Month: January 2020

Fear No Evil – tape 2654

We’re over on Bravo tonight, so it could be literally anything. The tape opens with a short in-between piece featuring a woman who says she’s a vampire. Yeah, OK.

I like Bravo’s advisories.

The film here is Fear No Evil. Possibly one of the more obscure films I have, but one I was genuinely interested in seeing, for a very specific reason.

The only time I’ve seen this film referred to is in one issue of Starburst magazine, where it got a full page review – possibly two pages. It wasn’t a glowing review. But I had this issue of the magazine when I was on holiday, with family in Ireland, and I was having to sleep on a camp bed in the dining room. And this issue of Starburst was the only thing I had to read. I don’t know why this particular film review stuck in my head, but at the time there wasn’t a lot of fantasy or horror around to read about, so I guess they had to fill the space.

When I spotted that this film was going to be shown on Bravo, I had to tape it, just to satisfy a little bit of curiosity for years back.

It opens with a prologue, voiceover about Lucifer and angels, and an old priest who’s wandering around. I’m not clear quite what’s happening here, but the priest does seem to take a good long look.

The priest meets Lucifer. I think. He’s not very impressive.

Less impressive shortly after when the priest confronts him.

He gets impaled on the priest’s cross, although it seems to be self inflicted as he pulls it towards him.

Cut to a christening, and you know the kid’s a wrong’un when at the moment of blessing, wind whips through the church and blood starts running down the child’s arms.

There’s a passage of time sequence, symbolised by the house getting slowly more dilapdated, and the voices of the parents bemoaning their lot, as their son is clearly not a pleasant chap. Then we’re at eighteen years later – take that, Avengers Endgame.

Young Andrew looks like a prototype Sheldon Cooper. His birthday doesn’t end well, with his father managing to destroy the cake, then hit his wife, who falls over and pulls an iron down onto her head. “Who are you?” his father asks Andrew. If he doesn’t know now he never will.

Andrew’s High School appears to be modelled after Rydell High in Grease.

All the High School stuff just makes me angry, as it’s all raging hormones and misogyny. One of the boys breaks into another boy’s car to listen to the radio. When the other boy turns up the first says the car was unlocked, so the car’s owner goes and slaps his girlfriend for leaving it unlocked.

Looks like Andrew is into dogging.

We meet Margaret, an old woman who’s tending for her sick brother.

Her brother is the priest who tried to kill Lucifer in the opening. He was tried for murder, presumably because the man he killed was just a man once Lucifer had left him.

Andrew visits the castle where the opening took place. “This place will live again.”

There’s a shower scene, but with all the boys – this film likes to get its male stars out of their trousers – where one of them bullies Andrew and kisses him, only to be overcome by… something? It’s never clear.

Andrew fancies one of the girls at school, Julie, and she starts having dreams about him, which is probably not a good sign.

It’s not exactly Salem’s Lot, is it?

There’s a gym class, featuring a bullying gym teacher, but when Andrew gets all glowy eyed while doing push-ups, and the teacher gets all angry at the boys for, I don’t know, not being aggressive enough throwing their dodgeballs, he throws a ball at one of the students and kill him. Although the actor/stuntman looks about thirty here. Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend had a much better death by basketball.

The dead student happened to be Julie’s boyfriend, and now she feels summoned, going to Margaret’s house. It seems they both have a divine calling, and are actual angels, I think.

I’m getting really sick of this guy, who’s now threatening his girlfriend with a gun.

The town is putting on its annual Passion Play. It’s all terribly symbolic. Terribly.

Luckily Margaret and Julie still have the Magic Cross. Let’s hope it can really kill him this time.

Andrew has raised some zombies. This film has everything.

The Jesus in the Passion Play really starts bleeding. The trouble with all this stuff is that it all feels a bit disconnected.

Say what you like about the other qualities of this film, but for a low budget movie they manage some really big crowd scenes. This stuff isn’t easy to arrange.

Margaret visits the scene of the Passion Play and gets a briefing from Jesus, probably. There’s also magic lightning.

Andrew is embracing his inner Goth. He curses the violent abusive high school boy by giving him breasts. I think. And then the boy stabs himself.

There’s a lot of chasing around with the Magic glowing cross.

I really feel like this is trying really hard to be great.

Really hard.

Margaret is killed, but Julie becomes some kind of trinity thing.

and Andrew is finally vanquished is a blaze of effects animation (courtesy of Peter Kuran, a name that pops up all over 80s effects movies).

In the end, this isn’t a very good movie, but you can see that it wasn’t for lack of effort. A true curio. Director Frank LaLoggia didn’t have a stellar career as a result of this. For every Peter Jackson there’s probably a hundred Frank LaLoggias.

The tape ends just after the movie.


  • trail: The New Twilight Zone
  • trail: The Burning Zone
  • trail: Rambo weekend
  • trail: Opening Night
  • Clarks
  • News of the World
  • Star Trek First Contact on video
  • Boots
  • Thomson Holidays
  • Mr Muscle
  • Fruit & Fibre becomes Optima
  • Boots
  • Television X
  • Prudential
  • trail: Rambo weekend
  • trail: Transylvania 6-5000
  • trail: Nightfire
  • L’Oreal Elvive – Jennifer Aniston
  • Snickers
  • Dulux
  • Alpen
  • Sunday Mirror
  • Oil of Ulay
  • Look Again
  • Vanish Liquid
  • GayXchange
  • Television X
  • Live 1-2-1
  • Challenge TV Karaoke Challenge
  • trail: The Prisoner
  • trail: Leslie Nielsen’s Unbalanced World
  • trail: Transylvania 6-5000
  • Levis
  • Foster’s Ice
  • Star Trek First Contact on video
  • News of the World
  • Cheerios
  • Pedigree Chum Complete
  • Synergie
  • Prudential
  • Party On
  • V2
  • trail: Bravo Babes
  • trail: Opening Night
  • trail: Rambo weekend

Academy Awards 1998 – tape 2646

On the one hand, I love watching old Oscars telecasts, but on the other hand, my screengrab finger gets really sore, but that’s the job, so strap in and let’s see who’s up for the 70th Annual Academy Awards from 1998.

Barry Norman is there, for BBC2, and it’s live, so we get the whole telecast which suits me best.

After a red carpet montage which is missing the voiceover (I presume the broadcaster is supposed to add their own) the show is introduced by Robert Rehme, president of the Academy.

Billy Crystal is the host, and there’s another great montage of clips where he features in some of the nominated films, including The Full Monty, where his bit ends with him dropping his trousers and asking ‘Too Jewish?”

Kevin Costner makes an appearance, poking fun at the less than successful reception for his The Postman.

He also does one of his opening songs. In the audience, Titanic’s James Cameron is still with Linda Hamilton.

He gets personal with Jack Nicholson. Remember when taking a selfie required someone else to use a Kodak fun camera?

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are the targets of some ‘young’ jokes.

The first award of the night is for Best Supporting Actress, presented by Cuba Gooding Jr.

It’s won by Kim Basinger for LA Confidential.

Alec Baldwin is happy.

After this first award, it’s straight into a commercial break, so Barry Norman is there, talking to David Anson, who doesn’t appear to have been miked up properly.

Elisabeth Shue presents the award for Best Costume Design.

It’s won by Deborah L Scott for Titanic.

Dustin Hoffman introduces a montage of scenes from all 69 previous Best picture winners, and manages to make an oral sex reference into the bargain. Stay classy, Dustin.

