Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Went to see the latest Harry Potter film in the cinema the other day. It was bloody freezing. The cinema, I mean. Cineworld at West India Quay. It’s normally pretty good – much better than the apocalyptic Greenwich Odeon, where you never have to pay to see a film because you’re always being given vouchers as an apology for the standard of the last film you watched there. Honestly, seeing Wall-E with tramlines skittering across the screen like it’s the Keystone Cops, that’s irony.
Anyway, HP7. Good points; the first half-hour or so, it hits the ground running, and all the leads gave decent performances. Bad points; well, to begin with, Helen Bonham-Carter was incomprehensible, again, and Rhys Ifans, who you’d think would be ideal casting for a bohemian hippy, underplays the part so much that he just comes across as mildly bored by the whole Voldemort thing. Bill Nighy is also weirdly twitchy. But the first half-hour, all the stuff in London, all the stuff in the Ministry of Magic, is lots of fun.
The main problem, though, is that after that first half-hour, from the moment they put up that bloody tent, the film loses momentum and inexorably grinds to a halt. The next, what, two hours consist of maybe fifteen minutes of exposition, fifteen minutes of plot development, and about one and a half hours of rugged scenery. Honestly, it was like watching a cross between Highway and A Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Labour Party. At any moment I was expecting to see Pete Postlethwaite striding across the moors talking about winter fuel payments.
And it’s all coincidences. Harry just happens to find himself in the right part of the New Forest where a magic sword is hidden in an icy pool. Hermione just happens to spot a symbol on a gravestone. It’s aimless and frustrating. They materialize right next to where some Death Eaters (I think) are hanging out. They wander into the Ministry and end up finding the Horcrux amulet by accident. I realise this is a fault with the book, yes, but this was an opportunity to fix all that. None of these coincidences have to be so for plot reasons; look at the third and fourth films, which sort-out and boil-down the plots of those books beautifully and economically. But with HP7, I was mentally script-editing it as we went along – for something to do while watching it, more than anything else – “Oh, we could have come into this scene three lines later, and we really should have left it by now.” “This scene hasn’t developed plot, theme or character, no-one would miss it if it was gone.” Some scenes are just painfully slow, laboured where they need to be building pace.
One last example. About an hour and a half into the film, Ron wanders off. Half an hour later, it will come as very little surprise that he comes back again. In between those two points, absolutely sod all happens. Really. Sod all. You could have gone away, had some chips, read the paper, and come back and not missed a single story beat. There might be some confusion as to whether are heroes are searching for Horcruxes or Deathly Hallows, but nowhere near as much confusion as if you’d stayed actually watching the film.
And the ending. It ends on, hang on I’ll check – page 389 of the book. It’s not a completely arbitrary place to stop, but it comes after yet-another-escape, not a particularly exciting or important one – Dobby turns up to free Harry Potter, raising the question of why the bloody hell he never bothered to do that before in this film or any of the preceding 4 – and the whole you-know-bit is thrown away - like so much of the story, it happens off-screen. I was hoping this film would open the book up a bit more – because unlike the books, the films have never restricted themselves to only showing scenes featuring Harry – and show us some of the exciting stuff going on elsewhere while our heroes are working their way through locations from one of those shows where Alan Titchmarsh stands on hills and talks about Wordsworth.
Oh. And I haven’t even mentioned the vision with Harry and Hermione snogging in the nude. It was greeted with embarrassed laughter, I’m afraid. Watching it, I cringed from both ends at once. It just felt cheap and gratuitous, and even if you look really, really closely, you don’t get to see anything at all.
Monday, 22 November 2010
Just finished Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon. It’s a ‘SF Masterwork’. I can’t remember why I wanted to read it, I must’ve read about it on Wikipedia and been intrigued.
First published back in 1930, Last And First Men not only pre-empted HG Wells The Shape Of Things To Come but exceeds it vastly in terms of scope. It is based around a similar conceit; that the author is acting as a conduit for a telepathic broadcast sent back through time from the distant future, and that the resulting book is not so much a novel as a fictitious history of events yet to take place. It starts in the present-day (i.e. 1930) and proceeds to cover the events of the next 2,000,000,000 years. It starts off quite detailed and sedate, but accelerates exponentially until, by the end, it’s covering the events of millions of years in a couple of sentences.
