Month: July 2022

Last Night Of The Proms 2002 – dvd 81

Continuing from yesterday’s disc, here’s the second half of the Last Night Of The Proms 2002.

This recoding misses the start of the BBC One broadcast, so it starts with another Proms in the Park performance of a piece from La Traviata. It’s the drinking song, featuring Lesley Garrett.

The second half kicks off with Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance, otherwise known as Land of Hope and Glory. Whatever you might think of the words (and it’s said Elgar hated them) you can’t deny this is a banger.

Next, a piece by Hubert Parry called ‘I Was Glad’. It’s a piece that uses the massive chorus they have on the last night and it sounds amazing.

Leonard Slatkin gives his speech.

Next, to celebrate his centenary, there’s a selection of music from Richard Rogers, starting with an orchestral waltz written for a TV version of Cinderella. This is followed by songs from The SOund of Music, Pal Joey, I Married an Angel, A Connecticut Yankee and finishing with You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel. The songs are performed by Audra McDonald.

As is traditional, prommers present the soloist with gifts, and one of the presenters is Richard Salmon, a family friend, and a fellow BBC employee. In fact, my wife and I went to his wedding, and we shall see his wife later.

Following the traditional three cheers for Sir Henry Wood, next it’s his Fantasia on British Sea Songs.

Then, there’s Parry’s Jerusalem.

Leonard Slatkin receives his gifts, and as promised one of the presenters is Deborah Salmon, who we knew as a Proms regular, and who was married to Richard, who we saw earlier.

The concert closes with The National Anthem. Which is usually a bit of a dirge, especially following Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory, but the version they played this year was an arrangement by Benjamin Britten, and all of a sudden, it’s a glorious piece of music.

BBC Genome: BBC One London – 14th September 2002 – 21:15

After this, the recording continues for a bit. There’s an advert for the Open University, and a trailer for Waking The Dead.

Then there’s a whole edition of the BBC News. It leads with the arrest of one of the people alleged to have been responsible for the September 11th attacks. Also in the news, UN moves to get weapons inspectors into Iraq, two police officers in court over child pornography charges, and the Barrister for Michael Barrymore attacks the tabloid coverage of court cases, and accusations of paying witnesses for stories.

BBC Genome: BBC One London – 14th September 2002 – 22:40

There’s a trailer for The Fimbles.

The national lottery numbers are:

There’s a trailer for Out of Control.

Then the recording plays out with about ten minutes of the Michael Douglas protofascist drama Falling Down.

Last Night Of The Proms 2002 – dvd 80

The BBC Proms season has just kicked off this year, so here’s what was happening 20 years ago with Last Night Of The Proms 2002. This is the first half of the programme, shown on BBC2. It’s the one with the slightly more challenging music, so they stick it on BBC2 so as not to scare the sheep.

It’s presented by Stephanie Hughes.

The conductor for the night is Leonard Slatkin.

The concert opens with two pieces by William Walton, a fanfare and Ord and Sceptre, written for the Queen’s coronation.

Sticking with Walton, the next piece is a suite of his music for Olivier’s Henry V, arranged by Malcolm Sargent. This includes speeches from Shakespeare’s play read by Samuel West, who even manages to get a laugh from the opening monologue when a line about “this unworthy scaffold” is addressed to the conductor’s podium. And lest you think the Proms audience is some kind of rarefied group, he got a second laugh on the word ‘cockpit’.

Next, it’s a world premiere, a set of variations on Purcell’s Ode to St Cecilia, composed by seven different composers.

Then, it’s Grieg’s piano concerto, played by Leif Ove Andsnes, who plays all the right notes, in the right order.

That concludes the first half in the hall, but there’s a look at some of the music happening in the Proms in the Park events. It starts with Ladysmith Black Mambazo from Hyde Park singing Congratulations South Africa.

In Belfast, there’s a performance of Bill Whelan’s Inishlacken with soloists Fionnuala Hunt and Zoe Conway.

In Gateshead, Evelyn Glennie plays a Vivaldi concerto.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 14th September 2002 – 19:30

After this, there’s trailers for Coupling and the second series of The Office.

Then the recording ends just as Once Upon a Time in the West is starting. Here’s the TiVo details.



Smallville – Comedy from Merton to Enfield – dvd 404

First on this disc is another episode of SmallvillePhoenix. This is the episode immediately before the last one we saw, episode 2 of season 3. Clark is under the influence of Red Kryptonite, And Jonathan has gone into the caves to ask Jor-El to help him get Clark back. He gets super powers and they have a big, fairly elaborate fight in a conveniently deserted building. Clark looks set to Kill Jonathan. “Do it. If I could raise a son that could kill, then kill!”

This reaches Clark, and he smashes the Red Kryptonite ring he’s been wearing, freeing him of the influence. At least this time they had an excuse for him to have ripped his shirt off, so we can see the glowing Kryptonian symbol on his chest.

And all this before the opening credits.

After being presumed dead after a plane crash at the end of the previous season, Lex is back, and he’s not happy with his father. It’s all sons and fathers this week.

These episodes guest starred Rutger Hauer as Morgan Edge, who was responsible for getting Clark under the Red Kryptonite, and getting him to steal a vial of Clark’s blood. Clark doesn’t want anything to do with him any more.

Chloe used to be my favourite character, but given Allison Mack’s subsequent life choices, all I can think is ‘Sex Cult Recruiter’.

Edge doesn’t take no for an answer, and threatens Jonathan and Martha to get the blood back. Clark has to draw his own blood using a shard of Kryptonite.

Edge now knows that the blood was Clark’s, something Lionel doesn’t know. He gets his goons to gaffer tape a lump of Kryptonite to his chest so they can transport him to Metropolis.

Lana arrives just as they’ve put him in the truck, and they capture her too, but she’s Lana, and is soon taking on the goon who’s left. She (accidentally) finishes him off when he falls back onto a fork – classic barn fight ending.

The Kents are having to leave the farm, as the bank has foreclosed. But Lex arrives, and hands Jonathan the deeds, which he bought and put their names on. “After the plane went down, I made my way into one of the broken wings. This compass, your wedding present, guided me to safe harbour. The least I can do is help you keep your farm.” I love nice Lex so much, I wish he could be like this all the time.

After this episode, the recording continues with the start of ER. It ends after a few minutes. There’s even a TiVo screen giving the recording details – 18th January (although no year. I would guess 2003 as I didn’t have the TiVo in January 2002.) Edit: Thanks to Lee who pointed out that Sunday 18th January had to be 2004.

The next recording is an episode of Comedy from Merton to Enfield a show which was on Bravo of all places, although it was made by Carlton. This episode looks at Stephen Fry.

There’s a lot of people interviewed, starting with Tony Hawks.

Channel 4 commissioner Seamus Cassidy.

There’s a short clip of a sketch he performed with Prince Charles and (it looks like) Roger Moore.

Kevin Day talks about Fry’s adolescence, which involved a spell in prison for credit card theft.

Barry Cryer says there was some kind of demon in him, cutting loose.

Nigel Planer recalls being asked to write a screenplay based on the events of Fry’s youth, but eventually he concluded that if anyone should write it it should be Stephen.

