Author: VHiStory

Earth: Final Conflict – The X Files – tape 2733

This tape opens with the announcement that this is “The series finale of Earth Final Conf” and I’m not sure why the announcement was cut off. Oh good, I thought, that means that, even if none of it makes sense, at least I’ll get closure. Then I checked and it turns out there were 5 seasons of this. Five. And this is the end of season one. So no closure for me, I’m guessing.

I’m sure I watched the pilot episode of this, but not a whole lot else. It was another in the seemingly endless series of syndicated low-budget SF/Fantasy shows that seemed to be around in the mid 90s.

It opens with some divers finding something. When they open it, there’s a glowy alien inside.

It takes over the body of one of the researchers. 90s TV cgi was its own thing, wasn’t it?

Is this kind of thing something any real people ever did? These look like costumes left over from an old Star Trek episode. There’s a very dodgy Oirish accent in this scene.

Poundland Enya is Siobhan Beckett (Kari Matchett). She’s appeared in a previous episode (set in Ireland) and now she’s in the US. Because she’s Irish, she’s using celtic runes to predict the future. Because every Irish person I’ve ever met slings the runes at the first opportunity. She’s also deeply into stern investigator Ronald Sandoval, who’s too dedicated to the alien visitors to think about a romantic relationship. She also thinks that another character Lili Marquette is an enemy of the aliens. Which she is, as she’s part of the resistance.

The aliens tell our hero Boone that the glowy alien who’s taking over the shapes of humans once did the same thing to their race, but they omit to inform him that they then destroyed that alien race.

There’s some really egregious product placement in this show. All their video-phone calls are supplied by MCI. Do they even exist any more?

Eventually, the alien gets around to copying one of our regulars, Sandoval, and there’s a bit of alien sex or something in a church, with Beckett. Luckily for her, this isn’t the same glowy sex that he did earlier in the episode to a woman in the bar, leading to her dying of ‘a massive endorphin overload’. It’s reminding me of a PG-version of that Torchwood episode with the alien who has lots of sex that kills people.

Boone has a face-off with the alien Sandoval, tries to get him to join forces against the Taelons, but then the swat team burts in, and to stop the alien killing them all, Boone has to zap him with his magical alien implants. They really try with these effects, but there’s a limit to what they can do.

Rather surprisingly, Boone gets badly hurt by this zap. The physical makeup simple though it is, is better than any of the visual effects.

It’s not looking good for Boone. They’ve got him suspended in a tank. I guess we should be glad they kept his pants on. At the end of the episode, though, and Taelon in charge wanders up and zaps him so he dissolves into sparkly lights. I guess they wanted to replace him as the series lead. An internet search suggests ‘contract dispute’ between Kilner and the producers. I guess it was a low budget show, and they didn’t want to spend money on the cast. Apparently, the cast was regularly changed in subsequent seasons.

By the way, what was it that seemed to make a lot of shows have vaguely Irish sounding themes. Maybe it was just this one, but my memory is that several shows around that time had ethereal themes – those that didn’t have a repurposed pop song, that is.

After this, there’s an episode of The X Files, from the fifth season, Travelers. In 1990 a policeman investigates a remote shack, serving an eviction notice to a man called Edward Skur, finds a mummified body in the bathtub, shoots the householder, apparently Skur, in a scuffle, and the man says ‘Mulder’.

Because it’s 1990, Mulder is still just an agent in the behavioural science section of the FBI, so he investigates the case, taking him to the retired agent who worked on the Edward Skur case years before. He’s played by Darren McGavin, Kolchak himself. This show owes such a debt to Kolchak the Night Stalker, so it’s nice that they pretty much admit it here.

Reluctantly, McGavin talks to Mulder about the case. He was investigating Skur, a low-level member of government, for being a communist, as it was the time of the McCarthy communist witchhunt. We then get what amounts to an episode of Kolchak, complete with Darren McGavin doing the narration. After arresting the young Skur, he’s told that he killed himself in jail, but then he sees him alive, later, and has a close encounter with him that obviously, nobody believes.

He’s summoned to the office of Roy Cohn, the lawyer who’s organising the McCarthy hearings. He’s a real person, quite a legendary scumbag by all accounts and, for a time before he died, he was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

McGavin also meets with Mulder’s father Bill.

McGavin’s partner is attacked by Skur, and he doesn’t make it out alive.

Young McGavin finds another man, named with Skur in a redacted report.

The man’s body is still in the morgue, so he opens it up, and finds the creepy crawly thing still alive.