Neve Campbell presents two performances of Best Song.

First, Aaliyah performs ‘Journey to the Past’ from Anastasia.

Then, Michael Bolton performs ‘Go The Distance’ from Hercules which I really like.

Arnold Schwarzenegger introduces some scenes from the first nominated Best Film, Titanic.

Mira Sorvino presents the award for Best Supporting Actor.

I spotted Ricky Jay in a clip from Boogie Nights.

But the winner (a popular winner judging by the ovation he gets) is Robin Williams. He thanks ‘Weinstein’ in his speech. Was this before or after Weinstein destroyed Mira Sorvino’s career?

Cameron Diaz presents the award for Best Sound

It’s won by Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Garry Summers and Mark Ulano for Titanic.

Mike Myers presents a film celebrating the ‘greatest animal actors in motion picture history.’

Then, with the help of a giant Grizzly Bear, he presents the award for Best Sound Effects Editing. Brave to have this on live TV, given that people who work with grizzlies don’t always end happily.

The winner, of course, is Titanic with Tom Bellfort and Christopher Boyes.

Helen Hunt presents the award for Best Visual Effects

You will not be surprised to learn it was won by Titanic

Billy Crystal shows a clip from King Kong, and visits Fay Wray in the audience.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck present two awards, the first for Live Action Short Film

It’s won for Visas and Virtues by Chris Tashima and Chris Donahue

The award for Best Animated Short is won for Geri’s Game by Jan Pinkava

Geoffrey Rush presents the award for Best Actress.

The winner, in a surprising not-Titanic turn, is Helen Hunt for As Good As It Gets. Another film I have never seen and possibly never will.

Back in the BBC booth, Barry and David Anson are now joined by Amanda Donohoe. She didn’t like As Good As It Gets either. The broadcast feed keeps slightly glitching, and at this point there’s a lot of noise on the picture.

Antonio Banderas presents a medley from the scores nominated for Best Score.

The orchestra is on stage this year, conducted (as it often is) by Bill Conti.

The winner is James Horner for Titanic.

Oddly, as it doesn’t usually happen, there’s a second soundtrack category, for Best Comedy or Musical score, presented by Jennifer Lopez. There’s also a dance routine set to the scores that’s really quite good.

The winner is Anne Dudley, and it’s always nice to see a British winner, especially one who used to be in the pop group The Art of Noise.

Drew Barrymore presents the award for Best Make-up

It’s won by Rick Baker and David Leroy Anderson for Men In Black.

Alec Baldwin presents a scene from LA Confidential.

Samuel L Jackson presents the award for Best Editing.

It’s won by Conrad Buff, Richard A Harris and James Cameron for (you guessed it) Titanic.

Ashley Judd talks about the Scientific and Technical Awards.

Martin Scorsese presents an Honorary Academy Award

It goes to director Stanley Donen. His acceptance speech segues into a song and dance number where he even tap dances. It’s brilliant.

Barry, David and Amanda question whether it’s fair for the Academy to get Scorsese, who has been ignored up until now, to present an award to another director who has been ignored up until now.

Matt Dillon presents scenes from Good Will Hunting.

Madonna introduces the final three nominees for Best Original Song.

First it’s How do I Live? from Con Air, sung by Trisha Yearwood. I must have heard this song before, as I’ve seen the film several times, but the opening was unmemorable. The chorus rang a bell, but I can’t tell if it’s just because it sounds like every other Diane Warren song.

Miss Misery, from Good Will Hunting is performed by Elliot Smith.

Finally, the safest of safe bets, Celine Dion performs My Heart Will Go On from Titanic. I love this song, completely unironically. I just do, OK?

“What a shocker” says Madonna announcing the winners, James Horner and Will Jennings.

Djimon Hounsou presents the award for Best Documentary Short Subject.

Donna Dewey and Carol Pasternak win for A Story of Healing.

Robert De Niro frankly makes a hash of reading the autocue to present Best Documentary Feature.

It’s won by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Richard Trank for The Long Way Home, a film about the Holocaust and the formation of Israel.

Whoopi Goldberg presents the In Memoriam section. I was OK until it ended with James Stewart.

Best Art Director is presented by Meg Ryan.

Peter Lamont and Michael Ford win for Titanic. Another two Brits.

Robin Williams presents a compilation of moments from previous Oscar ceremonies.

Frances McDormand presents the Best Actor award.

Jack Nicholson wins for As Good As It Gets.

After another bit of banter from David, Amanda and Barry, Sharon Stone presents the award for Best Foreign Language Film.

It’s won by Mike van Diem for Karakter. I liked his comment to Sharon Stone – “Just another crazy Dutch director”

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau present the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson win for LA Confidential.

The award for Best Original Screenplay goes to a very excited Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Geena Davis introduces the fourth Best Picture nominee in a brilliant speech full of carry-on level innuendo – it’s The Full Monty.

After another studio segment, the next presenter is Denzel Washington, presenting Best Cinematography

The winner is Russell Carpenter for Titanic.

Susan Sarandon introduces Oscar’s Family Album, a collection of Acting winners from the last 70 years.

Strap in, because everyone gets a close-up, starting with Anne Bancroft.

Kathy Bates

Ernest Borgnine

Ellen Burstyn

Red Buttons

Michael Caine

George Chakiris


Julie Christie

Sean Connery

Geena Davis

Robert De Niro

Michael Douglas

Richard Dreyfuss

Faye Dunaway

Ronert Duvall

Louise Fletcher

Brenda Fricker

Whoopi Goldberg

Cuba Gooding Jr

Louis Gossett Jr

Lee Grant (I had to look her up – some of these are eluding me, especially the older ones).

Joel Grey. I don’t like him because he killed Buffy.

Charlton Heston

Dustin Hoffman

Celeste Holm

Holly Hunter

Angelica Huston

Timothy Hutton

Jeremy irons

Claude Jarman Jr won a special juvenile award for The Yearling.

Jennifer Jones

Shirley Jones

George Kennedy

Ben Kingsley

Martin Landau

Cloris Leachman

Jack Lemmon

Karl Malden

Marlee Matlin

Walter Matthau

Mercedes McCambridge

Frances McDormand

Rita Moreno

Patricia Neal

Jack Nicholson

Jack Palance

Anna Paquin

Estelle Parsons

Gregory Peck

Joe Pesci

Sidney Poitier

Luise Rainer

Vanessa Redgrave

Cliff Robertson

Geoffrey Rush

Harold Russell

Eva Marie Saint

Susan Sarandon

Maximilian Schell

Mira Sorvino

Rod Steiger

Shirley Temple

Marisa Tomei

Claire Trevor

Jon Voight

Denzel Washington

Vincent Winter

Shelley Winters

Teresa Wright

Phew. And identifying some of those would have been easier if I’d realised at the start they were sitting in alphabetical order.

Next, Sigourney Weaver introduces the fifth Best Picture nominee, As Good as it Gets.

Warren Beatty presents the Best Director award.

Obviously, it’s won by James Cameron, and at the end of his speech he does his ‘King of the World’ bit which so many people take to be rampant egotism (and I’m not denying there’ll be a little of that here) but he’s actually quoting his own movie, which I think is forgivable.

Finally, Sean Connery presents the award for Best Film.

Making it 11 out of 14 nominations, it’s Titanic again, with producers Jon Landau and James Cameron who manages to get the audience to have a moment’s silence for the people who died when the Titanic sank.

