The tables are turned: a collection of anagrams of Richard’s name.See post
With BBC4 showing an episode of THE RUSSELL HARTY SHOW on Tuesday 20 March, and then ITV1 screening The Unforgettable… Russell Harty on Wednesday, we’re declaring next week A HARTY PARTY!
It’s been 24 years since Russ passed away, and until this Russ scheduling stampede, it had seemed as if everyone had forgotten about him, apart from that bit where Grace Jones smacked him about the head a bit. And that’s a real shame, because Russell Harty was a man who produced some of the most entertaining, amusing and, you would have to say, demented television ever made. He always seemed to give over the impression that he had no idea why he’d suddenly found himself on television but since he was here he may as well have a go at it, and his camp bemusement was a familiar sight on our screens throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
So let’s remember the TV icon that was Mister Rissole Hartley…
In the beginning
Russ was born in Blackburn, and one of his most famous encounters was with the Mayor of his home town, who informed him, “You may be big in London, but you’re bugger all in Blackburn!”. His first proper job was as English teacher at Giggleswick School in Yorkshire, where one of his pupils was a young Richard Whiteley. Twice Nightly later said that Russell was his hero while he was in school, because he seemed so cool and intelligent, taking Richard to see CAMBRIDGE CIRCUS and then inviting him for dinner with his mate Alan Bennett. Although Richard thought he was a great teacher, his ambitions always lay in the media, with his first ever telly appearance coming in an appearance on CRISS CROSS QUIZ in 1958.
However it took him a while to make it back on screen. Whiteley next met him in the mid-sixties when both ended up as neighbours in Notting Hill, with Richard working as a sub-editor at ITN and Russ producing shows for Radio Four, and Russ was apparently most disturbed to learn that Rich was earning far more money than he was. No wonder he decided to make the move to television, joining the new LWT to produce arts show AQUARIUS.
It wasn’t long before Russ was in front of, as well as behind, the camera, presenting as well as producing the show. His camp and arch manner helped him stand out, while already he was enjoying something of a reputation as a man as interested in so-called downmarket pop culture as he was in the high arts, notably bringing Gracie Fields and Sir William Walton together at last.
He then graduated to hosting his own chat show, initially called ELEVEN PLUS – possibly in a nod to his previous career – and then RUSSELL HARTY PLUS. The most memorable moment from this series was a demented interview with The Who, who clearly terrified Russ, especially when Keith Moon elected to strip off down to his pants. Nevertheless Russ was happy to interview absolutely anyone, to some success, and next time he met up with his protege Whiteley, he was thrilled to find that he was now earning at least four times as much as Richard. Russ was also all for uncovering new talent and giving them a big break. Our favourite, from 1974: “Tonight, in the nature of an experiment we’re going to give someone such a break…”
One of the most remarkable shows of Russell’s time was a Christmas special in 1975 to mark the final episode of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS. After opening with an outrageously pompous monologue to camera (“There’s scant Christmas cheer here, good friends…”), Russ then proceeded to spend the first half of the programme exchanging stiff pleasantries with the “upstairs” characters sipping drinks in the morning room and cooing, “Pray, what future for Master Richard Bellamy?”. He then moved below stairs for part two to appear alternately flummoxed at being addressed repeatedly as “Rissole Hartley” and bemused by Gordon Jackson’s knowledge of etiquette. Nobody knew whether they were supposed to be in character or not, Russ repeatedly asking “And what about you… the real you?”, and the whole thing was topped off by the final few moments, when the action suddenly switched to a TV set, and the camera pulled back to find Russ sat in the studio watching it, turning to camera and announcing, “London Weekend will be repeating 26 specially selected episodes of Upstairs Downstairs in the New Year!”
At the end of the decade, however, Russ got a bit pissed off with life at LWT, not helped by his final job, hosting SATURDAY NIGHT PEOPLE. After spending most of the decade as the sole host of a show with his name in the title, Russ considered it a massive demotion to become a co-host alongside Janet Street-Porter and Clive James. Ostensibly a “gossip column of the air”, with our trio of hosts bitching about famous people, the best rumours all came about backstage, when it was revealed that all three – each hosting from behind their own individual hexagonal desk – demanded the camera to be in a certain position to get their best side, while Russ was pissed off with Clive never learning his lines and Janet was pissed off with Russ always interrupting her. This massive clash of egos rages for one series before Russ decided the time was right to move on, and defected to the Beeb.
The BBC years
Russell arrived at the BBC in 1980 and was immediately given a twice-weekly show on BBC2. Known, simply, as RUSSELL HARTY, the series ran on Tuesdays at 8.30pm from the Greenwood Theatre in London and on Thursdays at 8.30pm from the Palace of Glittering Delights in Manchester. This was the definitive Harty series and it’s from here we get most of his memorable moments.
The show was always billed in the Radio Times as “television’s most unpredictable half-hour”, and this was certainly the case as Russ interspersed the chat – including that encounter with Grace Jones – with all sorts of silly bits of business, whether this was watchingThe Great Blondini blow himself up outside the studio or being taught a raunchy dance routine by Hot Gossip.
Occasionally there would be a jaunt outside the studio, with entire shows being broadcast from Diana Dors’ swimming pool at home, or from Crufts, or from an oil rig where Russ had a nose around the catering facilities and then watched Bucks Fizz perform The Land Of Make Believe in a force 10 gale. These were the days when television programmes were happy to do outside broadcasts just because they could, regardless of whether there was actually any point to them, so one show came in its entirety from the Goodyear Blimp circling over Rome, where Russ looked out over the Vatican in the company of his special guest… er, Trevor Francis. (“You know who that gentleman in white is, don’t you, Trevor?” “Yes, it’s Michael Parkinson, isn’t it!”).
Another outing saw Russ journey across the Atlantic and co-present THE GOOD DAY SHOW in Boston (“with B.B.C Talk Show Star RUSSELL HARTY”), forecasting the weather for Massachusetts (“And up there it’s going to be forty degrees, dunno if that’s centigrade or farenheit…”). One show was devoted to an interview with Rod Stewart, with Russ introducing the show from the stage just before one of Rod’s concerts, and went to leg it off stage when the curtain came up only for Rod to get him in a headlock and keep him there. Imagine going to see Rod Stewart in concert and the first thing you see being Rod throttling Russell Harty.
In the safety of the studio, Russ didn’t seem to mind what his guests did as long as it was amusing, hence Kenny Everett arrived in a cassock and spent most of his interview inhaling helium, much to the distress of fellow guest Penelope Keith (“No more, Kenny, it’s bad for you!”), while Jan Leeming got the chance to croon a song.