This is another of these episodes where I’m having a huge amount of difficulty working out who’s who. Almost everybody in the 50s looks exactly the same.

The next episode is Mind’s Eye. A blind woman is a suspect in the killing of a drug dealer. She’s played by Lili Taylor. It’s a nice twist that she’s not written as an innocent victim – she’s got a record for low-level criminal behaviour, and she’s very unhelpful to the detective. She was at the crime scene because she can see what the killer is seeing. There’s a particularly creepy scene where she’s being led out of the police station, and in her mind’s eye she can see herself, because the killer is there, looking straight at her.

I like this episode, because Taylor’s motivations aren’t obvious, and she’s not a cowering victim. It makes a change.

Next, an episode called The Pine Bluff Variant. Oh look, Mulder is cosplaying as Clarice Starling at the start of Silence of the Lambs.

This one gets grisly, as Mulder appears to blow a stake-out, letting the suspect go, but he’s actually working to infiltrate a right wing domestic terrorist cell who have obtained a deadly gas that makes people’s skin dissolve. They test it out in a movie theatre.

After this, the tape continues briefly with the start of an episode of Hot Summer Down Under, another of the apparently endless shows Sky and others loved to churn out of drunk young people on holiday. The tapes ends mercifully soon into this episode.


  • trail: June on the Movie Channels
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager
  • Insignia
  • Deep Impact in cinemas
  • Mullerice
  • Ariel
  • Clairol Hydrience
  • Citroen Xsara
  • trail: The Fan
  • trail: Space Jam
  • Gap
  • Ford Mondeo – David Duchovny
  • Wella Experience
  • Ariel and Fairy
  • Dairylea
  • Burger King
  • Tic Tac
  • Schweppes
  • trail: Littlejohn Live and Unleashed
  • trail: The X Files
  • Burger King
  • Time Out
  • Boots Opticians
  • Right Guard – Desmond Lynam
  • Vauxhall Corsa
  • Clairol Hydrience
  • trail: Sky Sports
  • trail: The Festival of Simpsons
  • trail: Blood and Wine
  • trail: Stargate SG-1
  • Huggies
  • Burger King
  • Sensodyne F
  • Almay
  • Nesquik
  • trail: June on the Movie Channels
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager
  • Tango
  • Archers
  • Ford Fiesta Zetec
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Sony Stamina Camcorder
  • Clairol Hydrience
  • Time Out
  • trail: ER
  • trail: Police Stop 6
  • Sensodyne F
  • Renault Laguna
  • McDonalds
  • Microsoft
  • Fairy
  • Strongbow
  • Time Out
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Hot Summer Down Under
  • Puma
  • Seat
  • Face/Off in cinemas
  • Always
  • Burger King
  • Maltesers
  • trail: Striptease
  • Subaru
  • Always
  • Martini Citro
  • trail: June on the Movie Channels
  • trail: South Park
  • Ford Fiesta Zetec
  • Shreddies
  • Haagen Dazs
  • Benadryl
  • Evian
  • Dollond & Aitchison – Burt Reynolds
  • Andrex
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager
  • trail: The World’s Deadliest Sea Creatures
  • Puma
  • Carefree
  • Specsavers
  • British Airways
  • Dry Blackthorn Cider
  • trail: Striptease
  • trail: Hot Summer Down Under
  • Rover 400
  • Pepsi Max
  • Neutrogena Clear Pore
  • Wake Up cereal drink
  • Persil Performance Tablets
  • trail: Heat
  • trail: Everyone Says I Love You
  • Abbey National – Alan Davies
  • Pantene
  • Mullerice
  • trail: June on the Movie Channels
  • trail: Stargate SG-1
  • Peugeot 106
  • Persil Performance Tablets
  • Pot Noodle
  • Foster’s
  • McDonalds
  • Boots
  • Peugeot 106
  • trail: Phoenix
  • trail: Star Trek Voyager
  • Guinness
  • Danepak
  • Gran Turismo
  • Maltesers
  • Audi Quattro
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Hot Summer Down Under
  • Vauxhall Corsa
  • Egypt
  • Boyzone – Where We Belong
  • Dark City in cinemas
  • Gillette Sensor Excel for Women
  • Fanta
  • trail: Robbie Williams Live in your Living Room
  • trail: The X Files
  • Puma
  • Skittles

Space 1999 – tape 2756

Another later tape, starting with an episode of Space 1999Force of Life. Not from Bravo, as a lot of them are, but from BBC2 for a repeat run, when they’d run out of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet.

