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99 and a half wont do!
Anyone over a certain age may say that '84 was where it was at although for Break dancing in the UK it really became popular in the summer of '85. This movie and then the big Chaka Khan hit made that happen. I watched this movie back in 1984 and had not seen it since until now, 30 years later in 2014. I wont diss it with a cheap shot and dismiss it as being dated - that would be wack! The scenes depicted in this movie really makes you wish to have been there in L.A. back in those days. In saying that, west coast Hip Hop did not gain a lot of recognition during the 80s to be fair. Therefore taking that into account, the movie itself has some great hip hop culture elements and fantastic breakdance choreography. In particular the first challenge scene against the rival crew called 'Electro Rock'.

Whilst Breakdance the movie does not go overboard on Hip Hop culture, and the street talk that was such a big part of that culture back then it still feels right but if you want an 80s street knowledge style Hip Hop movie watch Beat Street instead. Or just watch both if you want to find out about the mid 1980s. Soundtrack takes you right back too.

Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets

quality docu-drama about space
ten years from its own genesis...'voyage to the planets' still looks as good as it did back in 2004. At that time I actually caught it on TV by sheer accident and for about 15 minutes actually thought it was a real in a space version of Big Brother - in those days anything seemed possible.

So, this is a great space documentary that serves its purpose as being good eye candy but also informative. As a person who has always wanted to go to Pluto, I was delighted to see what the surface of the last unchartered area of our galaxy looks like - all thanks to the BBC. Likewise, the landing on Venus was jaw dropping to watch at that moment in time. The view of Jupiter from Io, also devilishly spectacular!

However, the biggest thumbs up for this documentary is that after 10 years it sill looks good and still feels as good to watch, CGI hasn't dated it yet. It is also has a good quality running time which is great for sitting back, slow-motion tossing popcorn and squirting orange juice while pretending you and your buddies are in zero gravity. The DVD release is also a 2 part set which follows the same format as the original TV showing. Cool.

Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying

Entertaining Mindless Thriller
Whilst not as entertaining as its prequel in this series, Turbulence 2 is nevertheless a good action movie where once again a 747 is taken over by a sadistic terrorist, who demands nothing more than no cops and refuelling at a runway of his choice. The story isn't as flimsy as it's reputation suggests and is worth a watch at least once.

Actually as the main bad guy, the character Elliot (played very well by Jeffrey Nordling) is pretty good in the way he scares the plane passengers for 90 minutes (almost being nearly as entertaining as Ray Liotta in the first Turbulence), with the pick of his one liners being where he throws a lawyer out of the plane over Seattle at 10,000 feet and shouts "put a good word in for me". Classic....I reckon Ryan Weaver would of been proud of that one.

On the ground, Tom Berenger mans the control tower with possibly the smallest shift in history and with seemingly with a liking for drinking pints of milk in the control tower, whilst managing a code red.

So the FBI decide to shoot down the plane but luckily the good guy on board who saves the day is a hero who designs 747s, is good at hand to hand combat, knows Morse code, is familiar with the field of telecommunications - therefore knowing how to tell an ATC what radio frequency to secretly use, is able to throw a heavy container containing anthrax out of the cargo bay, land a 747 (out of a storm that has been rocking the plane for the last hour) with no ILS and no experience of landing 747s. Then he eventually makes off with the pretty girl. Only chink in his armour being that he is scared of flying, which is a handy plot line seeing as it is a plane disaster movie.


highly entertaining mindless action movie
Action/disaster movies involving planes are good and enjoyable (Die Hard 2, Snakes On A Plane, Con-Air, Air Force One, Executive Decision etc). Same goes for action movies where the bad guy is a total lunatic. So this personal favourite of mine has the best of both world's - a wisecracking total lunatic in charge of a 747 he intends to crash.

Ray Liotta is absolutely excellent as a sarcastic lunatic in this movie! I love indulging in Turbulence every now and then. Just to watch Ray Liotta's character 'giving it large' to his nemesis - some cop who framed him - on a plane that he intends to crash, just for him (the cop) - to make him famous cos he was hopeless at catching Liotta and had to plant a teddy bear in his car to get a conviction (Liotta's character supposedly strangles women after giving them a teddy bear for Christmas btw).

