26 October, 2008

Do readjust your set

Digi-Cream Times is moving. It's got a new home, and a new name: TV Cream Towers.

Ever since the Digi-Cream Times mailout died an unloved death in the summer, the moniker has clung to this blog like Sarah Kennedy to a Daily Mail editorial: neither parties making much sense to the general public, and neither benefiting from an association with the other.

Unlike Sarah Kennedy, however, this blog has not been having problems with lecherous cats, or the road layout at Vauxhall Cross, or immigrants, or anti-hunt protestors, or single parents, or failing to spot black people when it's dark. It's simply swapping one bit of software, Blogger, for another, Wordpress.

All the stuff on here, including the archives, has survived the journey. And the new blog has a new look and some snazzy new gimmicks.

Best of all, to fully explain what has happened and help you remember the new URL, no lesser a group than The King's Singers have recorded a special musical aide memoire.

Take it away, chaps!

What an honour.

See you on the new blog...

23 October, 2008

If it's music you're after...

Advance notice of a new TV Cream pet project, which you'll be able to hear from 1st November. Yup, a good two years or so after everyone else started, the very first TVC podcast is on its way.

20 October, 2008

US election clippage: part one

To help hurry along the fortnight until polling day in the United States, here's the first in a thankfully short series of clips from ancient American election programmes.

First up, an extract from CBS's results night coverage of 1972. And what a ragged, amateurish affair it all is. The theme tune is frankly bizarre, resembling some atonal noodlings, possibly composed by Stockhausen or John Cage. Then, before we get to anything by way of news, comes the information that "this broadcast is sponsored by the Ford Motor company, and 6,283 Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers - the goal, no unhappy owners."

Cut to Walter Kronkite, who looks shifty and ill-informed. "Some or all of the polls have closed." Make your mind up, Walt!

Then there's an opt-out to a Virginia local network. The studio's props and graphics are of an appalling low-fi quality. In the conversational area, two people sit on chairs underneath a giant eagle. "We're going to have very mixed coat-tails tonight," one mutters.

Compare this to the giant, multi-coloured, multi-gadgeted affair we had over here for the general election of 1970. Sure, Bob McKenzie had to get a workman to paint extra numbers on his swingometer, but at least he had a wall big enough to paint on in the first place.

18 October, 2008

What are you sayin'? What are you playin'?

With the future of genuine digital radio stations in doubt (as opposed to all those 'pretend' ones that you can get through your telly or online), it's time for someone to step in and make sure there's more than simply Planet Rock listed in Radio Times.

Inevitably that someone looks like being the BBC, but that's all to the good, for there are plenty of opportunities for the corporation to launch cheap but effective channels quickly and professionally, thereby saving the medium from ever-dwindling pointlessness:

Radio 1 + 15

An exact, as it happens, unexpurgated repeat of what was being broadcast on Radio 1 15 years ago to the day.

Radio 1 + 15 + 1
An exact, as it happens, unexpurgated repeat of what was being broadcast on Radio 1 15 years ago to the day delayed by one hour and with new, live running commentary from relevant DJs, producers and guests.

Simon Says
Great music, great guests and lots of gossip from the country's premier uni-monikered Etienne elite. Provisional schedule:
6am Simon Groom
9am Simon Mayo
12pm Simon Potter
2pm Simon Bates
6pm Simon Dee
10pm Simon Amstell
1am Simon Parkin

Order! Order!
A companion service to BBC Parliament, broadcasting live debates from the Palace of Westminster interspersed with memorable reports, interviews and rolling news coverage from the last 70 years. Launch highlights include A Day In The Life Of Scud FM; Michael Heseltine with a minute-by-minute account of the time he waved a giant mace on the floor of the Commons; a full replay of the 1981 Crosby by-election results programme; and Round Robin: a retrospective on Robin Day's time hosting The World At One.

How We Used To Live
Old people remember the war in calm, reassuring voices.

I'm Backing Britain
A rousing, morale-boosting endeavour to see the country through the recession. Run by the Central Office of Information, this station will provide round-the-clock advice, tips, instructions and the very latest from the nerve centre of the government's recently-formed National Economic Council. Presenters, including Michael Aspel, Cliff Michelmore, Angela Rippon and Suggs, will work six-hour shifts until the crisis is over.

On The Mike
24-hour coverage of Michael Palin as he lives his life.

16 October, 2008

Digi-Crisis Times: part 2

With things continuing to get worse, it's become clear that not only is the government part-nationalising certain TV programmes, it's also part-nationalising certain TV banks.

And no wonder, what with the finance industry in such a parlous condition. If TV banks, a mainstream primetime once-weekly example to the country, are seen to be tottering, then not even an on-screen intervention from Richard Madeley ("I think we need to all calm down a bit, just calm down, right?") can save us.

Topping the list of casualties has to be:

1) The one in Joint Account. This is bound to be in trouble, what with it being a product of the 1980s and having John Bird on the books. The latter's liquid lunches and agreeably distracted manner would have had the firm up against the wall sooner, were it not for Hannah Gordon's level-headed approach to dividend portfolios and nice dresses.

2) The one off of Dad's Army, where Captain Mainwaring worked before the inception of the Home Guard. This seemed like a tiny bank even then, where old women came in to make deposits of three pennies a month, and would surely have been taken over by now or been gobbled up by a demutualised building society with someone like Iain Cuthbertson in charge.

3) The one in The Sweeney. Actually, there were two: the National Mercian Bank, which got held up by some "bastards", and the National Anglian Bank, which was broken into not once but twice. Both of these establishments are surely likely to be barking at the porcelain by now.

4) And, er, that's it. There must be more who need a bit of a bail-out. Didn't In Loving Memory have a doddery local branch of some kind? And every single person in every single institution in Capital City must be out on their arse. Although that's no bad thing.

14 October, 2008

Photo clippage #43

What glittering occasion could possibly have brought these three stars together?

11 October, 2008

Digi-Crisis Times

In the flurry of excitement earlier this week accompanying the launch of the government's economic rescue plan, one piece of small print was overlooked. Besides part-nationalising leading UK banks, Gordon Brown is also part-nationalising leading UK television programmes.

The following changes are to be implemented over the next few weeks to ensure confidence remains high in the country's TV favourites.

1) STRICTLY COME DANCING
Craig Revel Horwood to be replaced by Vince Cable ("Your dancing is less like Fred Astaire and more like Fred Flintstone"). Scoring system to be replaced with portfolio of Union Jacks (i.e. "I'll give that five flags out of five - well done!")

2) CASUALTY
Role of Charlie Fairhead to be played by Dr Liam Fox. Hospital to be renamed The Albion. 10% of all patients to be MPs with genuine medical complaints.

3) THE X FACTOR
Louis Walsh to be replaced with Kenneth Clarke ("I think you're a really pretty group of girls and I would like to see you step out in style to True Blue next week!") Themes for future editions to include: Britain; British landmarks; British politicians; British trade and industry; why Britain is the best.

4) THE ONE SHOW
Ken Livingstone to replace Adrian Chiles. Edwina Currie to replace the other one. Programme will come live from the back of a flat-bed truck travelling around the country, visiting struggling businesses and banks to cheer up employees and rally morale with singalongs and quirky tales of the lighter side of life.

5) THE BILL
10% of all crimes to be real ones. Sir Ian Blair to become new boss of Sun Hill. Each edition to feature a cameo from a former Home Secretary, dispensing words of wisdom and calm. Confirmed so far: Douglas Hurd, Charles Clarke, Merlyn Rees, Leon Brittan (to be renamed Leon Britain until the crisis ends).

6) EASTENDERS
Residents to launch an I'm Backing Britain campaign, culminating in a street party in Albert Square with characters dressed as Arthur Askey, a Flump, Busby the British Telecom bird, Fred from the Homepride adverts, the Blitz, 1966, and a stiff upper lip. Mick Jagger to make a guest appearance with Dot Cotton during a 'guess the weight of the cake' scene.

08 October, 2008

Competition tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime

Courtesy of blog denizen John Rivers and the good people of Harper Collins, TV Cream has five copies of Lord Denis Norden's new autobiography, Clips From A Life, to give away.






















It's a fine tome, expertly showcasing the man's anecdote-hewn approach to life. There's a predictably detailed glossary and index at the back, and photos including a publicity poster for Looks Familiar done up to look like a musical hall handbill proclaiming 'By Popular Demand Switched From Matinee To After News At Ten!'