Possibly the quintessential Harty clip is this (jump to 6 mins, 5 secs) with Russ consoling Noele Gordon on being kicked off Crossroads and her singing a terrible song.
Russ was always happy to muck in, watching on as eighties chat show staple Hercules The Bear ran amok around the audience and lying on a snooker table so Steve Davis could play a shot off his nose. Almost everyone who was anyone in the early eighties appeared, although Russ had a particular fondness for very old women – such as Catherine Bramwell-Booth – who he could fuss over and children who he could encourage to say silly things. He also seemed to have a fondness for very ill people, such as Barry Sheene appearing minutes after a cycle crash and Billy Fury after a million heart attacks.
Around this time Russ also joined the board of the newly launched Red Rose Radio in Preston and hosted a show every day at 9am… for the first week, anyway.
Into the evenings
After three years on BBC2, Russ was promoted to BBC1, and in September 1983 moved to the proto-WOGAN timeslot of Tuesdays and Wednesdays at seven o’clock. Along the way he lost his first name, with the show called simply HARTY, abandoned Manchester for London full-time and gained a self-drawing pastel title sequence and a lovely theme tune, which Frida out of ABBA certainly liked… (note also Russ fussing over another ancient old woman).
This kept much of the old format of wit and whimsy, but was even more frivolous, with Russ promising a show that “lifts you up after the disasters of the news and the depression of the weather forecast”. This meant such items as Dog Of The Week (“If it only has three legs, so much the better”) and regular jaunts to the homes of The Great British Public for a natter, with the punters getting a “I made tea for Russell Harty” teapot for putting him up. There was also a team of regulars including a proto- Mr Motivator called Mr A, cooking from John Tovey and Peter Cook as EL Wisty, although the latter only made a handful of appearances before being replaced by former MR AND MRS hostess Susan Cuff, with Cuff’s Stuff, whatever that was.
As before there was always the chance to get out and about if the chance arose, with Russ hosting a Glamorous Grandmothers contest, while on Valentine’s Day 1984, the gang went to a pub in Liverpool, for features including a yard-of-ale drinking competition. Who says romance is dead? Anyway, the series lasted six months but, given it was lumbered with the dreadful SIXTY MINUTES as a lead-in, it didn’t pull in massive audiences. A second series followed in the autumn of 1984, once a week on Mondays, but with WOGAN on the horizon, there was the worry of a mass whimsy pile-up, so Russ took his leave of teatimes and gave up the chat show after over a decade.
Harty goes… into new territory
Happily, that wasn’t the end for Russ, who launched HARTY GOES TO…, originally broadcast over an entire weekend on BBC2, with Russ visiting a city and exploring it on Friday, interviewing a celebrity who came from there on Saturday and presenting variety from a local venue on Sunday. Later instalments were just the one show, normally the former, and were all good fun – like the recent repeat on BBC4 where he played HOLD YOUR PLUMS in Liverpool with Billy Butler – because Russ was crazy about meeting normal people, and later this became his standard TV format, and he could almost always be found on telly having a nose around some town or other.
In 1987, Russ expanded his horizons and set off on a Grand Tour of Europe, but sadly he was never to complete this as he contracted hepatitis and, after a long illness and some horrible rumours in the papers, he died in July 1988. A sad loss to British telly, Russell was always very much down to earth, saying he knew his presentation style was something of an acquired taste and he was never going to be a big star, but he hoped some people enjoyed it. TVC certainly did, and for overseeing one of the silliest shows of the eighties, he deserves to be remembered for more than being Grace Jones’ punchbag. If she’d waited another six minutes, she’d have had another little bit!See post
It’s 35 years since Tharg the Mighty, a gentleman alien from Betelgeuse with a penchant for eccentric phraseology that looks as though the cat’s got on the keyboard, first shared with us Earthlets his mighty, thrill-powered organ, 2000 AD! And so, to celebrate three-and-a-half decades of drokking good comic-strip stories, here are – in no particular order – 35 great things about 2000 AD…
1) “GAZE INTO THE FIST OF DREDD!” – (See above).
2) Fetishising King’s Reach Tower – Built in 1972, and pretty shabby to be honest, the 364ft-tall building was refashioned as ‘Tharg’s Nerve Centre’ upon the comics’ launch. And remained as such until 2000 AD retired to the less pulse-pounding locale of Oxford in the space year 2000.
3) “Note for readers on Mercury – your delivery shuttle delayed by solar storm.”
4) That logo.
5) The first TV advert…
6) “NO! PLEASE LET ME DROWN BEFORE THE GIANT SCORPIONS GET TO ME!” – (suggested by Joe McNally)
7) IPC sub editor Kevin Gosnell’s original pitch document for 2000 AD, circa 1976 – “It must make money while riding the crest [of the Star Wars sci-fi boom] and could be used for a merge when it becomes uneconomic”.
8) “WE – ER – BROUGHT YOU THESE FLOWERS AND CHOCS, BUT I GUESS YOU WON’T BE NEEDING ‘EM NOW” – The final page of 2000 AD prog 1 sees one of the Harlem Heroes left as but a brain in bell-jar following a hover-powered road-liner accident.
9) “20p Earth Money ($1.45 Malaysia; 0.5g Asteroid Belt; 100g Saturn)”
10) Rob Hubbard’s music for the Nemesis The Warlock computer game…
11) Ro-Jaws’ movie review of TRON – “A real treat for the old optic circuits” (suggested by SOTCAA)
12) “In Orbit Every Monday”
13) Papier-mâché-inations! – in the Nemesis The Warlock photo-strips.
14) “SOME KIND OF ELECTRO-MAGNETIC BEAM!” – Dan Dare is made-over as a superhero, complete with beam-ejaculating ‘cosmic claw’.
15) …And his subsequent rebuttal in Prog 500′s self-referential strip ‘Tharg’s Head Revisited’: “First you made me a complete freak, then a Biggles look-alike with a clunky space fort, and, finally, you gave me this… this cosmic claw and turned me into a – choke – super-hero™”
16) “KEEP CALM + + + THRILL FACTOR OVERLOAD + + + KEEP CALM”
17) Postage stamp dealer advertisements not much larger than a postage stamp
18) How many can you name? – That Prog 500 wraparound cover.
