Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sun Hill's Finest - The Legend That Was Bob Cryer


Bob Cryer was a legend and institution to us fans of the Bill and dear old Uncle Bob played by Eric Richard was probably the show's finest character. Sgt Bob Cryer joined the Metropolitan Police in 1970 (the 1990 episode Start With The Whistlesaw a party thrown to mark his 20 year service) and arrived at Sun Hill sometime in late 1983 / early 1984 (he isn't in the original pilot episode, although it is possible that he is actually the character of Sergeant Bob Wilding with a new surname), possibly as a result of a recent promotion to Sergeant. Until the series introduced the rank of Inspector, he was the second highest ranking uniform officer in the station in the series. He had previously seen some sort of army service, unfortunately most of it leaving him with unpleasant memories.


He is considered by most fans of The Bill to be an institution. From the fourth series of the show he was always the last character to be seen during the images on the main credits (in series 2 and 3 his picture was followed by a shot of DI Galloway), and the first three series tended to revolve around himself and/or Galloway, with the two men appearing in every episode of the three series and always being the first two names on the closing credits.
Cryer is a model officer. He cares passionately about his job and hates what he considers the "touchy-feely" approach of modern policing arguing that the role of the police is to "uphold and enforce the law".
His trademark calm served him well when dealing with the harder edged visitors to the cells at Sun Hill. For many years he was a uniform sergeant. In 1991 he was briefly promoted to Duty Sergeant (an upstairs job outside of uniform) but quickly found that he had no passion for it and that it was driving his former colleagues away from him, leading to him making the swift decision to return to uniform.
His experience in all things policing led to him being in many ways the archetypical uniform officer, firm but fair to criminal and civilian alike. He was considered to be the father figure of the sergeants on the relief and a lot of the younger officers would come to him for advice on matters both professional and personal. Along the way he still discovered that you can never know everything - such as the time he shot and killed a suspect despite the suspect's gun later turning out to be unloaded.
In his own private life he had a wife and two sons, one of whom was arrested and charged in relation to a driving offence which resulted in the death of the other occupant of the car. This led to an enforced sense of separation between him and his son, a topic which Cryer would still refuse to talk about when it was raised in later years.
As time drew on, many of Cryer's contemporaries such as Sergeant Tom Penny, Sergeant Alec Peters and even DI Burnside moved on to other jobs, or retired. He increasingly found himself as something of an anachronism, and became somewhat less indulging of what he saw as the stupid mistakes of newer officers.
One exception to this was PC Dale Smith. 'Smithy' had a similar background to Cryer, with both men having served in the army. Cryer developed something of a fatherly relationship with the younger officer, and was eventually the one who encouraged Smith to apply for the firearms squad. This came back to haunt him when, during a hostage situation, PC Smith accidentally shot his friend and mentor, which led to his forced retirement in 2001.
New young Superintendent Tom Chandler did not like Bob Cryer. Everything that Cryer stood for was everything that this new broom wished to sweep away, and Cryer's injuries acted as a catalyst for this move. Typically, Cryer went out of his way to console PC Smith, and held no recrimination in his heart for the young officer.
When Dale Smith came back to Sun Hill as a sergeant in 2003, there was more than a little bit of Bob Cryer's personality about him and the way he dealt with friends and foes alike. He had learned well from his mentor.
Cryer returned to Sun Hill for the memorial service of Inspector Andrew Monroe, and to attend the funeral of Sgt Boyden. He later came back to help his niece Roberta, who was the station's front desk officer, solve a crime. His last appearance was in a 2004 episode centering around DS Roach's funeral.
Bob Cryer we Salute you!
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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Radio Times - Doomwatch (1970)