To win a copy, here's the question:

What year was the first It'll Be Alright On The Night broadcast?

Send your answer to digicreamguide@tvcream.co.uk - the first five correct ones will win the book.

Correspondence on this subject, as they say, is now closed.

THE WINNERS
Stuart Allen
Gavin Culloty
Chris Oakley
Sam Randall
David Smith

Thanks to everyone who took part.

06 October, 2008

Photo clippage #42

"Have you *seen* the latest viewing figures?!"

03 October, 2008

For imediate distributon no Embargo

A press release arrives at TV Cream from drownedinmedia.com, bearing news that "legendary Broadcaster [sic] and five times Sony Award winning DJ, David 'Kid' Jensen, celebrates a milestone in British Broadcasting [sic] this year with an amazing 40 years service in the industry."

It's not clear why it's been sent round today, given the actual anniversary is "on the 26th November". Still, it's always good to have a reason for looking back at Dave's life and "the bands he's met along the way".

One of them appears to be somebody called "Gary Newman". Apparently this person achieved great success and had a number of hit records. Ditto "Marc Bowlan".

The press release also mentions a few "legendary broadcasters" Dave has worked with down the years, "such as the late and great Kenny Everet". There's also a list of the Kid's "contemporaries still working in radio today", including "Emperor Roscoe". Sybil seems to be doing alright for herself, then.

Finally we're treated to a couple of anecdotes from the man himself, including one concerning a guitarist called "Jimmy Hendrix". There's also a rundown of some of Dave's TV work, which makes no mention of The Roxy whatsoever, but does acknowledge "the first 3 annual Brit Awards (known as the British Rock and Pop Awards)".

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

For more information about this blog post please contact Some Bloke In The Street Who Can't Be Arsed And Who Doesn't Know How To Write The Names Of Famous People Let Alone Cross-Check Them On A Computer.

02 October, 2008

S for Rantzen

Chris Hughes has unearthed striking proof of the existence of The Second Book of Jigsaw Puzzles (Jigsaw as in the Clive Doig-devised alphabetorium of antics) .

It's a Cockney A-Z, complete with definitions, which apparently appeared in said book and which recently turned up online.

It's hard to believe some of these are still in common usage. 'S for Rantzen'? Most people under 20 won't have a clue who that is. Ditto 'I for The Engine'. Kids under 10 will never have heard of an envelope. And words such as mutton and zephyr have recently been given Grade II listed status.

Anyway, it's good to know that somewhere out there must be a copy of The Second Book Of Jigsaw Puzzles, hopefully with a fully-illustrated story explaining how Jig was 'born'.

But just what did this particular whim have to do with the desk of Doig?

A for 'Orses .................. ('ay for 'orses)
B for Mutton .................. (Beef or Mutton)
C for Miles ................... (See for Miles)
D for Ential .................. (Differential)
E for Brick ................... ('eave a Brick)
F for Vescence ................ (Effervescence)
G for Get It .................. (Gee, forget it!)
H for Bless You ............... (Aitsshfa! A Sneeze)
I for The Engine .............. (Ivor the Engine)
J for Oranges ................. (Jaffa Oranges)
K for Restaurant .............. (Cafe or Restaurant)
L for Leather ................. ('ell for Leather)
M for Sis' .................... (Emphasis)
N for Lope .................... (Envelope)
O for The Wings Of A Dove ..... (O! for the Wings of a Dove!)
P for Relief .................. (?!?!)
Q for A Bus ................... (Queue for a Bus)
R for Mo' ..................... ('alf a Mo')
S for Rantzen ................. (Esther Rantzen)
T for Two ..................... (Tea for Two)
U for Me ...................... (You for Me)
V for La France ............... (Vive la France)
W for The Winnings ............ (Double you for the Winnings)
X for Breakfast ............... (Eggs for Breakfast)
Y for Husband ................. (Wife or Husband)
Z for Wind .................... (Zephyr Wind)

29 September, 2008

Meet the man who's bored everyone

Michael Parkinson has launched his own website.

For a man who hitherto never wasted any promotional opportunity to remind you he's a journalist and NOT A TV PERSONALITY, the OMB (Ol' Miserable Bastard) appears to be loosening the strings of his pomposity corset. For this site is nothing if not personality-led.

There's a big photo of the man, seemingly biting on his own finger. We're invited to "meet the man who's met everyone" - not the sort of claim you'd expect from a lowly journalist of the old school.

We're also asked to buy a CD entitled Michael Parkinson: My Life In Music. For anyone who *still* hasn't heard of Jamie Cullum or Michael Buble, or rather who *still* hasn't heard of how Parky discovered them all by himself (when his producer put their CDs in his journalistic hands), the first 100 preorders of this disc are signed by OMB himself.

At the bottom of the homepage there's a plug for the pub owned by Michael and his son, the one that Terry Wogan is barred from for post-8am news comedic monologue purposes. Oh, and did you know that Parky has a book coming out, all about his life, called 'Parky'? Being a journalist he has written it all by himself and will be "trailing around the length and breadth of the country" for some signing sessions. If you feel like that, mate, don't bother, it's really no trouble.

Anyway, the thing that really grates is the way he's snaffled up all the rights to his TV interviews and will be filtering them online through his very own smarmy pipette whenever he chooses.

What a selfless act of journalism: placing himself higher than his public, and refusing to let the clips stand on their own merits. Instead we're to be flattered with his own favourites and, presumably, all the ones that show him in a good light rather than his guests (or rather, show him in a better light).

Ah well, you're thinking, perhaps OMB will give readers a right to reply to all of this bollocks on his new blog. Wrong. It's called a blog, but it sure as hell isn't one. It's merely another megaphone for all things Parky, to which nobody is allowed to respond.

Among the titbits is news that he's about to become Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University. Can you guess, reader, which name looms largest among those he has chosen to receive honorary degrees? Billy Fucking Connolly. How we'll all look forward to hearing about Parky's hilarious encounter with "one of my favourite people" in front of a bunch of graduates who don't know who either of them are. Maybe the stage will be arranged in the style of his chat show, which as we now know went bankrupt because OMB wanted a pocket money rise from Michael Grade.

There is, however, a forum. Surely this is fizzing with activity, given Parky is "the man who's met everyone"? At the time of writing it boasts just six replies. Maybe that's because he's personally deleting any response that doesn't meet his exact journalistic standards of grammar and spelling. Or maybe nobody really gives a toss.

Thank fuck he's not on TV anymore.

P.S. How come he hasn't shelled out for michaelparkinson.com? It's available. After all Mike, michaelparkinson.tv can't help sounding a little, well, common...

27 September, 2008

An evil prick in glasses...and Simon Bates

It feels like there are a million things wrong with this clip, especially the opening 60 seconds or so. Ideally it ought to be prefaced with a short sequence involving somebody in suit and tie warning you about its content. And the fact it breaches almost every possible measure of taste, decency and factual accuracy the likes of which the Video Standards Council could only dream. "Have a listen to Jeff Wayne's new single..."

24 September, 2008

Photo clippage: party conference special

Now there's a title that's likely to get this blog's search queries shooting up.

1) Harold Wilson and Dick Crossman cook up another gimmick outside their guest house, 1960:




















2) Ted Heath provides the Not The Nine O'clock News scriptwriters with an easy win:
























3) Uncle Jim sews up the youth vote...























4) ...before toe-tapping his way around the Brighton Top Rank ballroom, 1977:























5) Edwina Currie brandishes a pair of handcuffs during a debate on law and order, 1981:

















6) The dream ticket, 1983:




















7) Michael Denzil Xavier "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA" Portillo, 1990:

22 September, 2008

"This is a lovely way to spend an evening..."

There's no way to embed this, unfortunately, but here's a chance to enjoy the sight of Petula Clark singing across a faux-dinner table at Peter Ustinov, some Generation Game business involving orange peelers, and a BBC1 programme that "will also be shown on BBC2 and ITV":

Details in RADIO TIMES.

19 September, 2008

This week's new Dr Who(s) revealed

It's the Dr Who silly season, with stupid stories being lobbed into the ether to keep the freaks in a heightened state of pre-coital craziness until Christmas.

There's the one about the TARDIS being turned gold for a special Children In Need sketch, by way of a tribute to the success of Britain's Olympic and Paralympic teams. But then there's Russell T Davies 'revealing' the 'identity' of the person he'd like to replace David Tennant.