Anyway, the dialogue on the plane between the cast in the early stages is quite good. Especially the drinks and dinner menu scenes. Once the movie becomes cat and mouse between Liotta and the air stewardess, some of the dialogue is very good and quite amusing if you view it from the point that Liotta's character is a crazed psycho with nothing to lose but wants to have a bit of fun along the way.

Some of the scenes involving the landing of the plane are quite good as well especially when it almost collides with a hotel restaurant and you get a POV on it. Forget that it is a stupid idea where a stewardess gets a crash course from the ground crew (pun intended) to land a 747. Plane movies are always spectacular when they involve some kind of crash idea or a novice attempting to land one.

So Ray Liotta as a crazed psycho with a grudge against a cop and on a hijacked empty 747, a guy who is destined for the chair and with nothing to lose is pretty good idea for a my opinion. The premise may be mindless, but who cares - it's a wonderful life.


Bei Jing ai qing gu shi

it is a Beijing story...
this movie is based on a very popular Chinese TV show of the same name. The movie itself is basically five short stories that deal with all manner of situations that occur in Chinese relationships and how tradition and modern ideas are so different depending on the couples' generation:

  • a young pregnant woman with a boyfriend of no means or security - a womaniser who realises what he has lost once it has gone - a teenage romance that faces a distance test - a married couple who have grown apart due to successful careers - a senior couple who are faced with the tragedy of reality

It is a decent and enjoyable movie (with English subtitles) but is a bit too long and I did not really see the point of the inclusion of one segment that deals with a high school romance, however the movie picks up again after this segment towards the end with a different example of love and this is when the movie starts to make more sense. There are humorous and serious elements in the script that are portrayed well on screen.

Benefits Street

puts 'Shameless' to shame
Basically, Shameless eat your heart out.

This is a documentary that is basically about real life dossers on the rock and roll. It is an accurate portrayal of Brum life which features examples of people from Brum who can't be arsed, don't think they have a hope or don't want anything apart from dole money, cans of lager, spliffs, roll ups and swearing.

What is jaw-droppingly intriguing about the programme is the raw elements of effing and blinding (even in front of kids), the squalor, the crime, the thuggery and nature of the people who live in this street towards anyone not in the clique. Quite frankly, the scenes depicted on Benefits Street is Brum proper.


Bad Ass

bad meaning bad not bad meaning good
Having enjoyed both Machete and Hobo With A Shotgun I was expecting this to be non-stop nonsensical revenge with a baseball bat. Particularly as I was unaware of the factual events that this movie is supposedly based on, until i read other reviews here.

Bad Ass starts off at a reasonable pace with the bus fight, but from that point it tends to lag and whilst the flashback scenes are kind of interesting, I thought they were also a tad boring and not a stereotype that veteran (no pun intended) movie goers have not seen before.

The fight scenes involving hand to hand combat were absurd, unrealistic and comical to even imagine let alone take seriously. Also, quite possibly, the idea of a fit woman like that being interested in 'Bad Ass' was also absurd.

In between the romance plot and the annoying little pithy comebacks from the kid you would just love to smack, the film ends after he takes out the big ass dude who killed his friend and that is it.

Overall a bit disappointed but will still remain a watcher of Danny Trejo movies cos at the end of the day he is a hard mutha f*cka.

If you want a 'nonsensical' modern day revenge movie go for Hobo or Harry Brown.

Nazi Collaborators

well written, well produced
Narrated by Alisdair Simpson, 'Nazi Collaberators' is a different approach to the WWII years in documentary. Each episode documents the actions of a proved conspirator, not only covering what they did but asking why they did it.

"Many did it for financial gain, others for the promise of elevated status, whilst others would later claim they would be killed if they refused". Stories include the Belgian and Norwegian splinter SS, plus the Lithuanian Murder Squads.

However, The first episode is the most awesome, as it is about the Lodz Ghetto and Chaim Rumkowski's 'Give Me Your Children' speech - widely regarded as one of the most appalling political incidents of the Second World War.

This is a very good documentary for WWII historians and should not be missed. As always with this subject, some of the footage is harrowing.

