Wednesday, 20 June 2018
If you were young at some point between 1974 and the early 2000s then there's a good chance you would have watched a Saturday morning children's TV show along the lines of Tiswas, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Saturday Superstore, Going Live, Motormouth, Ghost Train, Live and Kicking, The 8.15 from Manchester etc. In fact, there's more than a good chance you watched these as they were on for around three and a bit hours every single Saturday morning.
Monday, 4 June 2018
It’s thanks to inventors and their unique innovations that we live such a blessed life in the 21st century. Take the light bulb, for example, just how amazing is that? And it's all thanks to one man: Thomas Edison. In fact, there's an almost endless list of inventors such as John Logie Baird, Alexander Graham Bell and Nikola Tesla who have all made an indelible impact on society. However, just how many people have heard of inventor extraordinare Norman Lovett? That’s right, hardly anyone, but if you want to know a little more, maybe you should look at I, Lovett.
Sunday, 3 June 2018
Clerical celibacy is an absolute prerequisite when it comes to being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest; the objective of this celibacy is to help the clergy focus their energies on serving God. Now, if you ever attended biology lessons, then you should be able to do the maths (or should that be biology?) and realise that priests can never father children of their own. However, this clerical celibacy doesn’t mean that a priest can’t become a father in familial terms. It’s perfectly possible, but the relationship just needs a little tinkering as seen in Father Matthew’s Daughter.
Saturday, 2 June 2018
Stand-up comedy has become more and more ubiquitous as the 21st century has unfolded, particularly on television. In fact, it seems that it’s almost impossible to flick through the channels these days and not come across either a stand-up showcase or a panel show packed full of stand-ups. Jump in a time machine and head back three and a half decades, though, and you’ll discover a very different landscape for comedy.
Aside from The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club and The Comedians, fully fledged television platforms for stand-ups were rare. And stand-ups weren’t even called stand-ups then, they were just comedians. It was never seen as a career either – the modern age now offers degrees in stand-up comedy – and many of the stars of the circuit just fell into it in between jobs.
However, the alternative comedy boom promoted a new interest in comedy and, with the establishment of The Comedy Store in Soho in 1979, a whole new raft of exciting comedians began to enter the fray. And showcasing this burgeoning scene was Pyjamarama.
Hancock’s Half Hour was the first modern sitcom and, consequently, it turned Tony Hancock into the first star of British sitcom. With his hangdog expression and downtrodden personality, he encapsulated everything that, even to this day, is painfully funny about being British. As is well known, the tragedy that played out at 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam was refracted into an even more sorrowful angle in Hancock’s personal life. Spiralling into a destructive alcoholism, Hancock committed suicide in June 1968 while living in Sydney, Australia. His relocation to Antipodean climes had been a disastrous attempt to re-ignite his career in Hancock Down Under, but his final British TV series had aired a year previously in the guise of Hancock’s.
Thursday, 31 May 2018
Week In, Week Out was an investigative series produced by BBC Wales between 1963 - 2017. It may not be as well known as other current affairs programmes due to the fact that it was never networked and was only broadcast on BBC One Wales. The series was, due to my growing up at the opposite side of the country to Wales, completely unknown to me, but whilst digging about on YouTube I stumbled across a few episodes. And, in particular, two of them stood out as interesting slices of society and culture in the 1980s, so here they are:
Sunday, 27 May 2018
Fun House was an ITV children's game show presented Pat Sharp (prime mullet era) which genuinely promised to deliver on the "whole lot of fun" ethos of its insanely catch theme tune. And there were also some decent - if not "outrageous" as the theme tune advised - prizes on offer such as helicopter trips, computers and holidays. However, in amongst these great prizes were some truly diabolical prizes. I suspect that the majority of these 'prizes' were either discarded after one use or, more likely, left behind in the studio by the children.
Saturday, 5 May 2018
Packed full of tension, The Mad Death is a chilling, disturbing watch and, after watching it, one that ensures you'll never stroke a dog in the same way again. Not seen on British TV screens since the mid 1980s, The Mad Death is finally available on DVD for the first time through Simply Media.
First transmitted in July 1983 on BBC1, The Mad Death was a three-part drama series which examined the impact of a rabies outbreak in Britain. Based on Nigel Slater's novel of the same name, The Mad Death tapped into a contemporary fear of rabies. Despite Britain being declared rabies free since 1922, the ominous threat of the disease still hung heavy in the air due to the risk posed by animals imported from the continent. Helping to instill fear into the hearts of millions, numerous public information films were released throughout the 1970s and 80s to warn about the horrors of rabies.
The Mad Death, however, manages to trump all of these with a disturbing ease.
Saturday, 21 April 2018
A thrilling game of cat and mouse, The Price is a drama which grasps political ideologies, romantic discord and the pursuit of happiness close to its chest. Unrelenting in its analysis of relationships and the seismic impact of wealth upon British society, 1985's The Price radiates with a vitality and thrust that many a mini-series has failed to maintain. And, as luck would have it, this gripping narrative has finally received a commercial release on DVD through Simply Media.