The book’s modern introduction quite cheekily suggests that readers should skip the first five chapters as they are dated and repetitive, which is true, but I think dismissing these sort of novels because they didn’t get the immediate future exactly right is missing the point slightly. What matters is not so much how much they got wrong, but what they get right, and Last And First Men is actually quite on-the-ball in terms of the Americanisation of world culture, for instance. That said, there is an excruciating bit about two world leaders having sex with a young woman on a desert island which is not only absurdly wide of the mark in retrospect, it’s baffling in terms of a 1930’s perspective.
Once you’ve got past the first five chapters the book hits its stride, and concentrates on its main theme – the future evolution of the human race. The book covers eighteen different human species, of differing attitudes and mental capacity, including water-based variations, flying humans on Venus, and by the end, a telepathic gestalt human race which has the ability to see back through time into the life of every human who has ever existed. Along the way they have a war with the Martians – who are a sort of floating cloudy jelly – wipe out the Venerians and have god-knows how many fallings-out with each other. As it goes on, the novel is increasingly concerned with ideas of philosophy, and at points where it’s discussing intelligences beyond our understanding, it’s a bit hard-going. But on the whole the journey is thought-provoking and worthwhile.
The book’s big influence is that it’s one of the first novels to discuss ideas like terraforming, group consciousnesses, and the idea of humanity deliberately genetically re-engineering itself to become more intelligent or to be able to survive in a different environment. I would’ve borrowed some of the ideas for a thing I’m writing but, alas, I handed it in before I got to the useful bits. I wouldn’t be the first to expand upon ideas found in this novel; Stephen Baxter’s evolution and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation spring to mind.
But in some areas it’s quite at odds with accepted SF ideas; in Last And First Men, for instance, mankind discovers nuclear power and then destroys the secret (although later on it is rediscovered and causes a world-wide apocalypse). Most unusual of all, though, is that this future humanity is one which barely attempts interplanetary exploration, except when absolutely necessary, and even after two billion years it has still not moved beyond the solar system; presumably either Olaf Stapledon thought such an eventuality was impossible, or would get in the way of the story he wanted to tell.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
Gradually getting back into this blogging lark. I’ve even made a list of a dozen things to write about, and that’s without Getting Me Started On Politics.
There’s a new issue of Doctor Who Magazine in the shops. It comes in a plastic bag this month, for three reasons. One, because there’s a free poster. Two, to discourage people from reading it in Smith's (“What is this, a bleedin’ library?”). And Three, because the actual cover is a desperate cry for help. :)
My contribution is, of course, the comic strip, the fourth and concluding part of the epic The Golden Ones. Will Axos destroy Tokyo and take over the world? It looks quite likely on page 1, looks rather less likely by page 10. Along the way, there’s some stunning artwork by Martin Geraghty, inked by David Roach, coloured by James Offredi and lettered by Roger Langridge. They, along with editors Tom Spilsbury and Scott Gray, deserve all the credit. I just come up with the jokes and paragraph-long descriptions of things that might look cool. This month’s strip contains sort-of references to Godzilla, Harry Hill and Jon Pertwee’s catchphrase. I can’t wait until next month’s, though, it’s a Christmas special, with stunning artwork by Rob Davis, and an idea which will make people either go ‘Ahh’ or ‘WTF?’
Elsewhere in the magazine – I read it all, you know – there’s an interesting article on the differences and similarities between Doctor Who and soap opera (it’s a much better article than that dreadful one they once printed about it being a game show, and that other one about it being a comedy). In the article Gareth Roberts “asserts”, quite correctly, that the big difference is that Doctor Who stories are about surprises, the viewer not knowing what will happen next, whereas in a soap opera, the viewer does know what will happen next and the fun comes from watching the characters find out.
