Sunday, 30 July 2017
Only Fools and Horses was awarded the title of Britain's Best Loved Sitcom in 2015 and it was also voted Britain's Favourite Sitcom in 2004; it's no surprise, really, as it's packed full of likeable characters and plenty of gags which satisfy almost every demographic. It makes you wonder why there aren't more sitcoms which can engender the feeling of love that OFAH does, but I guess love and genius are rare commodities.
This passion for Del Boy, Rodney et al means that every household in the land either has the complete OFAH boxset or has access to GOLD (essentially the OFAH boxset disguised as a digital channel). As a result, people all over the country can recite huge chunks of dialogue and argue almost non-stop about which is the greatest episode. However, not everyone is aware of the unusual, mostly unseen and long forgotten snippets of OFAH which are lurking online with a whole 'new' set of laughs.
And this is why I've decided to gather together 9 pukka slices of rare Only Fools and Horses footage in one place. Some of them may appear to have been swept up by Trigger round the back of the Nag's Head, so the quality is variable, but as Del Boy would say "C'est la vie, mange tout!"
Monday, 24 July 2017
Society simply wouldn't operate without a little bit of community spirit running through our veins. It's this sense of commitment to our fellow man which ensures we have peace of mind, security and, most importantly, a feeling of togetherness. Sure, there are always hermits and loners in amongst this throng of connected individuals, but at least community provides them with something to rebel against, so everyone's a winner.
And it was in 1982 - for the UK - that an upgrade to community spirit was delivered with the establishment of neighbourhood watch schemes. Based on similar practices well established in the USA, these schemes looked to foster a communal spirit by inspiring people to come together to keep a watchful eye on their communities and make them a safer place to live.
The scheme has been a tremendous success and it's now estimated that 3.8 million households fall under the jurisdiction of a neighbourhood watch, so this is a level of security which can't be ignored. However, with no specific rules or central, governing bodies in place, a neighbourhood watch can soon become somewhat of a wild beast and start to cause more trouble than it solves as evidenced in Wyatt's Watchdogs.
Saturday, 22 July 2017
Every now and then, an actor or actress strides onto a television show and, backed by quite magnificent writing, manages to not only define the series, but often a genre. And this is never more evident than with Pat Phoenix who played - as we all know - Elsie Tanner way back in the very first episode of Coronation Street.
The original soap siren, Elsie Tanner was fiery, passionate and it was the combination of these two traits which led to achilles heel: a series of doomed relationships with the many men to tread the cobbles of Coronation Street. Away from her romantic dalliances, though, Tanner was a warm hearted and maternal soul which was demonstrated most acutely in the late 1970s as she took Suzie Birchall and Gail Potter (later Platt) under her wing.
Making her final appearance in Coronation Street in 1984, Pat Phoenix left behind a brashy, honest, incredibly Northern and soulful legacy which has yet to be matched in British soaps and, given the dire state of that genre in the modern age, it's unlikely we'll ever see such a performance again. Sadly, just less than three years later, Pat Phoenix had died following a battle with lung cancer.
Several weeks after her untimely death - Phoenix was only 62 - the final chapter in her acting career aired in the form of Hidden Talents, an episode from the anthology series Unnatural Causes which, ironically, had death at the very centre of it's narrative.
Thursday, 20 July 2017
Adults need all manner of material distractions to briefly escape from reality, but young children don’t have access to credit cards and, as a result, have to find joy in other places. Thankfully, children are blessed with the most wondrous creativity. And it doesn’t cost a penny.
With a fertile imagination at their disposal, children can begin to explore the world around them all from the comfort of their bedroom. And with a few household props they can create practically any environment they like; if they’ve got a dressing up box and like to sing then it’s even better!
Now, someone once said that “Talent borrows. Genius steals”, so it’s reasonable that children – little geniuses that they are – need a little bit of inspiration to cultivate their imaginative endeavours and, acting as the perfect creative springboard, they can find this in Let’s Pretend.
Sunday, 16 July 2017
Even the most experienced of us find the simplest aspects of life a strange affair, so, combined with the number of us humans rushing around from place to place, navigating our way through this tumultuous landscape could easily appear impossible to someone looking in from the outside.