And that’s it. Here’s all Barry Norman’s in between bits. It’s a quite dull year this year as Titanic was a runaway winner, but they do enjoy slagging Titanic off as a mediocre film, which they’re totally wrong about. All together now, “neeeaaar, faaaaar, whereeeeever you are…..”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd March 1998 – 02:00

The tape ends just after this. I was clearly keen to go to bed, although this might have been one of the years that my wife and I watched the whole thing while lying on the futon in our living room, eating nachos and dip.

French and Saunders – Omnibus – Revenge of the Pink Panther – tape 2650

Here’s a nice tape – over three hours from an evening on BBC One, starting with a repeat episode of French and Saunders and their Pulp Fiction spoof.

They’re guarding Lulu.

Jennifer does Jennifer Rush (I think)

Jen and Dawn interview Clare Francis, as two girls from a private boarding school. Funny and also a little heartbreaking.

Jules and Vincent end up killing Lulu. I love that Lulu was game for having all the bullet hit squibs all over her.

And there’s a joke about household cleaners.

Kate Moss makes a brief appearance.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st September 1997 – 21:55

After this there’s a trailer for the sitcom Dad. And for Match of the Day.

Then, an episode of Omnibus profiling Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

And guess who’s the first person (aside from Vic and Bob themselves) appearing in the programme. Of course, it’s Terry Jones, who died just a few days ago. This one really hurts. I’m so very, very sorry.

Jonathan Ross is in a limo.

With producer Alan Marke.

A surprising inclusion is Jim Davidson. “As much as I try to be clever, I’m still what one would call ‘mainstream'”. Although he does say that when he’s appeared with them they reminded him a lot of Morecambe and Wise.

I thought James Brown, editor of GQ, was Simon Munnery for a moment.

Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson

Mark Lamarr

Matt Lucas hated it so much that he phoned the Channel 4 Duty Log to complain.

There’s a reunion of Shooting Stars celebs including Gordon Burns

Bill Oddie

Alice Beer

Stephen Tompkinson

John Craven. “I personally don’t find them particularly funny.”

Team Captain Ulrika Jonsson

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st September 1997 – 22:25

After this, something I really love. It’s the BBC’s ‘Perfect Day’ advert for their music, featuring a lot of singers and musicians, and it’s just beautiful. I don’t know if it’s turned up on a tape before, but even if it has, it’s always lovely.

Then we get a movie, Revenge of the Pink Panther. I don’t know where this stands in the pantheon of Pink Panther movies, as I’m not deeply immersed in Pink Panther fandom, but this is the one that I remember the most, probably because it was the first one (and probably only one) I saw in the cinema.

It’s weird how American this is. But when the heart of the movie is a man with the most ridiculous French accent, it makes sense that most of the other people are played with American accents. I’d completely forgotten that Robert Loggia is in it.

He plays Al Marchione, and meets Phillippe Douvier, played by Robert Webber, to tell him that some dodgy deal isn’t going ahead because Douvier isn’t ‘strong anymore’.

Dyan Cannone plays Douvier’s secretary (and lover) Simone.

Douvier needs a way to persuade New York that he’s still strong, so one of his men suggests assassinating Inspector Clouseau, who has already survived “16 assassination attempts including two by his own boss.”

There’s some heavy dubbing going on with some of the actors here, who are mostly British character actors. Alec Bregonzi gets a particularly egregious dubbing.

The titles, as usual, are animated, but not by Richard Williams as on previous outings, but by DePatie-Freleng, who were making the animated Pink Panther cartoon series at the time, I think.

Graham Stark runs a costume shop, and Clouseau goes there for a fitting for a disguise.

His disguise is ‘so you can work the Left Bank and Montmartre with anonymity’. So he’s disguised as Toulouse Lautrec, complete with shoes on his knees to complete the illusion. I wonder if all the credit card stickers on the mirror were product placement. Was Access even accepted overseas as Access?

“Did anyone order a beumb?” I love the cartoon simplicity of the bomb.

Clouseau manages to set his boss’s desk on fire.

There’s a bit of martial arts, as a bunch of hard men try to take down ‘Mr Chong’ just to demonstrate how hard Mr Chong is. I think Mr Chong might be adopted.

Returning home, Clouseau has to try to beg his servant, Cato, not to attack him.

Mr Chong is also there, but Clouseau mistakes him for Cato, clobbers him on the head and he plummets out of the window, through a nearby roof window, and down through several floors. The slapstick quotient in this movie is very high.

Douvier phones Clouseau and tells him if he wants ‘The French Connection’ he should meet in the Bois de Boulogne, alone. So Clouseau tells Cato to fire up the Silver Hornet. It gets ten yards before falling to pieces. There’s a huge amount of effort being expended here, but it’s resulting in fewer laughs than I’d expect.

On his way to the rendezvous/trap, Clouseau picks up a woman who turns out to be a man who has been stealing cars by dressing as a woman. They swap clothes, then he/she is killed when the assassins mistake her for Clouseau.

Clouseau is detained by police who think he’s mad, and in the meantime, the news has got out that he’s dead, there’s a national day of mourning, and his nemesis, former Chief Inspector Dreyfuss (Herbert Lom) has suddenly completely recovered from the madness that was induced by Clouseau.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the same building, Clouseau is detained, and meets Andrew Sachs, who’s very angry when Clouseau calls himself the greatest detective in all of France when he’s Hercule Poirot. Let’s ignore that Poirot was Belgian.

Clouseau gives his captors the slip, and hides. It just happens he hides in the wardrobe of Dreyfuss’s room.

I’m confused by the timescale of this film. How long was Clouseau detained without escaping? Not only has Dreyfuss recovered, and the President has declared a day of mourning, but Cato has redecorated the whole apartment and is now running a brothel there, complete with Valerie Leon as a dominatrix. A bit of a racist stereotype – Chinese man starts a brothel.

Herbert Lom has to give the eulogy at Clouseau’s funeral. I guess everybody’s forgotten how he tried to kill him twice.

At the funeral itself, proper etiquette is observed as Clouseau, disguised, waves at Dreyfuss, who faints into the grave. Textbook.

Douvier is pleased with the apparent success of the assassination, but tells Simone that they have to stop seeing each other permanently, because his wife is insisting. Simone is not happy with this turn of events.

Alfie Bass makes a cameo appearance.

Charles Augins (Queeg from Red Dwarf) plays a club owner. Simone comes in, asks for her usual table, but he’s unsure whether to let her stay, now she’s broken up with Douvier.

He send two of his men to grab her and take her out, but Clouseau and Cato are outside trying to spy on the club, and the man is knocked over as he leaves, letting Simone clobber him with a brick.

Clouseau and Simone join up to get Douvier, and the action moves to Hong Kong. Oh dear oh dear. “Just think yellow and follow me.”

Burt Kwouk gets a lot of slapstick to do here, as he’s disguised with extremely strong glasses so he’s constantly bumping into people.

Clouseau decides to pose as the New York mafia boss Scalini to fool Algo, Douvier’s right hand man.

Lee Kee Boat Yard. I have nothing to add.

But you can’t beat a final showdown in a firework factory.

And look, the Silver Hornet has been repaired. I didn’t realise it’s a 2CV with bits welded on. Although they lose points by repeating the same joke about it falling apart.