20) “COMMUNICATION TERMINATED” – The 1994 revamp merits a TV ad…
21) “NEXT PROG: SOMETHING SOMETHING ORANGES SOMETHING…” – (suggested by Calum Benson) NB. Additional points for Clive James cameo
22) “AIEEEE! BLAKEE PENTAX!”
23) Zenith – smart-arsed, self-centred superhero-cum-pop star from the SAW era, who’d more likely be hanging out with Big Fun than fighting big baddies. Managed by Richard-Wilson-in-TUTTI-FRUTTI-lookalike Eddie. Once battled Noel Edmonds.
25) Mutants In Mega-City One…
26) “Enter Our Bubblicious 2000 AD Competition! Win a super Sansui Hi-Fi System!”
27) “IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT… CREEP!” - Long overdue reinstatement of classic (but non-chrome) logo.
28) “NEXT PROG: HAVE A NICE DEATH!”
29) Warp spasm!
30) “Define the playing keys”…
31) The Tharg’s Future Shocks exclamation-mark.
32) Kevin O’Neill draws himself into an episode of Nemesis.
33) Destruction of the Cyril Lord block. – “BUT CHIEF JUDGE, CYRIL LORD’S A LISTED BLOCK!”/”CYRIL LORD’S A LUXURY WE CAN’T AFFORD!”
34) …And the coda to that - “ARGUING WITH THE CHIEF JUDGE – YOU’LL BE ON THE CARPET FOR THIS, WILTON!” – (Both suggested by Robert Seabury)
35) “Sole agents for Australia and New Zealand: Gordon & Gotch Ltd.”
- NB: Thanks to David Bishop for providing a lot of the above to us, way back when. His scrotnig book Thrill-Power Overload: Thirty Years of 2000 AD is still available to buy.See post
FIRST CAME JUST 13, clumsily conceived and woefully realised, exactly like this sentence. Then 22 more: wavy lines, iffy voices and wacky scrapes smeared with sap – You Are Lisa Simpson – comic books, blowfish and gorges. Next, 24 steps to greatness via the land of chocolate, Rancho Relaxo, abandoned wells and the Leftorium: outstanding achievement in the field of excellence. Then throw up your hands and raise your voice: 22 slices of majesty, bed goes down, streetcar, Gabbo, Jub-Jub, choo-choose me, MONORAIL!
These are the imperial years, of Bobo and the Be Sharps, the inanimate carbon rod, the Spruce Moose and the one-eyebrowed baby. Cursive writing does not mean what you think it does: on and up through a near-faultless Matlock Expressway of a season 6, cross-promotional one-off excepted. Up on the summit, the Simpsons’ universe now unfurls from chimpan-A to chimpanzee: a mother-cherishing, soul-bartering, neighbour-baiting, flying-hellfish, last-gleaming, solid gold house of a show. And again with season 8: we should thank our lucky stars that they’re still putting on a programme of this calibre after so many years.
But then: we make it five – the number of decent episodes in season 9 and sole reasons to cling to a series suddenly hurtling downhill. Fully into the gorge with season 10: look – Rupert Murdoch, Homer getting remarried while drunk, and Ned who is actually 60 years old. The world’s smelliest tumour, “Guess how many boobs I saw today, Marge”, Lisa tricking Bart and Homer into thinking they have leprosy. Downwards, ever downwards, Homer raped by a panda bear – just think about that for a second, raped – by – a – panda – bear.
Flashes of glory – I Am Furious Yellow – mere flash in pans: “The professor told us not to let him get a boner”. Sinking lower, still lower: breast implants for Marge, Skinner saying “wanking”, cameo from James L Brooks, Homer fearing he’s becoming a gay. “The Simpsons are going to (complete as appropriate)” and are also going to despoil the legacy of erstwhile legends like Homer’s mum. Now it’s season 16 – count ‘em – and Patty comes out of the closet 200 episodes after it would have meant something.
Let’s do a pox party AND a satire on creationism as we can’t decide if we want to be crude or clever. Gore Vidal, Eric Idle again, Jon Lovitz again, The White Stripes, Stephen Hawking again, Metallica, Stephen Sondheim, Tom Wolfe, Kiefer Sutherland twice. The “most ambitious season yet” turns out to mean getting Lurleen Lumpkin from season 3 back for a few lines. New title sequence, high definition: who knows what barrels can be scraped between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?
A third decade – is Gervais available again, because if not there’s the bloke who did Ali G or, get this, Rupert Murdoch – AGAIN. Wait: there’s no money, actors threaten to quit, there’s an episode with Moe pretending to be gay – could it, might it be…? But no – here’s season 23 – please let it become unprofitable, please let it become…See post
What’s the best way to sign off in song? Four key changes and a slow fade? A desolate, crashing downbeat? Or what about an on-the-nose, unashamed comedy sound effect?
Seeing as how you take your leave in music is just, if not more, important than how you make your entrance, here are 10 examples of what TV Cream considers to be the finest final 60 seconds in pop.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want THE ROLLING STONES
Slap on a church choir singing progressively higher chords, add a runaway honky-tonk piano and a titanic pair of maracas, then top it all off by suddenly shifting up a further gear by switching the drums into double time. Fade before matter fuses with anti-matter and Mick Jagger explodes.
Titanic Days KIRSTY MACCOLL
Proceedings then sink down into a cruel lullaby of tolling bells, lapping waves, cawing gulls and statuesque strings.
One by one the sounds disappear, until just an echo of melody remains. *Sniff*.
Slave to the Rhythm GRACE JONES
Great fuck-off slabs of synthesiser pop and parp all over the place while strings swoop, brass squeals, the bass burps, an audience bursts into applause, the drums declare World War Three, and suddenly: “here’s Grace”. Cue a post-coital coda of strangely poignant keyboard seepage.
Left to my Own Devices PET SHOP BOYS
After musing on the practicalities of Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat, our hero Neil vows to “sit up all night and day, waiting for the minute I hear you say…” Cue ENORMOUS orchestral crescendo, a similarly seismic drum roll, and a final, triumphant charge through the chorus with flags and bunting a-flying. “Come on baby!”
The Message GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE
But just as the conversation is flowing, sirens are heard, the NYPD arrive and a spectacular miscarriage of justice unfolds. “We down with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five!” pleads one. It’s no good. “I doan wanna hear yer mouth!” growls a cop, and slaps on the cuffs. Message well and truly sent.
Some Girls are Bigger Than Others THE SMITHS
A case of triumph being snatched from four square Salford jaws of defeat. Morrissey forswears his hitherto pen portraiture of pan-generational breastage for the plaintive instruction: “Send me your pillow, the one that you dream on – and I’ll send you mine.”
