Month: September 2019

Academy Awards 2002 – tape 2795

We’re jumping forward in time quite a lot, to one of the more recent tapes in the collection. 2002 was the year where I bought a Tivo, and my VHS recording days were effectively numbered. I still used to record some Tivo recorded shows to VHS, and I think we’ve seen one of those a while back. There’s going to be more. But I soon moved to a Media Centre PC, and that’s the setup I used for many years after that.

This tape has the first part of the Academy Awards 2002. It’s presented by Jonathan Ross, and this was when BBC2 had started showing them in full late on Sunday night, so I’d book a day off work on Monday, and stay up late watching them with my wife. We’d get some crisps and dips to keep use going, and enjoy the annual Hollywood love-in.

So pop open the Pringles, hand me the Houmous and let’s see who the winners and losers are at the 75th Academy Awards.

I’ve not recorded the intro here – either that’s on a different tape, or I didn’t bother with it, as this tape starts just as Jonathan Ross and guest Alan Cumming wind up a chat, and hand over the live Oscars telecast. (In fact, I have three different tapes for the 2002 Oscars, so I suspect the pre-show introduction, and the usual red-carpet stuff is on that tape. Don’t expect to see that before January 2021, though!)

I’m wondering if I did more manual editing, though, as the show starts, then immediately cuts to shot of the audience applauding, and the music that was playing cuts off. Perhaps I was being ruthless and cutting out all the non-awards guff. So here’s Helen Mirren, sitting next to her husband Taylor Hackford, with Robert Altman behind her. As all these faces are being featured, you can vaguely hear a voice, so I presume the American TV audience have someone introducing all these faces. I can only assume that there’s a different feed used to supply overseas broadcasts

It’s the year that Fellowship of the Ring was eligible, so Ian McKellen is delighted when the camera cuts to him. Anyone recognise who he’s sitting next to? An actor I don’t recognise, or McKellen’s plus one?

Peter Jackson looks happy to be there. Not as happy as he would be two years later, obviously. That’s Fran Walsh next to him, his co-writer and partner, who rarely does interviews.

Will this whole entry be film people looking confusedly at something? Here’s Judi Dench to tell us.

Or perhaps Maggie Smith has more news. I think that’s Emily Watson behind her.

It’s Trevor Slattery! No wait, I think it’s Sir Ben Kingsley.

It’s Nicole Kidman, and I think that’s director Baz Luhrmann behind her, so I’m guessing Moulin Rouge is also in the running.

Russell Crowe is there. I think this is the year after he won for Gladiator, so he’ll be a presenter this year. Off the top of my head I don’t know if he was nominated this year.

Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, so that’s Training Day, probably.

Renee Zellwegger, for Bridget Jones’ Diary. Nominated for Best Actress, good going for a comedy. No hope of winning.

Halle Berry, for Monster’s Ball

Jon Voight was nominated. I’m guessing it wasn’t for Pearl Harbor.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. So that’s Ali Voight and Smith were nominated for.

Benicio Del Toro is lurking backstage somewhere.

Gwyneth Paltrow, but it’s not for Shakespeare in Love.

Helen Hunt is probably for As Good as it Gets. No, that’s 1997. Probably Woody Allen’s Curse of the Jade Scorpion. (actually she wasn’t nominated, just a presenter).

Here’s Josh Hartnett. That’ll be for Black Hawk Down.

Jennifer Lopez is there, not nominated, but possibly singing in the show? That’s Ridley Scott behind her, and Cris Judd next to her (which I only know because Bing Image Search told me).

There’s Tobey Maguire. Apparently he’s not very nice in real life. Shame.

Now it’s Cameron Diaz. I’m genuinely surprised by how many of these faces I’m recognising, even without the help of Image Search. Which is acing it, by the way.

Hugh Jackman and Deborra Lee Furness.

Holy Cow! Never mind all those boring actors, look who they’ve got as Musical Director and Conductor. Only John Fucking Williams. Five Times Oscar Winner John Williams, as the almost inaudible voice can be heard saying.

Then, here’s Tom Cruise on stage asking what movies mean to you. And there’s a sombre reference to September 11th, as this was the first year after that. “Should we celebrate movies? Yes, more than ever.” (I happen to agree with this).

Then there’s a lovely short film, by Errol Morris, just consisting of people (mostly just members of the public) just talking about the movies they love. There are a few famous faces there, including Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Jessye Norman, Donald Trump (who claims to like King Kong, but he’s probably lying) and even Mikhail Gorbachev, who really liked Gladiator.

Edit to add: I’ve just heard that Jessye Norman has died. On the day this blog entry was published. And whilst that’s upsetting in itself, I mentioned her right next to Donald Trump. This curse of the blog is a real monkey’s paw. I’m so very, very sorry.

Then the show starts, with Whoopi Goldberg descending from the ceiling in the most amazing costume. And that ceiling is a hundred feet up.

That’s an amazing costume.

Benicio Del Toro presents the first award, for Best Supporting Actress, and the winner is Jennifer Connelly for A Beautiful Mind.

incidentally, in the clips there’s a scene for Iris (Kate WInslet was nominated) and Hugh Bonneville is playing the young Jim Broadbent, and I’ve never seen a more perfect piece of casting.

There’s another short piece of people and their favourite films – Yoko Ono and Pinocchio, and Drew Barrymore and Annie Hall.

Donald Sutherland and Glenn Close are stuck behind a desk backstage, guarding all the Oscars, apparently.

I’ve no idea what’s happening behind Jennifer Connelly as she leaves the stage. Is she being pursued by a demon mime?

There’s an ad break in the States, so it’s back to Wossy and Alan Cumming to discuss the one whole award that’s been awarded so far, and it’s no big surprise, although Cumming does question how A Beautiful Mind could have won a BAFTA award when it wasn’t even out in the UK at the time. A mystery indeed.

Then it’s back to the ceremony. I couldn’t hear who the next presenter is, so thank you Image Search for telling me it’s screenwriter Frank Pierson, who’s the current president of the Academy. He’s welcoming everyone to the new home of the Oscars, the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. I visited that (well, the shops around it) when I was staying in Hollywood for a tech conference. It was very exciting.

Will Smith presents the award for Best Film Editing, after reading David Mamet’s thoughts on the importance of editing.

I like the short clips they use to give an impression of what film editing might be like. I’m sure Steven Spielberg wouldn’t approve, as he likes to edit on film.

The winner is Pietro Scalia for Black Hawk Down.

The next presenters are Reese Witherspoon and a 16 year old reddit user. Oh, sorry, I’m told it’s Ryan Phillippe. And in a remarkable moment of irony, when Witherspoon asks ‘can I read it?’ he says ‘You make more than I do, go ahead’. It’s probably true, but ironic that it’s a man making the only comment about pay disparity. The award is for Makeup, and actually their material is really funny.

The winners are Richard Taylor and Peter Owen for Fellowship of the Ring – which was nominated for 13 awards, astonishingly. The picture doesn’t do Peter Owen’s jacket justice, as it’s made of tassles.

Whoopi Goldberg introduces the first of tonight’s Best Picture nominees, it’s the one that nobody remembers today – there’s usually one – called In The Bedroom, a family drama starring Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek and Marisa Tomei, all nominated for acting awards.

Oh look, Glenn Close has escaped from the desk, as she does another of these slightly strange ‘coming up next’ announcements.

Then it’s back to Jonathan Ross, and he’s now got Tom Conti as a guest.

Also there is Trinny Woodall, off of Trinny and Susannah, who I presume was a lot busier during the Red Carpet segment of the show, which we haven’t seen today.

Back to the ceremony, and Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson do a nice sketch about costume design.

The winners of Best Costume Design are Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie for Moulin Rouge.

There’s more about September 11th next, with a compilation of New York film clips by Nora Ephron, introduced by Woody Allen. He gets a standing ovation. I wonder if that would happen now? His speech is very funny, though.

Among the audience reactions is one from Paul McCartney, with his then wife Heather Mills. That was an interesting time in his life.

The next presenter is Jodie Foster, presenting the Best Cinematography award.

The winner is Andrew Lesnie, for Fellowship of the Ring.

It’s another break, so back to the BBC2 studio (where the window is open, oddly) and Jonathan has a new guest, Dade Hayes, a senior writer at Variety. Tom Conti is still there. They are a bit surprised at Lord of the Rings getting a cinematography award, because they seem to think it’s all CGI. I must admit that was my thought when I saw the first film. But having watched the huge amount of behind the scenes documentaries on the DVDs, we now know that an awful lot of it was actually huge miniatures, photographed conventionally. And let’s face it, a big reason the films are beautiful is that Andrew Lesnie just pointed his cameras at New Zealand.