I have to say, I don’t think this is vintage Clouseau.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st September 1997 – 23:20

After this, there’s a trailer for October programmes on BBC1.

Then, there’s an episode of The Sky at Night, still presented by Patrick Moore. It looks at the forthcoming Cassini mission to Saturn.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 22nd September 1997 – 00:55

After this, there’s a trailer for BBC Learning Zone.

Then there’s weather from Rob McElwee, BBC1 closes down, and Isla Peyton wishes us a restful night.


Funny Women – Abigail’s Party – tape 2648

Over to BBC2 and after the end of Decisive Moments: The Photographs That Made History and a trailer for Timewatch it’s Abigail’s Party Night, some programmes and bits and pieces around Mike Leigh’s seminal 70s suburban comedy.

The surrounding stuff is a bit hit and miss. Not sure about the Beverly cosplayer’s convention.

But the explanation is that they’ve all played Beverly this year in the original stage version.

The first programme is en episode of Funny Women looking at, who else, Alison Steadman. I think this clip might have been from TV Heaven.

It contains interviews with her Abigail’s Party co-star Janine Duvitski.

Nina Myskow thinks her character in Newshounds was based on her.

I had never realised that Steadman had been married to Mike Leigh since 1973 (although by this time they had separated).

Michael Coveney talks about her mining a seam of character to do with the lower middle class.

Of course, in a programme like this you can say the words ‘lower middle class’ without summoning Peter York, who was ubiquitous in any discussion about class, despite sounding like someone who wouldn’t be seen dead in a suburban semi-detached home.

Nice to see her Nuts in May co-star Roger Sloman. I think it’s possible I’ve never seen Nuts in May.

You know who has seen Nuts In May, though? My old school friend Claire Skinner.

Jim Broadbent: “Alison inhabits a character so completely, it’s a surprise when you meet her.”

John Salthouse talks about the rehearsal process for the original play, where the other actors met Steadman, already in character.

After this programme, a couple of tiny interstitial bits. Lowri Turner talks about Beverly’s fashion.

Quentin Willson gets his name misspelled, which serves him right for spelling it wrong in the first place. He talks about comparing cars in that grotesque Top Gear way.

There’s a trailer for Food and Drink.

Then, it’s Abigail’s Party itself. It’s a simple character piece about a few neighbours getting together, eating cheesy pineapples and listening to Demis Roussos. Alison Steadman is magnificent as the monstrous Beverly.

Tim Stern is her hapless husband Laurence, who perhaps should have been told that the Peter Wyngarde look was going out of the window. I do love the scene where he brags about owning the complete works of Shakespeare, but rather spoils the effect by ending with “Our nation’s culture. Not something you can actually read, of course.”

Janine Duvitski is Angela, a very earnest nurse, who’s perhaps slightly naive. She’s very good (but she’s good in everything).

John Salthouse is Angela’s husband Tony. Beverly clearly fancies him, but he spends most of the time sitting and scowling. He works with computers. But not as a programmer, as an operator, which is a subtle detail, implying he’s more of a manual worker than a skilled worker.

Finally, there’s Harriet Reynolds as Susan, there alone because she’s divorced, and it’s her daughter Abigail who’s having the party. She’s been living there the longest, and she’s clearly more properly middle class than the rest.

I do wonder if Mike Leigh likes any of his characters, though.

After the play, there’s a trailer for Gary Rhodes. Then a trailer for Later With Jools Holland.

Then, a few more bits and pieces as Oz Clark talks patronisingly about the culinary choices of Abigail’s Party.

Jonathan Meades talks about the use of names from popular culture and brand names, likening it to the use of brand names in James Bond.

Next, it’s Demis Roussos – Forever and Ever, a profile of the Greek singer and popular culture touchstone. There’s some nice archive stuff in this, and Roussos seems like a very nice chap.

One of the most remarkable things I learned in this documentary is that Roussos was on board a flight that was hijacked by Hezbollah, during which at least one passenger was killed.

I love the clip of him with Basil Brush, with Basil calling him Mr Demis.

And that’s the end of Abigail’s Party Night.

Here’s all the in between bits, minus a couple of sections with Demis Roussos and Tom Jones singing that got it blocked.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st November 1997 – 21:00 (Abigail’s Party Night)

After this, someone had a lot of fun making this trailer for next week’s theme night, Jaws on Two. This is basically a shot for shot recreation of the beach shark attack from Jaws. It’s very well done.

There’s also a trailer for Pulp Fiction.

Then, there’s about 15 minutes of Later with Jools Holland featuring UB40, Rickie Lee Jones, Roni Size and Reprazent, Jewel, and The Verve, performing Bitter Sweet Symphony for the first time on British Television.

The tape ends during this.

Inspector Morse – tape 2649

We might have moved forward almost a decade, but there’s still Inspector Morse and the episode Death Is Now My Neighbour. Here’s a McGann – I always assume Paul as a starting point, but this is Mark with a fetching pony tail. Every time I see a man with a pony tail like this, I think of the Smack the Pony sketch where they’re talking happily to a man at a bar, then he turns round and they see his pony tail and they start retching.

He’s clearly a lothario, this Geoffrey Owens, as he’s waving at all the women in white dressing gowns fetching their milk at precisely the same time. We later learn he is a reporter for the local paper.

Well, not all the local women have white dressing gowns. But she’s going to be an eyewitness as she sees something through the bushes.

One of the women is shot dead, through her kitchen window. But nobody saw the shooter.

In one of the colleges, there’s an election going on to elect a new Master. The outgoing master is played by Richard Briers, playing a very slimy but superficially genial type.

Roger Allam plays one of the contenders, Denis Cornford.

The other contender is Dr Julian Storrs, played by John Shrapnel, so it’s a face-off between two great voices.

The murdered woman had an unsigned valentine from an admirer.

Further investigation reveals the card came from Storrs, who was romantically interested because, he says, his wife is a heavy drinker. His wife Angela is played by Maggie Steed. She’s appeared in loads of things, but I couldn’t quite remember why she was familiar, and I think it was her appearance as the producer of Acorn Antiques that stuck with me.

There’s another connection to the same road, as Adele Cecil (Judy Loe) once had an affair with Cornford, the other candidate for Mastership.

Angela Storrs reads the news about the murder on Ceefax.

Nice use of the zoom function to make it easier for viewers to read.

Cornford’s new wife, the much younger Shelly, and American, is approached by outgoing master Sir Clixby Bream (Briers) who wants her to do something. He doesn’t say outright, and I think we’re meant to presume he wants sex (she calls him a creep) but this could be misdirection. Whatever it is, she doesn’t want to do it. But he tells her he won;t support her husband’s bid to be Master if she doesn’t do it.

The case gets complicated when Geoffrey Owens, next door neighbour of the first victim, is found shot dead. This despite there being a constant police presence in the vicinity. And when Morse notices there’s no number 13 in the road, he now believes that the first victim, at number 17, was killed in error – she was shot through a window blind, and also had a pony tail. The real target was Owens at number 15.

Morse discovers that Owens had a side business blackmailing people with secrets he’s dug up. There’s a clue with initials. DC leads to Denis Cornford, CB to Sir Clixby Bream, but AM eludes them until Morse links it to a woman who was accused of murdering her philandering husband, but who was acquitted. He later finds that AM – Alice Martin – changed her name to Angela, and is now Mrs Storr, wife of Julian, the other master candidate.