Cue a cycle of lush, magical, Marr-coated refrains of ever-evolving guitar noodlery, which seem, and really ought, to go on forever.
Lovely Rita THE BEATLES
One of McCartney’s “deceptively simple” (© every Beatles scholar ever) and masterfully-crafted (ditto) classics, that you know he dashed off in five minutes between baking an acid pie and learning the French horn.
It ends with a demented but fantastic bit of nonsense comprising, among others, a bluesy piano, some hissing, groaning, heavy breathing, someone yelling as if being repeatedly prodded, a ghostly wail (not, for once, Yoko) and Lennon telling someone to “leave it” (ditto).
New Life DEPECHE MODE
The boys have already treated us to a textbook pop recipe of singalonga-harmonisable-toetapping tunesmithery, when they suddenly break into a Twist and Shout-esque sandwich of “ahhhhs” audaciously piled one on top of each other.
These build and build until joyously erupting into a shower of synthetic squeaks, sizzles and farts, as if a bomb has just gone off in an especially handsome electronics shop.
The Downtown Lights THE BLUE NILE
Paul Buchanan looks around him, notes “the neons and cigarettes, rented rooms and rented cars… the crowded streets, the empty bars… chimney tops and trumpets… the golden lights, the loving prayers… the coloured shoes, the empty trains…”
He then concludes: “I’m tired of crying on the stairs.”
Nobody Does it Better CARLY SIMON
The best Bond theme of all time signs off with a truly fabulous coda comprising an evermore alluring fugue of swaggering strings, angelic trumpets and an entire battery of Carly Simons all harmonising with each other. Yes, we’re going to say it: double-oh heaven.See post
And not just any supporting character: an old woman with oversized goggles, no less.
No doubt the censors deemed her advanced age and agreeable facial furniture persuasive enough to render such wild (by early-70s Bond standards) profanity sweetly comical rather than grossly offensive.
But these circumstances don’t, as far as we’re concerned, make it any less inappropriate.
For like public houses, actual sex and Daniel Craig, swearing doesn’t have a place in James Bond films. And that includes the occasional (and even more jarring) cuss word to slip from the mouth of 007.
Innuendos however – double, single or otherwise – do very much have a place in the canon and their absence (we’re looking at you, Craig) certainly make for a stiff disappointment.
As such, not being the types to pass up an opportunity to rummage through a body of work to see if anything big comes up, we’ve sifted the scripts of every Bond film to date in order to isolate, filter and decontaminate a dozen of the franchise’s most ill-advised expletives.
If you find occasional obscenity as disagreeable as listening to The Beatles without ear muffs, please DO read on.
12) “Let me out of this BLOODY machine!”
This ribald squeal of complaint comes from one Count Lippe, who Bond has just contrived to trap inside a sitting steam bath. Yes, we’re only four films into the series and already we’re dealing with cartoonish deaths and comical swearing.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Lippe cries. “Now don’t you worry,” replies our hero, “I’ll tell the chef!”
11) “Yes you BLOODY well would!”
Bond’s dalliances with the fairer sex are irking his female colleague, ditzy Mary Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland playing herself. When 007 tries to explain away his assignation as “official business”, Britt snaps: “I saw the ‘official business’.” “Goodnight, would I do that to you?” sighs The Man With The Golden Pun. “Yes, you bloody well would!” comes the unnecessarily tart response.
10) “You’re BLOODY late!”
Here, 007 is being given a dressing down by Saunders, head of Section ‘V’, Vienna. We know this, because his first line is: “Saunders. Head of Section ‘V’, Vienna. You’re BLOODY late. This is a mission, not a fancy dress ball.”
“We have time,” Timothy Dalton replies, boringly.
(Diamonds are Forever, 1971)
There is no earthly reason why, having refrained from profanity throughout his entire tenure as Bond, Sean Connery decides to call Jill St John a “bitch” while inserting a cassette tape down the back of her pants. Which is probably precisely why he does it. Plus it gives him the chance to continue with the superb line: “Your problems are all behind you now!”
Thankfully Connery returns to more plausible insults a few moments later, when he brands St John a “stupid little twit!”
8) “There’s a useful four-letter word, and you’re full of it.”
(The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974)
Were Roger Moore to actually call Scaramanga a shit, some sort of micro-atomic implosion, akin to that generated within the Large Hadron Collider, would probably occur bringing an end to life as we know it.
Instead he just alludes to the word, thereby revealing a passing interest in vulgarity that is really somewhat beneath him. This didn’t stop Timothy Dalton boringly reviving the very same line 13 years later in The Living Daylights, telling a bored Russian general: “We have an old saying too, Georgi. And you’re full of it.”
7) “PISS off!”
(Licence to Kill, 1989)
One of the things deployed by the Bond producers to leaven the boringness of Dalton on his second mission was to make him the Sweary Bond. Sadly this just made him even less convincing, as there’s only one thing worse than someone being boring, and that’s someone being obscenely boring.
Hence when 007 is captured by some Hong Kong narcotics agents who query his ownership of a gun that is clearly the property of Her Majesty’s Government, Dalton yawns at them to “piss off”.
Elsewhere in this profanity-percolated flop we are treated to Dalton, while dangling over a crushing machine, tediously instructing a woman to “switch the BLOODY machine off”; and morosely ordering those self-same narcotics agents to release him from their chains and “get me out of these BLOODY things!” More from this Sweary Bond later.
6) “There’s that SONOFABITCH! I got him!”
(Live and Let Die, 1973)
Utterly unlikable comedy redneck Sheriff JW Pepper spends this film spewing dozens of debatable profanities (“my ass” “your ass” “his ass” etc.) and an extremely suggestive cuss (“What the fuuuuuuu…?”) but there’s one that grates above all else.
The word “bitch” simply doesn’t belong in a Bond film. Heavens, Sean Connery tried it two years earlier and even he didn’t pull it off. The swearing, that is.
5) “Would you please kill those BASTARDS!”
(Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997)
We’re now heading into the stronger stuff. This instruction, delivered by chief baddie Elliot “Not Rupert Murdoch” Carver to his henchman Mr Stamper, is drained of all menace by the insertion of a completely out-of-keeping expletive.
Whatever happened to the likes of a diabolical mastermind telling his accomplice merely to take care of Bond and “see that some harm comes to him”?
4) “Watch the birdy, you BASTARD!”
We think this is the most profane (and boring, lest we forget) 007 has ever been on screen.
