Month: January 2019

Saturday Zoo – tape 1439

After our recent sojourn in the mid 80s, let’s jumps forward in the collection a bit, and watch some episodes of Saturday Zoo, Jonathan Ross’s Saturday Night entertainment show, one which introduced a few now famous faces.

The first episode here sees Rowland Rivron playing the man who Action Man was based on. Confusingly named Lesley Judd.

Music from Stereo MCs

Steve Coogan as Paul Calf.

Danny DeVito is the big guest, talking about his new film Hoffa. He even gets to slightly nerd out about shooting anamorphically, and how pan & scan on TV is horrible.

Jo Brand does some stand up comedy.

Music from Mica Paris

Some musical hints and tips from John Shuttleworth.

The next episode, I notice, is recorded in Long Play mode. This is a very unusual thing for me, as the quality drop is pretty huge, and I wasn’t so poor that I couldn’t afford videotapes. So perhaps it was a mistake.

Rowland Rivron is a regular. I have never been a fan of Mr Rivron, he’s just never done it for me. Raw Sex was sometimes funny, but generally, he’s not.

Craig Ferguson does a character.

PM Dawn provide some music

Rivron is back, as a worm, although he looks more like a piece of shit.

Bruce and Larry do showbiz gossip, played by Simon Day and John Thomson.

The studio guest is Ben Elton.

Bloody hell, yet another pathetic Rivron bit. This time he’s Barnacle Bill.

It’s a bit of a Saturday Live reunion, as Steven Wright does stand-up.

Denis Leary does a bit on guns.

Ben Elton sings a comedy song. Oh yes.

Not more Rivron. Please make it stop.

We’re back to SP for the next episode, so it was probably a mistake that the last episode was in LP. Inevitably, Rowland Rivron is back again.

As is Craig Ferguson as the reverend Barry Lauder.

Another returning face, Paul Calf.

Music from Paul Weller

Denis Leary talks about the British Invasion.

The studio guest this week is Christopher Walken, who seems very nervous.

Stand Up from Mark Thomas

More from Rowland Rivron, and fair play to him for setting his arm on fire on live TV.

Christopher Walken reads a children’s story.

After Ben Elton last week, this week, Jonathan himself sings along to ‘Town Called Malice’. He should definitely not give up his day job.

John Shuttleworth talks about being a dynamic performer.

Back to Rowland Rivron, who’s now exploding pyros on his head.

The next episode is a Showbusiness Spectacular.

The whole cast is assembled at the head of the show, including Steve Coogan, who has to be introduced as the person who plays Paul Calf, because he wasn’t famous.

There’s a strange stand-up, from Z, the robotic comedian.

Rebecca Front appears as a buddhist.

The studio guest is Richard Wilson

Music is from Vegas, comprising Terry Hall and Dave Stewart, performing ‘Psycho Killer’.

Stand-up from Mark Thomas

This week, even Richard Wilson does some singing and dancing.

Denis Leary talks about equal rights.

More comedy from Paul Calf

The next episode is a Mother’s Day special, so all the regulars have invited their mothers. This includes Jonathan Ross’s mother.

Just before this entry was to be published, I heard the awful news that she had died. I’m so very, very sorry.

In this episode there’s a phone vote for who the public wants to close the show, something for the mothers. Competing for the honour are John Inman.

Fire eater Dave Flame

and The Dreamboys

There’s music from Chris Isaak in a shiny suit.

Chris Evans is this week’s studio guest.

This is quite interesting because it’s just a week after he was caught by Noel Edmonds on NTV on the House Party. They talk about that, and how they set it up in the morning and can see you all day. Now, many of you will have heard the urban legend that when it was time to turn on the cameras, Evans was busy ‘enjoying’ baywatch so they had to wait. This interview takes place the week after, and Evans gives no suggestion that there was any problem with the bit. But there is a bit where he says that his wife phoned the production to tell them “you’d better not watch because he’s asleep, and when he wakes up, what he always does after…” But there’s no implication that anything was actually caught on camera, especially since his wife knew it was a possibility.

After the break, Evans and Jonathan Ross perform a rather silly piece. Evans is wearing a g-string for this, but Ross is naked save the guitar, which he guards jealously.

Chris Isaak is interviewed.

Jo Brand is doing more stand-up.

More from Paul Calf.

Rowland Rivron has brought his mother on this Mother’s Day special.