This edition of Radio Times dates back to 1970 and on the cover the classic series, Doomwatch. Doomwatch was a British Science Fiction Television programme produced by the BBC, which ran on BBC One between 1970 and 1972. The series was set in the then present-day, and dealt with a scientific government agency led by Doctor Spencer Quist (played by John Paul), responsible for investigating and combating various ecological and technological dangers.
The series was followed by a film adaptation produced by Tigon British Film Productions and released in 1972, and a revival TV movie broadcast on Channel 5 in 1999.
The programme was created by Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler, who had previously collaborated on scripts for Doctor Who, a programme on which Davis had been the story editor and Pedler the unofficial scientific adviser during the 1960s. Their interest in the problems of science changing and endangering human life had led them to create the popular alien race the Cybermen for that programme, and it was similar interests that led them to create Doomwatch, which explored all kinds of new and unusual threats to the human race, many bred out of the fear of real scientific concepts, with a "this could happen to us" fear by the public.
In the story, the actual name of the organisation was "Department for the Observation and Measurement of Scientific Work". Officially Doomwatch was an agency dedicated to preserving the world from dangers of unprincipled scientific research - "We were set up to investigate any scientific research, Public or Private, which could possibly be harmful to Man" - but the real intention was to form a body with little power meant to stifle protests and secure green votes. However the incorruptible Dr Spenser Quist and companions soon gave the agency some real power and people had to listen.
Quist had worked on the development of the atomic bomb and seen his wife die of radiation poisoning; Ridge was the secret agent type and Wren a conscientious researcher. Together they took science into people's living rooms, explaining about embryo research, subliminal messages, wonder drugs, dumping of toxic waste, noise pollution, nuclear weaponry, animal exploitation, etc.
There were other storylines such as genetic mutation creating a particularly large and vicious race of rats, and a virus that ate away at all types of plastics causing aeroplanes to fall out of the sky. There were also everyday stories like when Dr. Quist turned up at a meeting and was thought to be drunk but turned out to have severe jet lag. However, after Davis and Pedler left the show at the conclusion of the second series in 1971, it turned into a more conventional thriller drama, which the two creators openly criticised.
The first two series each consisted of thirteen episodes, and the third of twelve, of which one - titled Sex and Violence and intended to be shown as the fifth episode - was not transmitted. It has been suggested that this was because of objections to either its use of stock news footage of a public execution in Lagos, or its presentation of characters designed to be satirical analogues of Mary Whitehouse, Cliff Richard and Lord Longford. The execution footage has appeared on British television a number of times since the 1972, notably in a 1988 edition of Panorama about violence on television.
The programme was very popular and drew audiences of as high as 13.6 million at its peak for an episode called Invasion, filmed mostly in the village of Grassington in Yorkshire. The start of every series merited a cover feature on the BBC's Radio Times listings magazine, which even today is a prestigious feat for a programme. The show was also sold abroad, gaining some popularity when transmitted in Canada.
As was common at the time, the BBC wiped the Doomwatch master tapes soon after transmission, regarding them to be of little further use. Although some episodes have been returned from Canada or exist as telerecordings, many are still missing and will likely remain so, although all are being sought by the BBC Archive Treasure Hunt as a whole. However, a copy of the unbroadcast episode survives in the archives, one of only three from the final series to do so. Thanks to the Canadian returns series two is complete, but series one is missing five shows. Some of the existing episodes have had a limited release on VHS and DVD in the UK, and all - except Sex and Violence - were repeated on the satellite channel UK Gold during the 1990s, although that episode was erroneously scheduled.
Pedler and Davis re-used the plot of the first episode of the series, The Plastic Eaters, for their 1971 novel Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater, although this was not officially a Doomwatch novel and did not contain the characters from the series. The book also re-used the Radio Times cover photograph of a melted plastic aeroplane in a briefcase.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

"Hello Playmates" - Remembering Arthur Askey (1900 - 1982)


Arthur Bowden Askey CBE (6 June 1900 – 16 November 1982) was a prominent English Comedian and Actor. Askey's humour owed much to the playfulness of the characters he portrayed, his improvising, and his use of catchphrases, as parodied by the Arthur Atkinson character in The Fast Show. His catchphrases included "Hello playmates!", "I thank you all" (pronounced "Ay-Thang-Yaw'll"), and "Before your very eyes".
Arthur Askey was born at 29 Moses Street, Liverpool, the eldest child and only son of Samuel Askey (d.1958), secretary of the firm Sugar Products of Liverpool, and his wife, Betsy Bowden (d.1949), of Knutsford, Cheshire. Six months after his birth the family moved to 90 Rosslyn Street, Liverpool. Askey was educated at St. Michael's Council School (1905–11) and the Liverpool Institute for Boys (1911–16), where he was known for winning an egg and spoon race at a school sports day. He was very small at 5' 2" (1.58 m), with a breezy, smiling personality, and wore distinctive horn-rimmed glasses.

He served in the armed forces in World War 1 and performed in army entertainments. After working as a clerk for Liverpool Corporation, Education Department, he was in a touring concert party and the music halls, but he rose to stardom in 1938 through his role in the first regular radio comedy series, Band Wagon on the BBC. Band Waggon began as a variety show, but had been unsuccessful until Askey and his partner, Richard Murdoch, took on a larger role in the writing.

