Sunday, 29 December 2013

Events In Pictures: Beauty And The Beast Pantomime at Newport Riverfont

Heres a funny little picture I found of myself and Seren getting into character at Newport Riverfront's Beauty and The Beast earlier this month.

Beauty and The Beast continues at The Riverfront until January 5. For full information on ticket prices call box office on (01633) 656757

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Dad's Army Memorabilia: The Dad's Army Annual 1975

Dad's Army Annual 1975
Published in Great Britain, World Distributors, 1974
90 pence, SBN 7235 0236 3, 80 pages

The 1975 edition of the Dad's Army Annual is the last to feature the character of Private Walker.

The usual balance of stories and cartoon strips interspersed with features on the Second World War make yet another fine offering from World Distributors.

The front cover featured an illustration of Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson and Lance-Corporal Jones.

The rear cover features a combined photo/ illustration of the cast stood behind sandbags.

Text Stories
Operation Evacuees
Down On The Farm
The Riding Lesson
Midnight Marauders
Take Shelter
The Social Evening
Ready Steady Blow!
he Captain's Lucky Day

Cartoon Strip Stories:
Sausage and Bash
Enemy Invasion

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas Show Reviews and Interviews: Silly Kings

Picture courtesy of
Farrows Creative / National Theatre Wales
Last weekend I took the children to see National Theatre Wales presentation of Terry Jones' Silly Kings...

"Ideally situated in the atmospheric grounds of Cardiff Castle, Silly Kings is a medieval comedy with more than a few hints of modernism and Monty Pythonesque humour. 
Performed in the round, the production immediately pulls the audience into a world featuring  a feisty but very pretty princess, four crazy knights, an angry fairy, a dragon (of sorts), a dashing prince and a very Silly King.


Picture courtesy of
Farrows Creative / National Theatre Wales
The production features all the hallmarks of great entertainment told through drama, music and energetically choreographed comic antics, with more than a hint and a healthy nod to the Monty Python team..."


National Theatre Wales presents Silly Kings at Cardiff Castle until January 4 2014 Contact the Box Office: nationaltheatrewales.org / WMC 029 2063 6464 for further details.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas Show Reviews and Interviews - Singin In The Rain, Wales Millennium Centre

The MGM film classic Singin' In The Rain has always been a favourite and the current stage musical is also a big hit, here's my review from earlier this month and an interview with steps star Faye Tozer who plays Lina Lamont in the show...

Singin' In The Rain, Wales Millennium Centre

"It’s the Hollywood Boulevard Singin’ In The Rain sequence, complete with real rain and the Technicolour recreation of Broadway Ballet that really give this show its wow factor, and plenty of laughs for the whole family..."

Read my review for Singin' In The Rain


Faye Tozer on Singin' In The Rain: “I’ve been blown away by the audience reaction while the audience have been blown away by the quality of the show.They’ve really gone all out to make it a visual spectacular and I’m just very proud to be part of it"

Read my interview with Faye Tozer

Singin' in the Rain runs until 5 January 2014. Tickets range from £19 to £47.50. Concessions available. Tickets are now on sale. To book, or for further information please visit wmc.org.uk or call 02920 63 6464.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Dad's Army Episode Guide: The Complete Television Series 2

The Following episodes of Dad's Army were broadcast on BBC1 on Saturday evenings between  1 March - 5 April 1969. All were made in Black and White.

Operation Kilt (1 March 1969) 
A training exercise leads the platoon to victory and uncovers the dreaded secret of what a Scotsman keeps under his kilt.

The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage (8 March 1969) 
The sound of the church bells sparks off an invasion scare for Captain Mainwaring and as he, Jones, Frazer and Godfrey take up their defence post at Godfrey's cottage they discover it pays to know your enemy.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker (15 March 1969) 
Private Walker is to be drafted into the regular army and even Mainwaring's attempts to prevent it are futile, until its discovered the lovable spiv has an unusual allergy. This episode is currently missing from the BBC archive.

Sergeant Wilson's Little Secret (22 March 1969) 
Mrs. Pike is to have a new arrival much to Sgt Wilson's surprise, but all is not as it seems.

A Stripe For Frazer (29 March 1969) 
Frazer becomes an equal rank to Corporal Jones which spells trouble for the platoon until Captain Square arrives. This episode is currently missing from the BBC archive, although an audio recording of the tv episode is known to exist.