And the result of the phone poll is in, with John Inman winning, and singing a song at the end.

The tape ends after this episode.

There’s not many ad breaks on this tape, but there’s one ad that caught my eye. For a forgotten Nestle chocolate bar, it shows a man trying to track down a woman, using a chocolate bar as leverage. This woman obviously doesn’t want to be found, but her friends are obviously fickle, since they roll over for a chocolate bar. I guess this is supposed to be romantic, but all I could think is why is he looking for her, and why does she obviously not want to be found? I feel that if the advert continued, she’d be beaten to death just after the cut.

Adverts:

  • Renault Clio
  • Secret
  • Chambourcy Real Chocolate Mousse
  • Nestle Clusters
  • Natrel Plus
  • Max Factor
  • Harmony
  • Persil Micro System
  • Guinness
  • Diet Pepsi
  • Scent of a Woman in cinemas
  • News of the World
  • American Airlines
  • Mercury – Mr Cholmondeley-Warner
  • Nat West

 

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Magnum Force – tape 83

Here’s another Clint Eastwood movie, the second Dirty Harry movie. It’s Magnum Force, clearly playing on one of the most memorable lines from the original – which is even repeated after the main titles finish. Talking of the titles, the film is written by John Milius and Michael Cimino. Eastwood must have been happy with Cimino’s work, as he’d go on to write Thunderbolt and Lightfoot the following year.

I feel like the Pan & Scan on this broadcast is a little squashed up vertically. Everything looks like it’s just a bit thinner than it should be.

Someone kills a crooked union mobster in his car in broad daylight, dressed as a motorcycle cop. Lt Hal Holbrook isn’t happy to see Harry Callahan on the scene, worried about his record of police brutality.

Harry’s got a new partner, and the other cops are already running a book on how long he’ll last. He’s played by Felton Perry, familiar to me from Hooperman.

Harry notices a commotion while getting a hot dog at the airport. Two terrorists have got on a plane and are demanding a pilot to fly them out. Guess what Harry proposes?

He meets a fellow policeman, Charlie McCoy, who seems a little angry about the world in general.

At the police shooting range, Harry meets four young motorcycle cops. Some famous faces in the group. There’s Robert Urich

Tim Matheson

and David Soul.

They seem like a nice bunch of lads.

More people get killed by the people dressed up as cops, Harry and partner Early take down some armed robbers at a convenience store, and Harry’s downstairs neighbour meets him for the first time, and practically the first words out of her mouth are “What does a girl have to do to go to bed with you?” This comes only a few minutes are another scene where he went to see the ex-wife of Charlie McCoy, and during their conversations she asks him why he’s never made a pass at her. This is a bit creepy, all these women throwing themselves at him, but I admit it’s possibly an accurate representation of Clint Eastwood’s life experience.

There’s a brief appearance from Elizabeth Avery, from The Color Purple, as a prostitute whose only plot purpose is to get violently killed by her pimp so we know he’s a bad guy when the cop kills him.

Harry thinks it’s his friend Charlie who’s doing all the murders, but when Charlie turns up dead, his suspicion falls on the young cops. He confronts them and they tell him they’re just dispensing good old fashioned justice, because the courts system doesn’t work. Harry tells them he won’t work with them. Then he’s on the lookout, and finds a bomb in his mailbox.

His warning about the bomb is too late for his partner Early, though, to nobody’s surprise.

But the real bad guy reveals himself – none other than Lieutenant Hal Holbrook, who was running the young cops. There’s a chase, some motorcycle chasing, until he deals with all thee young cops, then he lets Holbrook drive off, having left the timer on the mailbox bomb running, so he gets blown up.

This isn’t nearly as good as the original, and I’d put that mostly down to the lack of a compelling central villain. Andrew Robinson’s killer in the original was a brilliant performance, an unforgettable character. This film trades that for more mystery that isn’t really a mystery, and it suffers for that.

The tape ends after this.

In the ad breaks, there’s a classic OTV advert – I’m surprised I haven’t come across more of these, as they seemed to be ubiquitous.