Fun Factory

long forgotten kids show
Fun Factory, was a Saturday morning kids show that replaced - or rather filled - the void (albeit temporarily) left by Tiswas. Due to the sudden axing of Tiswas, ITV needed to come up with a quick fix and Fun Factory provided it. However, unlike its predecessor, the show was not a mayhem fest but more a studio produced variety show, as followed later with other kids programmes such as 'No. 73' and to an extent, the BBC's 'Going Live'. Guests from UK TV and music would come on and join the presenters, fronted by a then largely unknown Jeremy Beadle.

It was on for a couple of hours in the usual time slot and in terms of music, Fun Factory had some decent performers on it. Early 80's bands like Duran Duran, Madness and Landscape to name a few, with Duran Duran in particular doing a good job - notably performing the debut single 'Planet Earth'. Kim Wilde's 'Kids from America' video was another.

Name That Tune

name that tune in 1
The above line has since become a catchphrase of the English language for trying to guess the impossible! When 'Name That Tune' came on ITV back in 1983 it was a pretty cool show, hosted by Tom O'Connor who at that period of TV history was a household name in the UK.

Basically as the title of the show would suggest it was a music based quiz between two teams. Each team would get a question then a snippet of music, with the naming of the tune in a lesser time gaining more points. The 1,2,3 etc was measured in seconds! The music was from drawn a wide range of genres not just pop music.

At the end of the show the winning team would get the chance to name that tune and win the star prize. A selected member of the team would go into a booth and be played a very short and sometimes obscure piece of music. Once the contestant gave his response, O'Connor would then produce the answer out of a golden envelope as if it was the Oscars.

Can't recall too much about Lionel Blairs hosting the show, but being a showman himself he did a good enough job and it was a shame when the programme was axed. Name That Tune is definitely a classic of 1980's British TV.

Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York

Play up Pompeii
ludicrous disaster movie! The idea offers promise however the story is just stupid, all over the place and boring. The people responsible for coming up with the idea for a volcano hitting New York City don't waste the opportunity to at first suggest that unexplained mayhem may be the work of terrorists.

Whilst that is not a dig at NYC, it is a tiring predictability of how the subject is overused. The only decent idea in this movie script is the lunatic scientist portrayed by Michael Ironside, who at least might make you slightly interested for the latter scenes when he has lost the plot, ranting about using larva as an energy source or something.

In the end, the main guy and (reunited) ex-wife pop the loony and save the day.



Watered down disaster movie that goes with the flow
there have been some half decent disaster movies like 2012 and Knowing and there have been some total berserk ones like Volcano in New York and Arctic Blast.

This entry into the canon has been totally panned by other IMDb reviewers, largely for the so-called poor acting of what at first glance resembles an ensemble cast with the likes of Robert Carlyle, David Suchet and Tom Courteney. Personally, I think Nigel Planer was put on this planet for his role in this movie to be honest it is the best casting I have seen in ages.

Anyway, the plot is an insane event where London is subjected to a Tsunami. Some of the action scenes are OK concerning the seismic waves and disaster effects.

On the other hand the command of London in the depiction descends into farce but I cannot see why Suchet is so panned for his role in this movie as his acting is not poor.

If anyone likes seeing what would happen if London was rocked by a massive amount of water, check this movie out. There is a phrase reserved in the event of something like this; it goes something like "London isn't working".

1 - 2 - three!

Casino Royale

resisted all Bond's after Tomorrow Never Dies and this is why
since TND, James Bond films have not contained the classic formula of old.

They simply resemble Die Hard in a tuxedo, with James Bond pulling off some of the most superhuman feats imaginable. I have attempted to watch the most recent instalments but the directing has veered away from slick and intelligent to action, intended to snare a whole new generation of new jacks.

This movie has the most absurd chase ever, one man clambering over cranes, walls setting off bombs and assassinating a foreign diplomat in front of his private army.

Judy Dench is by far the worst person to portray M.

Ill stick with the first 20. thanks.

Arctic Blast

Hot or Not?
This movie offers some hope for those in love with the recent trends for disaster movies, and after the world was destroyed by solar flares, earthquakes etc in 2009, why not come up with a plot that features a plot based on global cooling gone mad.

Well I thought I would enjoy this film and seeing as my name is Chilla, i thought this was right up my street, however i found my self getting extremely hot under the collar whilst watching this.

