A show that started on Radio in 1949 for a short stint before another brief run on Radio Luxembourg. It made it's TV debut on the recently launched ITV and was a modest success, but not renewed until 1964 when a revamped version proved a ratings winner in it's Monday evening 6.45pm slot - there was no stopping it this time. Acts were introduced by a "Sponsor" who gave the host - The notorious Hughie Green, a rundown of their acts journey which brought them to the audition, they were then introduced to the audience with the at the time famous phrase " For ---- Opportunity Knocks". After all the acts had performed, the Audience reaction was measured by a "Clapometer" which measured the volume of the applause, indicating a probable winner, but it was ultimately decided by a postal vote, who should return the following week as the winner. There were quite a few stories of vote fixing, but the programme continued despite the controversies. Basically Britain's got talent - ITV's current talent show has taken the format and thrown more money at it with equal success. The show launched dozens of careers over it's run till it was finally cancelled in 1978 probably due to the success of ITV's other talent show "New Faces". Several revivals followed on the BBC. Stars who made it courtesy of the show included : Freddie Starr, Su Pollard, Paul Daniels, Darren Day, Los Caracas, (later to become Middle of the Road), Mary Hopkin, Bonnie Langford, Les Dawson, Royston Vasey (AKA Roy 'Chubby' Brown), Little and Large, Bobby Crush, Berni Flint, Tony Holland (The Muscle Man), Millican & Nesbitt, Neil Reid, Peters and Lee, Lena Zavaroni, Frank Carson, Max Boyce, Pam Ayres, Debra Stephenson, Tammy Jones and Paper Lace.
Dracula (2020– )What an absolute count
5 January 2020Warning: Spoilers
I was cautiously looking forward to watching this adaptation of the Dracula story and I sat down to watch the first installment. Despite the corrosive PC elements of the introductory episode, it had it's moments of eerie scares and a stylish visual flair - So I continued on to the second. I should really have stopped there because the second part went full woke, ticking more boxes than a benefit application and completely going off the rails. I half expected "Dracula " to start singing " I am what I am" whilst chomping on the remains of the novel - That was before the finale of the episode when it seemed like another production crew from BBC3 took over and decided to completely rip up the script and turn it into a lame episode of True Blood and I came to the conclusion that I had wasted 3 hours of my life. In conclusion, unless you like your horror homogenized and run though a 21st century focus group, avoid like the plague - Farcical nonsense.
Jools's Annual Hootenanny (1993– )Going down the Tube
1 January 2020
Well what started off as a decent music show to bring in the New Year has turned into a real damp squid. The quality of guests has over the last few years has steadily got worse. The show itself needs a good shake up ( Much like its parent show "Later with ) Artists who you would cross the road to avoid share the stage(s) with actual talent - but unfortunately most seem to be fixed on promoting their new material, so few familiar songs which I would say the viewers would prefer on a New Year's eve. To complete the lame show, the sound quality is dire - mixed so it comes across sounding flat and muffled. We bailed out on this years show just around half way through as it was just so poor.
The Benchmark for UK TV Variety in the 50' and 60's
12 December 2019
ITV's flagship variety show that ran for 12 years, boasted the cream of showbiz talent from literally all over the world, including Russian dancers (The Moiseyev Dance Company) magicians, acrobats, Comedians, such as Bob Hope, Benny Hill,Spike Milligan and all styles of music from Opera - Luigi Infantino and even Mario Lanza to Pop legends like The Beatles, Tom Jones and Roy Orbison, Basically anyone who was a star at the time seemed to be on the show. The show traditionally ended with all the acts congregating on the revolving centre stage with the resident dancers The Tiller Girls. The main compare (Bruce Forsythe and Tommy Trinder) had occasional quality stand in's Like Robert Morley and Bob Monkhouse and they would host a mini game section in the middle of the show, The best known being "Beat the Clock" which had been imported from America. One edition in 1966 was even video taped in colour to test out for the US market and it was a strange decision By ATV boss Lord Grade to cancel the show in 1967 when that type of programme was still very popular - A decision he admitted was a big mistake years later . The format has been revived several times with differing levels of success, although the latest revival seems to be popular enough to continue for a while. Sadly the majority of the show's have been wiped, leaving around 20-22 shows remaining in the archive. The existing editions will be screened by The UK TV Channel Talking Pictures TV in 2020.