Back to the show, and Whoopi has dressed up as a maid, to introduce the next Best Film nominee, Downton Abbey Gosford Park.

Helen Hunt introduces another short film, this time about Documentaries.

Samuel L Jackson presents the Documentary awards.

Winners of Best Documentary Feature are Jean-Xavier De Lestrade and Denis Poncet for Murder on a Sunday Morning.

Winners for Documentary Short Subject are Sarah Kernochan and Lynn Appelle, for Thoth.

The subject of the documentary was also on stage, and he looks like a real character. As they leave the stage, he’s playing his violin at Samuel L Jackson while walking backwards, and I haven’t wanted to see someone shot dead more.

Cameron Diaz reads the Coen brothers’ description of the job of a production designer.

The winners for Best Production Design are Catherine Martin and Brigitte Broch for Moulin Rouge.

Another short film has Roberto Benigni saying how much he likes Ben Hur.

Back to Jonathan at the studio, with a few interviews with Best Supporting Actor nominees.

There’s a short glimpse of the Scientific and Technical awards, hosted by Charlize Theron. I’d quite like to watch those – I wonder if they stream them these days?

Nathan Lane presents the Best Animated Feature award.

The nominees are there waiting. There’s Mike and Sully for Monsters Inc

Jimmy Neutron

and Shrek and Donkey.

In the first of several affronts to cinema, it’s won by Shrek. You can tell Mike and Sully are upset.

Halle Berry introduces the Sound and Sound Editing awards.

Best Sound is won by Black Hawk Down

Best Sound Effects Editing is won by Pearl Harbor. The second travesty of the evening.

Marcia Gay Harden presents the award for Best Supporting Actor.

In a rather marvellous upset, it’s won by Jim Broadbent for Iris. As he himself said in the interview segment earlier, he was in two prominent roles that year, this one, and Moulin Rouge. And because they are such different roles, he says that “well, one of them must be acting”.

Back to the BBC2 Studio, and Jonathan is now joined by Dyan Cannon.

Whoopi’s got some Hobbit feet, to introduce another nominated film, Fellowship of the Ring.

Ian McKellen and Maggie Smith swap wizarding advice, and introduce a performance from Cirque de Soleil paying tribute to Visual Effects.

The presentation is actually really well put together, with clips on screen being mirrored by the various circus skills.

Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire present the Best Visual Effects award.

It’s won by Fellowship of the Ring.

Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw present the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

It’s presented to director Arthur Hiller.

Glenn Close is outside again.

Back to the studio. Dyan Cannon worked with Arthur Hiller, so is able to say what a nice man he is. And they look forward to another special award to Sidney Poitier, with an interview with Halle Berry on what he meant to actors of colour.

Glenn Close isn’t the only one who’s going walkabout. Donald Sutherland appears on a balcony, and the people sitting there don’t make the slightest reaction. These Hollywood people are so jaded.

Ben Kingsley introduces a lovely segment, in which John Williams conducts a specially arranged suite of some of the most memorable movie music.

This precedes the award for Best Score, presented by Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock, together, one presumes, to promote Two Weeks Notice, a film I enjoyed, but for which I cannot forgive the missing apostrophe.

The winner, unsurprisingly, is Howard Shore for Fellowship of the Ring. There’s a score that’s stood the test of time.

Next, it’s Denzel Washington, there to announce the honorary Oscar to Sidney Poitier.

It’s presented by producer Walter Mirisch, who produced In the Heat of the Night.

There’s a lovely film about Poitier’s career, including lots of performers talking about how Sidney’s career inspired them to work in the movies, because he proved it was possible. It’s quite moving.

Poitier gets a standing ovation, as you would expect.

After this, and another ‘my favourite film’ clip, I see Donald Sutherland has moved from the balcony to the outside. Nothing can stop him now.

Back to the BBC2 studio for another ad break, and it’s only Jonathan and Dyan Cannon. She’s a very good friend of Poitier, and says that he’s much the same at home as he is at the Oscars. Jonathan Ross can’t resist making a joke about Poitier’s six daughters, too.

The next presenters are Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts presenting Best Live Action Short Film.

This award was odd. The two credited nominees are Ray McKinnon, writer/director/star, and Lisa Blount, Executive Producer (and married to McKinnon). Lisa Blount might be familiar to fans of 80s horror, as she was in such classics as Dead and Buried and John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.

But when they go up to collect the award, they are joined by co-star Walton Goggins, also listed as a producer, and it’s the two men who get the statuettes. Even if it’s a mistake by the people handing the awards out, I’m still cross that he didn’t hand it on to the person actually named on the nomination.

Best Animated Short Film is won by For the Birds, a very worthy winner, received by its director Ralph Eggleston.

Next, Josh Hartnett announces the performances of the Best Original Song.

There’s Sting singing a song from Kate & Leopold.

Next, it’s only bloody Enya! I thought she never left her castle in Ireland. But here she is singing her song from Fellowship of the Ring.

Next, it’s Randy Newman and John Goodman performing “If I didn’t have you” from Monsters Inc.

Next, Faith Hill sings a fairly forgettable Diane Warren song from Pearl Harbor.

So that’s a fairly starry set of performers, you’d think. “Hold my beer” says Oscar, as the last performer is Paul McCartney. Although his song for Vanilla Sky is a long way from his best work.

To present the award for Best Song here’s Jennifer Lopez. I’ve no idea what her hair is doing, though.

Happily, the best song wins, for Randy Newman, and even more happily, it’s his first win in sixteen nominations – including one year where he got three nominations in three different categories for three different films. It’s a popular win, as he gets an ovation.

There’s another ‘favourite films’ clip – Clint Eastwood chooses The Oxbow Incident and Elton John chooses 2001 A Space Odyssey. Then it’s back to the BBC 2 Studio, where Jonathan and Dyan are joined by Greg Proops. This is a great segment, starting with Jonathan paying a $50 bet to Dyan Cannon because Sting kept his shirt on for the performance, then a discussion of Oscar hosts talks about Letterman’s less than stellar performance, and Proops wonders if it’s because he’s not famous worldwide. “Just you and Danny Baker know him in Britain” says Proops. And throughout this whole segment, Dyan Cannon is just sitting back and hooting with laughter. It’s really quite fun.

Next, the presenters are Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke, presenting the Screenplay awards.

There’s another travesty here, as Akiva Goldsman, writer of Batman and Robin, wins an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind. I guess it’s easier if he’s doing a biography, as he doesn’t have to make stuff up.

Incidentally, the real John Nash, subject of the movie, is in the audience.

I’m not sure the next winner is really a travesty. It’s Julian Fellowes for Gosford Park. It’s not that he’s a bad writer, just that he’s a curmudgeon, and probably shouldn’t be encouraged. If anybody remembers his BBC4 panel show Never Mind the Full Stops you’ll know what a grumpy git he is.

The next presenters are Sharon Stone and John Travolta. It’s the award for Best Foreign Language Film, which, as we now know, was probably a dangerous thing to give to Travolta (remember Adele Dazeem?)

The Oscar is won by Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nice to see an entire country is making films now.

Next to the stage is Kevin Spacey. He gets the audience to stand in silence for the people who died on September 11th, then introduces the In Memoriam reel, which never fails to make me sad, even all these years later.

Whoopi Goldberg introduces the next Best Picture nominee, Moulin Rouge. “And all of it done apparently without a director” she says, a reference to Baz Lurhmann not being nominated as director. In fact, two of the nominees didn’t get Director nominations, with In The Bedroom also missing out, but you can sort of see that. It’s hard to understand why a film like Moulin Rouge would get nominated without its director, since nothing in the film would exist without him. Although he probably got some comfort since his wife won two Oscars already, so he could borrow one of those if he needed to.

Next it’s Barbra Streisand, there to present another honorary Oscar.

Just as she finishes, the coverage switches from BBC2 to BBC1. It’s a good thing I was watching live. Just before the channel switches, we’re treated to something I’d tried my hardest to forget – there’s a few seconds of a terrible BBC advert for BBCi – what used to be BBC Online, and later became BBC New Media then BBC Future Media, and it’s probably had three more name changes since I left the BBC in 2013. I was working for BBCi at the time, and I was perpetually embarrassed by the terrible adverts that were created to advertise our services. This one is one of the worst – an advert for Red Button services, the digital replacement for ceefax. This was an abomination, with these creepy hands with heads on that just looked like deformed naked people. It was the stuff of nightmares.

