Friday, December 17, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 17

At the risk of peaking too soon, let us go back to BBC1 on Saturday 25 September 1993. The show is Danny Baker After All. The guest is Bob Monkhouse. This was about the time that Monkhouse was emerging from years of being dismissed as just a game-show host, and being recognised as the serious comic contender that he really was. It's Baker, it's Monkhouse. It's Baker and Monkhouse. There's your top of the shop right there.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 16

A few years ago, perhaps conscious of the sedentary nature of many of TV viewers, ITV decided to get pro-active. As part of its 'Britain On The Move' initiative, it doled out any number of these stylish pedometers, all the easier to calculate how close one is to one's required 10,000 steps a day. The nation took the hint, lost weight and obesity ceased to be a major problem. Tomorrow: The Border Television meter-wheel, issued to Cumbrian residents to help them calculate how far they'd walked that day to avoid watching Look Who's Talking.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 15

Welcome to transmission control at Cheeseford Towers. 'scuse the mess. On the right is my trusty late-model GPO 746 (so late it says BT on the bottom), and on the left is my daughter's favourite toy. It's the one in the middle that concerns us. It comes from Kent House (aka the London Weekend building on the South Bank of the Thames) and was part of the communications network between transmission controllers at the various regional ITV stations. Now, with all of ITV played out from two sites (Chiswick and Leeds), the network is redundant, and these glorious red batphones were skipped, apart from those salvaged by staff, one of whom sent me this example. I have considered plugging it in and telling "that cow in Network 1 to shut up", but what if it works? And yes, I know it's BBC, but who cares. Not sure what I'm on about? Show, don't tell.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cheesford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 14

John Dankworth is largely responsible for my love of jazz. It's equal parts him, Duke Ellington and my grandad, who introduced me to both. Obviously I know my grandad well, but I never met the Duke. I did, however, meet Sir John when he played a jazz festival in Guernsey in 2004, which I was covering for Crescendo magazine. He was a delightful, patient man, who put up with all of my anoraky questions and answered them. It was a thrill also on that gig to renew my acquaintance with the great Allan Ganley, a drummer of distinction and a lovely bloke. Passing his Ludwig 400 up to him on stage, I said "Ah, you've got a brass shelled one". He said "Yes, how can you tell through the chrome?". My reply: "Mine's an alloy shell. Yours is about twice the weight." Name-drops over. When BBC4 hoiked out a few clips of the great JD recently, I was knocked bandy by this arrangement of 'Just In Time', and thrilled to see and hear heroes like Kenny Wheeler, Alan Branscombe and Ronnie Stephenson going to town (Ronnie's the drummer - he began life as a tap dancer, and he drummed like one, with great lightness and grace). A shame it was cropped to 16:9 and shown slightly out of sync. I can't fix the former, but I have the latter, and with just over 4 hours to go until day 14, here is 'Just In Time'.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar days 12 & 13

Yes, sorry, I missed a day. However, I feel I have an excellent excuse, a hard drive failure on Saturday resulting in the purchase of components for a new computer, which I'm building right now. It wasn't a whim or a snap decision. Long ago, I decided that the next time something major needed replacing on my nearly 6-year-old Pentium, I'd future-proof myself by getting a new machine with bags of upgrade potential. So it is. Anyway, have a Temporary Fault caption to cover yesterday.

And for today's delicacy, we return to the 1984 Royal Variety Performance for a reminder just how good Dustin Gee was. Now, I love Les Dennis to smithereens, but there can be no doubt who the senior partner was in their act. That wordless Robert Mitchum impersonation is enough to ensure Gee's pre-eminence, to say nothing of the Russell Harty. He went far far too soon, and I'm not just saying that because he smiled and waved back when my grandad and I said 'Hello, Dustin' as we walked past him on the prom at Great Yarmouth at some point in the early 1980s. Note also Les Dennis impersonating Max Bygraves as host of Family Fortunes. Who knew, eh?