The Goonies – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – The Worst Week of My Life – Faking It Special – 29 Dec 2005

The first recording today is The Goonies. I’ve got four copies of this particular recording strewn across various hard drives. And I don’t even like the film that much. It’s not as if one of them was edited – they’re all the full recording. Strange.

The recording opens with the end of Top of the Pops Reloaded.

There’s a trailer for The Story of Tracy Beaker

Then the movie starts. Unsurprisingly, they’ve significantly cut the opening scene, where Robert Davi pretends to have hanged himself in his prison cell. You don’t see his face at all.

Did Anne Ramsey ever play a sympathetic character? Here she plays Mama Fratelli, matriarch of the criminal gang.

Joe Pantoliano plays younger son Francis.

And the afore-mentioned Robert Davi plays Jake, the older, opera-singing son.

The titles of the movie play out during the chase with the Fratellis trying to escape the local police. Each of the main characters are introduced as the cars fly past. This is Kerri Green, who plays Andy, despite the credit saying otherwise. (Her credit was the one preceding this shot).

Corey Feldman plays Mouth. His dad tells him to turn off the TV, which is showing a police chase with sirens, and when he does, the sound continues from the chase outside. Nice gag.

Here’s the pre-credited Martha Plimpton, as Stef, who is ducking for crabs, which is one way to pass the time.

Ke Huy Kwan is Data, who is trying out his James Bond gadgets. They have a surprisingly high success rate. He was familiar at the time, as he’d played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And just yesterday, as I’m writing this, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in everything Everywhere All At Once after almost 30 years of being unable to get any roles in movies, and having to work behind the scenes in the industry.

Jeff Cohen plays Chunk. And adding to the delight of Ke Huy Kwan’s current success, when he got the role for EEAAO, the person who negotiated his deal was none other than Jeff Cohen, who is now an entertainment lawyer. In another Goonies link, Cohen’s college fees were paid for by the director Richard Donner.

The Fratellis are able to escape the police by joining a beach race, which is a clever idea to explain how they could lose the police in such a small town.

Sean Astin plays Mikey, He’s feeling miserable because his family are going to have to move because the bank is going to foreclose on all the properties, and sell them to property developers to build a country club. If only there was some way to find the money to stop the deal happening.

Mikey’s older brother Brand (where do Americans get these names?) is played by Josh Brolin – Thanos himself. His costume is pure 80s – headband, cut off sleeves, and shorts over a grey track suit. You can practically hear a loud bass drum machine every time he walks.

They’re not the nicest group of kids, I have to say. Mouth won’t let Chunk through the front gate until he does the “Truffle Shuffle” – a bit of fat-shaming that, while it was undoubtedly the kind of thing kids did (and probably do) it’s still unpleasant.

The mechanism to open the front gate is a ludicrously elaborate “Mouse Trap” style contraption of rolling bowling balls and buckets on pulleys which seems more like the kind of thing Data would have at his house.

Part of the contraption relies on a chicken being frightened by a balloon popping and laying an egg. This is not a reliable and repeatable mechanism.

Mikey’s father is the curator at the local museum, so naturally he has a whole bunch of artefacts in the attic. They find a treasure map to the lost treasure of a pirate called “One-Eyed Willy”. I wonder if that name is as rude to American audiences as it is to British audiences? Many people have tried and failed to find any treasure, so naturally, the kids decide that’s the way they can save the town from the developers.

Mikey also fortuitously finds a carved talisman that will obviously be important in the quest.

One thing I like about this movie is Brolin’s older brother character. He’s dressed like a jock, and is frequently annoyed by his younger brother, but everything he does in the movie is to look after him. He could so easily have been a bully – after all, Mouth is written that way – but he’s genuinely a good person.

The younger kids tie Brand to his chair with his chest expanders so they can go off and find the treasure. They let down Brand’s bike tyres so he can’t follow them – so he steals a small bike from a little girl. This seems a bit extreme. While he’s cycling after them, some of his schoolfriends, including Andy and Stef, plus his obvious rival Troy, drive past. Troy is some kind of psychopath, as he decides it would be funny to grab Brand’s arm and speed off with him on the tiny bike being dragged next to the car at high speed, only letting go so Brand gets thrown off the road at a corner.