Julian Thomas was a college friend.

Sound the Slatterywatch klaxon – there’s a clip from the 1981 Footlights revue ‘The Cellar Tapes’. Also featuing Emma Thompson, Paul Shearer and Penny Dwyer.

Producer Harry Thompson talks about the move from Footlights to TV. “If one of you makes it, you bring in your mates.”

There’s clips from his appearances on University Challenge

John O’Farrell talks about first seeing Fry and Laurie doing stand up.

Maria Kempinska of Jongleurs. “They just zoomed to stardom.”

Bob Mills talks about their Acting Masterclass sketch from Saturday Live.

Paul Tonkinson: “Everyone was being political and being a bit Mockney, slightly working class and really gauche, an suddenly Stephen Fry comes along, and he’s a very urbane sophisticate, all tweeds and jumpers.”

Here’s a very short haired Ed Byrne.

The Fast Show’s John Thomson

Later, the programme looks at the time he appeared on stage in Simon Gray’s Cell Mates, with Rik Mayall.

Michael Coveney talks about the play, and the bad reviews it received.

Fry was suffering from depression, and the pressure of performing, coupled with the reviews, led him to disappear. There was a lot of concern about his whereabouts until he was spotted on a cross-channel ferry, and he turned up in Belgium.


  • trail: Friends
  • Boots
  • Calpol
  • DryNites
  • Iceland
  • Carefree
  • Kleenex Balsam
  • Maybelline Wonder Finish
  • Pink – Try This
  • Locomotives
  • trail: Without a Trace
  • trail: The One Before They Were Friends
  • Kalms
  • Dominos
  • Beechams Max Strength Sore Throat Relief
  • Fiat Punto
  • L’Oreal Wrinkle De-Crease – Claudia Schiffer
  • Cisco Systems
  • Vodafone
  • Royal Air Force
  • Muller
  • trail: Wife for William
  • Beecham’s All In One
  • Pedigree
  • Tesco – Prunella Scales Jane Horrocks John Gordon Sinclair
  • Runaway Jury in cinemas
  • Sorted magazine
  • Virgin Megastore
  • Boots Opticians
  • trail: Smallville
  • Kia Rio
  • Catsan
  • Vicks Sinex
  • Kia
  • Film Four
  • trail: The Simple Life
  • Nuts magazine
  • Sainsbury’s – Jamie Oliver
  • The Last Samurai in cinemas
  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Covona
  • Nokia Tag Your Phone
  • The Phone Bar
  • Tommy’s Charity
  • Royal Air Force
  • UKG2
  • Sudafed
  • Nokia Ringtones



Strange – dvd 420

Sticking with post-VHS programmes today and two episodes of Strange – the supernatural horror series created and written by Andrew Marshall, better known for comedies like 2point4 Children and Whoops Apocalypse. This episode is Dubuykk (Spelled Dubik on iMDb) and opens in Herzegovina where a man is attacked, and a woman warns the local priest “it must not be allowed to leave here”. He dismisses it as superstition. “Hard to believe this is the 21st century” he says to himself, pulling out a mobile phone. A nice way to juxtapose the gothic setting with the present-day setting.

Notice the ‘Press Red’ flag. This would have been recorded from my Digital Satellite box, and everyone was pushing their interactive TV offerings, including my then employer, the BBC, so programmes often had these rather intrusive graphics. I was glad when I switched to using a media centre PC and a Freeview tuner, so those blips didn’t get recorded.

Ian Richardson plays Canon Black (who was an evil Priest of some kind, maybe) is shown the carvings on a stone that has just been uncovered during renovations, and he doesn’t like it.

Ralph Ineson turns up.

He helps a young woman from Herzegovina, Mina, write a small ad for work in the local supermarket. We saw her from the opening sequence.

Strange’s friend Kevin has a vision while cutting his birthday cake.

An old woman finds a dog in her house, which she seems to recognise. But then it attacks her. Not a good dog.

Andrew Lee Potts plays one of Strange’s team.

The old woman is actually Canon Black’s sister, and he asks Strange to investigate. This leads him to look for Mina as she’d been cleaning for the woman and there was money for her among her things. When he gets to her flat he finds Neil Maskell (billed as ‘Youth’) bashing on her door and yelling about asylum seekers.

Samantha Janus plays Jude, another of Strange’s team. She’s a nurse with a small son, and she gets Ralph Ineson to put in a new skirting board.

Strange has used the pages from a lot of old books as wallpaper, and one of them is relevant. It’s odd that it’s spelled ‘Dubik’ here (as on iMDb) when the episode title from Radio Times is Dubuykk.

Jude reads a paper about how pheromones released by trees can cause memories of deceased people, and specifically trees from Eastern Europe. She makes quite a mental leap and checks her new skirting board. I have to admit, this isn’t a bad scare.

The wood brought back from Herzegovina was wood from the Dubik, a tree demon, and this has been killing everyone. Which means Strange is in danger because he’s gone to see Ralph Ineson, whose living room is swathed in the evil wood. It first pretends to be Ralph Ineson (having just killed him) then pretends to be Strange’s dead wife or girlfriend (I don’t know which), and of course he can’t keep away from her despite knowing there’s weirdness about.

Jude is visited by Mina and a wise old woman, and told all this, and she’s given an axe. She rushes to find Strange, and manages to arrive before the wood from the killer tree can kill him. At this point it literally turns into a huge tree monster, and they very nearly pull it off. For a TV Budget this is actually rather amazing, and you have to love the show for trying this.

I admit I might have sniggered slightly when they burn all the haunted planks, and Strange stares wistfully at it, and the face of his wife/girlfriend appears in the flames.

The young priest in Canon Black’s office has found the rubbing of the strange inscription that was found and got Black very upset. Black catches him makes him promise to forget everything he’s seen. “Do you remember anything?” “Nothing.” “Good.” “Just the word Asmoth.” “Now listen to me. If you repeat that word to a living soul, I will personally rip off your testicles. Assuming they develop. And I will publicly feed them to you at a vicarage tea party, is that clear?”

Having said all that, now Black explains everything, which seems to rather clash with his wish that the young man forget everything. “This inscription suggests that prior to the first cathedral being built on this site, it was believed to be the place of Earthly manifestation for a devil named Asmoth.” “I see.” “You do not see. Asmoth is the name of the so-called demon that John Strange claimed caused the death of his fiancée.” Oh she was his fiancée.

BBC Genome: BBC One London – 28th June 2003 – 22:20

After this episode, there’s a trailer for My Son The Killer, for the Spitalfields Festival on Radio 3 and some cricket.

Then we have the final episode of StrangeAsmoth. Jude is having nightmares about her (I assume) dead husband. He comes and tells her to give a message to Strange. “He’s still here and he’s hungry.”

A nightwatchman at a swimming pool sees something horrifying in an opened locker which causes him to run out and puke. Someone probably took two bottles into the shower.

Strange has a visitor, and it’s only bloody Tom Baker playing a blind monk, Father Bernard. He tells them about the security guard, who had found a locker full of human bones.

And also that while he was at the cathedral, he fell into the hole that had been excavated, and was able to feel the inscription about Asmoth. This show has the weirdest ways of getting information to people.