Where Gareth is wrong is where he says this “never happens in Doctor Who. Not once! Ever!” when I can think of three examples off the top of my head (I’m sure if I engaged Story-By-Story Fact Search I could find more). They’re all good examples of why the ‘audience knows more than the characters’ approach isn't a very effective way of telling Doctor Who stories.
First example is The Gunfighters, in which Doctor Who lands in Tombstone, Arizona shortly before the events of the OK Corral. However, in this story Doctor Who is written as a complete buffoon, so throughout the story the audience knows what is going to happen next while the lead character is in complete ignorance. This, I would suggest, is one of the reasons why this story is so frustrating and dull to watch; Doctor Who, rather than being one step ahead of the audience, is about twenty yards behind them.
Second example is The Two Doctors, where the story begins with the second Doctor and Jamie visiting a space station, which is then attacked by Sontarans, who kidnap the Doctor and take him to Seville (don’t ask why). After which we then spend the next hour of the story with the sixth Doctor and Peri as they investigate the deserted space station trying to discover what has happened. Not until the third episode, when everyone has got to Seville, does the Doctor start to find out stuff that the audience doesn't already know.
And the third example would have to be Daleks In Manhattan. In the first ten minutes or so of the first episode, we’ve seen that the Daleks are up to no good, building an antennae on top of the Empire State Building and turning people into their pig slaves, including the unfortunate Laszlo. We then spend the rest of the episode watching the Doctor, Martha and Tallulah finding this out; the Doctor analysing a green blob to discover that it comes from Skaro, home planet of the Daleks, Tallulah spending ages talking to Laszlo before she realises a) he’s Laszlo and b) he’s been turned into a pig... and so on.
(At this point some pedants may go ‘Ahh, but Jonny, doesn’t Rise Of The Cybermen have the same problem?’ To which I would reply, “No, it doesn’t, Rise Of The Cybermen had an extremely well-structured script in which the audience never knew more than the Doctor and his companions, and where the characters and monsters were introduced in clever and surprising ways, which was then undermined by the last-minute addition of a pre-titles sequence which contrived to give away all those surprises in advance.”)
Actually, I’ve thought of a fourth and a fifth. The Dominators & The Mark Of The Rani. And a sixth. The Time Monster. A seventh. The Twin Dilemma. An eighth. Fear Her. Must disengage Story-By-Story Fact Search. But it’s no coincidence these tend to be the least well-regarded stories amongst fans.
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Out now is another great Doctor Who audio play from Big Finish, by me, called The Resurrection Of Mars. Honestly, it’s really good. I’m not just saying that because I wrote it. I’m saying that despite the fact that I wrote it. I listened to it last night and the cast, the sound design, and the direction were all fantastic, and that’s nothing to do with me. It’s the second half of a two-part story, the first half being last month’s Deimos, which ended on a hopefully surprising you-thought-the-story-was-all-about-that-when-in-fact-it’s-all-about-this cliff-hanger.
I couldn’t even remember what had happened in the story, because I wrote it so long ago – the first drafts were delivered on the 26th June and 6th July 2009, back when I was an unmarried man of a mere 35 years - and the second drafts were delivered on the 17th and 19th July. This is fun, this is like writing an Andrew Pixley archive about myself. After more revisions at the beginning of August, the play was recorded on the 19th and 20th August. I mention this not because it will be of interest to anybody, but because it illustrates one of the ironies of writing; you turn something around something quickly – it’s very unusual, and very fraught, to be writing something 2 months away from the recording date - and then it comes out 18 months later.
It seems to have gone down pretty well, which is always flattering, though it’s difficult to find good reviews encouraging when there’s a voice in your head saying “Maybe you were a good writer once - but that doesn’t mean you’re a good writer now. You’ve peaked, that’s what it is, you peaked 18 months ago, and now all you have to look forward to is irreversible decline.”
