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Pop Charts Britannia: 60 Years of the Top 10

Here we go again...
This is yet another of the Beeb's badly researched "documentaries", which I continue to moan about; Why can't the BBC, with it's vast archive of news and current affairs programming, get these things right?? Is it because they allow independent companies - usually in the north of England - to make them?? Is it because they allow people who are far too young to recall the era they are making a program about, to make them?? I really don't know. I do know however, that Joe Dolci was at number one during 1981, and not the following year as was stated in this show. And for such a very long programme about the charts, it left a lot out of its 90 minutes, and a lot to be desired. For example, not even a mention of the new forms of music which entered and enlivened the charts back in the 1960s, such as jazz and ska. Or the Glam Rock acts like Suzi Quatro, The Sweet, etc. who all but dominated the charts back in the early 1970s. But as usual with these lazy productions that they make, there was the tedious glorification of punk and brit-pop, which at the times they were around made scant and brief appearances in the charts, and left little if anything of a legacy to music in general, unlike the aforementioned black genres. Actually, near the end the show it even proved that Brit-pop record sales were pretty meagre and disappointing, to all concerned.

Also as a footnote, it has to be said that, Dr. Fox was not the first DJ to present a rival chart show on another station as in fact, the late great Roger Scott presented Capital Radio's chart shows during the week, and for a while back in the early 1980s, Capital even broadcast a chart at the same time as the BBC's Top 40 on Sunday afternoons.


Not by the BBC
Here are just a quick few words in order to correct irish23 above;

This series was NOT made by the BBC but by the ITV (Independant Television) company LWT (London Weekend Television). LWT was a regional independent TV company which was financed by advertising and sales of programmes such as Lillie abroad. It only catered to the London area, but other regional ITV companies provided shows for other parts of the UK, such as Grampian in Scotland, and Tyne Tees in Newcastle. Unfortunately, the Conservatives de-regulated TV in the 1990s, and now all regions come under the "ITV" name.

The BBC, which continues to leech off its licence fee payers for revenue, made a series called The Dutchess of Duke St, about a similar female character making her own fame and fortune, without the aid of the men in her life.

Another ITV series was the far superior Upstairs Downstairs, which I seem to recall being repeated on Sunday nights in place of Lillie.


Kids! Kids! Kids!
I have vague memories about this series, which I think was set in some type of children's home, but certain things about it have stuck in my mind since I saw it in 1979; There was no music in the title sequence, just children shouting the name of the series. And also, a large group of children shot from above, came together to form the word "Kids". Each episode was named after the particular child that was featured in it. It was shown on Friday nights around 9pm, and featured some quite hard-hitting episodes; If I recall correctly, one youth who was in the "home" liked to start fires. I think James Hazeldine was the bearded boss of the establishment.

It was certainly something different, and its hard to imagine such a series being made these days. Personally, I preferred to watch the Professionals on a Friday evening, but that's just me.

Blondie: One Way or Another

This is an example of a well made documentary, and shows how they should be made. Its charts the rise and fall and rise again of the so-called "new wave" band Blondie, during the late '70s and early '80s - and early noughties too. For those of you that don't know the term "new wave", it applied to any band of the era which supposedly disowned their punk roots and sold out to become rich and famous, or any musicians who simply took the punk stylings but wrote and performed highly commercial songs. At one point, Debby Harry and another member are taken back to the apartment that they rented in a rundown tenement building years before, and recall how the place was rat infested in the days before they topped music charts around the world. They also realise with irony, that a new band starting out would not be able to afford to rent such a place, in the now gentrified area of New York city.

Although this programme was a means of promoting their new releases of the time, one can overlook this as it is very entertaining to watch.

Top of the Pops: The Story of 1978

The BBC researchers strike again!!
This is yet another of the BBC's badly researched and revisionist "documentaries", which supposedly tells how punk rock saved us from all the bad pop music which was in the charts, during the latter years of the 1970s. But anyone like me who was alive back then, or even watches the repeats of editions of Top of the Pops that are currently being shown on BBC 4, may well see a much more accurate depiction of that era. Because actually, there was some great pop music, reggae music, soul music, disco music, and even rock music in the charts while quite a lot of the punk music was dire and amateurish to say the least.

