Sunday, 26 June 2011

A Look Back At Top Of The Pops 1976

The Surprise Sisters 
I’ve been catching Top of the Pops 1976 over the last few months on BBCFour. 

The reruns of the BBC’s premier pop show for many years kicked off a few months back with a reminder that even the 70s are hailed as a classic decade basically all was not well on the music front.

While Thin Lizzy sang The Boys Were Back in Town and Cliff Richard rode high in the charts with Devil Woman, sitting at the Top of the Pop charts over the first half of '76 were Brotherhood of Man’s Save Your Kisses for Me, JJ Barrie’s No Charge and The Wurzels Combine Harvester.

Still Top of the Pops 1976 remains an education and a reminder that although fronted by the likes of David Hamilton, Tony Blackburn and Noel Edmonds, it did display the variety of music trends that were popular in the British music charts at the time, though it seems almost impossible to imagine such a show appearing on the box these days.

This week’s episode opens with The Surprise Sisters, apparently Noel Edmonds record of the week that perform a melodious middle of the road medley (sorry mash up) of The Beatles Got To Get You Into My Life and You Won’t See Me.

Produced by Tony Visconti, I’m amazed I don’t recall The Surprise Sisters, despite covering material by Andy Fairweather Low and The Beatles. They split up in 1978 to pursue solo careers.

One band still together is indeed The Wurzels, still touring after over 40 years on the music scene. Many often remark how their parody of Melanie’s Brand New Key - Combine Harvester got to Number One, but sorry, after been reminded of JJ Barrie’s No Charge I think we were blessed… And it was also fun to see their appearance on Blue Peter at the time, chasing Lesley Judd around the studio...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Fun in The Park!

Typical Seren pose!
Here's a few pics from Tuesday this week when the children caught a brief glimpse of sunshine in the mini-park by the bus stop when they came home.

Seren, Jon and Tom
Thomas Smiles For the Camera
Jon looking thoughtful!

Saturday Superstore: Cadbury's Laughs

Cadbury's Laughs Bar - TV Comic, 6 October 1973
A chocolate bar for 3p?

Yes once upon a time in 1973 that was the case and a Cadbury's bar to boot.

Except despite the fact my Grandfather owned a shop and I probably had a reasonable amount of exposure to chocolate by the time I was 5 (when this ad appeared) I don't really remember Cadbury's Laughs bar.

According to this advert each wrapper contained one of 6 tricks such as "the mind-where-you-sit trick" and "the umbrella trick".

I was probably too busy collecting Nestle Robin Hood wrappers at the time...

Friday, 24 June 2011

New Doctor Who Audiobooks from AudioGo

Doctor Who - Daleks: The Chase - AudioGo
There are two new excellent Audiobooks on the way from AudioGo on July 7.

First of all there is Maureen O Brien's reading of John Peel's Daleks: The Chase based on the 1965 William Hartnell adventure The Chase.

Doctor Who - The Eye Of The Jungle - AudioGo
Secondly there is David Troughton's reading of a new audiobook adventure by Darren Jones featuring the 11th Doctor as portrayed by Matt Smith entitled The Eye Of The Jungle.

Read my preview of these exciting audio releases :
New Doctor Who Audiobooks for July 2011 from AudioGo

Badge Friday: U2

U2 Badge - 1980s
As U2 are playing Glastonbury Festival tonight I thought it would be quite good to dig out this little relic from the 1980s for this weeks Badge Friday.

From memory it originates from around 1985 and came free with either No.1 magazine or Smash Hits, it was probably the coolest of the badges available that particular week (no doubt the others were Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran or Wham!).

Anyone got any precise dates when it was free and which magazine it originated I'd be happy to hear from you!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Talon - Best Of Eagles Live in Concert - Reviewed!

Talon Play The Best Of Eagles - Live In Concert
Used With Permission: Chris Lloyd
On Saturday evening I caught a very fine band called Talon at Newport Riverfront. As well as playing classic Eagles hits like Hotel California, Desperado and Take It To The Limit they also featured a fabulous version of don Henley's Boys of Summer.