Under Fire (5 April 1969) 
The Platoon uncover what appears to be a German spy... but face an embarrassing outcome. This episode is currently missing from the BBC archive.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Show Reviews and Interviews: Beauty and The Beast, Newport Riverfront

Elin Llwyd
This years panto at Newport Riverfront is Beauty and The Beast, I caught up with the cast in late November for four interviews and reviewed the show with my family earlier this month...

Beauty and The Beast, Newport Riverfront

"Last years Riverfront panto Robin Hood was always going to be a tough act to follow,  but the cast and crew have struck gold yet again..."

Read my review for Beauty and The Beast

Lee Mengo on  Beauty and The Beast: "“Its complete panto, I think some people might expect the Disney version of Beauty and The Beast but you won’t get that! There are a couple of original songs in there, which is really nice. Lots of different stuff going on, but its still panto."

Read my interview with Lee Mengo

Richard Elis
Richard Elis on Beauty and The Beast"In this one I'm lucky enough to be doing an old music-hall routine that Norman Wisdom and Bruce Forsyth did. It’s really gentle and important to show the younger audience that you don’t need lights, smoke and lasers all the time. Its just two blokes, two planks and a ladder and that lasts for 7 minutes, it holds the attention.”

Read my interview with Richard Elis

Rob Vernon on Beauty and The Beast: "Challenging for me is the choreography, I’m like Rocky. I’m in training on my own just to be passable. Then they’ll go “he was alright” and I’ll go “I worked at that!””

Read my interview with Rob Vernon

Elin Llwyd on Beauty and The Beast: "“The amount of times I've told people what the panto is this year and they’ve returned with “Oh, are you playing The Beast? I reply with “No I'm actually playing Beauty” I feel awkward then! It’s quite nice really, who wouldn’t want to dress up in pretty dresses and have fun?”


Beauty and The Beast continues at The Riverfront until January 5. For full information on ticket prices visit https://nccsec.newport.gov.uk/tickets/ or call box office on (01633) 656757 


Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: It's Cliff Richard

Years before Cliff dominated the Christmas pop charts with number one hits, you could usually find him on our TV screens at some point in the Yuletide season either guesting or hosting a seasonal TV special.

1971 found Cliff fronting the first of a new series of his variety music show It's Cliff Richard with guests Olivia Newton John, Labi Siffre, The Flirtations and The New Seekers.

There was also a special guest appearance from Till Death Us Do Part's Dandy Nicholls, no doubt on hand to give Cliff a sharp telling off for replacing series regular Una Stubbs (Nicholls' screen daughter in Till Death) with Olivia Newton John, due to Stubbs recent departure as she was due to give birth to her son Christian on Christmas Day!

I hope you've enjoyed our trawl over various programmes on BBC Radio and TV over the last 24 days... may i take this opportunity to wish all readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2014!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Jack Warner Entertains

PC George Dixon AKA Jack Warner recalled a long career in Radio and television with a one off special Jack Warner Entertains during Christmas week 1978.

As well as Jack recalling his wartime radio experiences and his creation Reg he resurrected the Ordinary Copper one final time for a one off drama entitled The Spirit of Christmas Past. 

The progrramme was supported by a wonderful illustration by Roy Knipe in Radio Times.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Waggoners Walk

Back in the 1970s, two soaps dominated the BBC Radio airwaves. Radio 4's The Archers had already been in existence since the early 1950s and still is still going strong in 2013 while Radio 2's Waggoners Walk born from a play in 1969 had a much shorter life span ceasing to be in 1980.

I actually have some vague memories of hearing later episodes of this show during the Summer of 1979, although what the episodes were about I really cant recall, the shows hardcore story lines evidently flying over my head (although there was a dog called Skip I remember!).

Anyhow back in 1971, The Nash family at No.1 Waggoners Walk were celebrating Christmas. I can't really say anything else beyond that, Radio Times doesn't divulge anything except the time of broadcast, cast list and a Christmas Family photograph...

What was in Mike Nash's (Edward Cast) Christmas Cracker I wonder?

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Steptoe and Son

Steptoe and Son has usually ranked highly on BBC and Gold schedules over the years with the 1973 and 1974 Christmas hows getting regular festive airings.

Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's comedy grew in prominence between 1962 and 1967, with the demand for new colour episodes high enough by 1970 both Harry H Corbett and Wilfred Brambell resurrected their roles for further series,

Strictly the episode that got shown on December 21, 1970 entitled Cuckoo In The Nest is not a Christmas episode but remains one of their best, as Harold discovers he may have a half-brother...