The kids are pretty good at following clues. After almost no searching, Mikey finds a spot where three landmarks fit perfectly in the holes of the talisman he picked up. This is one of the things I don’t like about this movie – it doesn’t feel like much effort is needed to find these clues, so why did past attempts to find the treasure fail?

The place they need to get to is unfortunately occupied by the Fratelli gang. It’s an old, abandoned restaurant next to a decaying lighthouse. They get in by asking if the restaurant is open, and the Fratellis don’t want to attract attention, so they pretend the restaurant is open. Mikey asks to use the toilet, and explores downstairs, discovering Jake Fratelli bullying a deformed man who they’ve got chained up in the basement.

Lots of things happen with no explanation in this movie. Despite having been catapulted off a road, Brand finds where the kids are, and grabs Mikey as he emerges from the basement, taking the kids out of the building, giving the Fratellis space to leave (they have to bury a dead body). Then, Andy and Stef find them somehow. With the Fratellis gone, they all go back into the building to explore, and soon find that there’s been counterfeiting going on there, a Scooby Doo staple.

The Fratellis return, and the only way out is through a fireplace in the basement. They leave Chunk behind, asking him to go and get the police. He flags down a car, but of course it’s driven by Jake Fratelli.

Much of the movie is now the kids working their way through various traps and ‘puzzles’. They com across a lot of coins, but it’s only the coins thrown down the local wishing well. And coincidentally, standing around the wishing well is the same bully who tried to kill Brand with his car. At first, the kids want to get out, so they can get the police, but Mikey makes another rambly speech about Goonies never saying Die, and they should carry on to find the treasure. So instead of Andy hanging onto the wishing well bucket when Try winds it up, she’s put his cardigan she was wearing, so Psycho Troy reacts in a perfectly natural way to rejection. I think it’s those jackets they all wear. I think they turn people evil, and this theory is confirmed by every piece of high-school related media ever made.

The Fratellis have given up trying to question Chunk about where the others are, so they lock him in with the deformed man, who is actually their brother, Sloth. Although he’s scared to begin with, they end up bonding when Chunk gives him a chocolate bar.

There’s another puzzle, which Mikey unlocks with a key that they found earlier, from another unsuccessful searcher. But that causes the floor to give way, and Data falls into a deep pit with spikes at the bottom. Lucky his plastic false teeth on a spring gadget has enough strength to stop his descent and hold his weight. Truly, this boy should be an industrial designer.

A much more complicated puzzle is a complete working keyboard, and they have to play a piece of music, but not make too many mistakes, as each time they do, part of the floor falls away. Andy is the one trying to play it, but her musical knowledge is sketchy at best. At one point she says “I can’t tell if this is A# or Bb”. But A# is the same note as Bb, on a keyboard at least. Maybe it’s to do with chords.

They make it through, and finally find their goal – the most marvellous matte painting of a pirate ship ever.

Mikey finally meets One Eyed Willy.

But when the kids leave the cabin, the Fratellis are waiting for them, and they have to give them all the treasure they took.

They make Andy walk the plank. Say what you like about this film (and I will) but there’s genuine jeopardy here. And Brand again flexes his heroic side and jumps in after her. I think I like him best, maybe after Data.

To the rescue come Chunk and Sloth, who didn’t have any trouble finding them, presumably because all the traps had already been sprung. Sloth keeps the Fratellis busy while the rest of the kids jump into the water to get away. Then Sloth rips off his shirt to reveal a T-Shirt underneath with Superman’s symbol, and the score quote’s John Williams’ Superman theme. OK, I admit, I love this, and can’t fault Richard Donner referencing his own film.

The kids try to get out of the cave, but there’s a rock blocking the way, so Sloth holds it up as they get out.

The Fratellis have set off the last of Willy’s traps, and a huge hole opens in front of the ship.

Out on the beach, the kids are reunited with their parents. I’m unsure of the timescale of this, but there’s been time to inform them all, and for them to get there, along with local press, half the town, and the property developers. I particularly liked Data and his dad, who has a camera device attached to his belt – you can see where Data gets it. It doesn’t work and the film pops out of the camera. “That’s OK Daddy, you can’t hug a photograph.” and his dad says “You’re my best invention.” Yup, even this makes me cry.