You can read my full review of Talon's final gig of their Spring 2011 tour at Suite101 and read more about the band themselves at Talon's official website.

Talon - The Best Of Eagles Review Now Online!

Talon Play The Best Of Eagles - Live In Concert
Used With Permission: Chris Lloyd
On Saturday evening I caught a very fine band called Talon at Newport Riverfront. As well as playing classic Eagles hits like Hotel California, Desperado and Take It To The Limit they also featured a fabulous version of don Henley's Boys of Summer.

You can read my full review of Talon's final gig of their Spring 2011 tour at Suite101 and read more about the band themselves at Talon's official website.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Saturday Superstore: Kelloggs Frosties Tonka Toy Promotion

Kelloggs Frosties 
Promotion, TV Comic, 1972
"They're Grrreat!" proclaimed Tony The Tiger on every Kelloggs Frosties Advert that I can remember from the 1970s.

Indeed, if there was a cereal that was fun to eat and had some personality to it - it was Frosties (closely followed by Snap Crackle and Pop for Rice Krispies).

If we were allowed any cereal in our home,  it was usually Corn Flakes. "Frosties are just Corn Flakes with sugar on them" my mother would argue "and they're more expensive". I would usually disagree and still would.

This advert from 1972 promotes special packs of Frosties in which you could win one of 501 Tonka Toy Sets (where did they get the 1 from?).

"they're made from heavy-gauge steel just like Dad's car" boasted the presumptuous advert, "...and their tyres are guaranteed for life!". That might be so. My brother later owned a blue Tonka truck, after he threw it down the stairs all that was left were the tyres...

Friday, 17 June 2011

A Brother Cadfael Mystery: Dead Man's Ransom Audiobook Review Now Online

Dead Man's Ransom - AudioGo
AudioGo have recently released A Brother Cadfael Mystery: Dead Man's Ransom, starring the excellent actor Philip Madoc as Cadfael,

Originally broadcast by Radio 4 in 1995, Dead Man's Ransom is a full cast drama which also features Susannah York.

Along with several other titles this story has been released as part of AudioGo's Radio Crimes series.

Badge Friday: RNLI Badge

RNLI Badge - 1970s/80s
This RNLI badge I think stretches back to either the late 70s or early 80s. I'm sure I had a few of these with different designs on, as you would often run into somebody collecting for lifeboats when out and about in town (Stockton/ Darlington / Northallerton)  in those days.

I actually used to think the drawings of the boats were quite cool.

Unfortunately this one seems to have been hit by a rust attack over the years as its filtered through a bit on the design. If anyone can date the badge I'd love to hear from you!

For more information on the RNLI and their good work visit their website

Ealing Comedy Classic The Titfield Thunderbolt Takes To The Stage

Newport Playgoers Presentation
of The Titfield Thunderbolt

Photo by Phil Mansell
There's always something quite magical about those old Ealing comedies, even watching them as a child in the 70s they seemed like they'd been made many years before. They had, but they are no further away to me now in 2011 as they were back then.

I was quite excited this week when the first Ealing technicolour feature, The Titfield Thunderbolt was put on by the Newport Playgoers for the stage at The Dolman Theatre, Newport.

Featuring a sterling cast playing multiple roles, my full review of the production is featured here: Comedy Classic The Titfield Thunderbolt celebrated on Stage

The Titfield Thunderbolt continues at Newport's Dolman Theatre until Saturday.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Newport Playgoers Titfield Thunderbolt Review Online

Cast Of The Titfield Thunderbolt - Picture Courtesy Of Phil Mansell
Just uploaded my review of Newport Playgoers take on the Ealing Classic Comedy to

I went along to the opening night at The Dolman Theatre, Newport with Rachel and the children and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Not only did it feature a talented bunch of actors including Richard Dymond, Clare Drewitt, Nicky Davies, Bruce Campbell and Ryan Salter (who portrays no less than five roles). But it also features my brother Paul as an extra!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

More Classic Doctor Who Adventures from AudioGo

Doctor Who - The Stones Of Blood
AudioGo have recently released two further classic Doctor Who adventures to their ever growing Doctor Who audiobook series.