It's clear his sole rationale here is to keep the words 'Russell' and 'Dr Who' attached to each other in the public consciousness for another few years or so, while he's elsewhere busy making another Manchester-based drama about 40-something gay men. But there are surely far more persuasive options that Russell *Tovey*:

1) RUSSELL GRANT
"Now onto Capricorn, this is you Rose..."























2) RUSSELL HARTY
"You are, are you not, a Mechanoid?" Anything's possible for those folks at The Mill.























3) RUSSELL WATSON
"Cassandra, I've just met a girl named Cassandra..."























4) RUSS CONWAY
"You think you're abominable? Wait till you hear this version of The Entertainer!"

16 September, 2008

No licence-dodgers, except one

Noel Edmonds was mouthing off in the press the other day, in an attempt to whip up interest in his wretched one-off Sky One show.

The self-styled Prime Minister-in-waiting (a bit like Hughie Green when he used Opportunity Knocks to try and take over the country in the late 1970s) moaned about, among other things, immigrants, people who knock astrologists, and the licence fee. "I'm so incensed by the idea that I'm guilty of something that I actually cancelled my licence fee a few months ago," Noel thundered, bizarrely. "They haven't found me, and nobody's come knocking on the door." Yes Noel, that's because you live in a palace behind Berlin Wall-style ramparts that make it impossible for anyone to knock on your door.

Anyway, a few years ago when Noel was a nicer person and Deal Or No Deal had just started and people genuinely enjoyed his presence, he used to get in the papers every week for saying this kind of stuff. Albeit stuff of a far less offensive, more entertaining fashion.

Some of these escapades into print were used to fill up editions of the now defunct Digi-Cream Times mailout. Here were five of the best.

1) Noel gets into a fight with Mike Read
Edmonds crosses swords with his Saturday morning successor concerning the latter's participation in Channel Five's The Curse Of Noel Edmonds. Mike refuses to step outside, instead offering to write Noel an apologetic letter, though just as intriguing is the fact it all takes place at a party hosted by Anthea Turner.

2) Noel breaks the land speed record
Edmonds confesses he once drove a car at 186mph. It being Noel, there is some shameless innuendo worked into the tale, to the tune of an admission he once had sex in a Range Rover. "You can't say you love cars if you haven't ever made love in one," Noel hisses.

3) Noel falls out with Ricky Gervais
Gervais is supposed to be collecting some kind of Lifetime Achievement Award from Noel at an awards ceremony. But he refuses to accept the award off Edmonds, citing unhappiness at this clash of cultures (i.e. popular v. unpopular - Noel being the former, naturally). It is unclear whether Noel subsequently asked Gervais to step outside for a fistfight.

4) Noel advocates infidelity
One of a number of celebrities canvassed for their view on what they see themselves doing "when I'm 64", Noel testifies to wishing for a 64th birthday "spent in a hotel room bed, with someone else's husband banging on the door".

5) Noel gets a disease that gives him a Beadle hand
"It's a bit ridiculous, but I am in agony." The man does himself a mischief and makes it into the pages of the Daily Telegraph. "After 40 years in entertainment," Noel whines, "I can at last boast that I have suffered an industrial injury." The cause of this shocking turn of events? The Deal Or No Deal phone. "It's pretty heavy and I have to pick it up a dozen times a show. We shoot three shows a day and it got so painful that I could hardly pick the bleeding thing up. I didn't know what was wrong so I went to a consultant in Bristol last week and she diagnosed it as repetitive strain injury, rather like tennis elbow. She said she was a huge fan of the show and was sure that it must be from picking up the phone."

15 September, 2008

A citizen of the universe and a gentleman to boot

Anyone who listens to Adam and Joe on 6 Music will know the name Chris Salt. He was the deserving winner of the recent Screen Test-esque competition in which members of the public were invited to create a video to accompany one of the pair's legendary Song Wars tracks.

Anyway, Chris has a number of Lego-based creations to his name, and here's one of the finest: a charming little salute to Dr Who with a suitably waspish pay-off.

13 September, 2008

"Please bring back club blue peeter it woz great"

This new book "by" Biddy Baxter comprising pieces of correspondence from the history of Blue Peter is a charming concept, but somewhat different in reality. Because it doesn't just contain letters to and from BP during Biddy's reign. It runs right up to the present day and the show's current unhappy Key Stage 2 variety show format.

As much it's nice to eavesdrop on a few exchanges about "club blue peeter" and sartorial gaffes, on reflection it feels too soon to be reading this kind of thing. It's nothing to do with Biddy. It's like rifling through someone's saved mails from the other week. A bit of distance - a bit of history - lends the older material far more sustained appeal and, yes, a dash of poignancy.

The book tries to please too many people and, perhaps, ends up satisfying none. The past and the present should've been kept separate.

This might have set a precedent, though, for opening up the inboxes of current BBC programmes. Why stop at Blue Peter? A collection of eccentric emails sent to The One Show, for instance, could make for a perfect stocking filler.

09 September, 2008

Christian soldiers onwards

Excuse the Daily Express-style headline, but apparently Glynn Christian has just been given a lifetime achievement award for...well, being Glynn Christian.

The erstwhile Breakfast Time chef was honoured for his career at the Great Taste Awards 2008. The accompanying press release reveals he first opened a delicatessen in 1974 and "38 years later, that deli still exists [all the more remarkable for it being, at the time of writing, only 34 years later], in the same position, boasting the same name" - yes, a bit like all those branches of Tesco and Sainsbury's that opened decades ago and which, for some reason, still boast those precise monikers today.

Anyhow, let's not forget that "1974 was an age when fine food was prawn cocktail, overcooked sirloin, black forest gateaux and Mateus Rosé, all finished with a coffee with thick cream floating on top."

Here's Glynn, back on breakfast television earlier this year, squashed between Francis Wilson and Sue Cook.




08 September, 2008

Photo clippage #41

It's 1972. Any suggestions as to the record Roy has just broken here?




06 September, 2008

What's that noise?

Hello, I'm John Dunn, and it gives me enormous pleasure to introduce the TV Cream Mystery Voice Challenge.

Those ferrets of frippery, the TV Cream backroom boys, have unearthed not one but a quartet of quotes for you to identify. I must say, I had a go myself earlier on and they've certainly come up with some crackers! So without more ado, pin back your ears and see if you can put a name (and if possible a programme) to the following:

Mystery Voice 1

Mystery Voice 2

Mystery Voice 3

Mystery Voice 4

Good luck!

02 September, 2008

Macca's back pages: chapter 6

The final one from David Pascoe:

Exhibit F: Simple As That
AKA: Macca says Just Say No

Two quick ones to finish with (but if you're very unlucky there may be a part 2).

This track was included on an anti-heroin album. It's fairly bog-standard anti-drug material, but it includes perhaps the definitive line that sums up the spirit that runs through most of McCartney's work. For those who have ears, let them hear.
"Would you rather be alive or dead?"

In the course of researching this article, I heard plenty of McCartney cover versions too. Here's a quick example of Getting Paul McCartney Wrong. In the meantime, back to those Press to Play out-takes...

Full marks for including the original's "Shooby-dooby-dowa"s, but where's the autoharp at the end?

30 August, 2008

Geoffrey Perkins RIP

There's a tribute to the great man over on your new-look Off The Telly.

29 August, 2008

"I've got one hell of a story - and it's only in The Sun!"

Do they mean a rather pompous opinionated rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-even-more-riches lollygagger who sued the BBC because he hasn't got a sense of humour and now claims to be Touched By Angels?...



...they surely do!

28 August, 2008

Photo clippage #40

Just what is going on here...and who's the bloke on the floor?




25 August, 2008

The Simon May tapes

TV Cream has been lucky to come into possession of an exceedingly rare sound archive: nothing less than composer Simon May's demo tapes.

It's a heady brew. An early version of the EastEnders theme with Eddy Grant performing a rap and no sign of the usual tune; a techno remix of Eldorado; and a version of Castaway 2000 featuring jungle drums and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

But of particular note is Simon's demo for Howard's Way. It seems his original intention was to create a more chirpy, swingbeat-meets-hornpipe concoction, with dialogue from each episode reprised within the music.