Smothers not quite there yet
24 November 2019
The Brother's first foray into a regular television show with this being a Christmas themed edition, it is a bit lightweight with typical situations for a bland mid 60's show. This episode with Tom and Dick as reluctant roommates, whose relationship was complicated by the fact that Tom was an angel trying to earn his wings.
World on Fire (2019– )Horrible Histories
14 November 2019
Oh dear ! what can the matter be ? The Beeb are playing PC fantasia with the past. What do you get if you take a story of heroism set in a traumatic time in history and the BBC in 2019 : This travesty ! Totally unrealistic behaviour for the time, a script that uses out of era phrases and the dreaded revisionist version of events. People who lived through it would be appalled by this attempt at diversity inclusion. The last episode apparently had four and a half million viewers, almost half of what the first instalment started with - given the budget it's a couple of quid a viewer - I want my money back.
The Walking Dead (2010– )The Woke-ing dead
3 November 2019
The first few seasons of the series were for me and my Mrs's "Must see" viewing indeed up to the point Rick departed we had thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the show - with excellent graphic effects, it's gritty film appearance exciting storylines and powerful acting from the main characters. Then for no apparent reason we leap forward 10 years and it transforms into some PC afflicted Soap opera where all the male characters have lost their bottle. Thrown into the mix are bizarre musical interludes and angst ridden sub-plots where minor players debate ridiculous options. As others has mentioned - Why is their no ammunition available, Eugene was supposed to have mastered that skill for Negan years ago and the preposterous scenario of a young girl (Judith) coming on like a Resident Evil warrior hacking down walkers several feet taller. Another show spoiled by Social Justice meddling.
Scarborough (2019)Better than expected for a 2019 comedy
23 October 2019
We watched this show with some reservations as we seem to have lost the ability to produce a decent sit com and were pleasantly surprised. It is beautifully filmed and the actors seem to be enjoying themselves and give engaging performances, there's just a slight problem with the writer adding several characters that are a little over the top and the Gay police officers behaviour is out of sync with the show, more like a character that didn't quite work and was cut from Little Britain in the edit. A few laugh out loud moments - hopefully it may progress into something more substantial.
Seaside Special (1975–1979)Summer in the Uk in the 70's captured
30 September 2019
If you holidayed in the UK in the 1970's this show personified what you experienced - Mostly good weather, seaside hotels and cheap and cheerful entertainment. The BBC decided to capitalise on the popularity of the summer season shows at the many holiday resorts around Britain by taking a circus tent around the country and inviting the stars of the local shows to headline their family friendly extravaganza. Many big names appeared on the stage of Gerry Cottle's big top including Abba, The Three Degree's, Ken Dodd, Paul Daniels and Cilla Black. Later editions ventured to the Channel islands and beyond adding more international acts such as Andy Williams. Dance troupe New Edition provided the energetic dance routines and even joined ex Womble Mike Batt several times to perform the theme "Summertime City" Presenters included Radio 1 and 2 DJ's including David Hamilton Noel Edmonds and Tony Blackburn who put his life in danger by singing Tie a yellow ribbon whilst trapped inside a cage full of impatient lions. Many of the lesser acts were on borrowed time even then, with weak cabaret singers and "Comedians" who would have been booed off stage at your local working men's club, but a valuable time capsule of what you could expect at many end of the pier shows in the 70's.
Mindhunter (2017– )Drama Heaven
19 September 2019
When a director such as David Fincher is attached to a series your expectations are high and boy does this deliver. Every aspect of this series is a joy from the fabulous cinematography, period detail, script and performances. From the outset it grips you with character portrayal and banter that drips with authenticity, wit and charm. Intelligent television that doesn't have an underlying agenda to preach which is rare in a series today. All the main actors give believable portrayals adding a degree of credibility many shows struggle to achieve. Gripping storytelling.