This one features  Ian McShane, and it’s popped up on a previous tape. It’s not a classic.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th July 1998 – 18:25

Before the next episode, there’s the end of an epsiode of The Simpsons.

There’s a trail for Lamacq Live. Then a trailer for Coneheads.

Next, an episode called Alpha Child in which the first baby born on Alpha has a growth spurt, minutes after he’s born.

A big ship appears over Alpha, with more on the way.

I’m a sucker for lots of Eagles.

The boy grows into Julian Glover.

It then gets super-creepy, as newly-grown Glover resurrects his own mother, then they start smooching, Because both he, and now his (former) mother have been taken over by the souls of aliens from the vessels above Moonbase. And they intend to take over more bodies.

It’s a very dark episode, with people getting taken over, even Dr Russell almost strangling Dr Mathias. But help arrives in the form of other aliens who are in pursuit of Glover and his gang.

In the end, all the evil aliens are gone, and Motherlover Glover and his ever-lovin’ mother are restored to their pre-bodysnatched state, for a happy ending.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th July 1998 – 18:20

There’s another bit of The Simpsons before the next episode, along with a trailer for Thursday programmes.

There’s also a trailer for Leap of Faith.

Then, another episode of Space 1999The Last Sunset. On a survey trip to a nearby planet, something attaches itself to an Eagle. Lovely close-up.

The device starts pouring out oxygen, and has the effect of giving the Moon an atmosphere.

It clearly doesn’t take much more than sun and breathable air for Alan Carter to get his shuttlecock out.

Paul Morrow and Sandra Benes are feeling romantic.

But all is not perfect, and the new atmosphere is playing havoc with the Eagles, causing one to crashland.

Carter, Morrow, Benes and Russell are on board, and Sandra is badly hurt. Worst still, all their food was contaminated during the crash, and there’s very little water left. Morrow is getting desperate, so he goes outside, and is close to dying when he finds some strange mushrooms.

Next day, he’s sprightly and full of energy. He’s built a makeshift shelter, and brought Sandra out to it.

But when the others talk about getting back to Alpha he’s horrified, because he’s become obsessed with their starting a new colony right there. Later, we learn that the magic mushrooms were just that – strongly hallucinogenic.

The episode ends with the crew watching the sun go down for the last time on their atmosphere, as they leave the star system, and the atmosphere presumably leaks away into space.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd August 1998 – 18:20

The final episode here is Voyager’s Return. Two Eagles encounter an old Earth space probe, and one of them is destroyed by it because it’s powered by the Queller drive, a horribly destructive Nuclear engine. This one has some interesting moral issues, which the episode does tend to fudge horribly. I wrote about it (and The Last Sunset) when I looked at them on another tape.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th August 1998 – 18:25

After this, a trailer for programmes for Thursday, and a trailer for Peggy Su!, a drama with a Chinese cast, featuring a bonus appearance from the Green Lady.

Then, a short episode of Top Gear Take 2. Jeremy Clarkson looks so young.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th August 1998 – 19:15

After this, recording stops, and underneath, there’s then end of an episode of Wildlife Showcase.

Then, there’s a trailer for BBC Digital – a transformational time indeed.

Then, the tape runs out during an episode of The Travel Show.

Doctor Who – tape 2732

Sticking with the turn of the century for a while, with these tapes, and it’s over to UK Gold, where the tape opens with the end of an episode of Blake’s 7.

I’m assuming that, at this stage, UK Gold (and UKTV is general) was still somewhat controlled by the BBC, because the channel branding was very much in line with the BBC branding of the time. They might even have used the same typeface for logos and captions. This was around the same time that the BBC changed their logo from the slanted BBC to the blocks version of the logo. Maybe they were all being advised by the same graphics designer?

The tape has some classic 1960s SF action with Doctor WhoPlanet of Giants.

I’m a very poor Doctor Who fan. I can’t name all the episodes, I’ve never done a chronological rewatch, and aside from the pilot, and possible The Daleks, I’ve never really taken to William Hartnell’s era.

The Tardis doors open before the Tardis has properly materialised. I did worry that having William Russell and Jacqueline Hill barging the doors of the set might actually break them. I don’t think my disbelief is properly suspended.

Given the title of this story, do you think this shot was supposed to look like an actual miniature? Is it actually much cleverer than I’m assuming. In fact, later, there’s a pull back to reveal that the Tardis is actually nestled among paving slabs in a suburban garden.