Though it’s safe to say he’s far more liberal with his tongue in the original books.
3) “Holy SHIT!”
(Live and Let Die, 1973)
Here it is: the phrase that alerted us to the sheer incongruity of obscenity in a Bond film, slipping as it does from the gums of comedy pensioner Mrs Bell as the light aircraft in which she is sitting, with Roger Moore at the controls, heads towards an ever-narrowing pair of hangar doors.
It’s only slightly more abrasive than the bit where a Generic Black Man declares: “What does he think this is? I’ll blow his friggin’ head off!”
2) “I don’t give a SHIT about the set-up!”
(Licence to Kill, 1989)
Bond isn’t the only one to deploy a battery of profanity in this almost-the-worst-ever 007 film. His rival, the aforementioned “bastard”, is also responsible for a cluster of cusses, including this ill-inserted unconvincing tirade.
Along the way he’s joined in the sweary corner by those Hong Kong narcotics agents, who joyously declare Bond to be a “BASTARD!” and which prompts a small cheer from the viewer, one that would be more full-throated were they to brand him a “boring BASTARD!”
1) “I don’t give a SHIT about the CIA!”
In easily the worst moment in any Bond film ever, in Quantum of Solace Judi Dench is heard to snap “I don’t give a SHIT about the CIA!” To make matters worse, elsewhere she unleashes both a “bloody” and a “bastard”. It’s horrible and out-of-place and just wrong.
What were the producers thinking? Chances are they weren’t. Judi Dench swearing is as unacceptable as Geoffrey Palmer drinking from a beer can. And that’s a fucking fact!See post
“Seems it’s not enough for certain people to take my work at, hey hey, face value. Seems like certain people have to always put everything in lists and such like.
“Whatever. I know what I like… oh hang on, that was the bloke who I replaced. Sorry.
“But seriously, even if yer only like some of me stuff, that’s fine with me. I’m half-deaf and can’t play the flipping drums anymore, so who gives a toss.
“Anyway, in honour of me hanging’ up me drumsticks and tonsils for good (at least until the next retirement tour or unexpected tax bill), the boys here at TV Cream have come up with a list of me best ever songs. Well, a list of me least worst songs. Enjoy!
(“…Oh, and who’d have thought I write the same way I speak?”)
THE COLLINS CREAM-ISH DICTIONARY
Behind The Lines (Face Value, 1981)
About the only solo thing Phil ever did where the drums didn’t sound like they’d been recorded through a dozen whoopee cushions. And boy, what a difference. The parping of the Earth Wind & Fire horns is superb, someone fannies about joyfully on the bass, and Phil even sounds like he’s thinking about what he’s singing instead of mouthing some words while mentally planning where to have dinner. Irony of ironies, it’s a cover. Of a Genesis song.
I Cannot Believe It’s True (Hello, I Must Be Going!, 1982)
Oh dear, Phil’s having love pains again. But this time he’s having them to a funky rhythm and a tune that only involves five notes. Result = a breezily singalongable slice of plastic soul.
Like China (Hello, I Must Be Going!, 1982)
Did we mention that Phil is a practising thespian? Step forward the cocker-nee charmer of this kitchen sink number, who thinks his girl is “just like a picture book”, and yet can’t work out why her mum and dad don’t like him, despite him straightening his tie and combing his hair. Plus her brother thinks Phil is a “limp-wristed wimp”. All of which adds up to the titular simile about a Far Eastern Communist state. Possibly.
Mad Man Moon (A Trick of the Tail, 1976)
Far and away the best Genesis album Phil leant his pipes to was the first one after Pete had buggered off. This eerie opus, replete with invocation to “roll on a muddy pitch in Newcastle”, just edges it over the LP’s other highlight, the guitar-washed strumathon Entangled.
Something Happened On The Way To Heaven (…But Seriously, 1989)
Classy pop, of the kind spun regularly and enthusiastically by Nicholas Andrew Argyll Campbell. That “dum dum” bit at the end of each instrumental break is still one of PC’s finest musical moments.
Take Me Home (No Jacket Required, 1985)
Phil has problems with some local pyromaniacs, but their efforts keep him warm, so he really doesn’t mind. One of those tracks that builds and builds before tipping over into a bludgeongly infectious chorus. Is that Peter Gabriel on backing vocals? Yes, yes it is. Now what’s this song about, Phil? “I don’t remember”.
Turn It On Again (Duke, 1980)
Try tapping your foot to this, pop-pickers. The time signature is 13/4. Yet it somehow works, even though it’s shameless arena-tickling bombast. “All I need is a TV show – that, and the radio.” That’s TV Cream’s raison d’etre, right there.
Who Said I Would (No Jacket Required, 1985)
The acme of the world-jetting drum machine-wielding Phil of the mid-80s, more so even than Sussudio. It’s all layered on thickly here; there’s even a vocoder. Only to be taken in small doses.
You Know What I Mean (Face Value, 1981)
If you must have one Phil Collins Soppy Ballad, make it this one: a pretty decent attempt at nailing that soon-to-be-trademark mix of winsome sentiments with wispish piano. It’s not very long, it’s not very loud. And give the man a break, his wife had just run off with a paint pot.
We’ve a brand new entry in the TV Cream Songbook.
Harnessing the combined talents of the TVC Symphony Orchestra, various bits of metal, a steam locomotive, a Rick Wakeman-esque keyboard wobbly thing, a choirboy and Sir Jim’ll Savile himself, we proudly present an extended arrangement of the leaf mulch-defying, motorist-denying and era-defining British Rail promotional epic, ‘This is the age of the train’.
You can download the four-and-a-half-minute track, or you can listen to it right now by clicking below:See post
It’s been a while, but he’s back. TV Cream’s Stilgoe Watch has been reactivated after more than two years of lying dormant. The reason? Rich is currently gracing the digiwaves of BBC7 in the shape of his late-80s series Stilgoe’s Around.
At the time of writing, two episodes are available to listen again.
In the first, the sainted Stilgoe and “his team” tackle “some of the myths about money-making” (still topical, then), which begins – brilliantly – with a spoof of Instant Sunshine. The “team”, including Charles Collingwood and Belinda Lang, essay such gags as “Why is she called Mrs Gerald Terribly?” “Because she misses Gerald terribly”, do Pythonesque interruptions about sketches in progress, and trill songs about yuppies. Perfect.
