Tuesday 31 July 2018

Archive Tape Digging: July 2018

It's been another bumper month of dusting down VHS tapes and holding them up to the light of the modern day. I'm still wading through the pile of tapes I got at the start of June and they're still throwing up some intriguing finds. Progress is a little slow due to life commitments, but I've been making regular uploads over the last month and here are some of the best picks:

Sunday 29 July 2018

The Year of the Sex Olympics: 50 Years On


Today's blog is written by Jonathan Hayward, a man with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of British TV

This Monday will see the finale of this year’s series of Love Island on ITV2, the most successful yet in terms of viewing figures and, indeed, the most successful in the channel’s and digital TV history. What will also be truly extraordinary, if a trifle disturbing, will be the fact that it will be almost 50 years to the day, and virtually the exact time, that Nigel Kneale’s The Year of The Sex Olympics was first broadcast by BBC2.

Friday 27 July 2018

Friday's Five of the Best Archive TV Clips - Vol.1

Welcome to what I hope will be a regular Friday feature and, as the title suggests, it will feature five archive TV clips that I've found online and think will be of interest to Curious British Telly readers. So, every Friday, at the end of what will almost certainly be a tough week, there will be a little dose of nostalgic escapism to remedy the horrors of the modern world.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Laugh??? I Nearly Paid my Licence Fee

If Scotland had only ever contributed Naked Video, Rab C Nesbitt and Still Game to British comedy then it would represent a significant contribution. Thankfully, for our funny bones, Scottish comedy doesn’t begin and end with these three shows.

With an output that also includes A Kick up the Eighties, City Lights and Limmy’s Show, Scotland can be rightly proud of its unique take on comedy. Cast your eye towards the periphery of these rightly venerated shows, though and you’ll discover one of the lesser known, yet just as fantastic, shows in the form of Laugh??? I Nearly Paid my Licence Fee.

Sunday 15 July 2018

I Found a BBC Engineering Test and Attempted to Break it Down

Regular readers are aware that I spend an unhealthy amount of my time scouring through old VHS tapes in search of intriguing curios that haven't been seen in years. I've found a few interesting clips here and there, but nothing that was outrageously beyond the bounds of my imagination. However, that all changed the other night when I found what appears to be a BBC engineering test.

Friday 13 July 2018

25 Examples of Jan Leeming Being a BBC News Fashion Icon

For many years, all I knew about Jan Leeming was that she briefly appeared in the 1985 Roland Rat Christmas special Roland's Yuletide Binge. When I got a little older I discovered that she had been a BBC newsreader. And, many years later, after trawling through innumerable VHS tapes of old TV recordings, I realised just how fantastic a newsreader she was. Blessed with an innate calmness, yet complemented by an authoritative air, Leeming delivered the news with all the chutzpah of a classic BBC newsreader.

However, what I also noticed with all this old footage of Leeming was that she was an absolutely amazing dresser during her tenure on the various 1980s BBC News programmes. Versatility was the key to her style success as she mixed polka dot blouses, knitwear with embellishments going in all directions and even dungarees. It's easy to mock 1980s fashion, but Leeming always pulled it off with consummate ease. Whilst Princess Diana may have been getting all the plaudits for her fashion sense, Leeming was matching her at every step.

And, to celebrate this sartorial elegance, I decided to gather together 25 examples of Jan Leeming being a BBC News fashion icon.

Thursday 12 July 2018

Norbert Smith: A Life - DVD Review

Norbert Smith: A Life is yet another comedy gem from the magnificent Harry Enfield although, quite frankly, if you were expecting anything less than fantastic then your funny bone clearly stopped functioning around the same time that a man first slipped on a banana skin.

Written by Harry Enfield and the equally legendary (yet much less publicly celebrated) Geoffrey Perkins, this one-off mockumentary was directed by Geoff Posner and produced by Hat Trick Productions for Channel 4 in 1989. Finally, after years in the wilderness, Norbert Smith: A Life is coming to DVD thanks to Simply Media.

Saturday 7 July 2018

A Selection of Early Press Ads for Obsolete Video Formats

Thanks to the wonder of personal video recorders (PVR) we can record anything we want from the TV schedules with just a few clicks of the remote. You don't even have to get up thanks to the hard drive element of PVR. Roll the clock back about 40 years, however, and things were very different. Whilst, yes, you could record anything from the schedules, you most certainly had to get up and fiddle about with mindbending timers and, of course, those clunky old video tapes.

World Cup Heroes and Villains

You may have noticed that there's a World Cup on. England, after all, haven't delivered their customary turgid showing and the nation is going as mad for football as Gareth Southgate does for waistcoats. Live sport, however, doesn't really fall under the Curious British Telly banner, but thankfully that doesn't mean we can't enter into the spirit of the event. And that's why we're going to highlight the hilarity of World Cup Heroes and Villains from 1994.

Monday 2 July 2018

Marjorie and Men

Dating has never been anything less than a highly precarious and tricky activity. Two completely different entities coming together and hoping that things will click is a recipe for disaster. It’s not impossible to succeed, but, you can rest assured that your path towards happiness will be littered with misfires and misfortunes. If, of course, you’re the wrong side of 40 and have an interfering mother acting as a matchmaker, matters get a whole lot worse. And, for Marjorie Belton, that’s exactly what’s happening in Marjorie and Men.

Sunday 1 July 2018

Peter Firmin 11/12/1928 - 01/07/2018

It's been confirmed today that Peter Firmin has passed away at the stately age of 89. Alongside Oliver Postgate, Firmin was responsible for many of the programmes which have gone on to define British children's TV such as Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, The Clangers and Pogles' Wood to name but a handful.

The strength of Firmin's contribution to British culture is almost unparalleled in terms of longevity; not only was he behind millions and millions of childhood memories that remain active after many decades, but the appeal of his shows has remained strong for one generation after another.