Later, we learn that Father Bernard is a pretty good painter.

Strange investigates the swimming pool and finds a tooth crown. When he takes an impression of the inside it looks like a pointed incisor.

Now Canon Black has sent that rubbing to Strange. Was this supposed to be secret or not?

At night, Father Bernard hears someone. His eyes are quite scary, and he’s surprisingly surefooted for a blind man.

Strange finds the dental records of the man who had the crown – a man called Thomas (anagram of Asmoth you see). He gets into his flat and finds a fridge full of bloody bones. He brings them back home and is studying them when there’s a knock at the door, so he answers the door while holding one of the bones, only to find it’s Inspector Stuart (Jim Carter).

Father Bernard doesn’t fare well with the demon who was menacing him, and he ends up in A&E where Jude works. He can’t speak but she gives him a pen which he uses to poke holes in a piece of paper. It takes her a while but she realises it’s braille, and a blind colleague tells her it says ‘a trap’.

It looks like Canon Black was playing the long game and is responsible for getting Strange locked up.

Jude discovers that the Mysterious Mr Thomas works at the hospital, with the incinerator, and that’s how he gets the body parts to eat.

He traps her in a locker, and it’s not looking good for her. Things get worse when her small son walks in. “You’re dead meat” says Thomas. “No, you are” says young Joey and goes full Palpatine on him. I have to say, I really enjoyed this bit.

It’s an interesting choice to have the climax of the story without the main character being there at all, and even when Strange does turn up, he’s unconscious, having been very beaten up by the police.

Jude concludes that the killer was just a regular murderous cannibal, and not a demon after all. This feels more like the ending to a Jonathan Creek (by Marshall’s writing partner David Renwick). But at least we learn that Father Bernard will pull through.

BBC Genome: BBC One London – 5th July 2003 – 22:05

After this, there’s a trailer for Monday Comedy (including Dead Ringers featuring Rory Bremner blacking up as Trevor Macdonald), cricket and Fighting the War.

The recording ends before the next programme.



Films of the Year 2002 – Film 2002 – Rough Science – dvd 403

Here’s a DVD that didn’t come from any tapes, starting with Films of the Year 2002. Jonathan Ross has replaced Barry Norman, and in a break from tradition, the Top Ten is voted on by viewers.

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  2. Donnie Darko
  3. Ocean’s Eleven
  4. Minority Report
  5. A Beautiful Mind
  6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  7. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  8. Spider-Man
  9. Die Another Day
  10. Mulholland Drive

Jonathan also lists the films he really didn’t like.

There’s a montage of moments from celebrity interviews.

There’s a preview of Gangs of New York. And Jonathan gets to hand Peter Jackson an award for winning the viewers’ poll.

BBC Genome: BBC One London – 22nd December 2002 – 12:35

(I’m not sure about this listing, as I would have expected it to be an evening showing, but Genome isn’t showing me any other showings on BBC One, and there’s a repeat showing on BBC2, so maybe this was the only broadcast.)

The next programme is an earlier episode of Film 2002 presumably made possible because these were recorded onto DVD from TiVo.

This episode has Jonathan Ross reviewing the following films:

There’s a big set of interviews with the cast of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

There’s also an interview with Ralph Fiennes about David Cronenberg’s Spider.

BBC Genome: BBC One London – 16th December 2002 – 23:15

After this, something a bit different with a couple of episodes of Rough Science. This was a show that started off relegated to the late night Open University slot, so I’m not sure how we stumbled on it, but it’s a brilliant show, in which a team of scientists are taken somewhere remote and have to complete some scientific challenges. It’s like I’m a Celebrity but with PhDs instead of British Soap Awards.

It’s presented by Kate Humble.

The scientists and engineers who make up the team are Mike Bullivant (who I once sat next to on a train that got hideously delayed, and had a nice chat about the show).

Kathy Sykes

Mike Leahy

Ellen McCallie

and Jonathan Hare.

This series is set on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, in an abandoned saw mill. The challenge this series is to find gold.

Mikes Bullivant and Leahy have to extract gold from rocks they excavated in an earlier programme. They’ll need Mercury for part of the process, which Mike B will have to get out of a lump of Cinnabar.

Mike L has welded a crusher to crush their excavated rocks.

Jonathan and Ellen have a treasure map, but to find the treasure they’ll need to know their altitude, so they have to make an altimeter with some tea in a plastic tube.

Mike B makes a little bit of mercury.

Having mixed some of the crushed rock with the mercury, in theory any gold in the rock will dissolve in the mercury forming an amalgam. Then they have to remove the mercury from the gold, which they do by baking it in a potato. No really.

Jonathan and Ellen get to their treasure spot, and use a metal detector (built for a previous challenge) to find some buried gold.

The two Mikes managed to get a few grams out of the crushed rock.

Kathy got some gold out of sand from the beach.

And there’s a small nugget of gold from the treasure hunt. This was clearly the production team’s Plan B in case the actual science didn’t produce enough gold.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 29th November 2002 – 19:30

The next episode is the final episode in the series. The final challenge is to purify the gold they’ve collected. So the first task is to build a furnace.

Mike B hopes to purify their gold by heating it up to melting point, along with ground glass and fertilizer. The idea is that the impurities in the gold with react with the fertilizer, and dissolve in the glass, and the heavier gold will sink to the bottom of the container.

Mike L builds a makeshift thermometer to see if the furnace has reached the heat needed to melt the gold. It’s got small amounts of several metals which melt at different temperatures, so they will be able to tell of the furnace has reached the right temperature.

The moment of truth comes when they have to smash the crucible to see if the gold has successfully been purified. And it’s worked amazingly well. These scientists know their stuff.

To make the raw gold into some jewellery, Jonathan attaches a couple of inanimate carbon rods to a car battery to make some heat.

The end results are two earrings.

And a pendant vaguely in the style of a Maori fishhook.

I do love this show. Even knowing the science is sound, seeing it all work still seems a little bit like magic.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 6th December 2002 – 19:30


Edge Of Darkness – tape 90

I’m blogging Edge of Darkness based on what was on the tapes. The DVD copies of these missing tapes actually had the first four episodes on one DVD, and the last two episodes on another, but I’m reviewing what was on the tapes.

So we’re now at episode 4 – Breakthrough. Craven is at his home, in the rain, and IRA man McCroon, the man who shot Emma, is outside. The opening scenes, of McCroon waiting, and Craven prowling round his house, both men carrying shotguns, culminating in Craven pointing his gun through a window at McCroon, is another scene like a Sergio Leone western, and the music, by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton, just heightens that comparison.

But Craven wants an answer, so he lets McCroon get into the house. He wants to hear from McCroon why he shot Emma, and who sent him. But before he can get an answer, there’s an explosion of blood, and McCroon falls, shot by a sniper. Craven is distraught that he was shot before he could tell him the truth.

Craven spends some time being counselled for trauma. He tells his therapist that Emma used to tell him he had to be strong, like a tree. “That’s how she saw me.” It was obviously a theme, as we see the envelopes Emma sent to him.