1978's Doctor Who and The Stones Of Blood was the 100th adventure to be broadcast on television and its audiobook release is also something of a milestone as it is a re-imagining of the original story by the author David Fisher, Terrance Dicks having novelised the original paperback published by Target Books back in 1980.

You can read my full review of Doctor Who and The Stones Of Blood read by the superb Susan Engel along with John Leeson as the voice of K9 on Suite101.

Further to this an expanded version of the adventure 1989 adventure Doctor Who - Ghost-Light has also been released - review to follow soon!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Random Radio Jottings and Other Gubbins: Still A Special Agent

Dick Barton - Special Agent
Random radio jottings and other gubbins: Still A Special Agent: "Before Bond there was Barton. But not for Barton the playboy image and licence to kill; his was a Boy’s Own Adventure world..."

Regular readers of this blog will know I've sung the praises of the post -war hero Dick Barton-Special Agent in several recent posts.

It's great therefore to see Andy Walmsley has written the first of a two part feature on Dick over at  Random Radio Jottings as well as included a documentary from 1990 featuring interviews with the three actors who originally played Barton on radio!

Check out the site also for other nuggets of radio information including You, The Night And The Music, Quote-UnQuote and The News Huddlines all illustrated with sound bytes, clips and Radio Times illustrations from bygone eras!

Beatles Rain References

The Beatles with Brolly's
Just been slightly inspired by the heavy rain outside to check out The Beatles video from 1966 for their B-Side to Paperback Writer - Rain.

This must have been one of the first promo pop videos beating Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody by 9 years. Looking at it you can see where Oasis probably got as lot of their inspiration for their 90s videos...

The Second video is footage of The Beatles recording Hey Bulldog - a track that turned up on the Yellow submarine soundtrack. This ones always been a bit of a favourite and The Beatles looked like they had great fun recording it. It's included here for its reference "Bulldog - Standing In The Rain!".

Do you know any other Beatles Rainy references? - Leave them in the comments box if you do!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Dancing in Gwyl Plant Cymru

Seren dancing as the boys look on!
This morning Seren's school took part in Gwyl Plant Cymru, a non-competitive dance festival.

Seren, her classmates and her teachers seemed to have a brilliant time when getting involved with the dancing (as did Rachel when she turned up after her swimming teaching classes!).

As the morning progressed the boys insisted on visiting the adjoining park to the leisure centre where the festival was held. This was good until both Jon and Tom took a tumble off the park roundabout!

The cartoon I've drawn shows Seren dancing happily while the boys feeling slightly cheesed off after their recent tumble looking on. Both expressions on their faces were doctored afterwards. Jon didn't like his sad expression so I changed it to awestruck and Tom decided he would change his own expression just for the sake of it!

Hopefully Jon will be feeling slightly refreshed after his afternoon nap!

Saturday Superstore: Alphabetti Spaghetti

Alphabetti Spaghetti Advert - Radio Times 1970
Look what you getti with Alphabetti Spaghetti proclaimed this delightful advert from the back of Radio Times in the summer of 1970. An Exclusive Children's 3-piece Melamine table set for 80p was yours along with 2 Crosse and Blackwell Alphabetti Spaghetti labels.

Lets face it - anything that orange was certainly stylish back in the early 70s - anyone still got this set?

My memories of Alphabetti Spaghetti are pretty much the same as any noodle shaped product that professes to be a letter, a number or a character from a cartoon series. I get bored with identification after the fifth noodle because my food is getting cold and I'm starving!

Probably explains why it took me an age to learn the alphabet!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Dick Barton and The Cabatolin Diamonds Review Now Online!