Programs like this, often depict a very selective, and one-sided view of the past, with very little balance on show to even things up; Not everyone hated Boney M, or Shawaddy Waddy, or The Barron Knights. In fact a lot of people liked those novelty bands, that is why they sold so many records. It wasn't just down to good PR men. And by the same token, not everyone saw punk rock as the saviour of British music. Granted, it was something new and different. But it was also very short-lived and controversial (Try Googling the name Sid Vicious, if you don't know who he was). In fact, the soul and disco bands of the past, have left a much more influential legacy to today's music.

I think it was very remiss of the BBC to broadcast a program which (purposely?) left out the facts, and presented half-truths as being the gospel.

They've done it before, and they'll do it again. No doubt.

Violette & François

Pourquoi? Why? That's what I ask myself, whenever I see a film like this; Why do women stay with men who aren't good for them?

In this film, Violette, played by the still ultra-sexy Isobelle Adjani, is in a relationship with Francois played by Jaques Dutronc, who is a major wastrel that cannot hold down a job, and who likes to go shoplifting...among other things. The couple have a young son who is blonde, despite the fact that his parents are not...I couldn't quite understand this, but anyway the film is quite watchable, and the characters are all engaging thanks to the performances of the cast. I have a love for all things French, so, I quite like these types of films, which show how Paris looked in the past. Surtout, dans les années 70. Eventually, Violette participates in Francois'...hobby...as the couple fall on hard times, and surprisingly she enjoys their escapades, until one day when she suffers some dire consequences for her actions.

I quite liked it. See it, and judge for yourself.

Un éléphant ça trompe énormément

Bravo! Trés bien!
This has to be my favourite French film ever! I recall seeing it's very well dubbed English version on TV in the early '80s. It was remade into The Woman in Red, which was pretty banal in comparison. But thanks to TV5 Monde, I was able to see the original version en Francais.

The film centres around Jean Rochefort, his friends and family. At the start, we see him standing precariously on the ledge of a high building. The reason why is shown at the film's end. (I won't give it away here) This is followed by a flashback. He is a middle-aged some-what bored businessman, who has his head turned one day when he sees a mysterious woman standing under an air vent in a car park. She happens to be wearing a flimsy red dress (hence the US title of the remake) which flutters in the breeze. She seems to enjoy this, and returns to the vent for a second helping. After she walks away, Rochefort tries it out for himself, but the effect for him in his buttoned overcoat is not as sexy to the viewer. Or even him. This is the catalyst for his obsession with the girl, played by Anny Duperey, who eventually turns up at his place of work, much to his surprise.

Meanwhile, his loving and quite attractive wife, is being sexually harassed by a chubby friend of their teenage daughter, this is not to mention the personal problems that Rochefort's tennis buddies also encounter.

This is well worth a look, even for the dubbed version. There was also a sequel made sometime after, but the magic was not there.

Cause toujours... tu m'intéresses!

Mildly amusing
The title of my review suggests my opinion of the film. Although to be fair, my french is a bit rusty but I got the gist of it all. I think you have to understand the French social mores of the '70s a bit, as it's quite a dated movie. However, I did like the scenes where the salesman tells his potential customers his problems, in order to make them buy his wares.

It was also quite nice to see a very young, and very sexy Jane Birkin.

The married Jean Pierre-Marielle, always looks funny whenever he appears in his furry overcoat. And his girlfriend on-the-side, who habitually tries to commit suicide, finally succeeds in the end. If memory serves, she dies in a car accident, after three previous attempts to blow herself up with a gas cooker. All this after a saucy sex session in a hotel with the aforementioned salesman, played by Jean Carmet.

There is an appearance by Jean Rochefort, who seems to always have the same laconic expression on his face, in all his movies. He reminds me of a French Robert Mitchum.

The American Girls

Shown in the UK.
This series was also shown in England, circa 1981.

I have very vague memories of it being shown by the BBC late at night, with some girls driving around in a van. But, it was renamed as "Have Girls Will Travel" for some reason, that name seems to make more sense. If my memory serves, it was quite watchable nothing to shout about, but like many series of the era, it has been forgotten...

Except by die-hard TV fans.

This series was also shown in England, circa 1981.

I have very vague memories of it being shown by the BBC late at night, with some girls driving around in a van. But, it was renamed as "Have Girls Will Travel" for some reason, that name seems to make more sense. If my memory serves, it was quite watchable nothing to shout about, but like many series of the era, it has been forgotten...

Except by die-hard TV fans.

