I’ve got Eurosong fever, Ted…

Ahhh, yes. It’s the only Saturday night of the year I look forward to. It’s Eurovision night. the only night of the year where I can quite happily enjoy 20-odd songs of questionable garbage. And, as is tradition, I shall comment on here regarding my findings. So this post will look bare right now, but it will fill up as the night goes on, from when it all kicks off at 8. BRING ON THE CRAP!

Well, before it’s started, Status Quo have just been on the lottery. I’ve always had a soft spot for The Quo, and this isn’t bad. I’m not going to be running all the way to Amazon to buy it, but it if came on the radio, I wouldn’t turn it off. Though, chances of it actually being played on the radio are rather slim.

20:02: Oh dear. It’s a Eurovision butterfly.

20:05: Yeah, so they’re going through the buildup. They’re singing the new European anthem. Or something. It’s done by Avici and one of the blokes out of Abba.

20:14 – FRANCE

She really need to brush her hair. Song slightly reminds me of Black Velvet. I can’t remember the name of the song.

20:18 – LITHUANIA (Something)

That’s the song name. I missed part of the song while I went to get the laptop, but it was average.

20:29 Oh oh, oh oh a-ding-dong. I missed most of the last few minutes, I’ve just got my MP3 player to work properly.

20:31 – SPAIN (ESDM)

A song that stoarts off with bagpipes will either go one way or the other. It went the good way. I really liked that.

20:36 – BELGIUM

Poor guy looks like a young Chris De Burgh.

20:39 – ESTONIA

Oh, here we are, shitty, slow ballad that’ll probably do really well, even though it doesn’t deserve to. And dry ice.

20:43 – BELARUS

I’m sure this is on one of Shakira’s CDs. I like it. Except she appears to go Brummie… “When the sun is always shining on YAAAOW”. I missed the end of this song due to the fact iplayer crapped out.

09: MALTA

I realise it probably makes more sense to but the track number than the time.

10: RUSSIA (DINA GARIPOVA – WHAT IF)

I missed most of this, as I have broken the seal. didn’t seem to impressive

11: GERMANY

This wouldn’t sound out of place in a club somewhere. Come on, where are the daft songs? We’re up to number 11, and I haven’t cringed once.

12: ARMENIA

Composed by one of those blokes out of Black Sabbath. Hmm. Those flame effects are a bit yellow. they want to check for carbon monoxide right about there.

13: NETHERLANDS

Well, there was a brief pause there for a “comedy” film, and back to the songs. this is the worst one I’ve heard so far, which means, it’ll probably do really well. Slow, very little melody, and singer isn’t much of a looker. NEXT! Wow we’re half way through ,and I haven’t got bored of doing this yet. Hope you’re staying tuned.

14: ROMAINIA

Ah, here we go, the daft songs! Some bloke singing like an opera singer. I have no idea what he’s singing about.

15: GREAT BRITAIN

Here we go! I don’t know why they keep recycling old singers. Sponglebert Jumpydink last year, this year Bonnie Tyler. It’s the first time I’ve heard it, and so far it’s actually rather pedestrian. Where are the gimmicks? We wouldn’t have won in 1981 if it wasn’t for the miniskirts. We wouldn’t have won in 1997 if the singer wasn’t Canadian. It’s not great. but I do love Bonnie Tyler.

16: SWEDEN (ROBIN STJERNBERG – YOU

I usually have a soft spot for Sweden’s entries. One of my favourite songs is “Invincible / Evighet” by Carola. Unfortunately, this doesn’t meet up to the same standard as that.

17: HUNGARY

Yeah, I’m not always watching the screen, so to answer a question, that’s why I’m only putting certain track names in. the guy has glasses like I had when I was 8.

18: DENMARK

Apparently, this is the favourite to win it. Same with bagpipes. songles with penny whistles in them can go one way or another. I can see why this is the favourite, as I’m really, really liking it. Golden confetti really fucks with the iplayer stream.

19. ICELAND

Not bad, though the singer looks like the love child of Rick Wakeman, and Rod out of Rod, Jane & Freddy.

20 AZEJ…. AZJERBI…. ABERJI…. BORAT

Bloke in a box. Instant flashbacks of Peter Griffin cocking his leg and farting. What happens if there’s a fire and he needs to get out there? Now they’re filling the box with rose petals! Let’s hope the guy doesn’t have hay fever.

21: GREECE

A track called “Alcohol is Free”. and YES! This is the type of shit I was this for. Mad as a yard of mince. Douse Points!

22: UKRAINE

Singer carried on my 7′ 8″ bloke with size 24 feet. Big feet, big socks. I bet he can’t walk into Primani and get a back of five near the counter. Song forgettable.

23: ITALY

this was at number one for 8 weeks in Italy. I’d love to check the records and see when the last time we had a Eurovision song at number one BEFORE the contest. I’ll bet it’s a while ago. Music in Italy must be non-existant if this sold well. I don’t like it at all.

Is there a break soon? I need a wee.

24: NORWAY

Graham Norton’s just given his first warning about strobe effects. Now, so far before every song that uses them, it warns you with a big banner across the screen. Surely, if he’s giving the warning audibly, the only people who are listening, are those who can’t actually see, negating the need to audibly announce the strobing effects.

I’ve not actually listened to the song. I’m still trying to work the warning.

25: GEORGIA

It’s like a modern version of “Save Your Love”. One more song and then I can get a packet of Monster Munch and a piss. Not at the same time, might I add.

26: IRELAND

Normally they have good songs. Heavy percussion is a bonus, so I like the backing track but the song itself really isn’t amazeballs.

SONG’S FINISHED. To the toilet!

22:39
Right, here we go. