Saturday, 29 September 2012

Doctor Who Past-Present: Returning to Manhattan

Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan
Tonight's mid-season finale of Doctor Who sees a return to Manhattan for The Doctor (Matt Smith) in both the present day and in the 1930 where he once again takes on the Weeping Angels in The Angels Take Manhattan. 

Meeting Steven Moffatt
More recently the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) battled The Daleks there in The Daleks In Manhattan and lets not forget the Doctor's other American trips over the last five decades incuding a brief trek to The Empire State Building in 1965's William Hartnell tale The Chase and the ultimate New Year event in NYC during 1996's Paul McGann outing The Movie.

Fans who have quibbled about this series (which I have loved) shouldn't be too disappointed with tonight's episode from the pen of Steven Moffatt, which feature the return of River Song (Alex Kingston) and the departure of Amy and Rory (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill).

Steven Moffatt and Carole Skinner
I went along to see a special screening of The Angels Take Manhattan on Wednesday  evening presented by BAFTA Cymru and the BBC. In attendance was also Doctor Who Executive Producers Steven Moffatt and Carole Skinner.

It was a magical evening particularly seeing such an atmospheric of Doctor Who meets film noir on the big screen!

You can read my full review of the event with a preview of tonight's episode over on the South Wales Argus website: Doctor Who Faces Life After The Ponds

Friday, 28 September 2012

Badge Friday: I'm a Full Bodied Hirondelle Lover

This badge is a bit of a mystery with it's wording "I'm a Full Bodied Hirondelle Lover" phrase.

When Googling the word Hirondelle I get a real mish-mash of results from private hospitals to a short Parisian film.

I have no idea what this badge from Rachel's collection represents and if you do, please enlighten me!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

On Radio: Dad's Army - The Captain's Car

In today's episode of Dad's Army there's a mighty motor mix-up with Captain Mainwaring's new staff car, just as a French General pays a visit.

This radio adaptation of Dad's Army was originally broadcast in August 1976.

Dad’s Army is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra at 08:30Hrs, 12:30Hrs and 19:30Hrs and available to listen again on the BBC iPlayer for a week after broadcast. There is also a further repeat of this weeks episode at 14:00 Hrs on Saturday, October 29.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

TARDIS Tuesday: Deja View?

"Ain't nothing doing on TV (Summer repeats)" mused John Lennon in his song I'm Stepping Out and to be honest back in the 1970s that was very much the case when summer holidays came around.

However for several years Doctor Who fans were treat to the odd serial repeated from the previous Doctor Who season, usually on consecutive nights around 6.30pm on BBC1.

Such was the case in Summer 1980 when the previous season's Destiny Of The Daleks and City Of Death both got second showings, a treat for any Doctor Who fan who couldn't yet afford a video recorder!

City of Death written by the late great Douglas Adams is one of those stories I always enjoy featuring comic performances from both Tom Baker (The Doctor) and Tom Chadbon (Duggan) and the marvellous Julian Glover as Count Scarlioni/Scaroth.

The Daily Star obviously felt Doctor Who should be highlighted for essential viewing on this particular day (or was it just an excuse to print a photograph of the lovely Lalla Ward as Romana?)


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Doctor Who Past-Present: From The Brigadier to The Power Of Three

Tonight's episode of Doctor Who entitled The Power Of Three will trace The Doctor's relationship with Rory and Amy over the period of a year and how he frequently pops in and out of their lives whisking them away on adventures but as  they get older although time doesn't necessarily appear to move on.

Of Course Rory and Amy are not the first companions to be affected in this manner although usually The Doctor's journeys with friends have appeared to be continuous leading from one scenario to another.

In the classic series,  few regulars had the chance to return to The Doctor's adventures more than once, that is except UNIT regulars Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton.

The late Nicholas Courtney who portrayed The Brigadier made his debut as a Colonel in 1968's The Web of Fear before returning once again in The Invasion before making a permanent return in Spearhead From Space following The Doctor's exile to earth in the TV series at the beginning of 1970.

His final appearance in the Classic Doctor Who series was in 1989's Battlefield although he would resurrect the role of the Brig in several radio and TV spin-offs including The Sarah Jane Adventures.

The Brigadier was last mentioned when the Eleventh Doctor learned of his passing in last years The Wedding Of River Song. 

Check out The Power Of Three for a further Brigadier connection...

On Television: Dad's Army - Keep Young And Beautiful

Following a government move to exchange older Home Guard personnel with younger ARP members, Captain Mainwaring and his men take steps to not look so mature, with humorous results.

Dad's Army - Keep Young and Beautiful was the second episode of the fifth TV series originally broadcast on October 13, 1972.

TV viewers in Wales can catch the episode once again on BBC 2 this evening at 19:40 Hrs, please check TV listings for regional variations.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Badge Friday: Dilwyn Says: Don't Play With Fire!

Badges have always been great ambassadors for getting safety messages across to Joe Public.

This example from the 1970s/80s features the character Dilwyn The Dragon promoting the age old message to children not to play with fire!

These type of messages usually accompanied a visitor from a fire officer from the local fire brigade  to your primary school.

Perhaps you have a similar badge or have a Dilwyn badge - if so, and you can put a date on it please get in touch!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

On Radio: Dad's Army - Turkey Dinner

When Jones’ mistakenly shoots a turkey, the platoon put on a meal for the old folk, but peace and good will doesn’t go far in wartime…

The Dad’s Army episode Turkey Dinner was originally broadcast on BBC Radio in August 1976.

Dad’s Army is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra at 08:30Hrs, 12:30Hrs and 19:30Hrs and available to listen again on the BBC iPlayer for a week after broadcast.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Grandad's Century

Me with my Grandad around 1970
One hundred years ago today, my Grandfather, Albert Spence was born in West Witton, North Yorkshire. I find it significant to remember him because I frequently do and fondly at that.

He was probably the most positive male influence I had in my life when I was growing up, although saying that he certainly wasn't always right about everything but then again he wasn't always wrong neither.

He had lots of old fashioned Yorkshire values, he knew lots about plants, gardening  and birds and I wish I'd listened to him more. There are mainly positive memories I have of him now, not rose-tinted, but positive.

I only have to see an old episode of All Creatures Great and Small, a photograph of the Yorkshire Dales and my mind is taken back to a simpler time.

My most vivid  memories of him are the letters and sweet parcels he would send myself and my sister from his shop in the Yorkshire Dales, this would usually be accompanied by a copy of Pippin when I was small, then Beano as I got older while my sister usually got a Dandy.

He was my Grandad and I loved him very much and thankfully in life there are some things that never change, even when we are ultimately all separated .

He died in 1990, but his memory lingers on and is as fresh to my mind as ever. Happy Birthday Grandad.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

TARDIS Tuesday: When Doctor Who Became Doctor How

Showing there's life after Doctor Who, Peter Davison immediately signed up to front a TV programme called L-Driver on his departure from the series in 1984. As this article wryly pointed out Dr Who would become Dr How... indeed!

L-Driver was aimed at viewers whose first language wasn't English and was set to be part of the new line-up of the BBC's further education series in the autumn.

L- Driver of course was only a brief pit stop for Peter Davison. Further TV success was only around the corner playing a very different doctor in  A Very Peculiar Practice and a return to veterinary procedure in All Creatures Great and Small.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Mono Monday: I Can't Let Go by The Hollies

One of my favourite records from the 1960s has to be The Hollies version of Chip Taylor/Al Gorgini's I Can't Let Go, originally recorded by Evie Sands.

Reaching number two in 1966 this sums up everything great about 60s pop records. At just under two and a half minutes its the ideal length, has a fabulous guitar sound, close harmonies and even Paul McCartney one said that he thought that Graham Nash's "Baby Please" vocal was a horn. Its easy to see why, I also thought that until I read Paul's comment some years back!

There is a stereo version but this lacks the same power and energy of The Hollies mono original and the urgency of that opening jamming guitar chord and the terrific guitar solo.

Check it out!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Francis Rossi of Status Quo Interviewed

I recently had the pleasure of chatting to Francis Rossi of Status Quo who headlined Tawe Fest 's rock day at Singleton Park last month and are going on tour with Bonnie Tyler this Christmas.

The legendary Mr Rossi gave me a few insights into his career in music including a recollection of the Quo's debut hit Pictures of Matchstick Men“I’d written Matchstick Men , sang it in falsetto and it just became a huge hit. We were a rock band with a soul set and we had this psychedelic single.”

You can read at The South Wales Argus website!


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Doctor Who Past-Present: The Gunfighters to A Town Called Mercy

Tonight's Doctor Who episode sees The Doctor (Matt Smith) becoming a reluctant sheriff in the wild west under siege by a gun slinging cyborg in Toby Whitehouse's A Town Called Mercy.

Doctor Who and the wild west have rarely crossed paths, in fact The Doctor hasn't headed into cowboy territory since 1966 when the original Doctor (William Hartnell) got toothache and dropped into the OK Corrall to pay a visit to dentist Doc Holliday.

The Gunfighters, written by Donald Cotton when originally broadcast had a low audience appreciation rate and was regarded for many years as many fans least favourite Doctor Who serial. This however is a harsh criticism whether or not you like sixties Doctor Who or indeed westerns.

The Gunfighters is in itself a great story involving the use of Western legends Wyatt Earp, Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday and how The Doctor, Steven and Dodo become intentionally involved with the gun slinging feuds of the OK Corrall. There is humour in places, something I always see in Doctor Who, yet some fans refute shouldn't be intentionally there,check it out yourself and make your own mind up!

But before that, join The Doctor, Amy and Rory in a wild west epic with a difference tonight - gun slinging cyborgs are in town - can't wait!

On Television: Dad's Army - Come In Your Time Is Up

This week's Dad's Army episode repeat jumps forward a few years from last week's Asleep In the Deep (1972) to Come In Your time Is Up (1975).

When  a German Luftwaffe aircraft crew bail out into a nearby lake, Captain Mainwaring and his men intend to bring them in by fair means, However neither the German crew nor Warden Hodges believe in fair play.

Come In Your Time Is Up  will be broadcast at 19:35 hrs on BBC2 Wales – please check listings for regional variations.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Badge Friday: Heinz Baked Beans - 100 Not Out

Here's an interesting pin badge illustrating Heinz Baked Beans.

The slogan on it says 100 Not Out with a cartoon of a classic style Baked Bean tin brandishing a cricket bat!.

I'm a bit mystified as to what it means. An anniversary for Heinz perhaps? or did they sponsor a cricket team at any point?

Any light on this pin badge - year or decade would be much appreciated!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

On Radio: Dad's Army - Time On My Hands

When a German pilot becomes entangled on the town hall clock Captain Mainwaring and his men can’t wait to get to grips with the enemy – but they soon find they have a bigger problem to address in getting back down from the clock tower.

This Dad’s Army radio adaptation was originally broadcast in July 1976.

Dad’s Army is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra at 08:30Hrs, 12:30Hrs and 19:30Hrs and available to listen again on the BBC iPlayer for a week after broadcast.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

10 Things: Ten Instagram Images

Newport Wetlands Lighthouse
This month my old phone bit the dust and Rachel finally convinced me to get a new one. I'm still coming to terms with going from pay as you go to contract because I've never been a big fan of phones full stop. However one thing i do like about my new phone is the camera and I've managed to share a few pics over the last month on Instagram. I've reproduced a few of my favourites here - hope you like.

Newport Wetlands Wildlife Scene

Chocolate Medal awarded for designing a Wilts and Glos
Standard logo by the editor.

Chocolate cake celebrating my nephew's second birthday

New Series of Doctor Who on the cover of Radio Times
Portrait of Jon
With The Canary Dragon
Breakfast for Howejam30
Self Portrait
Ice Cold Newcastle Brown Ale

TARDIS Tuesday: Wot? No Police Box!

The TARDIS not a Police Box? Heaven forbid!

The arrival of Colin Baker as the sixth Doctor in 1984 co-incided with the news story that The Doctor himself was to lose his TARDIS, or more to the point the Police Box exterior which had been familiar to tv viewers by then for twenty years.

"Police Boxes are a a thing of the past" then Doctor Who producer John Nathan -Turner explained to The Sun's Charles Catchpole at the time, "I think the last  one in England went about four years ago and a whole generation of children has grown up believing the box to be a Tardis and nothing else."

The report continued that the box would be phased out during the next Doctor Who series with Colin Baker saying: "It's a shame but I take John's point. Originally the Tardis was supposed to blend in with its surroundings and when the show started there were police boxes all over the place".

Thankfully a public outcry made the production team rethink their decision and the following years story Attack of The Cybermen only featured a few failed attempts by The Doctor to change the TARDIS shape.

Nearly three decades on, The TARDIS still retains its trusty Police Box shape!


Monday, 10 September 2012

Mono Monday: Hush by Joe South

The passing of popular American singer/songwriter Joe South on September 5 at the age of 72 immediately brought to mind two great singles Joe recorded in the late 1960s.

South is of course best remembered for his 1969 country rock single Games People Play which peaked at No.6 in the UK singles chart. As great as that single is (always popular on my iPod) there is also his own version of Hush, a track he wrote for Deep Purple  and released twice as a single for the UK chart (first in 1969 and again 1970).

If ever the title of the one that got away should be applied to a record, Joe South's own rendition of Hush is surely deserved with guitar echo intro, a driven bass, catchy melody and rocking vocals, and yet despoite much airplay at the time (and its reissue) and championed by the likes of Radio 1 DJ Alan Freeman the record never charted.

Of course, Deep Purple took the rsong into the charts twice, though Joe South's remains the definitive version.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Review: Doctor Who - Dinosaurs On A Spaceship

"How do you start a Triceratops?" asks The Doctor in the latest Doctor Who episode Dinosaurs On A  Spaceship.

Good question! and surprisingly  not a situation The Doctor has encountered before in his 11 incarnations although he has brushed with dinosaurs before!

This new episode is awash with twists and turns with The Doctor and an assembled cast of friends including Queen Nefertiti, Edwardian explorer John Riddell and his good friends Amy and Rory (plus Rory's Dad) assembled to prevent an earthbound spaceship been blown out of the sky by the Indian Space Agency.

Not only is Chris Chibnall's story full of adventure there are some smiles along the way too, particularly delivered by Matt Smith's wonderful Doctor.

The Spaceship is not your average type of craft and as The Doctor soon discovers not only houses a variety of prehistoric creatures but two characteristically stupid robots and a sinister black marketeer.

With robots (voiced by Mitchell and Webb) akin to Hitch-Hikers and a well rounded ensemble of characters there is much to enjoy about Dinosaurs in a Spaceship as well as a throwback to some old Doctor Who villains. A scene in which The Doctor and his friends are chased by a swarm of Pterodactyls makes great viewing and Mark Williams (Rory's Dad) , Rupert Graves (Riddell) and Riann Steele (Nefertiti) lend strong and individual support to the well established Doctor, Rory and Amy team. David Bradley is also brilliantly unpleasant as Solomon although time constraints on the story obviously result in him showing his nasty side a bit quicker than would be expected.

However there's an unexpected twist at the end which makes you wonder if The Doctor is undergoing another change of persona...

If you want further prehistoric Doctor Who adventure be sure to check out Doctor Who and The Silurians and Doctor Who: Invasion Of The Dinosaurs.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

On Television: Dad's Army - Asleep in The Deep

The pumping station is hit by a bomb during an air raid. Captain Mainwaring and his platoon descend on the building to rescue Walker and Godfrey who were on duty at the time the bomb hit, but time is running out because a burst water pipe is gradually filling up the station...

Asleep In The Deep will be broadcast at 19:00 Hrs on BBC2 Wales – please check listings for regional variations.

The Return Of Dallas

I'll admit to tuning in with curiosity to the new series of Dallas on Wednesday evening. For a period of around five years in the early 80s I must have caught every episode that went out on BBC 1.