The Doctor discovers a giant worm.

Susan and Ian discover an ant. It’s dead, so it doesn’t have to be puppeteered.

They also find a dead bee.

Meanwhile in the giant garden, two men are talking about a new pesticide. One of them wants to go into production, the other, a scientist, says it’s not safe. So the other bloke shoots him.

Some of the miniaturised effects are fairly simple. This effect, with the actors on a black set, and the top half of the picture soft matted with a still photo, is used several times.

I’m really enjoying all the oversized sets. Here’s some giant peanuts. Or probably seeds.

And a giant fly. So frightening that Barbara faints. Ian doesn’t think this is unusual, and when, as the story continues, Barbara is showing more and more signs of tiredness and weakness, and the others keep ignoring her. This is despite them all knowing that there’s a dangerous insecticide all over the place, because they’ve found all the dead insects.

I’m loving the telephone operator who’s rumbled the evil people in the cottage. They’re pretending to be the guy who was shot, and she’s recognised their voice. There’s a whole series in this.

They have a plan to light a match, ignite a gas tap and explode an aerosol can. This is like a Michael Bay film.

This was actually a lot of fun. And a strangely structured story, too, where the regular crew never actually meet any of the other characters, but manage to avert an ecological disaster.

After this, there’s the start of an episode of Goldmaster, a UK Gold quiz show presented by Mike Read. This one is a Star Trek special, but only one of the contestants comes in uniform. He’s called John and he’s a big Red Dwarf fan.

Sadly, there’s only a few minutes of this, although the questions in the first round are punishingly hard – this was definitely a quiz for the true experts.

The tape ends during the first round.


  • trail: Summer of Comedy on UK Gold
  • trail: The House of Eliott
  • Ty-phoo
  • Polo
  • Cable & Wireless
  • Next
  • Band-Aid
  • Persil Antibacterial
  • The X Files Game
  • Worthington
  • trail: One Foot in the Grave/Common as Muck
  • Armageddon in cinemas
  • Norwich Union
  • Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles
  • Pringles
  • L’Oreal Plenitude
  • MFI
  • Barclays Online Banking
  • trail: Blackadder the Third
  • The X Files Game
  • Max Factor
  • Alldays
  • Kleenex Double Velvet
  • Mr Kipling Cake Bites
  • Johnson’s Baby Skincare
  • Cable & Wireless
  • Royal Air Force
  • trail: Bottom/Young Ones
  • Rimmel
  • Domestos Toilet Gel
  • Sensodyne Gentle
  • Sensodyne F
  • MFI
  • The X Files Game
  • Direct Line Loans
  • Pantene
  • Classic Hits from the Sixties
  • Bounty
  • trail: One Foot in the Grave/Common as Muck
  • Johnson’s Baby Skincare
  • Orbit
  • Armageddon in cinemas
  • trail: Bottom/Young Ones







The Comic Strip Presents – The Comic Strip: The Documented Story – tape 2451

I can’t quite keep track of how many times The Comic Strip switched channels. Last time it was on BBC2 but now, in a tape from the very start of 2000, they’re back on Channel 4 with The Comic Strip PresentsFour Men on a Plane.

The four men are salesmen, there’s Nigel Planer, loser as always, just two Air Miles off getting an upgrade.

Rik Mayall is pretending to be disabled to get driven around the airport.

Peter Richardson is trying to haggle in Dixons.

Ade Edmondson is annoyed that Tie Rack doesn’t have the Sideshow Bob tie to complete his collection.

Arriving at their destination, they find they have to take a 300 mile coach trip to their conference, so they decide to charter a plane. But their pilot isn’t looking good.

They land in the middle of the desert. Things get fraught. There’s one shot, as the camera tracks towards the group, that is obviously reversed. I’m not sure whether this is a deliberate choice, or whether they decided, in editing, that the shot needed to be a track in, after they’d done all the shooting.

As with all these things, it ends with them all trying to strangle each other, when Rik notices a small child standing on the brow of a hill, indicating that they are only yards away from civilisation.

After this, a documentary on The Comic Strip. My database lists it as The Comic Strip: The Documented Story, but the titles call it First on Four: The Comic Strip. The copyright date says 1997, so this must be a repeat of an episode from an earlier series, shown to tie in with the new Comic Strip film, and given a different name in the TV listings. Whatever its provenance, it’s a rather good documentary, with loads of interviews, and a lot of footage of the beginnings of the Comic Strip, when it was a live event, taking place in Raymond’s Revue Bar in Soho. Some of the earliest footage of the regulars is quite interesting.

