Month: December 2018

Android – Hancock’s Half Hour – tape 95

“If you’ve tuned in for this, I admire your taste, and if you’re watching by chance I admire your luck. Either way I think you’ll enjoy Android

That’s how the Channel 4 announcer introduces this film. It’s a very low budget SF movie that you don’t tend to hear about much these days, but at the time it got a lot of good critical attention.

It’s a story about an android, Max 404 played, uncredited, by co-writer Don Opper.

He works on a space station with Klaus Kinski, a scientist working on creating better androids.

Earth is having a problem with androids, with the Munich Uprising having caused havoc. Kinski is told by his superiors, that his project is being shut down. Into this mix, three fugitives arrive on the station, pretending to be the crew of their prison ship.

The one aspect of this movie that hasn’t aged well is the sexual politics. We meet Max while he’s watching a sexual instruction tape. Kinski’s Dr Daniel is building a new, female android, and when he learns one of the fugitives is a woman, Maggie, he wants to use her as part of his experiments. it seems like the only function of a woman is as a sexual object. It’s a bit creepy.

However, it does give us a nice scene, with Maggie having dinner with Dr Daniel. Max has learned that Daniel is going to deactivate him once the new android is ready, so he’s sabotaged the dinner a bit – putting ball bearings in the wine bottle. Once Kinski sees that, he’s nervous of everything else in the dinner, and it’s a really well-performed scene.

But excepting the (of its time) misogyny, this is still quite a charming film, and the ending manages to be positive.

After this, recording switches to a set of repeats of classic Hancock episodes, starting with The Blood Donor. Of course it does, because, barely an hour ago, I learned of the sad death of June Whitfield, and now, here she is as the nurse in this classic sketch. This one is particularly upsetting. I loved June Whitfield.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 23rd February 1986 – 19:15

The next episode is The Missing Page. Tony goes to the library and borrows a thriller, ‘Lady Don’t Fall Backwards’ by D’Arcy Sarto. But the last page is missing, so he begins a search to find the identity of the murderer.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 2nd March 1986 – 19:15

The next episode is Twelve Angry Men in which Tony and Sid are on the jury. Even a description of the setup makes me smile, so the episode can’t help but work.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 9th March 1986 – 19:15

After this, there’s a trailer for Joan Rivers: Can We Talk? Then the recording stops just as Miss Marple: The Body in the Library starts.


  • Rank Xerox
  • Danepak
  • Nationwide
  • McVitie’s Hob-nobs
  • Investors Chronicle
  • Livingston Hire
  • Crosse & Blackwell Four Seasons Soup
  • Shredded Wheat
  • Ridgways Tea
  • Simple
  • Walker’s Crisps
  • Kleenex Velvet

Dawn of the Dead – Hellbound: Hellraiser II – tape 1073

I had Dawn of the Dead on a much earlier tape, taken from a BBC showing. This showing is from one of the Sky movie channels, and I probably recorded it hoping it was uncut, but sadly it wasn’t.

I said before that I don’t love this movie. As a showcase for Tom Savini’s gory effects it’s fine. But the characters just don’t engage me, and I find it hard to care about them.

Director George Romero appears himself as a TV director in the opening scene. That credit for music – ‘Dario Argento and the Goblins’ is because one version of this film, the European cut, I believe, was rescored by Argento, famous Italian horror director, and his favourite electro-musicians, Goblin. But the credit misnames them as ‘The Goblins’, making them sound more like a gothic folk-rock band.

Talking of Tom Savini, a pioneer of the kind of makeup effects that made these films possible, he turns up late on in the film as a member of a biker gang.

After this, another horror film, and another sequel to a classic, although this one isn’t held in such high regard as Dawn of the Dead. It’s Hellbound: Hellraiser II and it’s a much bigger, but far more disappointing sequel to Clive Barker’s grungy, low-budget original.

Part of the problem, I think, is that it wasn’t written by Barker, but by a friend of his, Peter Atkins, who always struck me, in the few occasions I saw him on TV, as someone who desperately wanted to be as good as Clive Barker, but couldn’t manage it. I’ll probably talk about the main occasion when it comes up in a year or so.

The film was directed by Tony Randel, whose biography doesn’t really indicate why he was entrusted with such a big sequel, and who didn’t really do much of note.

It starts with a surprisingly large amount of recap from the first film. I guess these were the times when you couldn’t rely on your audience having watched the original on DVD, and because this follows directly on from the first film, unlike subsequent sequels, the audience had to be caught up.

But it does at least start with an out-of-makeup Doug Bradley, before he became Pinhead, playing with the puzzle box from the first film.

Ashley Laurence returns from the first film as Kirsty Cotton. She’s very feisty in this, which the film demonstrates by having her swear a lot.