I can imagine myself screaming and lunging for the remote to switch over at this point, scattering Pringles and Dips everywhere. But we get back to the ceremony for a film about Robert Redford. Then he receives his award. Of course he gets a standing ovation.


Next, it’s Russell Crowe announcing the Best Actress award. Sissy Spacek is the hot favourite.

But the surprise winner is Halle Berry, for Monsters Ball, a small indie movie. Here’s the face of someone who not only never expected her name to be called, but who knew, with certainty, that it never could be. A non-white actress has never won Best Actress until this moment. And on a night where Sidney Poitier was honored, this must have seemed like she was dreaming.

She’s overcome once again when she finally takes to the stage, receives her award, then there’s another standing ovation. In her speech she talks about her mother, who was sitting next to her.

It’s a speech that has become famous as one of the ‘crying’ speeches, but if you weren’t overcome by the history here, you’d have a heart of stone. After 74 years, it’s about fucking time.

Then, it’s back to BBC2 as Jonathan and Greg Proops discuss the award. And this is where this tape runs out.

Here’s the Jonathan Ross bits from the whole show (including the last bits on another tape, so spoilers for that). That tape is not coming up until later this year.

I hope you didn’t eat too many Pringles, and sorry about that length. But (thus far) this was one of the better years, with plenty of great moments, and not many moments of cringe.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th March 2002 – 00:45

Blackadder Goes Forth – tape 996

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Blackadder Goes Forth, and if I’d found out that fact earlier, I would probably have fiddled with the order of these entries. But it was not to be, so a day late, Happy Birthday Blackadder.

There’s an older recording at the start of this, with the Channel 4 announcer talking about “the role of sexual morality in films today”. Clearly not sexy enough for me to want to keep, as it’s overwritten by the first episode of Blackadder Goes Forth. The numbering of this tape suggests this must be a repeat run from 1990, and the brief segment of continuity before episode 2 says “another chance to witness…” so I wonder if my recordings of the original run were a bit poor and I re-recorded them this time. I absolutely would have recorded them first time around – I have a vivid memory of watching the end of episode 6, at least – so poor reception might have been the reason.

Episode One is Captain Cook. I do like the title font, which echoes the kind of typography in propaganda material of the time.

Blackadder is asked if he can find an artist to paint a cover for King and Country. If I were to list all the things I like about the show it would be a complete transcript, but some lines are favourites. “They have all the artistic talent of a cluster of colour-blind hedgehogs… in a bag.” It’s the pause that really sells it.

“Would you like some Rat au Vin? It’s Rat that’s been run over by a van.”

BBC Genome: BBC One – 14th November 1990 – 21:30

Blackadder Goes ForthCorporal Punishment

Blackadder is trying to avoid advancing across no man’s land. After phone calls and telegrams, a Carrier Pigeon is sent. Blackadder shoots it, which is unfortunate because the shooting of carrier pigeons is now a court-martial offence.

Of course, Baldrick and George can’t keep a secret. “He most certainly did not eat this delicious, plump-breasted pigeon.”

Jeremy Hardy makes an appearance as a prison guard. Makes me sad that he’s dead.

There’s a really odd audio dub when Blackadder is talking about the lawyer he wants to represent him. The name used here is Bob Massingberd, but every line containing that name is a dub, because there’s no studio background noise so the line sounds different. I’m assuming that they had to change the original name, probably for legal reasons. I’m not a lip reader, so I can’t tell what name he’s actually saying, but the syllables match. Also, the name Massingberd-Massingberd is used in a later episode, so I presume they picked a name that had been cleared. Dpes anyone know the true story behind this dub?

Stephen Fry is particularly good in the court martial scene. Tim McInnerney’s Captain Darling is uniformly excellent, of course. He’s so good you tend to forget how good.

The Firing Squad is played by three members of The Wow Show, Stephen Frost, Lee Cornes and Paul Mark Elliott. I would presume Mark Arden was busy, because the fourth member of the squad is Jeremy Gittins. I see from his bio he appeared in Lazarus and Dingwall, another Wow Show connection. He even appeared in the Doctor Who episode Warrior’s Gate.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st November 1990 – 21:30

The next episode is Major Star, and features the return of a favourite character from Blackadder II, Gabrielle Glaister as ‘Bob’. I like that they don’t bother to do the same joke, but have Blackadder know immediately that she’s a girl.

George is a good female impersonator. “She was only an ironmonger’s daughter, but she knew a surprising amount about fish, too” is one of my favourite lines. I don’t know why.

I like the running gag about Blackadder hating Charlie Chaplin. And Baldrick’s Chaplin impersonation by putting his pet slug on his top lip.

Another magnificent Melchett/Darling scene, as Melchett practices the speech he’s going to give to Georgina, and Darling keeps misinterpreting. Comedy gold. Darling’s name is the gift that keeps on giving. Always gets a laugh.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 28th November 1990 – 21:30

Next, it’s Private Plane. Yes, it’s time for Flasheart.

I’ve tried to analyse why it is that Lord Flasheart is so beloved, when he’s clearly a horrible person who would unbearable in real life, and all I can come up with is, because he’s Rik Mayall. And he’s such an exaggeration that he can only be funny.

I once got in to a little bit of trouble because of Flasheart. I was helping someone produce a magazine about Lift Engineering (I know, but it was their speciality) because I’d worked on a Desktop Publishing package for the Acorn Archimedes called Impression. One page was a sponsored page by a manufacturer, and one of the photos was of someone standing next to a huge piece of machinery. So naturally, as a caption, I suggested “Hey girls, look at my machinery” because it was a Flasheart quote. The advertisers weren’t happy with that. Oops.

Does anyone know if these flying scenes were shot specially for the show? The dialogue fits the shots, especially this one of Baldrick ‘arsing about’, but dialogue can always be written to fit existing footage.

When they’re captured, Blackadder’s captor is played by Hugo Blick. He was a familiar name to me, as he played the young Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman. He’s now a lot better known as a Writer/Director, with stuff like Marion & Geoff and The Shadow Line.

But the best cameo is from Ade Edmondson as the Red Baron. This predates Bottom so a Rik and Ade reunion was actually quite exciting. And in a Ben Elton series too.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 5th December 1990 – 21:30

Next, it’s General Hospital, and we get yet another returning Blackadder performer, Miranda Richardson, playing a nurse.

George is in hospital, and there’s a spy leaking secrets from there. Suspicion falls on the only other patient, a man with a thick German accent played by Bill Wallis, who will always be remembered by me as the voice of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Melchett is taking security seriously.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 12th December 1990 – 21:30

All of which brings us, finally, to Goodbyee. I wonder if the opening scenes were shot live, with all the rain?

George’s litany of all his schoolfriends who are now dead is very funny, yet also strangely moving. I particularly like the names “Drippy and Strangely-Brown.”

Blackadder has gone mad. In order to avoid going over the top.

Blackadder explains the beginnings of the war. Ending with the classic line “There was a tiny flaw in the plan.” “What was that, sir?” “It was bollocks.”

There’s a beautiful payoff to Baldrick’s ad-hoc coffee ingredients, as he serves Captain Darling. “Ah, cappuccino”.

“Hear the words I sing/War’s a horrid thing/So I sing sing sing/dingalingaling”

The scene where Melchett tells Darling he’s being posted to the front line gets positively gothic at the end.

There’s a cameo appearance from Geoffrey Palmer as Field Marshal Haig.

Then, the big push comes, and the whole tone switches with George’s line “I’m scared, sir”. It’s at this point I started crying, and basically didn’t stop, even when the jokes keep coming. “How are you feeling, Darling?” gets a big laugh, but that joke gets a laugh every single time it’s deployed.

There’s time for one more fake-out, as the guns stop, and hope rises just a smidge, until Darling’s line “The Great War: 1914 to 1917” which tells us what’s really happening before Blackadder spells it out.

Then there’s the very final scene. It’s fascinating to hear the account of the shooting of this on a later documentary, where this fairly complex scene was scheduled for the last thing on a shooting day, and they couldn’t go over time at all. In the end, they only managed to grab one shot (from two cameras) and that’s what you see here, and thar’s also why the shot is slowed down enormously, almost to 1 frame per second, because all they had was a couple of seconds, from two angles. But if I’m honest, at this point I can barely see I’m crying so much, and I don’t really want to see these characters I love actually get brutally cut down (Blake’s 7 I’m looking at you) so perhaps it’s best the scheduling didn’t work.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 19th December 1990 – 21:30

The tape ends right after this episode. I clearly wasn’t messing around for this one.