Ron Howard: 50 Years in Film

Why no mention of Cocoon?
I've just seen this on the TNT channel, and although it was enjoyable I was a little surprised that there was no mention of the film that he made after Splash, Cocoon. I consider this to be one of his best, even though it was a little too Spielbergy in parts. I wonder why it was omitted.

It's hard to believe that Ron Howard has been in show business for so long, but then again, looking at him it's believable. Sorry Ron, but you are looking your age - and older, but considering that you started acting as a toddler, you've done well. It's easy to forget that he has produced quite an awesome (in size anyway) body of work over the years, not all of which were to my liking. I didn't really think much of Backdraft, or Far And Away, but I don't think I was alone in regard to the latter film.

Foxy Lady

Keen as a Fox!
As I recall from my deep and foggy memory, this series was about a young female reporter played by Diane Keen who in the 1960s, begins working at a northern newspaper. She comes across the usual sexism from her colleagues and boss, as you'd expect.

As I recall from my deep and foggy memory, this series was about a young female reporter played by Diane Keen who in the 1960s, begins working at a northern newspaper. She comes across the usual sexism from her colleagues and boss, as you'd expect.

As I recall from my deep and foggy memory, this series was about a young female reporter played by Diane Keen who in the 1960s, begins working at a northern newspaper. She comes across the usual sexism from her colleagues and boss, as you'd expect.


Top of the Pops for kids
This show 'hosted' by director/producer Mike Mansfield, became a staple of early evening Saturday TV in England. Mansfield, who also directed music videos, was shown behind a TV studio production desk, literally cueing the next music act on each time. Often, he would be joined by a celebrity such as Suzie Quatro on one occasion. There was no pretence made, that this wasn't a TV show, as even the cameramen were usually in view. Some of the most popular music acts of the era, appeared on it over it's run including, Sailor, The Three Degrees, and even a teenaged Midge Ure in his group Slick. It resurfaced on TV a few years, only because of showings on a satellite channel. In the 190s, Mansfield hosted a late night TV series featuring concert footage, called Cue The Music.

Though very dated, it would be still worth a look.

Night Shadows

It's only taken me 20 years...!!!
...but I've finally seen this movie at last. Back in the late '80s, I distinctly remember seeing a brilliant trailer for this film, which thankfully is also on the DVD, and really wanted to see it. Although the trailer is a tad misleading, the film is still good in parts. Wings Hauser does his best with the script which at times drags on, and he also seems to have done his own stunts, some of which looked quite dangerous.

The best thing about it is the atmosphere, which has been well realised with the usual fog and darkness, and the people who are complaining so loudly about the quality of the picture should bear in mind that it was a low budget movie. Without giving much away, in parts it reminded me of a mixture of Night of the Living Dead, and John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, especially at the end. It also stars Bo Hopkins as a typical Southern Sheriff, and also Jennifer Warren from the tear-jerker film of 1979 Ice Castles.

Viewers should be careful of the actor who plays Bo Hopkins' boss, as splinters may emerge from his wooden acting.

Make your own mind up and rent this before buying.

McCloud: Portrait of a Dead Girl
Episode 0, Season 1

A poor imitation of Coogan's Bluff
Two years before this TV movie, Clint Eastwood starred in a film about a fish-out-of-water lawman from Arizona, who is sent into big city New York to find a criminal. And wouldn't ya know, Mcloud is just a reworking/copy/rip-off of that film. Only it's not as classy, because Coogan's Bluff was made by Eastwood's soon-to-be friend and director of Dirty Harry, Don Siegel.

McCloud became a very successful TV series for Dennis Weaver, but he certainly wasn't Clint Eastwood. If the two movies and actors are compared, this is obvious. But to give Weaver his due, his performance was competetant enough for television.

I Love 1970's

I liked this series, but didn't love it.
I couldn't agree more with what has already been mentioned about the inaccuracies, and irritation at the inclusion of comments from people like Natalie Casey, who was barely a toddler back then, and in the 1980s. It appears that too many of these programmes have been researched by twentysomethings, but where the hell did they get their info from? The internet? Did they talk to anyone who actually lived through the decade? As for no DVD, maybe the inclusion of TV ads in the programmes has prevented this, as they seem to be quite hard to get clearance for - hence no "Greatest TV Ads" DVDs on sale...Except on Ebay.

Day of the Woman

Don't even bother with the Region 2 version...
...because it has been literally hacked to pieces, and not by Camille unfortunately.