Dad's Army Memorabilia: The Dad's Army Annual 1974

Dad's Army Annual 1974
published in Great Britain, World Distributors, 1973
SBN: 7235 0209 9, 80 Pages

The book illustrations are an improvement in this edition and again colour photograph's are used to illustrate the front and rear covers, this time from the TV series.

Mrs. Mainwaring, notable for never been seen in the tv series appears in the story Mum's Army - not an adaptation of the TV episode from 1970!

Text Stories: 
Horror for Hodges
The Regimental Mascot
Mum's Army
The Official Inspection
Sealed Instructions
A Ghoul on the Loose
Dad's Army Joins the Navy

Cartoon Strip Stories: 
Jones Saves the Day
The Great Defenders

Friday, 20 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: If It's Wednesday It Must Be...

Kenneth Robinson, Kenny Everett and Vivian Stanshall were joined by Lady June and Miles Kingston for a midweek medley of music, humour and comment on December 20, 1972 in If It's Wednesday It Must Be...

Radio never had it so good...

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: The Last Apollo

Today's Those Radio Times Advent Calendar revisits December 19 1972 and Apollo 17's splashdown after landing humans on the moon for the sixth time on BBC1, some 11 days after blast off.

News of the Apollo missions was a big deal in the early 1970s with much airtime given over to programmes such as The Last Apollo fronted by James Burke about the space programme.

This particular programme preceded a 60s show made by Frank Sinatra, so Uncle Sam certainly had a hold on the early evening BBC programming.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Pick Of The Sporting Year 1976

Today's Those Radio Times Advent calendar takes us back to BBC Radio 2's Pick Of The Sporting Year 1976 when Desmond Lynam took listeners through the years sporting highlights.

Amongst those featured were Olympic medals for swimmer David Wilkie at Montreal, John Curry skating at Innsbruck and motor sport victories for James Hunt and Barry Sheene.

Dad's Army Episode Guide: The Complete Television Series 1

The Following episodes of Dad's Army were broadcast on BBC1 on Wednesday evenings between  31 July - 11 September 1968. All were made in Black and White.

The Man and The Hour (31 July 1968)
It's May 1940; Sir Anthony Eden makes his announcement to the nation that a new home defence is to be formed for which to defend Britain's homes - the Local Defence Volunteers. 

Museum Piece (7 August 1968) 
The LDV attempt to requisition some antiquated war weapons from the Peabody museum but are continually thwarted by it's caretaker, which happens to be Corporal Jones father!

Command Decision (14 August 1968) 
Captain Mainwaring has to make an important decision,should he stand down and let Captain Square join the LDV in order that they can be armed with Square's own rifles?

The Enemy Within the Gates (28 August 1968) 
Captain Mainwaring has a run in with a Polish commander, while German parachutists are captured by Jones, Pike and Walker.

The Showing Up of Corporal Jones (4 September 1968) 
Corporal Jones has to prove he is fit enough to stay within the Home Guard by completing an assault course in 12 minutes.

Shooting Pains (11 September 1968) 
The platoon have to prove their worth by correctly using their firearms, as none of them are very capable, they enlist the help of a showgirl!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: The Caine Mutiny

The Caine Mutiny starring Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson and Fred MacMurray was the All Time Greats feature film shown on BBC1 on December 17, 1972.

Set during World War II on a US Navy Destroyer Minesweeper the film follows the cort-martial of two officers following a  mutiny on the ship.

The 1954 film is alleged to have given Bogart fan Maurice Micklewhite the inspiration for his stage name Michael Caine.


Monday, 16 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Saturday-Night Theatre

Its back to BBC Radio 4's Saturday-Night Theatre presentation of Eyes of the Buddha by Victor Pemberton on December 16, 1972.

Starring David Spenser and John Westbrook the story follows Paul de Vries who comes from one of Ceylon's oldest Colonnial families, but has been brought up in England. He now works in an architects office. His father died two years previously but has been receiving letters from the dead man asking him to return to his birth land..

A play from the prolific pen of Victor Pemberton who also wrote the Doctor Who adventure Fury From The Deep.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Ed and Zed!

In today's Those Radio Times Advent Calendar it's back to Saturday December 19, 1970 for the last in the Saturday lunchtime series Ed and Zed!