EastEnders (1985– )This is just nasty - Misery on a weekly basis
27 August 2019
When this first appeared it had some merit concentrating on the seamier side of life in a fictitious London borough with some amusing characters and sharp dialogue . Now it is unrecognisable - Box ticking scriptwriters create despicable PC characters that shout at one another constantly - spitting out their vicious lines - which mostly consist of questions : Where you been? Who told you that ? What's it got to do with you etc etc... Horrible people doing terrible things to one another and no vile human trait is out of bounds as the desperate producers pile on the agony - Murder, Rape, beatings, extortion : you name it they'll drag it out in the name of entertainment, parading it as a version of normal life, giving it's feeble minded brainwashed audience appalling behaviour to emulate. It should come with a warning, like on a cigarette packet : This programme can seriously damage your mental health
Adventure Weekly (1968–1969)Sixties Tea-time treat
19 August 2019
A series that I would love to see again, I have memories of it, I must have been about 7 or 8 at the time. This short lived series concerned a group of young people running their own local paper - Four boys and a girl - Peter, Andy, Tubby, Swot, and Fred. It's made possible by their local paper the Cliffsea Reporter allowing them to use their printing press. Their escapades included storylines such as a post office robbery and the discovery of a World war 2 unexploded bomb. I found it an endearing series with the young leads giving enthusiastic performances. The series was filmed on location in the Seaford/Newhaven area which doubled for the fictional town of Cliffsea. At time of writing there are 5 episodes existing out of the original run of 19 in the archives.
The Touchables (1968)If ever there was a movie that couldn't be made today this is it !
12 August 2019Warning: Spoilers
This film I found very amusing. Four 1960's women model types kidnap a stuffy young pop star and steal him away to their pop art lair to take advantage of him in a very 60's manor whilst his manager and several other interested parties search for him. The female cast is very attractive, boasting society girl Judy Huxtable (A future Mrs Peter Cook ) Kathy Simmonds (Rod Stewarts ex and future girlfriend of George Harrison) Monika Ringwald (Confessions of a window cleaner) directed by experienced lensman and graphic designer Robert Freeman who photographed several Beatles album covers It is visually impressive as you'd expect and overloaded with suggestive imagery complimented With a witty, yet off the wall script by the great Ian Le Frenais (Likely Lads, Porridge) It wanders and becomes a little self-indulgent in the middle section but the music provided by the likes of Nirvana, Ferris Wheel and Pink Floyd brightens up the slower sections. Totally un pc with it's approach it is one of the forgotten groovy films of the late 60's that deserves a dvd release - As it is it's a very hard film to find which for me adds to it's appeal when investigating the cinematic culture of the UK in the sixties. Sh*gadelic baby yeh!!
Oh in Colour (1970– )Spike in colour - Between the Q's
17 July 2019
Spike Milligan started the run of his anarchic Q series in 1969 on BBC2 (in colour) this series was made between Q5 and Q6 which was made in 1975. It is basically Q 5 1/2 as it is very similar is structure with many of the same cast with sketches running into one another, some of which wouldn't look out of place in the Two Ronnie's and Spike attacking his usual targets ( Government, politicians, The Irish, Sport) It's often very funny - For example a married couple having their evening meal being kept in check by a Tennis umpire (Spike) on a raised platform. Most of the six episodes surprisingly exist in black and white Telerecordings with just a few clips on colour VT. Would be great to have a release to compliment the recent dvd set of the Q series.
Lift Off with Ayshea (1969–1974)Tea time musical treat
13 July 2019
Lift Off was Granada TV's answer to BBC's Top of the Pop's - A spin off from Granada's pop show Discotheque, but aimed at younger viewers and ran for 5 years from 1969 - 74 originally presented By singer Graham Bonney who was then joined by the lovely Ayshea Brough who became the programmes sole human host and it's probably Ayshea that most people associate with the show. Ayshea was joined by Olly Beak and Fred Barker (Voiced by Basil Brush creator Ivan Owen) It was a low budget show with 2 or 3 name artists in each edition supplemented by a dance troupe initially going under the name of The Ken Martyne Dancers (later known as The Feet) Ayshea herself regularly sang throughout the series. A number of Top artists appeared on the show,notably Slade, The Sweet, Marmalade, Christie, Gene Pitney, The Move, Peter Noone, PIckettywitch, Olivia Newton John and David Bowie famously performing Starman for the first time on TV. Unfortunately most of the show has been wiped with only 3 complete editions and a compilation surviving - That was until this year when UK TV preservation organisation Kaleidoscope managed to recover many performances from home recorded off air broadcasts, with the Bowie appearance rumoured to be amongst them. Hopefully these rare clips will raise the profile and reputation of this important and unfairly forgotten series.
