Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Coronation Street on This Is Your Life (Part One)

Over the years the cast of Coronation Street both past & present have been honoured with the Big Red Book on TV's This Is Your Life. Take a look back with me at some of the Corrie greats to have made the Big Red Book.

Patricia Phoenix: 15th November 1972
Patricia Phoenix was the very first resident to become a subject of This Is Your Life - surprised on the set of the soap, outside number 11 Coronation Street. Eamonn swapped places with her screen (and later real-life) husband Alan Browning while recording a scene, which also included Peter Adamson.

Jack Howarth: 20th November 1974

Jack Howarth was a reluctant subject, was surprised in the Rovers Return by Eamonn - “Yes, well I’m going home!” Jack’s guests included Thora Hird, Arthur Lowe and Johnnie Hamp.


Betty Driver: 11th February 1976

Betty was surprised at Euston Station by Eamonn disguised as a newspaper seller - “I didn’t recognise you with that awful hat on!” Guests on Betty’s show included Beryl Reid and Tony Britton.


Julie Goodyear: 22nd October 1980

Julie was also surprised at Euston Station by Eamonn, this time dressed as a waiter - “Is it going to be a series?” Violet Carson (Ena Sharples), too ill to travel to London for the show, sent Julie a telephone message.


Peter Adamson: 23rd December 1981

Peter was surprised in London’s Leicester Square by Eamonn disguised as Santa Claus - “You frightened the hell out of me!” Eamonn was assisted by Norman Vaughan, Windsor Davies and Melvyn Hayes, who Peter was about to appear with in pantomime.


Johnny Briggs: 26th January 1983

Eamonn enlisted the help of Pat Phoenix to surprise Johnny in the Punch & Judy pub in London’s Covent Garden. Johnny’s show included recorded tributes from Samantha Eggar and Dirk Bogarde.

TV Action - The Persuaders (1973)

Two covers here from the 1970s classic kids comic, TV Action. These two covers date back to 1973 and feature, Roger Moore & Tony Curtis as Lord Brett Sinclair & Danny Wild alias The Persuaders.

Remembering Ilya Kuryakin

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llya Nickovetch Kuryakin was a character featured in 1960s TV spy series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Although originally conceived as a minor character, Kuryakin, played by David McCallum, became an indispensable part of the show, achieving co-star status with the show’s lead Napoleon Solo played by Robert Vaughn. McCallum’s blond good looks and the enigmatic persona he created for the character garnered him a huge following of female fans. Such was the popular hysteria surrounding him that he was referred to in newspaper reports at the time as ‘the blond Beatle’ or the ‘fifth Beatle’. While playing Kuryakin, McCallum received more fan mail than any other actor in the history of MGM.
Much of the character’s appeal was based on what was ambiguous and enigmatic about him. When an acute reaction to penicillin hospitalized him in the early days of filming, David McCallum took the opportunity to give serious thought to how he might flesh out what was, at that stage, a sketchy peripheral character. The approach he hit upon was to build a persona based on ambiguity and enigma, hiding, rather than revealing, aspects of the agent’s background and personality. McCallum summed up the character in commenting "No one knows what Illya Kuryakin does when he goes home at night."

Kuryakin is consistently referred to as a ‘Russian’; however, he appears to have spent at least some of his childhood in Kiev, Ukraine (“The Foxes and Hounds Affair”). He is Number Two in Section Two (Operations and Enforcement) at U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York. He seems to be a Soviet of good standing rather than a defector. In “The Neptune Affair” he appears in the uniform of the Russian Navy and is recalled to the USSR to help deal with a crisis. Despite the series being aired at the height of the Cold War, no great issue is made of Kuryakin’s nationality and politics. He expresses Socialist sympathies from time to time, particularly in Season One, however in the later seasons his background is rarely mentioned and his accent becomes less pronounced.

McCallum appears to have drawn upon several Hollywood character types and Russian stereotypes in creating Kuryakin. Where Solo is the urbane, charming, romantic lead in the mold of Cary Grant, Kuryakin’s appeal is that of the more dangerous and exotic hero in the tradition of Rudolf Valentino. Kuryakin’s character recalls the brooding, troubled protagonists of Fyodor Dostoevsky's novels and gestures towards the association of the USSR with scientific research and an earnest, intellectualized popular culture. Other traits which he possesses which recall popular images of Russia are his gymnastic ability, physical courage and taste for chess.