No doubt a forerunner for all those Saturday morning shows such as Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and Tiswas that appeared later in the decade, this programme was fronted by a popular Radio 1 DJ Ed Stewart and a rebellious robot called Zed.

Guests in today's show, were Peter Noone with Herman's Hermits and Roger Spear's Giant Kinetic Wardrobe as well as a clip from Disney's Fantasia.

Ed and Zed parted company after this series of shows never to be united on TV again, similarly Peter Noone split with the original Herman's Hermits line-up in 1971 for a solo career.

It was indeed the end of an era!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Dad's Army Memorabilia: The Dad Army Annual 1973

Dad's Army Annual 1973
Published in Great Britain, World Distributors, 1972
SBN: 7235 0142 4, 80 Pages

Between 1973 and 1977 World Distributors produced 6 annuals based on the Dad's Army TV Series.

Each book featured new all original text and comic strip stories documenting the adventures of Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard frequently accompanied by high quality illustrations.

The 1973 Annual is thoroughly illustrated inside with text stories, cartoon strips and articles on the Second World War. Of particular interest is an introduction to the series characters which gives an insight of their backgrounds.

The Front and rear cover feature three publicity stills from the Dad's Army movie .

The Text stories are well illustrated in places, but obviously as more than one artist worked on the book, quality suffers (notably the cartoon strips!).

Text Stories:
Which Way To Walmington?
Parachute Invasion
The Anti-Jerry Device
Souped-up Tactics!
The Platoon on Manoeuvres
False Alarm!
The New Recruits

Cartoon Strip Stories:
Guerilla Warfare
Invasion

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: The Time Of My Life and Unique Hancock

Kenneth Williams was a regular contributor to the world of radio during his career, in fact its possibly easy to say radio was his forte.

Not only did regularly appear on numerous radio series such as Round The Horne, Hancock's Half Hour and Just a Minute but he sometimes became the subject of programmes too.

Such was the case on December 23, 1973 when he recalled his army experiences in The Time of My Life for BBC Radio 4.

Later that same evening, he along with Sid James, Bill Kerr, Hattie Jacques and Ray Galton & Alan Simpson recalled working with Tony Hancock in Unique Hancock, a broadcast which coincided with an album release of the same name.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: The Chaplin Revue

Charlie Chaplin fans had something to get excited about in 1972 when BBC1 ran a season of full-length films beginning in the Christmas season featuring the great silent film star.

The series commenced with a TV first. The Chaplin Revue featured  two shorts Shoulder Arms (1918) and The Pilgrim (1922), both of which were well over 50 years old when the BBC acquired the rights to show them.

Charlie Chaplin, like Laurel and Hardy was a popular TV filler well into the 1980s with regular showings of short films, either usually on weekends or over holidays, despite the age of colour television!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Askey and Murdoch's Hall Of Fame

The early days of radio comedy made household names of several comedians but perhaps none more so than Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch.

Fronting the radio series Bandwaggon the pairs fictitious home in the rooftop of London's BBC Broadcasting House became a reality to many listeners.

On December 26, 1978, the pair were invited to remember the stars of radio's golden era in conversation with Barry Took in Askey & Murdoch's Hall Of Fame on BBC Radio 4. Among those featured in the hour long programme on BBC Radio 4 were Flanagan & Allan, George Formby and Max Miller.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: The Beatles At Christmas

Retrospace'  Those Radio Times Advent Calendar continues today with a Christmas season of movies from 1979 starring the Fab Four John, Paul, George and Ringo!

Beatles fans were actually spoilt this particular festive season as from December 21 onwards as all The Beatles films including Magical Mystery Tour, Help!, The Beatles at Shea Stadium, Yellow Submarine, A Hard Days Night and Let It Be were broadcast on BBC2 over the Christmas holiday.

Many of the films had received regular showings on the BBC during the 1970s, but following John Lennon's assassination the following year (in which Help! was hastily scheduled on BBC1 as a tribute) the films were shown less frequently.

In recent years A Hard Days Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine have all gained repeats. Let It Be has not been repeated since a rock season on BBC2 in the early 80s while The Beatles at Shea Stadium has not been shown since 1979.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Sounds of the 70s

Sounds of the 70s is one of Radio 2's most popular shows looking back at the music of the 1970s presented every Sunday afternoon by Johnnie Walker. But, back at the beginning of the 1970s the title was used for another show focusing on the new up and coming sounds of the day

This week in 1970 Stuart Henry hosted the show with music from Bridget St John and Raymond Froggatt.