First of all the DVD cover depicts Brooklyn Bridge (or at first glance it does) so when I put in n and I am confronted with AUSTRALIANS! i was kind of dismayed. Let's face it - Australian movies are garbage - even Mad Max is (in my opinion). So from that point I thought it was worth watching just to see the special effects and how it would be shown once the world froze over. Not too impressed, although the beach scene where they outrun a cloud (!) was OK i guess.

And that is it! I cannot feel compelled to write anymore about this apart from Father Christmas, Polar Bears and Penguins must all be very annoyed that their homeland has been brought into disrepute, with the word Arctic being used in the title of what is a totally stupid film.

Sorry, producers...your movie is not hot!

The Order

Indiana Jones it is not but a good laugh it is!
I suppose this is one of Mr. Van Varenberg's better films for a few reasons. The teaming up with his Director pal Lettich usually delivers a half decent storyline and the story itself whilst being a totally absurd one is quite an entertaining one.

First of all Van Damme is obviously itching to show his 'lighter side' in this movie a bit like other action stars before him (Arnie, Willis, Rourke etc) who did it. It seems to work a bit especially with the ludicrous fight scenes added for good measure. For example the market fight against the cops and the finale scene complete with kungfu kick on Cyrus. However, as comedy is not really JC's forte the dialogue with his 'Dad' is just abysmal to be perfectly frank, that is a downside actually...the amount of times he says 'Dad!'. The Dad is a poor character as well.

A word on the villains, the Isrealie Cop 'Major' is pretty good and comes out with an excellent one liner to Cyrus's "I've got a prophecy to fulfil" - he responds "and I've got a Swiss Bank account to fill"! The appearance of two other actors from a previous JC film make it good for Van Damme fans, there is a 'rematch' with 'Atilla The Killer' (from Lionheart, played by one of the Qissi brothers and the inclusion of Brian Thompson as Cyrus (Russell in Lionheart) adds a bit of depth to the lunatic of the piece. Thompson's acting in this movie is pretty good actually. In the finale between Cyrus and Rudy (who the hell came up with that name for his character?), it could of been better with a martial arts battle as opposed a sword fight, given Thompson's ability in Martial Arts.

Basically this film seems like a rip off of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but there are many entertaining moments to keep you going until the end. The babe isn't bad to look at either! The strange introduction concerning the depiction of Van Damme as a 'Lionheart' crusader (no pun intended by Lettich I suppose) actually promises a mystery twist to the storyline but this is never explained in the movie as much as it just goes to tell what The Order was and is.

I'll watch it again. Oh and the music is alright as well!

Chicago Overcoat

Good Movie
Good casting for Frank Vincent, in probably his best role to date. I enjoyed watching the film, with its combination of memoirs, anecdotal narrative and good old fashioned American Gagsterism.

It is easy to look at this after the first few minutes and think it could be another Casino or Goodfellas, especially with the use of the narration, however it does not take that route in so much that it does not come over quite as 'smarmy' in the way Vincent is recalling his past compared to how Joe Peschi or more so Ray Liotta did it in theirs. The story does not also go beyond the realms of uncredibility and has a message in there somewhere, something about ageing and having few regrets.

Once all that is done and set up the story is basically about Vincent - a tough but aged wise guy who still collects. He is itching to do a hit again and gets the nod. Once on the mission the story develops a bit more and includes other characters, such as his family and mistress. One of the best characters to come into the film at this point is the cop on his tail, who without going over the top on the clichés is a worthy adversary and as wise as Vincent. The films twist involves his boss who is the link to the Chicago underworld.

Interesting that Vincent in his role is not dusted despite being out manned and out gunned, he walks away having wiped out all the competition. "You know why? It was outta respect".

Street Hunter

Comic Book Action Frolic
Street Hunter is like a kind of Punisher meets Lone Wolf McQuade...the classic renegade / loner cop (in this case a bounty hunter), bearing a grudge and with a point to prove...well maybe not. Logan Blade, whilst having resigned from the force, kept his dignity and remained level headed enough to single handedly (with the help of a Doberman, called 'Munch') take out all the garbage in New York City.

The story whilst filled with all the clichés is a bit mindless but as the film goes on it does become entertaining. First of all there is a bunch of what appear to high school aged gangsters popping off rivals left right and center. The gang is lead by a very young John Leguizamo, (who overacts the part so badly it is hilarious),and a lunatic called the colonel, who seems to spend most of his spare time studying wars - more on that guy in a moment.