Torturing myself by listening to the bonus bollocks on the end of the download – they put these little DVD Extra features on, featuring light-hearted interviews with the director, the cast, and in moments of rare desperation, the writer. I always have my nervous, job-interview voice, which is all hesitant and gabbly and pitched a couple of tones above my normal speaking voice. Which is so disappointing, because in my head, I sound exactly like Jimmy Stewart. Anyway, in this interview I mentioned that as a preliminary thing to writing this story, I wrote a 2,000 word essay on What My Story Would Be About, The Themes It Would Explore and How These Would Be Illustrated With Dramatic Situations. Remind me about it in a month’s time, I’ll stick it up on this blog.
Anyway, you can download the play from here.
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Only a brief update today.
In the, let’s face it, extremely unlikely event that this blog has not already given you more than enough of me spouting my words of wisdom, some additional words of wisdom have found their way into some fanzines/websites. Yes, that’s right. Interviews with me. Which weren’t my idea.
First up is a fanzine called The Finished Product, put together by a guy called Kenny Smith. Previous issues have featured me nattering on all about Max Warp (issue 3) and The Beautiful People (issue 5) and the latest issue (issue 6) contains all manner of devastating insights about the typing of The Mists Of Time, the story initially given away as a promo with Doctor Who Magazine and which will be released, box-set-style, in June 2011. Read it and weep. Tears of joy. It also features an interesting article about the adaptation(ish) of the Big Finish audio Spare Parts into the telly story The Age Of Steel, which includes Startling New Facts.
For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Secondly, a web-based magazine called Mass Movement. Take a look at their website, it’s all heavy metal bands. And there’s me, the fan of Erasure, Mika and the Scissor Sisters. I feel rather flattered. And slightly out of place, like the time I went to see a friend’s heavy-metal band wearing a rather nice jumper. Nevertheless, the interview itself is a fascinating read. Well, it was a fascinating write, your mileage may vary. In order to download the magazine, you need to click on ‘magazine’ at the top of the page, then the tinyurl in red, and then you have to ‘expand’ or ‘unzip’ the file.
So apologies for what has been an inexcusably self-regarding blog post; but then, if I don’t blow my own trumpet, no-one else is going to.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
It is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever there’s a story about the BBC on the Media Guardian website, the first half-dozen or so comments will be from pseudonymous idiots moaning about the license fee. I suspect it’s the work either of one obsessive individual or some right-wing affiliation such as the Taxpayer’s Alliance. As the next dozen comments will inevitably be reactions to this trollery, it only serves to undermine intelligent debate, and TBH, the sooner The Guardian installs a paywall and prevents people from posting under pseudonyms, the better.
Two thoughts on the license fee, though. Thought one. I agree that it is a problem that it isn’t progressive, and suggest that it could be made more progressive by making the charge per television set, or by charging more for HD (in the same way that, with the advent of colour, the BBC charged more for 625 definition over 525). Really, the BBC should have charged more for digital, if the government hadn't been so desperate to sell off the analogue bandwidth to telephone companies; as it stands, there are hundreds of hours of BBC 3 and BBC 4 dramas, comedies and documentaries that the vast number of license-fee payers have never had the opportunity to see – many of which deserve the opportunity to reach a larger audience. In the best of all possible worlds, the BBC would be paid for out of general taxation, whilst still having a charter guaranteeing funding and political independence; but that’s not going to happen, not under the floundering lack of leadership from Mark ‘Shall I punch myself in the face, to save you hurting your fist?’ Thompson.
But it’s the civil liberties argument that pisses me off. It trundles predictably along the lines of ‘The BBC should be subscription-only, so only those who watch it need pay for it?’ Which is moronic for two reasons. One, how the hell do you make access to radio and BBC websites subscription-only; and two, in order to enforce a subscription to the television channels, even more resources would have to be directed towards checking up on people, on fixing television sets and digital boxes to prevent access for non-subscribers, that the result would be even more expensive than detecting license-fee non-payment and would result in a greater loss of ‘civil liberties’. No, what this argument boils down to is the one repeated on the internet ad nauseum; ‘I want to get something for free that other people have to pay for’. Nobody is seriously suggesting they would voluntarily stop watching the BBC; they would just do so via their computers, consuming content that other people have funded. (See also: Books, Films, and Music).