Back in the present day, maybe Johnnie Walker could give Bridget and Raymond  a spin once again on future shows of the current series?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Star Trek

In today's Those Radio Times Advent Calendar its back to December 9, 1970 for an episode of Star Trek starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

Although Operation Annihilate! was brand new to UK audiences it had been originally broadcast in the United States in April 1967.

Subsequently Star Trek was cancelled aby its makers NBC at the beginning of 1969, months before it premiered on British TV.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Danny Kaye

The Those Radio Times Advent Calendar continues today with a documentary on American entertainer and film star Danny Kaye broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on December 6,1975.

The first in a new series called aptly The Entertainers looked at Danny's long and varied career...

Such documentaries of this kind were quite commonplace in the 70s and made a welcome appearance on radio, even if the subject matter was largely known for screen appearances.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Blue Peter

As a child growing up in the 70s I was all to familiar with John Noakes assignments on Blue Peter and this particular moment originally broadcast on December 7, 1970 was especially memorable.

If someone needed to demonstrate fee-fall parachuting with the RAF or have a go at bobsleighing, John was usually on hand with an even more daring camera crew to keep younger viewers on the edge of their seats with real-life escapades.

On this occasion John climbed 300 feet up Fulham power station to do a paint job and without a safety harness! There must have been an easier way to make a living?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Night Ride Apollo 17 Special

It was an exciting night on December 6, 1972, if you were staying up really late with BBC Radio 2.

Just past midnight, (okay, technically this is December 7) Night Ride presented by Keith Skues was an Apollo Special listening in on Man's sixth and final blast off of the decade from Cape Kennedy to the moon on Apollo 17.

Then again, if you'd bothered to stay up, the chances are you were watching this on BBC1...


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Dixon Of Dock Green

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar winds back some 43 years to December 5, 1970 today to an episode of the classic police series Dixon of Dock Green entitled Shadows.

Resurrected for television after a fatal gunshot wound courtesy of Dirk Bogarde in the film The Blue Lamp, Jack Warner's PC George Dixon was given his own television series which ran for 21 years from 1955 to 1976.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: The Monday Play

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar continues today with an example of the wonderful world of radio drama, this time from December 4, 1972.

Journalist, raconteur and writer Simon Raven had a long and varied career in films, books and television screenplays. Here is an example of his radio work that went out in BBC Radio 4's The Monday Play series called Salvation Island.

Nigel Stock played Millionaire James Wingham whose purchase of a remote pacific island  was his personal survival policy against worldwide catastrophe.

Simon told Radio Times:"It's about this millionaire who does just that, and all the administrative problems hes faced with, I mean you have to stock up your shelter, and I suppose you get kitted out at Fortnum's.. or do you?"

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Softly, Softly: Task Force

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar continues today with some BBC1 drama from December 3, 1975 in the shape of Softly, Softly: Task Force.

Softly, Softly: Task Force was a spin off from the original Softly, Softly series which ran from 1966 to 1969, that in turn was a spin off from Z Cars which not only starred Frank Windsor but also Stratford Johns.

Frank Windsor starred as John Watt in todays episode Blind Alley by Elwyn Jones.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Stars on 45RPM: Sounds of 1979 with Sparks and Lene Lovich

Although picture sleeves were commonplace around the world for 45RPM singles during the 1960s they were pretty rare in the UK. Infact picture sleeves on UK singles didnt become commonplace until the mid to late 70s.

Here are two singles from 1979...

Lene Lovich - Say When

Lene Lovich: Say When / One Lonely Heart, Stiff BUY46

Say When was Lene Lovich's follow up to her UK smash Lucky Number

With a look of a 1920s film starlet and distinctive sounding energetic records Lene was definitely one of the most interesting female singers around in 1979.

Say When only peaked at No.19 in the UK chart but was a popular airplay hit at the time (and no doubt sold a lot more records back then that it would even take to get to Number One now).

The Sleeve for Say When comes with some really funky dance moves on the reverse (a good two decades before Steps were doing such things on their CD singles).Clearly a lady well ahead of her time!

For more on Lene visit the Lene Lovich Official Website

Sparks - Beat The Clock

Sparks: Beat The Clock/ Alternative Mix, Virgin VS270

I became aware of Sparks in 1974 as a 6 year old watching the band perform This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us on Top Of The Pops.

