78. Various programmes 91/92

A 4 hour tape of odds and ends, some recorded and kept intentionally plus some fragments and time-shifts:

  • The Darling Buds of May
  • Scarfe on…
  • Classic Cars
  • Without Walls: The Avengers
  • Fragments
  • Nature Watch
  • Genesis “I Can’t Dance” video
  • Wish You Were Here?
  • Election ’92

I think what you’d call an eclectic mix.

The Darling Buds of May: Part 2.  (IMDB)

We must have enjoyed the first episode so much we decided to record and keep the second one(?). Broadcast 14th April 1991.

Scarfe on… (Genome)

The caricaturist Gerald Scarfe (local lad and husband of Jane Asher) in the company of a puppet snake and a rhinoceros, embarks on a mission to determine if the BBC’s guidelines need updating.

Broadcast 2 May 1991, one of a number of programmes by Scarfe in the genre that Louis Theroux later made his own.

Classic Cars – Autojumble (BFI)

The first episode of a Channel 4 series called Classic Cars covered the “The world’s largest autojumble sale at Beaulieu, England”. Broadcast 1 Sept 1991

Without Walls: The Avengers (IMDB)

This is a 30 minute segment from Channel 4’s arts series Without Walls.

“A film tribute to the long-running cult 1960’s spy adventure series, starring Patrick Macnee. With contributions from its stars and creators.”

Being the original broadcast, on 14 Jan 1992, it contains a contribution from writer Leonard White which was removed at his request from the later DVD release.

Fragments

Some lingering temporary recordings, mostly TVS, including a continuity caption for snooker and half an episode of Home and Away.

Nature Watch – All For The Elephant

I can’t find out much about this Julian Pettifer fronted series, made by Central and shown on Channel 4. This particular episode focuses on the work of artist David Shepherd as he attempts to raise £1million for elephant conservation. His painting “The Ivory is Theirs” raised a great deal of that amount through the sale of prints, one of which has hung on my living room since the time of this programme.

Genesis – I Can’t Dance

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The video for Genesis’s 1991 hit.

Wish You Were Here?

Nick Owen in Corfu, recorded and kept for no better reason than I had been there.

Election ’92

…and finally. The tape is filled with late night coverage of the 1992 election, with its twists and turns (well some of them). Familiar faces, some looking a lot younger and others now gone (where is John Cole these days?). The recording is mostly BBC but switches occasionally to ITV.

Jon Snow in charge of driving the graphics, of course. A particularly ironic comment from Chris Patten early in the proceedings, clearly not anticipating losing his own seat.

As mentioned, a 4 hour tape:

81-86. Old film collection

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Hold tight, I’m going to race through these next few.  More in the set of black & white British feature films recorded from BBC2 and Channel4 between 1990 and 1993. I’ll point out anything else that has lingered on the tapes.

81. Oliver Twist 

David Lean’s 1948 classic starring Alec Guinness and Robert Newton.

After some Channel 4 trailers and adverts this is followed by the start of To The Moon, Alice – a short American feature about homelessness.

It cuts out after about 15 minutes to golf coverage, presumably run on after a previous late night film.

82. The Man in the White Suit / The Smallest Show on Earth

Recorded in Nov 91 and Feb 92 respectively.

The tape ends with some C4 trailers, continuity and a caption for the next programme, the World Cinema offering: La Cage Aux Folles; then we launch into an advert break starting with Rolf Harris recommending KFC and continuing with Brian Clough with his Shredded Wheat; a trailer for The Camomile Lawn and the opening minutes of the foreign film.

83. Boys Will be Boys / Where’s There’s a Will

Two Will Hay films, recorded 28/05/1990 and 23/07/1990 from BBC2. I must have forgotten I had them as I recorded them again 3 years later (tape 179 and tape 123).

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Following on the tape is an episode from the US series Faerie Tale Theatre, of which I know nothing at all.  I have, though, extracted from it a Channel4 advert break with a couple of interesting celebrity appearances…

84. Oh Mr. Porter / Ask A Policeman

Two more Will Hay films, recorded on 24 and 25/07/1990.  Memory fade evident again as I previously recorded these films 6 years earlier (tapes 7 and 9).

Each of the films is preceded by a repeat of an old Mastermind episode, the last few minutes of which are caught on these early morning BBC2 recordings.

At the end of the tape is some continuity and the opening minutes of the following film, a Laurel & Hardy classic Fraternally Yours.

This tape had visible mould and took some effort to unstick.