Inspector Morse – Very Special Effects – tape 978

This tape opens with Inspector MorseService of All The Dead. As commenter Simon Skupham said recently, “A lot of Morse lately – watch out, Whately!”

It’s Murder in the Vicarage – or rather in the Vestry at the back of the church. A man called Harry Josephs is brutally stabbed with a cross-shaped letter opener, just after he’s brought the collection into the vestry.

Two of the congregation there identify the body, while the victim’s wife is sobbing in the church. One of them is a woman, and Morse is very solicitous. “I Expect you want to go home now” he says in his kind, caring way, so you just know that he’ll be slobbering over her soon, and also the odds are higher that she’s the guilty party.

The priest, Lionel Pawlen, was the only one at the time who saw anything, and it was he who discovered the body. He also thought he saw a local vagrant, ‘Swanee’ at around the same time, but nobody can seem to track him down. Pawlen is played by John Normington – another actor with a Doctor Who past, having memorably played Morgus in The Caves of Androzani (and, less memorably, Trevor Sigma in The Happiness Patrol).

Sure enough, Morse is already hanging around the witness, Ruth Rawlinson (Angela Morant). “Yes, I like music. Not church choirs so much…” “Jazz? Humphrey Lyttleton? George Melly?” “…Music.” That’s a bit of a sick burn from Ruth accusing Morse of liking Jazz.

The victim was a gambler, and suspected of taking money from the collection – not hard because he was the church warden and responsible for counting it. And Morse hears from forensic examiner Max, telling him the victim had a stomach full of morphine, so was probably dead before the stabbing. So the mystery becomes how could he have been administered morphine while Mass was going on.

Investigating the victim’s gambling habit, they visit the betting shop and talk to a young Gina McKee, who I only recognised from her voice.

After a long scene where Morse and Lewis watch mass, trying to see when or if the Morphine could have been given during the communion without affecting anybody else, Morse sees the priest talking to a young boy, the son of one of the witnesses, an organist. So Morse and Lewis start wondering if the priest has something he might have wanted covering up.

Lewis goes to ask the organist some more questions, to find that the wife of the victim appears to be living there now.

Morse talks to the local Bishop to get the dirt on Pawlin. “There was never a shred of evidence” about events in his last parish, says the Bishop, played by Harold Innocent.

Morse arrives at the church to ask Pawlin more questions, particularly about his brother. He goes back into the church to change, but then climbs to the top of the church and throws himself off the roof, landing on Ruth’s bicycle. It’s quite a striking shot.

Michael Hordern makes an appearance as a former teacher of the priest Pawlin, and who has some insight into him, and his mysterious younger brother Simon Oliver Pawlin. He took to drinking, and nobody knows where he’s got to. Morse begins to suspect that he was the mysterious vagrant Swanee.

Morse and Lewis have to climb the church tower, and Morse is not coping well with his fear of heights.

But the visit was worth it, because Lewis spots another dead body. It’s the church organist, the one with the little boy.

After identifying another body, Ruth is taken home by Morse, and he takes the opportunity to give her a little kiss. Is there anything more cringey than Morse’s fawning over every woman he ever meets? But if she’s a little reluctant, it might be because in her house is a mystery man we don’t see, but with whom she’s obviously very close.

Morse has a brainwave and searches the church crypt, to find the son of the dead organist under a pile of coke.

And somewhere else, the first victim’s widow appears to be dead in a rowboat.

Morse thinks there’s going to be another murder at the church, and hides in wait. Ruth arrives to clean the church, and a man talks to her, then starts to strangle her with his tie. Morse intervenes, but he gets a bit beaten up since the mane is a bit younger than he is. Then, of course, the fight moves to the church tower. I have to say, Morse doesn’t really do big fights very well – the character or the show. It’s all a lot of effort.

Luckily, Lewis is looking out for him, and clobbers the murderer with a candlestick like a character from Cleudo. And he wanders slowly to the edge of the tower, and topples off, also very slowly. And they must have blown their stunt budget, because we don’t even get a fall, we get a close-up of his body turning in slow motion against a blurred background that could be anything. I said Morse wasn’t great at action, and this rather underlines that.

Unusually for a Morse, there’s about fifteen minutes of the programme left, because the plot of this episode is so twisted. Although I guessed one twist right at the start. Because the first victim wasn’t the church warden everyone said it was, it was the priest’s vagrant brother, who had conspired with everyone else in the church at the start in order to make a new life for himself because of his gambling debts and his wife leaving him for the organist. Not much of a new life, since he hung around to murder everyone else. So we’re treated to an inquest, with more explanations of the plot, and Morse even lies under oath, saying that he heard Ruth telling the murderer that she was going to the police, causing him to attack her, hoping to mitigate her likely sentence for being an accessory to murder.

There’s even a sad goodbye in jail as Morse tells her that 18 months will positively fly by.

After this, recording switches to ITV, and in yet another strange coincidence, we get the end of a Brian De Palma film, after Blow Out yesterday. It’s the end of Carrie, one of the classic horror film endings.

Then there’s an ITN bulletin, leading with some nasty IRA bombings and political upheaval in the crumbling Soviet Union.

This is followed by a fun programme, Very Special Effects. It’s a French programme, but with English narration, featuring a lot of behind the scenes stuff, and interviews with some special effects artists. There’s some well known names (if not familiar faces). Mark B Wolf shows a creature from Doctor Strange. Not that one, a TV movie from the 80s.

Kenny Myers has done a lot of stuff, here talking about Return of the Living Dead part II.

Director Gary Sherman talks about Poltergeist III and how most of the mirror effects in the movie were done live on set, and not optically.

Randy Cook demonstrates one of his stop motion models, while smoking a pipe.

And did you ever wonder what the Chiodo brothers look like? Here’s one of them, Charlie, demonstrating a Critter.

Doug Bradley appears being made up as Pinhead for Hellbound.

Robert Englund muses on the strange appeal of Freddie Krueger.

The programme ends with a segment on CGI. There’s a lot of late 80s CG here, but one interesting part is about this advert that’s shown quite a lot in CG showcases of this time.

What’s interesting is that they have some of the reference footage they used to create this CG woman. This is really early motion capture, probably all digitised by hand.

I love these little time capsules of the state of the art. Here’s the whole thing, hoping I don’t get too many copyright strikes for the film clips and music.

After this, there’s quite a bit of an episode of Videofashion! Monthly. I think my eyes have been burned out by the horribly saturated picture for some of this.

The tape ends during this.


  • Guinness
  • Daily Star
  • Black & Decker
  • Milton Keynes
  • Girobank
  • Blend 37
  • Evian
  • The TImes
  • Kleenex
  • Compaq
  • Courts
  • Midland Exchequer
  • Red Mountain
  • Hamlet
  • Sun Valley
  • Lavazza
  • London Underground
  • Mentadent P
  • Nat West
  • Daily Express
  • Mars
  • Party Time
  • Alpen
  • Jimi Hendrix – Cornerstones
  • Halifax
  • Pedigree Chum
  • Tetley
  • Canary Wharf
  • Wall’s Dream
  • Abbey National
  • Chatback
  • Jif
  • Kensington Fashion Fair
  • Kellogg’s Common Sense Oat Bran Flakes
  • Sony Discman – Emo Phillips

Blow Out – tape 1020

On this tape, it’s Brian De Palma’s Blow Out. (as usual, I’ll be going through the whole plot, so if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know how it ends, maybe skip the end of this blog.)

With De Palma you usually know what you’re getting, usually. This one is, I would say, slightly more serious than some, although it opens with the cheesiest long tracking shot around a sorority house, complete with heavy breathing on the soundtrack, half naked girls dancing around in the windows, and ending with the killer approaching a woman in the shower, knife raised. But this is a film within the film, a deliberately cheesy horror film, and there a problem with the terrible scream of the actress playing the girl.

John Travolta plays Jack, the sound effects guy on the movie, and he’s asked by the director to go out and get some better sound effects, rather than just the library wind effects. And to replace that scream.

I like all the tape recording hardware that’s used as the credits roll, split screen with news reports about the local governor possibly running for president, and the forthcoming Liberty Day parade. So we know both stories will be important to the plot of the movie.