Brothers Ron and Russell Mael intelligent lyrics mixed with energetic delivery from Russell and the somewhat comical deadpan reaction disinterest from keyboard player Ron of the pop pandemonium descending around him made comical viewing to my eyes.

The pair had a brief revival in the UK charts in 1979 with Beat The Clock a Giorgio Moroder produced disco track with an imaginative pop video featuring lots of the bands charisma, and it still sounds great today.

More on Sparks: The Official Website

 

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: Desert Island Discs: Adelaide Hall

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar continues today with a BBC Radio 4 listing from Saturday December 2 1972...

Jazz Singer Adelaide Hall was Roy Plomley's guest in today's Desert Island Discs, among her choices were Malcolm Roberts, Morecambe and Wise, Noel Coward, Moira Anderson, Shirley Bassey and Peter Skellern. The Lords Prayer by Mahalia Jackson was her castaway choice.

Listen to an excerpt from the programme at The Desert Island Discs archive.

Adelaide would be a castaway on the programme a second time in 1991.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Those Radio Times Advent Calendar: North and South

Welcome to Retrospace's Those Radio Times Advent Calendar in which we take a look at TV or Radio programmes broadcast the BBC between December 1 and December 25 during the 1970s.

Some of these shows may be long forgotten while others maybe cosily familiar... if you have any memories of them please leave a comment!

December 1 1975 saw the first in episode in a four part adaptaion by David Turner of Mrs Gaskell's North and South on BBC2.

Rosalind Shanks played Margaret Hale while other cast members included Patrick Stewart (years before Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Ian Marter (Doctor Who's Harry Sullivan).

Chrysalis Release Ultravox Album Collection

Ultravox
On November 26, Chrysalis Records released Ultravox – ‘The Albums 1980-2012’.

Seminal electro pioneers Ultravox emerged from the new wave & new romantic scenes of the late 1970s and went on to have great commercial success in the 80s with frontman Midge Ure at the helm. Achieving four Top Ten studio albums plus a triple platinum greatest hits collection, Ultravox also delivered massive hit singles such as ‘Hymn’, ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, ‘The Voice’, ‘Reap The Wild Wind’, ‘Love’s Great Adventure’, ‘We Came To Dance’ and of course their timeless classic ‘Vienna’.

The box set features the eight Midge Ure fronted Ultravox albums; studio albums Vienna (1980), Rage in Eden (1981), Quartet (1982), live album Monument (1983) - recorded at Hammersmith Odeon, London, during the band’s ‘Monument’ tour of 1982 - and studio albums Lament (1984) and U-Vox (1986), all remastered by Steve Rooke at Abbey Road Studios.  

Live album Return to Eden (2009) features their first recorded gig in 24 years with the classic Ultravox line-up – Midge Ure, Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann – who hadn’t played together since Live Aid in 1985, recorded live at the Roundhouse, London (on April 30th 2009) and finally Brilliant (2012), their latest studio album (again featuring the classic line-up), released after a hiatus of almost three decades.

This new 9 CD package is housed in a clamshell box, and is available in time for the UK tour dates which see Ultravox join Simple Minds on a major UK arena tour.

 

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Retro Vinyl: Hey Jude/Hey Bing! - Bing Crosby (London Records,1968)

Hey Jude/Hey Bing!
London Records
This LP from 1968 finds Der Bingle getting down with the hipsters and turning out renditions of popular songs of the day including Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell), Those Were The Days (Mary Hopkin), The Straight Life (Bobby Goldsboro) and Hey Jude! (The Beatles).

Much has been written about this LP on the internet. It certainly doesnt appear to be regarded as one of Bing's high points, particularly for his apparent lack of enthusiasm for the title track Hey Jude!. I've given this find a few spins in recent weeks and I have to be honest - I quite like it!

It's fair to say Bing's voice is maturer than a few decades earlier (he was well into his 60s by the time he recorded this) but there still seems to be a sense of fun in performances of songs such as Livin' On Lovin' and Little Green Apples and sentimentality in Both Sides Now and Those Were The Days.

Bing's cover of the fab four's Hey Jude opens the album, and its not a bad version. In fact when you get to the chorus he just offers his traditional "Bom, Bom Bom Bom B Bom Bom" in true Crosby fashion. Some people might suggest that Bing isn't really that enthusiastic with his delivery here, I suggest this is just the legendary crooner putting his own mark on the song, and I'm even thinking he had a mischievous twinkle in his eye when he did it...