My second thought is that both ITV and Sky are examples of how bad the alternative is; ITV because in its ever-more-desperate attempt to chase ratings, it has demonstrated itself to be ever-more crap at achieving them for anything other than soaps and ‘reality’ competitions; and Sky because it’s just such a bloody rip off. I mean, with Sky you pay a subscription AND you get adverts; they must think their viewers are complete mugs. They wouldn’t get away with that in USA. It’s ironic that the guy who runs it complains so much about the BBC, when Sky’s business model is entirely reliant upon the existence of the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5; those channels import the first series of the latest US dramas, they take all the risk, they pay the promotional costs, and they build an audience, only for to Sky come in and out-bid them for the rights to broadcast the remaining seasons. Sky’s modus operandi is to poach other’s successes; they cannot originate their own.
And finally, the most basic, cheapest Sky subscription is approximately £120 year. For that, you get a fraction of the content provided by the BBC, and you pay for it all over again by watching adverts. To give you some idea of the value for money, for £120 you could buy box-sets of the latest series of:
i.e. all of Sky’s top shows. For you to own, watch again and again, with full bonus bollocks and with no adverts, or watch once and sell on ebay. And for the price of an HD subscription, you could buy them all on Blu-Ray and have money left over.
Saturday, 13 November 2010
On Monday went to see Marina & The Diamonds at The Roundhouse.
[PHIL DANIELS] That is the woman I’m going to marry. [/PHIL DANIELS]
Have been to the Roundhouse before, but not for gigs. I was surprised how pleasant the venue was; no queuing around the block, professional staff, no sticky floors. The sound quality is very good - the interior looks like a giant version of Vince Clarke’s old studio – and the only niggle is that short-arses like me prefer venues with sloping floors because of the better sightlines. Still, a universe away from shitty sub-student’s union venues like the old Astoria, with its ghastly community-centre mural of musicians who looks almost, but not quite entirely, unlike the people they are supposed to be, and its bendy plastic beer containers, and its head-in-a-bucket echo, and the bloody pillars everywhere, and oh, suffice to say, I was cheering when they pulled it down.
The support act, whose name eludes me, had a great singer but hadn’t quite found the tunes. The audience was largely bright young slim boys and girls with stripy black-and-white tops and McFly hair, but thankfully I was not quite the oldest or the fattest bloke there. I’m surprised Marina didn’t have more of a gay contingent, as her music is very much in the same genre as Kate Bush and Sparks, in other words, ‘both melodramatic and disorientingly weird’. I was delighted, though, that the audience was more into dancing and singing along than filming the whole show with their bloody phones.
She came on after a James Bond title sequence, and spent much of the show centre stage, where a wind machine was conveniently placed to blow her hair out of her eyes and make her look like she’s spending the whole show driving a convertible. Oh, I’m being sarky, but only because I’m not comfortable with publically admitting how stunning I thought she looked. I’m a happily married man.
And the songs sounded fantastic. She did her album (reviewed here), the non-album track Rootless, and a new song, Jealousy, which sounded sublime and quite Kate Bush-y. It was kinda odd when she did Shampain, as on her blog she moans about having to sing it, which as an old music biz hanger-on I’d say is probably a mistake as the fans like the illusion to be maintained that the artist is having a good time. But what do I know?
In summary; brilliant singer, brilliant songs, brilliant show, you weren’t there, you missed out.
Friday, 12 November 2010
So last Sunday I attended Missing Believed Wiped at the NFT, an annual event presenting the best, or the oddest, stuff that has been recovered and returned to archives in the last year. Because, as I’m sure we’re all aware, up until about 1980 the guy whose job it was to set the BBC video was a little bit forgetful and tended to take a nap when episodes of Top Of The Pops or Patrick Troughton Doctor Whos were on, and it wasn’t until a Doctor Who fan forced his way into the BBC and threatened to cause a scene unless they stopped using old episodes of Z-Cars for firelighters that they actually got their act together. Or something like that, you’d have to ask Andrew Pixley.