While she’s there, the cops are investigating the house where the first film took place. This is a weird moment, because these are American cops, and yet, although it’s not stated, the first film seemed obviously set in Britain – the house itself was in Cricklewood. But since this was never stated, and several of the main players in the first film were American, I guess the producers figured if they pretend it’s an American film it’ll sell better in the US.

She’s in a mental hospital, the Channard institute, run by Kenneth Cranham as Doctor Channard.

Also a patient there, is Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), who (conveniently for the movie) is obsessed with puzzles.

Channard’s assistant, Kyle McRae, is played by William Hope, a face that seemed so familiar to me but I struggled to place him. His imdb is swamped with voice performances from Thomas and Friends so it took me a while to realise he’s Lieutenant Gorman from Aliens.

He witnesses Channard raising Kirsty’s stepmother Julia from the dead. I’m unconvinced that Clare Higgins played these scenes where her character has no skin and is sheathed in bandages.

Kirsty is visited by a vision of her dead father. “I’m in hell, help me”.

Julia is restored to full skin and confronts Kirsty. “The rules of the fairytale have changed. I’m no longer just the wicked stepmother. Now I’m the evil queen. So come on, take you best shot, Snow White.” The film is filled with lines like this that try for greatness, but just seem to fall flat.

Tiffany opens the puzzle box, and the cenobites appear. There’s a lot of very boring running around corridors in (I’m guessing) hell, Dr Channard gets turned into a Cenobite, Julia prowls around being threatening until she’s sucked out of her skin. Then Kirsty and Tiffany get back to the institute. But are they safe? Not if this badly matted sky is anything to go by.

“The Doctor Is In” intones Channard, pompously, another portentous line that’s immediately undercut by Tiffany’s response: “Shit!”

There’s some funky Stop Motion.

And some shonky effects animation

Kirsty saves Tiffany by wearing Julia’s skin, although quite how it happens is unclear to me. And some of the nastier effects appear to have been cut in this version, like Channard getting the top of his head torn off.

But they both get back, and the film ends with an ominous hint that they might make another – which they did, but it didn’t tie particularly strongly to any of the events here, and it brought back Pinhead, even though he dies here.

One thing that saves the film from being a complete wash is the magnificent score by Christopher Young. It’s by far the best thing about this movie, and ten times better than the material deserves. I think it’s one of the classic horror scores.

After this, recording continues for a short time with a Tobe Hooper film, Spontaneous Combustion. The tape stops during this film.


  • Finish 2001 Car Polish
  • Milk
  • ITC
  • trail: Lethal Weapon 2
  • trail: No Holds Barred
  • Ronseal
  • Norwich Union
  • Persil Micro
  • McCain Pizza Perfection
  • Duckhams
  • Guinness
  • Wash & Go
  • The Sun
  • trail: Tomorrow on the Movie Channels
  • Peperami
  • Discovering Nature
  • trail: Tomorrow on the Movie Channels
  • trail: Tomorrow on the Movie Channels
  • Robinsons Juice Drinks
  • Lynx Nevada
  • Daz – Danny Baker
  • Fosters
  • Always
  • Colgate
  • Walker’s Ruffles
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken – Nookie Bear
  • L’Oreal Free Style
  • trail: Thursday Night Horror

The Producers – tape 1077

Is it heresy to say that I don’t think The Producers is the greatest comedy of all time? I’d go further and say that there are at least two Mel Brooks films that are funnier – Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.

That’s not to say I don’t think this is funny, as it has some moments of genius, but I do feel that it’s a film built around one delirious centrepiece, and a lot of the surrounding comedy is a bit underwhelming.

Zero Mostel is great as the terrible theatrical entrepreneur Max Bialystock.

Gene Wilder does that Gene Wilder thing he does so well, as Leo Bloom, the accountant who comes to do Max’s books.

Leo sees how Max raises money, by seducing old ladies, and suggests that, if he really wanted to make a lot of money, he should raise many times the production budget of a show, take the extra, then when the show is a flop and closes, he doesn’t have to pay back any of the investors and can keep the huge surplus.

They search for a script that’s guaranteed to fail, and they settle on a musical called ‘Springtime for Hitler’ by a manic former Nazi, played by Kenneth Mars.

The first night of the show is the undeniable highlight of the movie. The opening number of the show, the title song, is brilliant, with the necessary awful lyrics combined with being a hagiography of Hitler. “We’re dancing to a faster pace/Look out here comes the Master Race.”

As the number becomes more ridiculous, the audience reaction becomes even more shocked.

I’m not convinced this kind of Busby Berkeley staging works for an actual stage production, but it’s very funny.

And the final transformation of the stage, as the columns drop to become huge cannons and the portrait of Hitler and the swastikas drop into place, is a brilliant bit of timing.


Sadly for Bialystock and Bloom, once the opening number is finished, and the first scene starts, with Hitler played like a California surfer by Dick Shawn, the audience settle down and start enjoying it as a comedy, and the show becomes a huge hit, thus exposing the pair’s crooked scheme.