Sloth and the Fratellis also emerge from the cave. Chunk stops the police from hurting Sloth, even as Sloth lifts one of them up with one hand, leading to a piece of Chinese dialogue from Data and this subtitle. Which (thanks to the miracle of phone translation) says “Wow! He is a strong man.”

But, the true villains of the film are still there, and because the kids couldn’t get any of the treasure out, Mikey’s dad has to sign the papers that give the developers the right to build their golf course.

But then their Spanish housekeeper finds Mikey’s marble bag, which he’d forgotten, and which has a load of jewels in it. Just enough, we presume, to pay the debts and secure the town from the developers. Honestly, the financial aspects of this movie are about as sketchy as the rest of the plot, but it’s a happy ending.

Then they all see the pirate ship sailing off.

I think I also spotted Richard Donner as a police officer earlier in this scene, on the right.

I should be honest here. I was 23 when Goonies came out, which I think is too old to fall in love with it. I know that people younger than me love it with a passion, and my kids definitely really enjoyed it when we showed it to them. But if you’re older, the sheer manic energy of a bunch of kids shouting at the top of their voices all the time just grates. So I’ve always felt this movie is not for me. But I’m delighted for people who do love it. It’s not remotely a bad movie, I was just the wrong age to embrace it.

Media Centre Description: Old-fashioned yarn about a band of adventurous kids who take on the might of a property developing company which plans to destroy their home to build a country club. When the children discover an old pirate map in the attic, they follow it into an underground cavern in search of lost treasure. But the old pirate who had drawn the map planted plenty of dangerous obstacles along the way. From a story by Steven Spielberg.

BBC Genome: BBC One London – Thursday 29th December 2005 – 10:45

After this, there’s trailers for 2005 TV Moments and Catch Me If You Can. There’s a very blokey trailer for the FA Cup – which is weird because in my family it’s my sisters who are the football fans. There’s also a trailer for As Time Goes By. Then the recording stops after a few minutes of an episode of Last of the Summer Wine.

The next recording is a film adaptation of Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. I’m sure I read it as a child, or it was read to us at school, as I remember the premise, which includes there being a channel tunnel built in Victorian times, leading to wolves returning to Britain.

A young girl, Sylvia, is travelling to Willoughby Chase on her own, by train. She’s given lots of advice on behaviour by an old woman escorting her to the station, including “Watch your language and try to avoid abstract nouns, they upset people.”

On the train, she meets Mr Grimshaw, played by Mel Smith, who sits opposite her, and going by casting and behaviour, is probably some kind of swindler or general wrong-un.

At Willoughby Chase lives young Bonnie, who’s excitedly waiting for Sylvia to arrive, her cousin. But she’s sad because her parents are leaving to go on a winter cruise, leaving her at the house.

Leaving her with Miss Slighcarp, a stern, new governess who you know will be evil, just from her entrance. She’s played by Stephanie Beacham.

The butler, James, is played by an almost unrecognisable Richard O’Brien, complete with a Scottish accent. It’s the eyebrows that do it.

The wolves of the title are a constant threat. Even going to the railway station to pick up Sylvia is fraught with danger. Bonnie hides in the carriage, with a gun.

Even then, the wolves attack.

Mr Grimshaw is slightly hurt when the train stops suddenly, so he’s brought back to the house to recover. But the wink he gives Miss Slighcarp suggests this was always part of the plan.

When Bonnie and Sylvia go sledging, they’re menaced by wolves, and rescued by Simon, a young boy who lives in a cave.

Returning to the house, they find all the staff walking away. Miss Slighcarp has fired almost everyone, preferring to pocket their wages herself.

The only staff kept on are Butler James, and maid Pattern, played by Jane Horrocks.

Stephanie Beacham is great in this, making the most of the evilness of Miss Slighcarp, She locks Bonnie in a cupboard, and when Sylvia creeps in to steal the key, Slighcarp is relaxing, without her wig, and pulling hairs from her nose.

The girls discover secret passages in the house.