Most surprising of all, though, is the presence of lyrics. Yup, it turns out Simes originally envisaged a singalong chorus to take pride of place at the climax of the theme. Why this never made the final version is a mystery - equally so its later substitution with Marti Webb's dirge to love's permanence, Always There.

Anyway, it's a privilege to be able to bring you this rare glimpse behind closed studio doors.

24 August, 2008

Macca's back pages: chapter 5

David Pascoe writes:

Exhibit E: Check My Machine
AKA: Macca does dubstep
"I figure that in time they'll get around to more recent stuff, Check My Machine, those funny little ones."

Now this is more like it. Liberated by going properly solo, McCartney produced a corking album in McCartney II, containing some of his finest moments. Coming Up, Temporary Secretary ("She can be a neurosurgeon/If she's doing nothing urgent" – Genius) and One of These Days all ring out with the fresh clear confidence of the Ram sessions nine years earlier. But when it came to recording a B-side for TLC-inspiring Waterfalls, McCartney produced something truly surprising.

Starting out with some looped cartoon clips including Barney Rubble in The Flinstones and something sounding suspiciously like a "D'oh" but most probably a clip from the Laurel and Hardy cartoon, we dip into a helium voiced McCartney beseeching us to "Check my machine/Che-eck my machine".

The request continues over a gorgeously, mellow banjo, keyboard and dub bass line. The pace seldom rises above the nodding but the invitation to bob is irresistible. At regular intervals we break off from our bobbing to hear Macca play with the "dropping a metal dustbin on its side" voice on his synthesiser before returning to the hypnotic, circling riff. Finishing with some high-spirited audio verite mucking about, this track is crystal proof that the surge in popularity McCartney enjoyed in the early 80s was no fluke.

Why should we be interested in it?
This track (and the equally lesser-heard Secret Friend, a kind of death disco released on 12" with Temporary Secretary) show that McCartney's instincts for dabbling in different musical styles and for keeping up with contemporary sounds remained as strong as ever. In its own demented way, this track is as timeless as anything he recorded with The Beatles. It could have popped up on late night Radio 1 in 1980, 1990, 2000 or 2010 and would have sounded as exciting and vibrant as anything else going on at the time. McCartney's dance music alter-ego, The Fireman was born here.

FURTHER LISTENING
"Sticks and stones may break my bones..."

22 August, 2008

"Switch on to the switchover!"

There are only a couple of months to go until the first transmitter is turned off and digital TV begins seeping across the land like the globules in the opening titles to Survivors.

But what word has there been by way of suitably lavish happenings to mark each stage of analogue's farewell? None! The whole thing might just as well involve a group of unlikeable people gathered on a muddy old farm in the back of beyond, like the rest of every episode of Survivors.

No, what's needed is a proper, whistles-and-bells, star-encrusted nationwide effort, called something irritating like The Really Big Switchover, packed full of celebrities and gimmicks. An oversized foam-costumed walking embodiment of Digit Al would be involved, naturally, traversing the land from region to region like he's carrying the Olympic flame. Or the Nationwide chocolate cake.

On top of that, however, there need to be massive events in each part of the country to accompany the actual moment the switch is flicked and Five Million Pensioners Realise They Can't Watch Coronation Street Anymore ((C) The Daily Mail).

Fortunately (for this blog if not anything else), just such a roster of events suggests itself:

The Really Big Switchover (part one)

BORDER
WHEN: 2008-9
WHERE: A windswept moorland
WHO: Melvyn Bragg, Derek Batey, Fiona Armstrong
HOW: Melvyn pontificates with a group of academics for 45 minutes before Derek does a plug for his Mr and Mrs stage show. Fiona stands in the background looking frosty. Miss Carlisle 2008 presses a giant button which makes a beeeeeeoooooooowwwww sound effect.

GRANADA
WHEN: 2009
WHERE: The Albert Dock
WHO: Colin Weston, Elton Welsby, Sue Robbie, Julie Goodyear, Pete Waterman (DJing a special outside disco), Lord Michael Winstanley (with advice on how to avoid being diddled by a shifty Freeview salesman), William Roache, Anne Kirkbride and a special guest appearance by Richard and Judy.
HOW: Ken and Deidre are having problems with their TV reception. Bet walks in and tells them they need to get digital. Richard and Judy drop by with a spare set-top box (Richard: "You'll find it pays to keep at least three spare in case of emergencies" Judy: "Oh Richard") and soon everyone is settling down to enjoy an episode of a strangely-familiar Northern soap opera set in a cobbled street that's not Albion Market. Meanwhile Colin, Elton and Sue sing a song about Winter Hill transmitter before blowing it up.

WESTCOUNTRY
WHEN: 2009
WHERE: Plymouth Hoe
WHO: Richard Digance, Judi Spiers, Gus Honeybun
HOW: A lookalike of Sir Francis Drake steps forward for a game of bowls; one of the balls hits a giant cardboard cut-out of Judi's face, a ship's bell sounds, Gus squeals and the plug is pulled.

WALES
WHEN: 2009-10
WHERE: The Rift
WHO: Dilwyn Young Jones and Vincent Kane
HOW: An unofficial facsimile of the TARDIS materialises by that giant fountain thing in Cardiff. Out step Dilwyn and Vincent, they exchange pleasantries, thank you for watching analogue television, then step back inside. The switchover happens off-screen, for budget reasons.

ANGLIA
WHEN: 2011
WHERE: Norwich market place
WHO: Nicholas Parsons, Fred Dineage, Russell Grant, and Paul Lavers dressed as a medieval knight
HOW: Paul is positioned on a giant rotating board which Nick, Fred and Russell have to spin. While a brass band plays the Anglia fanfare, Paul uses his spear to try and puncture various balloons suspended above his head. Most of them contain whipped cream, custard and mushy peas, but one contains a mobile phone with which he has to ring the nearby transmitter control room and tell them to shut down. Russell provides predictions for the future of television. "Now onto Pisces - this is you Nicholas!"

TYNE TEES
WHEN: 2012
WHERE: The Angel Of The North
WHO: Tom O'Connor, Mike Neville, Jools Holland, Supergran
HOW: While Jools plays some boogie-woogie, Supergran flies down from the top of the Angel and lands on a giant Crosswits board, which lights up the letters SWITCHOVER and which triggers the opening of a mystery compartment inside the Angel, a la The Wicker Man, from which Tom and Neville wave at the crowd.

LONDON
WHEN: 2012
WHERE: On top of LWT Towers on the South Bank
WHO: Michael Aspel, Dame Edna Everage, Danny Baker, Janet Street-Porter, Gloria Hunniford (interviewing people in the crowd), Roland Rivron (floating in the Thames), Fred Housego (answering riddles from Aspel on the history of TV), Greg Dyke (in shirt sleeves, explaining how he saved television by inventing Freeview)
HOW: A giant banner is unfurled down one side of the building, onto which a countdown clock is projected. At the moment of the switchover, Cilla Black, in a pod in the London Eye, wishes viewers "a lorra lorra digital fun" and pulls a lever launching a flaming arrow high into the sky which lands on a junction box at Crystal Palace and is the cue for Denis Norden to turn a golden key in a nearby portakabin.

To be concluded...

20 August, 2008

Changes are being made

Property magnates, alliterative abbreviations and one-time-linkers-of-children's-cartoons, Dick and Dom, have been sacked from Radio 1.

That's not the reason for this post. The reason is the fact that in this write-up of the news by, who else, the Media Guardian, the lads' once-all-conquering trademark game, Bogies, is still being completely misrepresented. Five years on.

Right from the outset the Guardian have had trouble with this, seemingly unable to ever correctly describe the purpose of Bogies as being to shout the word, yes, "bogies". And now, even after all this time, they still persist in talking about the game like a hopeless half-sane great uncle, referring to kids having to shout "bogey".

Only the Media Guardian, the place where the least amount of TV is watched in the whole of the country, is it possible to get something so simple so wrong so many times for so many years.

17 August, 2008

The anatomy of TV Cream

Here's TV Cream to the power of ten. For uber-viewing pleasure, watch the high quality version.

16 August, 2008

The Johnny Ball photo clippage challenge

He's the man of a thousand faces, every one a different version of open-mouthed, wide-eyed exuber-ism. But what particular historical epihanies are being depicted by those thousand faces in each of the following?

1) "Fear not - *oil* soon get it working again!"

















2) "Those who said the world was round used to get carted off. Hence the name: cart-off-graphy!"