Some of the films most entertaining parts include the fight scenes, involving Logan, his adversary Wellman. Logan's relationship with his lady is a funny one - she is put through the mill, all in a nights work. The bad guys are all stereotypical New York trash. The acting is at times diabolical.

Frank Vincent is an interesting casting as a mob boss in this film and although he does not have too many scenes it is a good part in the film when the colonel and his unit storm his restaurant.

As the film goes on, the Colonel is in a lot more scenes and actually takes over the gang lead by Leguizamo. From that point, he recites past wars and battles - educating his 'flock' in the process on things like Alexander The Great, Napolean and the Trojan Horse. He does not stand for failure or insubordination and follows it up with a pithy one liner. During his fight with Logan he is even reciting past victories whilst wrestling on the floor. Its pretty funny really, so fair play to the writers.

Only disappointing part of the film for me was the colonel did not get a big send off during the Logan fight. You sense it is gonna happen but it doesn't.

The script and look of the movie could easily have been adapted from a comic book and I would place it with the likes of The Shadow, Punisher and so on in terms of entertainment.

Tang shan da di zhen

Massive Block Buster
This film was highly anticipated in China being the first IMAX movie to be made here. The country is expanding its IMAX theatres and this was treated as a showcase of what could be in store from future productions. The story of the earthquake as depicted in the film is hardly known at all outside of the country to the rest of the world so from that point it is a topic that should appeal to anyone who at least has an interest in Chinese culture and their historical events. It is also not overblown with effects as one other writer has correctly stated.

The film is immaculately put together and superbly acted - as you would expect from a serious Chinese film production. When there is a job to be done they do it well and this movie is just one of a great collection as the country as a whole enjoys what is a golden period of Chinese film making.

Final word is that despite the language obviously being in Mandarin Chinese, there are on screen English subtitles. This should be watched by any 'serious' film critic.

A Dangerous Man

Reaffirms Seagal as Hollywood's Hardest Man
if the 2009 movie 'Harry Brown', starring Michael Caine confirmed the legendary cockney as The King of Cool, then this release totally confirms Steven Seagal as the toughest guy in the movies. The action, especially the fight scenes is intense and brutal. Seagal's legendary fight with Screwface in Marked For Death is among his best but there are fights in this movie that are as brutal - even if they are not as long in duration.

Its a welcome return to close quarter combat from the master of fight choreography. Basically as he (Seagal) said before no-one beats him in the kitchen or the bathroom, the bedroom, the closet or anywhere else anyone might be foolish enough to pick a fight with him.

Combined with the pretty decent movie score, the film overall is entertaining as a fight fest, mob war. The villains are good especially The Colonel and the Russian mob boss is the kind of guy you would want on your team right? Who cares if the story is a bit insane, or there is dubbing or even stunt doubles? Its Seagal doing what we love best - kicking ass and not even taking a punch his way. Marvellous.

Street Boss

mindless gangster film . . . but still worth a watch
this is a so so gangster movie that sounds great based on the title! Actually all the story resembles a very watered down version of the untouchables, with a surprisingly hard knock FBI agent kicking a lot of backside and not taking no for an answer.

From that perspective the film is quite good, however the main boss and his cartel do not really impress. It seems that it is merely three guys controlling the whole town which surely does not happen? The guy who was in NYPD blue seems to do a good job in his role though and actually the boss figure is a nasty piece of work, so it is watchable for that reason as well.

Just not enough meat on the bones for this script. Hard to believe a small town is controlled by just three mafia guys with one hard nosed FBI agent determined to bring them down.

Black Death

Not Bad, Bot Bad
picked this up as periods in history such as the Black Death and other stuff from centuries ago are pretty interesting subjects. I thought that doing a film on the black death was an interesting premise and with Sean Bean cast in a leading role I thought yeah why not.

Story is not bad at all, it deals with the factual evidence of what the plague was and how it was treated i.e. the fact it down to fleas on rats and the incarceration of anyone with the minutest of symptoms. In fact those guys with the beaks were included and back in the time of the plague were a fearsome sight using red hot instruments to try and defeat the tell tale boils...anyway all that sets the perspective before the story gets going with the introduction of the motley crew led by Ulric (Bean). Actually these guys are pretty fearsome and make the bunch from Van Damme's Cyborg look like a bunch of Sunday school kids.