In the second, Richard is joined by an over-acting Emma Thompson for a revue from Guy’s Hospital in front of some tittering nurses. Cue gags about waiting times, skeleton staff and Bupa plus some textbook Stilgoe anagrams. Richard also wonders why everybody at Grace Brothers sits on the same side of the canteen table.
So if you have a spare half hour, they really are titan howlers. Or perhaps harlots twine. Or maybe lathers in two*.
*Thanks Richard. Such arch dark hints.See post
It’s time for another of TVC’s musical reimaginings.
Once again we’ve dipped into the bountiful back catalogue of Sir Derek Griffiths and come up with the unofficial BBC 12″ remix of everyone’s favourite toe-tapping ode to the rules of adding “ing” to verbs, as featured on Look and Read.
The original song, which is only about 60 seconds long, is here presented in a brand new four-and-a-half minute version replete with, naturally, Maestro Griffiths plus Charles Collingwood, the TV Cream Symphony Orchestra* and, erm, some scratching.
It all makes musical sense, honest, but why not hear for yourself.
You can download our arrangement of the sublime ‘Why don’t you build yourself a word?’, or listen to it right here:
*Funding for the TVCSO was cut by George Osborne this week, but as it’s a fictional orchestra not a penny will be saved, so tough luck George. Here’s a decidedly non-fictional two fingers in your general direction.See post
Seeing as how Daybreak is now officially A Flop, ITV bosses will soon be reaching around for other formats in which to park their channel’s most famous face.
For you can bet your life that one morning before the clocks go back we’ll hear the giveaway phrase “Adrian Chiles is away this week” tumble awkwardly from Christine Bleakley’s lips, followed by Christine herself taking a leave of absence, followed by Christine discovering she is to be indefinitely paired with Alan Titchmarsh or Lily Savage, and so on.
Adrian, then, faces a future quite probably as the frontman for some hastily revived format, which is triumphantly paraded in a peak primetime slot for precisely one week then flung out late at night or before teatime every Wednesday until Christmas.
One such format we can very well imagine providing a berth for Chiles is Give us a Clue – or Adrian Chiles’ Give us a Clue as it would be known.
Which then poses the more interesting question: who would be the guests, both regular and otherwise?
There aren’t many who’d be able to pull off Lionel Blair [pause for I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue-esque gales of laughter].
Michael Ball suggests himself, by virtue of being “theatrical” and of being an ITV face. As for his guests, assume the likes of Barrowman, Richard Bacon and someone off Emmerdale or The X Factor.
Filling the role of Una Stubbs/Liza Goddard, we fear the call would go out to Claire Sweeney, “forces’ sweetheart” and another ITV spare part. Her team would be entirely comprised of Loose Women.
In fact, the show could even become a regular slot on Loose Women, helpfully keeping it out of sight of that population of the UK that has taste.
Alternatively, Give us a Clue could be revived properly, with Aspel back behind the desk (not Parky – no way), someone like Noel Edmonds captaining “the boys” and Caroline Quentin “helming” the girls. But that would never happen, at least not on ITV, because it smacks of good sense.See post
Now it almost seems incredible, but we’ve found that of late one of the most ubiquitous topics of conversation among what we’re laughably and erroneously calling the wider TV Cream community is the Pet Shop Boys’ 1988 big screen blockbuster It Couldn’t Happen Here.
This is the rather, well, impressionistic film Neil and Chris made at the height of their imperial phase, but whose release more or less coincided with the end of the self-same period, and henceforth has forever been – wrongly – classed the first of the pair’s Great Mistakes (the second being the Absolutely Fabulous single).
A couple of TVC’s very own have seen the film. One of them has yet to be able to reach the end without falling asleep, while the other once tried to use it as the basis for a essay at university but gave up when he realised that trying to over-analyse the film was simultaneously diminishing his enjoyment of the group, which would have been a disaster.
Anyway, TV Cream’s weekly Creamguide mailout – our recommendations of TV and radio stuff we think you’ll find worth catching – has received almost half a dozen pieces of correspondence on this one topic.
That’s almost half a dozen more than we’d have said we might have received were we to have been asked to make such a prediction a month or so ago.
In the interest of furthering, erm, interest, and because it’s great to have discovered such an unexpected motif among the lives of TV Cream readers, here’s what you’ve been saying about It Couldn’t Happen Here:
Has it ever had a UK TV screening? I don’t ever remember it being on terrestrial TV but did it ever appear on any of the Sky channels? I hope it gets released on DVD soon, with a nice commentary by Neil, Chris and the director Jack Bond, who also makes a cameo appearance in the Heart video.
I worked with a bloke who had a copy of It Couldn’t Happen Here and he was kind enough to lend it to me. I’m ashamed to confess, I only wanted to see it because it had my favourite Bond girl, Carmen du Sautoy, in it and I hadn’t seen her in anything other than The Man With the Golden Gun. In the event, I enjoyed it despite glazing over in the final ten minutes. It was fascinating to hear Chris Lowe speak and I thought Gareth Hunt was marvellous. He should have been remembered for more than the New Avengers or for wanking with some coffee beans.
As far as I know, it’s never been shown on TV, but I remember going to see it at the Cannon cinema on the seafront in Brighton with a few mates – one of whom gave up halfway in and went to sleep underneath the seats. There was plenty of room in the cinema, as there were only about ten people in total. I quite liked it, even though it wasn’t actually very good, and ended up buying a video shop’s copy of the film as I thought it was unlikely to ever appear commercially – and paid an amount I would prefer not to remember for it… especially as I’ve only watched it once in the intervening 21 years.
Stuart Ian Burns:
I once had a VHS which I sold to Vinyl Exchange in Manchester for ten pounds. I only managed to watch the first 10 minutes though.
I would like to proudly say that I had a copy. In fact it was on my Christmas list! I put it on my list after seeing the promotional poster for it in the window of the local Spar. It was a big one that did rentals 50p cheaper than Astrovision, the dedicated video shop round the corner. I put it on on Christmas morning and watched the first ten minutes only to see a ladies dress blow up and a garter belt. Lucky for me nobody else was taking any notice and so didn’t see the almost Channel 4 red triangle level of naughtiness displayed on screen. With that I silently announced that I would watch it “later”. When “later” arrived the film was a revelation. Beautify shot, more mild titillation (Gareth Hunt touching up Barbara Windsor), the sequence part from It’s A Sin played on its own (which is of course the best bit) and… a Fairlight CMI Series 3x in the last shot! How many films can say they had a Fairlight on screen? Eh? Eh? And no, it was an Emu Emulator ll in Ferris Bueller.