I went last year, I wrote about it, so what wonders did Dick ‘my name couldn’t sound ruder if I tried’ Fiddy have for us this year? Well, to begin with, there were highlights of the Library Of Congress ‘haul’ (a ‘haul’ being the collective noun for missing episodes of television). My thoughts follow.
Colombe – Quite poor sound quality. Peter Sallis looks young. Sean Connery has not yet learned how to act; he would be better described as a grumpy slab of incomprehensibly Scottish scenery.
Romeo & Juliet – An almost unrecognisably young Jane Asher. Very stagey, but not in a bad way. Noticed a joke I hadn’t noticed before. Would watch the whole thing.
Auto Stop – David Hemmings on a studio-bound beach chatting to a girl. Very Angry Young Man, dialogue awkward mix of naturalism and cod-meaningful clunkiness. I get the feeling lots of plays in the 60’s were like this.
Dr Knock – John Le Mesurier and Leonard Rossiter, not sure what to make of this, good performances but out of context it was just confusing. Would watch the whole thing.
13 Against Fate: The Friends – Even more confusing, the beginning of an anthology series, it looked like The Lotus Eaters or somesuch but the direction was awful, very poor grammar, and the writing was pretty dreadful.
1984 - The 1965 re-make, in which Peter Cushing is sadly missed, and Nigel Kneale has decided to ‘jush’ the whole thing up with a comedy opening that looks like something out of The Goodies. Oh no, he’s driven a sand-buggy into a NUCLEAR MINEFIELD! Would watch the whole thing.
Let There Be Light – Very odd this, it’s a drama-documentary by Alan Plater but which starts off as an episode of Please Sir! before one of the characters talks to us, then takes us back in time to see how schools used to be, one hundred years ago. Baffling but intriguing. Would watch the whole thing.
Bath – The Queen Of The West – A travelogue with the original Dimbleby walking around in front of blown-up photographs of the interior of Bath Cathedral. Bath looks pretty much the same now. If it didn’t, this would be more interesting.
Sing Me A Fantasy – Oh god, this was wonderful! Apparently a TV station was losing its franchise, so on the last day, they made this bizarre comedy-musical about a man marooned on a traffic island, only to discover it’s a desert island where Kenny Lynch is making ‘I won’t need sun-tan lotion!’ jokes. Would buy on DVD to watch again and again.
Manfred Mann At The Concorde Club – Either the film was playing at the wrong speed or kids in the sixties were taking some serious drugs. At this point in their career, Manfred Mann were a very dull rhythm-and-blues band. Interesting mainly to see that in the 60’s, kids really didn’t know how to dance.
The Lulu Show – Now, I loved this. People I were with, were bored. I thought it was great. I love Lulu (Mickie Most era only, I hasten to add), I like hearing her do songs she didn’t do on albums, and it’s historically interesting to hear her perform a Eurovision submission by ‘Elton John And Bernie Porpine’. Plus there was a great bit with a conductor doing an insanely jazzed-up version of Downtown; the conductor being the best dancer on the show, even though it featured Pan’s People. Would watch others in this series.
Secombe Here! – A variety show seemingly from the days before the flood. Extremely hard work to watch for most of it, because in those days television was black and white and NO SHADES OF GREY INBETWEEN, so everyone drifts about like a ghost, and variety shows were lots of sing, lots of dance, and not much else. If I tell you the trampoline act was the highlight, you have some idea. But in the middle of that, there was an okay hypnotism sketch with Spike Milligan, and even Secombe’s intro was playing with the format, having him in the audience heckling the show rather than presenting it.
And then at the end, Secombe dresses up in musketeer gear to sing an operatic piece, very well... and then Spike and Eric Sykes come on as musketeers, and the three of them end up having a sword fight. Which is quite funny. And then the rest of the cast on stage pull out swords and join in the sword fight. Then Spike, Harry and Eric take the sword-fight off stage, past the studio cameras – and the cameramen pull out swords and join in the fight. Then members of the audience pull out swords and join in the fight. Then we’re out in the theatre foyer, again, more people pull out swords. Then we’re outside the theatre, Harry or Spike is hailing a taxi, a taxi pulls up, and the taxi driver leaps out with a sword and joins in the swordfight.