Jack goes out to record some environmental sounds, standing on a high bridge with a directional microphone. This is a great scene, as he picks up people taking by the river, animals making sounds, a strange buzzing noise that I thought was a fisherman casting, which takes on significance later, even an owl, although the wretched Pan & Scan loses the beautiful split-focus shot of Jack and the owl.

While recording, he hears a bang, and the sound of a car losing control and plunging into the river. He runs down and jumps in. The driver appears to be dead, but there’s a woman in the back of the car as it’s filling up. He manages to smash the window and pull her out.

But when he’s interviewed at the hospital, he learns that the man in the car was Governor McRyan, the one who might have run for President, and his people pressure Jack to keep quiet about the woman, who wasn’t his wife. The woman is Sally, played by Nancy Allen, and because nobody cares about her and they all want her to just go away, he has to take her home. She’s still groggy from the sedatives they gave her at the hospital, so he helps her inside and puts her to bed safely.

He waits in her room as she sleeps, listening to his tape of the accident, listening to the actual blow out, which he is sure was two sounds, a gunshot and a tire blow out. At least this time the BBC are kind enough to frame the shot so we can see it all.

Meanwhile, someone is breaking in to the police lock-up where the governor’s vehicle is being kept, and replacing the shot out tyre.

Jack learns that someone had some film of the accident. It’s Dennis Franz, who sold the film to a magazine.

They must have a really quick publishing schedule, because Jack is able to buy a copy of the magazine immediately, and they’ve printed lots of frames from the film. He cuts them out, makes a flick-book, then makes a movie on the studio’s animation stand, although he has to wait for the film to be processed. I love the minutiae of various aspects of film production being used totally organically here. Everything so far has been completely plausible.

Jack gets to know Sally better. My one quibble with the film is Sally as a character. In De Palma’s previous film Dressed To kill she’d played a really smart character (albeit a hooker) but Sally is very naive character, and if feels like a regressive step.

We learn a bit about Jack’s tragic back story, in which he was working with the authorities, putting a wire on a policeman to get evidence about corrupt cops, but when the cop starts sweating, and the battery pack on his wire starts shorting, it gives the game away, the cop is killed.

Meanwhile again, the man who changed the tyre on the crashed car is looking for Sally. Another trademark split focus shot there. We still haven’t seen this guy’s face.

He follows her out of the mall, to a bus stop, then he grabs her and tumbles down into a building site, strangling her. But when he turns her over, it’s not Sally (although I couldn’t really tell, as dead people on the ground are impossible to accurately identify, as I’ve complained before). So he starts stabbing her. It’s in this scene we see his face, and it’s John Lithgow. I love John Lithgow. He can play anything brilliantly, and here (as we shall see) he’s utterly terrifying.

We learn that Sally knows Manny (Dennis Franz) who was the guy who happened to be filming the crash. She was hired to create a scandal around the governor, to quash his presidential ambitions, but the car crash was unplanned.

More lovely analogue editing porn. I am in awe that any movies ever got made.

Jack tries to get the police to look at his film made from the stills from the magazine, as he believes it shows a gunshot. But he sounds like a conspiracy theorist, and the detective isn’t convinced.

Evil Lithgow, whose name, we learn, is Burke, reports back to his superiors. And we also learn that he’s gone way off piste, as an assassination was never the plan, although it was Lithgow’s original suggestion. “We rejected that plan, don’t you remember?” “Of course I do but I had to exceed the parameters of my authority somewhat… After all, the objective was achieved. He was eliminated from the election.”

There’s a mesmerising rotating shot of Jack as he finds that all the audio tapes in his studio have been wiped, The camera is rotating around the centre of the studio as he becomes more and more frantic, opening boxes of tapes and playing them on lots of different machines.

Jack is visited by Frank Donohue, a TV reporter who’s heard about the tape and wants to run it with his film on the news, but Jack thinks nobody will believe it, they’ll just think he made the tape in his studio.

He shows it to Sally, who thinks it’s convincing, but Jack is at a low point, having had all his tapes erased, and discovered Sally’s part in the blackmail plot, so he doesn’t trust her now. So Sally goes to see Manny to ask him about the film. Manny gets rapey, so she knocks him out with a bottle, then takes his original film.

The gunshot is far clearer on the film, so now Jack thinks they have a shot convincing people. He phones Donohue and agrees to go on his show, but doesn’t want to expose Sally. Unfortunately, Burke is taping his phone calls. I love the symmetry, as we now see Burke listening on headphones in the same way that Jack has done throughout the film.

Having intercepted their calls, Burke blocks Jack from receiving any more calls from Donohue, and then calls Sally pretending to be Donohue, and sets up a meeting at the train station. Jack is suspicious, but decides to let Sally go to the meeting, and he’ll put a wire on her, and be listening from just outside the station. Hasn’t he remembered his tragic back story? This is a terrible idea.

While waiting at the station, Burke picks up a prostitute (who also looks remarkably like Sally – so much so that I was confused about why Sally was turning tricks at the station. My inability to differentiate between similar looking young people is exacerbated by the film’s deliberate casting and hair choices. This woman is also brutally killed by Burke, just because he’s got some spare time. He’s using the deaths of the girls to make it look like there’s a serial killer – which obviously there is – so that when he kills Sally, which is his ultimate plan, she’ll just be included in the victims, and nothing will tie her to the death of the governor. It’s possible that Lithgow’s Burke is the most terrifying villain ever.

We also find out something that was seeded right from the start. He starts fiddling with his watch, and pulls out a thin razor wire garotte from it. As he fiddles, pulling it out and letting it retract, it’s the same buzzing sound that Jack recorded on the night of the car crash, but which was never identified. It was never even mentioned by anyone in the film, it’s purely there for viewers of the film.

Sally goes to the station to meet Burke. He’s charming, and because Sally has never met Donohue, she’s none the wiser. Jack is suspicious though. I really wish Jack had just gone with Sally – he knows Donohue, there should have been no problem with them all meeting. But that was never suggested, because otherwise the film’s whole climax would never have happened. It’s a small bump in an otherwise smooth plot.

Burke pretends he’s worried about being followed, and takes Sally to the platform. He’s obviously intending to kill her there in a dark corner, but there’s someone cleaning where he intended to go, so he changes plans and takes her on the train to a station in the middle of the big Liberty Day parade. So Jack has to get in the car and race through the city. I have to admit, this car chase does defy credulity, as Jack bursts through barriers, drives round and round in areas with a lot of police marshalling the crowds, even drives through the parade route at speed, and manages not to collide with any marchers. It’s exciting but far fetched.

But he eventually comes a cropper and crashes the car, knocked unconscious, and wakes up in the back of an ambulance – not handcuffed, luckily. He puts his earpiece back in just as Burke is taking the tape and the film and throwing it in the river, which is when Sally knows something’s wrong. Burke starts grabbing her, she’s screaming and struggling, fireworks are going off, and Jack has to try to find them in all the crowds – my assumption here is that he’s using the time difference between the sound of fireworks he can hear, and what he can hear in his earpiece to gauge his distance. Luckily he’s not to far from where they are. Will he get there in time?

The film goes into De Palma’s trademark slow motion, and Pino Donaggio’s typically lush, dramatic score is pounding away, as Jack is racing to save Sally. And he arrives just as Burke is raising his knife, grabs him and kills him with his own knife. But it’s too late. Sally is already dead.

Some time later, we see Jack listening to the tape of that night, listening to Sally joking with him as she walks to meet Burke. A news report tells us that it’s assumed that Sally managed to kill her attacker before she died, and the attacker’s name has not been released. Then we’re back in the screening room, where the shower scene from the start of the movie is playing, and the director is delighted with the new scream Jack’s dubbed on. It’s Sally’s scream. The final shot, of Jack sitting there, mumbling about what a great scream it is, then plugging his ears to shut it out, is one of the saddest final shots I can think of.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th June 1990 – 22:25

After this, there’s a trailer for World Cup Grandstand. A brief weather update.

Then, a scary public information film. And then Andy Taylor wishes us good night, as BBC 1 closes down.


Star Trek – Wayne’s World – The Late Show – tape 966

Over to BBC2, and jumping forward a bit, so I think this tape must have had something else on it previously, given its numbering.

It’s the second pilot episode of Star TrekWhere No Man Has Gone Before, instantly recognisable by the terrible uniforms, and Spock’s angle of eyebrow. Plus, there’s no “Space The Final Frontier” narration, and a different arrangement of the theme music.