3) "Pardon me if I sound a little burnt out; things have been getting on my wick!"























4) "I used to do this for a living, but my business plan went totally to pot!"

13 August, 2008

Vienna Bon Bons

Tony Currie, historian extraordinaire of Radio Times, TV curator, theme tune specialist and all round good sort, has a new venture: UK Light Radio, an internet-only service that's hoping to launch for real next year.

There's a promising line-up. Tone himself helms Rise'n'Shine, the breakfast show, including a feature enticingly called Tony's Test Card Classics. Then there's Pete Murray from 9am, for just one hour, promising stuff such as Pete's Juke Box Gem. Obviously any feature that boasts the name of the DJ in the title is a Good Thing, so it's reassuring to find so many of them listed in the schedule.

Margaret Howard, who hosted Pick Of The Week on Radio 4 for about 70 years before getting the sack, turns up late morning, then after lunch there's no less a personage than Brian 'Swing With The King's Singers' Kay with a show called, obtusely, The Lightswitch. Are we meant to listen to it with a dimmer switch to hand to vary the illumination according to the choice of record?

Paul Hollingdale, the very first voice on Radio 2, has an afternoon shift called Vienna Bon Bons. It sounds like an assortment of light classics from numerous Palm Court orchestras, and there's nothing wrong with that. Later still there's Sing Along, with the Cliff Adams Singers promised, and Making For Midnight where "the sounds are sweet and gentle...all the way".

The whole thing, as described, sounds fantastic, and completely deserving of a proper licence. As for the way it actually sounds...well, shame you can't listen live on a Mac, but there you go.

11 August, 2008

Bill Cotton RIP

This is truly sad news.

Bill Cotton was one of the absolute greats: a shameless showman, a true populist, a scheduling wizard, a variety stalwart, an inspiration and mentor to thousands, and damn near responsible for every show TV Cream holds dear.

He seemed to have been around forever, a vital link with the traditions and practices upon which the best of British telly was built, but still holding forth and dispensing pearls of wry and witty wisdom long after retirement. It's horrible to think of the world without him.

Forget all latterday pretenders to the throne, all latecomers to the crystal bucket, all modern day broadcasting suits and nabobs and bean-counters: Bill Cotton was and always will be your real, textbook, genuine TV hero.
















There's now a proper tribute on the site.

Terence Rigby RIP

Checking out for the last time...


10 August, 2008

"Dance ladies, that's it, ooh, I like it, I like the movement, it's nice"

At long last, Reggie Bosanquet's venture into the world of disco makes it onto the blog.

It's an extraordinary aural creation, notable for many things, among them:

a) the fact it seems that no fewer than three people were involved in its composition; was the salient line of the first chorus, "Dance do-up, ooh-up, ooh-wee", a group effort?

b) the charmingly off-hand sentiment of the second verse: "You're in a pub, a cafe, a club/Then move on cos you've had enough" - arguably a damn sight more down-to-earth than "and you go home/and you cry/and you want to die".

c) Reggie's keen appreciation of sounds of the street: "Like reggae, soul, funk and punk/Bop around, lose all your junk".

d) The will-this-do backing. It's not even at proper speed, sounding instead like the sort of comedy approximation of late 70s dance music you'd get in an episode of George And Mildred where they mistakenly turned up at a discotheque instead of a whist drive.

e) Reg's bucolic abandonment of all airs and graces during the fade-out: "I feel rather splendid at pleasant...I can move so many parts at one time".

Altogether now: Dance ladies, that's it, ooh, I like it, I like the movement, it's nice...

09 August, 2008

Cussing on the Mike

It's a bit embarrassing to think TV Cream once named this man as our number one media mover and shaker:























Not only that, we called him a media genius! Such an unhallowed annointment could only lead, within a matter of years, to one thing: Grade's reputation sinking to the lowest it has possibly ever been, and the man ending up in charge of a rubbish network of channels that can't make any money and can't make any decent new programmes.

After decades of being a master showman and scheduler, it feels like he's met his match and is, in all doubt, going to end his career with a failure. An almighty, million-pound-fine-paying, audience-share-dwindling-into-irrelevance, failure.

That's not right. Perhaps he can see to it that ITV, or rather ITV1, becomes what it so clearly ought to be nowadays: a channel that runs from 7pm to, say, 1am, and that's all. If he did that, and managed to talk everyone else round, then he'll have pulled one last rabbit out of his LWT Towers-shaped hat.

In the meantime, looking again at that top ten of 2004's movers and shakers. Grade, Dick and Dom, Rolf, Greg, Humphrys, Keating, Highfield, Marson, Euan Kerr, Yentob...what's the case for keeping any of them in an equivalent list for 2008?

06 August, 2008

Macca's back pages: chapter 4

David Pascoe writes:

Exhibit D: Rudolph the Red Nose Reggae
AKA: Macca does country festive?

I won't detain you for long with this one. Officially, Wonderful Christmastime marked the resumption of McCartney's solo career. Now while "Ding dong/ding dong/ding dong" has become as much a part of Christmas as "Lo he abhors not the virgin's womb", Rudolph the Red Nose Reggae has gone pretty much unnoticed.

There's a good reason for that. Anyone expecting a festive C Moon rehash is quickly disappointed. Our 'reggae' consists of keyboard and country fiddle chocking out the famous Christmas song for about two minutes and...that's it. No lyrics, no variation, no surprise. Nothing. Certainly bugger all Jamaican about it.

The notes on Back to the Egg revealed that it was four years old, having been recorded in Nashville while Wings were making Venus and Mars. I think he was drunk on the success of recording the perfectly serviceable Sally G at the same time, surely the only pedal steel country tune to feature the refrain "Take it chaps".

Why should we be interested in it?
Only to reflect on a great lost opportunity. Had McCartney left this in the vaults and instead backed Wonderful Christmastime with the gorgeous double whammy of Winter Rose/Love Awake, he would have made the best two-sided Christmas single EVER!

FURTHER LISTENING
Where's Dick James when you need him?
"I never thought to ask her what the letter G stood for"

04 August, 2008

Another post about Adam and Joe

You know that a bandwagon is really starting to roll when the likes of Gareth McLean haul themselves on board.

Typically, he makes precisely the wrong point. The pair aren't unsung heroes at all; people have been singing their praises for over 10 years now. To be precise, what they are not, as some of those who have replied to McLean's pontification make clear, are properly employed.

The 6 Music show is the best thing on the radio, but it's a criminal underuse of their talents. The very first thing the next controller of BBC2 should do is sign them up for a weekly 30-minute series. Surely a move to Radio 2 can't be far off as well?

Meantime here's advance notice of transmission of Adam's latest pilot, A Week With Adam Buxton, at 11pm on Thursday on Radio 4. Like MeeBOX it was made ages ago, and like MeeBOX no doubt it stupidly won't be picked up and commissioned, despite the presence of numerous spoof songs and BaadDad.

02 August, 2008

TV Cream's Olympic theme

In this week's Radio Times, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett are interviewed about their "ground-breaking" titles for the BBC's Olympic coverage. In the process they have a good moan about previous sequences which featured "a bunch of people running about in slow motion with Olympic torches - boring".

Well, they're wrong, because that's precisely what Olympic titles should be about, not a load of cartoon animals with silly faces. In fact, for them to be any good, Olympic themes should follow a very strict format and never stray too far away from a few core components.

It's all very well, you're thinking, TV Cream laying into yet another target. Just what, you counter, should go in the place of Albarn and Hewlett's effort?

Fair point. So here is an alternative. It's been written with the following essentials in mind:
a) a hummable main melody
b) a moody bit at the start where the Beeb would show images of the sun rising, an old man doing exercises in a city square, someone sipping tea, an Chinese Army officer sharing a joke with a small child, etc.
c) an extended middle bit which would only be available on the accompanying 7"
d) plenty of space for highlights from the Games to be incorporated into the mix

It's also, naturally, in your best Vangelis/Paddy Kingsland/Simon May style.

Now all it needs are lyrics for that limited edition tie-in single.

Let the Games begin
.

01 August, 2008

Photo clippage: Olympics special

1) A dapper David Coleman gives his chequered suit an outing in Mexico, 1968:























2) Olive off of On The Buses turns up at the Churchill Hotel in Portman Square, London, for a luncheon given for television women and Sportswomen of the Olympics Year, 1972:























3) David again, relaxing in the Moscow sunshine, 1980:
















4) Ronald Reagan "reacts" (it says here) after scoring against the USA Olympic team goalie Bob Mason during a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden in Washington on 29th September 1983:
















5) Finally, a shameless TV tie-in. Does the Flying Horse still exist?