Dick Barton and The Cabatolin Diamonds starring Douglas Kelly was recently released by AudioGo alongside Dick Barton and The Paris Adventure. Both audiobooks are full cast dramas and re-recordings made for the overseas market in 1949 after the BBC had wiped their original episodes starring Noel Johnson.

It has to be said, Douglas Kelly makes a very good Barton and the sound quality for each of these episodes is very good for the era they were recorded in.

You can read my reviews for both releases on Suite101:

Badge Friday: Bananarama

Bananarama Badge - 1988
One of the first chart singles I went out and bought when I started buying records regularly back in the 80s was Robert De Niro's Waiting... by Bananarama.

For reasons best known to a teenage boy in the mid 80s they were the best girl band in existence until The Bangles showed up and proved that they could sing as well as play their own instruments.

Also I wrote to Keren Woodward twice in the vain hope I might at least get a signed photo back - I'm still waiting!

I was crushed even further when I saw a geeky guy (yes - even geekier than me) holding his collection of Bananarama albums on a TV show a while later all allegedly signed by Keren, Sarah and Siobhan, or maybe he faked them?

My devotion to top Banana Keren Woodward (who by now was falling by the wayside for my devotion to Madonna) had even more competition in the face of Bangle Susannah Hoffs.

I must have still liked Bananarama enough to pick up this badge around 1987 (which features Siobhan Fahey's replacement Jacqui O 'Sullivan).

Bananarama? I still listen to their records though not as much as I did back in the 80s - maybe its because they never answered my fan letters!

10 Things - 10 Happy Mobile Moments

"On Your Marks... For Ten Things!"
I'm always clicking away on my mobile phone when I'm out and about with the children. Inspired by Rachel's suggestion to take part in Shimelle's ten things for the 10th of the month; I thought I'd share 10 happy mobile moments I've caught over the last few weeks featuring our children, Seren, Jon and Tom who never cease to bring a smile to my face!
Doughnut Time in Bridgend
Thomas at Duffryn Park
Seren at Duffryn Park
Jonathan trying out a Fire Engine in Cardiff Bay Swimming Pool
Jonathan Turns The Wheel in Tredegar Gardens
Tom, Seren and Jon
Playing For The Camera In Bridgend
Sharing A Drink in Starbucks
Thomas With His Brainy Spectacles

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Newport Scenes: Tredegar House

Tredegar House
Here's a panoramic shot I took from the front garden  in Tredegar House during the half-term break.

The little boy on the right walking away from the camera is my son Jonathan.

Those Radio Times: Noel Coward's Hay Fever On Audiobook

AudioGo recently released the 1971 Radio 4 Full-Cast production of Noel Coward's Hay Fever on compact disc.

This Comedy Of Manners and High Farce featured Dame Peggy Ashcroft as the actress Judith Bliss who invites a fan to her home for the weekend unaware that all her other family members have also invited guests to her home.

This consequently results in the original houseparty from hell.

Hay Fever CD Release - AudioGo, 2011
Hay Fever was originally written in the 1920s and was approaching its half century when Peggy Ashcroft along with Tony Britten, Maurice Denham, Millicent Martin, Geoffrey Beevers and Julia Foster recorded this version for BBC Radio 4.

It was broadcast in Saturday-Night Theatre on 18th December 1971 as part of The Peggy Ashcroft Season.

The scans featured here are from the edition of Radio Times covering 18-31 December 1971.

You can read my full review of Noel Coward's Hay Fever on

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Festival of Vintage Classic Cars In Pictures

Here's a picture of a wonderful Morris Minor I took at the weekend at the Festival of Classic Cars in Newport.

There are more over  pictures of Classic Cars taken from this event over on my Online Scribblings blog!

Newport Scenes: More Pictures From Festival Of Classic Cars

Here's some more pictures I took on Saturday morning at the Festival of Classic Cars in John Frost Square, Newport.

I love these Morris Minor's these are a car thast really do remind me of my childhood as there used to be lots of them around and everyone from nurses to school teachers used to drive them.