85. School for Scoundrels / Hue and Cry

Two unique recordings this time, the first from Channel 4 and the second BBC2 on 2 Jan 1993.

The tape continues on with a repeat of a documentary, first shown on 11/11/91, about the sculptor Arthur Dooley and his work Joseph and Child (Genome)

86. The Long Arm / Passport to Pimlico

The first has been mislabelled as “The Long Arm of the Law” and is a rather good police drama from 1956 starring Jack Hawkins.

The tapes.

And finally the cassettes themselves, everything from a Dixon’s own to a Scotch EXG+

They’re all the same in the skip, landfill is a great leveller.

87. Granadaland

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28th December 1992, BBC2. To quote the RadioTimes: (Genome)

As part of its first night in 1956, Granada Television broadcast a Tribute to the BBC. In the week that Granada begins its new franchise, the BBC belatedly returns the favour by transmitting an evening of programmes devoted to the oldest surviving independent TV company.

I had already recorded Telly Addicts on BBC1 earlier the same evening and it’s a demonstration of how disordered the collection has become that the tape on which that programme lives is number 111.

This tape contains just a 30 minute segment of Granadaland, starting at 9.30pm (having already missed From the North, The story of Granada) with some trailers for programmes to come.

Then a special one-off “Pro-Celebrity” edition of University Challenge with Bamber Gasgoine back in the chair after  a 5 year absence.

Details from my earlier catalogue:

A team of celebrity former University Challenge contestants take
on current undergraduates from Keble College Oxford. Keble were
champions of the final series in 1987.

Asking the questions:
Bamber Gascoigne

Keble Oxford:
Richard Arthur reading Geography
Joe McDonagh reading History
Alexander Newman reading Maths
Andy Hallsworth reading Classics

Graduates:
Alistair Little – Chef and Restaurateur (Downing 1970)
John Simpson – BBC Foreign Affairs Editor (Magdelene 1965)
Stephen Fry – Actor (Queens’ 1980)
Charles Moore – Editor of Sunday Telegraph (Trinity 1978)

Announcer:
Jim Pope

Begins with a brief look back at the quiz and includes a clip
of Stephen Fry’s original appearance for Queens’ in 1980.

Then we quickly switch over to BBC1 where One Foot in the Grave is already under way, a repeat of the previous year’s Christmas special. (Genome)

For completeness the tape begins with Hitchcock’s version of The 39 Steps, recorded from BBC2 a few days earlier, and the promise of Rear Window to come.

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A Dixons tape, presumably from the same set used for The Prisoner and very nearly labelled as such.

88-89. More old films

We are in a part of the collection where a number of recordings of old films have been catalogued together. It would seem that from 1991 to 1993 both BBC 2 and Channel 4 had a habit of broadcasting – mainly black & white – British movies from the 1930’s to 50’s. Most of these I now have on DVD, and one of two are duplicates of recordings from earlier transmissions.

I am playing each tape but not bothering to transfer them unless something unexpected and/or interesting turns up (as in tape 90, for instance). Consequently I shall just note the contents here without screenshots and press on.

So for the record:

Tape 88:

  • The Belles of St. Trinians
  • Two Way Stretch

Tape 89:

  • Murder at the Gallop
  • Brothers in Law BBC2 2 Jan 1993

Tape 88 is a Scotch E-195 and I have actually used the little label that sticks to the cassette window and is supposed to show how much tape is remaining.

 

90. Skyrunners

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Exciting times! Here we have a genuine find, totally unexpected and equally unremembered, a recording of a TVS show called Skyrunners.

Broadcast on Good Friday 29th March 1991,  Gemma Craven and Suzi Quatro are the eponymous “sky runners” under the instructions of the celebrity “controllers”, M.P.s Austin Mitchell (Lab) and Julian Critchley (Con).

Andrew O’Connor attempts to hold the whole show together, with limited success.

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Although paying it no credit the show is clearly  Treasure Hunt  with a twist: TWO  helicopters. This might have seemed a workable idea on paper but in practice the whole thing rapidly falls apart, for a number of reasons.

To begin with, Andrew O’Connor presents the show retrospectively (from the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich) telling us step by step what has already happened. Treasure Hunt was never live but at least it was shown as if it were; to do otherwise robs Skyrunners of immediacy and removes almost any sense of urgency or excitement. The habit of freeze-framing the action at critical points only compounds the problem.

 

We are told that the skyrunners and controllers met at Lepe Country Park on the Hampshire coast and both helicopters then set off  over the Solent with a packet of Bisto (bear with this) while the MPs tried to solve the first clue.