In the early 1930s, Askey appeared on an early form of BBC television — the spinning disc invented by John Logie Baird that scanned vertically and had only thirty lines. Askey had to be heavily made up for his face to be recognisable at such low resolution. When television became electronic, with 405 horizontal lines, Askey was a regular performer in variety shows. During World War 2, Askey starred in several Gainsborough Picture comedy films, including Band Waggon (1940), based on the radio show; Cahrley's (Big - Hearted Aunt) (1940); The Ghost Train (1941); I Thank you 1941); Back Room Boy (1942); King Arthur Was a Gentleman (1942); Miss London Ltd. (1943) and Bees in Paradise (1944); as well as the popular West End Musical, Follow the Girls. When television arrived, he made the transition well. His first TV series was Before Your Very Eyes! (1952), named after his catchphrase. In 1957, writers Sid Colin and Talbot Rothwell revived the Band Waggon format for Living it Up, a series that reunited Askey and Murdoch after 18 years. He also made many stage appearances as a Pantomime Dame.
He continued to appear frequently on television in the 1970s, notably as a panellist on the ITV talent show New Faces, where his usually sympathetic comments would offset the harsher judgments of fellow judges Tony Hatch and Mickie Most. He also appeared on the comedy panel game Joker's Wild.
Arthur's last film was Rosie Dixon - Night Nurse (1978), starring Debbie Ash. Soon afterwards, he was forced to give up performing, and had both legs amputated owing to circulatory problems. Anthea, his daughter by his marriage to Elizabeth May Swash (m. 1925, d. 1974), was also an actress and often starred with him. For many years, he was an active member of the Savage Club (a London Gentleman's Club).
His recording career included "The Bee Song", The Thing-Ummy Bob and his theme tune, "Big-Hearted Arthur", (which was also his nickname). During the 1950s and 1960s, he appeared in many sitcoms, including Love and Kisses Arthur's Treasured Volumes and The Arthur Askey Show. However, in 1940, a song he intended to record, "It's Really Nice to See you Mr Hess" (after Hitler's deputy fled to Scotland), was banned by the War Office. A collection of Askey's wartime recordings appear on the CD album Band Waggon/Big Hearted Arthur Goes To War. Private Eye magazine in the 1970s regularly made the comment that he and the Queen Mother had "never been seen in the same room together" — referring to the fact that they were both of about the same height, and suggesting that the Queen Mother was Askey in drag.
Arthur Askey carried on working until just before he was hospitalised in July 1982. Poor circulation resulted in gangrene which led to him having both legs amputated and he died in London's St Thomas's hospital on 16th November 1982. Arthur Askey is buried in Putney Vale Cemetary.
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Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Persuaders - Episode Six - The Gold Napoleon (1971)


All that glitters may not be gold - but the question for Danny and Brett is whether there's glitter beneath the bronze of Napoleon coin replicas in this, the sixth episode of the legendary ITC classic, The Persuaders.......
Who was the intended victim - Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis) or the pretty blonde Michelle Devigne (Susan George) standing by his side at Nice Airport?

Danny can't believe the bullet was for him. Michelle is certain that it was not for her - or so she says. Whoever fired the shot has wounded her sufficiently for her to be taken to hospital. Brett Sinclair (Roger Moore) expresses the option that the shot was meant for Danny, but Judge Fulton (Laurence Naismith) disagrees. A newspaper cutting explains why: "Mdlle Devigne, who lives with her uncle, one of Monte Carlo's most exclusive jewellers, had been voted the most talented student at the Valouris Art Centre before her sudden decision to continue her studies in London."
Fulton wants to know why she should have made this sudden decision. He links this up with the fact that her uncle deals in gold, specialising in gold coins, medals and plaques and that it is on record that he sold a gold Napoleon 100 franc piece which turned out to be counterfeit. Is it a coincidence that, while at the airport, Michelle dropped her belongings, among them an ink portrait of Napoleon III, encircled as though on a coin? Fulton produces a similar coin - literally worth its weight in gold. Hundreds of them have appeared periodically in Paris, Rome, Geneva and Beirut, which could be a good way of unloading gold bullion.
This, in fact, provides the moment of truth for Michelle when her uncle, Monsieur Devigne (Harold Goldblatt) visits her in hospital and she challenges him: "Those moulds I made of the Napoleon coin were not for bronze replicas." Her uncle tells her he had no choice: he is in the hands of a ruthless syndicate. And it is because she has visited the foundry and has been seen running away that an attempt was made to kill her. Devigne taxes the syndicate boss, Pullicino (Alfred Marks) with this, but is told that everything will be all right so long as Michelle keeps her mouth shut. This is a critical moment. Two-and-a-half million dollars worth of gold are about to be moved through Devigne's "imitation" coins.
Later, a quarrel between Devigne and Pullicino is to lead to Devigne's murder, which means that Pullicino no longer has control over Michelle. Once again, he orders that she must be silenced.The death sentence is also passed on Danny when he breaks into the foundry and discovers the truth, but he and Michelle escape their fate and, with Brett, set out on the dramatic chase to prevent the gold getting across the border into Italy.
It's a chase with hazards in every bend of the winding roads and unexpected drama just as triumph appears to be in their hands.