The trouble with the movie is that, once the big musical number is over, there’s not much else for the story to do. There’s a courtroom scene where Gene Wilder emotionally pleads on behalf of Mostel, and a coda when, after promising to never do anything like this again, we cut to them both in prison, putting on a musical, and doing exactly the same thing, but as comedy goes, it’s an anti-climax.

There’s also a few parts I thought fall into the ‘aged badly’ category, especially when Leo hires a secretary. “I bought a toy” he says, and the woman is Scandinavian, and only there to look beautiful. If this wasn’t clear, when the pair return from opening night, she’s waiting for them, opens her coat to reveal she’s only wearing underwear and asks ‘Ve make love?’ There’s no comedy here, it’s just gross.

After the movie, there’s a trailer for The Shoe Fetishist’s Guide to Bruce Morton, but that’s it as far as adverts go.

The tape ends there. Apologies for the late posting of this, but it’s Christmas and I’ve been playing video games.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles – tape 1048

Honestly, this tape could have been anything. How many versions of this story have been made over the years?

But this one features the 80s’ definitive Holmes and Watson, Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke, in a feature-length adaptation of possibly his most famous story.

I’ve always thought this story suffers greatly from its structure, putting most of the story on Watson, while Holmes is elsewhere.

There’s a few famous guest stars. Fiona Gillies plays Beryl, a young woman with a controlling older brother.

Ronald Pickup features some amazing whiskers.

The hound itself is rarely glimpsed, probably because the glowing effect was a bit to expensive to use too much.

After this, recording continues, with a whole edition of News at Ten. Presenting are Sandy Gall

And Carol Barnes

The shooting of suspected IRA terrorists leads much of the bulletin, along with a plane crash in Dallas. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, Steve Cram injured a tendon. There’s also a ludicrously poe-faced story about the chosen Godparents for Princess Beatrice.

After this, Thames News with Robin Houston.

There’s a piece about the possible future of Elstree Studios. I wonder what it was about the current Studio management that might have got them into financial difficulties.

After this, there’s a few minutes of the start of Escape from New York. What a great film. The tape ends here.

Being an older tape, the adverts seem a bit more nostalgic. There’s a couple of appearances from Dame Edna Everage, after her appearance in Ally McBeal a couple of days ago. Plus, who can forget the Molson Lager ads with Jim Dunk?

There’s also this one I’ve always liked, for the Royal Bank of Scotland.


  • WH Smith
  • Flora
  • Ariel Rapide
  • Andrex
  • Fresh Cream Cakes
  • British Lamb
  • Abbey National – Jonathan Ross
  • TV Times
  • trail: The Equalizer
  • VW Private Contract
  • Mars
  • Persil Automatic
  • Winalot Prime
  • St Ivel Gold Lowest
  • Guinness
  • Allied Dunbar
  • Red Mountain – Dame Edna
  • Soft & Gentle
  • Persil Automatic
  • Findus Crispy Pancakes
  • Mars Milk Drink
  • Guinness
  • Molson Canadian Lager – Jim Dunk
  • Dixons
  • Nescafe – Tony Anholt Diane Keen
  • Ariel
  • Winalot Prime
  • St Clements Orange Squash
  • Shell
  • trail: Taggart
  • Bradford & Bingley Marketmaster
  • Maxwell House
  • Skittles
  • Woolworth’s
  • Flora
  • Mars Milk Drink
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • trail: Escape from New York
  • Halifax
  • Nursing
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Sanyo
  • Abbey National – Jonathan Ross
  • Miller Lite
  • Red Mountain – Dame Edna
  • M&Ms
  • Pond’s
  • Tampax
  • Toshiba
  • Crimestoppers
  • trail: Olympics 1988

Vivement Dimanche – tape 44

We’ve got some really early tapes in this batch, and this is the earliest on the current hard drive.

The film critic David Robinson introduces Francois Truffaut’s final film, Vivement Dimanche. I’m lowbrow, so I first heard of Truffaut when he played the French UFO investigator in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and I only found out about his other lives as a critic and director later.

Here’s Robinson’s introduction to the film.

As Robinson says, this is a fairly light homage to a Hitchcock caper movie, Truffaut being a huge fan of Hitchcock. It concerns Fanny Ardant, secretary to a man who’s suspected of killing his wife’s lover, and then his wife. The plot goes all over the place, and it does end with the beautiful secretary marrying the older boss, but it’s fun along the way.

They’ve cleaned up the subtitles – she says ‘Merde!’ here.

After this, and a trailer for Tokyo Story, the recording stops, and underneath, a complete surprise to me, and a genuine treat, most of an episode of James Burke’s documentary series The Day The Universe Changed. I’m now hugely angry with younger me, having taped over this at all, but this was right at the start of my recording history, and I think blank tapes were a bit more expensive than they became. Plus, I was only earning around £5000 a year, in my first job as a programmer.