We are then shown the two booths into which the unsuspecting MPs had been installed, which contain a headset, an Ordnance Survey map and a state-of-the-art Compaq laptop.

Meanwhile, as Suzi and Gemma burn aviation fuel circling the New Forest the real problem is slowly becoming apparent. Nobody has a clue what is supposed to happen. Well actually they have one clue but it is totally impenetrable (I can’t work out the answer now and I only watched this yesterday).

At the cost of a 10 second penalty the controllers can unlock additional hints on their high tech computers, but these only serve to confuse them further. Eventually O’Connor has to get them, and the programme, going by all but giving them the solution.

The skyrunners then land together revealing a further failing in the format. Far from being a race there is nothing to separate the two runners as they search out each successive hidden item. They could have saved expense and shared a helicopter. At times they even hold hands!

There is forty-five minutes of this tandem jogging around the Solent, failing to solve clues but gathering the requisite items anyway, with Critchley and Mitchell ever more perplexed. Finally the winner is determined not by the colour coded on-screen clocks, but by who is first to piece together the collected detritus into a well know phrase.

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The items are: the packet of Bisto that we started with; a t-shirt; a steel ruler; a tin of Kiwi shoe polish; and a picture of a lady. Go on, give it a go.

Anyway the programme ends and somebody wins, although I’m still not sure who or how.

There is no prize, not even a charitable contribution, and no real reason for us to care who the victor is. Add to that a repeating music track that sounds more like the theme to day time soap and it is clear why this potentially promising concept never materialised into a series.

On the plus side, we are treated to a lot of nice aerial views of some lovely parts of Southern England.

If by chance I’ve whetted your appetite for the complete show, it is here (wishful thinking by the announcer (Chris Robbie?) in his introduction I think)…

If  however your appetite remains resolutely blunt I’ll put the answer to the final clue at the bottom of this post, should you have retained any interest.

The cassette on which Skyrunners has been hiding proports to be The Railway Children, and indeed a recording from BBC2 begins this tape

And after Skyrunners a complete edition of a gardening show called Gardens By Design.

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It has clearly been recorded deliberately but for reasons I cannot now fathom.

The tape is a JVC E-180 (in a Sony box).

Still here? Then either you are scrolling down to the next post or looking for the final solution to the Skyrunners clue.

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Yes it was a steel RULE. The picture was of actress BRIT Ekland (apparently!) The shoe polish was TAN. The t-shirt had a picture of an EYE. And, of course,  it’s “AH! Bisto”.  Put those all together and you have the famous phrase: “What’s on the other channel?

91. Originally tape 151

91. Missing

There is a tape number 90 and a tape number 92, which leads me to deduce the existence at one time of a tape number 91. Sadly there’s no sign of it now or any note of what it might have contained, but should it ever surface I will update this entry.

Update: Monday 16 May 2016

Two days after publishing this post with the text above, I have looked through my folder of VHS related material – which contains amongst other things some previous handwritten catalogues – and found tape 91 listed as:

Winnie The Pooh + a day for Eeyore
Robin Hood 26 Dec 92 ITV

This matches the contents of tape 151, which leads me to conclude that tape 91 is not missing at all but was merely renumbered as 151 in a subsequent re-cataloguing.

A similar renumbering seems to have taken place with tape 63 / 157.

 

92. Genesis – Live From Knebworth

The mighty Genesis performing at Knebworth on the last night of their 60 date I Can’t Dance tour;  and down there in the land of confusion are Mrs. Buchanblog and me.

The evening was broadcast live on Radio 1 and Sky Movies, and thanks to a completely altruist act by a co-worker in a remote office who I never met, I have this recording of it. I have long since lost the note of who he was but I remain grateful to him for it.

94. A Fare To Remember

94-01

  • Wet Wet Wet 16 April 1992
  • Genesis 17 April 1992
  • The Wombles
  • A Fare to Remember (2 parts)
  • Abigail’s Party 5 July 1992

The tape starts with a couple of music items: A set of performances by the band Wet Wet Wet and a segment from The O Zone about Genesis, followed by a complete episode of The Wombles.

Then a Channel 4 documentary A Fare to Remember about two investment bankers who hail a London cab to take them to Sydney. I kid you not. In two 30 minute instalments (the documentary, of course, not the journey).

The final programme on the tape is Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party, re-shown as part of BBC2’s A Night In with Alan Bennett and with an introduction by him…

An unremarkable Boots cassette (said in an Alan Bennett voice).