Co-incidentally Bing covers the first two singles released on The Beatles Apple Records label, Hey Jude and Mary Hopkin's Those Were The Days on this album.

Hey Jude/Hey Bing has never had an official CD release and I see Amazon have MP3 versions of the album although these appear to have been dubbed at the wrong speed. So its a dig through the charity shops I'm afraid... happy hunting!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Stars on 45RPM: Columbia Records Easy Listening Stars Of The 1950s

Here's two recent charity shop finds on the UK Columbia Records label...
Nina and Frederik - EP Columbia, 1959
Nina And Frederik EP (SG7926) 1959
Danish-Dutch Popular music duo of the late 50s and early 60s Nina and Frederik cornered a market in folk, calypsos and Christmas standards. 

This early EP release was released in late summer of 1959, so no Christmas songs in sight although Listen To The Ocean would appear as a single within months. Contains a great version of Oh Sinner Man!

Norrie Paramor - Marianina/Enchanted April, Columbia 1958
Norrie Paramor and His Orchestra: Enchanted April (The Olive Grove) / Marianina (DB 4229) 1958

Despite producing Number One hit records for Cliff Richard, The Shadows and Frank Ifield among others during the 1950s and 60s Norrie Paramor also recorded several records with his Orchestra in his own right.

Enchanted April/ Marianina was released in December 1959. Although the single didn't chart the A-Side was picked as one of trumpeter Eddie Calvert's Desert Island Discs when he appeared on the BBC Radio show in 1960.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Doctor Who's Early Years Revisited In An Adventure In Space and Time

Its probably not escaped your attention but Doctor Whocelebrated its 50th anniversary this week, 50 years since two school teachers concerned about a teenage pupil followed her into a London junkyard and into space-time machine that resembled a Blue Police Box owned by a crotchety white haired old man who as it turned out over the years was so much more…

The events surrounding that 1963 episode and its star William Hartnell were revisited in a touching drama written by mark Gatiss entitled an Adventure in space and Time on BBC2 last Thursday evening.

As viewers we followed from start to finish how Sidney Newman (a wonderful eccentric performance by Brian Cox) and Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine) overcame stiff opposition at the BBC to bring this new science fiction series to life.

Newman himself was an eccentric but radical character, larger than life and colourful, not unlike The Doctor he was about to create. His appointed producer, Verity Lambert was full of “piss and vinegar” and a woman, unheard of in such a role at a then male dominated hierarchy in 1963. Assisted by young director Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan) the pair chase character actor William Hartnell (David Bradley) for the lead role of The Doctor. However, Hartnell is far from happy with the path his career is taking and having only recently departed a long standing role in a comedy series has doubts about the role of The Doctor.

The story unfolds with a very moving performance from David Bradley who gives more depth to Hartnell’s character beyond his surviving appearances as the Doctor.

When Hartnell takes on the role, it becomes clear he struggles with the series concept but quickly falls in love with it and warms to the fact that he becomes a hero for millions of young fans. However he develops an illness which prevents him from memorising his lines correctly and from here on in the story confronts his loneliness as Doctor Who rings in the changes with new cast and production team.

Jessica Raine and Sacha Dhawan are equally wonderful as Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein, overcoming stiff opposition for different reasons to make a mark in the world of television.

There are some stunning recreations of early Doctor who moments created by a cast that looks and sounds like the originals, the recording of the first episode, The Daleks early appearances and the build up to the first regeneration scene, spelling the end of Hartnell’s reign as The Doctor but the rebirth of the series that ultimately lead to its constant reinvention, itself a moving moment as well as featuring an awesome big reveal.

Check out The Doctor Who Website for exclusive clips and further information on An Adventure In Space and Time

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Celebrating Forty Years With The Marmalade - Sandy Newman Interview

Sandy Newman
The Sensational 60s Experience is currently touring the UK with an appearance at St David's Hall tonight featuring  such notable chart legends as The Marmalade, Herman’s Hermits, Chris Farlowe & Steve Ellis’ Love Affair.

Described as being unpretentious and irresistibly commercial Glasgow’s the Marmalade scored in the UK charts in May 1968 with Lovin' Things and later, number one with the Marmalade anthem Ob La Di Ob La Da, another classic  Reflections Of My Life. Then followed in quick succession, Cousin Norman, Back On The Road, Radancer and Falling apart At The Seams

Lead singer Sandy Newman toured with the Marmalade during their 60s heyday in the Chris McLure section, “The Marmalade was the first band to really go for it,” he says, “ to be poor and go to London which was a huge thing in those days. You could have bands that were international and lived in Scotland they were always in London.” 

