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BBC4Northern Soul – Living For The Weekend
Friday, 21.30, BBC4

Ian Levine’s back on the telly! But don’t worry, he’s not getting angry about missing episodes but talking about his other specialist subject. Northern Soul has to be one of the most exciting of all genres and the culture behind it is absolutely fascinating, with fans dancing for hours on end and many of the stars behind its biggest records being rescued from total obscurity.

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BBC4Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 01.30, BBC4

Well, here’s something we didn’t expect to be billing so soon because, as we mentioned last time, thanks to a couple of unbroadcastable episodes and a strike we’re now over a month ahead with this episode from 30th August. There are Proms scheduled for the next few Thursdays so surely this is the cue to give it a bit of a rest. Still, we’re actually pretty pleased to see this one turn up because it’s a good one, although it appears the studio debut of a very famous star is relegated to the late show. Of course, by this point ITV had long packed up so the show was enjoying its highest ever ratings, Secret Affair playing to an audience of around fifteen million people.

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BBC1Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony
Wednesday, 20.00, BBC1

And away we go, now without some tower blocks being blown up but we’re sure it’s going to be an entertaining affair. Brilliantly the Beeb have decided that they had so much fun in the Olympics they fancy doing it all again so as of tomorrow morning it’s on BBC1 non-stop from morning to midnight, with ‘stEnders and Holby punted over to BBC2 again, and BBC3 on air all day, just as it was two years ago. OK, so maybe it’s not quite as prestigious as that event, but any opportunity for a huge TV spectacle we’re going to jump at.

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ITV56 Up
Tuesday, 21.00, ITV

Used to be that BBC1 was always endless repeats in the summer while ITV would have a decent supply of new shows, but it’s quite the reverse these days and at 9pm on the light channel this week it’s repeats five nights out of seven, and we still haven’t had any new drama outside the soaps since long before the World Cup began. We wouldn’t mind so much if all the repeats were as good as this.

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BBC Radio 2Lulu’s Musical Map of Glasgow
Monday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2

Not the last you’ll hear about this city this week, and indeed Ken Bruce is doing his show from his hometown later this week, 28 years after he covered the last Commonwealth Games in Scotland for Radio 2. We’ve never much cared for Lulu, to be honest, not least thanks to her dreadful presentation of the notorious Red Alert where she came across as pretty frosty, but she might be more endearing here as she nips back to her old stomping ground and recalling the first records she made at the age of eight.

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GoldMonty Python Live – One Down, Five To Go
Sunday, 19.30, Gold

We suppose if you’ve shelled out for tickets to this show, especially the final night which is apparently the last time they’ll ever perform, you might get a bit fed up it’s being shown live on television, but at least we all get the chance to see what should be, unless they change their mind when someone waves a load more money under their noses, a properly significant moment in comedy history. Recent Python reunions have left us a bit cold but, from what we’ve heard, this show has been pretty good, and although the vast majority is routines we all know backwards, they do them really well and apparently they’re having a whale of a time while they’re about it. There’s also some live backstage stuff from seven and of course it’ll massively overrun.

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BBC Radio 2Pick of the Pops
Saturday, 13.00, BBC Radio 2

Apparently Tony’s only featured 1957 three times on this programme and two of those have been the same week. 1961 is the first hour this week which normally we’d bristle at but because the weather’s so nice we intend to recreate the moment we had a few summers back when we ended up listening to Tony introducing pop standards while eating a fish and chip dinner and it felt like we were in a seaside boarding house. After that it’s 1980, a bit of a blind spot for us musically as it coincides with the Pops strike.

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BBC4The Joy of the Guitar Riff
Friday, 21.00, BBC4

“Great guitar coming up! Guitar break of a lifetime! Mister Jeff Beck! I’m in heaven!” The history of the riff does seem to be a rather esoteric subject for an hour of television so it’s perhaps not surprising that it’s not really about that but about guitars in rock in general, apparently, though that’s worth doing and with Brian May, Nile Rodgers, Johnny Marr and Tony Iommi contributing, they’re not messing around. Then it’s a compilation, though you will have to sit through the rest of the songs as well.

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BBC1Boycotts and Broken Dreams – The Story of the 1986 Commonwealth Games
Thursday, 22.35, BBC1 Scotland

This time next week we’ll be well into the Commonwealth Games which we’re sure will be a top class and well-organised event. That’s rather different to the last time the Games were held in Scotland, that time in Edinburgh, 28 years ago, which turned out to be something of a disaster. First of all the organisers ran out of money and in their desperation for funds allowed the event to be hijacked by Robert Maxwell who got all the publicity despite contributing next to nothing. Then more than half the countries boycotted it so its quality as a sporting spectacle was rather compromised and sometimes medals seemed to be given out for just turning up. To add insult to injury, it then pissed it down non-stop. On the plus side, though, it did give us another delightful bit of Stewart Morris talkback. It’s a fascinating story, as this programme will demonstrate.

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Sky Arts 1Hollywood Singing and Dancing
Wednesday, 21.00, Sky Arts 1

This appears to have been on for a couple of weeks, but we’re only alighting on it now in lieu of anything more interesting. We’re not actually sure what it entails and it would appear to be mostly clips of old films, but we’ve reached the seventies and that means the chance to see all those clips of Grease BBC4 didn’t have the cash to show on the Pops repeats last year. Not that you won’t have seen them elsewhere, natch.