This is episode 3, Point of View. It takes in the problems with navigation, how maps are made, the birth of the science of optics, the discovery of perspective in painting

There’s a small but brilliant moment when he’s explaining how grids were used to help painters get scale properly. He sets up a grid in front of the camera, steps back, and then, while facing the camera, points to where there’s a church or a tree in the background without looking. It’s a simple thing, but behind that shot there’s probably an hour of finding marks, working out exactly how far to point, etc.

It reminds me of this clip, that made the rounds a few months ago. He’s describing the way that certain chemicals can be combined to generate thrust, and the clip ends with the most perfectly timed piece to camera you’ll ever see.

I love James Burke so much.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 2nd April 1985 – 20:00

After this, there’s the start of Points of View, with Barry Took. Extra points in this brief clip for including both ‘another winner’ and ‘pay my licence fee’. I think at this point the show was just playing the hits.

The tape ends before Points of View does.

Watford – tape 2839

Today’s tape is not actually my tape, it’s something I must have taped for my sister. And then obviously forgotten to give back to her, hence it’s still in my collection.

Regular readers will know that I don’t have an interest in sport. I used to watch a bit of Wimbledon, and when I was younger, I’d sometimes watch Pot Black, and I’ve enjoyed playing Tennis and Badminton when I’ve had a chance, but in general, I’m not very interested in watching sport on TV. It’s really only when the sporting event becomes a Major Cultural Event that I might tune in.

This disinterest in sport is odder when you learn that I have three sisters, and they are all massive football fans. They’ve all supported Watford FC, our nearest League team, since their teens. If you want to know what my older sister was like at school, just look at Those Glory Glory Days. Julia and her friends were exactly like my sister and her friends, which is how I can tell it was written from strong personal experience.

But somehow, as the only boy in the family, I totally missed out on whatever genetic or cultural pressures there might be to make me interested in sport. It’s just not for me. And that’s OK, because I can’t imagine how I’d find time to watch all the TV I do if I also had to travel to watch football as well. So it’s worked out fine for me.

So, this tape opens with a football match recorded off Sky Sports. I can only presume it was when it was unencrypted, as I never had a subscription to Sky Sports – or perhaps my movie subscription covered sport too. Unlikely, knowing how keen Sky are to slice up every possible thing they can charge extra for.

After some digging, I’ve located this match as the 26th August 2002 match with Coventry City. It was a good result for Watford, winning 5-2.

On the pitch giving some punditry is a former Watford assistant manager Ray Wilkins.

Following the Football, some more TV I’d be unlikely to tape myself. There’s an episode of Emmerdale, and an episode of Coronation Street featuring Brian Capron, off of Grange Hill, being very shifty with a Bank Manager.

An episode of The Bill follows, then, over to Channel 4 and an episode of Sex and the City, a show I’ve never really watched. This one seems to be strangely timely, as Carrie and friends encounter various gender-diverse situations. Carrie’s current boyfriend tells her he’s bisexual, and of course there’s the usual ‘he’s not really bi he’s really gay’ conversations. And there’s a photographer who takes photos of women dressed as men, leading to lines like “what if there is no such thing as gender?”

Plus, Alanis Morrisette turns up in a small role, seemingly just to kiss Sarah Jessica Parker.

After this, an episode of Ally McBeal. This is another show I never watched, despite it seeming to hit a lot of sweet spots for me – Created by a Bochco alumnus, surreal humour, glamorous law firm shenanigans, it would seem like the kind of thing I’d like, but I never really started watching it.

This episode reminds me of how many of the cast went on to bigger things. Starting with Hayden Panettiere playing a ten year old girl.

Lucy Liu doesn’t appear to have an onscreen credit – not in the titles or in the Guest Starring crawl, or at the end. Is that a thing? She appears to be a regular, and imdb doesn’t list her as uncredited.

James Marsden off of The X Men

30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski

Even the semi-regular cast is starry, with Jon Bon Jovi playing a boyfriend.

and weirdest of all Barry Humphries, playing Dame Edna Everage, playing a woman who has been sacked for flirting with the men in her office.

I have to say, I did enjoy this, but not knowing any of the characters it was hard to know where my sympathies should be lying sometimes. Fun, though.

After this, the recording stops, and underneath there’s a bit of an episode of Six Feet Under. 

That recording also stops, and underneath there’s the end of another episode of Ally McBeal, followed by the start of Lesbian Love Stories, during which the tape ends. This turned out to be a much longer entry than I was expecting.

In the ad breaks, there was an ad for Sure anti-perspirant featuring a young, go-getting adventurer called Ed Grylls. Was this the first TV appearance for ‘Bear’ Grylls? It must be close.