The UK PAL version I have seen, features a group of men who grab a girl in the woods, and just grimace, and laugh and slap her around a little, and drag her across the ground. So what's all the fuss about then? Can't the girl take a joke? I can't that's for sure.

That's why I wouldn't bother watching this again, unless I can get hold of an NTSC region 1 copy, which HASN'T been chopped up. Why bother to release the darned thing, and then censor it, by adding slow motion, and zooms into blocky areas of scenes. JUST DON'T BOTHER!!

Unless...blah blah blah...

Âge sensible

C'est trés bon!
This was a very good series, which is currently being shown on the French Channel TV5 in Europe. It's basically a soap opera, set inside a kind of co-ed college dorm, and we are allowed to follow the trials and tribs of one of about half a dozen of the students each week: IMHO Fatia is the absolute babe of the group. She is a young Moroccan girl, who really wants to be a writer, but is under pressure from her father to became a teacher, a much safer bet on the job market he seems to think (I disagree with that, but...) Also there is Elodi, a free spirited girl who is in a relationship with another of the regular characters. TV5 is a channel partially set up to promote the French language and way of life, and is useful to watch if like me you are studying French. But the characters in the series speak a little to fast for me to keep up with them, a tad too realistic, or maybe I should improve my French...I dunno...The series is still good, and it's a shame they only made a single season. Anyway.

Aurevoir, bon chance.. Abientot.


Gus Van Sant
If it were possible, I would give this film -100.

I remember when this film was released, and there was quite a lot of controversy surrounding it. This is exactly the type of movie I DON'T like. Because it isn't made to provoke useful thought and comment. Just to promote a director and his career. Couldn't Mr Van Sant come up with an original idea himself? I suppose the answer is no. After all, this is the man who directed a shot for remake of Psycho. And, he decided to use real non acting teens in his film Elephant, which accounts for most of the awfully wooden performances. It's very difficult to care about a character in a film, if the actor portraying the person isn't capable of doing it convincingly. For example, Benny, who appears late in the film, wanders around the school which is on fire, even though he can hear gun shots...Duuuh!! Guess what happens to him. And at the end, when the blonde boy tries to stop people entering the school, his 'performance' has no sense of urgency at all. He seems to be trying to imitate James Dean...Very badly. One scene I did like however, was when the two boys slaughtered three girls in the ladies toilet, after they had just vomited away their lunches. Bravo boys!!

Using the flashback method of telling a story from different viewpoints is not an original idea either, but when done properly it is very effective.

I am not a person who only likes action movies, or films that are neatly tied up at the end. I can take a thoughtfully made dramatical movie with a message any time...This isn't one of those films. If I was a relative of someone killed at Columbine, I would be highly offended by this trash. It really did look as though it was improvised throughout, not just in places.

The Rag Trade

"Ev'ry body out!!"
That's what the very aggressive shop steward played by Miriam Karlin would shout after blowing her whistle, at least half a dozen times during each episode of this series. Peter Jones played the owner of Fenner Fashions, a small factory cum sweat-shop situated in London. The hilarious (in my view) situations which occurred in every episode, centered around Karlin doing her utmost to avoid her and her fellow union members, from completing any work. Unless they were given incentives, which the poor harassed Mr. Fenner would have to indulge, in order to complete orders on time. Christopher Beeny played the smarmy van driver, who was always making advances toward long haired Gillian Taylforth (Cathy Beale, from Eastenders). While Anna Karen (Olive from another gem of a series On The Buses) played one of the skiving machinists.

It deserves a DVD release.

The Kit Curran Radio Show

Get your Kitt off!
Dennis Lawson starred as the titular character, in this comedy series about a rather irritating radio DJ. He would constantly ignore his bosses requests, and refuse to play adverts or even the records when he was supposed to. In one episode, he was physically dragged from the studio while on air, something which almost happened for real when a certain be-wigged DJ kept moaning about his estranged wife.

You could tell that Kitt was an amalgam of many of the real radio jocks that appeared on UK airwaves at the time it was shown. Even the way he looked (big '80s glasses, loud patterned shirts with up-turned collars, and spiky hair) and his arrogant know-all behaviour would make it easy for viewers to guess that he was based on certain people...I don't think I'm brave enough to name names right now.

If memory serves me correctly, at the end of the first series he was sacked and began the second series desperately seeking ways to earn a living and get back on the air.

