Friday, 31 August 2012

Top of the Pox

It's all about The Roxy this week, ITV's short-lived chart show which bothered the TV schedules between 1987 and '88. Another Tyne Tees production, this one was clearly set up to rival Top of the Pops - even going as far as to snaffle Kid Jensen from the Pops presenting team - but The Roxy never even began to capture the public's imagination. It failed at the first hurdle, really, by having an instantly forgettable sax-laden theme song. Here it is, followed by a short link from Jensen and some anonymous Northern Irish bloke.

Another area where they went wrong was by not using the Gallup UK Top 40 - i.e. the only one that anyone paid attention to or cared about - as their chart of choice, instead plumping for the Network Chart, a sort of independent local radio Aldi version. Here's "Kid" with the Top 10 rundown from 9th June 1987. Hilariously, he refers to George Michael's (admittedly risible) I Want Your Sex as "the controversial cut" (at least I think he says "cut"!), as saying the actual title on early-evening TV would've clearly sent the country into disarray.

So far so mediocre. But oh look! It's one-hit wonder Taja Savelle miming along to Love Is Contagious. This performance is notable for two things: 1) Her remarkable hair. It's utterly transfixing. She's like a good-looking Medusa. & 2) She's sitting down! At least for the first minute she is. Then, just when you're starting to think that maybe she's a Paralympic popstrel or sommat, she stands up and proves that those legs do work after all. Thank gawd for that.

As it says on screen there, Taja was yet another Prince protege. It's funny how the purple pervert only ever seemed to write singles for especially good-looking girlies. Why, it's almost as if he had some sort of agenda!

Finally, here's Depeche Mode & Never Let Me Down Again featuring a midriff-baring Dave Gahan. I'm surprised Prince never wrote a song for him as well*.

*No I'm not.

Anyway, that's about it for The Roxy. Plunged into the middle of a pretty uninspiring pop landscape and up against a programme with over two decades of history, it was always going to be doomed from the start. Mind you, it didn't help that, much like this post, it was all a bit half-arsed really. I'm just sorry for wasting all our time here. Poxy Roxy!

Friday, 24 August 2012

With friends like this...

Today I bring you some hilarious screengrabs from Thursday's Pointless. The girl on the left is, putting it kindly, a bit hopeless and has given incorrect answers to all three of the questions put to her over the course of her two appearances on the show. The girl on the right is finding it increasingly difficult to hide her displeasure at her friend's Pointless ineptitude. Actually, no, she's not even trying to hide it, is she?

I don't care how hopeless your teammate might be, there's no excuse for that kind of sulkiness past the age of seven. Besides, you were the one who agreed to appear on the programme alongside her. Do your homework next time! It's embarrassing enough for the one on the left as it is without you making her feel even worse about it. No, leftie, you should definitely drop rightie and get some friends who might be a bit supportive when you stuff up! (Although I'm guessing that rightie will have probably disowned leftie immediately after filming finished anyway.)

Half Man Half Biscuit - Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess mp3

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Vic & Bob's Popadoodledandy

Too tired to write anything even vaguely coherent tonight but have a squiz at Channel 4's recently unearthed 1993 pop show pilot featuring performances from, among others, Cud & Denim, and presented by a pair of complete lunatics! That's Vic & Bob in their absolute comedic pomp. Everything about this is completely bloody marvellous!

*goes for a long lie down*

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Tea Time Tyne Tees TV

Continuing our series on TV pop shows of the 1980s, today I'm going to talk at you about Razzmatazz, Tyne Tees' kids' music show which ran from 1981-87 across the ITV network. Possibly most famous now as the programme that was, for a time, co-presented by a teenage Lisa Stansfield, there was actually a lot more to Razzmatazz than this connection to a future pop star. Or was there? Maybe, maybe not. Any programme that features a regular item called Popscotch can't be all bad anyway.

Mind, it had its drawbacks too. I can't say I noticed it at the time but watching old clips now the show's main presenter, Alastair Pirrie, was quite an irksome presence. Possessed of an unfortunate and persistent giggle-cum-cackle and a rather overbearing manner, he was like a cross between a budget DLT and the actual Timmy Mallett.

Oh, and he could be hilariously Partridge-esque when interviewing the great and the good of the pop world - as evidenced by this short interview with Paul McCartney when our man, keen to ingratiate himself with His Royal Fabness, keeps banging on about how he much loves The Other Man from the latest album Pipes of Peace. Macca, obviously well used to interviewers waffling in his presence, smiles politely but, when Pirrie repeats how much he loves The Other Man, eventually puts him right and informs him that the song's actually called The Other Me. Whoops.

