Monday 27 February 2017

Archive Tape Digging: February 2017

A few weeks back, I reported on the haul of VHS tapes I had recently picked up and, since then, I've been slowly going through them when I've had half a chance. As expected, there's been an awful load of codswallop to wade through and, believe me Auntie's Bloomers doesn't get any funnier with age.

However, in amongst this mediocrity, there have been a few gems which are worth revisiting. They're not ridiculously old although they are between 20 - 25 years old which, rather disturbingly, is actually a bloody long time ago. Anyway, here they are:

Friday 24 February 2017

Animal Fair

Have you ever seen how excited children get when they're confronted with animals? It's like catnip to cats, but with, uh, cats to humans... Anyway, children love animals and I guess this is down to the fact that animals never shout "DON'T DO THAT!" and are prone to running around with a manic abandon, just like children.

However, there's a whole world of animals out there and, no matter where you live, you're always going to be limited to the furry, feathered or scaly critters you can encounter. So, how do you teach children about the diversity of our beloved planet's wildlife?

Sure, you could stick them in front of a David Attenborough documentary, but, whilst a world beater in the world of adult television, this type of documentary is perhaps a bit too sedate for over-excitable children. Instead, they want a bit of laughter, fun and song. And, luckily, this can all be found by taking a trip to Animal Fair.

Saturday 18 February 2017

Sharon and Elsie

When I was a much younger man, I worked with a much older man who frequently imparted wisdom to me such as "If you're gonna cheat on your girlfriend, mate, do not, and I repeat, do NOT shit on your own doorstep" and "You ever go to India, mate, don't you trust their water out there, they're used to all the bacteria, but you're not, so just drink whisky all day to be safe".

Now, even at the tender, impressionable age of 18, I realised that what he was talking was utter rot and borne from a lifetime of dishonesty and poor medical knowledge - two traits I despise in people. As a result, I've never cheated (unless dancing rather closely during the conga counts) and I've certainly never been to India, but God knows I've eaten a few.

However, perhaps my experience, as a young adult, was just a blip on society's advancement to a more learned state of existence; maybe, it's possible to find yourself paired with someone who's seen it all before and can tutor you in the pitfalls of the world and the behaviour of others. And, just maybe, a perfect example could be found lurking within Sharon and Elsie.

Saturday 11 February 2017

Did British 80s Kids TV Inspire the Facial Hair Craze?

Over the last several years, British men have been experimenting more and more with facial hair. Just head down to any Wetherspoons on a Saturday night and you'll find all manner of beards, goatees and, whisper it, moustaches queuing up for a bottle of craft ale. Alternatively, head to Shoreditch for any given millisecond on any given day and you'll be swamped in facial fuzz quicker than you can say "flat white".

Recently, I've been wondering what exactly started this facial hair craze. Was it a brigade of illuminati hairdressers wanting to dictate facial hair fads to distract us from their inexorable rise to global domination? Or had the charitable intentions of Movember not only helped fight cancer, but also gone some way to repairing the tarnished reputation of moustaches?

Well, maybe, but what really caught my curious gaze was that many of these bearded men were of an age which belied the fact that they grew up in the 1980s.

Thursday 9 February 2017

I’m Not Like Everybody Else

If ever there were a band perfectly placed to soundtrack the world of Curious British Telly, it would have to be The Kinks. After all, they sum up everything that Curious British Telly stands for: incredibly British with an idiosyncratic view of the world and, of course, devoted to the wonder of nostalgia.

And that's why I was absolutely thrilled to unearth a Kinks documentary in amongst the enigmatic pile of VHS tapes I recently had donated to me. It dated from December 1995 and only ever received one showing on BBC2, so it was a fortuitous recording and my eternal thanks go out to the original recorder.

Sunday 5 February 2017

Tickets for the Titanic: Keeping Score

Tickets for the Titanic was an anthology of six 50-minute plays which aired on Channel 4 over the course of two series between 1986 - 1987. The series was produced by Regent Productions, an indepedent production company who were also behind the Channel 4 shows 15 to 1 and Johnny Speight sitcom The Lady is a Tramp.

The first play in the anthology - Keeping Score - was the only one which featured the porthole opening. The reason for this omission was due to the capsizing of the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry which killed 193 people and occurred two days after Keeping Score aired.

Saturday 4 February 2017

New Book is Here!

The latest edition in my series of guides on the more curious gems and oddities of British children's TV is now available on Amazon for the bargain price of 99p - that's cheaper than anything you'll find in Poundland, yet offers infinitely more value than a refurbished Chris De Burgh CD.