The interesting thing is from my memory it started off as a bit of a joke, as Terry Wogan used to constantly refer to it on his BBC Radio 2 Breakfast show. The South Fork Ranch based antics of the Oil Baron Ewing family Miss Ellie, Jock, Bobby, Pamela, Sue Ellen, J.R. and Lucy (the poisoned dwarf) were undoubtedly ideal blarney fodder for Mr Wogan to entertain his listeners with.

The huge sensationalism surrounding ta series finale with the shooting of J.R. Ewing contributed enormously to the series rise in popularity and the perfect excuse for the BBC to pull in ratings with a rerun. Even the BBC went to great pains to show the new series episodes arrive at Heathrow airport accompanied by security guards. And the truth? JR had been shot by the late Bing Crosby's daughter Mary AKA Kristin Shepard .

"Follow that J.R.!"

The series gained popular recognition here in the UK, even comedian Eddie Large who feature in The Little and Large Show used to end each weeks edition with the comment "Follow That J.R.!" as The Little and Large Show usually preceeded each weeks edition of Dallas.

Yes there seemed to be no stopping Dallas, even though casualties happened, the death of actor Jim Davis (who played Jock) Miss Ellie changing appearance for a season (Barbara Bel Geddes replaced by Donna Reed) , JR and Bobby making guest appearances in the show spin-off Knots Landing and oh yes Bobby getting shot and then a little later even killed.

Killed? I hear you cry, well not exactly, Bobby died then he didn't when Pam woke up from a year long slumber and dreamt a whole series climaxing with Bobby resurrected from the shower.

That's when I sort of fell out with Dallas, I didn't really follow the subsequent series but I was curious to see this weeks opening episode featuring a cast of younger actors and a few old faves.

Dallas: The Next Generation

It seems cousins (and J.R. and Bobby's offspring)  John Ross and Christopher are now doing all the work at SouthFork, Bobby's dying and J.R. is in an institution. Yep its the Dallas of old (but still cant work out how John Ross and Christopher are around ten years younger than they should be - hey thats American drama!).

There were some fun performances in the first episode of the new series (yes it was great to see Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman, back in their old roles as Bobby and J.R.) and some pretty good ones from young cast members Josh Henderson (John Ross), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher) and Jordana Brewster (Elena) (who was pretty cool in Chuck).

Can Dallas continue? Well there are already rumours of a second series and no doubt has an appeal to the newer fans as well as the old... stay tuned, y'hear!


Friday, 7 September 2012

An Interview with Pete Trewavas from Marillion

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Pete Trewavas, bass player with rock band Marillion.

The band famous for their 80s hits Kayleigh, Lavender and Incommunicado are still making big waves on the tour circuit and begin the UK leg of their 2012 tour in Cardiff on Sunday. They have also recently released a new album entitled Sounds That Cannot Be Made.

In his chat with me Pete recalled Marillion's chart glory days as well as discussing the bands new album. The interview was published in last weeks edition of the South Wales Argus but you can read the interview online now at The Argus website.

CD Review: Kimbra - Vows

Demonstrating she’s not just  the other voice on Gotye’s recent chart-topper Someone I Used To Know, Kimbra  has quickly followed up with the release of her first album.

Vows is as eclectic as it is well-produced, allowing Kimbra to demonstrate twelve varying vocal styles and arrangements.

Among the highlights the album opener Settle Down features a neat mixture of jazzy vocals fused with melodic bass riffs while the incredibly catchy Cameo Lover is a delightful 60s wall of sound inspired pop .

The heart felt soulful live performance of Plain Gold Ring  displays that even Kimbra is capable of giving Adele a run for her money while theres pure 80s while the album finale Warrior is a wondrous nod to 80s electro pop. An impressive debut.

Badge Friday: I Love Buttons

This weeks Badge Friday originates from Rachel's collection.

This one delves into the wonderful world of panto and depicts a very familiar character.

I'm assuming I Love Buttons comes from a production of Cinderella. 

