Inspector Morse – tape 2649

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

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

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

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

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

Roger Allam plays one of the contenders, Denis Cornford.

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

The murdered woman had an unsigned valentine from an admirer.

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

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

Angela Storrs reads the news about the murder on Ceefax.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Star Trek Deep Space Nine – tape 2647

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

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

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

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

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

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

And O’Brien. Or is that Odo again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tape ends after a few minutes.

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


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

She’s Gotta Have It – tape 1032

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tape ends just after the film.


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

Die Kinder – tape 1046

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lomax goes to meet Bellenberg at his club.

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

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

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

Sidonie finally finds Karin Heller, at a convent.

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

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

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

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

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

The police send in a bomb disposal robot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zelig – Horizon – TerrorVision – tape 476

Three very different items on this tape.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Up Line – tape 255

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

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

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

Karl Howman plays a policeman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Brian explains the Pathway business model to Nik.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rally ends with all of them on exercise bikes.

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

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

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

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

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

Even Melvin and his mother are taking part.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Inspector Morse – tape 1091

On this tape, it’s over to ITV and Inspector Morse with a story called The Infernal Serpent. On LWT, which is odd because I always thought of Morse as a weekday drama. First good news is that Geoffrey Palmer is in it, as Matthew Copley-Barnes Master of an Oxford College.

He witnesses an assault on a man who was to speak at the debating society, and with whom he’d been walking minutes earlier, before he had to go back to his lodge for papers. It’s a young man who he sees, who then rushes away, pushing him hard against a wall so he ends up slightly concussed.

His wife is played by Barbara Leigh-Hunt. There’s a lot of discussion about his umbrella, as the man who was attacked also had an umbrella which has gone missing.

Tom Wilkinson plays a music professor, Normington. Morse used to sing with his group before pressure of work got in the way. He knew the deceased (we’ve now learned that the attacked man died of a heart attack) and suggests he was going to say something important at the debate. He also appears to know the boy who assaulted him.

Cheryl Campbell plays Sylvie Maxton, an old family friend of Copley-Barnes. She’s a journalist. She was something of an adopted neice, although they family seem slightly frostier to her now.

Copley-Barnes’ daughter Imogen greets Sylvie. They grew up together, but haven’t seen each other for 17 years.

She’s married to Ron (George Costigan). He might be a bit too northern for Imogen’s very posh parents.

The Copley-Barnes have been receiving strange things in the mail, and when Morse is talking to them, they receive a ram’s skull.

Normington has got a tape of what the dead scholar was intending to say. Morse is looking for the missing tape, but Normington doesn’t give anything away.

While the funeral for the dead man is happening, some gangster-looking blokes are torching a house.

After the funeral, Morse spots the young man he first saw in Normington’s rooms, and the porter identifies him as the man who ran off after the murder. But under questioning he refuses to say who he is.

Morse gets news about the house fire, and goes to talk to the old woman who had lived there, currently in hospital. But the thug who burnt the house down is there talking to her, wanting to leave a message for her son – who’s the man in custody.

After his mother dies in hospital, the man, Mick McGovern, tells the truth to Morse, that he had fed the dead man information about a fertiliser from a pharmaceutical company that was a big investor in the college. The fertiliser caused cancer in livestock, and the professor was going to blow the whistle. McGovern found him already on the ground, and had nothing to do with attacking him, but he feared he was being set up for murder so he ran.

My favourite part of this plot is that, at the murder scene someone had thrown up, and the vomit contained the ingredients of a particular kind of quiche, and Lewis tracks it down to a particular pub, and a regular there is Copley-Barnes’ gardener, Phil, who’s been acting a bit strange recently.

Morse goes to see Copley-Barnes and discovers him dead, blundgeoned to death. At the scene is Sylvie, in shock. She tells Morse about the family holidays she used to go on with the Copley-Barnes, and it comes out that he’d been molesting her all that time.

Phil, the Gardener, had discovered that Copley-Barnes had been molesting his own daughter too, and he takes it out on the flowers he’d grown for a competition. It’s revealed that it was he who attacked the professor in the rain, thinking it was Copley-Barnes.

In the chapel, Mrs Copley-Barnes is going to end it all. It was she who murdered her husband, as she’d discovered he was molesting Phil’s daughter and couldn’t let it happen again. She’s talked off the ledge by Morse, but it’s a grim ending to the story.

After this, recording continues, so we get a whole episode of News at Ten. It leads with the US Congress voting to approve military action in the Gulf, which paved the way to the Gulf War. That dates this recording to 12th January 1991.

After this, there’s almost all of an episode of Aspel & Company. Guests are Dave Allen

Penelope Keith

and Tom Jones.

The tape ends just as Tom goes to sing his song, but all the interview stuff is here.

In the ad breaks, there’s a Fry & Laurie ad for Alliance & Leicester that I don’t think I’ve seen before.


  • Weetabix
  • Mu-Cron
  • British Telecom
  • Spa
  • The Observer
  • McCoy’s
  • Pickford’s Travel
  • BMW
  • trail: You’ve Been Framed
  • Mail on Sunday
  • TV Licensing
  • Singapore
  • Yellow Pages – French Polishing
  • Fiat Tempra
  • trail: Aspel & Company
  • Hamlet
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises
  • McDonalds
  • Carling Black Label
  • Anchor Butter
  • Halls – Gordon Kennedy
  • BMW
  • trail: Van der Valk
  • trail: Agatha Christie’s Poirot
  • Rover Metro
  • The Observer
  • Esso
  • Lunn Poly
  • British Gas
  • AA
  • Centerparcs
  • The Rookie in cinemas
  • Otrivine
  • Rover Metro
  • trail: Aspel & Company
  • KP Discos
  • Ovaltine’s Options
  • Alliance & Leicester – Fry and Laurie
  • Pickford’s Travel
  • Rover 216
  • Canderel
  • Beecham CoughCaps
  • trail: Van der Valk
  • Silver Spoon and Tate & Lyle
  • Atrixo
  • The Observer
  • The Rookie in cinemas
  • Smith’s Crisps
  • Lunn Poly
  • Weightwatchers
  • BMW