From the fight in the forest the movie veers off in a slightly different direction dealing with the subject of 14th C witchcraft. In reality the village is merely a clever blonde woman defying religion as a means of control and duping the locals into believing she has supernatural powers. Its pretty good to see her get her come uppance right at the end of the movie in the torture chamber. The question raised is did any people back then actually think is God all a con? Probably.

Ending narrative is pretty good. All in all really enjoyed watching this film.


brilliant TV creation that should never be forgotten or overlooked
possibly the 'best' soap to be aired on British TV. The show from the off had it all. To start with it was set in a spanking brand new 'red brick' close, which was a style of housing that to this day defines the 1980's. Once that had been established, creator Phil Redmond set about a series that featured a collection of families who were either on the up or down, yet all ended up in Brookside Close. That was the theme of the early years with the main elements highlighting Thatcherite Britain. Specifiacclaly it centred on the Grants and the Collins who were poles apart but now neighbours.

The first couple of years were by no means sensationalist compared with what was to follow. The first sensationalist storyline was the siege, quickly followed by the framing of George Jackson, which spawned a UK single release 'Free George Jackson'. From this point on Brookside capitalised on its unique standing as a gritty soap well before EastEnders was born). There was a gay son, a heroine addict husband and more hardline elements that kicked in that not only established the character Barry Grant but also went some way to making the show extremely watchable. In 1985 the show went three times a week, which was a first for UK soaps.

In fact, as we all know, Brookside was a soap of firsts and Redmond should always take the credit. The 1980's Brookie was strong and packed full of unimaginable story lines, pick of the bunch being Tommy McArdle, Laura's electrocution, The Corkhills - including but not ending in the 'Swiss Roll' affair and the close robbery by Jimmy. As mentioned, the siege and then the first whodunnit in UK soap: the rape of Sheila Grant. In fact it was the latter story tied in with Billy Corkhill's dole madness and relationship with Sheila that really brought Barry Grant to the fore.

The soaps stellar years were undoubtedly the 1990's. So many story lines were written that by the middle of the decade all reality had gone, but that only added to the strength of the programme. It was around 1995 that it gained cult status purely because of this unpretentious approach. In no preferential order, the best stories of the 1990's were Jimmy Corkhills cocaine addiction, the close church - in the Grants house, Barry Grant pushing Terry's missus off the scaffolding, the close virus, the body under the patio and The Finnigans. The Finnigans was an extremely well written sub plot that lasted for 2 years. It was at this point around 1997 that the show really took on the big sensationalist stories. Basically as a viewer you just did not know what to expect. It was good though!

So from that point - 1997 - the show developed what can only be described as soap dreamland. For years Brookside went through a phase where every episode contained scenes where all the characters were at each others throats or had agendas. It got really intense around 1999 and half an hour just blew you away. Going in to the 2000's, this continued with the Moffats, who carried on the trend of menacing Brokkie characters. All over the show, left right and centre it was a case of residents who simply had it in for each other.

For me, along with the totally unrealistic stories as mentioned plus loads that i have not (I would like to add that I am very knowledgeable of them) those are what made Brookside such a watchable show. Even in its final phase it carried on the trend with constant characters all arriving with mayhem in mind. Controversial stories kept on coming. Mick Johnson's Euphanasia trial being one example. The show's last stand though was the 2003 drug gang siege, which even by Brookie standards was controversial. Also one story that should not be over looked was the bombing of the health club. I ask you, where else on TV anywhere has there been so many insane story lines?

2003 was the last great year for Brookside The final 4 episodes in 2004 have gained cult status amongst the die hards but in truth the character brought in as a final hurrah, Jack Michaelson was too little too late. Good idea though.

Brookside is one of my favourite programmes ever and I am glad that i watched it, well nearly all of it. I secretly hope one day they bring out the entire series on a 100 DVD Boxset or something.

The music was cool - complete with the armchair hand rest pounding drum beats, the original credits were good. The outro theme was great. The Saturday omnibus - yet again a first for UK soap was called for. I could go on for days...I loved it.