Obviously, Comic Strip supremo Peter Richardson is there.

Rik Mayall is on reflective form here, but always interesting.

Here’s Alexei Sayle at the live venue in 1980

Paul Jackson was the producer behind a lot of the early successes.

Raw Sex appear in character.

Nigel Planer

Robbie Coltrane

Although he wasn’t a regular, Lenny Henry was part of the same scene, and was married to Dawn French.

Alexei Sayle

Are Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders contractually obliged to be interviewed together?

I’ve never particularly liked Keith Allen. I get the feeling he might not be a nice person.

Mike Bolland commissioned the Comic Strip films for Channel 4, specifically Five go Mad in Dorset. He shared an office “with the creator of Max Headroom, and, I’m afraid, also the creator of Minipops.” Where’s the Minipops retrospective, Channel 4, you cowards?

Along with Peter Richardson, his co-writer Pete Richens was one of the rare people who didn’t also perform.

There’s a look at some of the tabloid outrage that FGMID caused.

Robbie Coltrane talks about filming the scene in Supergrass where he walks along the breakwater with the waves crashing around him, to the sound of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Two Tribes. “They didn’t have a wetsuit that fitted me so I got very wet.”

Here’s the documentary, in two parts (not my upload).

After this, the tape ends just as an episode of Ali G starts.


  • Diet Coke
  • Bringing Out The Dead in cinemas
  • Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
  • Caffrey’s
  • Halls
  • Time Computers – Leonard Nimoy
  • Toyota Avensis
  • trail: Coked Up
  • Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
  • Nivea Visage
  • Strepsils
  • Rover 25
  • McDonalds – Millennium Dome
  • One 2 One – Vinnie Jones
  • Daily Mail – Patrick Robinson
  • Currys
  • Bringing Out The Dead in cinemas
  • Direct Line
  • Boots Opticians
  • Ford Fiesta
  • trail: Frasier
  • trail: Wild Man Blues
  • trail: That Peter Kay Thing
  • Diet Coke
  • One 2 One – Vinnie Jones
  • Centerparcs
  • Asda
  • Olivio
  • Citroen Saxo
  • Sensodyne F
  • British Airways
  • Caffrey’s
  • trail: Film Four
  • trail: Agia Napa Fantasy Island
  • trail: Trigger Happy TV
  • trail: Smack the Pony


Film 89 – Everything you always wanted to know about sex… – tape 708

This tape opens with the end of a Play on One featuring a young looking David Bradley.

Then, an episode of Film 89 in which Barry Norman reviews the following films:

There’s a report on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Charlie Chaplin. There’s also a report on Ghostbusters II featuring Bill Murray, Ivan Reitman and Sigourney Weaver.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 18th April 1989 – 22:45

After this, there’s a trailer for a series of Jerry Lewis films.

Then, recording switches to Everything you always wanted to know about sex… but were afraid to ask. It’s a Woody Allen film, one of the early, funny ones. basically a series of sketches. The first one takes place in a medieval court, featuring Anthony Quayle as the King.

Lynn Redgrave as the Queen.

Woody Allen plays the fool.

Geoffrey Holder plays a sorcerer – he was Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die.

This whole sketch is about rape, by the way, as the fool is told by a ghost that he has to have sex with the queen, so he feeds her an ‘aphrodisiac’.

The next sketch sees Gene Wilder as a doctor who falls in love with a sheep.

Woody Allen (again) plays a man who can’t satisfy his wife, in Italian. Presumably a Fellini homage.

The next segment is called ‘Are Transvestites Homosexual?’

Next it’s ‘What Are Sex Perverts?’ Can Woody Allen possibly answer this puzzling question?

Not really, it takes the form of a game show, What’s My Perversion? hosted by Jack Barry, who I’m going to assume without checking is probably a US game show host.

Nice to see that perverts never change.

Among the panel is Regis Philbin, who even I’ve heard of.

The next segment has John Carradine playing a sex researcher, like a Doctor Frankenstein figure. He unleashes a giant breast that menaces the countryside. This is sophisticated New York humour.

Finally, What Happens during ejaculation sees a Numbskulls vision of the brain and sperm during a date, featuring Tony Randall in the brain.

Also featuring Burt Reynolds.

After this, recording continues, and there’s an edition of Book by my Bedside featuring Josephine Hart talking to Jane Lapotaire. Not necessarily the usual kind of thing I upload, but since the whole programme is here, and unlikely to exist anywhere else, here it is.