Can anyone out there identify where and what year?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

On Radio: Dad's Army - The Cricket Match

Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe) and his men are challenged to a cricket match by the Wardens, however the captain is unaware that the Wardens have a secret weapon in their ranks…

The radio episode The Cricket Match is Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles rewrite of Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s Dad’s Army television episode The Test and was originally broadcast on BBC Radio in July 1976.

Dad’s Army is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra at 08:30Hrs, 12:30Hrs and 19:30Hrs and available to listen again on the BBC iPlayer for a week after broadcast.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

CD Review: Luke Ritchie - The Waters Edge

Although not strictly retro, singer/songwriter Luke Ritchie certainly adopts a classic approach to his music and has a sound that will no doubt hold much longevity.

Few songwriters can rise to a challenge of writing one song a week for six months, yet little over two years ago that is exactly what singer songwriter Luke Ritchie did. Gaining a huge following via the internet, Ritchie signed to Angel Falls Records and recorded 11 tracks over two snowy weeks in Scotlandearlier this year.

The result is The Waters Edge produced by Paul Savage is a gloriously catchy and sometimes gritty collection of folk rock from the rough and ready Shanty to the beautiful Northern Lights.

The Waters Edge is an album that deserves repeated play.

TARDIS Tuesday: A Foot In The TARDIS Door

News of Peter Davison's departure from Doctor Who in late 1983 hit the headlines with much speculation as to who would be his replacement.

The Sun's Cartoonist Bernard Cookson was quick to nominate a suitable replacement for Peter Davison in the form of Labour Party politician Michael Foot.

Foot, who was known for his eccentric looks and long white hair was indeed a throwback to the original Doctor, the late William Hartnell as this cartoon illustrated...

I'd be interested in finding other depictions of The Doctor featured in newspaper cartoons over the decades - if you have any I can feature please get in touch...

Monday, 3 September 2012

Richard Hawley Presents A Celebration Of The Shadows On BBC Radio 2

The Shadows are getting some long overdue recognition for their roles as rock n roll pioneers on BBC Radio 2 tonight in a one hour documentary presented by Richard Hawley entitled Out Of The Shadows.

As well as regularly backing Cliff Richard on many of his recordings during the first decade of his musical career The Shad's formed a career as a chart act in their own right notching up no less than five UK Number Ones between 1960 and 1963.

Almost 50 years after the release of their second album Out of the Shadows, this radio documentary retells their story and goes some way as to explaining why George Harrison once said "No Shadows, No Beatles"

Out Of The Shadows is broadcast on BBC Radio 2 this evening at 10 O Clock, it will be available to listen again on iPlayer for up to a week after broadcast.

More Information: BBC Radio 2 Website

More Shadows posts: 
Mono Monday: The Shadows
The First Record I Bought
Jet Harris MBE 1939-2011
Jet Harris - The Shadows Premier Bass Guitarist
The Shadows Debut Album - 50 Years On

Mono Monday: Michael Holliday - The Story Of My Life

The news of the passing of American lyricist Hal David at the age of 91 on September 1st has no doubt got people thinking of many of the fabulous records he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach in the 1950s and 60s, yet The Story of My Life Recorded by Marty Robbins in the US and Michael Holliday in the UK would be their first number one.

Holliday's rendition is a very laid back affair with "ba bom bom" backing vocals aplenty, but not far removed from the stars sound. Holliday himself was a popular TV personality of the 50s although his private life was far from straightforward but well documented over the years.

The Story of My Life was Mike's first number one in 1958, (Starry Eyed would be his second in 1960) and would ultimately be knocked of the UK top spot by another Bacharach/David composition Magic Moments (recorded by Perry Como).

Mike's version of The Story Of My Life (produced by Norrie Paramor) also thought off several other versions for the top spot by Alma Cogan, Guy Mitchell, Gary Miller and Dave King.


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunday Afternoon

The boys taking a dive at The Stonehouse last Sunday while the girls were at Tawe Festival.

Bygraves Giving Maximum Entertainment

Advert for Max Bygraves
album - 1970s
Its been nice to hear so many warm tributes to the late Max Bygraves (who died on August 31, aged 89) from the likes of Jimmy Tarbuck and Ken Dodd.