You do know that it is on YouTube, don’t you? Part one is here, from there on it is easy to find the rest. I watched it all the way through on video when first released and recently on YouTube, and it is actually pretty OK. The Two Divided By Zero sequence is the best bit, I would say. Also you get to see Arlene Phillips in the credits and enjoy some exotic subtitles.
So there you go. If anyone else has memories of this iconic formative years-shaping film, or perhaps more precisely memories of trying to watch this iconic formative years-shaping film, please pass them along.
And if anyone knows anything about when – not if – it’s going to get a DVD release (it was issued on laserdisc, for heaven’s sake!), don’t hold back.
In the meantime [insert "what have I done to deserve this" gag] here’s even more about It Couldn’t Happen Here, in the shape of what we’re saying is nigh-on the definitive online tribute.
Radio 2′s resident Old Mrs Clutterbritches has finally been prised free from the slot to which she has clung like a petulant barnacle for 17 years.
A few years ago TV Cream compiled an inventory of Ms Kennedy’s idiosyncrasies, which for some make her one of the best broadcasters in the UK, but which for the other 99.999999999999999% of the population confirm her as one the most objectionable DJs ever to grace the airwaves.
So just before we all get to see the back of Bunty Bagshaw, which will at least be marginally more preferable than her front, here’s the updated Sarah Kennedy Casebook.
1) VAUXHALL CROSS
For many years Sarah has lived a three-minute walk away from her studio, but has chosen to drive into work because there is a road between her flat and Broadcasting House. Her journey has involved navigating a busy intersection of London called Vauxhall Cross, a junction that has no interest or relevance to a good nine-tenths of the population, but because she gets stuck in traffic jams that she preposterously claim last “up to four hours – it’s a total violation of my civil liberties”, she has been only too ready to drone on about it joylessly every single bloody morning without fail.
2) “THE MUCH BELOVED”
Aka Mr Sarah Kennedy. Though he has been talked about incessantly his real name has never, to our knowledge, been revealed. Thanks to Sarah’s frequent outbursts of indiscretion, however, it’s been possible to ascertain a) he seems to be about 30 years younger than his wife, b) he is obsessed with ultra-macho adventure sports and, worse of all, c) he wears Y-fronts with holes in which are over two decades old. There was also a rather grisly incident a few years ago when, suffering from some kind of eye infection that had left him – as far as you could tell from the garbled explanation – half blind, the suffering of “The Much Beloved” was prolonged for another two weeks when Sarah accidentally smashed the only bottle of eye drops they had in the house.
3) “BUNTY BAGSHAW”
Sarah’s nickname. Which she coined herself.
There never were any. Sarah never liked any of the standard Radio 2 jingles with her name on them, so she rather arrogantly made a point of not playing them, then talked about not playing them, all the while neglecting to say what the show was or the station to which you were tuned, making it even more likely – and dangerous – of finding yourself listening in to her programme and not realising it.
5) THE DAILY MAIL
It was of no real surprise to discover this was Sarah’s newspaper of choice, though her patronage of Associated’s TV Cream-baiting light-fingered nemesis can and did reach astronomical proportions. There was always room for something from the letters page, even if both the news and Wogan, Walker, Evans or whoever were waiting to begin. As for the paper “review” (traditionally at 6.50am), headlines and stories appeared to be selected only if they chimed in with Sarah’s pronounced opinions (see below), while everything else was dismissed as “daft” or “really, really, frightening.” She also had an irritating tendency to say “well, that story is being covered in the news bulletin so I won’t mention it”, thereby removing the entire point of a paper review in the first place. Suffice to say that said reviews, to all intents and purpose, always sounded like they’ve been prepared “in a bit of a rush”.
Sarah once played the sublime ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’, and every time the title was mentioned in the lyrics she interrupted the song to shout out “Split infinitive!” There has never been a more infuriating three minutes of radio broadcasting in the history of this country.
7) SOUND EFFECTS
Like a snotty nine-year-old who’s just discovered a button on their school music room Casio keyboard which when pressed makes a sound like a fart through a megaphone, Sarah’s fondness for her sound effects tape was unflinching. If a reader had written in about their pet cat, in a flash the airwaves would be filled, not with gentle purring of a kind to rouse you from your sleep, but a din of screeching that Sarah then pretended to “talk” to, like a simpleton. A crowing cockerel announced the arrival of the seven o’clock news, because obviously the sound of the pips was too confusing for listeners. The best chance to hear the full works, however, came during the…
8) TRAVEL NEWS
This was clearly Sarah’s favourite part of the entire show. How she loved obscuring important roadworks information with the deafening sound of a pneumatic drill – just the thing to wake you from a deep, peaceful slumber. Is that the sound of bagpipes? Why, there must be a traffic jam somewhere in Scotland. Meanwhile from 2000-2008 any hold-ups in Greater London were, of course, entirely the responsibility of “Mayor Ken – and he’ll get what’s coming to him.”
9) SARAH’S SOAPBOX
The amount of editorialising that went on during this show beggared belief. Other presenters, never mind producers, had been sacked for far less. Asylum seekers? “This island is full to bursting, there’s no more room.” Myra Hindley? “She’s where she belongs now – in hell.” The Countryside Alliance? “I’ve cleared all my spare bedrooms if anyone wants to stay over after the next march.” In truth what was most maddening was not so much the nature of the opinions she held (which she was perfectly entitled to) but the manner in which she expressed them: in public, relentlessly, and forever bordering on the slightly hysterical. The absolute limit was when she would carry on voicing her views while a decent record was playing. Shut up woman, there’s someone singing!
Now we’re not saying Sarah Kennedy’s a racist, but she did once contend that black people made for good athletes because they were used to running away from lions, and on a different occasion asserted that black people were a problem because she couldn’t see them in the dark and had almost run over a black man in her car. “It’s lucky he opened his mouth to yawn or do something and I saw him.”
11) THE “LOVE HATE” SONG
Finally, the one slot in the show that used to be reasonably entertaining. This was back in the early noughties, where Sarah self-consciously played a novelty record nominated by listeners of the kind that you either, well, loved or hated. Stand-out offerings included ‘Shut That Door’ by Larry Grayson, ‘The Court Of King Caractacus’ by Rolf Harris and ‘Three Little Fishes’ by Frankie Howerd. Even here, though, Sarah could not help but ruin what was her one decent feature, which she did either by making bogus vomiting noises on-mike all the way through, or laughing like a drain all over it. And for a good fifteen minutes afterwards. And throughout the following morning’s show. Grrrr.