The Tube

certainly one of Channel 4's landmarks
along with 'Brookside', The Tube was most definitely one of a handful of long term projects for the all new Channel 4. The overriding factor and viewing appeal of the idea was that in those days, the only terrestrial music shows were on the BBC and they were somewhat superficial. The all new 'The Tube' marketed itself as a musician's music show. Sure there was the Whistle Test, but despite its status these days, it was a dour affair and always seemed to be presented by the nerds of the music business. The Tube on the other hand was brashy, colourful fresh and pioneering. Immediately form the titles you could tell it was born out of Punk and New Wave. It's style was also very Channel 4! Remarkably In its early days (due to non-national coverage because of transmitter issues), large parts of the UK could not receive the show and missed out on some landmark performances - including the last ever live performance by the Jam! (1982) For the record, The Jam performed the songs 'Precious' and 'A Town Called Malice'...back to back! Other notable artists who came on during the early days were Wham! who performed their controversial version of Wham! Rap (the U.S. Remix) as well as Madonna, who famously had to pay for her own plain ticket to appear...!

It has to be said that in the early days, not many were convinced by the presenters Holland and Yates. Jools Holland was seen as an also ran from the recently split 'Squeeze' band, whilst Paula Yates was largely unknown outside of London. In addition to the presenters, the music journalist Muriel Gray was always an active participant and did well. What the Tube had going for it was that it provided a platform for gig style live music. The fact respected artists would come on - even requested to be on - went a long way to making it an anchor for Channel 4 and cult music show of the 1980's.

What really got the Tube going though was its 'Midsummer Nights Tube' events held every Summer. At the time in the 1980's there was a mini-fad for all nighter festival types of TV events, tied in of course with Live Aid. The format worked. Midsummers Night Tube was a musical highlight on TV in 1984 and 1985.

What really did it for the Tube though was the arrogance of Jools Holland. The omission of a four letter swear work live on air - well before the watershed - provided ammo for the critics. Holland was sacked and the show possibly never recovered.

The best days of The Tube were definitely the early years, say 1982-1985, it went downhill in viewing figures from around 1986, and the BBC's decision to go live on TOTP was a hammer blow. The Tube was cool originally but started to believe the hype and by the time it was decommissioned not many people even realised it was going - unlike Brookside! Despite this, those who watched it and those who never did, would and should rightly regard it as an iconic piece of 1980's pop culture.

Cheggers Plays Pop

oozes 80's
whilst born in the 1970's, Cheggers Plays Pop really came into its own in the early 1980's - peaking around 1983, when it was a staple feature on the BBC. Children's TV as we now know it were largely influenced by these formative years in the 1980's with ITV playing a large part as well.

The previous entry is accurate in that it was a 'Top of The Pops' feel programme that combined two sections of cheering kids with the evergreen Keith Chegwin proving that he was more than good at cracking the odd joke on Swapshop. With 1983 being a definitive year in the 80's, the style of the show placed huge emphasis on colours, balloons galore and a party party atmosphere.

Of the best elements of the show was the fact that high profile music artists would regularly come on and perform either their current single or new release. I remember seeing the likes of Jonah Lewie, Human League, Dollar, Kajagoogoo, Tracey Ullman and another Tracey - in a rare TV performance - (she was a singer with The Jam, Style Council) all on it. Miming though, it has to be said - with the exception of Channel 4's 'The Tube', live performances of current hit singles did not occur on terrestrial television until 'Top of The Pops' changed the landscape in 1988.

The show featured an absolutely electric theme tune, which added to the cult status. Cheggers Plays Pop most definitely made Keith Chegwin a household name in the UK.


Classic Kids Show from BBC
personally I did not really like this show during the Ed Stewart years which was when i first started watching it. As a kid I found his presenting style to be a bit odd. I also remember that during the Stewart tenure when the 3 kids were on the pedestal answering questions for some reason amongst the prizes they would have to hold up would be cabbages. Never understood that bit about the cabbages. In my opinion the show's best years were with Stu Francis. For one thing the outlook of the show became more up to date and looked fresher and as a presenter, Francis built up a mini cult status, assisted in main by the use of catchphrases (usually always preceded with the word 'Ooh') they were 'I Could Crush A Grape', 'Jump Off A Doll's House' and 'Wrestle an Action Man'. If i was ever to watch this again I would only go to the Stu Franics era. For me it is kind of like selecting a favourite Bond or Doctor Who.

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