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ITV56 Up
Tuesday, 21.00, ITV

This year we should be getting 21 Up 2000, the third instalment of the reboot of this series which started at the turn of the century, though we’ve certainly not heard anything about it and the last one, seven years ago, was quietly flung out on a Sunday teatime. We do recall all the kids were really well-adjusted and happy at fourteen, though, which while pleasing doesn’t perhaps make for the most scintillating television. The original’s still going strong, of course, although obviously this isn’t a new instalment but the last encounter from two years ago, and if they’ve got an awkward gap to fill we can think of many worse things to see again.

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BBC Radio 2Harold Bradley – The World’s Biggest Unknown Guitarist
Monday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2

Last week’s Motown documentary illustrated just what a production line sessioneering was in those days, the Funk Brothers having a full-time job performing on several records a week, though even their workrate pales into insignificance alongside Harold Bradley who it’s reckoned has played on thirteen thousand records, and inevitably worked with more or less the entire contents of The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. Now he’s 88 and finally gets his name in lights as he reflects on his career.

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BBC4A Century in Film – From Scotland With Love
Sunday, 21.00, BBC4

A momentous year for Scotland, with a big sporting event next week and then the big vote in September. Preceding that is this film by Virginia Heath which aims to sum up how life in the nation has changed over the past hundred years via a wealth of fascinating and previously unseen archive footage, eschewing commentary in favour of a specially composed soundtrack by King Creosote, and apparently it’s a fantastic piece of work.

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ChallengeBlankety Blank
Saturday, 17.35, Challenge

If you’re a bit bored now the World Cup’s coming to end we would strongly recommend the YouTube channel gbgameshows, which we’d made great use of in the past thanks to it seemingly hosting every episode of 3-2-1, but has now supplemented that with other goodies including Play Your Cards Right, two episodes of Connections including a massive stereotypical eighties student who edits the alternative school magazine “by the kids, for the kids” and whose ambition is to become a bus conductor, and what we think is the oldest episode of The Krypton Factor currently available, from 1983. They also appear to be sticking up every episode of this series, but do watch it here first or they won’t buy any more.

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BBC4Britain’s Most Dangerous Songs – Listen To The Banned
Friday, 21.00, BBC4

As mentioned in The Nation’s Favourite, time was when the Beeb in general, and Radio 1 in particular, almost seemed to take pride in banning records, seeing it as an example of their high standards. Here’s a new documentary which looks at some of those records considered unsuitable, whether for sexual, political or even commercial reasons, with some stories you’ll have heard before but, with people like Paul Morley and – yes! – Mike Read contributing, probably not as well told. Then at ten it’s almost the exact opposite of the usual At The BBC compilations as we get an hour of songs that, at one point or another, weren’t on the BBC.

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BBC4Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 00.20, BBC4

The Mike Read episode the other week felt more like Whistle Test than Pops at various points, and we’re afraid to say that there were some moments when we thought the picture interference (someone needed to sort out the tracking) was more interesting than some of the tracks. Never mind, because this one’s great and though there’s some repeats from last week they’re all the good ones. A couple of interesting footnotes too, as we’ve got the first TV appearance of one D Baker and also we think the last appearance of Peter Powell’s afro before he gets it cut and becomes a bit self-consciously serious and stops jumping around so much, so a bit of an end of an era. In 1979 this episode was also repeated two weeks later because of a strike and, given we now miss three weeks and the next available episode is from 30th August, you’d assume this might be a good time to rest the repeats for the Proms so we don’t get miles in front. So we’ll see.

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ITV4The Big Match Revisited
Wednesday, 06.10, ITV4

If you’ve been getting in the habit of getting up first thing to watch the Beeb’s highlights programmes and don’t want to go back to boring old news, help is at hand with the umpteenth repeat run of the 1978/79 season, which we’re only mentioning again because it’s on every day, which’ll be a treat if you’re up at this time. You know what goes on in it. Please make a new series, ITV.

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BBC4Rebels of Oz – Germaine, Clive, Barry and Rob
Tuesday, 21.00, BBC4

Second and final part of this documentary which sees the fantastic four become well-established in British culture, with Clive in the papers and Barry on the telly for example, but still having that sense of being a slight outsider and still being influenced by their Australian upbringing. As Clive himself will explain far more effectively than we ever will.

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BBC Radio 2London’s Tin Pan Alley – Danny Baker’s Musical History Tour
Monday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2

Well, you know which two words in that title most excite us (and don’t forget, every appearance Danny Baker makes on Radio 2 is in preparation for him taking over from Steve Wright, according to the internet), as Dan’s taking us on a tour of Denmark Street in London’s Pervy “So” “Ho”, to give it its Smash Hits name, which for many years was the absolute centre of the pop world with almost every record company having their office there and hence a steady stream of wannabe pop stars turning up with guitars and tapes.

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ITVThe Nation’s Favourite Motown Song
Sunday, 21.00, ITV

Creamguide was introduced to Motown via, of course, the Motown Chartbusters LPs, where first of all we were fascinated by the covers – most obviously number seven’s fruit machine – but later graduated to appreciating the music inside which remains some of the greatest ever written. A bit like Bilko, the Motown classics have continued to be much cherished and much played this side of the Atlantic in a way they perhaps haven’t in their home country, and we think everyone, of every age and from every background, can compile a long list of their personal favourites. Here’s a fairly flimsy format to celebrate them, but no matter how contrived it is any chance to hear the songs themselves is more than welcome.

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