How to honour its fresh and forward-looking ethos?
Well, naturally we’ve given up trying to think of something new and instead have done a partial resurrection of what used to be the most popular section of the old site: the TV Themes page.
For a limited period (possibly), here for you to listen to are some of the most unlikely yet somehow winning musical offcuts that graced the pages of TV Cream a decade or so ago.
Note: Some of the following contain over-long and over-wrought extrapolations of ratings-friendly notions to the sound of a disco beat.
Take it away, Bruce!
THE GENERATION GAME
Superb full-length version of the titular theme, where in Brucie develops the “life is the name of the game” concept to somewhat sociological yet reassuringly toe-tapping proportions. With gutsy big band backing, our man cautions wisely that we “remember life’s a gamble; when choosing partners you should take a little care”.
“Well, mustn’t keep the taxi waiting. I know I’ll never forget everyone. And though I’m gonna be on the other side of the world, there’ll always be a part of me that is Ramsay Street… and you will always be… my Neighbours.”
A smashing extended ode to being the best, the worst and longest-immersed from a smooth-voiced Roy, backed by a groovy jazz-funk session band and boasting – at 1:04 – the highest note you’ve ever HEARD. “The whole sporting world would applaud it/The McWhirters, hmmm, they would record it!”
Marti Webb sailed up to number 14 in the charts with this textbook Simon May bolt-some-love-related-words-onto-the-tune slowed-down shanty, and that’s as high as it got (thanks Dale). Still, three points to Simes for having the nerve to slip in such a shameless key change at 1:04.
ARE YOU BEING SERVED, SIR?
Not the theme tune but instead a spin-off single constructed entirely on the tissue-thin premise of Mr Humphries being asked to recite (not sing) an inventory of his shopfloor habits wherein he sounds like he’s about to say words like arse and willy only for for lyrics to swerve, Pam Ayres-like, on to “comically” neutral ground. An array of dolly birds coo in the background while Captain Peacock makes a five-second cameo at the start. And we still don’t get the bit about it being “a funny day for drying – manners!”
I PLAY THE SPOONS
“I tap them here, I tap them there, with gay abandon everywhere.” Unquestionably one of the highlights of the old TV Cream themes section, here’s Clive Dunn, in character as An Old Man, offering a hymn of praise to kitchen drawer-based composition. “And then it came to me: I’ll play the cutlery!” Co-stars the same dolly birds as above.
EASTENDERS (EARLY 90s CLOSING THEME)
Doomed attempt to “freshen up” a much-loved signature tune, which was used on screen for all of six months. Pretty much everything goes wrong, from forgetting to include the tune and employing a wine bar saxophone to including a farting bass and even cocking up the iconic drum fill at the start.
DID YOU SEE?
Another stunning full-length version of an otherwise unexceptional 30-second theme, fleshed out with lots of catchy synth business and at least three brazen key changes. Who said TV criticism should be a staid and joyless pastime (other than Mark Lawson)?
THE INNES BOOK OF RECORDS
Pleasant plinky-plonky concoction from the bloke who was never in Monty Python, which raised the curtains on his 1979 BBC2 song-and-prance showcase. George Harrison seems to have popped in with a guitar lick at 1:39.
FREE GEORGE JACKSON
To end with, another chance to hear the mighty Phil Redmond-conceived, Steve Wright-penned (no, not that one) “charity single” released to promote Brookside’s 1984 miscarriage-of-justice storyline, with a chorus that’s the same as Take On Me. Reached number 126 in Record Mirror’s north-west England hit parade. Contains the line: “That diagram on the napkin has brought so much heartache.” Well, it worked for Nelson Mandela.
“A frightening use of synthesiser marks out this 1990 children’s comedy theme.
“It begins with a taut scale reaching its top note by 00:02 where it is greeted by an audible shimmer. And in some of the clubs I’ve played, you’d be lucky if you even get that from the crowd!
“A brief double-snare sting introduces a plodding melody oscillating between two semi tones. Of course my favourite Tone is my good pal the virile golfer Tony Jacklin. He showed me a few strokes for tackling an embarrassingly persistent semi, I can tell you!
“A call and response between the bass and the treble establish the pace and at 00:07 the tune proper begins, revolving around a cloying suspended note that dances out a Wurlitzer-like melody. And frankly, if there’s half a chance of cloying at some suspenders I’ll be dancing like a Wurlitzer too!
“The main theme is complimented by a vamping accompaniment, and that certainly takes me back to doing Forces Radio with Diana Dors!
“The big laugh comes at 00.30 with the middle-eight, and the tune modulating to a minor. Sadly, modulating minors is something we’ve been reading far too much about in our newspapers lately.
“At 00:46 an unusual washboard sound-effect bridges back into the main tune which then continues to the coda at 00:56, bringing the theme to a squeaky ‘told you so’ sign off that sounds like it was tossed off in a matter of seconds. Which brings me back to Tony Jacklin…”
But what’s the theme?See post
Never go back said Stephen Fry, but it seems Lord Melvyn of Borderland can’t wait to do precisely that. He’s been offered a bauble by the ITV mafia, and he’s grabbed it with both of his I’m-bonkbustering-Cumbria hands.
The South Bank Show, or the Southbank Show as it now appears to be called, is to be revisited in a show ingeniously titled The Southbank Show Revisited.
Just when we thought the schedules were free from endless sequences of crinkled celebrities shuffling down the streets where they chalked their first hopscotch 200 years ago, just when we thought our screens were free from establishment figures tittering at black-and-white clippage of their first television play (“It was all live, you know, all completely live – BWWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”), just when we thought our lives were free from ever having to see another exchange that begins with Sir Melv asking a twentysomething pop wannabe, “So, what is your next project?”…it turns out it wasn’t and they weren’t.
The list of those about to be pontificated at reads like your average Parky episode: Andrew Lloyd Webber (like he hasn’t already made enough money out of this franchise, and who incidentally has a new musical to plug), Judi Dench (who has a new Shakespeare play to plug), Ian McKellen (who has a new Beckett play to plug) and Billy Connolly (who has a new joke to plug).
It’s all very unnecessary and undiginified, especially as there was a decent burial for the proper South Bank Show the other month, where everyone including Prince Charles turned up to moan at ITV. But by being unnecessary and undignified, it is at least in keeping with the character of its forefather’s last decade on this earth.
Don’t do it, Melvyn. Don’t do a Double Goodbye. Your troth best lies with refereeing squabbling academics on Thursday mornings on Radio 4.See post