Sandy joined the band full time in November 1973 prior to them recording their international hit Falling Apart at The Seams, and has continued to be a driving force within the group for the past forty years. 

More recently, the band have been back in the studio recording their latest album Penultimate which features 6 brand new songs , three of which Sandy has written with his son, John James Newman. “At the moment I'm kind of excited about whats going on in the current band.  We’ve started to get the old band vibe back. Its never necessarily always about the songs, theres a bit of visual,  action and energy.” 

Sandy says of the set they will perform on the current tour, “ We're going to be doing a few teasers from the new album, but they will be teasers because it’s a 60s show.”

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Fifty Years Of Doctor Who: An Evening With Steven Moffat

Steven Moffat in conversation
As the day of The Doctor's 50th anniversary gets closer, can I point you in the direction of The Doctor Who website once again where there are lots of anniversary goodies and sneak previews of the anniversary special.

As I mentioned the other day there is a great look back at the shows history with series show runner Steven Moffat.

Recorded at Wales College of Music and Drama, Steven's thoughts are both candid, informative and entertaining.

If that's still not enough, the rediscovery of nine Doctor Who episodes from the 1960s may also whet your appetite.

Starring Patrick Troughton The Enemy Of The World and The Web Of Fear had previously been thought lost.

The Doctor doing battle with The Yeti in the underground was a lifelong dream for me to see and I wasn't disappointed, this marvellous collection of episodes really catches Troughton on top form and also features the earliest visual record of Colonel Lethbridge Stewart (later Brigadier of UNIT)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Retro Vinyl Finds: Russ Conway, Peter Sellers and Tolchard Evans


Three recent 45RPM finds from Newport included a Russ Conway EP (mentioned in Saturday's post) and two single releases from Peter Sellers and Tolchard Evans and his Singing Piano.

Russ Conway, Columbia Records
This Russ Conway EP appears to date from around 1967. A bit odd as the title track Always You And Me was released as a single in 1962.

Peter Sellers, Parlophone Records
Goon Show star Peter Sellers was very proactive releasing singles in the 1950s and 1960s. I'm So Ashamed was released in 1959, on the eve of the last regular Goon Show and Sellers conquering the cinema!

Tolchard Evans, Decca Records

Tolchard Evans and His Singing Piano's rendition of Singing piano was a popular instrumental track from the late 1950s. Evans rendition of Singing Piano featured a dreamy female chorus (or was that meant to be the piano?).


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Nutcracker On Ice Interviews and Reviews

Nutcracker On Ice -
Picture: Andy Howells
Last week I had the opportunity to see behind the scenes of The Imperial Ice Stars production of The Nutcracker On Ice performed at The Wales Millennium Centre.

Over the last eight years, The Imperial Ice Stars have performed to almost four million people across five continents, at some of the world’s most prestigious venues – London’s Royal Albert Hall and Sadler’s Wells, Singapore’s new Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre, Montreal’s Place des Arts and Moscow’s Red Square.

This award-winning troupe has built up a worldwide following and established an unrivalled reputation for their sophisticated portrayals of classic works, and for executing the most complex and daring manoeuvres on the ice.  Their previous world tours (Sleeping Beauty on Ice, Swan Lake on Ice and Cinderella on Ice) have been greeted with nightly standing ovations and five-star reviews.


For their latest production, The Nutcracker on Ice, acclaimed Artistic Director, Tony Mercer, – the world’s leading creator of contemporary theatre-on-ice - has once again teamed with four-time figure skating World Champion and dual Olympic gold medallist, Evgeny Platov, and dual World Champion, Maxim Staviski, to create choreography that further raises the bar, with ever more breath-taking high-speed leaps and throws, and awe-inspiring acrobatics, coupled with the most graceful and sublime ice dancing.

Nutcracker article fourth most
shared on Argus website -
November 17, 2013

To Tchaikovsky’s most famous score, the 26-strong cast of Olympic, World, European and National Championship skaters astounded and mesmerised audiences with their adrenaline-rich, dramatic performance, in the intimate setting of a frozen theatre stage. The team feature TV's  Dancing On Ice's Olga Sharutenko along with special guest performer Keith Chegwin.


Here are my interviews and reviews for the Cardiff run of the show...

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