After this, there’s an ITN bulletin, and, shamefully, they lead with the infamous Sun story smearing the survivors of the Hillsborough disaster. The police’s spin operation was already in full force, but at least they gave space for those saying it was not true.

Finally, the tape runs out during The Continental Movie – a Russian film called Nest of Gentlefolk.

The ad breaks on this one seem to have a lot of ads I haven’t seen ten times before, so enjoy.


  • Studioline
  • YTS
  • Ronseal Clear Varnish
  • Tango
  • Kellogg’s Toppas
  • Currie Motors
  • BSB
  • YTS
  • Ariel
  • Gipsy Kings
  • Kwik Fit
  • Harvester
  • Mighty White
  • Qualcast
  • Timotei
  • Perrier
  • Kellogg’s Toppas
  • BSB
  • Persil Automatic
  • The Observer
  • Clerical Medical
  • Inxs – Kick
  • Dairy Crunch
  • Impulse
  • SpeakEasy
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Miller Lite
  • trail: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • Dairy Crunch
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Mighty White
  • Herta Frankfurters
  • Clearasil
  • Perrier

The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole – Star Trek – The Next Generation – tape 714

First on this tape, a random episode of The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole. I did enjoy this at the time, although the book was so brilliant that any attempt to visualise it would fall short.

However, I think I appreciate it more now. Especially with Stephen Moore as Adrian’s dad. His parents are going through a rough patch, but he can’t afford to move out, so he’s making the spare bedroom into a bedsit. I have loved him since I first listened to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where he played the definitive Marvin, so I always enjoyed it when he’d appear in small roles.

The first series featured Julie Walters as Adrian’s mother. He’s benefiting economically from the split, because both of them are giving him pocket money.

Adrian goes to school, but because of all the home strife, he’s forgotten that it’s the holidays. This rang a bell with me, but I don’t think it actually happened to me, so I must just be remembering this show (or the book). I was watching this, and was going to comment on the great period detail, like the anorak with the orange lining that everybody had, until I remembered that this was contemporary.

Bill Fraser plays his friend Bert Baxter.

Mr Cherry at the newsagent gives Adrian a pay rise for his paper round. 2 1/2p an hour. He also gives him a couple of out of date porn mags, which seems a bit creepier now than it did at the time.

Steven Mackintosh plays his friend Nigel.

Adrian’s father has a fight with Mr Lucas in the front garden, because he’s the one who’s been seeing his wife. I was trying to remember where it was that Paul Greenwood appeared before I saw him in this, and it took me a second to remember that classic programme Captain Zep – Space Detective.

Beryl Reid is magnificent as usual as Adrian’s grandmother. What an amazing cast this show has. His father is growing a moustache – mostly because Adrian flushed all his razors down the toilet for fear he was suicidal, and his mother does not approve. This definitely hit home for me, as my mother never, ever got used to me having a beard, which I’ve had basically the whole time I’ve been with my wife (our 23rd wedding anniversary was just a few days ago) and every time I’d visit, she’d ask when I would be shaving the beard off.

Adrian and Nigel have a sleepover at Nigel’s house because his parents are away at a wedding. They get drunk, and read Waiting for Godot.

When Grandma finds them in a dark house, because the electricity’s been turned off, and learns that Adrian keeps having his pocket money stolen by the school bully Barry Kent, she goes round to sort them out.

I really enjoyed this. And let’s not forget that it was Sue Townsend who was the first instance of the VHiStory blog curse, when I saw an Omnibus documentary where she imagined her own funeral, along with her own coffin, on the very day she died.

And talking of the curse, Freddie Jones died today as I’m writing this. He’s credited on this episode as Mr Scruton, the headmaster, but I couldn’t spot him in any scene. Does a credit count for the curse? I’m so very, very sorry, whichever way.

Following this, recording switches to BBC2 and the end of Horizon.

There’s a trailer for the first episode of Nice Work.

Then, Star Trek – The Next GenerationComing Of Age. It’s Season One, and this episode is something fairly unusual for Star Trek – it’s an episode that hints at a larger story, and would pay off later in the season. These days we’d call it an arc episode.

There’s two stories here, as there often was on TNG, and I guess the A story is the one where an Admiral arrives, with a lt Commander in tow, and tells Picard that he’s investigating Picard and the whole crew, but won’t tell him for what. Cue lots of scenes where Lt Cmdr Remmick keeps asking the crew about things Picard has done, and how he might have broken the rules in various ways. There’s lots of references to previous episodes, which all adds to the feeling that it’s an arc story. But ultimately it gets annoying.