Adverts:

  • Sun Country Refresher
  • Allied
  • Tefal Durabase
  • Panama – Phil Davis
  • Rambo First Blood Part II in cinemas
  • Speed Stick
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Hofmeister
  • Barclays
  • Castlemaine XXXX – Steve Bisley
  • Kodak Monitoring Service
  • Boots
  • Sarson’s Pickling Malt Vinegar
  • Ajax Liquid
  • Hamlet
  • TSB
  • Odor-Eaters
  • Macleans
  • Commercial Union
  • OTV
  • Speed Stick
  • Lucozade
  • Bird’s Mousse

The Day The Earth Stood Still – tape 47

I remember first seeing this film when the BBC used to show classic science fiction movies in the early evening on Wednesdays. I’d often watch them next door, at my Grandma’s. I don’t know if there was a reason why I had to watch them there, but I often did. My family tell me they have no idea if Grandma had any interest in Science Fiction, so perhaps it was simply that I liked it, and it was a chance to share something with me. Whatever the truth, I’m grateful to her for indulging a youthful enthusiasm, one that’s lasted my whole life.

This film is one of the classics. It’s namechecked in The Rocky Horror Show. Ringo Starr dressed up as Klaatu for an album cover. The term ‘Klaatu Barada Nikto’ pops up all over the place, on a cubicle wall in Tron, and as part of the magic spell in Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness.

It starts with news reports about a flying saucer approaching Earth. One of them is from the BBC who says “Reports are coming in from all over the Empire, from all over the world.” I thought this might be an anachronism, but the film was made in 1951, and the Empire was still a thing.

It’s really interesting how much of the film’s narrative is told through media. It’s full of radio reports, television reports, newspaper headlines. Because so much of the film takes place with an ordinary family, it’s a way to talk about the concerns and paranoia in the world at large without having to dramatise them explicitly.

The spaceship has one occupant, Klaatu, who’s shot by a nervous soldier as he’s approaching the crowds.

The army regret this when his accompanying robot, Gort, appears and starts disintegrating tanks.

Under the helmet, Klaatu is Michael Rennie, who recovers from his gunshot wound in an Army hospital, under guard.

It doesn’t take him long to escape, though, after telling his captors that he’s there because the rest of the universe are nervous about Man’s development of nuclear weapons, and rockets.

He takes refuge in a local house, as the guest of Patricia Neal.

She’s a widow, with a young son. Klaatu offers to look after him for a day, and she agrees, as she’s got things she needs to do. It was a different world, when a complete stranger could be trusted to look after a small boy after pnly knowing the family for a day.

Klaatu gets back to his ship, and demonstrates the ship’s power by shutting down all machines (except life-critical ones) for a time, as a warning for Earth to become more peaceful.

But the authorities are still after him, and as he’s trying to get back to the ship to meet with a delegation of scientists, he’s shot dead by a soldier.

But Neal has been told by Klaatu what to do in this event, and she finds the robot Gort to give him the instructions “Klaatu Barada Nikto”. He then goes to collect Klaatu’s body, brings it back to the ship and brings him back to life.

Then, Klaatu delivers one last lecture to the assembled scientists and politicians, about how mankind has to find a way to make piece, otherwise the robot police of the alien planets will reduce Earth to a cinder. So much for the tolerant left!

BBC Genome: BBC One – 29th March 1985 – 23:05

After this there’s a look ahead to programmes on Saturday. Blimey they were still getting to grips with their new graphics equipment.

Then there’s a quick weather bulletin – it’s snowing, which is odd because it’s just been snowing today for the first time this year, as I write this – then BBC1 closes down.

Escape From New York – tape 124

We had a glimpse of Escape From New York a little which back, on the end of another tape, but I didn’t really say much about it, because I knew it was coming up in its own right, and deserves a full entry.

This is a very early recording, and the reception on this one is quite poor – look at how the titles are ghosting. Good old analogue TV.

So New York was turned into a prison in response to a fourfold increase in crime. Which is bad, but doesn’t sound ‘abandon one of your most prosperous cities’ bad. But it’s a high concept film, so we accept the premise.

I was going to make a joke about the twin towers being in poor taste, but this movie takes place in 1997 so of course they’re still there. Good thing too, since they’re quite pivotal later.

Ever noticed that the future is always represented by ‘futuristic’ fonts. It’s not a practical choice, it’s used as a visual signifier, and you often see it.

An interesting cultural signifier is that the President’s plane has been hijacked by left-wing revolutionaries. This was the common face of terrorism in the 70s. You know this will be different if they every make the remake. And I love how the woman piloting the plane is reading her revolutionary message off a bit of paper.