It's The Way He Told 'em! (Frank Carson 1926 - 2012)


Another favourite of mine from the good old days, the great Frank Carson has sadly lost his battle with cancer. Forget wankers like Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand, Frank Carson was the true comedian and will be sadly missed. Hugh Francis "Frank" Carson (6 November 1926 – 22 February 2012) was a Northern Irish Comedian and actor, I remember growing up with Frank in the 1970s on television in series such as The Comedians and Tiswas.

Frank Carson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland where he attended St Patrick's Primary School and worked as an electrician, and later plasterer, in the building trade. Frank Carson's family were of Italian descent, with his grandmother hailing from Sicily. He grew up in the "Little Italy" area of Belfast, an area which no longer exists, and was once a choirboy at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic church on Donegall Street. Frank Carson spent three years with the Parachute Regiment in the Middle East in the 1950s.

Frank Carson became a popular performer on Irish television, before moving to E to work as a stand-up club comedian. He had success on the long running television music-hall revival show, The Good Old Days. He then went on to win the peak-viewing national favourite talent show Opportunity Knocks, presented by Hughie Green, three times. He was one of the more prominent acts on The Comedians alongside the likes of Charlie Williams, Bernard Manning, Mike Reid and Jim Bowen. The show consisted of 30 minutes of non-stop stand-up comedy from several comedians in each show, became a ratings hit in the United Kingdom and helped establish Carson's performing career.
Granada Television's The Comedians led to similar shows, such as The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, which was an attempt to bring the northern English working man's club show to television. Carson was a regular on television for a number of years after The Comedians, whilst also working as a stage entertainer and appearing before the Royal Family in shows. He is known for two catchphrases in live performances: "It's a cracker!" and "It's the way I tell 'em!". In 1975, Carson took the part of Paddy O'Brien, described as "an Irish Republican landlord and coalman", in The Melting Pot, a sitcom written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand, which was cancelled by the BBC after just one episode had been broadcast.
When he had heart surgery in 1976 it was suggested this meant he would retire. However, he continued working and became a regular on the ATV children's series Tiswas. He began making acting appearances on television as well as in two cinema films in the 1990s. In 1998, he was the opening act for Mary Black's musical concert at the English Village in Dubai. In 2004, a planned appearance on the reality show I'm a Celebrity.....Get Me Out Of Here! was shelved by ITV executives due to prohibitive insurance costs given Carson's age.
After a routine hernia operation left Frank Carson, who had a heart pacemaker, seriously ill, he underwent a knee replacement operation in July 2009. Subsequent x-rays, 14 days after being discharged from hospital, showed that he had a previously undetected cracked rib, which may have been the cause of the hernia. In August 2011, Carson had an operation to remove a malignant tumour from his stumach
Frank Carson died on 22 February 2012, aged 85, at his Blackpool home. He is survived by his wife, Ruth, daughter Majella, sons Tony and Aidan. Upon hearing the news, Trevor Carson, a nephew, and a football goalkeeper with Premier League side Sunderland, stated "After a lengthy and wearisome illness, my uncle, friend, and hero has passed on to join the great comedy legends of our generation." Another nephew, Sean, is a comedy writer.
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Sunday, 19 February 2012

EastEnders first wimp! The Trials of Lofty Holloway


Time to remember one of EastEnders original and best characters. The gormless George "Lofty" Holloway was played by Tom Watt. Lofty is one of the serial's original characters, making his first appearance in the third episode, 26 February 1985. Lofty was generally depicted as a meek, luckless and hapless victim. A long running storyline concerns his relationship with the character Michelle Fowler. Lofty bid farewell to Walford on 19 April 1988.