So it turns out it was sex that Bream was after. Yuck. And to make it even worse, after it’s over, he tells her he had no intention to support her husband for Master, and that husband Denis had slept with Bream’s wife and ruined his marriage, so this was all revenge. I’m finding it hard to accept Richard Briers as such a horrible creep, but he’s playing it perfectly. I hope he’s the next victim.

Oh dear, I’ve cursed it. Shelly asks her husband about his affair with Bream’s wife, then has to admit sleeping with Bream to help him. Rather than get angry at Bream, Cornford’s reaction is to call her a filthy tart, yell that he wants to kill her, then chase her to the staircase, where she tumbles down the stairs and dies. He’s a fucking idiot in several senses of the word.

Her fall was seen by a student, so Morse knows it was an accident. Although it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t flown into a rage. He’s all remorse now but he’s definitely culpable.

After following a dead end – that Adele Cecil was known by Owens as ‘Della’ and might have been the DC in his clue, Lewis figures that DC is actually Angela Storrs’ daughter Diane Cullingham. Which information and some digging around in a hotel in Bath, whre the Storrs were staying on the night of Owens’ murder, leads them to find that the murderer was Angela Storr, having left the hotel that night in her daughter’s car, and her daughter stood in for her mother, in bed when breakfast was delivered, giving her an alibi, but the giveaway was that Diane had ordered a hearty breakfast, but Angela was diabetic and had a very specific breakfast order.

Morse and Lewis talk to the odious Clixby Bream, who, now that both Cornford and Storrs have dropped out of the Master race (no, not that type of Master Race) is looking forward to staying on as Master. But Morse warns him that he’d better stick to his plan for retirement, otherwise they’ll reveal his part in Shelly Cornford’s death. So he’s not dead by the end, but at least he doesn’t get away with it entirely.

And Morse even manages to pursue a successful romantic relationship, as he’s hit it off with Adele Cecil, and has even given her a clue to his first name – which she correctly works out is Endeavour (his father was a fan of Captain Cook) and there’s quite a sweet coda, where this is revealed to both Adele and Lewis, and Morse expects them to laugh, but Lewis’ response is “Poor sod.” Morse and Adele even get to have a romantic break at the hotel in Bath at the end, which is a nice change of pace.

After this, there’s the very start of a party political broadcast by the Liberal Democrats. The tape ends shortly after it starts.


  • trail: Blind Men
  • Cinderella on video
  • BT – Dervla Kirwan
  • Oil of Ulay
  • Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire Puddings – Tracie Bennett and Annette Badland
  • Hugo
  • PC World
  • Motorola StarTAC
  • trail: Dover
  • Nissan Almera – Sweeney Parody with Phil Cornwell
  • Cable & Wireless
  • Evening Standard
  • Ariel
  • Kodak Advantix
  • The Most Relaxing Classical Album in the World Ever
  • Ragu
  • BMW
  • Baxter’s Soup
  • Nokia
  • Wash & Go
  • Glenmorangie
  • BMW
  • Lottery Results
  • Nescafe
  • HP Deskjet
  • Oil of Ulay
  • Safeway
  • Royal Mail
  • New Pure Moods
  • One 2 One – Vic Reeves
  • British Beef
  • Ariel Futur
  • IBM
  • Maria Callas – The Voice of the Century
  • Orange
  • Currys
  • Kellogg’s All Bran Bite Size
  • Iberia
  • trail: Thief Takers
  • Somerfield
  • Campbell’s Soup
  • Citroen Xsara
  • Orange
  • trail: Carlton Sport

Star Trek Deep Space Nine – tape 2647

It looks like we’re out of the early 90s now, and into a series of tapes from much later in my collection, starting with a tape of episodes from the start of season 5 of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. After a bit of the end of an episode of MASHApocalypse Rising follows the cliffhanger for season 4, in which Odo has been made human, and then tells Sisko that Gowron, head of the Klingons, is a changeling.

So Sisko is tasked with trying to prove Gowron is a changeling. How to do this is tricky. Worf prefers the direct approach. “There is another option. We could kill him.”

But they have a better plan than assassinating the head of the Klingon Empire. Surround him with pokeballs and zap him with radiation which will make his shapeshifter form unstable. They have to be careful, though, because they can only zap him once because otherwise it will be deadly.

There’s a reappearance of Gul Dukat, who happens to have a Klingon Bird of Prey they can borrow.

So now it’s time for some undercover Klingon hijinks, and the team have to get turned into Klingons. Here’s Sisko.

Odo – no longer a shapeshifter himself so Dr Bashir had to give him the surgical Klingon face treatment too.

And O’Brien. Or is that Odo again?

There follows a lot of Klingon bollocks, and it turns out Gowron isn’t really the hidden shapeshifter.

After this, and another snatch of MASH, the next episode is The Ship. The crew are surveying a planet which they intend to strip-mine for a useful element. But that’s irrelevant because a Jem Hadar ship crashes on the planet, and when they investigate it, they are attacked by some more Jem Hadar who have arrived to claim the ship, blowing up their transport in the process.

Along with the main cast, one of the expendable crew is Muniz (F J Rio) who has some bonding with O’Brien, and we’re all sad when he dies, which takes him most of the episode. The blue guy who was killed in the first attack barely gets a mention.

The Vorta who’s in charge of the attacking Jem Hadar is Kilana (Kaitlin Hopkins). She tries to get Sisko to give them the ship because there’s something inside they want badly, but he doesn’t trust them not to kill them all.

In the end, they discover that there’s a changeling on board the ship, which dies because it’s been masquerading as a piece of wall all this time. There’s a lesson about what happens when nobody trusts anybody, and it’s generally frustrating.

The next episode is a lighter one. Looking For Par’Mach In All The Wrong Places has some Klingons arriving, and Worf immediately fancies the woman, but it turns out (through a complicated set of circumstances) that she’s Quark’s ex-wife. She’s played by Mary Kay Adams, who also played Na’Toth in Babylon 5.

Watching these out of order can lead to some very strange reactions to the plot. In the b-plot this week, Major Kira is living with O’Brien and Keiko. Because she’s carrying O’Brien’s child. And Keiko is OK with this. I had to look it up because I couldn’t comprehend it, and it turns out the baby Kira is carrying is O’Brien’s and Keiko’s, and in a previous episode, after Keiko was seriously injured, the only way to save the fetus was to implant it into Kira. So she’s living with the O’Briens so the family can bond with the unborn child. The b-plot here sees O’Brien and Kira apparently getting a little closer, and they’re finding it awkward. I guess O’Brien didn’t grow up in a house full of sisters. I find it slightly weird that, when neither of them actually want a relationship, why it’s so hard for them to apparently avoid it. Just keep it in your trousers.

Through another complicated set of circumstances, which, to be honest, I might not have been paying attention to, Quark has to fight one of the Klingons – something something honour something.

He manages to win because Worf is controlling him through some sort of VR gizmo.

The last episode here is Nor The Battle To The Strong. Jake has travelled with Dr Bashir to a medical symposium, intending to write a school paper on him, but Bashir is boring him with the technical details of his paper.

But they get diverted to a planet that needs medical assistance, and Jake gets to experience the horror of war first hand. First he meets a Starfleet officer, injured in the skirmish, but who actually shot his own foot with a phaser to get out of the fighting.

Jake and Bashir have to go to recover a generator, but they come under heavy shelling, Bashir is seemingly knocked down, and Jake panics and runs.