Anyway, on to today's main clips. These are sort of chosen on a theme; the theme being that they all feature people who, for one reason or another, you'd struggle to secure an interview with on kids' TV - or any media platform at all, really - today. They also highlight the high calibre of guests your typical pop programme could hope to land back in those days.

So here we see Kate Bush (Kate Bush!) talking earnestly about the music video-making process flanked by a load of initially bored-looking kids; she actually ends up interacting with them quite sweetly, though. Thankfully Alastair Pirrie's not around to bungle this interview either. He'd have probably called her love and pinched her arse or something, all in the name of "fun" of course.

Next it's a rare early performance from the much-missed Kirsty MacColl singing that one about the fella from the Chinese takeaway who reckons he's Charles Hawtrey or something. Oh you know the one!

And finally Pirrie (arghh!) interviews Frida and Agnetha (Agnetha!) from ABBA. There's a really awkward bit here when he asks Agnetha to tell us more about the new single, One Of Us, and what it's about, and you can see the pain etched on her face as she struggles to avoid saying "Well, it's basically about my failed marriage but written by my ex-husband and thus lyrically making me sound like the guilty party who's now desperate for a reconciliation and anyway I'm off to live in the woods soon on my own save for a stalker who I'll invite to move in with me but who'll probably start hoarding my pooh or something and it'll all end in predictably disastrous fashion, but yeah, thanks for asking, you big clot!"

So yes, Razzmatazz. It was no Top of the Pops, and the main presenter was a bit of a wazzock, but it regularly served up some of the biggest names on the pop scene and it had games and jokes and fancy illuminated displays in the background with the acts' names on, so if you were 11 or 12 it was pretty magical. And, like all the most memorable shows of yore, it had a properly catchy theme tune. All together now: Ra-ra-ra-ra... Razz-a-matazz!

Friday, 10 August 2012

EPL Fantasy Football 2012/13

Hello all. Just to let you know, I've renewed the Group Of Death fantasy football league for the umpteenth season running over here. So whether you're a regular player or a complete fantasy football novice - join us!

The code to sign up to the Group of Death is: 103345-32472

See you there!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Get Set For Summer

When folk talk about music television shows from the 1980s nowadays it's generally the same old programmes that get a mention: Top of the Pops, The Tube, Whistle Test. But when did you last hear someone extolling the virtues of early 80s BBC Manchester Saturday morning kids' magazine programme Get Set For Summer? Not recently I'll wager. But then that's what makes this blog different: we're not afraid to talk up stuff that no one gives a toss about may have slipped out of fashion or the public's consciousness down the years.

And Get Set For Summer most definitely falls into this category. Presented by the unlikely yet quintessentially eighties pairing of Peter Powell and Mark Curry, this show went out on BBC1 during those quiet summer months while Swap Shop was resting and Noel Edmunds was recharging his batteries in his coffin in Transylvania.

I remember it from my own childhood but hadn't appreciated until now, revisiting clips of it on YouTube, just what a marvellously representative snapshot of the UK chart music scene of 1981-83 it provides. When a show gets Yazoo to provide its theme tune you really know it means business. And the number of bands it caught either in their pomp or just as they were about to go huge was impressive: U2, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and - to use a typical K-Tel compilation album tagline from the time - many more...

Firstly, here's a diffident and giggly Simple Minds chatting to Peter Powell before performing a completely live version of King Is White & In The Crowd - on kids' morning TV! (They actually played out this show with a version of Sweat In Bullet - also on YouTube - if you please.) Watching these clips it's hard to believe that the band were only a couple of years away from becoming stadium rock monsters.

Next, Mark Curry chats to Clare Grogan about her role in Gregory's Girl - I can't believe I'd never realised that she'd been working as a waitress (but not in a cocktail bar) when Bill Forsyth spotted her and asked her if she wanted to be in the film he was about to make. This interview is immediately followed by Clare joining her Altered Images chums onstage for a jaunt through Pinky Blue. Lovely stuff.

And finally here are The Jam with a rousing and thoroughly live version of Funeral Pyre. I didn't really appreciate the greatness of this band until a few years later - I only had eyes for Madness in junior school - but goodness me could they wig out.

Sadly that seems to be about as much of Get Set For Summer that's available online at the moment. But who knows, one of these days maybe the BBC might finally get around to going through with its pledge of fully opening up its archive for public consumption. For now we can only imagine the treasures such a move would unearth.