A woman’s body washes up in a Yorkshire lake. Pendleton is there to test it for radiation. She’s identified as another of the Gaia team. I love the small details. When Pendleton pulls out the geiger counter and it gives the crackle indication radiation, the policemen around him start slowly backing away.

Craven returns home. On the steps where Emma was shot, he finds a spring of water.

Craven is the type of man who puts the Radio Times into a leather binder.

He can hear young Emma’s voice from the kitchen, singing about making Ratatouille. He finds a note in a recipe book with names of underground stations.

Jedburgh returns from El Salvador. He relaxes by watching tapes of Come Dancing.

Craven makes contact with a man who  can get him access to an MI5 terminal. The man brings along his wife. “Well if he’s going down for ten years, we might as well go together.” “Can you operate a keyboard?” Craven asks her, because that’s a woman’s job.

We get a lovely tense ‘hacking’ scene. Craven is looking around the files, reading what they say about Emma, trying to find a map of the tunnels around Northmoor, while his conspirators are shouting about time running out. That’s quite an impressive terminal, one that can do bitmap graphics too, and has a dot matrix printer attached for a handy paper record. When I first watched this scene, back in 1985, I was quite confused as to how various London Underground stations would connect up to a nuclear waste plant in Yorkshire. I am very stupid.

Grabbing the printout, Craven has to run as the police are descending on him. This is one of the very few action sequences in the show, lots of running down corridors, bursting through doors, until suddenly he runs through a door and finds himself in a large foyer filled with people dressed up for the theatre, and we see he’s in the Barbican. He pushes through the crowds of people eluding the police pursuit, and ends up at the bar – right next to Clemmy, Jedburgh’s friend who he’d met at the House of Commons. It desperately unlikely that she would have known where he’d end up even if she knew he was going to be there, but it’s a nice cap to the scene.

But there’s an even better tag, as the police sergeant running the operation is on the radio. “I’ve covered the area guvnor, no sign of them up here.” “Where the hell are you?” “I’m on the roof.” “I told you to follow the exit signs.” “I did, and I’m on the roof.” Anyone who visited the Barbican will attest that this is the truest thing ever written. Incidentally, that police sergeant is played by Jim Dunk, who used to advertise Molson Canadian Lager.

Craven and Clemmy return to the hotel room. Pendleton phones him. “You’ve been asked to give evidence before the House of Commons Energy Committee. Remember we discussed it some time ago.” “And I said no.” “You don’t say no to the Commons, Craven, or they lock you up.”

Trying to sleep, Craven hears the hotel fridge, door left open. He gets up to close it, which wakes Clemmy, sleeping on the divan. She’s definitely a good choice to protect Craven.

Jedburgh meets with a White House staffer who gives him instructions to break into Northmoor and steal the plutonium. This shot is typical of a lot of the show’s photography, as the two people in the foreground are having a conversation, and the third person is walking towards them in the background, out of focus.

At the House of Commons, Craven finally gets to confront Godbolt, and ask him about his involvement with Northmoor. As a union man, he’d been chosen by the MOD to work with them in the storage of nuclear waste, as they needed miners to work in the facilities. He’d signed the official secrets act, and that part of his job was never discussed publicly.

Over time, the MOD privatised the facilities, sold it to IIF, and Godbolt came with the deal. Then Craven asks him what he meant when he said on television that Emma was killed ‘by mistake’. He tells him that the mistake was made by the people in charge of Northmoor. “They knew someone had led the Gaia team under the Northmoor defences. They asked me to make a list of possible leaders, and as an old caver, your name were there, someone who knew the shafts and vents of the old pits. Someone whom Emma could persuade, and they thought it was you.” Craven says “They got it wrong.” “Like they always do. It were me.” “You? You took them in?” “Yes I took them down there, I hadn’t completely sold out.”

Craven meets with Jedburgh and asks if he’s changed his mind about “our little trip”. Later that night Pendleton calls him. “I hear you’re taking Jedburgh. Will you be armed?” “Yes.” “Well if it gets out of hand, shoot him. Remember he’s an American, so not basically on our side.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 25th November 1985 – 21:30

There’s another introduction to the next episode.

This episode is Northmoor. Craven, Jedburgh and Godbolt are preparing to go into Northmoor. Godbolt has an old map, printed on linen “accurate to an inch”.

Jerry Grogan has been tipped off that they’re going to break in, so Northmoor security are preparing plans to stop them by laying gas at the tunnels, and flooding them with water from the cooling pools. There’s concern that using too much water would expose the flasks and cause a nuclear event. Brian Croucher plays the man planning the operation.

Godbolt takes them as far as he dares, and Craven and Jedburgh go on, surviving gas and floodwater, until they come across a very well stocked nuclear bunker.

“It’s like the doomsday equivalent of Harrods” says Jedburgh, looking at the wine racks. He even prepares a meal.

They carry on, and on the way, find another body of one of the Gaia team. Craven turns on the geiger counter, and they walk on, as the crackling of the counter gets faster and faster until they come out in a large chamber. This is the ‘Hot Cell’ that’s been talked about since the beginning.

Jedburgh starts collecting the Plutonium he needs.

Craven waits outside to give him time. Croucher’s men appear like alien bad guys, and there’s a real old-fashioned gun battle. This programme isn’t high-octane, but when it counts, it can do proper action.

When Jedburgh has got what he came for, they find a service lift that’s still working, although it was blocked by a dead body. Jedburgh lets craven out with one piece of plutonium, and takes the lift to the top. Craven manages to evade security until he finds a disused MOD communications centre. He tries all the phones, looking for one with a connection.

The tension is rising. There’s no way out of that room. He can hear a ringtone, and elsewhere, we see a security guard come down some dusty stairs looking for the phone that’s ringing. She finally finds it in a corner, and answers it. “Downing Street”. Craven yells “GET ME PENDLETON” and the episode ends.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 2nd December 1985 – 21:30

There’s another introduction before the final episode.

Now we come to episode 6: Fusion. Craven is in a US air base hospital. He’s definitely suffering from the effects of radiation. All Pendleton seems to care about is the location of Jedburgh and the plutonium.

Jedburgh is on the loose, and the CIA aren’t having much luck taking him in.

He makes it to Scotland. Naturally, he takes in the golf course at Gleneagles.

But his real reason for being there is to speak at a NATO conference. The organiser is played by David Jackson, the second Blake’s 7 actor I’ve noticed after last episode’s Brian Croucher.

Jerry Grogan is speaking at the conference, talking about using plutonium to create directed energy weapons, and fusion motors powering spaceships, all this technology driven by war. It doesn’t sound appealing.

It certainly doesn’t appeal to Jedburgh, who in rebuttal lays out what he thinks Grogan’s real plan is – a nuclear superstate, run by Grogan and his cronies, where the ownership of plutonium was the key to power. But his coup de theatre is when he brings out two pieces of weapons grade plutonium, enough to give a fatal dose if he brings them together. This causes panic in the room as all the attendees rush to get out. Grogan stays, because he’s not a snowflake, and as a result gets a faceful of criticality.