Then we cut to the BBC continuity presenter talking to us about the rest of the evening’s schedules and the weather... and then Spike, Eric and Harry leap onto the set and the continuity presenter pulls out a sword and joins in the fight. The fight then moves across the studio to the news presenter, in front of a photo of Big Ben, he pulls one of the hands off the clock and joins in the fight.
Honestly, it was hilarious. Really brilliant, playing-with-the-form stuff, and at a time when television had barely started, long before Monty Python and The Young Ones and Alexei Sayle did a similar sort of thing. I’m not the biggest fan of the Goons, but this was great.
The Frankie Howerd Show – And a bit of a comedown. This must’ve been the last in the series or something, because for a script by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, it was very thin on jokes. The show was, Frankie comes on, waffles, makes jokes about the producer (as Ronnie Corbett would later do in his monologues), talks about being tired, we flashback to the night before where rehearsals aren’t going well, where Frankie can’t sleep and where he has some unexpected guests, and... that’s it. All in all, a bit of a disappointment.
At Last The 1948 Show – A reconstruction of a previously missing episode, bringing together recently found footage, off-air audio and sketches included in a compilation. The most famous sketch was the Four Yorkshiremen, best known because the Pythons did it for their Hollywood Bowl show. Before that, though, were two quickies about Police/MI5 Banquets, Aimi MacDonald demonstrating her juggling skills (brilliant), Cleese and Brooke-Taylor being reunited with a couple of nerds they had met on holiday (very How To Irritate People, particularly the punch-line), a sketch about a dentist being distracted by his dental assistant which then takes a turn for the surreal, and best of all, Tim Brooke Taylor performing the Chartered Accountant dance.
So there you go. In a way, it’s good all these programmes were lost, because if they hadn’t been lost, they couldn’t have been found, and no-one would ever have had the chance to see them again.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Have been a bad blogger, sorry. Sorry it’s been so long since my last spurt of wisdom.
Two excuses. Excuse one is that I’ve been extremely busy on half-a-dozen different writing projects, and when you’ve got people breathing down your metaphorical neck, it’s hard to find time to type recreationally. Plus after a hard day writing, it can feel like you’ve run out of words, that it’s just more work. Plus it Looks Bad; if you’re overdue delivering a script or article, it’s not a good idea to give the impression you have lots of time to spare on bloggery for no money. No, the people with the money must come first.
And secondly, because I’ve been busy, I haven’t done that much to spurt about. Not been to the theatre or the cinema since the last blog. I suppose I could review some of the films I’ve seen on DVD, TV shows on telly, albums I’ve downloaded, but the need hasn’t felt pressing. I intend to get around to writing my thoughts on The Secret State by Peter Hennessy and Shepperton Babylon by Matthew Sweet. And Tony Blair’s A Journey, when and if I ever finish it. And all the other books I’m currently half-way through reading. Plus we had a lovely wedding anniversary party. And, ooh, those politicians have made me angry.
It’s not as if I don’t have things to plug. The last three issues of the very fine Doctor Who Magazine have featured a comic strip by me called The Golden Ones, which will be concluding in the next issue, out next week. It seems to have gone down pretty well, the artwork and colouring has been fantastic, the Axons are monsters whose return has been long overdue, and everyone loves an alien invasion. If you’ve liked the first three parts, be warned, part four will take the top of your head off.
But I’ve got a few things to spurt about now. I’m on a diet, which I find utterly fascinating. I went to the BFI for Missing Believed Wiped, so expect a spurt on that. And then I went to see the gorgeous and unbelievably talented Marina And The Diamonds at the Roundhouse, so I must commit my thoughts to posterity on that show before I forget them. Plus there’s Nev Fountain’s brilliant Mervyn Stone books, I must recommend them. But, alas, I’ve already gone over my three hundred word limit, so that’ll all have wait ‘til tomorrow.