The Enterprise intercepts a distress beacon from another ship, and follows it to the edge of the known galaxy, which of course is some kind of energy barrier. It zaps a couple of crewmembers. One is a doctor, played by Sally Kellerman.

The other is Lt Gary Mitchell, played by Gary Lockwood (who would go on to appear in 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Mitchell starts reading pages on the computer at a faster and faster rate. Interesting that their computer screens look like a microfiche.

There’s a lovely matte painting.

Along with the old uniforms, there’s an old Phaser.

It’s Roddenberry’s favourite story, the omnipotent but capricious being, as Mitchell becomes super-powerful and of course turns into a monster.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th September 1992 – 18:00

The next episode is The Naked Time, which was remade as an early Next Generation episode, and rewatching this, it’s even more shocking how much they just ripped off from it.

Spock and another crewman beam down to a planet where there’s a science team, to find them all frozen, as the planet is dying. Notice the hazmat suits, that they never bothered with ever again. (well, almost never).

I’m not sure quite what the suits are for, though. It can’t be the cold, because the other crewman takes his glove off to scratch his nose, which would be rather dangerous if the temperatures were really low. And what is the point of wearing the suit if you’re just going to take it off when your nose itches? Starfleet training is deficient here.

The plot of this episode is that there’s some kind of infectious agent that gets picked up by Mr Nogloves here, and is passed around the crew when they return to the ship, which makes people behave erratically. I do like the running gag as Lt Riley, who’s Oirish, locks himself in Engineering and keeps singing ‘I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen’ over the ship’s intercom, and Kirk can’t turn it off. This is one of the plot points lifted directly into the TNG remake, except there it’s Wesley, and he doesn’t sing.

Famously, Sulu goes fencing, one of the unforgettable images of the series, probably because they used it as an end credits still for ages. And when he finally subdues hi with a neck pinch, Spock has the line “Take D’Artagnan here to sickbay” which is a surprisingly funny line for him.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 16th September 1992 – 18:00

Before the next episode there’s the end of The Innovative Kyoto Chef and a trailer for Top Gear.

Then, another Star TrekThe Enemy Within. Sulu’s got a new pet.

There’s a transporter malfunction, which splits Kirk into two different people. One gentle, one evil. You can tell he’s evil because he’s lit from below.

There’s quite an unpleasant scene where evil Kirk assaults Yeoman Rand. Then, because good Kirk has no idea of his doppleganger, there’s a scene where Rand is insisting that Kirk attacked her, and him claiming truthfully that he didn’t do it. It all feels very modern and MeToo in a way. Although it’s sad that they have to have a male eyewitness to corroborate her story, rather than believing her by default. But since that still seems to be the case I can’t blame them in the 60s.

Down on the planet, Sulu and the landing party are starting to freeze, because the transporter malfunction means it’s too dangerous to beam them up, so they have to use phasers to heat up the rocks. I always liked this idea when I was 6.

Kirk shot first!

This is a good, very modern-feeling retelling of quite an old story. It’s effectively Jekyll and Hyde if they could meet each other. It’s not surprising it was written by Richard Matheson, a veteran SF screenwriter.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd September 1992 – 18:00

There’s a trailer for Friday on BBC2. And one for The Rough Guide to Careers.

Then, an episode of Wayne’s World – well, a segment taken from Saturday Night Live. Featuring Ed O’Neill as the driver’s ed teacher.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd September 1992 – 18:50 (for all of DEF II)

Then recording switches to part of an episode of The Late Show featuring a nice interview with Stan Lee.

I thought I couldn’t link to Genome because the listings for The Late Show are almost useless, and this segment only has a generic trailer for Building Sights after it, until I spotted that Sarah Dunant says that tomorrow’s programme was a Michael Powell special, and that one is listed in the Radio Times, so that places this excerpt on the same day as the Star Trek episode.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd September 1992 – 23:15

After this, there’s the aforementioned trailer for Building Sights Europe, then the recording stops.

Underneath, there’s about 15 minutes of The Rough Guide to Careers looking at careers in Europe. It’s all Europe these days. Such an optimistic time.

John Sessions Solo – Beecham – Edinburgh Nights – tape 989

A few more unusual programmes are on today’s tape, starting with John Sessions Solo. Unlike his ‘On The Spot’ series, which was improvised, this is a scripted one man show, performed at the Donmar Warehouse (and directed by Kenneth Branagh). I have to give him points for starting with a reference to Horizon and a namecheck for regular Horizon narrator Paul Vaughan, but I’m skeptical as this starts. It starts with various references to West Germany, with every German phrase greeting with huge laughter from the audience.

The early material about Germans seemed a bit odd to me, and then I looked at Sessions’ wikipedia page and discovered that he was a UKIP supporter, and suddenly the whole thing takes on a slightly more unpleasant tone. Particularly when he starts doing a bit on the recording of West Side Story with Bernstein, Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras, where his treatment of Carreras is just horribly racist.

But he’s clearly putting a lot into it, as by the end, he’s sweating rather profusely.

After this, another one-man show – well, one man and the Halle Orchestra show, as Timothy West plays the conductor Thomas Beecham rehearsing with an orchestra. It’s full of all the ‘bon mots’ Beecham was apparently famous for. “Beethoven’s last quartets were written by a deaf man. And in my opinion should only be listened to by a deaf man.”

There is another character, the narrator, played by Terry Wale, who plays Beecham’s music librarian, and tells the story of Beecham’s life, interspersed with short pieces of music.

This is a lot of fun. He’s a curmudgeon, but nobody does curmudgeon like Timothy West, and the music is also lovely. I wonder if the music was recorded separately, so that while Timothy West is conducting it doesn’t matter if the players get a bit lost.

Here’s the whole thing. I found someone else’s recording, but the quality isn’t good and it’s split into 9 sections. So this one’s mine.


After this, recording switches to BBC2 and Edinburgh Nights an episode of the series looking at what’s happening at the Edinburgh Festival. I recorded this one because it starts with an interview with John Landis, as the film festival is putting on a retrospective of his career. “I’ve only made 14 movies” he protests.

They’re driving around in a left hand drive car, and that seatbelt doesn’t look very safe on Tracey Macleod’s arm, so it’s a relief at the end when the artifice of the shoot is revealed.

There’s also a piece about a play telling the stories of homeless people.

Clive Anderson looks at the journalists who cover the festival.

There’s a musical piece called Busqueda, about the Disappeared of Argentine, with narration by Diana Rigg.

The programme finishes with a piece by the Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma, called Why Does Night Come Mother? It’s very modern.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 16th August 1990 – 23:15

The tape ends just as this programme finishes.

In the ad breaks, there’s an advert for Schweppes Slimline Tonic Water featuring John Cleese extolling the Citric Bite of the beverage. There was a series of these, all of them very simple and cheap looking, that then culminated in a ludicrous, glossy ad shot on a beach.


  • N&P
  • St Ivel Shape
  • trail: Almost You
  • Kenco
  • Western Union Money Transfer
  • Natrel Plus
  • Schweppes Slimline Tonic Water – John Cleese
  • Light Philadelphia
  • Renault
  • Powergen
  • Right Guard
  • Labatt’s – Tony Slattery
  • Daily Telegraph – Anthony Andrews, Terence Alexander
  • BT – Maureen Lipman
  • Tennent’s Pilsner
  • Braun Silkepil
  • St Ivel Shape
  • McDonalds
  • Piat D’Or
  • Dulux
  • Fruitini
  • Gillette Sensor
  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup – Matt LeBlanc
  • Lonsdale VW
  • N&P
  • Schweppes Slimline Tonic Water – John Cleese
  • Carling Black Label

Nicholas Craig – The Naked Actor – Nicholas Craig’s Interview Masterclass – Monty Python’s Flying Circus – tape 1003

I really like Nigel Planer and Christopher Douglas’ Nicholas Craig shows. They’re short, full of great little archive clips, and affectionately laughs at the pretensions of actors. I must have liked them as I even bought the book they wrote to go with it.

Episode 1: Actorship has loads of tiny clips from interviews of actors, and it works beautifully. The research on this must have been fun.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd November 1990 – 22:10

Episode 2 is about Authenticity, so naturally Nicholas will be talking about how he loves the challenge of a Northern part.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 29th November 1990 – 22:10

Episode 3 – Climbing the Mountain – is about rehearsals, and shows us the BBC’s rehearsal rooms in Acton.