28 July, 2008

"I only popped out for a bit"

It's 50 years since the first Carry On film was released, and amidst all the justified retrospection and ribaldry, the fact that the supposed 'new' Carry On film, Carry On London, *still* hasn't materialised, has been conveniently overlooked. Which, given it's been in pre-production for aeons, has got a wretched premise and boasts an appalling cast, is probably just as well.

No doubt, when the film is finally eked together, the producers will also forget that all the best Carry Ons:

a) have as many cast as possible share the same name as their character
b) have proper theme tunes (the best two by far being Carry On Doctor and Carry On At Your Convenience - download them both off iTunes now); and
c) always have a scene that begins with characters out of shot having a conversation that sounds saucy ("I just can't seem to get it in" "Relax - give it to me, let me have a go" "Perhaps I should try this way round...") only for the camera to reveal them doing something mundane (completing a jigsaw puzzle).

Indeed, if it's a new Carry On you're after, why not go back to the most enduring location - a hospital. After all, the Carry On Again Nurse idea still hasn't come to fruition.

This would be far more emblematic of the franchise and far easier to flog around the world. There's also plenty of mileage to be had with topical references to waiting lists ("I've been coming in here once a week to see the nurse about my plastercast, and I still haven't had it off") deep cleans ("Just what this place needs: one more scrubber") and penny-pinching ("Do you think you should make another incision?" "Don't worry: these people are used to cuts").

Plus there'd be the potential for a publicity-generating cameo from David Tennant, who is accosted by an outpatient - "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I thought you were a doctor" - before casting a brief glance at the camera.

The thing that would clinch it, though, would be for it to be set not in the present day but somewhere between roughly 1965 and 1974. Yet done very faithfully, not with endless shots of people self-consciously wearing flares or knowingly driving perfunctory cars and mugging to the camera about LSD. That would be horrendous. No, it would have to be played and filmed very straight; any attempt to parody a parody always fails.

The people who should be in it are:
James Corden
David Mitchell
Ruth Jones
Richard Wilson
Claudia Winkleman
Tim Vine
Caroline Quentin
Tess Daly
Bruce Forsyth
Richard Stilgoe

But sadly the people who probably would be in it are:
Russell Brand
Peter Kay
Catherine Tate
Alan Carr
Graham Norton
Ronni D'Ancona
Julian Clary
Justin Lee Collins
Ricky Gervais
Leslie Ash

with a special guest appearance by Barbara Windsor either way.

27 July, 2008

Howard's weigh-in

Is that really the erstwhile younger-one-who's-charged-with-all-the-risky-stuff-on-Tomorrow's-World and guest on one edition of Celebrity Squares in 1994, Howard Stableford, leaving a comment about Beat The Teacher?

26 July, 2008

Macca's back pages: chapter 3

More from David Pascoe:

Exhibit C: Daytime Night-time Suffering
"I really think that's all right, that one. It's very pro-woman."
AKA: Macca does feminism

Once upon a long ago, McCartney called this "my big favourite of all my contemporary work." It could be he was just relieved to have written it. Shy on inspiration for a song to act as the B-side to forthcoming single Goodnight Tonight, he threw down the gauntlet to his Wings bandmates. Whoever produced something workable by Monday morning, would see the song recorded and issued.

History has failed to record what Mrs. McCartney, Messrs Laine, Juber and Holly came up with, but by Monday all bets were off. McCartney had written this tribute to women. But is his high opinion of the song justified?

It bears all the hallmarks of a song that has flown through its author once he has stopped pushing for a song to come. Lyrically it comes as close to pure poetry as McCartney has ever managed. I hope this song made it into Blackbird Singing, if only for beautifully prescient couplets such as: “What does she get for all the love she gave you?/There on the ladder of regret/Daytime night-time suffering/Is all...she gets”; and “Where are the prizes for the games she entered?/With little chance of much success/Daytime night-time suffering/Is all...she gets".

Things nearly get derailed by a clichéd middle eight concerning rivers and streams that segues into the classic McCartney vocal fill "do-do-dee-do-dee-do-dum-dum-dum", but in the end he carries it off.

Why should we be interested in it?
Because the man himself likes it and it's only a B-side. Are we missing a classic track? Well not quite classic, but it's certainly very good and a cut above most of the stuff McCartney was writing in the late 70s. It was more deserving of its place on Wingspan - Hits and History than bloody Bip Bop.

FURTHER LISTENING
Mark Lewisohn says it should have been a double A-side and who are we to argue?

24 July, 2008

End of an error

For anyone still signed up to the Creamguide Yahoo Group mailing list, you'll just have received the last ever Digi-Cream Times weekly mailout.

This blog will continue, hopefully, while there'll be original bits of video turning up on the Digi-Cream Times YouTube page from time to time, which will also be plugged here.

But those weekly Yahoo dispatches from a pretend office in a pretend building called TV Cream Towers are no more. You can see a Creamguide editor signing off, and hear the sound of a nation shrugging, by playing the video currently on the TV Cream homepage, or by clicking on these three underlined words.

Thanks to those who read it and sent in stuff during the last eight years.

21 July, 2008

"Pwime Minister, pwease..."

Yesterday saw the last ever edition of The Sunday Programme on ITV, and with it the end of political shows on the entire channel.

Which is no great surprise. It's been a long time coming. Shoving The Sunday Programme to 6am a few years back was hardly a sign the station saw a rosy future for that sort of output. Or indeed any kind of future.

Nonetheless an era that began decades ago with Weekend World - the first TV show to think that thunderously self-important po-faced analysis of politics would go down a treat at Sunday lunchtime, the first TV show of its kind to keep on getting recommissioned despite less than 34 people watching, and most importantly, the first TV show to get the axe once Greg Dyke took control of LWT - is over.

Hip hip hooray and all that. Politics has no place on telly on Sundays. It never has. But yesterday's swansong is kind of more significant for what it says about the ongoing decline of ITV, where repeated failures and flops have now become so commonplace they barely get a sniff of publicity.

10 of the station's red letter days have already been documented. Does yesterday merit adding to the list? If not, how about the revival (and complete tanking) of News At Ten - again? Or the day ITV got fined £5.68m? Or when it ditched all children's programmes? Or when its share price fell to the lowest ever? Or just every single day since, say, 1998, all rolled into one?

17 July, 2008

Photo clippage: OnDigital special

Now here's a subject fit for blog treatment. Yes, it's 10 years to the month since the press launch of OnDigital.

Here's a dream team of soap-ettes to mark the occasion: Lisa Riley, Holly Newman, Steven Arnold, Michelle Collins and Adele Silva, plus requisite over-sized cut-out lettering.

















And here they all are again, holding a television aerial:

















Waiting over at Crystal Palace, a few months later, it's Ulkira Jonsson...






















...while Jim Rosenthal and Robbie Earle prepare to host coverage of the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Lazio and Chelsea, complete with make-up bag:

14 July, 2008

Selected in advance for their knowledge of popular music

Here's a shamelessly predictable thing - but then, when has this blog been anything else?

A tupperware sandwich box of leftover Simon Mayo Golden Year Points to whoever can identify the songs (and the artist/s) which namecheck the following programme titles:

1) Blue Peter
2) Dallas
3) Man About The House
4) The Generation Game
5) Jeux Sans Frontiers
6) The Archers
7) Top Of The Pops
8) The Seven O'clock News

13 July, 2008

Macca's back pages: chapter 2

Exhibit B: Little Woman Love
AKA: Macca does sexy

Nowadays there isn't a hair out of place on that dyed barnet and McCartney hasn't neglected a razor for decades. It's all a far cry from the period 1969-72 where he hit the drugs and drink (as evidenced by Every Night and Monkberry Moon Delight), grew a monster beard, mooched around on his Scottish farm and screwed Linda endlessly.

Ignoring Maybe I'm Amazed or My Love, the dominant themes of McCartney's early 70s work concern evenings in, getting wasted and laid. Tracks such as Eat at Home, Long Haired Lady, Monkberry Moon Delight, Too Many People and Smile Away made Ram into McCartney's sex, drugs and rock'n'roll album. The message given by this album was that McCartney was out of the superstar race, enjoying the company of his wife and children and would be making whatever music he damned well felt like.