Creeping around the hidden passages, they see Miss Slighcarp and Grimshaw forging a new will, leaving everything to Slighcarp and nothing to the children. They also throw the original will on the fire, but the girls recover it from the fire before it completely burns.

They need to contact somene who can help them expose Slighcarp, so Bonnie goes back in the cupboard, and pretends to be sick, so Slighcarp has to fetch a doctor. Then they write a note to the doctor, and intend to give it to James the butler, to give to the doctor when he fetches him, but Grimshaw gets the letter first.

Slighcarp has had enough of the girls, and bundles them in the coach, taking them to somewhere far less picturesque than Willoughby Chase.

She leaves the girls in the charge of Mrs Brisket, who runs a laundry staffed by children. She’s played by Geraldine James, who is enjoying herself as much as Stephanie Beacham is. She’s also involved in the plot to steal Willoughby Chase, and has bribed the captain of the ship the parents are on to sink the ship and so drown them.

I wonder if this is a genuine game, or just something the props team built. Octobilliards?

The girls are put to work in the laundry. There’s jeopardy when they have to repair some of the mechanism by climbing high up and reattaching chains.

Miss Slighcarp gets some good news from the papers. The ship the parents were on has sunk.

She travels back to the workhouse, and the girls’ friend Simon hitches a lift on the roof of the carriage.

Simon finds the girls, but can’t get them out before Slighcarp grabs them. There’s a chase through the workhouse which strongly reminded me of the mine sequence in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Lots of climbing around on high things, and Brisket’s son Rupert, who appeared to be the only slavedriver on staff even gets crushed between rollers.

Simon takes the girls on a sleigh, it’s all looking up, and then, on the horizon, they see a column of smoke rising – it’s Slighcarp and Brisket chasing them on a steam-powered snowmobile.

The chase attracts the wolves too, and as the speed increases, Brisket falls off the vehicle, and is attacked by wolves.

The steam engine in the snowmobile overheats and explodes (behind some scenery, a sure fire sign of a limited budget).

So everything’s fine and nothing else can go wrong. Until the wolves get into the house through the secret passage. Now it’s like Jurassic Park.

The girls run to the kitchens to get away – only to be confronted by Slighcarp, who survived the explosion.

There’s struggles, the girls push her onto the fire, and she flees the building with her dress on fire. only to land amidst the wolves.

Butler James arrives in the coach, and out of the coach emerge Bonnie’s parents, not drowned at sea after all. “It was three days in the lifeboat and two weeks on the island before we were picked up. It was so beautiful we almost wanted to stay.” Continuing the tradition of bad parenting in children’s fiction.

Finally, Grimshaw is taken away to be arrested – even then he tries to steal the household silver.

This was a lot of fun.

Media Centre Description: Fantasy drama, based on Joan Aiken’s classic children’s tale, set in a fictitious 19th-century England in which ravenous wolves overrun the land and surround Willoughby Chase – home of young Bonnie and her loving parents. But when Lord and Lady Willoughby are obliged to travel overseas, Bonnie and her timid cousin Sylvia face an even more dangerous predator, a fearsome governess.

Recorded from Channel 4 on Thursday 29 December 2005 13:53

After this, the recording continues with the start of what looks like a TV Movie of Hercules.

The next recording starts with the end of Lara Croft Tomb Raider. Always good to see Chris Barrie.

There’s a trailer for Sweeney Todd, then a weather bulletin from Helen Willetts, warning of heavy snow, and suggesting people might want to adjust any travel plans.

There’s also an advert for DAB Digital Radio.

Then, the last episode of The Worst Week of My LifeSunday. Thanks to the Previously On, I now learn that the previous episode, the end of which was cut off, ended with Mel’s waters breaking, so she’s having a baby, and as was mentioned in a previous episode, they’re having a home birth. It’s also going to be a water birth, so Howard and Dick assemble the birthing pool, almost bonding over the experience. Howard gets into his swimming trunks, as he’s going to be in the water with Mel. They’ve assembled the pool upstairs. What could possibly go wrong?

Well the first thing is Howard opening a door sharply, and smacking the midwife in the face, knocking her unconscious.

Naturally they’ve left the pool filling unattended.

