’s Viva Cabaret, in which host Mark Thomas opens the show with The Wombles Song done in the style of Lou Reed. He also does a joke about the pop duo Charles and Eddie. The kind of material that works for about eight weeks.

There’s music from Ute Lemper, singing some German songs. I’m guessing it’s Kurt Weill. She’s really good, but the songs are not what I’d choose to kick back and listen to. By the end I was hoping she’s close her act with a cover of Nena’s 99 Luftballons.

Next, some comedy, slapstick and juggling from The Two Marks, one of whom is the marvellous Mark Heap. I’m sorry, other Mark, I don’t recognise you.

There’s some ballet done to heavy rock music.

There’s more from Ute Lemper (still no Nena) and then The Doug Anthony All Stars. I made the mistake of googling them to see how they’d been doing since the 90s, and discovered one of them was something of a harasser of women, so I can’t really look at them the same way. Oh Men, why do you always let me down?

After this, there’s a whole episode of the US sitcom Herman’s Head. It’s not one I ever watched. The premise, such as it is, is that Herman is a young man, and we can see four people in his head, guiding his behaviour. It’s like Inside Out but without the wit, invention, adventure, compelling characters, insight into psychology or funny jokes.

It does, however, feature two actors who are also Simpsons voice actors. Yeardley Smith, who plays Lisa Simpson.

And Hank Azaria who plays everyone else.

The show also features Jane Sibbett, who would go on to play Carol in Friends.

Herman himself is played by William Ragsdale, who’s not given much of a personality, and has to make do with a painfully 90s hairstyle. I really only remember him from Fright Night.

This isn’t particularly funny. And you might have noticed Yeardley Smith holding a lizard. That’s the second sitcom to use a lizard for ‘comedy’ effect in recent weeks (after Frasier). I’m not sure if that constitutes a trend.

One of the issues I have with it is that the characters in Herman’s head are lit and shot in exactly the same way as the rest of the sitcom. They’re in a different set, but visually there’s little to distinguish them, and they don’t actually pop up that much, so it’s confusing when they do. Maybe if you were a regular viewer you’d get used to it. I won’t be a regular viewer.

The tape ends just after this, during another of Jack and Jeremy’s dialogues.

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7 comments

  1. Frank Carson telling too many jokes? Well, I never.

    I think bad language is about the only thing you get continuity announcer warnings for these days apart from “some viewers may find scenes distressing” for stuff like The Handmaid’s Tale. They seem to have dropped warnings for nudity or sex.

  2. Without Walls: Expletives Deleted + The Greatest F***ing Show on TV/Late Licence: One Night Stand/Viva Cabaret/Herman’s Head – 26/03/1994.

  3. Gordon Burns worked for Ulster TV. I never knew that when I watched the Krypton Factor.

    Mark Wall is the Other Mark, I think.

    Shows about swearing are just middle-class Channel 4 acting like children. I thought the nudity was the bigger issue with the Camomile Lawn.

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