George Holloway, nicknamed 'Lofty' due to his above average height, serves in the army but has to leave because he suffers with chronic asthma; he settles in Walford and gets a job as a barman at The Queen Victoria Public House. Lofty is devoted to his aunt Irene, who lives in a hospice, stricken with inoperable cancer. He takes on the task of caring and visiting her and is devastated when she eventually dies in 1987. He grows close to Michelle Fowler after she falls pregnant in 1985 and refuses to name the father - the actual father, Den Watts, is Lofty's employer although Lofty never discovers this. Michelle finds the prospect of bringing up a child daunting. Lofty struggles to see Michelle unhappy and chivalrously offers to marry her and help bring her baby, Vicki, up as his own. Although Michelle does not love Lofty, she accepts his proposal, realising that she can never be with her baby's real father. However, on their wedding day, Michelle is visited by Den in secret and this makes Michelle reconsider her options; she jilts Lofty at the altar, devastating him.
When Michelle changes her mind months later, Lofty is overjoyed and sneaks Michelle away for a secret wedding. Money is sparse for the couple and Michelle is never truly happy in marriage; she quickly tires of Lofty. When Lofty begins pressurizing Michelle to have another baby with him and to allow him to adopt Vicki, she is unwilling. She discovers that she is pregnant with Lofty's child and decides to abort. Lofty is devastated with Michelle's betrayal and their marriage breaks down. He grows depressed about losing the child he wanted so badly and amidst continued hostility with Michelle, he decides to leave Walford and take a job working as a handyman in a children's home in Bedfordshire. He skulks away in the middle of the night in April 1988 without anyone but Den witnessing his departure. It is subsequently revealed that Lofty works as a Social Worker.
Lofty (George) Holloway was one of the original twenty-three characters invented by the creators of EastEnders, Tony Holland and Julia Smith. Both felt that to help complete the community there was a need for a character in his early twenties. He had to be someone a bit different. Not brash and confident like a lot of the older men, and not boisterous like the younger ones. A loner, maybe someone forced to be a loner. A person who "stuck out like a sore thumb". Someone that was happiest in a group but still couldn't find one that he fit in with. Tony Holland had previously been in the army and found that ex-soldiers had these problems when they tried to reintegrate as civilians. So they decided that Lofty would be an ex-soldier, forced to quit because of his asthma. He was happiest in the army and felt incomplete without the group setting, the all-male camaraderie and even the security of the uniformity that the army provides.
Lofty's original character outline as written by Smith and Holland appeared in an abridged form in their book, EastEnders The Inside Story.
"Born of a working-class London family, which was very respectable: Church of England and ex-army...Lofty grew up in a house where his father was only really happy when reminiscing about his army days and his mother was ultra-possessive and narrow minded...His friends were always vetted...He grew up to despise his mother and have a tolerant pity for his father...His best moments came in the Boy Scouts, the summer camp, and the feeling of belonging...On his eighteenth birthday, he walked into an army careers office and from then until the age of twenty-one had the happiest years of his life in the RASC...He adored the army - It gave him a uniform, and set the limits...Then the shock - he was discovered to be physically unfit...Dormant asthma...He was invalided out of the service...And, he had no taste for civilian life...His Auntie Irene (now in a hospice) secured the flat above Ethel Skinner's for Lofty...He misses the security of the Army...He works in the pub - cash in hand." (page 60)
The invention of Lofty had been an afterthought, and during the casting he was still considered as something of an "enigma" to the creators and writers alike. This had made casting difficult as Holland and Smith were unsure about what they were looking for. The actor Tom Watt was suggested by one of the writers. Holland and Smith liked that his physical appearance (gauche and childlike) made him stand out (they likened him to the accident-prone sitcom character, Frank Spencer). It was decided that these attributes fitted the character perfectly and Watt was subsequently cast in the role.
The BBC's official EastEnders website describes Lofty as "a mug although a lovable one". In 1987, Bob Shields of the Evening Times described Lofty as a "portable funeral". He added, "Beneath the facade of his National Health glasses smoulders the fire and passion of a cold toilet seat."
One of the most notable storylines Lofty was involved with was his marriage to the teenage mother, Michelle Fowler. Michelle and Lofty's church wedding was a massive target of press speculation before the episodes aired. They wanted to know two things, firstly the design of Michelle's dress, and secondly whether or not she would jilt Lofty at the altar.
Anticipating a press furore, it was decided to shoot the wedding in a church in private grounds where the press would not have access. However the press still turned up in large numbers, and security men had to be hired to keep cameramen away from the story action. Huge lorries were parked in front of the entrance to the church so that nothing could be seen, and the cast arrived in disguise. Finally strong lights were shone into the eyes of the journalists and photographers, making them extremely angry, and they constantly tried to gain access to the grounds by breaking the security barrier and telling the production team that they were really extras needed inside the church.
The entire episode was written by David Ashton, and was devoted to Lofty and Michelle's wedding day. At the time it was deemed as one of the best cliffhangers of the series, with the episode ending as the bride arrives at the church door and hesitates. Michelle and Lofty's eventual marriage helped to consolidate a fast growing audience. The young couple had come together under enormously difficult circumstances. The subsequent storylines were purposefully built to keep the audience guessing about the future of their relationship. Were they married for the wrong reasons? Would the relationship survive? and what would happen if Lofty wanted a child that was their own?
The character remained in the show for three years, and eventually departed in 1988 when the actor decided to move on. On screen, Lofty, heart-broken after Michelle's abortion, moved on to become a handyman in a children's home.
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Doctor Who and the Silurians - Episode One (1970)