It starts leaking through the downstairs ceiling, all over the cake. Howard turns off the water just in time… for the ceiling to collapse.

Dick’s brother Fraser finally tells Dick he’s gay. I was hoping for the response “I knew all along” but Dick’s response is “No you’re not.” But eventually, we do get “You’re my brother and I love you” albeit almost through gritted teeth. I thought 2005 was a little more enlightened than this, but I guess we remember what we want to remember.

The water collapse has blown all the fuses in the house, so the ambulance that’s arrived for the unconscious midwife and Mel can’t get through the electric gates. Seems unlikely there’s no manual opening but this is a sitcom after all. So Mel, in labour, has to climb the gates. Then the midwife comes out, having woken up, says she’s fine, so Mel climbs back over. At which point he midwife is sick and faints again.

She recovers, but soon both of them are climbing the gates, at which point power is restored to the house, so the ambulance can come in, and the birth can carry on at the house.

Howards birth partner technique of screaming encouragement at Mel at the top of his lungs surprisingly doesn’t cause her to snap and brain him with the gas and air.

But the baby is born safely, a little girl, and after some other suggestions, Mel settles on Emily as the name. Howard, being the idiot he is, seems to think they should discuss it more, but everyone else loves the name, and so they’re all saying hello to Emily while Howard mumbles “well we haven’t quite decided…” All this was to the delight of my youngest daughter who was watching it with me, as her name is Emily, a name my wife and I immediately both liked when we were considering names, because a) it’s a lovely name, b) it wasn’t a common family name, and c) I was a big fan of Bagpuss. She might have been called Emily Rose, had the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose not come out just a few months earlier. Baby names can be hard.

Eve arrives with a letter for Howard. His sexual harrassment charge has been dismissed, and he’s got his old job back. So has Eve, and she can continue being his assistant.

Fraser has been reunited with his boyfriend Gerard, now that he’s come out to his family.

It’s almost a happy ending. Howard even has the chance to give Dick his CBE back, except it gets stuck to his trouser pocket, and as he pulls it out, it flies off into the fire. I guess you can’t have everything.

Unfortunately, once again, this show was running late, and the recording cuts off before the final scene, so I’ve no idea what other catastrophes might have befallen them. Thanks, Media Centre.

Media Centre Description: Sitcom. It’s all hands on deck to get ready for the baby’s arrival. Howard and Dick work together and the midwife arrives just in time. As the night wears on the anticipation builds. Will what has been the worst week of their lives turn into the best one yet for Howard and Mel?

BBC Genome: BBC One London – Thursday 29th December 2005 – 21:30

The final recording is Faking It Special in which a person wholly unsuited for a particular job has just four weeks to learn how to do it before they have to fool some experts into thinking they’re a pro. They should bring this back, and call it “Impostor Syndrome”.

The subject this time is Kate Harding, a young woman who’s quite introverted, describes herself as geeky, and spends her leisure time dressing up in 18th Century costume, and dancing to the music of Handel and Telemann. For this challenge she has four weeks to learn how to be a pop video director, and direct the band Liberty X in a video, and fool industry experts into thinking she’s a professional. And the music isn’t by Telemann. In this case, it starts with “Where’s your Head At” by Basement Jaxx – coincidentally, the end title music for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider which we just saw on the previous recording. Can she do it? “I never watch MTV because I loathe it. It’s just constant noise.” It’s not a good sign.

Her mentor for this challenge is Harvey Bertram Brown, “one of Britain’s hottest video directors”. “You have to control a large crew. There are lots of people on set, you have to know what it is you’re telling people to do, and understand how to tell them that with confidence and with clarity and with conviction.” Cut to Kate: “Fortunately, I almost never have to communicate to a large group of people because I hate the idea.” This programme is setting up the jeopardy early.

Kate second mentor is Carolyn Corben, Harvey’s directing partner.

Her first bit of training is at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, where she has to direct some of the young actors in a small piece. She’s actually pretty good at this.