They have to let Jedburgh get away because he tells them that he’s formed the rest of the plutonium into a bomb. Their best chance is to let Craven track him down. Which he does quite easily. Craven tells Jedburgh that the reason he was told to get the plutonium from Northmoor was because Grogan thought his takeover was going to be blocked, and he wanted another way to get the plutonium out, so he persuaded the CIA to get Jedburgh to do it. Jedburgh has worked this out. He shows Craven the plutonium bullet that he could use to detonate his makeshift bomb, although he admits he decided against it, on account of the golf courses.

The authorities turn up. Jedburgh won’t go down without a fight, and takes out as many as he can before he’s finally shot. But Craven is resigned to his fate. He’s sitting with multiple guns pointed at him when the head of the operation arrives. “Mr Craven?” “Just do it. DO IT!” he yells. “No no, old son. You’re on our side.” And they all walk out, leaving him sitting there. “I AM NOT ON YOUR SIDE!”

While all this is happening, Pendleton and Harcourt are at a lavish dinner hosted by Grogan. The minister is there, whining. “You can always talk about a nuclear state, but every weekend sees one of us swimming up and down outside a nuclear power station while the world’s press takes snaps from a safe distance. It makes me sick.” “How sick?” replies Pendleton.

The next day, IIF run a big operation to recover the plutonium from the loch where Jedburgh stowed it. Pendleton and Harcourt are there, “to show the flag” as Harcourt’s voiceover says. “You asked about Craven. The last we saw of him was up on the hill overlooking the loch. Staring down at us like a wild animal. Neither myself or Pendleton felt it appropriate to wave.”

The final shot of Craven on the hill is all that’s left of an idea from the original screenplay, which called back to Emma thinking of him as a tree, where Craven would literally turn into a tree. I’m quite glad they decided against this, but I do love the symbolism.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 9th December 1985 – 21:30

After the episode finished, there’s an announcement that the programme is going to be repeated, over three consecutive evenings on BBC1, an unprecedented move by the BBC.

The tape ends during a trailer for Jazz Week.

Edge Of Darkness – tape 88

Today we come to another of my missing tapes, and it’s what I still consider one of the greatest TV programmes ever made. It’s Edge Of Darkness, a thriller very much in the vein of the 70s paranoid thrillers like The Parallax View. It’s written by Troy Kennedy Martin, a veteran TV writer who’d co-created Z Cars, and also wrote the screenplays for The Italian Job and Kelly’s Heroes. It’s directed by Martin Campbell who would go on to make a lot of great movies, and also ‘reboot’ James Bond twice, with Goldeneye and Casino Royale.

The first episode is Compassionate Leave. I should say that I’m watching this from my Bluray version, which I bought a few years ago, and was still in its shrinkwrap.

After a moody opening with shots of policemen shining torches through fences and shots of trains transporting nuclear material, we start on a rainy night. Union leader James Godbolt is trying to persuade police detective Ronald Craven to delay his investigations into voting irregularities in the recent union elections until after the TUC conference. Godbolt is played by Jack Watson, one of those great character actors who’s familiar from so many shows.

The detective is Ronald Craven, played by Bob Peck. This programme made him a big star but at the time he was fairly unknown. He’s brilliant in this.

Also present is Craven’s boss Ross, played by John Woodvine off of An American Werewolf in London.

Hanging around outside the meeting, in the bushes, is this shifty looking bloke.

Craven agrees not to go to the conference, but he won’t drop the enquiry. Later that evening, he goes to pick up his daughter Emma from a political meeting. She’s played by Joanne Whalley, another star-making performance.

The speaker at the event is Labour MP Michael Meacher.

As they drive home, I’m reminded of how this is one of those rare cases of a good father-daughter relationship. I’ve mentioned before how bad parenting affects so many stories, so I should point out the examples of good parents when they appear.

But the cosy family idyll is shattered when they’re running up the steps to the house and the man in the bushes from earlier steps out and shouts for Craven. They turn, and Emma screams and runs towards him, and he shoots her square in the chest with both barrels of a shotgun. At the time this was a pretty shocking effect especially for TV and so early in the programme it was dramatically shocking too.

I have to admit that I spent a lot of this episode in tears. Bob Peck moves through the aftermath of Emma’s death mostly in stoic silence, but there are moments when the reserve drops. And the really small details, like when the forensic team have finished with the body, it’s put into a coffin, and Craven moves forward to take one end as it’s loaded into the hearse.

With all the police having left, Craven looks round Emma’s bedroom. He plays the record that’s on the turntable, and it turns out that Emma’s taste in music runs to Willie Nelson (although to be fair this has a callback later, and I like to think that this was one of Craven’s records, and he’s the Willie Nelson fan, and Emma became one because of that.

He makes some discoveries amongst Emma’s things. He finds a radiation detector in a box folder marked Gaia, and elsewhere, he finds a gun. Clearly, there were many things about Emma that he didn’t know.

At the police station, Godbolt visits the Chief Constable. Naturally he’s concerned about Emma’s death. “I lost my son at 20 down the pit” he says. But you detect he’s more interested in who’s taking over the investigation into the union.

Craven visits the office. Ross tells him he’s on compassionate leave for the time being. They are working on the assumption this is a revenge killing, from his time working in Northern Ireland. Craven is going to London because that’s where they think their suspect is.

There’s another small piece of grief. The tea lady gives Craven a bacon roll. “here you are Mr Craven. I’ve taken out all the fat. It was such a shame. She was such a little beauty.” She starts crying and Craven has to console her. “Come on lass. You’ll have us all at it in a minute.”

He has to formally identify Emma’s body. After he’s done so, the morgue attendant goes to cover her face, and Craven yells “LEAVE IT!” It’s a shocking moment, as this is the first time Craven has raised his voice at all in the whole episode.

He picks up her things from the gym, and is putting her clothes in the washing machine. He’s started to imagine Emma’s voice talking to him, and she tells him not to mix colours and whites. But among her things is a badge marked with the radiation symbol and the initials IIF. Attentive viewers might remember that as the logo on the nuclear container on the train at the start of the episode.

He fetches the radiation detector he found in Emma’s room, and starts scanning her clothes. There’s a bit of a reaction, but not much until he moves it near his jacket pocket. He has a lock of Emma’s hair, and it’s showing signs of being irradiated.

As well as hearing Emma’s voice, he’s having flashbacks to when she was a small girl. The actress playing the young Emma really looks like she could be the young Joanne Whalley. And it’s another scene that makes me cry.

Craven arrives in London, and is welcomed by an officer from the Met. They’ve put him up in the ‘Shepherd’s Bush Hilton’. He’s watching TV, Robin Day is interviewing Margaret Thatcher about the nuclear deterrent, when he gets a phone call. A man called Pendleton wants to talk to him, and he’s in the Hotel car park. He takes the stairs rather than the lift, and finds Pendleton (Charles Kay) watching the lift for him. “I’d rather talk in my car” Craven tells him. “Oh, yours is bugged. And your phone.”

Pendleton works for the Prime Minister’s office, and tonight is looking after the PM as she’s being interviewed on the BBC, so he drives Craven to Television Centre. “About your daughter. She was some kind of terrorist, wasn’t she?” he says.