Even after all these years, I still remembered that this character was called Romero (after the director). Years of reading Starlog obsessively.

They need to get the President back in a hurry because the world is on the brink of war, and he’s going to deliver an important speech at a world summit. So the government have no choice but to recruit the best person to go into the walled city and get him out – a criminal himself, Snake Plissken, played, of course, by Kurt Russell.

He’s briefed by Bob Hauk, played by veteran actor Lee Van Cleef, star of many cowboy films.

The film is loaded up with obstacles for Snake to overcome. There’s no security at all inside Manhattan, just the prisoners and whatever style of society they have made. He has to fly a glider into the city and land on the World Trade Centre. He has less than 24 hours to get the President out. And just to stop him turning the glider around and flying to Canada, Hauk has injected two micro explosives into his neck, which will explode in 24 hours unless they’re shut down with X-Rays, which can only be done 15 minutes before they go off. These are obviously highly accurate dissolving bombs. To track his progress, he’s given the biggest digital watch money can buy.

As he’s flying in, he has these really cool computer displays, and I was astonished to learn that these displays weren’t computer generated – they were physical models, painted to look like 3D model wireframes, and photographed in high contrast. It’s a brilliant way to get the CGI look without having to use what was still a very rudimentary technology.

His search for the President takes him to a theatre, where inmates are putting on a show. The song they’re singing here, ‘Everyone’s Going to New York’ was composed for the film by Nick Castle, who would go on to direct The Last Starfighter, and who played Michael Myers in Halloween.

There’s a brief appearance from Season Hubley, who gets ‘Special Appearance by’ credit in the movie, possibly because she was married to Kurt Russell at the time of the movie. She gets to smooch him before being dragged underground by unseen bad people.

He meets Cabby, played by Ernest Borgnine, who can look after himself.

Cabby takes him to see Brain and Maggie. The sexual politics of the prison are pretty messed up, since Maggie is the Brain’s ‘squeeze’ and was ‘given’ to him by The Duke. It’s the Duke Snake has to get to as he’s got The President. Maggie is played by frequent Carpenter collaborator Adrienne Barbeau. Barbeau was married to director John Carpenter at the time.

The Brain is played by the great Harry Dean Stanton.

Brain takes Snake to where the President is being held. He’s played as a bit of a gibbering fool by Donald Pleasance.

But The Duke of New York (‘He’s Hey Number One’) has got the drop on them and captures Snake, and recaptures the President. He’s played by Isaac Hayes.

So now, Snake has to fight to the death in a boxing ring against a rather larger opponent, played by professional wrestler Ox Baker.

It gets even more brutal when they bring in weapons.

But while Snake is keeping The Duke and his men occupied, Brain and Maggie are breaking out the President again, and when Snake rejoins them, after briefly almost getting caught again, they’re escaping, with the President, in Cabby’s cab, across one of the bridges. Which is mined, but don’t worry, Brain has a map of the mines.

Oops.

Amazingly, although the cab is split in two by the blast, only Cabby is a casualty, and the rest continue on foot. But Brain goes the wrong way (after telling everyone else they’re going the wrong way) and gets blown up himself, in a rather black comedy moment. Maggie, upset that Brain is dead, stops there and fires on the Duke’s car as he approaches, but she doesn’t survive the impact.

Leaving Snake and the President to make it across the bridge, where the President is winched to safety, then, as Snake is being winched up, the President stops the winch, and shoots the Duke dead. “You’re the Duke. You’re the Duke. You’re Hey Number One.” Much as I dislike the President in this (as, I think, we’re supposed to), I really liked this moment.

The ending is particularly good, and a typically bleak Carpenter ending. Not quite ‘The Thing’ bleak but still. I’ll leave that unspoiled for you in case you haven’t seen it.

There’s some interesting credits. The special effects team includes Jim Cameron. Yes, that Jim Cameron, who was a DOP and a Matte Artist. Also among the credits, Aaron Lipstadt, director of Android, is an associate producer.

Before I finish, I should mention the great synthesizer score for the movie, composed and performed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. This one is one of my favourites of his scores, with a great main theme.

After this, there’s a trailer for The Deep, then an episode of Highway Patrol as a tribute for the Late Broderick Crawford. The tape ends here.

Incidentally, this was on LWT, who had recently acquired a nice 3D version of their logo.

