Monday, 13 September 2021

Curious British Telly Fanzine Issue 4 is Out Now!

Three months have passed, so it's time for another issue of the Curious British Telly fanzine. And, as per before, you're guaranteed to find a curious selection of essays, reviews, meanderings and quizzes within its 40 pages. The Curious British Telly Act of 2012 demands, of course, that this content should be both a head turner and a head scratcher; issue four doesn't disappoint on either count.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Hold Tight

The thrills available to a schoolchild are limited and boredom is almost always staring them in the face. All the real excitement in life comes a few years later, mostly upon admittance to pubs. But there is one beacon of hope for young teenagers: theme parks. It’s not that they are packed just with adrenaline fuelled rides. They are also the birthplace of fantastical teenage myths, most of which involve getting stuck upside down on a rollercoaster. Back in the realms of reality, theme parks can make for some exciting television. All you need is teenage rivalry and a gaggle of pop stars. Just make sure you Hold Tight

Monday, 9 August 2021

Pie in the Sky

There’s something ridiculously satisfying about a pie. Crisp, flaky pastry giving way to thick gravy which envelops the senses alongside juicy morsels of meat is unbeatable. Vegetarian pies are just as appetising, there’s no diet prejudice here. Whatever your tastes, the end result is the same: a fuzzy feeling of warmth and security. It’s an experience which isn’t a million miles away from the nostalgic rush of watching decades old children’s television. But what happens if you combine the two? Extreme satisfaction to the power of two? Well, thanks to the passing of time, it’s more than possible with a slice of Pie in the Sky.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Puddle Lane

Magic is, as we all know, an illusion. But it’s a distracting illusion and one that we all wish was real. That’s why it’s perfect for the world of fiction. Anything is possible when the shackles of reality and physics are discarded. Cauldrons can come to life, dragons can be treated to never ending bottles of lemonade and magicians can transport grass cuttings across the universe. It may sound a world away from the blockbuster adventures of a boy wizard, but life is just as enchanting down Puddle Lane.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Curious British Telly Fanzine Issue 3 Has Landed!

Time flies when you're furloughed and in the middle of yet another lockdown, so it's no surprise that the launch date for issue 3 of the Curious British Telly fanzine is here. Yes, that's right, to prove that the first two were no flash in the pans, we're back with a third issue. And, dare I say it, it may well be the best one yet.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

A Curious BBC Engineering Test from 1987

Neil Miles is a man who, much like myself, enjoys delving through piles of old videotapes in search of long forgotten footage. And his excellent YouTube channel recently delivered an intriguing slice of late night television in the form of a BBC engineering test from 1987.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

A Chock-a-Block Mug?!

Chock-a-Block

In what can only be described as a ridiculous pursuit, I recently Googled "Chock-a-Block merchandise" in the hope it would reveal that there was a 1982 Chock-a-Block annual. But it didn't. As there never was any Chock-a-Block merchandise. However, the internet is full of enterprising and creative individuals, so there is some merchandise available. It may not be official, but this doesn't necessarily stop it being amazing. And this is best demonstrated by a particularly creative individual on Redbubble who has designed a lovingly accurate Chock-a-Block illustration.

You can buy it printed onto virtually anything: socks, posters and, I'm not even lying, shower curtains. Stepping out of a Chock-a-Block shower curtain isn't something I've ever considered and, to be truthful, I think it would be a folly too far even for me. But, nestled away in the listings, there was a brilliant mug which espoused nostalgic wonder and instantly had me humming the legendary theme tune. So, I bought it and two days later it was here.

You can find the mug - and all the other variations of the design - over here

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

18/08/1986 - Lets Pretend: The Singer Who Lost His Voice

One of my favourite television programmes as a pre-schooler was ITV's lunchtime children's programme Let's Pretend. With a firm footing in the world of imagination, Let's Pretend demonstrated how the mind could be unshackled to create anything. And in the 1980s, with no YouTube to rot the brain in a smorgasbord of toddler-based memes and toy promotions reviews, children had to rely on making their own entertainment. The show was a big hit with myself, but despite running for seven years between 1982 - 89, few people reference it in the wider discussion on children's television. 

Naturally, I jumped at the chance to write about it for one of my books - that specific section is reproduced here - and covered the outline of the series fairly comprehensively. So, there's not really any need for me to regurgitate that information again. However, when I wrote my book, footage of the series was curiously hard to source, despite just over 200 episodes being produced. I managed to track down a few at some television archives, but that was it. Thankfully, since then, a few have made their way on to YouTube. And this has provided me with an ideal opportunity to not only write a few, short articles reviewing them, but to also carve my Let's Pretend outpost of fandom a little more indelibly into the information superhighway's surface. So, on with the first one...

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Not With a Bang

Post-apocalyptic narratives have a tendency to be indebted to a catastrophic event. Popular choices range from deadly pandemics through to nuclear attacks and the emergence of zombie killers. These flashpoints need to be dramatic to leave humanity hanging on by a thread and create the drama required to hook in the viewers. It’s not a dynamic which immediately lends itself to comedy, but this doesn’t mean it should be off-limits. Comedy is capable of taking on each and every genre of storytelling and that’s why it’s such a versatile form. And maybe it can be achieved Not With a Bang but with a very British take on the genre.