Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Retro Book Find: The Girl From Outer Space by Carter Brown

Here's a bit of a bashed pulpy looking paperback from the 60's I found in Healthy Planet last week.

Forming part of The Carter Brown Mystery Series, The Girl From Outer Space features the tagline: She had a $100,000 film contract. She was out of this world... and someone wanted to keep her there!

This title was published in the Four Square Crime series in July 1966, with a price of 3/6.

Here's some more information on the book with a few cover variations.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Retro Book Find: Vocal Refrain - An Autobiography by Vera Lynn

Fondly remembered as The Forces Sweetheart for many songs such as We'll Meet Again and The White Cliffs Of Dover, Vera Lynn provided musical inspiration many families and friends in Britain and beyond during the Second World War.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dame Vera at a Dad's Army Appreciation Society event at the Imperial war Museum in London, in 2008.

Vocal Refrain was the title of her autobiography, published in 1975 by WH Allen, a hardback copy of which I recently found in Healthy Planet.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Treading The Boards: Wilfred Brambell, Jessie Evans and Kenneth J Warren in Canterbury Tales (1968)

Wilfred Brambell, Jessie Evans and Kenneth J Warren
as they are featured in the Canterbury Tales playbill
Even if his best known TV role was that of Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son, Wilfred Brambell could still turn out performances in serious roles on the theatre stage during the 1960s.

The Phoenix Theatre, Charring Cross Road, London presented Chaucer's Canterbury Tales from March 21, 1968 with Brambell, Jessie Evans and Kenneth J Warren all taking on multiple roles. They were joined by Nicky Henson, Billy Boyle, Gay Soper and Trevor Baxter among others.

Brambell had first appeared in London's West End in Blind Man's Buff in 1953. Many theatre roles followed but it was starring opposite Harry H Corbett in Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's sitcom Steptoe and Son that brought him his greatest fame. Brambell's appearance with The Beatles in A Hard Days Night, another career high is strangely not mentioned in his biography in this programme. Prior to rehearsals for Canterbury Tales Brambell had appeared as Widow Twankey in pantomime.

With a strong stage career behind her including Pen Don opposite Emlyn Williams at the Blackpool Grand in 1943, Welsh born actress Jessie Evans was in popular demand as a support actress in the 1960s and 70s in both film and television. Her TV credits included Z Cars and Coronation Street.

Wilfred Brambell and Kenneth J Warren would be reunited on television a few years later when Kenneth turned up as Arthur in the Steptoe and Son episode Cuckoo In The Nest. 

Sadly Kenneth J Warren known for his strong Australian accent and distinctive bald appearance died of a heart attack in 1973. He was 43.

Jessie Evans passed away in 1983 aged 64, while Wilfred Brambell died in 1985 aged 72.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Treading The Boards: Anita Harris, Harry H Corbett and Dora Bryan in Dick Whittington (1976-77)

Anita Harris, Harry H Corbett and Dora Bryan
I've loved hunting out various items of  theatre ephemera over the years and here's a nice programme I found a few years ago  from The Congress Theatre, Eastbourne's pantomime production of Dick Whittington which ran from Monday December 27, 1976 until Saturday January 29, 1977.

The show featured singer and actress Anita Harris as Dick Whittington, Steptoe and Son's Harry H Corbett as Alderman Fitzwarren and Dora Bryan as The Sultana of Morocco.

Other cast members included Derek Roy, Deirdre Dee, Ken Roberts, Peter Ashley and Mark Jefferis.

If you have any memories, press clippings, photographs or memorabilia from the show you can share, please get in touch

Check out Anita Harris official website here.

Dad's Army Memorabilia: The Dad's Army Annual 1978

Dad's Army Annual 1978
Published in Great Britain, World Distributors, 1977
£1.35p, SBN 7235 0438 5, 64 pages

The final television episode of  Dad's Army was broadcast on Remembrance Sunday 1977, so this was also the year that World Distributors published their final annual. 

An excellent cover design, even if the image of Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring had already graced two previous covers. 

The price this year had increased over double than previous years (25p), but still quite a bargain. (My copy was evermore so - my mother found it on a post-Christmas shopping trip to Asda reduced to 25p!)

Text Stories: 
Fire! Fire!
Once a Soldier
Always a Soldier
On Course With the Captain
Friends or Foes?
Operation Evacuees

Cartoon Strip Stories: 
Getting to Betsy
The Hero

Friday, 17 January 2014

Looking Back at Dick Barton - Special Agent

Four faces of Dick Barton
from the 1979 annual
You can't keep a good secret agent down even if the BBC manage to destroy the majority of your series recorded in the post-war years and several generations have elapsed since your heyday.

The name Dick Barton-Special Agent might not mean a lot to youngsters now but to a generation of radio listeners the excitement of the theme tune (known as The Devils Galop) that rumbled across the airwaves every evening between 1946 and 1951 was unmissable entertainment as ex-commando Captain Richard Barton MC with his trusty friends Jock Anderson and Snowy White solved numerous crimes and escaped dangerous situations on a daily basis.

Actor Noel Johnson originally played Dick Barton but was succeeded by Duncan Carse after he dared to ask the BBC for a pay increase.

Don Stannard took on the role of Dick Barton in three Hammer feature films. Barton's film career was unfortunately cut short by a fatal car crash for Stannard in 1949.