As well as been a popular singer, Max was also an actor and entertainer from appearing on radio in the 50s in Educating Archie to fronting his own TV series in the 70s SingalongaMax.

My Max memories go back to a single 45 given to me as a child from my Mum of a 1964 release of Christmas Dream/Jingle Bells on Lantern Records. I always used to look forward to playing this at Christmas because it was the only record I owned for several years!

I also remember watching Max's TV series SingalongaMax with my Grandad, which also featured appearances from Geoff Love who recorded all those great themes albums on Music For Pleasure.

I also remember a boss of mine been really excited about going to see Max in Darlington back in the 80s and coming into work the following day steaming jealous because allegedly Mr Bygraves had made eyes at his wife while singing a song on stage, needless to say it gave me plenty to laugh about for weeks afterwards.

Then there was the charity shop in Dursley (where I worked for several years) who decorated their windows with several hundred copies of Max LP Singalongawaryears, guaranteeing a permanent fundraising presence for years to come...

A star performer undoubtedly who never failed to raise a smile...

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Doctor Who: Travels In Time - Asylum Of The Daleks

Recently meeting a Dalek
at Tredegar House!
Today Doctor Who returns to our TV screens – not only in the UK but in the US too! So I'm going to attempt to cull together some random thoughts on Doctor Who's history with a linking theme to that particular days episode. It could work... it might go badly wrong, yet this week I'd be daft not to try lots can be said about The Daleks...

Asylum of The Daleks features Matt Smith as The Doctor pitted against pretty much every Dalek the Doctor has encountered in his near half century TV history!

“Surely a Dalek is a Dalek” I hear you cry, a pepper pot with a whisk, a sink plunger  and several tennis balls stuck on it … or that’s close enough to the description late Doctor Number 3 Jon Pertwee used to offer of them.

The Daleks created by Terry Nation and designed by Raymond P Cusick entered the British public’s conscience in 1963 with the second Doctor Who serial The Mutants AKA The Dead Planet AKA Doctor Who and the Daleks AKA Doctor Who In an Exciting Adventure with The Daleks.

A first glimpse of the metal meanies was at the concluding moments of an episode when The Doctors assistant Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) was menaced by what appeared to be a sink plunger. We didn't see the full form of a Dalek until the next episode when the Doctor (William Hartnell) his granddaughter Susan (Carole Anne Ford) and Ian (William Russell) were surrounded by the metal meanies.

That moment remains one of the most magical meetings in TV history, particularly as Hartnell’s Doctor remains defiant of his new enemies.

Yet there is something magical about each rematch too. A Dalek descending from the depths of the Thames in Worlds End, the third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) restrained on a stretcher as The Daleks force him to be identified in Day of The Daleks, a return to their beginnings and an encounter with their creator in Genesis of The Daleks and the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) faced with apparently the last Dalek survivor in Dalek.

As a child I wanted to own a Dalek! The closest I got was my purchase of a Talking Dalek of which I found in a supermarket in Ripon in 1982 when returning from a school trip. I had enough money to purchase this gem for £2.99. I still have him, bright red but no longer talks.

My wife and children rectified this a few years ago when they got me a remote control talking Dalek for Christmas, more awesome than the original talking Dalek this really did have a life of its own!

Even now I get excited at the prospect of seeing Daleks be they at exhibitions or guest appearances at random fetes, not all are totally true to the original design and are usually variations of the theme, just like the evolution on the TV series!

But the magic’s still there – particularly whenever I hear the familiar cry of EX-TER-MIN-ATE!

On Television: Dad's Army - Fallen Idol

When the Platoon go away on a training weekend Captain Mainwaring’s (Arthur Lowe) leadership qualities are called into question and put to the test by fellow commanding officers.

Interesting to think that Fallen Idol could have ultimately been the last ever episode of Dad's Army when it was broadcast in 1970. The series was followed up the following year with a film version and no new TV episode would be broadcast until Christmas 1971, (the series was later brought back in 1972).

Fallen Idol  will be broadcast at 19:30 hrs on BBC2 Wales – please check listings for regional variations.


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