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Showing posts from March, 2022

Randall and Hopkirk Deceased: The Best Years of Your Death

I haven't tended to do tributes to actors from shows which feature here. I have always wanted it to be about the show and have always soft pedalled the actors. When a famous actor dies there will be loads of tributes and I've always tried not to reproduce the material you can read all over the internet.  That said while I have always aimed to blog about what I am viewing, and as it happens the legendary Peter Bowles has died and I happened to have an urge to watch through the remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and he appears in this episode, so hence this post by way of a tribute. Spoiler alert: I'm going to give away the ending. Of course both this and the original series had a very light touch but Bowles's role as the headmaster of a distinctly odd school is an absolute gift. I'm no actor but I would think the role could be quite difficult because it's both serious and wildly humorous. Bowles plays the total power crazed (and more than a little deranged)

Orphaned Episodes: A Woman Sobbing (Dead of Night)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Spoiler alert : this post will give away quite a lot about this play so if you want to watch it cold, don't read this first! I am breaking my own rule for what can be included in this series of posts because the remaining episodes of this show are available in an all dancing and singing release from the BFI, but this is kind of orphaned because most of it has been wiped and it is simply too good a show to pass up. Besides, orphans can still need nurture even if they've been remastered by the BFI. Dead of Night was a BBC series of seven plays with supernatural themes broadcast in 1972. Four episodes are believed missing. A Woman Sobbing was the final episode in the original run. There is quite a lot about this show online so I'm just going to deal with the themes and impressions as they hit me. I can't overstate what expert storytelling this is, by  John Bowen  who had a varied output, including Robin Redbreas

Orphaned Episodes: A Passage to Inverness (Centre Play)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Centre Play was a BBC anthology series of plays broadcast from 1973 to 1977. I am struck by how many anthology series of plays there were in the sixties and seventies, and it must have meant that TV had a very theatre-influenced feel at the time. I have no idea of the archive status of this show, although I would think it is unlikely to be complete, and in fact only discovered it by chance this week. There is also very little about it online. The fact I found it was purely by chance because I was attracted by this play's title and it wasn't immediately apparent it was from a series. To be absolutely frank I have found this play quite difficult to get my head round - God only knows that people must have been faster on the uptake to take this in on one viewing. I was going to summarize the plot but I'm going to take an impressionistic approach because the play tends to cut from one thing to another quite frequently

Orphaned Episodes: Give Me A Ring Sometime (Go Girl)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Today a programme that I'm very sorry indeed has been wiped. Hell, it's not only wiped, it was never even broadcast in the first place, for reasons unknown (edit: I have also read that the full series was not made because finance couldn't be found), and one full series was made. It is only online because the pilot has been uploaded to YouTube by a fan of one of the actresses,  Françoise Pascal . It's reportedly also commercially available as an extra on the UK DVD of exploitation short Take an Easy Ride, but meets my definition of orphaned episodes because the rest of the series is lost. Director Kenneth Rowles was also behind the sex comedy The Ups and Downs of a Handyman, and probably saying that should indicate we're in some serious seventies territory here, so crack open the fondue and defrost the Black Forest gateau before reading the rest of this. Not to beat about the bush, the reason I'm so so

Orphaned Episodes: The Widower (No Hiding Place)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . There are some spoilers in this post. Bit of an odd feeling to be writing about a show which is still being broadcast! Talking Pictures TV broadcast what's left of it. No Hiding Place was a phenomenally popular show from the late fifties into the sixties. So what do you do with such a successful show? Obviously you wipe the vast majority of it. Honestly it makes less sense the more those words go through my head. It escaped the fate of its two predecessors, Murder Bag and Crime Sheet, which are considered completely lost. The majority of No Hiding Place is missing. Apart from TPTV this episode is in several places online and some episodes are available on quite expensive amateur DVDs. It's a pity, because I like this a lot. It's a straightforward investigation of a serial killer. What makes it very gripping is the succession of red flags we see as the show goes on, and really this would be good viewing for anyone

Orphaned Episodes: Episode 4 (There's a Lot of It About)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Confusion has become the signature feeling associated with orphan TV episodes for me. Apparently There's a Lot of It About is not the final series of Spike Milligan's seminal series with the confusing name of Q with a numeral for the series. Which doesn't start at number one. And which I have merely touched on here before although I'm delighted to see I called the post  Spike Milligan, Boobs and Custard Pies . This is not that series but has the same theme music. You know what has the same theme music as one TV series? Only that series. This one also has some of the same sketches, including the idiot scouts. I see there is a show titled in the titles  Q Spike Milligan  (without a numeral) on YouTube which the uploader has called Q1 and is described in the comments as the pilot for the show. It isn't on Simply Media's  box set  of Q which claims to have all the surviving episodes, and  IMDb  makes no m

Orphaned Episodes: Early to Bed (Second City Firsts)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Second City Firsts (1973 to 1978) was a show produced by the BBC which featured a lot of writers' first time TV productions and was made at Pebble Mill right here in the Second City. 28 of the 53 plays survive and there are several on the internet. Unusually for these shows this one has attracted quite a lot of comments online and I would point to  here  for an excellent overview of the series. Early to Bed is dead gritty and set in a mining community much further north than here. It has an interesting use of visuals to contrast the traditional (the mine) with the then modern, in the shape of many of the decorations and furnishings we see in the terraced houses including, symbolically an electric fire. I am having some difficulty placing the affair which is the actual subject of this play in the contrast I have set up, because the young man seeing the neighbour is of course also part of the community. Perhaps the affair