Just take the number of shops down your local high street, every single one of them has a purpose and it’s a function we’ve learned over time e.g. you know to buy your eggs from one shop and your electric drill from another shop. However, we’re certainly not born with this knowledge and, with our minds as blank canvasses, we have to gradually piece together how the fabric of the world is woven together, otherwise we’ll try and drill holes with eggs.
For an alien visitor, matters are more complex. There’s no prior experience to draw upon, so the habits, cultures and emotions of Earth’s inhabitants must result in an exponential sense of bewilderment – just imagine trying to explain the phenomena whereby a sock always goes missing in the wash.
In fact, a popular exercise set by school teachers is for their pupils to describe an activity in extreme detail for an alien who has descended from the skies. Whilst this is restricted purely to the imagination, occasionally an alien does come down to Earth and their curiosity is more than eager to Get Up and Go!
Saturday, 15 July 2017
And, in particular, I really miss the TV presenters from way back in the day. With their cheery smiles, regional accents and retrospectively hideous suits/blouses, you were guaranteed a regular dose of security and comfort every time you turned the TV on.
Whilst reminiscing about this bygone era, I suddenly had a brainwave. Why not use these delightful TV presenters of yesteryear to bring a bit more charm and security to these trepidatious times we live in. And that's why I brightened up the modern world with retro TV presenters.
Friday, 14 July 2017
Back in the late 1960s, the mere concept of an electronic comic was laughable. In the 21st century, of course, we’re blessed with tablets which can quite easily hold an e-comic. In those swinging sixties, however, I guess the best you could hope for would be a piece of thick plastic with line drawings on and illuminated by a smattering of red LEDs.
Actually, that sounds like a magnificently retro helping of comicabilia and something that I would snap up at auction in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, with just one page, it’s not a comic. And it never existed…
That there television, though, it’s electronic, right? In amongst all the telly waves and cathode rays there’s definitely an electrical source as I’ve seen the plug. This certainly opens up the possibility of somehow getting a comic on TV and satisfying not only the criteria of being a comic, but also shifting from one section to another without endless stacks of unwieldy plastic and the emotionless red glow of an LED. And a TV version is exactly what you’ll find in Zokko!
Sunday, 2 July 2017
It's always tempting to revisit past romantic relationships as the potential thrills are already established in our minds. We know exactly what we're going to get, what's going to get nibbled and the best excuse for getting the hell out of there at 3am in the morning. However, our fiery lust is usually extinguished long before we reach the, as I like to call it, trouser slipping off stage.
And the reason for this is that we know EXACTLY what we're going to get: all the arguments, all the emotional heartbreak and all the threats of legal action over who gets to keep the Annie Hall DVD.
That's why, when you bump into an old flame, there's that little voice at the back of your brain which keeps repeating "Never go back! Never go back!" and, as it echoes around your skull, you decide that, yeah, probably best to invest your romantic riches in a commodity which isn't going to crash and burn yet again.
Not everyone adheres to this sound logic, though, as humans are a foolhardy bunch - just look at the continued existence of Ant and Dec on our screens - and this why we're occasionally prone to throwing caution to the wind. It's these flaws, coupled with the potential for conflict as two lovers reconvene, that sounds like the perfect scenario for a good old situation comedy.
And, as luck would have it, there's one in the form of Third Time Lucky.
Saturday, 1 July 2017
A defining figure of British TV in the 1980s, Roland Rat first appeared on TV-am in April 1983 and soon become a phenomenal success taking in several TV series, records and more merchandise than Errol the Hamster could shake a leek at. Naturally, being a puppet, Roland was an inanimate object brought to life by a human and, in this instance, it was David Claridge.
But who is David Claridge? Well, uh, it's a difficult to say, but he's certainly enigmatic...
You see, despite being behind such a massive cultural event, Claridge managed to keep well and truly beneath the radar. Claridge, of course, isn't completely immune from Google and there are certainly a few whispers and titbits about him floating around online. Sure, there's a brief CV of his achievements to be found over here, but it misses many interesting facts and trivia about this intriguing man and his achievements.
Therefore, I decided it was time that I collated together everything I could find in order to give the world a better understanding of the life and times of such an intriguing individual.