While Eat at Home is full of lascivious intent, it has the feel of a rather nervy encounter, the slightly orgasmic Buddy Hollyesque "Oh-oh-oh-ohs" making the McCartneys sound like gawky teenagers enjoying a first fumble.

Revisiting this territory in the present song when recording a B-side for the execrable Mary Had a Little Lamb, McCartney got it just right. Essentially a simple honky-tonk blues song, the callow tone of the previous year has been replaced with a deeper, warmer sound. The coy invitation of Eat at Home is now an everyday occurrence for the McCartneys. Presumably the lack of central heating on the farm accounted for that.

Out of the opening exhortations, "I got a little woman I can really love/My woman fit me like a little glove" we descend into a chorus made up simply of “Oh yeah/oh yeah/oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ho”. The McCartneys never sounded more as one than they did in this simple little song.

Why should we be interested in it?
There's a lack of artifice here which stretches through most of McCartney's early solo work and reaches it apex in this song. Essentially McCartney was living his earlier demand of Why Don't We Do It In the Road? Most sex songs seem to take place in an alternative universe of fine wines, luxurious hotel suites (or 'cribs') and seem as far removed from everyday sex experiences as a road sweeper is from a rocket scientist.

But here (and in Eat at Home) that divide comes down. They copulate where we copulate and it means the same to them as it does to us. "You know I feel alright/My little woman mine".

Band on the Run changed this. Once he became a global superstar again, McCartney smartened up, recorded in Lagos, Nashville, the Virgin Islands etc and never wrote quite so earthily again.

FURTHER LISTENING
Fucking in a home in the heart of the country.

(by David Pascoe)

11 July, 2008

"Have you got everything?" "Yes"

Here's a fine curtain-raiser to the weekend: the best piss-take of Right To Reply there's surely ever been, right down to the inane bleating of the Kindly Producer Person to the skew-mouthed mithering of the Thunderously Normal Person Speaking In Front Of A Camera For The First Time.

08 July, 2008

What's on Wogan

This seems to be something of a mismatch. It's a format that anybody could present, and has no obvious schtick with which Wogan can interact and about which he can moan.

Fortunately there are, naturally, alternative formats in which Terry would fit just, if not more, snugly. Such as:

Terry's All Gold
A family-based general knowledge game show with three teams competing to see who will progress furthest along Wogan's Yellow Brick Road to win the chance to pull back Terry's Curtain and discover what lies at the heart of Oz. "It's a wizard of a prize," cracks Tel.
Join your genial host as he struggles to keep order amongst his host of helpers, including the 'Pickled Witch of the West' (Fran Godfrey), the 'Bin Man' (Boggy) and the 'Cowardly Scion' (Deadly).
Expect laughs a-plenty as Wogan finds the business of leading contestants along his road somewhat tiring ("Heavens, I could do with a bathchair - has anyone seen Jimmy Young?"), never mind the attentions of a computer-generated Toto ("Begone, foullest mutt!")

Press-Tel
Join Wogan as he invites you on a journey through his back pages.
Our man has been busy wading through his own personal archive of newspaper cuttings and publicity stills, ready to challenge contestants to "Tel all" (sic) about a number of episodes from his hectic, showbiz life.
Bonus points will be available for supplementary questions. "I interviewed Madonna in 1989 - but can anybody tell me, what's the Material Girl's surname?" Surprise guests will also be dropping by to share warm anecdotes about Terry's illustrious career.

Wogan's Roll
"Yee-haw - it's a bonanza of a quiz show!"
Join Terry on his wild west ranch for a hoe-downright hootin' and hollerin' good time. Contestants must answer questions in order to bag enough time to ride Boggy's Bronco and stand a chance of winning a star prize.
But watch out! Deadly Doc Holliday is on the loose, desperate to "cheat them rascals out of what's rightfully mine - darn it!" Altogether now: Wogan's roll!

05 July, 2008

Photo clippage #39

Haven't had one of these for a while. Any ideas as to what the occasion is here?

02 July, 2008

Macca's back pages: chapter 1

Many thanks to David Pascoe, who's put virtual pen to paper and come up with a definitive guide to Paul McCartney curiosities.

INTRODUCTION
"What I'm finding out about all that stuff, all my own contemporary B-sides and strange tracks, is that it takes time"

Paul McCartney's solo career has been discussed at length within the TV Cream empire. Getting Paul McCartney Right is probably the definitive document on his solo work, but as the man said to Mark Lewisohn there are still gaps in how his work is perceived.

This is not an easy thing for Macca fans to deal with, mainly because they are often coming up against a widespread belief that McCartney's solo work(and I include Wings in the definition of 'solo') is a load of toss. When faced with Mull of Kintyre or We All Stand Together, this is not hard to dispute [speak for yourself - IJ].

The sad thing for McCartney fans is that the sneers that accompany these exhibits of poor taste often don't acknowledge what McCartney carried over from his 60s London experiences. This being the interesting stuff, the strange stuff and the tracks that don't quite fit under the headings of 'Raucous Rockers' or 'Gentle Ballads'.

You'll find these tracks shoved to the back and sides behind the Silly Love Songs, Jets and Band on the Runs. In some cases these tracks deserve more attention; in others, well they're interesting failures. Almost none of them are mentioned when 'Paul McCartney' comes up for discussion. Almost all of them are worthy of your attention.

CHAPTER 1
1972: McCartney as a threat to national security and public decency
Exhibit A: Give Ireland Back to the Irish
AKA: McCartney goes political.

Four years before this song was released, McCartney was so desperate to prevent The Beatles making an overt political statement via Lennon's Revolution, that he had to write Hey Jude in order to persuade Lennon to accept B-side status for his call to arms at the flower shop (see you on the barricades, John.)

The implication behind this piece of musical horse-trading is that McCartney was too conventional to confront the burning issues of demonstration, riots and opportunistic politics that comprised 1968. Considering the condemnation that his LSD admissions had sparked a year earlier ("I mean I just tried to be honest, and it's sometimes painful") he couldn't really be blamed for advising caution.

Four years later, however, and it was a different story. Doubtless cut from his script during the filming of Andrew Marr's History of Britain, was the snippet that Bloody Sunday not only swelled support for the IRA and contributed to numerous bomb explosions and scares in Michael Palin's diaries, but also heralded the first explicitly political song from Paul McCartney.

It wins points straight away for not featuring any Celtic instrumentation or winsome piano/acoustic guitar. Instead, we're straight into an atmospheric heavy rocker with guitars squealing over McCartney's calls for Ireland to be given its own choice in determining its future.

Lyrically, he hasn't quite got the hang of this protest song lark at the beginning. "Great Britain/You are tremendous/and nobody knows like me" carries as much bite as a lyric written by John Le Mesurier. But once he finds his range, the song becomes more questioning of its listener. Not in a "Here's who to blame" manner, a la Lennon's fabulously funky Sunday, Bloody Sunday, but in a "What if it was us" way.

Nowhere is this more explicit than in the lines about "A man who looks like me." Languishing in prison, McCartney puts a very simple but powerful case to us: "Should he lie down?/Do nothing/Should he give in?/Or go mad". The pounding drums and keyboard chords under each question add to the sense of hard choices having to be made. Shockingly direct for Macca (it would be seen as inciting terrorism now) and all the more admirable given the rarity with which McCartney would tackle political subjects in years to come (and no, the pro vegetarian stance of Cook of the House doesn't count.)

And then there's that chorus: "Give Ireland back to the Irish/Don't make them have to take it away/Give Ireland back to the Irish/Make Ireland Irish today." Pisses all over Come Together for effectiveness as a sloganeering chant. You'll be singing it yourself by the second chorus, though I doubt it sees much action on the stereo at Stormont.

Why should we be interested in it?
This is one of those rare McCartney songs that tells us how he genuinely feels. So many of his songs are either told from a character's viewpoint or with a broad stroke, leaving the inner feelings of the man inaccessible. Bloody Sunday demanded a 'real' response from whoever wrote about it and McCartney delivers a considered but heartfelt judgement on a process that was going badly wrong.

Of course, it was years before any good was to come of all this. The Troubles rumbled on for another two decades, Give Ireland Back to the Irish was hit by an airplay ban, Wings guitarist, Henry McCullough's brother was beaten up in Northern Ireland and McCartney responded to the airplay ban by making Mary Had a Little Lamb. They were dark days indeed.