He comes across another dying solider, and there’s an awkward exchange as Jake tells him he’ll try to get him back to safety, and the man lectures Jake, and tells him he won’t assuage his guilt by rescuing him. Then he promptly proves it by dying. This is all a bit on the nose but, as Garth Marenghi said, “I know writers who use subtext and they’re all cowards.”

After this, recording continues briefly with the start of an episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. The 90s seemed to be filled with strange anthology series based on the name of a famous horror film of the 80s.

The tape ends after a few minutes.

In the ad breaks, there’s a Ford advert which features Buffy’s Alexis Denisof.


  • trail: LAPD
  • Vanish Liquid
  • Next Directory
  • Kit Kat
  • Centerparcs
  • Pizza Hut – Luke Perry
  • Homestyle
  • Safeway
  • trail: Tuesday on Sky One
  • Sky TV Guide – Tanya Bryer and Richard Jobson
  • Milky Way
  • Ford Fiesta – Alexis Denisof
  • Auto Trader
  • Pedigree Chum
  • Sanatogen
  • Johnson’s Baby Skincare
  • Walker’s Crisps – Spice Girls
  • KFC
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Suddenly Susan
  • Vauxhall Corsa
  • Bounty
  • Challenge TV
  • Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire Puddings
  • Persil Performance
  • Lenor
  • Persil – James Nesbitt
  • trail: The Adventures of Sinbad/Tarzan The Epic Adventures
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Pacific Palisades
  • Uncle Ben’s
  • Wella Experience
  • Asilone
  • Somerfield
  • Indesit
  • Sure
  • trail: Sabrina
  • trail: ER
  • Goldfish Card
  • Challenge TV
  • Walker’s Crisps – Spice Girls
  • Shredded Wheat/Cheerios
  • Persil – James Nesbitt
  • Playstation – Nuclear Strike
  • trail: Dream Team
  • trail: Italy V England – Paul Whitehouse
  • trail: Judgement Night
  • trail: The Full Monty
  • Vauxhall Corsa
  • Kit Kat
  • Ariel Futur
  • Shredded Wheat – Glenn Hoddle
  • Nurofen
  • Boots
  • Persil – James Nesbitt
  • trail: The Adventures of Sinbad/Tarzan The Epic Adventures
  • trail: Judgement Night
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Riesen
  • Bold
  • HP Sauce
  • Playstation – Nuclear Strike
  • Cellnet
  • trail: Really Caught in the Act 3
  • trail: Thursday On Sky
  • Bold
  • Boots
  • Fairy Liquid
  • Walker’s Crisps – Spice Girls
  • Penguin
  • Rootjoose – Rhubarb
  • Peugeot 406
  • trail: White Squall
  • Centerparcs
  • Mr Kipling
  • Goldfish Card
  • Chicago Town Pizza
  • Get Set Super Airspray
  • Honda
  • trail: The Pretender/The Cape
  • trail: Speed/Coppers
  • PC World
  • Harpic
  • British Pork
  • British Gas
  • Get Set Super Airspray
  • Direct Line
  • trail: The Adventures of Sinbad/Tarzan The Epic Adventures
  • trail: Dream Team
  • Rockport
  • Peperami Cheezie
  • Vaseline Intensive Care
  • UK Gold
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio on video
  • Kit Kat
  • trail: Dunston Checks In
  • trail: Highlander/Walker Texas Ranger
  • Persil Performance
  • HP Sauce
  • Oil of Ulay
  • Lenor
  • Virgin Holidays
  • Mr Bean on video
  • VO5
  • trail: ER
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Vanish in-wash
  • Pantene
  • Rice Krispies
  • Chicago Town Pizza
  • trail: ER
  • trail: Dream Team
  • Ovaltine Power
  • The Laughing Cow
  • Sainsbury’s Microban
  • Revlon
  • Johnson’s Baby Soothing Bath
  • Playstation – Croc
  • Microsoft
  • trail: Balto
  • trail: Thursday On Sky
  • Playstation
  • Ford Escort
  • Vanish in-wash
  • Peperami Cheezie
  • Huggies
  • Big Mix 97
  • BT
  • trail: Football
  • trail: ER
  • Persil Performance
  • HP Sauce
  • Kleenex
  • Pampers
  • Vaseline Intensive Care
  • Dolmio
  • Computer Success
  • trail: UFOS The Best Evidence Ever (Caought on Tape)
  • trail: November on Sky
  • Persil Colour Care
  • L’Oreal Plenitude Futur.e
  • Pantene
  • trail: ER

She’s Gotta Have It – tape 1032

Only one thing on the tape today, it’s Spike Lee’s first film, She’s Gotta Have It. It’s a beautiful-looking film (shot in black and white by Ernest Dickerson) about relationships, and about a small group of young black New-Yorkers.

It tells the story of Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) who’s seeing three different men. There’s Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks) who seems like ‘the nice guy’ but his first meeting with Nola is basically him seeing her in the street, then stalking her for a bit.

There’s Greer (John Terrell) who’s a male model, utterly self involved, who’s constantly negging her. “You know the minute you get fat I’m leaving you” he says while doing press-ups.

And finally Mars (played by Spike Lee himself). He’s basically a teenager who’s never grown up. “Please baby please baby please baby baby baby please”.

Spike Lee’s father Bill Lee provides the score – very modern jazz – and makes an appearance in the film.

There’s an awkward Thanksgiving meal with the four of them.

I quite like this, with the possible exception of a scene that’s described by Nola afterwards as ‘nearly rape’ but which I’d say was definitely rape, and that rather soured the film towards the end. I guess it’s inevitable it was ‘the nice guy’ who was responsible. And at least, after she goes back to him, the film ends with her saying that was a mistake.

The tape ends just after the film.


  • Nissan Sunny SE
  • Halifax
  • The BOC Group
  • Music Box in cinemas
  • Heinz Weightwatchers Ice Cream
  • Barclays
  • Nissan Prarie
  • trail: Trouble In Mind

Die Kinder – tape 1046

We looked at the first three episodes of Die Kinder all the way back in 2017, and we finally get the final three episodes of this gritty Euro-thriller.

I’ve read my previous recap of the last tape, but I fear I might not quite have all the characters straight so forgive me if this goes off the rails.

First on this tape is episode 4: Catastrophe Theory. Sidonie’s (Miranda Richardson) Husband Stefan is rudely awakened when a man arrives to show a woman around the house as it’s on the market (unknown to him). It’s like a very intense Location Location Location. (Probably – I don’t watch daytime property shows).

Stefan contacts someone, who tells him that the RLF wants Karin Muller. He calls Sidonie (Richardson) to tell her.

She’s with Lomax, the investigator who’s helping her to find her children (Frederic Forrest). He suggests maybe Stefan was sleeping with Karin Muller, but Sidonie says no, and that Stefan was disgusted by the Nova bombing, the event (shown in increasing detail in the title sequence every week) which seems to have been the flashpoint for this story.

Stefan searches for clues as to where Karin is, going to a place that hid her back when things were more dangerous. He’s with a friend, Alan Mitchell, a university lecturer who was blinded in a gas explosion.

A Green Politician, Gunther Beck is being interviewed on TV, and watching the interview is Crombie, a police officer played by Derek Fowlds. Who died a few days ago so of course he pops up on my tapes. He was Mr Derek on Basil Brush. Is no entertainer beloved by children free from the malign influence of this blog? He had popped up a little while back, in a Nescafe ad, but that was over three weeks ago, and I don’t think that really counts. This definitely does. Should I just stop now, and all death will cease? I’m so very, very sorry.