Serengeti (2019– )Nature : 2019 style with added
8 July 2019
What do you get if you cross Disney's animation The Lion King, an over injection of sentimentality and the imagination of a hyper active 12 year old - This is a poor excuse for a wildlife "Documentary" I'm surprised they didn't dub voices onto the animals. Where do I start with this ? Over saturated colour, poor editing with the inflated volume of the animal noises battling with a booming bizarre soundtrack. The narration as others had mentioned is like a children's book with added social justice and it grates with every sentence. There are some fabulous shot's of the animals in their natural landscape, but it seems that's not enough for the producers of this effort, rather like those flowers in a supermarket that are painted - It's just not necessary and adds nothing.
Small Town Crime (2017)Engaging and gritty Thriller gem
29 June 2019
A film that leaves you wanting more from the down at heal ex cop played by James Hawkes. An excellent mix of tension, humour and intrigue with menacing hit men determined to silence our flawed hero. Good performances all round with Robert Forster adding weight to the story. The camera soaks up the landscape beautifully and it's quirky approach only adds to it's appeal - A very refreshing experience.
The Hit List (2019– )They missed a letter off the title
26 June 2019
UK TV has a long history of music quiz shows from Face the music, Name that tune, Pop Quiz and Buzzcock's which each has been entertaining for anyone who likes to test their music knowledge and this is the latest attempt at a prime time show. The basic format is relatively well structured working against the clock and the other teams to identify popular music clips to win a cash prise - That's the good part, unfortunately this is 2019 and we have to adhere to Right-on producers idea of what must be included in a show, so we have lots of whooping and screaming accompanied by crass cliche's : Give it up for (who) Make some noise ?? everybody is "Amazzzing" It's as though the X Factor's audience has been pushed into a studio when there's been a technical delay and they are confused by what's in the studio so they just carry on screaming. What can you say about the presenters, well I use that term loosely - two flavours of the month attempting to wing their way through their Auto cue challenge punctuating their interaction with the contestants with witless bland comments and the constant repetition of O-Kayee ! I counted this repeated over 70 times in one show. It's these 2 who destroy the show with their amateur attempt at fronting a programme, they would be more suited to a Saturday morning slot on QVC I think the producers should recruit people who have some actual ability and watch a few episodes of Buzzcocks and have a re-think.
Rooms (1974– )Rooms with a view to brightening up afternoon TV
26 June 2019
A largely forgotten afternoon gem from Thames Tv that ran for several years which followed the goings on at 35 Mafeking Terrace, a large Victorian house converted into bed sits. There were 2 main characters landlady Dorothy Lawson played by Sylvia Kay (Penny's mum in just good friends) and long term resident Brian Marshall (Spindoe) and the scenario of rented accommodation allowed for a regular mix of new characters with episodes focusing on various tenants escapades. It had a high calibre of writing with TV greats such as Fay Weldon, Willis Hall and Trevor Preston contributing and boasting a cast including Jill Gascoine, Bryan Marshall, Brian Cox, Bernard Hill, Bill Dean, Nigel Havers, Miriam Karlin, Alfie Bass, Lewis Collins, Jan Francis, Tessa Wyatt, Arthur Brough (Are you being served) and strangely Brian Protheroe who had a hit in the 70's with the song Pinball) - Sure to find a new audience when it begins a run on the UK channel Talking Pictures TV in the summer.
West 11 (1963)London life before it started swinging
5 June 2019Warning: Spoilers
Caught this British Kitchen Noir on the excellent UK film channel Talking Pictures recently - A visual time capsule of young hedonistic London life in the early 60s, Party for tonight and to hell with the hangover and consequences in the morning. Glossy on the outside grim and desperate on the inside in this story. The talent behind the production certainly capture the 1960s grotty bedsit dwellers existence perfectly with excellent cinematography, a sultry jazzy score courtesy of Stanley Black and efficient direction from the soon to be admired/despised directed Michael Winner. Alfred Lynch puts in a good performance as the protagonist in this tale of a man trying to live up to the expectations of the women in his life, walking out of his job, hoping something more exciting will fall his way, unfortunately all that is waiting for him are a shady character with promises of easy money with just one catch - Murder ! Not top drawer Brit Grit, but involving storytelling evoking an era of London Life that was reality for many people.