I particularly like the bit on crouching. “Jonathan Miller’s instructional video ‘Learning to Crouch’ has been an actor’s stocking filler for more than a dozen Christmases now.” complete with a clip of Jonathan Miller being poked in the back with a broom and stepping forward in slow motion. I think this is actually from Miller’s The Body In Question, but it’s a brilliant bit of repurposing.

Nicholas Craig – The Naked Actor3: Climbing the Mountain

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 6th December 1990 – 22:10

Next it’s Telly!

Nicholas Craig – The Naked Actor4: Telly!

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th December 1990 – 22:10

Finally, the all important Awards technique

Nicholas Craig – The Naked Actor5: Awards

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th December 1990 – 22:10

That was the last in the series, but there’s an extra edition just after Christmas in which Nicholas gives some useful tips for any actor appearing on a chat show.

Nicholas Craig’s Interview Masterclass

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th December 1990 – 15:45

Next, a couple of episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The first one has a very long spoof of a French art film, followed by an even longer sketch about and American film company filming Scott of the Antarctic in Paignton. Even for the Pythons, the sexism of Carol Cleveland’s role, although giving her a lot more to do than she often gets, had her as the stereotypical stupid American actress. It undercut some of the comedy, I thought, like her having to be in a trench when the actor was standing on boxes. Which reminded me of Tom Cruise in The Colour of Money the other day, and how every time there was a full body shot of him, the heels of his shoes seemed noticeably higher than normal, and once I’d noticed I couldn’t unsee it.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th January 1991 – 21:00

The next episode contains the sketch I mentioned in a recent blog about Inspector Morse, about the whodunnit written by a trainspotter.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus24

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 11th January 1991 – 21:00

After this, the recording stops, and underneath, there’s part of an episode of Behind the Headlines. It’s a political discussion programme, presented by Paul Boateng (who stood for parliament in Hemel Hempstead in 1983, the first one I ever voted in, for him) and Jeffrey Archer. They’re not the regular hosts, as they mention tomorrow’s episode hosted by Sandi Toksvig and Stephanie Calman.

It’s an interesting discussion we drop into, about Europe (what else?) and talk of John Major and the ‘Hard Ecu’. Remember when the Euro didn’t exist, and people were still talking about the Ecu, a sort of fake currency that opther European countries could link their own currency to. Although I’m probably getting the economics wrong, as I failed Economics at University. Three times. Not a real science.

There’s also a discussion about what happens to Nato, now that the Warsaw Pact no longer really exists, and should the west join in with Eastern Europe who, Jeffrey Archer keeps stressing, are our traditional enemies.

This edition: BBC Two – 7th December 1990 – 00:05 (a run on recording from episode 3 of Nicholas Craig.)

After this, there’s a trailer for The Cotton Club and a look at programmes for Friday.

Then, Peter Bolgar wishes us a very good night as BBC 2 closes down.

Harry Enfield’s Television Programme – Your Cheatin’ Heart – tape 1005

There’s a brief flash of Terry Wogan at the start of this tape.

Then, the first episode of the first series of Harry Enfield’s Television Programme. The Old Gits are so Brexit.

Tim Nicebutdim meets Neil Pearson who’s a war correspondent.

Mr Grayson presents an informative look at what life will be like in 1990, including mobile telephones.

Wayne gets Waynetta a car for her birthday. “What you wanna get a brown one for?”

The politicians want their breakfast. I thought their housekeeper was vaguely familiar, but it wasn’t until the credits rolled that I realised it was Caroline John – Liz Shaw from Jon Pertwee’s first season as Doctor Who.

Charlie Higson appears in a sketch with the Double-Take brothers

I had completely forgotten about the Palace of Righteous Justice. Nathaniel Parker plays Fire-Man.

Doon Mackichan plays Mr You-don’t-want-to-do-that’s daughter.

Sean Pertwee is his son in law.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th November 1990 – 21:00

Before the next episode there’s some Top Gear. It always seems to be about rally driving.

There’s a trailer for 40 Minutes.

Then, episode 2 of Harry Enfield’s Television Programme. There’s what is presumably the first appearance of Smashie and Nicey. I think it’s possible that Smashie and Nicey are the greatest comic characters ever created.

Mr You-don’t-want-to-do-that helps with the barbecue.

The Old Gits are in a charity shop.

Doctor Dolittle can talk to the animals. “Now say bollocks”. Short but very funny.

First appearance for Kevin, or “Little Brother” as he’s introduced here. This is before he regenerated into a teenager. And at this point his mother is played by Caroline Quentin, with no lines.

The Bores are another astutely observed pair. I’ve known people almost exactly like this. “So, what are we driving at the moment?”

Lee and Lance help out an undertaker

Behind the scenes at Radio 4. I wish today’s R4 held politicians to account as well as this.

At the Palace of Righteous Justice, they have to visit the bank manager to get a loan for a new house.

The politicians’ housekeeper is having a baby.

The Slobs are having their baby Frogmella Christened. “It’s exotic.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th November 1990 – 21:00

After this, recording continues with a trailer for Nicholas Craig – The Naked Actor.

Then the start of an episode of 40 Minutes. A Summer in the Country is about Quantock, where they hunt stags on horseback, and the efforts by modern people to stop this ‘tradition’.

After a few minutes of horrible country folk, recording switches to BBC1 and the end of an episode of One Foot in the Grave.

There’s a trailer for a new series of Smith and Jones.

Then, at long last, Your Cheatin’ Heart Episode 6: The Last Round Up. They’re all at the seaside now. I’ve still no idea what anybody wants. There’s a lot of motorcyclists.

I love finding these locations on google maps. The Inversnecky Cafe is still there. They’ve got a big wheel now too.

John Gordon Sinclair’s Frank is trying to woo Tilda Swinton’s Cissie, despite her being there with her husband Dorwood who’s on the run from prison.

Writer John Byrne makes a brief appearance selling fish suppers.

Cissie gets to see her estranged little boy.

I’ve totally lost track of who this guy is, but he’s got all the drugs, and he appears to have given half of them to poor Helen Atkinson Wood.

Dorwood grabs him, and he’s soon lying in front of the tour bus for the touring American band that seems to be tied up with the drugs. I think, although it’s hard to follow as almost every significant event in this programme happens off screen.

Line Dancing – for when actual dancing is just too much like hard work.

What was I saying about everything happening offscreen? Ken Stott finds his van driven off the prom (with Cherokee George (Tom Watson) still in side, apparently.

Talking of Tom Watson, he’s got yet another role in this as ‘Aberdeen Matron’. They’re just taking the piss.

And it ends with a fucking montage of bits from previous episodes. I don’t have a single clue what the point of any of this was. I don’t know what any of the characters got out of it, except, perhaps, Dorwood, who killed the other drug guy. But I didn’t give a shit about him, so that doesn’t help me. This is almost willfully elliptical. I’m slightly angry at the lack of any dramatic resolution to anything. And it wasn’t funny.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 15th November 1990 – 22:00

After this, it’s back to actually funny comedy with another episode of Harry Enfield’s Television Programme.

The Slobs are watching football.

I love that the Palace of Righteous Justice has continuity.

The Bluff Yorkshireman is the new boss at an advertising agency. “No offence.”

Caroline Quentin and Arabella Weir play the wives of the Double-Take brothers.

“Dyin’ for it.”

Mr Grayson tells the story of Hitler.

Geoffrey Perkins plays a pediatrician.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd November 1990 – 21:00

Next, the final episode on this tape, the 9 O’Clock News presented by the Double-Take brothers.

The Old Gits do the Weather

More from Smashie and Nicey

Tim Nicebutdim is looking for a book. It’s “Fly Fishing” by J R Hartley.

Does that say ‘Moviedrone’?

It’s introduced by Wayne Slob David Bailey.

Poppet on a Swing is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the David Hemmings swinging London ‘classic’ Blow Up. Well that’s how I remember it.

The Politicians are going out.

The Open University of Real Life is presented by Lee and Lance

Have I noticed before that the Slobs have the Chinese Woman picture?

Sergei and Vincent are visiting Madame Tussauds

Little Brother is on a bus.

Mr You-don’t-want-to-do-that is in court.

There’s a post-credits sting, the most ambitious crossover event of the 90s.

Featuring the return of Stavros. Twice.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 29th November 1990 – 21:00

After this, recording stops, and underneath there’s an episode of Question Time. A Young Gordon Brown.

A regularly aged Kenneth Baker

The Bishop of Durham, often a punchline himself. I think he was the one who said he didn’t really believe in God. And when answering a question, he doesn’t seem to look up at the audience once.