FURTHER LISTENING
"And he dreams of God and country"
The opposition's take on the matter

28 June, 2008

"You're one step closer to that BBC Acorn computer"

The official BBC Beat The Teacher quiz book, published in 1985, contains some uncomfortably difficult questions. Were these really the type of thing fired by Howard Stableford at wide-eyed kids from the likes of Brickhill Middle School, Bedford and Monk's Walk School, Welwyn Garden City (the eventual champions)?

1) What is the maximum number of similar-sized circular coins, placed flat on a table, that can touch the edge of one other coin of the same size?

2) What is the weight of tuppenny rice and treacle in ounces?

3) Four horses run a race. Bright Star came two places behind All At Sea. Give Us A Kiss was in the first three, and Pottipop wasn't. Who won?

4) What could 'HIJKLMNO' stand for?

That last one in particular is ludicrous.

The thing is, nine times out of ten (well, seven at least) the kids faced with such riddles would fire back the responses with face-punching ease. Sometimes the teachers would upstage the lot (and Stableford, or his decreasingly convincing successors) with a look that screamed of staff-room-superiority the next morning.

Anyway, if the series was back on today, with - say - Adrian Chiles presenting (though in reality it'd be someone like Dermot O'Leary) it's hard to believe this level of questioning would be present. Ditto the show's creator and question-setter Clive Doig.

What year did decimalisation take place?

would become something like:

What is the four-letter name beginning with E for the currency used in, among others, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, the Republic of Ireland and Italy?

And they'd still get it wrong.

(Answers to the four questions above will follow)

27 June, 2008

"Cost: under a pound, you know"

Courtesy of Chris Hughes, Jill Phythian and Jon Peake (who, in an alternative universe, would be the current Blue Peter team), here's an itemised, bullet-pointed analysis of two light popular classics.


1. BANGOR, DAY TRIP TO

- Had a lovely time

- Cost: under a pound, you know

- Walked along the seafront

- Heard a brass band

- Elsie and me had a cup of tea

- Took a pedalo boat out

- Jack (cuddled with)

- Opened a bottle of cider

- Sang a few of our favourite songs

- Ate chocolate ice

- Ferris wheel

- Elsie felt sick

- Said goodbye to the seaside

- Cash on demand (wouldn't it be grand to have)


2. TO DO: SWINGER (OLDEST IN TOWN)

- Score with chick (in disco bar)

- Car (hairy little)

- Went to school with her ma and pa

- Scared to look at mirror in light of day

- Wrangler's (scared to zip up, belly in way)

- Barber takes a little less time each week

- Offered seat when walk into a disco

- Prefer pint of mild to Bacardi and Coke

- Lights (too bright); Smoke (too much)

- Stroke (fear of having)

- Like disco king meets Yogi Bear

- Vick (rub on where used to rub Brut)

- Latest punk fashion is wedding suit

- Sex appeal (have to go shopping for)

- Ultra-violet light (dentures glow in)

- Takes all night to do what you use to do all night

25 June, 2008

"I was promised Sue MacGregor; who are you?"

Here's a brilliant clip from an edition of the Today programme in 2001, wherein John Humphrys receives a telephone call from an inhabitant of the planet Skaro.

It's followed by an appallingly po-faced discussion about the future of Dr Who, wherein somebody called Michael Hanlon expresses his view that to ever bring the show back to television would be "an abomination" and that "it wouldn't stand a chance".




23 June, 2008

"The same thing happened to poor old Reggie Maudling"

Anthony Howard is one of those people who has already lived forever. He's impossibly permanent. Every time there's yet another political scandal, a shock resignation, a change of Prime Minister, he's there. On the TV, on the radio, everywhere, as reassuring as the sound of a whistling kettle or an aspirin fizzing in a glass of water.

"Well, of course, the same thing happened to poor old Reggie Maudling..." "I think the closest example I can think of was George Brown's attack on Harold Wilson in the spring of 1968..." "We haven't witnessed this kind of seismic shift in fortunes since the days of 'Orpington Man'..."

He's still as insightful and essential as ever, half a century since he began his trade. And to mark the anniversary, he's doing a series of short talks on Radio 4 called Fifty Years Before The Masthead. They're wonderfully no-holds-barred yarns, with our man even daring to include mention of - shudder - a close encounter with Michael Parkinson when the latter was busy cultivating a lifetime's supply of mean-spirited moaning while working as "a proper journalist".

Let's hope he's around for a good few more "worst week ever for the Prime Minister - since the last one!" yet.



22 June, 2008

"A couple of tunes by a couple of prongs"

A plug for an album by Adam and Joe, which is available on iTunes from Monday. It's a collection of their ace 'Song Wars' efforts, wherein each comes up with a self-penned, self-performed ode to an emphatically ordinary subject, then plays them to listeners of their 6 Music show for evaluation.

Let's hope the sequel-touting title doesn't follow the precedent set by Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1. Similar sales figures wouldn't be that bad, mind.

"Masterpieces of DIY tunesmithery" - TV Cream, yesterday.




21 June, 2008

"This is the story of how I died - but not really!"

Ahead of the nation's largest simultaneous ejaculation, when Billie Piper returns to Dr Who tonight, the TV Cream Matrix Databank has been busy calculating where Rose's long-inevitable ingress ranks in terms of all-time TV and radio re-appearances. And the results are in!

1) Harold Bishop returns to Neighbours.
2) Angela Rippon joins the ITN News Channel to update viewers on the war in Iraq, but only during working hours because there's no news after 6.00pm.
3) Michael Grade goes back to save the BBC after Greg Dyke was chased out of Broadcasting House by Lord Hutton and Geoff Hoon.
4) The return of Sherlock Holmes in Granada TV's The Return Of Sherlock Holmes.
5) Alan Freeman returns to present Pick Of The Pops on Radio 1.
6) Alan Freeman returns to present Pick Of The Pops on Radio 2.
7) The swingometer returns to the BBC's general election coverage.
8) Bob Monkhouse returns to Celebrity Squares ("Hello celebrities!")
9) Mark Kermode returns to Mark Radcliffe's graveyard shift on Radio 1 after two weeks' absence due to injuring his back in a minor road accident.
10) The chimes of Big Ben return to the Six O'clock News on Radio 4 after having their once-in-20-years polish.

Oh dear! It seems there's no room for a warm hand on Rose's entrance* in the top 10 all-time TV returns. And sadly the TV Cream Dr Who Matrix Databank cannot calculate any list-based trivia beyond 258 places (or the number of times Russell T Davies has dropped an incongruous popular culture reference into one his scripts), so it's not clear whether Billie Piper appears in the chart at all. Ah well. Happy wanking.

*A premature taster for all the fanboys counting down until this evening.

19 June, 2008

"It's very simply really, you just...KABOOOOM!"

Surely the most stirring title sequence ever:

16 June, 2008

"...But was it ever like this?"

That holy trinity of pop anecdotage, Paul Gambaccini, Tim Rice and Jonathan Rice, have this to say about 1986 in their book Guinness Hits Of The 1980s:

"Any objective observer would have to concede that 1986 was not one of the best years of the decade for popular music."

The evidence, for them, is that "none of its hit singles, not even the year's number one by the Communards, 'Don't Leave Me This Way', figured in the top 20 best-sellers of the decade."

Tsk. Typical. It's all a matter of numbers and statistics for those three. Might it actually be the case that 1986 was...the best year from the 1980s for pop singles?

'Kiss', 'Ask', 'Levi Stubbs' Tears', 'You Can Call Me Al', 'E=MC2', 'Think For A Minute', 'Fall On Me', 'Suburbia', 'Cut Me Down', 'Live To Tell', 'World Shut Your Mouth', 'Digging Your Scene', 'Manic Monday', 'Venus', 'Have You Ever Had It Blue?', 'Absolute Beginners' and the best number one of the year, 'The Sun Always Shines On TV' - just some of the ace songs dismissed out of hand by the grumbling trio. They go on to claim:

"One good measure of the weakness of the singles market was that none of the records that became number one in 1986 stayed there for more than four weeks."

Well, quite. Anyway, in the words of Ian MacDonald, let those with ears, let them hear. Or in the words of Macca in his not-a-smash-hit from 1986, 'Press': Oklahoma was never like this - but was it ever like this?