  • trail: Sky Sports
  • Citroen – Ken Campbell
  • HSBC
  • Vision Express
  • Crown Paints
  • Pringles
  • Redrow
  • Budweiser
  • Regency Mortgage Corporation
  • Peugeot 307
  • Vodafone
  • Approved car finance
  • Strongbow
  • Sunday People
  • Sure – Ed Grylls
  • Lucozade Sport
  • trail: The Simpsons Top 10
  • trail: Football
  • Hyundai
  • Peter Pan Return to Neverland on video
  • Full Marks Mousse
  • Werther’s Original
  • Mullerlight Mousse
  • Porsche Model Collection
  • Acuvue
  • Currys
  • Organics
  • McVities
  • Don’t Drive Tired
  • trail: The Bill
  • trail: Miss World After They Were Famous
  • Max Factor
  • A Century of Cars
  • Acuvue
  • Calgon
  • Peugeot 307
  • trail: The Bill
  • Orbit
  • Sunny Delight – S Club 7
  • Furniture Village
  • Starburst Flipsters
  • Cheez Double Dippers
  • Heat – Emma Kennedy
  • Bold Aqua
  • Huggies Pull Ups
  • Ambi-Pur
  • Sunny Delight – S Club 7
  • Uncle Ben’s
  • trail: I’m a Celebrity…
  • trail: Fat Friends
  • Hyundai
  • Colgate
  • Solpadeine
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Pantene
  • The Sweetest Thing in cinemas
  • Simple
  • Toyota RAV 4
  • B&Q
  • Johnson’s Baby Tissues
  • Peter Pan Return to Neverland on video
  • Polo
  • Boots
  • Shredded Wheat Bitesize
  • Honey Nut Shredded Wheat
  • Hula Hoops
  • trail: Britain’s Sexiest
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Porsche Model Collection
  • Modern Apprenticeships
  • Bingo
  • Somerfield
  • Hovis Crusty
  • Halifax
  • Citroen – Ken Campbell
  • B&Q
  • Persil
  • HSBC
  • Currys
  • Charmin
  • A Century of Cars
  • Smirnoff Ice
  • trail: I’m a Celebrity…
  • Dulux
  • Peter Pan Return to Neverland on video
  • Coca Cola
  • Toyota Corolla
  • UK Gold
  • The Sweetest Thing in cinemas
  • Hovis Crusty
  • Porsche Model Collection
  • Impulse
  • Morgan Stanley
  • trail: Friends
  • trail: Bowfinger
  • trail: White Teeth
  • Bacardi
  • Chilled Jazz
  • Halifax
  • L’Oreal Studio Gel O
  • Vanish
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Men in Black II in cinemas
  • XCite
  • Witch
  • Listerine
  • trail: White Teeth
  • trail: Notting Hill
  • Nissan Micra
  • A Century of Cars
  • Police – Bob Geldof
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Orbit
  • Hula Hoops
  • Nissan Micra
  • Morgan Stanley
  • trail: V Graham Norton
  • Adidas
  • The Guru Soundtrack
  • Heat – Emma Kennedy
  • L’Oreal Revitalift
  • AOL
  • Avent
  • Vauxhall Corsa
  • trail: White Teeth
  • trail: Fame in the Family
  • Film Four
  • Boots
  • Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles
  • Motorola
  • Behind Enemy Lines on DVD
  • PG Tips
  • Spar
  • Jammie Dodgers
  • Ribena
  • Modern Apprenticeships
  • Dove
  • Comet
  • Boots
  • trail: One Year On
  • trail: Origins: Ice World
  • Peugeot 307
  • Boots
  • Dairylea Lunchables
  • Pimms – Alexander Armstrong
  • Nivea
  • Rowntrees Fruit Rush
  • Head & Shoulders
  • IBM
  • Just For Men
  • trail: One Year On
  • trail: RI:SE
  • trail: Classmates
  • Toyota Celica
  • Charmin
  • Herbal Essences
  • Clairol Nice ‘n Easy
  • Volvic
  • Bliss
  • Light Philadelphia
  • Budweiser
  • Solpadeine
  • trail: Perfect Match

Star Trek – Alfred Hitchcock Presents – tape 138

Another old tape, starting with an episode of Star Trek. In Is There In Truth No Beauty, the Enterprise plays host to the Medusan ambassador, a lifeform which is described as ‘formless’ and which is ‘so ugly’ that anyone who look at it will go insane. It’s accompanied on board by Dr Miranda Jones, a human telepath who has studied on Vulcan, so she can cope with looking at the ambassador through a visor. She’s played by a regular Star Trek guest star, Diana Muldaur.

There’s some really creepy scenes in this episode, particularly the dinner party where they discuss beauty and ugliness, and all the men are practically slobbering over Dr Jones.

There’s also a plot involving Dr Jones being terribly jealous of Spock, because he turned down the chance to be the Ambassador’s companion.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd April 1986 – 18:00

The next episode is Spectre of the Gun. The Enterprise encounters a race of aliens called The Melkotians, who transport the regulars to a simulation of Tombstone, where the gunfight at the OK Corral took place.