I’m not sure Harvey is the greatest teacher in the world. He has to explain who all the people are on a film set, and what they do, but he does this at the breakfast table, pointing at random things like a glass and saying “This is your playback”. It’s about the worst possible way I can imagine to help her remember who everyone is. Assigning random roles to knives and forks, and expecting her to remember it is insane. Maybe they should have saved this until they actually had a full crew to introduce her to.

Kate’s own introversion is also a problem. She gets overwhelmed with some of the tasks. They bring in a woman who teaches people how to sing, so she can work on being more forceful when talking to a crew. She has to shout “I want to be heard” as loud as possible. Again, I’m unsure if this will help.

Come the actual task, she has to direct Liberty X on a video shoot for an hour – as will three other genuine professional directors. Her shoot goes really well.

Even Harvey, who’s been quite critical of Kate’s other ideas, says it looks beautiful. And the glee with which they react to Kate calling “Playback” and “Check the gate” shows how far she’s come.

Among the judges is Fearne Cotton – who was seen right at the start of the day in TOTP Reloaded.

After all four directors have done their hour, the judges give their comments. Kate gets good comments all round. When it comes to spotting the fake, only Fearne Cotton says Kate is the fake, the other two judges naming two other directors, so Kate has ‘won’.

And if you want to see how they did this twenty years before this, In At The Deep End did almost exactly this format (minus the judging bit) when Paul Heiney off of That’s Life had to shoot a pop video with Bananarama. And he got to meet Ken Russell.

Media Centre Description: Special edition of the series in which people take up a challenge to change their identities. Kate Harding, a timid, self-confessed geek who relishes living in the past as an historical re-enactor, has just four weeks in which to turn herself into a commanding ultra confident director on the set of Liberty X’s new video.

Recorded from Channel 4 on Thursday 29 December 2005 22:13

After this, the recording ends with the start of 4Dance: Dance 4 Film.


  • trail: Celebrity Big Brother
  • Film Four
  • Silvikrin
  • Norwich Union DIrect
  • trail: 50 Greatest Comedy Films
  • trail: The Magic of Jesus
  • Twinings – Stephen Fry
  • Asda
  • James Blunt – Back to Bedlam
  • Oxfam
  • Leger Holidays
  • Finish
  • DFS
  • Hugo Deep Red
  • trail: ER
  • Classic Pen Set
  • Bath-Knight
  • L’Oreal Infallible
  • Spar
  • RNID
  • NS&I – Alan Sugar
  • Wanadoo
  • Furniture Village
  • trail: The Magic of Jesus
  • trail: Celebrity Big Brother
  • Film Four
  • Ireland
  • Gourmet Garden
  • trail: Celebrity Big Brother’s Big Mouth
  • trail: Invasion
  • DFS
  • Pringles
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on DVD
  • Benylin Chesty Coughs
  • Israel
  • Comet
  • Desperate Housewives
  • trail: Ricky Gervais Meets… Larry David
  • Audi RS4 Quattro
  • Wanadoo
  • Boots Opticians
  • NS&I – Alan Sugar
  • Nationwide – Mark Benton
  • Carphone Warehouse
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on DVD
  • Furniture Village
  • Sony Centre
  • trail: My Name is Earl
  • Hong Kong Legends
  • Match Point in cinemas
  • Homebase
  • Centerparcs
  • Twice as Nice Weekender
  • Max & Paddy’s Power of Two on DVD
  • Argos
  • Vicks First Defence
  • Currys
  • J2O
  • trail: Derren Brown: The Heist
  • Radio Control BMW M3 GTR
  • Israel
  • Matalan
  • The Devil’s Rejects on DVD
  • Virgin Trains
  • Pantene
  • Norwich Union DIrect
  • MFI
  • Just Like Heaven in cinemas
  • trail: The Magic of Jesus
  • trail: Desperate Housewives
  • Carlsberg
  • Kelly Holmes First Steps to Fitness
  • Benylin Chesty Coughs
  • UKTV Drama
  • Stoves
  • Asda
  • March of the Penguins in cinemas
  • Oxfam
  • Euromillions
  • Argos
  • Movie Musicals
  • UKTV History
  • B&Q
  • trail: The Magic of Jesus

One comment

  1. In at the Deep End didn’t have the jeopardy of using members of the public as its guinea pigs though. Which is one reason I recall preferring it.

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