Monthly Archives: July 2009

It’s Classic Clip Friday: Superstars – Kevin Keegan’s Bike Crash


I can’t tell you what a traumatic impression this week’s classic clip made on the young Choob.

It comes from a 1976 edition of the UK version of Superstars, a fondly-remembered 1970s/80s game show in which some of the biggest sporting heroes of the day competed against each other in a variety of sporty challenges.

Yes, it’s the infamous moment when football legend Kevin Keegan, then at his peak playing football for Liverpool and England, fell off his bike and skidded several yards across a gravel track on his back. Ooyah!

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a house right next to a big gravel football pitch – and so, as a result, I had permanent gravel rash for most of my childhood – but Keegan’s bike crash really horrified me as a kid and is burned into my memory.

Like I said, I was very young when I saw it, seven or eight, and I certainly can’t picture scenes from any other TV shows or events I last saw in 1976 – yet, even though I had not seen this clip for over three decades before looking for it for this feature, it was all pretty much exactly as I remembered it.

Here it is, in all it’s gruesome glory:

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Top Of The Pops Thursday: Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time


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Time After Time is my favourite Cyndi Lauper song.

This emotional performance of the song, which originally featured on Lauper’s 1983 album She’s So Unusual, was filmed at the World Liberty Concert on May 8, 1995, staged in Arnhem in the Netherlands – scene of the battle immortalised in the film A Bridge Too Far – to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day.

The clip features an introduction by legendary US TV news anchorman, the late Walter Cronkite.

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A Word From Our Sponsors… Rolf Harris Teaches Them To Swim


“Kids and wortah… they luvvit!”

TV adverts… they’re not just about unscrupulous marketeers manipulating us, often using minor celebrities, into spending money we haven’t got on useless, overpriced tat we don’t need.

Back in the day, a subset of adverts known as public information films regularly aired, made by well-meaning but patronising officials from government agencies, often using minor celebrities, reminding us not to kill ourselves by accident.

One of the most famous and memorable ones, dating from the early 70s, I think, featured a very young-looking Rolf Harris (before he quite got the hang of trimming his beard, by the looks of it) advising parents that failure to teach their kids to swim was tantamount to stuffing them in a sack with a few bricks and drowning them themselves.

It was meant to promote the importance of swimming lessons for kids – instead, it mainly taught a generation of kids how to wave with their toes while messing about in the swimming pool.

Strewth!

And while we’re on the subject, here’s a famous animated “learn to swim” advert that ran either just before or just after the Rolf one (or possibly concurrently).

This one ups the ante by suggesting that not only will you kill yourself and/or your kids if you can’t swim, but your “bird” will dump you and sleep with a weird-looking dweeb with bad hair.

The multi-layered narrative also served a second cautionary purpose: as a warning to men that women have only a limited grasp of the infinite possibilities for limitless wealth and eternal happiness offered by three wishes from a fairy godmother – and so guys should immediately step in and take control of the wishes if a fairy godmother (or genie, presumably, or any mythicalk wish-granting being) happens to appear, otherwise all you’ll get out of it is a day at the seaside:

 

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Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day – Flight Of The Conchords


“New Zealand’s fourth-most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo” Flight Of The Conchords take centre stage this week (presumably with only two bored-looking punters and Mel, their biggest fan, in the audience).

Flight of The Conchords the band, comprising Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clements, are the stars of Flights of The Conchords the HBO TV show, which completed its second, probably final, season earlier this year.

The quirky show follows the day to day trials and tribulations of the duo, playing fictionalised versions of themselves, as they chase women and try to hit the big time as a novelty folk band in New York.

The first season of the show, in 2007, was outstanding, with great writing, great performances (Rhys Darby as Murray, their useless manager – and Deputy Cultural Attaché at the New Zealand consulate – was a real scene stealer) and some of the best comedy songs I’ve ever heard.

Here are the suitably surreal opening theme and titles from season one:

Season two aired earlier this year and though the scripts and performances were still excellent, for me, it never quite hit the heights of season one, mainly because the songs, on the whole, were not up to the standard they had set first time around.

It’s probably not so surprising – the pair had been writing and performing together for years before the first season, and so had plenty of time to write and hone their music, but having used up most of their musical material, then had to write a lot more songs from scratch in a relatively short space of time.

What was more surprising was that the producers also tinkered with the fantastic opening titles. The theme tune remained the same but some of the visuals were changed, and not for the better, in my opinion. See what you think:

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The Monday Movie – Blade Runner


“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”

So begins a brief soliloquy that is one of the most heart-rending and moving in film history.

It’s delivered by Rutger Hauer, in Ridley Scott’s iconic and influential 1982 film BladeRunner, based (somewhat loosely) on Philip K.Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?.

It’s set in 2018 in a dark, dirty, dystopian Los Angeles and Hauer plays Roy Batty, a genetically-engineered artificial human called a replicant – beings almost indistinguishable from humans who are created to be unquestioning slaves, doing  jobs on “off-world colonies” that are too hard or dangerous for humans.

The life-spans of the most sophisticated – and thus potentially most dangerous – replicants are deliberately limited to four years, to prevent them developing emotions and free-will and rebelling against their masters.

However, prior to the start of the film, a replicant uprising has occurredoff-world, leading to them being outlawed on Earth, with specialist cops, called blade runners, hunting them down and “retiring” them.

Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a semi-retired blade runner who is lured back for one last job when Batty, who is nearing the end of his four-year lifespan, and his gang of fellow replicants turn up on Earth looking to confront their creator and thus their de facto executioner.

Like the best science fiction, Blade Runner isn’t really about the futuristic trappings, it just uses that setting to examine themes common to us all in the here and now – such as scientific morality, the role of religion in society, free will, abuse of power, the nature of humanity and the spectre of mortality.

Many of these themes are beautifully encapsulated in the speech Batty delivers to Deckard at the end of their final, rooftop showdown:

It’s commonly thought that Rutget Hauer wrote this speech himself. In fact, a speech was in the script but Hauer rewrote it, shortening it and adding his own lines, most notably the “tears in the rain”. The final version of the scene is undoubtedly his finest movie moment.

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Video Killed The Radio Star: Fatboy Slim – Weapon Of Choice


((Fatboy Slim + Weapon Of Choice) x (Christopher Walken + dancing)) x Spike Jonze = Sublime

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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TV Heaven: Captain Pugwash


Kipper me capstans! The Scotsman who created Captain Pugwash, John Ryan, died last week aged 88.

The Edinburgh-born artist created the character of cowardly pirate Horatio Pugwash in 1950. He first appeared in the pages of Eagle comic before featuring in a long-running series of books.

But it was the animated BBC TV adaptation that turned the character into a TV icon. My memories are of the 1974/75 colour revival, which was regularly repeated into the early 80s, but the original series, filmed in black and white, was made in 1957/58 and was aired until 1967.

The cartoons used an innovative real-time animation technique more akin to puppetry, in which cardboard cut-outs of of the characters were placed on painted backgrounds and moved using an ingenious system of hidden levers. In fact, the earliest episodes were performed and filmed live.

Here is the Channel 4 News tribute to John Ryan:

Ryan also created another show the Choob fondly remembers from his childhood called Mary, Mungo and Midge, about a girl, her pet dog and a mouse. It used the same style of animation but was more educational and aimed at younger viewers than Pugwash. Here’s one of the episodes (several more are on YouTube):

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