There were some unusual vans on display too - I'd never seen one of these before!

And here's a classic 60s sports car - I used to have a Matchbox version of one of these!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Fireman Sam - Pontypandy Rocks! Review Now Online

Fireman Sam Springs Into Action!

Last Friday I took the children to see the latest Fireman Sam musical show at St. David's Hall, Cardiff. As Jon and Tom are big fans I guessed we'd be on to a winner from the word go, however I was surprised by Seren's response who described it as the best show she's ever seen.

You can check out further dates of the Fireman Sam tour at Hit Entertainments Website!

Manfreds Concert Review Now Online

The Manfreds
Courtesy of Debra Franks
One of my favourite bands over the years has been Manfred Mann so I generally always make a point of trying to catch The Manfreds live whenever they are on tour.

Rachel and I were fortunate enough to catch them ten years ago at Bristol Hippodrome when they headlined an all-star concert alongside Alan Price of The Animals, Cliff Bennett and Chris Farlowe.

It's also great to see five decades on how well Paul Jones, Mike Hugg, Tom McGuinness and Mike d'Abo still gel and perform if not better than they did in the 1960s.

So it was great last week to catch the band at Newport Riverfront where they performed a show lasting almost two and a half hours comprising most of The Manfreds hits.

You can read my full review of The Manfreds Live at and check out further information at The Manfreds Official Website.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Newport Scenes: Festival Of Classic Cars

Walking through Newport City Centre on Saturday morning I came upon a selection of classic cars as part of  Newport's Festival of Classics.

Always a fan of anything retro I thought I'd take a few snaps of the beloved automobiles on show, some painstakingly restored to former glories by their owners.

Many of these motors took me back to the early 70s and brought back memories of seeing them on the streets in Stockton On Tees.

It was a particularly nice morning with a few spots of rain, but plenty of people enjoyed the cars on display.

I particularly loved this VW Beetle - I always used to want one of these!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Donald Hewlett 1922-2011

Donald Hewlett with Jeffrey Holland
at a Dad's Army event in 2008
Photo: Andy Howells
The actor Donald Hewlett, best known for his role as Colonel Charles Reynolds in It Ain't Half Hot Mum has died at the age of 88. He had been ill for some time.

Hewlett was a veteran of the British movie and television industry appearing in films such as Orders Are Orders and Adolf Hitler - My Part In His Downfall as well as roles in TV shows such as The Avengers, Dad's Army, and the 1971 Doctor Who adventure The Claws Of Axos.

His role as pompous Colonel Reynolds in Jimmy Perry and David Croft's It Ain't Half Hot Mum opposite Michael Knowles silly ass Captain Ashwood was a brilliant teaming of comedy talents.

Both actors styles complimented each other so brilliantly they were cast again in a further sitcom by Perry and Croft You Rang M'Lord and featured as the two lead stars in Wally K Daly's radio sit-com Anything Legal.

I had the pleasure of meeting Donald in 2008 at the 40th anniversary of the Dad's Army series held at the Imperial War Museum in London.

He came across as a very pleasant man and it was a pleasure to meet some one whose appearances on TV have given so much pleasure to people and no doubt will continue to do so for generations to come.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Saturday Superstore: Lego 1973 Style!

Lego Advert - TV Comic 1972
I was in Cardiff yesterday with Rachel and the children and what did I come across? - A Lego store!

It's fantastic to see how Lego has progressed in the last 40 years, all the specialist kits that are available to tie in with films like Toy Story, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Harry Potter etc

The Lego store even has its own equivalent of pick and mix so you can fill a tub of bricks and parts up (and hopefully recover some of those essential parts that got sucked up the vacuum cleaner several months ago).

Early Lego builders such as myself were not afforded such privileges and my mind cast back to the first set I  had which afforded me to build a house, a windmill and a few cars. As time went on I inherited a few bits from other peoples hand me downs but it was the 70s and we were cutting edge of creativity anyway - even if the creations were decidedly blocky.


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