It’s a neat way to use what’s probably an existing set, but in a sci-fi way, and it has a noce ending where they have to literally think themselves out of the problem.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th April 1986 – 18:00

After this, recording switches to Thames, and an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents called Final Escape. Season Hubley plays a woman convicted of murder who has exhausted all her appeals and is sentenced to life in prison. You can tell you’re not supposed to like her by the size of her glasses and shoulder pads.

Jerry Hardin, off of The X Files, plays the prison governor.

After this, there’s an episode of the documentary series TV Eye, on the funding crisis in the NHS.

Then there’s the start of News at Ten which leads with the kidnapping of Jennifer Guinness. The tape ends during this programme.


  • BP
  • Allinson
  • London Underground
  • The Times Portfolio – Mel Smith
  • St Ivel Gold
  • Halifax
  • Cafe Hag
  • Capital Radio
  • trail: Kojak
  • trail: The Fourth Floor
  • trail: TV Eye
  • Abbey National
  • French Connection
  • Prontaprint
  • John Bull Bitter
  • Evergreen 90
  • Capital Radio
  • Durrell in Russia
  • The Times Portfolio – Mel Smith
  • Fiat Uno
  • trail: Kojak

Blue Thunder – tape 147

We’re going way back in time now, for one of my much older tapes. We’re back in the 80s, both for this recording and the movie.

First, there’s a bit of sports news, and Jan Leeming, with the end of a Saturday night news bulletin

There’s a trailer for This Week Next Week about the SDP/Liberal Alliance, then Bill Giles presents the weather.

Then, a movie accompanied with this great 80s animated logo – no CGI here.

The movie is Blue Thunder, John Badham’s helicopter-based action movie, starring Roy Scheider as Frank Murphy, the grizzled vietnam vet now flying observation helicopters for the LAPD. He’s a man on the edge who doesn’t take any bullshit.

His observer is an impossibly young Daniel Stern as Lymangood, nicknamed JAFO. There’s what amounts to a running gag where he keeps asking what JAFO means, but it’s slightly disappointing when we learning it means ‘Just Another Fucking Observer’ (or ‘Just Another Frigging Observer’ in this TV Friendly edit).

One thing about this movie that hasn’t aged is the leery scenes where Murphy and JAFO are watching a naked woman do her yoga, or where JAFO is pointing his close-up camera right down the cleavage of a woman on the street. It’s really gross, and these are supposed to be the good guys.

Murphy is roped into helping test the Blue Thunder, an experimental helicopter designed for military use, but being pushed to the city for use in urban pacification.

The head pilot for the Blue Thunder programme is Malcolm McDowell. He’s British so he obviously can’t be trusted. He has some past with Murphy, but we don’t find out what it is until later in the film.

Murphy’s girlfriend is Candy Clark, trying to look after him, despite his gruff exterior. This could be a thankless role, and it’s a bit of a cliche – the supporting woman doing all the emotional heavy lifting, but she plenty of stuff to do during the film.

The plot involves the attempted rape and murder of a city councilwoman at the start of the film, which Murphy attended in his helicopter, and something about it doesn’t sit right with him. When he gets to fly the Blue Thunder, JAFO gets to play with the state of the art computer system – this film came out in the same year as another John Badham movie, Wargames. He clearly likes his computers.

He follows Malcolm McDowell to a meeting (in the helicopter) then uses the copter’s ‘Whisper Mode’ to fly silently outside the office building while recording the conversation taking place inside using infra red cameras.

I’ve always felt like this film’s plot is really thin, and that’s because I think I class plot as being when the characters learn things that change the direction of the story. And in this film, pretty much everything that needs to be learned is learned in this one scene, when Murphy learns that the councilwoman was actually murdered because she was going to expose the secret plans to cause civil unrest in (non-white) communities so that they can introduce the Blue Thunder as the solution to urban pacification. This is just about all the plot twisting this movie does. There’s plenty of other things happening, but these are incidents rather than plot. You could precis the plot in about four lines.

Not that nothing happens – there’s movement aplenty here, chases, helicopter fights, races against time, even tragic events, but these are all just the fallout from this single pivotal scene. There’s a moment I love at the end of this scene, as the conspirator’s meeting is ending, and McDowell goes to the window and opens the curtain to see the Blue Thunder hovering silently outside the window.

The rest of the movie is Murphy and JAFO avoiding the bad guys, something Murphy manages better than JAFO, who’s killed by the bad guys looking for the tape of the meeting. This tape becomes the macguffin for the rest of the movie. The bad guys need to find it, Murphy needs to expose it, but he doesn’t know where JAFO has hidden it until he goes back to the Blue Thunder, replaces the fuse in the cockpit recorder and listens to a message from the now deceased JAFO telling him where the tape is. Trouble is, Murphy has to steal the Blue Thunder, so he can’t land a get the tape, and Candy Clark has to become his proxy on the ground, so she gets to have a car chase and search through a dumpster for the tape, not helped by having Murphy flying the helicopter right above her, throwing garbage all over the place. He could have flown a bit higher and made her job easier, I feel.