The B story sees Wesley take part in Starfleet Academy entrance exams. At the start of the episode, Wesley has to commiserate with another potential candidate who didn’t make the exam, so you know he’ll be significant later.

I’m not going to hate on Wesley or Wil Wheaton, but I did want to observe that Will was definitely in one of those ‘growth spurt’ stages at this time. It’s a bit unfair to pick a frame where he’s turning around, but look at the length of his arms compared to the rest of him. Some of that might be the design of the costume, but really, he looks almost like a child’s drawing here.

Wesley’s competition are a cute girl who thinks everything comes easy to the others when she has to work hard, a Vulcan who’s Vulcan, and a Benzite, who’s blue.

The young man who didn’t get to do the Starfleet exam has stolen a shuttle, but he gets into trouble near the planet and his engines stall. Picard has to talk him through it, and successfully gets him to restart the engine and bounce off the atmosphere. Even the flint-hearted Lt Cmdr Remmick is happy.

Remmick finishes his investigation and reports back to the Admiral that he found nothing in Picard’s record to complain about. Picard is angry at the whole thing, but Quinn tells him that he was doing the checks, because he believes that something is trying to destroy the Federation, possibly from within, and he needs people he can trust. He wants Picard to take a promotion to Admiral, and take over Starfleet Academy.

Wesley’s last test is the psychological test where he has to ‘face his greatest fear’. While he’s waiting for it to start he hears a loud noise nearby and finds a lab has exploded, and two men are trapped inside. He pulls an injured man to safety, but the other man, not injured but too frightened to move, won’t leave with him. It’s all part of the psych test, of course, and his greatest fear was that he wouldn’t be able to function if a situation like this, similar to the way in which his father died, happened.

In the end, Wesley doesn’t come top, he’s beaten by the blue Benzite, who doesn’t think it’s fair because during another of the tests, Wesley helped him finish, costing Wesley some time. But later, Picard tells Wesley that he failed the exam first time. “And you may not tell anyone.” It seems like only one person can pass the exam, which doesn’t seem like an efficient way to admit candidates. Also, surely, people who help each other out should be valued. I don’t understand schools generally, though.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 6th February 1991 – 18:00

The next episode is Symbiosis. While observing a star, the Enterprise encounters a ship in difficulty. The captain of the ship doesn’t seem to be overly concerned, and doesn’t really seem to know how to operate their ship.

When the ship breaks up, the Enterprise is able to beam aboard four survivors, plus their cargo. There’s two members each of two different races. The Omarans, the crew of the ship, are suffering from a plague, and need a treatment which is provided by their guests, the Brekkans. The cargo was a large shipment of the drug, and the Omarans claim they paid for it, but the Brekkans claim they have not.

The captain of the Omaran ship is played by Merrit Butrick, who played Kirk’s son David in Star Trek II.

The leader of the Brekkans is played by another Star Trek II alumnus, Judson Scott.

It soon becomes obvious to Dr Crusher that the cure is not a cure at all, but a powerfully addictive narcotic, and the entire Omaran planet is addicted, and they interpret withdrawal symptoms as signs of the plague, which hasn’t existed for 200 years. But the drug can only be cultivated on Brekka, so the two planets exist in a terrible symbiosis, with the Brekkans effectively in the role of drug pushers.

The Omaran T’Jon tries to get Picard to give him the shipment by using his magical electric hands on Riker. Nice electrified acting by Jonathan Frakes.

This is an interesting episode. Picard is bound by the Prime Directive not to interfere, despite how much Beverley wants him to. Even when he learns that the Brekkans know exactly what they’re dooing

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th February 1991 – 18:00

Finally here, Heart Of Glory. And I’m afraid I zoned out a little in this one, because it’s Klingon bollocks. On a crippled ship, two Klingons are discovered. They’re renegades, wanting to recapture the glory of the Empire – it’s all bit Brexit. There’s some conflict for Worf, as he’s torn between his allegiance to Starfleet, and his Klingon heritage, but really, I find these episodes a bit of a snooze.

This episode does introduce the Klingon death ritual, involving a lot of roaring.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th February 1991 – 18:00

After this, there’s a trailer for Arena about Pirate Radio.

Then, there’s the start of DEF II, Reportage, and the tape ends.

The Money Pit – Wogan – The Late Show – tape 799

First on this tape, the first showing on British Television of The Money Pit. Remember when BBC1 could say that?

