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 clich├ęd 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.

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.

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!")

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.

"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.

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.

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