He has to leave via a different route, so he drops Craven off to make his way home, asking him to ring him so he can meet his colleague Harcourt. As Craven is walking home (if his hotel really was in Shepherd’s Bush that’s not a terrible walk) he watches a train go past, also carrying a nuclear container, and echoing the opening scenes.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 4th November 1985 – 21:30

The next episode is Into The Shadows. It opens with all of Craven’s fellow police officers listening to a tape of Craven’s interview, describing the events of Emma’s death. On paper, this might had seemed like a huge info-dump, and that’s certainly its purpose, as you couldn’t guarantee that the TV audience had all watched episode one – no iPlayer in those days. But having the camera slowly pan between the faces of the men listening (no women, I note, since this was the 80s) and Bob Peck’s measured, calm tones relating some horrible events makes this scene as compelling as any highly charged dramatic scene.

After a scene where Craven eludes an officer who’s tailing him, he visits a ballistics investigator, with the gun he found in Emma’s things. He also asks him about Pendleton. Recently, he’d been asked to test a weapon that had been found in water that he wanted to be tested for radioactivity. Which it was.

While there, Craven looks up the file of Emma’s boyfriend, Terry Shields, but it’s restricted. I’m not impressed with their record keeping, as that’s not how Shields is spelled.

He visits Shields, played by Tim McInnerny. At this point I only knew him from playing Lord Percy in Blackadder, but he played a lot of shady young men in dramas like this. He’s a socialist radical here, but in A Very British Coup he played a zealous member of the security services, so you can’t say he hasn’t got range.

Craven doesn’t learn a lot about Emma, as it seems Terry wasn’t part of whatever she was doing, but Shields does let him know that he’s under surveillance by writing Azure on the mirror. According to this show, this means the room is bugged. I wonder if that was true, or just something that was made up.

Walking out of the flat, Craven is talking to Emma again. “That wasn’t your nightie on the bed, was it?” “No.” “You were dead less than a week and he’s already got another woman in his bed, do you understand that.” Craven is walking down the street, and then suddenly, Emma is there in person talking to him. This is such a weird dramatic device for what seems to be the most grounded, realistic kind of thriller and yet it works perfectly. This shot is also very well done. Craven is striding down the street, the camera following him with a long lens so foreground and background are compressed, and as a car roof in the foreground briefly obscures the pavement, when we’re past it Emma is now walking with Craven. I love this moment.

Craven meets Pendleton again. He’s not driving the green Mercedes this time. “We only use it on posh occasions. We’re trying to save on fuel.” Not sure an old Morris Minor is the most fuel efficient alternative.

Pendleton is working out of an office on top of a Currys..

He meets Pendleton’s partner, Harcourt, played by Ian McNeice, who’s an expert in financial and business dealings. He tells Craven that six people, members of the environmental organisation Gaia, broke into the Northmoor nuclear waste plant eight weeks ago, led by Emma. Pendleton and Harcourt are investigating Northmoor, and also tell Craven that union leader Godbolt had a close connection to Northmoor management, so they would have had the motive and means to rig the union ballot to get him re-elected.

After he leaves, he tries to make a call from a phone booth. I wonder if the ‘Death or Bongo’ graffiti was already there, or a piece of production design.

Craven has to do a TV interview, with the actual Sue Cook. Crimewatch, I imagine. I love the details of this scene, with Sue Cook talking to the director in the gallery, and asking Craven to uncross his legs as it looks odd on camera.

Later that evening, Craven gets a call, and goes to meet Darius Jedburgh, a CIA agent who has a file on Emma. He’s played by Joe Don Baker, and he’s magnificent. He also has all the best lines. “You ever been to Dallas, Craven? It’s where we shoot our presidents.” They also have a long discussion about Willie Nelson’s song ‘Time of the Preacher’ which was the song on Emma’s record player.

Craven gets to read the file on Emma. Again, it’s an information dump, explaining that there is a suspected secret plutonium source stored in the mines at Northmoor, and that Emma led a break-in, although they don’t know the objective, and whether it was successful. Craven remembers a conversation he had with Emma about Northmoor.

The report wonders where the plutonium has come from, if not Sellafield, and why it is being produced.

It describes the raid on Northmoor. “No one knows exactly what occurred, but one source indicates that the team were trapped in an underground tunnel below the cooling pools and that a large quantity of radioactive water was directed into it. Whether this was a calculated act on the part of the company is not known.”

It also mentions Craven. “Her father, a detective in Craigsmills, may also have known of his daughter’s activities. It is difficult to conclude that he did not. Yet, he made no attempt to stop her going in. Why?”

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 11th November 1985 – 21:30

The next episode is Burden Of Proof. On this recording I’ve got the BBC’s ‘previously on’ which consists of the continuity announcer giving a precis of the plot combined with photos of the characters. So a little like this blog, really.

Craven returns Jedburgh’s file. “That wasn’t meant to leave the building.” Meanwhile the Met attempt to arrest Lowe, a former criminal from Northern Ireland that Craven knew from his time working there. The arrest doesn’t go well, and Lowe jumps and falls six stories.

Craven interviews the severely injured Lowe. He remembers his previous encounter with Lowe, where he needed to get a confession after a brutal attack. His interrogation technique involved spending a lot of time alone with Lowe, holding hands, being physically close. This sounds like an unlikely technique.

We get to meet the head of IIF, who own Northmoor, Bennett (Hugh Fraser) and Jerry Grogan (Kenneth Nelson) who runs an American firm, the Fusion Corporation, who are in talks to buy IIF, and therefore whatever is in Northmoor.

Craven visits a former colleague from Northern Ireland, asking for help getting access to the MI5 computer system.

Back at his hotel, Craven finds Jedburgh on the bed watching Godbolt being interviewed on TV on a religious show. “This is the second time he’s mentioned you” he says. Godbolt talks about Emma’s death, and how “it was a mistake”. Jedburgh tells Craven he’s trying to send him a message.

Craven also tells Jedburgh that Terry Shields had spoken to him, and told him the Emma thought there was a ‘Hot Cell’ in Northmoor, which was why they tried to break in. Jedburgh and Pendleton visit Shields’ flat, and find him unable to receive visitors.

Craven goes to the House of Commons, where the parliamentary inquiry into the takeover of IIF is starting. He meets Clemmy, a friend of Jedburgh, played by Zoe Wanamaker.

Craven sees Bennett and Grogan, also there for the inquiry. Pendleton asks him “Do you know that man?” “I recognise his face.” “That’s the man we think had your daughter killed.” This is one of my favourite lines in anything I’ve watched. Its delivered in such a casual manner, but its intention is to give Craven even more reason to work with Pendleton to find out what’s happening at Northmoor.

It’s also a great scene, as Bennett sees Craven, asks his aide why he’s there, and Pendleton and Harcourt stare back. It’s like a scene from a Sergio Leone western with the gunfighters facing off.

Outside the commons, Grogan returns to his car, and Jedburgh hops in, to warn Grogan that he’s on to him. “I’m a diplomat. Corps Diplomatique.”

Craven returns home for Emma’s funeral. (It was well attended, but the mourners walk away leaving Craven alone.)