Completing the quartet, the awful Mary Whitehouse, the Nigel Farage of her day, in that she was a single issue pressure group, and was never off the telly.

This programme ends (BBC One – 15th November 1990 – 22:50) and there’s a trailer for House of Cards.

There’s also a trailer for Match of the Day.

Then, there’s the start of an oddity – a short-lived (6 episodes) Eric Idle sitcom called Nearly Departed in which Idle and Caroline McWilliams (from Benson and Soap) are a couple who have died, and are now ghosts in their old house which is now home to another family. It’s Beetlejuice without Beetlejuice, basically. The theme tune is great, as it explains the entire premise. Textbook Idle.

The tape ends shortly into this episode, which appears to be the last in the series.



Quantum Leap – tape 1043

Over to BBC2 for a few early episodes of Quantum Leap starting with Double Identity. Sam leaps into the body of a mafia hit-man. He also sings, giving Scott Bakula an excuse to sing, which is not a bad thing.

Sam isn’t afraid of transgressing the social norms of the time he’s in (1965) by having his haircut in a women’s hair salon.

This is an odd episode, and it does something it doesn’t often do – before the end of the episode, Sam is confronted by the head mobster who doesn’t approve of him getting together with Theresa Pacci. But then he leaps out of the hitman and into the body of the don.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th March 1990 – 21:00

The next episode is one that annoyed me when it first went out. The Colour Of Truth is almost literally a remake of Driving Miss Daisy. Sam is in the body of a black chauffeur for an old white lady.

But the setup is used for a slightly different story, in which modern Sam Beckett is able to push a little at the entrenched racism, among the drama. The show ends, and Sam jumps, after the old woman invites Sam (her black driver) to eat with her at the segregated cafe.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th March 1990 – 21:00

The next episode is Camikazi Kid. The misspelling is deliberate because Sam has leaped into a teenager called Cam. Great, teen bullying, my least favourite thing (see also The Silver Chair).

This is another episode that’s channelling a movie, in this case American Graffiti.

But the core story is actually about domestic abuse. Sam’s sister is getting married, but the man she’s marrying is abusive. And their father is also a bully.

There’s a couple of familiar faces, Robert Costanzo (off of Die Hard 2).

There’s also Jason Priestley in a small role.

And Sam teaches the moonwalk to a young Michael Jackson.

Inevitably, there’s a race at the end.

And it has a satisfying ending. as Sam’s sister sees her fiancee for who he really is, and Sam punches him out when he tries to manhandle her. I’m less happy with the ending where Sam (or Cam) gets a girlfriend, in the form of the tomboy who was helping him with the race, but she’s now been given a makeover and now looks like every other girl. She had more personality before.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th March 1990 – 21:00

The next episode seems Sam leap into the body of a detective who bears a strange resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, hence it’s called Play It Again, Seymour.

Claudia Christian guest stars as the widow of Sam’s partner, who’s also romantically interested in him.

This episode is interesting, as Sam keeps ‘remembering’ things that are just going to happen, as if he has deja vu – when actually, his host wrote a book, which Sam remembers reading.

Sam meets a young man called Allen. It’s Woody Allen, the connection being that Sam looks like Bogart, and Woody Allen made ‘Play It Again Sam’. This show isn’t having a great run of young celebs, what with Michael Jackson last week.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd April 1990 – 21:00

After this, there’s a trailer for the new season on BBC 2, then there’s the start of Troubleshooter, the programme in which John Harvey Jones visited struggling companies to see if he could give them advice that would improve their business. The theme tune is great – is it Michael Nyman? Penguin Cafe Orchestra?

The tape ends shortly into this episode, which I remember watching at the time, about the apple juice company Copella.

Nightingales – tape 1022

Before we start, I should mention another small milestone in this blog. Today we’ve moved onto our seventh hard drive of digitised tapes. Each one is four terabytes, so we’re onto our 25th terabyte of digitised VHS smudginess.

By the way, the nature of this blog means that I digitised the first of these tapes way back in January 2016. I would generally be able to do three tapes a day, because I’d set the tape up, enter the title, then set it digitising, and then I could go and do something else until the tape finished. Hence, the rate at which I was digitising was far quicker than the blog rate (which started off quite high, as I was only really logging titles and ads, but which I limited to daily when I started watching the tapes as well).

So, raise a glass to a new batch, and let’s watch Nightingales. It’s a show I appreciate, for its utter weirdness, but somehow I fall short of really loving it. Maybe it’s just a bit too strange, with not enough real jokes. I have a similar blind spot with The Mighty Boosh, despite it seeming like something I’d love.

This is the first series, beginning with Moonlight Becomes You. The only sign that this is a first episode is the presence of a new member of the security guard staff. I was trying to work out why Ian Sears’ face was familiar. Scrolling down his CV (he stopped acting after this – he’s an editor now) I thought maybe it’s just this I remember him from, until I got to K9 and Company and realised he’s the young boy in that.

The plot (such as it was) sees young Eric suffering from lycanthropy, and the episode manages to do this without every showing him changing. Also, James Ellis murders their supervisor. I told you it was dark.

The next episode is Takeaway. Bell and Carter turn into Shakespearean villains when it looks like someone might be being sacked.

Next is Kiss and Make Up. Diana Weston guest stars as a woman who comes for a date with Carter, after he won a competition.

She ends up giving them grooming tips.

The next episode is Opening Night, and sees a return from Eric the werewolf, who’s a medical student, brought in because Sarge is unwell and needs an operation.

The next episode is Scrutiny of the Bounty in which the team find out they are being monitored by the police.

Finally, Terence in the Midst, in which a new security guard arrives. It’s not a bad monkey suit, so I doubt it was built for the show.

After this, recording continues for a short time with the start of Rock Steady, Channel 4’s achingly right-on serious rock show, presented by Nicky Horne.

In the ad breaks, I was very excited to see my hometown namechecked in an Our Price Video Shop advert. I certainly frequented that store until it closed down.

There’s a couple of really emblematic adverts here. The 90s seemed to be awash with adverts about thrusting upper middle class executive types. Here’s a couple of typical ones, first from the Daily Mail, even back then pretending they were a sign of good character. What the advert misses is that this dickhead just made that rocking horse four times as expensive.

Then there’s this advert for Midland Bank. They were a particular offender in these things, as you might remember “I’d like a new kind of bank account”. This one’s about business banking, and features John Benfield off of Prime Suspect, but it’s a perfect example of smug, overconfident business uber alles feeling of the 90s. The kiss at the end is particularly revolting.

Equally emblematic of the time, and not aimed at the businessman, in his suit and tie (although it probably should have been) is this anti-drugs advert, featuring Dexter Fletcher. I would say “A young Dexter Fletcher” except that his career started so young that this is more like an older one.

And finally, don’t forget Aids. This was a stark advert warning that straight people could get Aids too, even girls who’ve only had one partner. I try not to get distracted by Dr Anthony Pinching, who looks exactly like Tom Brook from the Film programme.


  • Bodyform
  • Vicks Chloraseptic
  • Red Mountain
  • Kleenex Velvet – Frank Bruno
  • Guardian Royal Exchange
  • Continental Airlines
  • Simplicity
  • Daily Mail
  • First Direct
  • Nescafe – Penelope Wilton Richard Briers
  • London Underground
  • Daily Star
  • Lada
  • Grolsch
  • Drugs – Dexter Fletcher
  • Firepower
  • Guinness
  • WH Smith – Ray Charles Collection
  • Glade Cocoon
  • Ariel
  • trail: Rock Steady
  • Ideal Home Exhibition
  • McDonalds
  • Grolsch
  • Selfridges
  • The Laughing Cow
  • Evening Standard
  • Dutch Bacon
  • Hamlet – Gregor Fisher
  • London Underground
  • Grolsch
  • British Beef
  • Take A Break
  • Alpen Cruesli – Julia Hills
  • Raffaello
  • London Underground
  • Ashby’s Finesse
  • Friends Provident – Nigel Planer
  • Honda Accord
  • Health Education Authority – Aids
  • Finish
  • Sun Valley
  • Flora
  • Volvic
  • AA Insurance
  • Our Price Video Shop
  • trail: Rock Steady
  • Midland Bank
  • Pond’s
  • Radion Automatic
  • Pizza Hut
  • Peugeot
  • Benedicta Coarse Grain French Mustard
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • Crown Advance
  • The Who – Join Together
  • Volvic
  • Woolwich
  • trail: Tommy The Concert