Somewhere in England, two men are descending a metal ladder into a cave - "potholing" on their time off. They reach the cave floor and began to cautiously explore their surroundings. They hear a strange distant roar but shrug it off for the moment. One of them walks ahead and takes a turn around a rock wall. Suddenly, the roar sounds again -- louder. He looks up to find a huge reptilian creature towering over him, its massive jaws open as it closes in. He screams as it attacks him, knocking him to the ground. His companion flees for his very life.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is happily at work on his newest acquisition. All that can be seen are his long legs sticking out from under a little yellow roadster -- soon the be known as Bessie. A license plate marked WHO1 is at his feet. He is singing happily as he tinkers with the Edwardian sports car.
But he is interrupted by the arrival his assistant Liz Shaw. She's skeptical that the car will ever work, but the Doctor is cheerfully optimistic, eager to take it for his first drive. But before he can go joy-riding, she reads out a message. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has asked to report "forthwith" to Wenley Moor. At first, the Doctor refuses to obey the orders, but Liz tells him the area is famous for a huge system of caves. They could go exploring. Intrigued, the Doctor agrees to go. He starts up the car (to Liz's astonishment) and the two head out, his roadster speeding through London and into the countryside.
In Wenley Moor, an intense middle-aged man (Dr. Lawrence) is addressing his staff. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart sits to one side in his UNIT uniform. Lawrence tells them to remain calm and assures them they will solve their problems -- despite the presence of UNIT. During his speech, a soldier enters and summons the Brigadier. He leaves and finds that the Doctor and Liz have just arrived. He tells them they are in an atomic research center deep in a cave. Before they can ask any more questions, he drags them into the conference room where Lawrence is concluding his meeting.
Lethbridge-Stewart quickly introduces everyone, including the very friendly Dr. Quinn and the rather suspicious and reserved Major Baker. He asks Lawrence to brief them on the installation. Lawrence explains that they are using a cyclotron to bombard atoms with subatomic particles. The goal is to create a source of safe cheap atomic energy by converting nuclear energy directly to electricity. But the Brigadier notes that there have been two major problems: personnel problems involving nervous breakdowns and, of greater concern, unexplained power leakages from the reactor. He now wants a three-pronged attack on these problems -- with Baker working on security, Liz investigating the personnel problems and the Doctor looking into the reactor problems.
Quinn agrees to show the Doctor and Liz around. Lawrence tells the Brigadier to keep him updated but insists they not disturb the work. It is clear there is some tension between Lawrence and the Brigadier. He is also highly skeptical the Doctor can help. After everyone leaves, Baker asks why UNIT has been called in. Lethbridge-Stewart replies that these are unusual events -- precisely what UNIT investigates. Baker believes the problems are caused by saboteurs working from the inside. The Doctor, Liz and Quinn arrive in the control room. Quinn notes they are at the very center of the cyclotron. The Doctor worries that if a power leak happened at the wrong time, the reactor could turn into a bomb but Quinn tells him that Lawrence is unwilling to slow down the research. While they are talking, Liz seems a little disoriented and the Doctor asks if she's all right. Liz insists she's fine and wants to get started on the personnel files. Quinn and the Doctor talk about the caves. Quinn likes to explore them but is reluctant since an accident involving two technicians. One was killed and the other is still in the hospital. The institute seems to be keeping it quiet.
The Doctor asks if there is a pattern in the power losses. Quinn says there isn't but the Doctor wants to check for himself. He examines the log and finds that pages are missing. Quinn summons Miss Dawson and asks her about it. She tells him that Spencer -- the injured technician -- was responsible for the log and that explains the discrepancy. But the Doctor notices that the pages were ripped out. Liz meets with Dr. Meredith, the physician in charge. He tells her that they've had a lot of problems with breakdowns on their staff. He blames it on being underground for so long. The Doctor arrives and asks to see Spencer. At first Meredith refuses, but the Doctor is insistent. Meredith relents but warns the Doctor that it's not safe.
In one of the patient rooms, Spencer is crouched on the ground, drawing on the walls like cave man. Meredith tells them that Spencer's been drawing since he woke up -- with the exception of attacking Meredith. The Doctor approaches Spencer slowly and asks about the drawings -- particularly one of a strange-looking man with three eyes. The technician whirls and attacks him, grunting incoherently and trying to strangle him. The Doctor manages to calm Spencer down and the man resumes his drawing. The Doctor thinks that some deep terror has thrown the man's mind back millions of years.
In the control room, the technicians are testing the cyclotron. Quinn sends his assistant Roberts out of the room and Miss Dawson hurries over. The two have a frantic whispered conversation. Dawson asks Quinn to "tell them to stop, at least while these people are here." She also asks him to tell the Brigadier or Baker what's happening before someone else gets killed. But Quinn in unphased, telling her the others wouldn't understand or wouldn't believe him. He insists that the knowledge he stands to gain is worth any risk. Baker meets again with the Brigadier. He's completed security checks on everyone there, but can't find any records on the Doctor. The Brigadier deflects him, saying that the Doctor is his personal responsibility. As if on cue, the Doctor arrives. After Baker leaves, the Brigadier tells the Doctor that Baker had a bad slip-up on his previous job and ended up at the institute. The Doctor tells the Brig that he's discovered enough already to get very worried.
In the control room, the power up continues. Lawrence pops in for moment, insisting that they not delay. Technician Roberts is losing his concentration and has to be reminded of the task at hand.
The Brigadier and the Doctor argue over his discoveries. The Brigadier thinks the cave drawing are unimportant but is concerned about the log. He tells them Doctor to keep investigating. The Doctor petulantly replies that the Brig has hardly been Sherlock Holmes. Suddenly, the lights dim. Once again, power is leaking from the cyclotron. "Come on, Watson!" says the Brigadier and they rush off to the control room.
Lawrence is steaming that the cyclotron is acting up again while Quinn is calmly shutting down the reactor in stages. Soon after the Brigadier and the Doctor arrive, Roberts begins shouting and refusing to shut down the reactor. The cyclotron starts to get out of control. Dawson rushes in to shut it down and Roberts savagely attacks her. The Doctor steps in and shuts down the reactor and while the Brigadier restrains Roberts.
Some time later, the Doctor and Liz are in an office. Liz has finished her look over the personnel files. She's concerned about a huge rate of neuroses -- almost all from people working in the cyclotron room. She remembers that she felt strange - almost terrified -- when she was there. The Doctor notes that it is the deepest room in the institute and closet to the caves. Everything keeps pointing back to the caves.
Liz then remembers that the post-mortem on the dead technician has been finished. He died from a blow to the head, but his body was raked with huge claw marks. The Doctor is astonished and now determined to explore the caves for himself.
Once again, the metal ladder is dropped into the caves. This time it is a lone figure descending it -- the Doctor. As he touches bottom, he hears a distant faint roar. He follows in the footsteps of the last expedition, finding their abandoned equipment along the way. He round the same rock formation and suddenly sees a huge dinosaur looming over him, roaring ferociously. He covers his face as it closes in for the kill...