The plan is to get the tape to the local TV station, whose news programme is hosted by Mario Machado, a real newscaster who also, in memory serves, appears in Robocop. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but it’s interesting that both films are about militarising the police force in some way.

As Candy Clark races to the TV station, she’s chased and stopped by police, and we get the classic shot of the Blue Thunder rising up from behind a bridge.

There’s rather a lot of damage caused by the cops attempts to take out the Blue Thunder. It’s almost a running gag that, rather than stopping Murphy, they end up blowing up several buildings.

There’s a dogfight between Murphy and McDowell, which Murphy wins by doing something impossible – a complete 360 in the helicopter. Well, it might be impossible, because everyone in the movie says it is, until he does it.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 20th September 1986 – 21:10

After this, there’s a trailer for Rock Around the Clock, on BBC2 later that evening.

Then, episode 4 of Tom Sharpe’s Blott on the Landscape. I must admit I don’t think I watched all of this when it went out, as I found it a bit tiresome. This episode hasn’t changed my mind, consisting of posh people getting upset about a new motorway, and the requisite kinky sex fetishes that all Tom Sharpe books had to have. Like George Cole in a nappy.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 20th September 1986 – 22:55

After this, recording continues with the start of a film called Out of Season. The tape ends during this film.

The Curse Of Mr Bean – The Mary Whitehouse Experience – Smith and Jones – tape 1075

First on this tape, The Curse of Mr Bean. I always think, when the Mini is bombing around in small spaces like the car park, that you can tell Rowan Atkinson loves driving.

Mr Bean goes swimming. Angus Deayton appears as a lifeguard.

There’s the inevitable loss of swimming trunks, and some Atkinson bottom on show.

In the second sketch, that master of disguise Deayton appears again, unrecognisable now as ‘man with moustache on a bench’.

There’s some inventive comedy here.

After this episode, recording switches to BBC2 and the first episode of The Mary Whitehouse Experience (not the pilot but the first episode of the first series). So young.

So very young.

There’s a guest appearance from the Pet Shop Boys.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd January 1991 – 21:00

After this, recording switches straight over to BBC1 and an episode of Smith and Jones. Mel plays a psychic.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd January 1991 – 21:30

Before the next episode, there’s the end of an episode of Bleak House.

There’s a trailer for Heading Home featuring a young Gary Oldman.

Then, another episode of The Mary Whitehouse Experience. Hugh Dennis ice skates.

And plays Lynn Faulds Wood

“Hey, what’s this? It’s got a good beat.” Still a line I use in everyday life.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th January 1991 – 21:00

Before the next episode, the end of Bleak House, and an adjustment of the evening’s schedule, with Crimewatch moving from BBC1 to BBC2, replacing 40 minutes. This is a result of a Prime Ministerial broadcast by John Major, followed by an extending Nine O’Clock News. Here’s the revised schedule.

Then, avoiding reshuffling, another episode of The Mary Whitehouse Experience. Here’s a joke involving references to The Happy Mondays and Peter Beardsley. It was at this point I realised I might be starting to get old, as both meant nothing to me.

Nick Hancock makes a guest appearance playing ‘the fat one off of Soft Cell’.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th January 1991 – 21:00

Straight into the next episode, This one has the first appearance in the show of ‘Chinny Reckon’, one of those strange things that almost everyone of a certain age came across in the playground (predating these shows by at least a decade). I’ve still got no idea how these started, but it appears to be a national thing, with several variants. I personally heard ‘Jimmy Hill’ and the lesser known ‘Itchy Beard’. I’d never heard ‘Chinny Reckon’ until I watched this episode, though. I’d be fascinated to see if there’s anyone who knows how it started, as I assume it must have been a TV thing, but I’ve no idea where from. There’s a whole thesis about modern oral culture going begging there.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th January 1991 – 21:00

After this, recording continues for a bit. There’s a trailer for Arena: Derek Jarman A Portrait.

Then, the start of 40 Minutes: Around Midnight.

This recording ends, and underneath, there’s a bit of Crimewatch UK. The tape ends after a few minutes of that.

LA Law – Cheers – Clive Anderson Talks Back – The Simpsons – tape 1086

Here’s another tape that looks like it was recorded while I was on holiday in Ireland, judging by the Ulster TV logos everywhere. And the fairly poor reception – it’s bouncing all over the place, which is pretty terrible since it was a cable TV service.

The tape opens with the end of This Week. It’s about the US missile defence programme, dubbed Star Wars. It included Edward Teller

And Here’s John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists, with his Darth Vader head and Tie Fighter.