Almost nothing is known about his family background. No siblings are ever mentioned and next to nothing is known about his life in the USSR. He identifies his father as being "the eleventh son of Kuric," a Gypsy leader ("The Terbuf Affair"). While this could have been a cover story, there is a name link (Kuric / Kuryakin), Kuryakin is an expert on the Gypsy culture and traditions, and Solo makes a reference in one of the spin-off novels to his partner's "Gypsy heritage."

Even Kuryakin’s marital status is an open question. In most episodes filmed before mid-1966 he wears a wedding band. In “The Bow Wow Affair” Kuryakin is asked explicitly whether he is married and answers evasively with a quote from Andrew Marvell: "Had I world enough but time". His attitude to women contrasts with that of his partner. They chase him, but he rarely pursues them. His attitude towards romance is pragmatic and he appears to be both amused by and irritated by Solo’s weakness in this regard. However, on the rare occasions when he sets his cap at a woman (“The Double Affair”) he is capable of immense charm.

He holds a Masters degree from the Sorbonne and a PhD in Qaunatum Mechanics from the University of Cambridge, though he admits to not keeping up-to-date with the field ('The Her Master's Voice Affair"). He appears to have been an undergraduate at the University of Georgia in the Ukraine, where he practiced gymnastics ("The Hot Number Affair"). Kuryakin is a Polymath. He is well-read in English literature, he has an in-depth knowledge of music and plays the bass viol, the English horn and guitar. He also sings. He speaks many languages including French, German and Japanese.

His technical skills are also well honed. He is an explosives expert who stayed on at the U.N.C.L.E. Survival School a month after he graduated to teach a class on the subject. In “The THRUSH Roulette Affair” he is described as “proficient in Physical Arts, Judo, Karate, Fencing, Sharpshooter,” and references are made in various episodes to his training and expertise.

He dresses more soberly than Solo and in darker colors - his signature costume is black slacks and a black turtleneck, often with his shoulder holster worn outside the sweater. He is generally more ascetic in his tastes than his partner and expresses distaste for extravagance on more than one occasion. His one indulgence is food and his enormous appetite is a recurring joke throughout the series.

Kuryakin is the perfect foil for his more personable, extroverted, risk-taking partner. He is self-contained, practical, taciturn, intellectual, irritable, pessimistic and intense. He is the more athletic of the two agents and also the more ruthless. He possesses a dry sense of humor, a great devotion to duty (which he describes as his only weakness) and a flair for the dramatic which shines through on numerous undercover assignments. On rare occasions it is suggested that a more passionate and sensitive personality lurks beneath his pragmatic exterior. In “The Neptune Affair” he exhibits genuine distress and anger when he describes the threat posed to millions of his countrymen by an attack on the Russian grain harvest. He also displays fierce loyalty to Solo and an enthusiasm for art, music and literature.

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The David Cassidy Magazine - No 4: September 1972

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Click to read the page Back cover

Mistletoe and Wine (1988)

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Arh, yes. Where would Christmas be without the proverbial Number One from Cliff Richard?
Written by Jeremy Paul, Leslie Stewart and Keith Strachan, it was originally performed as part of the musical Scraps (later retitled The Little Matchgirl; the musical was based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, but relocated to the streets of Victorian London) at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, London in 1976. (It is often mistakenly believed that it was first performed by Twiggy in the TV version, but this was made for HTV some ten years later.) As written, "Mistletoe and Wine" had a different meaning to that for which it came to be known. The writers wanted a song that sounded like a Christmas carol for the scene in the musical where the little matchgirl is kicked out into the snow. Well-to-do carol singers perform the song in the play, though they are actually indifferent to the fate of the little matchgirl, who is starving to death in the same street.
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Cliff Richard liked the song but wanted to change the lyrics to reflect a more religious theme, to which the writers agreed. Cliff's 99th single, it became his 12th UK number one single, spending four weeks at the top in December 1988 - selling 750,000 copies in the process. It was the best-selling single of 1988 in the UK.

It was also used in a British Public Information film about drink driving, with the intention of scaring motorists. In December 2007 the single entered at number 68 on the UK Singles chart by virtue of downloads.

Preceded by
"First Time" by Robin Beck
UK Number One Single
(by Cliff Richard)

4 December 1988 - 1 January 1989
Succeeded by
"Especially For You" by Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue

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