Although it wasn't a masterpiece of comedy, it was at times amusing to watch, much like Chance In A Million in which Simon Callow plays a similar type of character.


An Undisputed Waste!
At this very moment as I type, I am watching what has to be one of THE worst movies I have seen, in a long time. I cannot believe that Walter Hill, who gave us Red Heat among many other great films, actually directed this. It is a total waste from start to finish. There are some great actors in this trash: Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, Peter Falk, and Michael Rooker. Also some bad ones like Fisher Stevens. But the lame script does them all no justice. An attempt at adding tension to the build up to a supposed great fight in the prison inwhich the film is set, falls flat every time a lame caption such as "...9 days to the fight." appears on screen. And even the actual boxing match is lackluster, when compared to the ones in the Rocky movies. Wesley Snipes hasn't had a hit film in years, and one hopes that the soon to be released Blade 3 will wash the bad taste of Undisputed out of his fans mouthes.

AVOID at all costs...Unless you wish to see Columbo spit forth about fifty expletives in as many seconds.

Personal Best

Personal Fave.
Some of the posts here are very critical of this film, accusing it of being slow and exploitative. But I think it should be taken into account that this is essentially a film about people's relationship to each other, and not about car chases and explosions. I found it to be understated, realistic, and very watchable. Okay, there are a few nude scenes which may appear gratuitous. But as highly trained athletes, I think they would feel pretty secure about their bodies, and the camaraderie between them all which is apparent in the movie, would suggest that none of them would be embarrassed at being undressed together. Mariel is ultra believable as the confused young protagonist, which is not surprising as she said in a documentary that she actually trained like an athlete every day for almost a year, in order to prepare for the role. It's a shame to see how far downhill her acting career has gone since.

My one criticism is about Scott Glen, who is his usual wooden self, and not a character at all...He looks the part, but doesn't deliver the goods. But hey, it's such a cool watchable movie, I'll overlook that gripe.

It's weird to note that a lot of the sports fashions in the film are now back in style.

The Villa

Blind Date for lads...and ladettes.
I'm surprised that there are no posts about this brilliant shot-lived series.

It put a new spin on dating shows by taking two groups of men and women, matching them up via computer, then taking them to a sunny villa in Spain where they are spied upon by various cameras at night, and then interviewed about their exploits by day. You can tell that most of the contestants, if that's the right word, are 'up for it' I quote, while others just want to get their faces onto TV.

It's also good to see personalities clash, while others, make love. The first series was an excellent breath of fresh air, enhanced by the ironic comments of the Aussie narrator Mark Lyttle.

It was fun while it lasted.

Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy

Sweet Dreams
I have also seen a 90 minute version of this documentary, which was shown on the brilliant Biography channel. Although I had doubts about buying the soon to be released trilogy on DVD, the documentary has certainly whetted my appetite, and made me eager to see the complete version which will be included on the fourth disc of the set. Even for someone as knowledge about the Star Wars movies and George Lucas as I am, it was still very entertaining, and contained quite a few never before seen out-takes from all the films. The programme features the problems that Lucas had with 20th Century Fox execs (apart from Alan Ladd jnr, who greenlit Star Wars) when the movie ran over budget and missed it's Christmas 1976 opening date, the '...hippies...' at ILM who hadn't completed any decent effects shots Lucas could use, and the destruction of sets in Tunisia which halted filming temporarily. There are also interviews with most of the original cast members - even Harrison Ford who certainly doesn't enjoy doing them, which is no big secret.

These edited highlights I've described, have left me hankering for more.

The Making of 'Star Wars'

A New Hope Begins.
This must have been THE first making of, behind the scenes documentary that I ever saw. I vividly recall seeing it on TV sometime after watching the movie at the cinema, and I'm lucky enough to own a copy on video. After another recent viewing, it still captivated me with all the original footage LITERALLY behind the scenes and the camera on set during filming. R2D2 and C3PO act as hosts, from their control room on an unidentified ship, as they introduce the various characters involved in making the film and it's effects. Watching the very young looking principles talk about their roles with '70s hairstyles and clothing is also a hoot! Even a snake-hipped young Lucas, who now resembles Jabba in girth, is funny to watch, as he struts around in his de rigueur plaid shirt.

Documentaries on films are now commonplace thanks to the advent of DVD, and the E channel. But even some of the recent ones I've seen aren't really a patch on this. Grab a copy if you can, then have a good try at collecting the other ones.

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