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Radio Times - Tich and Quackers (1969)


This classic edition of the Radio Times dates back to 1969 and gracing the cover is Ventriloquist Ray Alan with Tich and Quackers. Tich and Quackers was a British Childrens television show of the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was presented by ventriloquist Ray Alan. The eponymous characters were Ventriloquists dummies of a small boy, Tich, and his pet duck Quackers. Ray Alan also 'helped' the puppet Lord Cahrles (who was notorious for his drunken outbursts as he often was the worse for drink!) for adults.
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Sun Hill's Finest - Remembering Tosh Lines!


I loved The Bill and make no apologies for it and I loved the wonderful, legendary Tosh Lines played by the equally wonderful Kevin Lloyd. Amiable DC Alfred Lines, known simply as 'Tosh', was the heroic failure of Sun Hill. He was an instinctual copper, a decent man who understood human weakness because his home life was a happy, difficult, muddle-and-make-do existence. But no superintendent would ever dream of transferring him. He could smell a liar, and his clear-up rate was the best in CID.
D.C. Tosh Lines
When Tosh arrived at Sun Hill in 1988 from a station in Essex he already had problems that weighed him down. He was in his late thirties, unlikely to be promoted because he never seemed to care that much about his career progress. He didn’t look like a tough crime-buster. He stood at just 5 feet 7 inches tall, was a little on the chubby side – probably because he was always munching snacks on the job. And he was, frankly, scruffy. He seemed to have one suit, one shirt (which he wore Monday to Friday), one tatty old raincoat. It all matched his car, an ancient Volvo which kept breaking down. More to the point, he had a wife, Muriel, too large a mortgage, caused by too many children – three girls and two boys – for a constable’s pay.

He was however a good copper - and always had a ready smile that went right up into his eyes. He was second to none when it came to solving cases, which was why the likes of Burnside were happy to overlook his sartorial shortcomings and to protect him from any flak from above. He reacted strongly when accused of lacking ambition: he did care about his work - but he also cared deeply about his family. He was once offered the chance to go work in Northern Ireland. Burnside had put him up for it because he thought Tosh needed the money. Tosh turned it down – it would have put him at risk and then where would his family have been?