Afterwards, he asks for the watch to be taken off his house. “McCroon won’t come if I’m being watched.” McCroon is the IRA man the Yorkshire police think shot Emma. Sure enough, as Craven is mowing his lawn, he’s being watched.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 18th November 1985 – 21:30

The DVD of this tape actually has the extra stuff at the end of the tape. “The BBC has been asked to point out that the Gaia organisation portrayed in the series Edge of Darkness is entirely fictional and has no connection to the Gaia movement, or the publishers Gaia Books Ltd.

There’s also a promo for Did You See, which is an extra on the BluRay.

There’s a trailer for the drama Ties of Blood, and the tape finishes with a few minutes of Newsnight, hosted by Peter Snow from Geneva, for a summit meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Hysteria 3 – Enterprise – dvd 60

First recording today is Hysteria 3 – another charity comedy evening on stage, this time to benefit Aids and HIV charities. It’s introduced by Stephen Fry.

The show is being filmed at the London Palladium, where Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is usually performing, hence Dawn French appearing in the coat.

I presume these are The Tiller Girls.

Stephen Fry arrives in the same costume. A pity he didn’t do an Angela Rippon and actually dance with them, but I suspect he’d have been a foot taller than them.

Sound the klaxon! Tony Slattery performs a sketch with his S&M partner Mike McShane.

Ruby Wax does some comedy about the joys of childbirth.

Lenny Henry is just a singer now, I guess.

Julian Clary gets a huge reaction on his entrance, which I’m sure delighted him. He’s there to host a celebrity segment of his show Sticky Moments.

He’s abetted by The Lovely Russell on piano.

And his assistant Hugh Jelly.

The celebrity contestants are Sarah Greene,

Melvyn Bragg

Anna Ford

And Clement Freud.

Next, Morwenna Banks gives a TED talk about disease.

Fry and Laurie do the classic Hedge Sketch. Well, I say it’s a classic, but that might be because once, at an office Christmas party, a colleague and I performed this sketch, so it’s quite familiar, and that’s also why I noticed that Stephen actually fluffs one of the early lines, skipping forward so that he’s actually saying the ‘correct’ line rather than the one before, which is the conceit of the sketch. They recover, and it still fits with the idea of the sketch, but I was a bit worried at first.

Josie Lawrence performs ‘Tired and Emotional’. I think she also did this in her own show because I do remember it, but now I’m wondering if this was where I heard it.

Eddie Izzard in his ‘not appearing on TV’ phase, which coincides with his ‘wearing a terrible shirt’ phase.

Beverley Craven performs ‘Promise Me’, a song I really like, yet haven’t heard for what feels like decades.

Stand Up from Steven Wright

There’s an ensemble piece, featuring Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson…

plus Emma Freud, who does a good impression of Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally…

and Craig Ferguson.

I’m afraid I don’t recognise this singer, who performs ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story.

Hugh Laurie does a bit about gays in the military.

Rowan Atkinson does a hard hitting interview

with Elton John, where Rowan is very annoyed by the order of Elton’s first and last names. It’s a very good bit.

During this sketch, the picture went a bit wonky, and at first I thought this must have been an issue with the tape I was recording it from.

But then it cuts to blank, and after a few seconds we get a continuity card, and an announcer apologising for the break in transmission.

They git it back quickly enough, but then it happens again. And in total it must happen about 8 times at various points, sometimes requiring continuity, sometimes not. That must have been a tense time in the gallery.

Ben Elton does a routine about contraception.

Music from Jools Holland

and Sam Brown

with Dave Gilmour on guitar.

French and Saunders do magic.

Then the show closes in the only way it can – with Edwin Starr performing the theme song to Film 85. No, really, it’s a song called I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, a jazz song from 1963, and the Film programmes used part of a live version as its theme.

After the credits, we’re back with Stephen Fry for a last push for cash, and he signs off with that ancient prayer, ‘Goodnight, and may Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher be with you.’ I’d forgotten this was where that quote came from, but it’s a quote I remember.

The other recording on this tape was contemporary with the DVD, not from a tape. It’s Broken Bow, the first episode of Star Trek Enterprise.

I had started to watch and jot down my thoughts about this episode – this recording was from the showing on Channel 4 – when I wondered if I might already have looked at it. And sure enough, I did, from another showing on Sky One.

In case you’re wondering if me not reviewing it again means you’ll miss some new insights, don’t worry. I got halfway through before I checked, and my original review made every single point that I was going to make here, and often chose exactly the same screenshots. So I guess what that proves is that I’m consistent in what I like.

Still, there’s a couple of very odd adverts in the ad breaks. I’ve no idea what this one for Lilt is supposed to mean? I thought it was a Playstation or XBox advert at first, and maybe that’s what they were going for?

And this advert for McFlurrys is just revolting.


  • Fleur by Lentheric
  • Lycra
  • Salon Selectives
  • Pure New Wool
  • Barclays
  • Lunn Poly
  • Allied
  • Toy Soldiers in cinemas
  • Lilt
  • The West Wing on video
  • Arm & Hammer Extra Whitening
  • Nivea for Men
  • Busch Gardens
  • Ford Mondeo
  • O2
  • Vanish Action Ball
  • McDonalds
  • trail: Big Brother
  • T-Mobile
  • Head & Shoulders – Men in Black
  • Mazda
  • Thorpe Park
  • Lynx
  • trail: ER
  • Barclays – Samuel L Jackson
  • Volvic
  • Barclays – Samuel L Jackson
  • Citroen C3
  • trail: Big Brother
  • Sprite
  • Groovy Baby CD
  • The Sun
  • Hands to Heaven CD
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Woolworth’s
  • T-Mobile
  • trail: RI:SE


Secret History – The Hollywood Machine – dvd 45

More documentaries today, starting with Secret HistoryMagic at War. This is a fascinating story of how Britain’s most famous stage magician, Jasper Maskelyne, used his talents at illusion and misdirection to help the British efforts during the second world war.

The Maskelyne family had a history with Magic and invention. The family invented many devices, including the coin operated toilet door – the origin of the phrase “spending a penny”.

Saul David talks about how Field Marshall Rommel seemed to have a sixth sense.

Magician Paul Zenon talks about Maskelyne’s magic skills.

Here’s a lovely surprise for me – this is Robbie Stamp, who was my old boss when I worked at Douglas Adams’ The Digital Village. Before that, he was a TV producer, and wrote a book on this subject.

The kind of thing that Maskelyne would create were dummy tanks, built of plywood, to fool German reconnaissance flights that sites were protected. His eye for detail meant that he also made sure that they laid down realistic looking tank tracks in the desert sand.

One of the people working with Maskelyne on building these fake vehicles was Ken Adam, who would go on to be a production designer, including work on many James Bond films.

Other techniques tried was a series of spinning mirrors and spotlights designed to hide the location of the Suez Canal.

Dr Stephen Badsey is definitely talking down Maskelyne’s own accounts of the war, suggesting there’s a lot of self publicity in his accounts that might not match the reality.

After the war, a disillusioned Maskelyne emigrated to Kenya and set up a driving school.

Next on this disc, The Hollywood Machine – Lightning in a Bottle. A look at the risks a rewards when developing blockbusters. First they look at the making of Charlie’s Angels. Director McG says, of working with Bill Murray, “I felt honoured that he was so intent on being the best that he could be that he would argue with me.”

