Saturday, December 13, 2008

The LWT graphics department was always one of the best in the business, as day 13's offering goes some small way to prove. It's a still from the ident that heralded London Weekend's late night programming in the mid-1980s. The neon effect of the lettering is clearly being used to indicate glamour, glitz, excitement and possibly even naughtiness. The purpose of the graphic is to persuade insomniacs and sociopaths that sitting up into the dark watches of the night watching cheaply bought-in programmes was somehow comparable to hitting the town and having a good time. This comes from a tape of an edition of The Monte Carlo Show, featuring Anthony Newley. It was recorded (on Friday 21 June 1985, I am informed by the Times Digital Archive) for the benefit of my grandmother, who thought the sun shone out of Newley's backside, and for 'Strawberry Fair' alone, I'll concede that she may well have had a point. It was recorded on a timer as, on the night of transmission, my grandparents were actually out having a good time, probably at the bingo in Kingston. Unfortunately, an earlier programme had over-run (most likely the Athletics from Birmingham) and as this was very early in the Cheeseford family's adoption of wondrous VHS technology, padding the recording time was unheard of. So, we ended up with the last 10 minutes of a dubbed foreign film called There Once Was a Cop, and poor old Tony Newley being truncated in the middle of a disco version of 'Who Can I Turn To?'. The dubbed foreign film contains a child actor who would have been supremely slappable even if he hadn't robbed my dear old Nan of the finale of The Monte Carlo Show.

Talking of slappable, I was almost roused to violence at the cashpoint earlier. Now, I try wherever possible to avoid the Daily Mail 'hell in a handcart/isn't everything ghastly?' view of modern life. This isn't because I think everything's just dandy. It's because I believe fervently that man's default position is rudeness and self-interest, and that we've always been closer to hell than we care to acknowledge. However, the arsehole who pushed in front of me as I tried to pay a cheque in must be closer than most. There I was, standing well back from the person ahead of me in the queue, doing that ostentatious 'I can't see your PIN. Ooooh look at the watch straps in Timpsons' window' thing. I turned back to notice a chap had taken up a position at my side, a little in front of me. It came to what I knew to be my turn, and this bloke stepped forward with me, and stood at my side, looking at the keypad. Momentarily discombobulated by the brass neck of the man, I turned to him and said "If you're that desperate, you'd better go in front", rather than telling him to get behind me and wait his fucking turn. He said "Thanks", barged in and inserted his card. To the back of his head, I said "Actually, I was being a little sarcastic back then. I've got better things to do than stand around by cashpoints on freezing cold nights, giving way to pisstakers". He got his money out. He went back to his car, where his fugly wife/sister/both was waiting. I put my card in, and the screen changed to read 'Temporarily out of service'. At this point, had I been in need of cash rather than depositing, I wouldn't have liked to be this twunt. I would have thrown my bike squarely at his windscreen and taken the consequences fully. How do people like that go through life without ending up perpetually in traction?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Today's Advent calendar window pops open to reveal a set of colour bars displayed before the launch of BBC Arabic earlier this year, on its allocated channel on the Astra 19.2E satellite cluster. It's 720x576, so can be re-used to add jollity to your home movies and DVD compilations.

STOP PRESS: I have had an offer of a diary.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

For day 11, here's something I found in the bottom of a drawer in my desk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The 10th window on the CVTNAC takes us back to the mid-1980s and the Jazz 625 reruns on BBC2. Meanwhile, as a bonus, I thought I'd share some goodness that's been filling my ears of late. It's Stan Kenton's version of Hank Levy's 'Chiapas', recorded for BBC TV in 1972, and a finer bit of big band 5/4 you're unlikely to hear in a month of Sundays. Gary Husband's Force Majeure did a pretty super version of this tune a few years back too.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Day 9 of the advent calendar shenanigans, and it's back to the mid-1980s for a graphic used by Thames when announcing a choice of viewing on ITV and Channel 4. Imagine Philip Elsmore or Peter Marshall doing the announcement, and you're there.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Day 8. Even I, a hater of Big Brother and all it represents, can't help but hear those 2 words in a Marcus Bentley voice. To mark this milestone, we head back to the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television (as it was in 2004) and the hands-on studio exhibit. Like the tube simulators at the London Transport Museum, this was always crawling with children until slightly menacing-looking 30-something men in corduroy jackets suggested that they might like to go and amuse themselves in the museum shop for a bit. With the anklebiters despatched, the adults could give it some crab, had not the dolly been fixed to the floor. The camera casing is that of an ex-YTV Link 130, the development of which was so problematic and expensive that it brought TV camera production in the UK to an inglorious end. More sweepings from the studio linoleum tomorrow.

And now an appeal on behalf of Cheeseford. The other day, I found myself in a well-known chain of stationers, perusing the pocket diaries. Then I thought that there must still be companies or organisations out there flush enough to have their own diaries made for their staff and to give away to valued clients, etc. So, before I shell out for a standard Letts job with integral pencil, is there anyone reading this with access to complimentary diaries, and, if so, can I please have one? The more outlandish or notorious the firm, the better. If South African Nazi Tobacco are kind enough to give me the means to organise my 2009, then I owe it to them to carry their week-to-view masterpiece with pride. And if I get more than one offer, I will find homes for the surplus in a spirit of mutual goodwill, back-slapping and cross-fertilisation.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I note with sadness the recent announcement that all future ITV1 regional programming for the east of England will be presented from a shed at Postwick Park & Ride by BC, the Birthday Club tigerbear thing. Clare Weller's out of a job and John Francis is jiggered, while Stephen Lee's already made arrangements for himself and his increasingly surreal hair to emigrate to Australia. I shouldn't sound so flippant. The erosion of the ITV network and the role played by the regional companies angers me hugely. Anglia, while no longer a producer of network drama or entertainment, is still a good outfit.

So, for day 7 of the CVTNAC, I present a 2005 leaflet sent to satellite-equipped houses in the east of the Anglia region, announcing that they no longer had to watch the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire variant of Anglia Tonight, as ITV had shelled out to send both Anglia sub-regions into outer space. Comely weather person Wendy Hurrell must have sensed the way things were going, as she's now with BBC London. Incidentally, if the winner of the "meal at one of East Anglia's most prestigious restaurants" is reading this, please get in touch. It was saveloy and chips from the stall in Norwich market, wasn't it?