Friday, April 25, 2008

There's not much else to say but 'Oh fuck'. RIP Humph.
My status as a serious researcher of weighty topics has just led me to look up the 1970s Yorkshire TV children's show Animal Kwackers on Wikipedia. What I found knocked me sideways. The original Bongo was, believe it or not, Geoff Nicholls, the lugubrious Northern drum tutor on Rockschool. Now, I watched the whole run of Rockschool on BBC2 back in the day, and my main memory is of lusting after Nicholls' rather lovely green Yamaha 9000 kit. At no point do I remember him explaining the whys and wherefores of providing a solid backbeat while wearing an outsize dog suit. Nor do I recall Deidre Cartwright explaining how to grip a tremolo arm firmly while wearing a nylon lion's paw, or Henry Thomas showing how to play slap bass without opposable thumbs. The producers missed a trick there, I reckon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You can't keep a good title down, as I discovered when I chanced upon a March 1982 edition of the Radio Times (East region, 6-12 March 1982, to be precise - printed on that rarse clart that RT devotees of a certain age will remember only too well) during a recent stocktake at Schloss Cheeseford. Just over 26 years ago, BBC2 viewers were watching something called The Apprentice.

However, in place of ritual humiliation by misanthropes with a line in lo-fi hi-fi, those pre-Falklands War viewers were treated to a gentle explanation of what it meant to be a 16 year-old trainee undertaker. The trouble with leafing through old TV listings is that I now want, rather desperately, to see the programme. Of course, there's an outside chance it's in the clump of Betamax tapes I bought off eBay ages ago. I've already found an obscure and rather lovely Peter Greenaway documentary about lightning strike survivors, made for Thames in 1980. If nothing else, it illustrated how the broadcasting landscape has changed. Complete with Michael Nyman score and clever, clever captions and editing, it screams early Channel 4 or current BBC4, but it went out on ITV.