The Kids from 47A (1973–1975)Intelligent and quirky children's show
3 June 2019
I recently bought the dvd of the first season of this series as I have fond memories of the series from when it was first shown particularly the credit sequence of children playing Hopscotch. Re-watching it I was impressed with how it dealt with some quite serious topics,Set in Birmingham the family subsequently headed by Jess the eldest sister played by Christine McKenna (Flambards) assumed the mother role in the series, trying her best to hold a job down and keep her siblings in check and on the right path. Writers included future star scribes Lynda La Plante, Gail Renard and Phil Redmond(Brookside & Emmerdale farm) A great mix of comedy and drama from an age when everything didn't have to have a message and just concentrated on an entertaining storyline and engaging performances from the largely young cast.
The One Show (2006– )What happened here ?
30 May 2019
This used to be an entertaining, light hearted magazine show with some good guests and features - Then it fell victim to the moralising box tickers and now constantly pushes social justice till it hurts. There's barely a single item on the programme that doesn't have a bias or preachy underlying message, it's like they are constantly needling the viewer be it through carefully chosen charity appeals or guests selected to push their viewpoint. A party political broadcast for the socially bewildered masquerading as a family show.
Steptoe and Son (1962–2016)Want to write comedy ? Watch this to see a masterclass
28 May 2019
Steptoe and son started as one of the BBC's comedy pilot's known as Comedy Playhouse in 1962 with the episode "The Offer" It was positively received by the viewers and given the green light for a full series and we are fortunate to have been gifted this landmark series. The Steptoe and son of the show's eponymous title are father and son, Albert and Harold - two expertly written characters from the pens of legendary comedy writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, proprietors of a rag and bone yard in a London suburb who battle against the odds and with one another on a daily basis. Much comedy and drama filter through the fine erudite scripts with social commentary woven into the clever storylines. Add to that great nuaced performances from the two leads who in many episodes are the only two people in the whole episode - What other show could do that and still deliver comedy that stands repeated viewings. It was so successful that 2 feature films were made and were a big hit in cinema's and it's format and scripts were adapted in several countries, notably in the U.S. where it became Sanford and son. Ground breaking in many ways, in language used, generational confrontation and topics covered (death, fraud, poverty, bigotry) there are very few series that come close to it's multi-dimensional character development in the comedy genre.
Frank Sinatra: The Main Event (1974 TV Special)The Governor returns.....
26 May 2019
Frank's comeback tour of 1974 was captured by ABC and broadcast the following day and released on VHS / dvd in a slightly truncated edit. He is in great form even if some of the top notes are a little gravely, Most fan's agree that after a couple of years lay off he was mildly rusty, he didn't fully recover his form till a year or so later which can be seen on later taped shows and some of the arrangements are a little 70's lounge bland, still there's lively banter with the star studded crowd which included Robert Redford, Carol Channing and Walter Cronkite. Sound quality in good overall, though Frank himself fires a criticism at the crew at one point telling them to sort out the feedback - Ouch ! The original set list run's as follows : Introduction "It Was a Very Good Year"/"All the Way" /"My Kind of Town" "The Lady Is a Tramp" "I Get a Kick Out of You" "Let Me Try It Again" "Autumn in New York" "I've Got You Under My Skin" "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" "Angel Eyes" "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" "The House I Live In" "My Kind of Town" Finale - "My Way" So there you have it, not top notch Frank but Sinatra on middling form is most artists Top Level - For that experience check out all of his 1960's specials.
Cold Pursuit (2019)Entertainment and originality abound
14 May 2019
What's going on here ? A Liam Neeson film which isn't just a revenge story. It's got elements of Ruthless people, Horrible bosses and The Nice guys, sure Liam's on the revenge trail but the story takes a left turn and throws wicked humour into the mix. Good performances all round together with stunning location photography, a sharp script and smart direction make this an all-round pleasure to watch. Rent it with no worries you're in for a great nights viewing.