 

The Brother From Another Planet – Captain Scarlet – tape 45

First on this tape, John Sayles’ Brother From Another Planet. This is an odd film, quite elliptical, and not helped by its lead character having no dialogue whatsoever.

Joe Morton is the eponymous Brother, an alien who arrives in Harlem, and wanders around looking enigmatic.

Like ET he has healing hands, as he demonstrates when the little boy in the flat he’s staying in, complains he’s hurt his knee.

He also heals arcade cabinets. This really leans into its 80s roots.

He’s being pursued by two ‘men in black’ played by director Sayles and David Strathairn.

There’s a scene in the Subway where a young man shows Morton a card trick. It’s quite a long scene, with a lot of patter, and the young man’s face was so familiar, but I couldn’t place it. But I was sure I’d seen him elsewhere. Checking iMDb I learn it’s a very young Fisher Stevens,

At one point, he wants to find out something that’s happening in the neighbourhood, so he puts one of his eyes in a plant pot. When he retrieves it, he can replay what the eye has seen.

There’s a very loose plot involving him finding out who’s been selling drugs to the people in the neighbourhood, and enacting kharmic revenge against him.

After this, recording switches to an episode of Captain Scarlet called Operation Time. The Mysterons threaten to kill time. We’re introduced to Captain Magenta, who isn’t Captain Scarlet after his uniform’s been through the wash a few too many times.

After this, the recording finishes.

In the ad breaks there’s a advert for Cover Plus Paints in which ‘Sheikh Itallabout’ can’t decide what colour he wants. Yes, cultural sensitivity wasn’t high in 1986. And is that Jim Carter as the Sheikh?

Adverts:

  • The Spectator
  • Victor Computers
  • Lyons Apricot Madeleines
  • Rolo
  • Cover Plus paint
  • The Mortgage Corporation – Barry Norman
  • trail: Africa
  • Honeywell
  • Heineken – Stomp
  • Dr White’s Secrets
  • The TV Hits Album
  • Vauxhall Belmont
  • Panther Cars
  • Victor Computers
  • Qualcast Hover-Safe
  • Ronseal
  • Wilkinson Sword Profile
  • TSB Trustcard
  • Heinz Ploughman’s Piccalilli
  • Anthony Burgess – The Kingdom of the Wicked
  • The TV Hits Album
  • The TV Hits Album
  • Stanley
  • Appletise
  • Bezique
  • Heinz Salad Cream
  • Flotex 21
  • TSB Trustcard
  • Cover Plus paint
  • trail: Terrahawks

Play Misty For Me – Kolchak The Night Stalker – tape 59

This is the second tape in a row where I’ve re-recorded the same film over a previous recording. This is a fairly early tape in the collection. There’s the Universal logo at the start, then a new recording starts, with the more modern BBC 2 logo, and a Moviedrome introduction from Alex Cox, which is always nice to have.

In this case, it’s possibly the best introduction he’s ever done. After giving some biographical and historical context for Eastwood’s influences in this, his first film as director, he spends almost all of the intro wondering why Hollywood seems so interested in presenting stories about homicidal women. Given that there had been a spate of them at the time – Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle – when “women tend not to be the aggressors in the domestic violence stakes”. Thus saving me making the same point.

Then he tells us that this is the longer version of the film, not seen before in Britain, and also explains that because films play at 25 frames per second on TV, even though this cut has a film running time of 102 minutes, on TV it runs for 97 minutes and 52 seconds. Pure TV nerdery, and I love it.

So, onto the film. When I first watched this, I thought it was a completely different type of film, a romantic story, so I think it worked even better for me than if I’d been clearer about its genre.

Eastwood plays a DJ, whose programme is five hours of ‘mellow’ music. He has a regular caller, who calls in to ask him to ‘Play Misty For Me’.

Later, in a bar, he meets Evelyn, played by Jessica Walter, and drives her home. She reveals she wasn’t at the bar because she was stood up, she’s actually a fan and went there because he talked about it. So they have sex, after she tells him it’s no-strings, since he’s not looking for a relationship.

Imagine his surprise when, the next day, she appears at his house with an armful of groceries, acting for all the world like a girlfriend.

She seems surprised when he’s not immediately receptive to the idea, but, she smiles sweetly, and they spend the day together.