It’s been a long time since I watched this. It’s one of the lesser known Tom Hanks movies. That’s lesser known movie, not lesser known Tom Hanks.

It opens with a strange pre-credits sequence that sees his father marry a younger woman in Rio. Then, we get some ADR over this shot of the photo and lots of bills which explains that young Hanks doesn’t get on with dad, who stole all the money from his law firm, ran off, and left young Tom with the bills.

Hanks is with girlfriend Shelley Long. It makes a change to see a screen couple where the woman is older than the man – Long is 7 years older than Hanks.

They’re suddenly under pressure to find somewhere to live, because they’ve been living in Long’s Ex’s apartment – he’s Alexander Godunov, playing a monstrously egotistical orchestra conductor. They find out he’s returning (after a year) when his entourage burst in on them carrying various items of furniture and decor.

Hanks has some eccentric clients.

They find a beautiful house out of town, being sold in a hurry by Maureen Stapleton.

But it turns out the house is in need of repair. A lot of repair. Cue lots of set-pieces where various parts of the house collapse.

Joe Mantegna plays a creepy plumber. Really creepy, in that he hits on Shelley Long as soon as he turns up.

There’s wiring on fire in the kitchen, and Hanks pours water over it. More than once. It’s a miracle he’s not dead.

This really does feel like a comedy that’s not really got enough jokes or gags. There’s a lot of physical set-pieces, and there’s some fun to be had seeing all the parts of the house collapse in unexpected ways, like the fireplace that collapses, being the whole chimney into the house, when a log is thrown on the fire. But I feel like there could have been more, better humour, and I feel that Hanks and Long were really working hard to elicit what humour there is.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st October 1989 – 21:05

After this, there’s part of an episode of Wogan with an interview with Griff Rhys Jones and Ade Edmondson. Not the laugh-riot you might expect, as they are there to plug a benefit for medical treatment of victims of torture, and Edmondson does spend a sizable part of the interview describing in awful detail the kinds of torture that such victims endure. It’s hard to hear, and Edmondson is clearly upset while telling it.

Following this, a shorter interview with Gregor Fisher, talking about Rab C Nesbitt.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 10th November 1989 – 19:00

Finally, a Late Show special, on Robert McKee’s famous Story seminar, with excerpt’s from McKee’s lectures, plus interviews with some of the writers, producers, directors and actors who attended.

They include John Cleese

Director Mick Jackson, who made A Very British Coup and Life Story, and would go on to direct The Bodyguard.

Chris Langham is there, possibly doing research for that book he still hasn’t written.

Producer Caroline Oulton

Actor Susannah Hamilton

I’m not convinced that the framing device, of an aspiring screenwriter, altogether works, but extra points for an appearance from Tom Georgeson.

After the seminar coverage, there’s a more critical look at McKee’s teachings. Lynda Myles is particularly sniffy about writers, complaining that they won’t do enough drafts. I don’t think she likes writers. And therein might lie the actual problem.

Writer Michael Eaton had recently written a TV film about Hollywood writers during the blacklist, Fellow Traveller.

William Davies and William Osborne, the British screenwriters of Twins. Currently writing Twins II and Beverly Hills Cop III. Only one of those films happened.

Alan Plater thinks that writing can’t be taught.

Dennis Potter didn’t have good experiences in Hollywood.

Apologies for the fuzzy picture. Reception was obviously poor when I recorded this.

As for dating this item, Genome lists the Radio Times listing for the programme as 9th November. But the Wogan interview before it is absolutely definitely from Friday 10th, because Terry not only talks about it being the last programme of the week, and the weekend coming up, but he also says that on the same day next week it will be Children in Need. So I’m confident about that date.

So I can only assume that this programme didn’t go out on Thursday 9th, as scheduled, and went out later, possibly the next week, as there would have been no time to change Radio Times. The BBC Two continuity announcement sheds no light on this, though. It’s a puzzle.

The other possibility, just as likely, is that this was another recording I recorded on a different tape, and copied onto this one. I didn’t often do this, as I didn’t like the loss of quality it meant, but the reception on this recording was so bad anyway that maybe I thought it didn’t matter.

It will remain a (very unimportant) mystery.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th November 1989 – 23:20

After this, leading straight from The Late Show, there’s a showing of Casablanca – in fact, the Late Show ends with its pretend screenwriter sitting down to watch the movie on his TV, then, after a few seconds, it cuts to the movie in full. It’s a nice bit of presentation.

The tape ends shortly into the film.