Akiva Goldsman, a byword for quality writing, was the 17th of 18 writers on Charlie’s Angels.

Oliver Stone laments that people have stopped going to see his movies.

Penelope Spheeris talks about attending the premiere of her film Wayne’s World, and being in a group of marketing executives, “All of a sudden I felt them closing in getting tighter and tighter talking about how much money they were going to make, what a success they had, and I find myself outside the circle. I’m looking at the backs of the marketing guys, they totally excluded me. And I stood there and I thought ‘Welcome to Hollywood’.”

Jamie and Gered Williams are responsible for Shrek. It was their favourite book, they would read it all the time, and one day their producer father asked them if they’d want to see a movie of it.

Andrew Marlowe, writer of Air Force One tells of the time he had pitched End of Days to the studio, was developing the script, and unexpectedly meets Arnold Schwarzenegger at the pool in a Hawaii hotel, and has to do the pitch for him there and then. “So there I am in my swimsuit, and there he is in his swimsuit – Advantage Arnold, right?”

Bill Mechanic ran 20th Century Fox for four years. They talk particularly about making Fight Club.

There’s talk about the importance of the script. Ridley Scott should know. I’ve always thought that he’s entirely at the mercy of the quality of the scripts, and can’t make a bad script good.

Alan Ball talks about pitching American Beauty to Dreamworks. He was leaving the producers’ office, they were telling him how much they loved the script and wanted to work with him, when Steven Spielberg comes out of another office, and is introduced to Ball. “I just sort of froze, and I was thinking ‘OK, I’m about to meet Steven Spielberg. Just act calm, just act like this happens every single day of your life'”

Steven E De Souza talks about working on Tomb Raider with director Simon West, who had an unorthodox approach to storytelling. De Souza wrote the first three drafts. Ten other writers followed. “This is a film that was approached without any thought on traditional storytelling, in fact Simon West has been very vocal on how he wanted to abandon traditional storytelling, that this is a new approach. Simon clearly wanted to make a break with these kind of adventure films. He would say many times ‘I don’t want any surprises, I don’t want any plot twists. Those things are too 20th Century.'”

Simon West took the script away and rewrote it. He talks about how it’s much better for a script to have ‘one voice’, although clearly Tomb Raider has quite a few other voices, as West is credited with ‘adaptation’ and there are five other credited writers who clearly wrote enough to qualify under the writers guild rules. De Souza describes the finished result as “The first post-content movie. There’s literally no plot. This is not an accident, this is a choice”.

Ben Stiller talks about There’s Something About Mary and how the script was seen as so offensive that it was being hidden from head of Fox Bill Mechanic.

Dean Devlin talks about the difficulty of getting a green light on a project.

Pierce Brosnan talks about using his star power to get movies made.

Colin Farrell is used as an example of a rising star.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 15th June 2002 – 20:20

There’s one more episode of The Hollywood Machine here – Battle of the Blockbusters.

There’s lots of footage from premieres, and among a lot of stars, I spotted Danny Elfman.

We follow The Fast and the Furious writer Gary Scott Thompson to the premiere.

Ronald Bass talks about how, over the years, he’s become more appreciative of the testing process.

Marketing and promotion is discussed by Jude Law, for AI.

Helena Bonham Carter, for Planet of the Apes.

Likewise Tim Burton.

Harry Knowles, off of the internet, talks about the time John McTiernan was nice to him in the hope of a good review for Rollerball.

Robert Rodriguez shows Spy Kids to McDonalds, and got a ton of publicity from them for the tie-in.

After Captain Corelli’s Mandolin got a lot of bad reviews, the filmmakers were a bit upset. John Hurt thought Evening Standard critic Alexander Walker should be shot. I don’t think he is alone in that thought.

Woody Harrelson also has had some bad reviews in his time.

Short studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg talks about premiering Shrek at Cannes.

Joel Silver talks about the importance of the movie’s opening.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 22nd June 2002 – 20:15

After this episode, there’s trailers for 24 and The Kumars at No 42.

Then, the recording ends with a few minutes of the first episode of Pride & Prejudice.

PG Wodehouse: The Long Exile – The Fight – dvd 402

Today, a couple of documentaries, with rather different subjects.

First, PG Wodehouse: The Long Exile. It always surprises me that Wodehouse was still publishing new novels in the 1970s.

Contributors include his biographer, Robert McCrum, who always looks like he’s just smelt something unpleasant.

I had no idea he often wrote lyrics for shows in London, and Broadway when he lived in New York. His great grandson Hal Cazalet sings some of his lyrics for Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

Tim Rice thinks that if Wodehouse had not written successful novels, he would still be remembered as a very great theatre lyricist.

John Mortimer is also interviewed.

When World War 2 began, Wodehouse was living in France, and he was interned as a prisoner of war. But he was released in 1941, taken to Berlin, and there he was persuaded to write and deliver a series of five broadcasts about his life in an internment camp, intended for broadcast in America, but which the Germans also broadcast in Britain. They were humorous stories about life in the camp, with no particular propaganda value, as far as Wodehouse was aware. But it severely tarnished his reputation, and he would never return to Britain again.

As late as 1971 he was still talking about his regret.

A complete investigation and thorough debrief was carried out, but this was never made public. Security officer Malcolm Muggeridge had interrogated Wodehouse. It concluded that Wodehouse was not guilty of treason. As McCrum says, the conclusion was that Wodehouse was an innocent abroad.

There’s a last story, concerning his knighthood. He couldn’t come to England to accept the honour, and it was said that the Queen Mother wanted to fly out to Long Island to bestow it, but she was persuaded not to.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 28th December 2002 – 20:00

The second recording on this disc is one I’d forgotten I’d made, of an event I’d forgotten happened. It’s The Fight…. Bovey vs Gervais. Ricky Gervais and Grant Bovey in a boxing match, three rounds for charity. Ricky Gervais, of course, was the star and co-writer of The Office.

His opponent was Grant Bovey, famous for being the husband of Anthea Turner. He’s described as an ‘entrepreneur’.

The show is presented by Bob Mortimer, who took part in an earlier Sport Relief boxing match in which he fought Les Dennis. He seems to be taking this very seriously.

Grant’s sparring partner is actor Simon Greenall.

As the crowd grows for the match, there’s a lot of famous faces, including friends of both fighters.

Anthea Turner’s ringside interview is quite funny.

MC for the fight itself is Johnny Vaughan. When he’s commentating, and Jo Guest is holding up the Round 2 board, he talks about “getting the lions share of the butt cheeks”. Good grief.

I don’t know anything about boxing, but this looked fairly woeful.

Ricky Gervais won on points, although they both looked pretty wrecked.

And all this so that his chosen charity would get a donation of £5,000. Yes, that’s right, just £5,000. It doesn’t really seem like much when so much genuine effort appears to have been expended.

It still don’t understand boxing.

Here’s the whole thing (not my upload) in case you want to see it.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England – 29th December 2002 – 21:00

Incidentally, these newer non-VHS recordings were usually recorded off my TiVo. I had a few such recordings on actual VHS tapes which I’ve looked at, but this was the next generation of my TV recording. You can probably look forward to a lot more TiVo screengrabs in the coming days and weeks.