But Eastwood’s reluctance to commit is because he’s already sort-of involved with another woman, who had left town for a while, wanting some time alone. When he catches up with her, they talk about his interest in other women. He tells her he’s been trying not to be such a womaniser. “Boy there must be real consternation among those gropies” she says. “That’s groupies, isn’t it?”

But Evelyn is still after him. She’s now leaving creepy presents outside his door. I love the way everything she’s done so far is in the realms of cringy inappropriate social behaviour.

But it soon starts being obsessional, until she bangs on his door late at night, convinced he’s got another woman there, and when she goes into the bathroom to wash her face before she leaves, she’s in there a bit too long, and he finds her like this.

But now, Eastwood feels guilty that he might have caused this attempt, so he spends time with her to make sure she’s OK. But he regrets it again when he goes to meet a woman organising a festival for which he might do some work, and Evelyn turns up assuming it’s romantic, and it extremely rude.

Worse to come, as she’s had his house key copied, then trashes the house, and attacks his housekeeper. This time, though, she’s arrested and admitted to a mental institution.

Clint now thinks he’s safe, so he and his girlfriend go for a trip in the woods, and a montage of woodland walks and alfresco sex. There’s also a long section at the Monterey Jazz Festival which seems like an indulgence on Clint’s part.

Back home, he gets a call. It’s Evelyn, calling from San Francisco airport, flying out to Hawaii, having been released from hospital. Which Clint believes because he’s never seen the kind of film he’s in before. Cue a nice jump scare as he wakes up that night to see this.

We have to pause for a moment to note that Clint wears Y-Fronts.

Clint gets a policeman to protect him, and there’s a brilliant reveal when we learn that his girlfriend’s new housemate, who we’ve heard about because it’s a running theme that she has a never ending parade of housemates, is actually Evelyn, pretending to be a woman called Annabel. And now the audience knows that (because we’ve seen her there) Clint remembers a poem that Evelyn quoted. “And this maiden she lived with no other thought/Than to love and be loved by me.” and he finds it, sees the name of the poem and puts two and two together.

His detective gets to the house first, and doesn’t have a happy ending.

So now all that’s left is for Clint to leave a tape of his radio show running while he zooms up the coast to his girlfriend’s house for the final confrontation, which is suitable stabby. The very end is nicely ironic too.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th August 1992 – 21:30

After this, recording switches to later in the evening for an episode of Kolchak The Night Stalker called Primal Scream. An ape is attacking people around the city. Jamie Farr guests as a science teacher.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th August 1992 – 23:40

There’s an advert for the Radio Times – this must be close to the time when they had to stop doing actual adverts for RT.

Then, the tape plays out with the start of The Secret Beyond the Door. The tape ends during this.

 

Lawrence Of Arabia – tape 1071

I have obviously recorded this film twice. This tape opens with the BBC One globe, introducing the full length restored version of the film for the first time. Genome suggests it’s this one. BBC One – 1st April 1990 – 14:55

But this is immediately overwritten by a later recording of the same film from BBC Two, and in widescreen, which I’m guessing the BBC One showing was not.

It’s probably heretical to say that I do find a lot of this film a little dull. Certainly the first part, where he travels into the desert to meet with Prince Faisal to discuss the war with the Turks. It’s half an hour before they meet. Obivously, there’s a lot of beautiful desert vistas, and lots of tiny figures in the distance.

But he does meet Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali, leader of one of the tribes.

Alec Guinness played Prince Faisal. Not quite as uncomfortable as when he would later play the Indian Dr Godbole in Lean’s A Passage To India.

Anthony Quinn plays Auda Abu Tayi, another leader of another tribe.

It’s a film filled with striking images. When Lawrence is making his way back to the British headquarters, after helping lead the arabs to take the coastal town of Aqaba from the Turks, he reaches an abandoned town, then, in the distance, sees a ship travelling through the sand – they’ve reached the Suez Canal.

For me, the film starts getting more interesting when Lawrence returns to headquarters to report on the capture of Aqaba. The colonial attitudes of the British army seem stuffy and racist.

Claude Rains plays Mr Dryden of the Arab Bureau.

Anthony Quayle plays Colonel Brighton

To be honest, this is a film to be seen as big as possible. I first saw it when the restored version was released, at the Odeon Marble Arch, at the time the largest screen in Europe. Watching this digitised version of a VHS copy of a TV broadcast doesn’t really do it justice.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 30th December 1990 – 12:00 (yes, yet another Christmas tape).

The recording ends right after the movie.