Similarly Barton's radio career was at an end too, Gordon Davies having taken over the role, the radio series drew to a close in 1951 to make way for The Archers.

Only two original Dick Barton episodes were retained in the BBC archive, but the memory lived on. Noel Johnson returned to the role on radio in 1972 to re-record the first adventure for the BBC's 50th anniversary.

Dick Barton Annual from 1979
with cool logo
Southern Television brought the series to the small screen in 1978 with Tony Vogel in the lead role and sterling support from Anthony Heaton as Snowey White and James Cosmo as Jock Anderson.

More recently re-recorded episodes from 1949 were recovered and released by AudioGO and there is even talk of a new radio series.

A musical comedy version by Phil Wilmott is also a popular theatre attraction. I witnessed Newport Playgoers version of the show earlier this week:
"Barton aficionados will notice quite a change in the Phil Wilmot scripted show, as the legendary post-war radio detective breaks his own personal code-of-conduct several times been subject to double entendres, drugs and even acquiring a femme fatale girlfriend."
Witnessing the Playgoers stage production inspired me to dig out my Dick Barton Annual from 1979 featuring Tony Vogel's interpretation.

Produced by Brown Watson this is actually a very informative annual featuring along with several original stories articles and features on the history of Dick Barton.

Read On...

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Dad's Army Memorabilia: The Dad's Army Annual 1977

Dad's Army Annual 1977
published in Great Britain, World Distributors, 1976
£1.10, SBN 7235 0350 8, 64 pages

The 1977 Dad's Army annual followed the great quality standards of artwork and stories set by previous annuals, and although there hadnt been a new series of Dad's Army in 1976, World Distributors evidently felt there was still a demand for an annual.

The book contains the usual dazzling array of stories and cartoon strips as well as features including Private Godfrey's (brief!) Home Guard diary.

The cover features an illustration based on the photograph that appears on the rear cover of the 1974 annual.

Text Stories: 
Gorilla Warfare
Night Manoevres
Tank Tactics
A Case Of Mistaken Identity
A Star Is Born
The Captains Clanger

Cartoon Strip Stories: 
Raising a Stink 
The Magnificent Eleven

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Dad's Army Memorabilia: The Dad's Army Annual 1976

Dad's Army Annual 1976
published in Great Britain, World Distributors, 1975
£1.00, SBN 7235 0319 2, 64 pages

The 1976 Dad's Army annual, not only featured splendid artwork on the front and rear cover but was thoroughly well illustrated inside.

The page count for the 1976 annual was reduced from the previous years 80 pages to 64 pages.

The character of ARP Warden Hodges, featured very prominently in this years stories, and even stole the title of the opening story of the book.

The cover featured artwork of Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson, Lance-Corporal Jones and Private Frazer.

Text Stories: 
Yo Ho, Hodges
The Usurper
Tomorrow's Heroes
Ladies First!
Roll 'Em!
The Captain Plays Cards

Cartoon Strip Stories: 
Fishy Business
The Documents

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Dad's Army Episode Guide: The Complete Television Series 3

The Following episodes of Dad's Army were broadcast on BBC1 on Thursday evenings between  11 September - 11 December 1969. All were made in colour.

The Armoured Might of Lance Corporal Jones (11 September 1969) 
Jones' butchers van is to be used as platoon transport, but Walkers plans for claiming petrol coupons for it don't quite go to plan.

Battle School (18 September 1969)
A weekend exercise goes from disaster to disaster and Captain Mainwaring not only has to capture General Rodriguez HQ but also his platoon's confidence!

The Lion Has 'Phones' (25 September 1969)
A telecommunications exercise prepares the platoon for an enemy aircraft crashing in the local reservoir.

The Bullet is Not For Firing (2 October 1969) 
Number one platoon are held in a court of enquiry when it is discovered their ammunition has been used in an air-raid.

Something Nasty in the Vault (9 October 1969) 
A bomb lands in the bank vault with Captain Mainwaring & Sgt Wilson left holding it.

Room at the Bottom  (16 October 1969) 
Mainwaring finds himself against a formidable enemy when he is reduced to the ranks.

Big Guns (23 October 1969) 
The platoon gain a new weapon, but need to discover a drill in operating it.

The Day The Balloon Went Up (30 October 1969) 
A stray barrage balloon has to be brought down to earth - and so does Captain Mainwaring.

War Dance (6 November 1969) 
A dance is to be organised for the platoon and their sweethearts, but Private Pike decides it will be the venue for the announcement of his forthcoming marriage much to Wilson's horror.

Menace from the Deep (13 November 1969) 
The platoon are marooned on the Novelty rock emporium pier head and to make matters worse are joined by Hodges and a sea-mine.

Branded (20 November 1969) 
Private Godfrey reveals he was a contentious objector in the First World War. However, Captain Mainwaring is far from impressed...

Man-Hunt (27 November 1969) 
The platoon are searching for evidence of whether a German Parachutist is on the run or not... and the clue is in several dozen pairs of ladies negligee which Private Walker has recently sold to the female residents of the town...

No Spring for Frazer (4 December 1969) 
Private Frazer loses the Butterfly spring of the Lewis gun in his charge... and the platoon have to resort to extreme measures to try and recover it.

Sons of the Sea (12 December 1969) 
A river patrol goes disastrously wrong for Captain Mainwaring's platoon as they end up lost in the English Channel.


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