Orphaned Episodes. It's a Square World

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Tip of the hat to  Joppy  for letting me know this show existed. There is one whole episode of this show  here  and I see a record was released which is available on Amazon. Honestly it's like being back in the sixties with the post-broadcast availability of these shows. I had forgotten what it was like, although I have so far resisted buying any of the available novelisations of shows I can't track down. That would be being a bit too faithful to period. Joppy rightly commented that you couldn't make this show now and as soon as I discovered that a real robbery took place at Television Centre and the staff just assumed it was yet another stunt by Michael Bentine for this show and so just waved the robbers in ( Source ), I knew I would love it. There are of course other ways in which you couldn't make this show now - some of the racial typing is right off - but in every other way it is an absolute joy. It was

Orphaned Episodes: Lost Property (Unnatural Causes)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Unnatural Causes was a 1980s series made right here in the centre of the entire universe by Central Television. It was all about unusual deaths and if I say that writers included Nigel Kneale, Beryl Bainbridge and Lynda la Plante, you already know this is going to be some quality television. It is honestly bizarre that a series with writers of that calibre (pronounced calEYEber à la Tony Hancock) should be so little known and never having had a commercial release. I personally only learned of it last week. This one is, as you can see, by the legendary Peter J Hammond, and he poured into it all the weirdness of the universe which was left over after Sapphire and Steel finished filming. Like all good TV it can be read on several levels and most of the commentary online rather tends to focus on notional supernatural aspects. I haven't seen the others but apparently this is the only one of the series which can be read as hav

Orphaned Episodes: Stuntman (Duncan Dares)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . You can see this orphaned episode  here . Peter Duncan is an actor with a varied career, including a time as the Chief Scout, who gained a reputation for being active, outgoing and daring during his stint on Blue Peter. This reputation was what led to his own series, Duncan Dares. Not to beat about the bush, I really didn't like this show when it was originally on, largely because outdoor adventure type things have never appealed to me. I might have missed something interesting because in this one Peter Duncan is taken through various stunts in his role of a James Bond type character. It's all about the stunts and it's fascinating. It's also heavily about health and safety and I think probably very old fashioned now. I'm fairly certain that if you need to burst into flames on a TV show this would be done with CGI and you wouldn't actually be set on fire, like Duncan is. It also strikes me how expensiv

Orphaned Episodes: The Keeper (Dramarama)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Let me get an off-topic comment out of the way first. It has been in the news this weekend that Britain has turned away refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. I would like to say that this is deeply shaming and a terrible indictment of what this country has become. I can only say on behalf of all British citizens of good will how very ashamed and sorry we are at this. If you are resident here or a British citizen you can write to your MP to protest this absolute disgrace (you can find who to write to  here ).  One of the things I wasn't expecting to gain from this ramble through odd episodes of shows was a discovery about the show Dramarama. Anyone who has been around in the cult TV world will have seen the boxed sets from Network, and I'd rather assumed the box sets were it. Unbeknown to me  Dramarama  was a joint production by all of the ITV franchises together and the boxed sets are only the shows produced by Thames

Orphaned Episodes: Episode 5 (A Show Called Fred)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . I think everyone reading this must be aware of the legendary 1950s radio show  The Goon Show ? It is literally famous and well known for its great creativity and innovation in its humour, often seen as a precursor of the humour of the Pythons and others. And I'm afraid to say I don't like it. Talk about antisocial. It actually took me a long time to work out why and it is the totally idiosyncratic reason that Harry Secombe's voice goes through me. God it looks even more ridiculous written down than it does in the privacy of my own head, where my funny little ways are given free rein. Anyway, I would love the humour, but just can't listen to The Goon Show. For that reason I am delighted that the other members of the Goons went on to do this TV show, because it is basically the same humour. I am equally gutted that as far as I can tell this is the only episode extant. It is another show largely reflective of TV

(White Jaguar TV): Saturday Night Live

And even more appearances of the crashing Jaguar footage! Both of these are from the US show Saturday Night Live, which I don't know very well (and since I see it's now on its 47th season I doubt I'll ever have the time or energy to catch up) although I have seen sketches from it and enjoyed them very much. The first occurrence (which I can't believe I have only just learned about because a cat driving a car is exactly my sort of thing) is in the recurring sketch Toonces the Driving Cat. Specifically as I am writing this I am watching the one called Toonces without a Cause (it's on YouTube and the icon for it is actually the Jaguar going over the cliff). Can I just say how much I love the idea of a real grey tabby cat doing non-cat-appropriate things through the agency of a very obvious puppet? I particularly like the scene where he has greaser hair. The Jaguar footage is repeatedly used for the point at which the cat inevitably crashes the car. In fact I can't

(White Jaguar TV) Rutland Weekend Television: Series 2 Episode 2 and a Message for Readers in Russia

A little break from the orphaned episodes because I've found out about several other appearances of the white Jaguar footage ( Credit ) and it's in a show I only discovered this week. In fact despite my frequent worries that I will reach the point where there is no more old TV to be discovered, this week I have managed to discover three shows I didn't know existed: this one, The Innes Book of Records and The One Game. Of these only the last has been released commercially but I haven't actually watched any of it yet. This one touches on the project that I have had at the back of my head for literally years but never faced, which is to have a go at getting my head round the UK regional TV franchises, whose logos appear at the beginning of so many of the shows which appear here. I am now not going to attempt this project, because  this page  has all the information I could have wanted and frankly it is so complicated. Even as a child it made no sense to me that I was sitti