At one stage, to ease his money problems, Tosh took in a student lodger, which was against Met. rules. The young man got into trouble. Sergeant Penny, Custody Officer at the time, discovered this and, rather than turn a blind eye to it, sent a report ‘upstairs’ as a result of which Tosh was carpeted. He survived, of course. He was far too good at sniffing out villains for a sniffy little man like Penny to put down. In the end, Tosh left Sun Hill in 1998, accepting a position in the Coroner's Office.
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Friday, 17 February 2012

Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again - The Sound of Silence (1964)

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"Sounds of Silence" is the song that propelled the 1960s folk music duo Simon & Garfunkel to popularity. It was written in February 1964 by Paul Simon in the aftermath of the 1963 assassination of Johnm F. Kennedy. An initial version preferred by the band was remixed and sweetened, and has become known as "the quintessential folk rock release". In the U.S., it was the duo's second most popular hit after "Bridge Over Troubled Water".
The song features Simon on acoustic guitar and both singing. It was originally recorded as an acoustic piece for their first album Wednesday Morning 3.am. in 1964 but on the initiative of the record company's producer, Tom Wilson, it was later overdubbed with drums (Bobby Gregg), electric bass (Bob Bushnell) and electric guitar (Al Gorgoni), all without the knowledge or participation of Simon & Garfunkel and rereleased as a single in September 1965. The single reached number one on New Years Day 1966 and was included in the 1966 album Sounds of Silence.
"The Sound of Silence" was originally called "The Sounds of Silence" and is titled that way on the early albums in which it appeared and on the first single release; only on later compilations was it retitled "The Sound of Silence". Both the singular and the plural appear in the lyrics. In his book Lyrics 1964–2008 Simon has the title in the singular.
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Paul Simon began working on the song some time after the Kennedy assassination. He had made progress on the music but had yet to get down the lyrics. On 19 February 1964, the lyrics coalesced, as Simon recalled: "The main thing about playing the guitar, though, was that I was able to sit by myself and play and dream. And I was always happy doing that. I used to go off in the bathroom, because the bathroom had tiles, so it was a slight echo chamber. I'd turn on the faucet so that water would run — I like that sound, it's very soothing to me — and I'd play. In the dark. 'Hello darkness, my old friend / I've come to talk with you again'."
Simon showed the new composition to Garfunkel the same day, and shortly afterward, the duo began to perform it at folk clubs in New York. In the liner notes of their debut album, Wednesday Morning 3 A.M., Garfunkel claims, "'The Sound of Silence' is a major work. We were looking for a song on a larger scale, but this is more than either of us expected."
The duo recorded it for the first time on March 10, and included the track on Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which was released that October. The album flopped upon its release, and the duo split up, with Simon going to England for much of 1965, hooking up with singer/songwriter Bruce Woodley of The Seekers. There he often performed the song solo in folk clubs, and recorded it for a second time on his solo LP in May 1965, The Paul Simon Songbook. In the meantime, Simon and Garfunkel's producer at Columbia Records in New York, Tom Wilson, had learned that the song had begun to receive airplay on radio stations in Boston, Massachussetts and around Gainsville and Cocoa Beach, Florida.
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On June 15, 1965, immediately after the recording session of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", Wilson took the original acoustically instrumented track of Simon & Garfunkel's 1964 version, and overdubbed the recording with electric Guitar (played by Al Gorgoni and Vinnie Bell), electric bass (Joe Mack), and drums (Buddy Salzman), and released it as a single without consulting Simon or Garfunkel. The lack of consultation with Simon and Garfunkel on Wilson's re-mix was because, although still contracted to Columbia Records at the time, the musical duo at that time was no longer a "working entity". Roy Halee was the recording engineer, who in spirit with the success of The Byrds and their success formula in folk rock, introduced an echo chamber effect into the song. Al Gorgoni later would reflect that this echo effect worked well on the finished recording, but would dislike the electric guitar work they technically superimposed on the original acoustic piece.
For the B-Side, Wilson used an unreleased track he cut with the duo a few months earlier on which they had tried out a more "contemporary" sound. The record single "Sounds of Silence"/"We've Got a Groovey Thing Going" entered the U.S. pop charts in September 1965 and slowly began its ascent. In the first issue of crawdaddy! magazine, January 30, 1966, Paul Williams, in reviewing the later album, wrote that he liked this B-side song which he found pure "rock and roll", "catchy", with a "fascinating beat and melody" and great harmony.
Simon learned that it had entered the charts minutes before he went on stage to perform at a club in Copenhagen, and in the later fall of 1965 he returned to the U.S. By the end of 1965 and the first few weeks of 1966, the song reached number one on the U.S. charts. Simon and Garfunkel then reunited as a musical act, and included the song as the title track of their next album, Sounds of Silence, hastily recorded in December 1965 and released in January 1966 to capitalize on their success. The song propelled them to stardom and, together with two other top-five (in the U.S.) hits in the summer of 1966, "I am a Rock" and "Homeward Bound," ensured the duo's fame. In 1999, BMI named "The Sound of Silence" as the 18th-most performed song of the 20th century. In 2004, it was ranked No156 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all Time, one of the duo's three songs on the list.
On the duo's 1968 album Bookends, the track "Save the Life of My Child" features a distorted sample of Art Garfunkel's "Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you" line from the original recording of "The Sound of Silence").
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