Then an episode of LA Law. It’s not a bad standalone episode, with a couple of self contained stories. One of them features a guest appearance from Kevin Spacey as some kind of eccentric movie producer. He arrives with a group of people, all walking in lockstep.

The two women are his backing singers. He requires a piano to be available at all times. And yet, the investors are persuaded to trust him with $75m.

It’s only when Anne tells them, in the interests of full disclosure, that earlier in the day she found him in his underwear, riding an office chair like a horse in the Kentucky Derby, that they have second thoughts. As if being controlling and manipulative, and having women at his beck and call in inappropriate ways wasn’t a big enough red flag. Or maybe I’m just using hindsight, and Kevin Spacey’s own history.

In another story strand, John Spencer’s Tommy Mullaney, having discovered that his (far too young for him as per Bochco’s usual) ex, Zoey, was seeing Jonathan Rollins, decides to get his own back by defending a serial killer. At least the show knows this is a shitty thing to do, and doesn’t paint him as the hero in this, except at the end when, having helped the serial killer get off, he’s there to kill him when he inevitably breaks into Zoey’s apartment to kill her.

After this, there’s an episode of Cheers. Sumner Sloane, Diane’s former teacher (and lover, another inappropriate older man) returns to the bar, pretending he wants to mend fences, but he really just wants to get back with Diane.

After this, recording continues briefly with Garden Club, but then switches to later in the day, and Clive Anderson Talks Back. His first guest is Tony Slattery (sound the klaxon). No offence to him, but this feels awfully like a last minute replacement for a guest who dropped out, although he does have a new panel show to promote.

Politician Sir Nicholas Fairburn. “I’ve come in my pyjamas”.

Clive does a couple of gags about Virtual Reality.

The final guest is David Gower.

After this, recording switches to Sky One (so this is back home from holiday). It’s The Simpsons and The Otto Show. It opens with Bart and Milhouse going to see Spinal Tap, with a guest appearance from Tap themselves. Although for some reason, it sounds like it’s not Harry Shearer doing the voice of Derek Smalls. Maybe it’s an in joke, given that he’s one of the regular voices on the show. Or maybe it’s the usual thing I have with Simpsons voices, that they rarely really sound like the people they are.

After this, recording continues for a little while, with the start of an episode of 21 Jump Street. Then that recording stops, and underneath, there’s part of a programme presented by Laurie Pike – how many shows did she have in the 90s? This one is Made in the USA. She gets to meet Coca Cola collectors, and look at the Coca Cola museum. When she says “There’s one part of their history they’d sooner forget” it’s not Coke’s shameful collaboration with the Nazis in WW2, it’s New Coke. Yeah, that was much worse.

After this ends, there’s a small bit of the start of David Cronenberg’s Scanners, and the tape ends there.


  • trail: Sport on Ulster Television
  • Dale Farm
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Discovering Nature
  • Satzenbrau
  • trail: Root Into Europe
  • Ulster Newstime
  • BMW
  • Bass
  • Mars Ice Cream
  • Persil
  • Specsavers
  • Fyffes
  • Milk
  • Ariel Color
  • Harp Lager
  • Wash & Go Kids
  • Vauxhall
  • Golden Namosa
  • trail: Frankie’s House
  • Daz – Danny Baker
  • Buxton
  • trail: Sindy Hits Thirty
  • trail: Clive Anderson Talks Back
  • Richardsons Fertilisers
  • Discover Ireland 92
  • BMW
  • Waringfield
  • Bianco
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • Slim-Fast – Barry Bethell
  • Fyffes
  • Dale Farm
  • trail: Made in the USA
  • trail: Scanners
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Orchardville Park Bangor
  • Grafic
  • Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts
  • Sun Progress
  • Light Philadelphia
  • BT
  • trail: The Nightmare Years
  • trail: Fragile Earth
  • Hovis White
  • Flymo
  • Fanta
  • Uncle Ben’s
  • Hammerite
  • trail: Sindy Hits Thirty
  • trail: Made in the USA
  • trail: Scanners
  • Abbey National
  • Remegel
  • Nissan Primera
  • Balmoral Show
  • Wall’s Cornetto
  • Ambre Solaire
  • Satzenbrau
  • Jacob’s Club
  • News of the World
  • trail: Madhouse
  • Ronseal
  • L’Oreal Free Style
  • McCain Pizza Perfection
  • Lilt
  • The Sun
  • trail: The Movie Channels
  • trail: Chances
  • trail: Celebrity
  • Weetabix
  • Toys R Us
  • Melitta
  • Anchor Butter
  • Daily Mail
  • trail: Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
  • trail: E Street
  • trail: Babes
  • Sprite
  • Brut
  • Addis
  • Tetley
  • Anchor Spray Mousse
  • Wayne’s World in cinemas
  • trail: Studs
  • trail: The Brain Game
  • trail: The Nightmare Years
  • Super Nintendo
  • Weetabix
  • Satzenbrau
  • trail: The Kitchen Toto