Lonax is visited by Bellenberg (Hanns Zichler) who asks him if Sidonie knows his real background – he was previously involved with investigating the Nova bombings (if I’m understanding correctly). He wants Lomax to plant evidence on Sidonie, as a precaution.

Sidonie has found the woman who passed her a note in a previous episode, and gets her to tell her where she’d been given the note.

Lomax seems to have a crisis of confidence and persuades Sidonie to leave for London and pursue Karin Muller.

Stefan discovers that Gunther Beck, the green politician, is father to Karin Muller’s child.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th December 1990 – 21:25

The next episode opens with a young boy waking Gunther Beck up for breakfast. I don’t know if this is Gunther’s child (I don’t think so, that child was autistic and in a home) so it’s possible Sidonie’s. For a show called ‘The Children’ there have been remarkably few scenes with children in it.

I’m presuming it’s not Sidonie’s child, since this looks like the home of the people hosting Beck while he’s in Britain.

Beck gives a talk about green politics, and who’s that standing by him, a credible and serious representative of the green political movement, it’s none other than David Icke, at this point he was still genuine;y involved in the green movement, and was a year away from his Son of God stage, and yet to descend into his ‘We are robots and lizards rule the world’ stage.

Lomax meets with Crombie, who’s the contact who’s going to give him the evidence to plant on Sidonie.

Lomax picks up the evidence, from a garden centre, under the name of Peter Wright. A little in joke about the man who wrote Spycatcher, a book about the secret service that was banned in Britain.

Sidonie and Stefan find Rosa, the daughter of Karin and Gunther.

Lomax goes to meet Bellenberg at his club.

Stefan and Sidonie split up at the station to lose their pursuers. Stefan ends up in a cinema where Denis Lawson (credited as Film Boffin) is lecturing on The Third Man.

I hadn’t recognised it when he entered, but it’s the National Film Theatre, which means the train station must have been Waterloo.

Back in the club, waiting for Bellenberg, Lonax is studying part of the evidence he’s been given. One of the club members notices. “Haven’t seen one of those in a long time. It’s a Wallace-Knight boiler system.”

Sidonie finally finds Karin Heller, at a convent.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 12th December 1990 – 21:25

The final episode is Revolution Recycled. Everyone is trying to get to Karin Muller. Stefan is tortured by Bellenberg and Crombie by taking him to see Crystal Palace play football.

Lomax meets with Bellenberg and says he’s planted the evidence on Sidonie, and tells Bellenberg where he can pick up Karin.

Lomax scouts the boiler at the stadium where the big Green conference is taking place. He finds the device that’s been placed there. He takes it and replaces it with something for Crombie.

There’s an alarm, and the building is evacuated. Crombie, up in the control room, seems unsurprised by this event.

The police send in a bomb disposal robot.

When the robot gets to where the device had been planted, Crombie sees that Lomax has replaced it with the bush he got from the garden centre.

Sidonie contacts Crombie, and tells him to set up a meeting where she can hand over Karin and he will return her children. He’s not happy being on the back foot.

They set up a whole cold-war style exchange on an airfield. They even bring the children in on a helicopter.

They’re doing it one by one, one child for Karin.

Lomax puts the bomb down between them, but Bellenberg tell him it’s him he wants.

Bellenberg tells Lomax he has plans for him in the new Germany. He’s feeling pretty confident he’s won.

But Lomax has rigged the bomb, and the car explodes with them inside.

I should have known he was a goner when he was suggesting they both movie to Florida when it was all over.

Not a bad serial, but it’s absolutely the textbook definition of a Euro-pudding – Clive James’ name for the kind of European co-productions that were a bit of a boom in the late 80s and early 90s.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 19th December 1990 – 21:25

After this, there’s a trailer for Le Nozze de Figaro.

Then, a short programme, 5th Column, in which Jonathan Eyal talks about the revolution in Romania that toppled Ceaucescu, but which hasn’t delivered democracy to the country.

This is followed by a few minutes of the start of Newsnight leading with the day’s development on the approaching Gulf War. The tape ends after a few minutes.

Zelig – Horizon – TerrorVision – tape 476

Three very different items on this tape.

First, it’s Zelig, Woody Allen’s very clever but not incredibly funny film about a man who is a Human Chameleon. I wonder if Susan Sontag is OK now with being in a Woody Allen film.

This is a very impressive technical feat, especially as it was done before digital tools made something like this much, much easier. A lot of it was achieved by shooting with cameras and lenses that would have been used at the time, and artifically degrading the film negatives. It must have been pretty laborious.

Next, a programme which is possibly in my top ten of favourite things ever on TV. It’s HorizonThe Pleasure Of Finding Things Out which consists almost entirely of an interview with physicist Richard Feynman. This is a repeat showing, as he had died recently, and I can’t remember if I’d watched the original 1981 showing. I had read his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman when I saw it on sale in Dillons bookshop in London, and I wonder if I vaguely remembered him, or whether this was the first time I’d come across him.

This programme had a profound effect on me in one particular way. He describes his father, and the way he would talk to him about science and the world at large, which I think has directly led me to embrace home education for our children, something my wife was always enthusiastic about, as she had been home-educated a lot, growing up in places like Zambia, Liberia and Saudi Arabia as her father worked in all those places. His descriptions of how he remembers his father talking to him really resonated with me, and I’ve always tried to offer the same thing to my children.

The programme is available permanently on iPlayer. It’s worth a watch. Feynman wasn’t a saint by any means, but this aspect of him, the scientist who loves finding things out, is something to admire.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st March 1988 – 20:10

Recording switches to ITV and the end of What the Papers Say. I thought there must be something wrong with my recording, but when the credits run the announcer apologises for the colour problem. Phew.

Next, one of those random late night programmes that I barely remember. The titles alone are something to behold.

A young woman sees a ‘Models Wanted’ sign in a local shop, but the job turns out not to be quite what she expected.

After the programme, announcer Patricia Yorston sums it up. “Well I told you that was going to be pretty frightening, I don’t know where those actors trained but I’ve a feeling it was the Prisoner Cell Block H school of acting, wasn’t it?”

There’s ITN news headlines, followed by the start of a film, The World of Suzie Wong. The tape ends after almos thalf an hour of this.


  • Mother’s Pride Champion
  • British Gas
  • Our Price – Billy Ocean – Tear Down These Walls
  • Audi
  • Genesis Multi-Vitamins
  • trail: Cannibal Tours
  • Selfridges
  • Financial Times
  • Brekkies – Name Change from Munchies
  • Imperial Leather Shower
  • Fosters – Paul Hogan
  • TSB
  • DHL
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Splitz
  • British Telecom
  • All Gold
  • Bourjois
  • Golden Wonder
  • Abbey National – Jonathan Ross
  • Clearasil
  • Solar
  • Lamot
  • Thomas Cook
  • Biactol
  • Katkins
  • Nurofen
  • Batchelor’s Slim-a-Soup
  • Mentadent P
  • Happy Talk
  • trail: Heart of the City
  • Dalton’s Weekly
  • Batchelor’s Slim-a-Soup
  • Timotei
  • Midland Bank – Live Cash – a new kind of bank account
  • Halls
  • Happy Talk
  • London Boat Show

Up Line – tape 255

We’re going way back to 1987 now for the first three episodes of Howard Schuman’s satire on the culty nature of pyramid selling, Up Line. This is a show that I remember quite well, probably because I recorded it and watched it more than once. To this day, ‘Vipran Spansules’ is a phrase that pops into my head when I think of weird health supplements.

“How are you feeling? What do you say? Today is the best possible day.”

Neil Pearson plays Nik Targett, alternative comic, who’s not living his best life. He’s mugged when fly-posting.

Karl Howman plays a policeman.

Paul Bown plays Victor Technology, Nik’s comedy partner.

Caroline Quentin plays Patti Technology, Victor’s sister, and Nik’s Girlfriend.

Angela Bruce plays their friend Camilla DuBois, a waitress and singer.

At an audition for a voice-over job, he meets Brian O’Brien (Patrick Drury) who’s also auditioning for a part, and who helps him with his confidence. He spots that Nik has a matchbook with a logo for the company Pathway, and we learn later that he’s a Pathway rep, and he decides to recruit Nik.

So he and his wife Grace put on a presentation they use to sell the Pathway products, Ananda Oil, Nerada Cream and Vipran Spansules. It’s a little stilted, and Nik, Victor and Pattie aren’t impressed.

Camilla’s husband Alex is played by Clarke Peters. He’s a London Cabbie, and he’s also having a bad time. He’s losing The Knowledge bit by bit.

Targett and Technology have a gig at a new nightclub, that’s run by Jim Sweeney.

Unusually for this kind of thing, their act isn’t terrible. They do some nice stuff with a big TV screen. Their first gig is a success with the audience.

But after the gig, their van is firebombed by Indonesian gangsters because Jim Sweeney wouldn’t pay them protection money. And their big TV is run over by a car.

Brian O’Brien invites Nik to a rally organised by his Up Line organisers, knowing that this kind of Pyramid selling works best if you pitch it at people at a low ebb. Sorry, it’s not Pyramid selling, it’s ‘Multi-Level Marketing’.

At the rally they meet Brian’s Up Line managers, Jim and Carol Cooper. They do a good job of rousing the audience, despite the slightly naff feeling. However, after the company song, Nik is fired up and wants in. “We can do it better” he says.

The next episode opens with Brian and Grace’s puppet show presentation. I have to say, this is high quality puppeteering. It might seem naff to Targett and Technology, but I think it’s excellent.

Brian explains the Pathway business model to Nik.

Nik keeps dreaming about his dead father and, for confusing reasons, Trotsky (played by Christopher Ryan).

Alexei Sayle plays their neighbour, Melvin, who’s desperate for more Pathway stuff as they help calm him down.

Pretty soon, he and his mother are appearing in Nik’s testimonial video.

Camilla and Alex write a song, and they make a whole production number to show at their presentation.

Their Recruits are also doing their own videos, like Belinda Sinclair, who runs an aerobics class and had a career as a dancer.

Not everyone is excited by the Pathway stuff. Patti phones Nik’s sister Fizzy in New York and unloads her worries. Fizzy in played by Clare Higgins.

They go to another big Pathway meeting for top performing lines, and potential Gold and Platinums (people who buy direct rather than from their recruiters). It’s hosted by Scott and Dan Dare. Scott is played by Peter Capaldi.

They introduce the founder of Pathway, Howard Caprice, who makes some vague (and probably illegal) promises that Vipran Spansules can fight cancer. He’s played by Hugh Laurie.

Nik and the group are called on stage to give a speech about their success. But Patti then breaks the news that they’ll be leaving the business to concentrate on their cabaret act. To the dismay of the Dare brothers, and several of their own group.

Nik is summoned to meet Howard Caprice, to tell him some exciting news about the future of Pathway, and someone is watching them.

Patti wants to sell their share of the business to the O’Briens, but Camilla and Alex want to stay in the business.

The rally ends with all of them on exercise bikes.

The next episode sees Nik still keen to stick with the business, and Patti still wanting to leave as soon as possible. And Nik’s sister Fizzy arrives from America, keen to see what’s happening to Nik based on what Patti has told her. “They have unnatural vitality levels in there” she’s told by the homeless man sitting outside.

Melvin has spruced himself up and is working as the receptionist at Nik’s new office where he’s running all their recruits.

They’ve got a room filled with people making sales and recruiting people Down Line.

It’s Nik’s birthday, and Pattie, Victor and Fizzy are hoping to work on him, reminding him about his father, and giving him a copy of Fizzy’s book about cults. But Nik comes with Camilla and Alex for protection, dressed as if he’s in Miami Vice.

Howard Caprice hosts a birthday party for Nik, because he’s being fast-tracked to be Pathway’s communications director. It’s in his roof-level ice rink. Alex and Camilla sing a special song. “Nik… We’re not taking the mick…”

Even Melvin and his mother are taking part.

Fizzy has recognised some of the people at Nik’s party, and brings Patti and Victor to see a source, Duncay Hay, who escaped from a cult, run by a man called Raymond Rudran, with the Dare Brothers and Howard Caprice as his assistants. he has super-8 footage of a gruelling event called the Apotheosis where Rudran and co bully and harangue their followers while claiming to be raising their consciousness. Rudran is played by Nigel Terry.

Meanwhile, Nik, Alex and Camilla are brought to Pathway Central, and Nik is shown the huge studio, and his own office as head of promotion.

Fizzy’s source Duncan goes to meet his former lover – it’s Scott Dare. He’s unhappy at Pathway and wants to defect.

But the two of them are grabbed, and Scott’s brother Dare tells him he’s a prime candidate for ‘The Absolute’ which is some kind of strange ceremony that Raymond Rudran is going to do at the next company event, one that harks back to the Apotheosis event that Duncan filmed.

And that’s the end of the three episodes here. There’s one more episode, but it’s on another tape that’s not coming along for a few months. I think it still holds up. I’d forgotten how much it’s a musical, not necessarily surprising given one of Howard Schuman’s earlier shows was Rock Follies.

After this, the recording continues for a bit with an episode of Ask Dr Ruth. The tape ends after a few minutes.


  • Ridgways Tea
  • Dalepak Dalesteaks
  • Stone’s Ginger Wine
  • Kit e Kat
  • The Guardian – Edna O’Brien
  • Friends Provident
  • Clearasil
  • Timotei
  • Tampax
  • Holsten Pils – Griff Rhys Jones
  • Access
  • trail: Treasure Hunt/The Chain
  • Creme Eggs
  • Wisk – Maureen Lipman
  • Tampax
  • The Fly in cinemas
  • Lexterten
  • Viennetta
  • Amstrad VCR
  • Wall’s Smithfield Grills
  • Cidal
  • Clover – Judi Dench Michael Williams
  • Lucozade – Daley Thompson
  • Friends Provident
  • Sheba
  • trail: Treasure Hunt/My Beautiful Launderette
  • Lurpak
  • Cymalon
  • Daz
  • Tampax
  • Clearasil
  • Walker’s Crisps – Duncan Goodhew
  • TV Licensing
  • Ridgways Tea
  • Sinutab
  • Airwick Stick Up
  • Job Club
  • trail: Rude Health
  • Stone’s Ginger Wine
  • Konrad Furs
  • British Airways – Super Flight Attendant
  • Fruit & Fibre
  • Toby Bitter
  • trail: My Beautiful Launderette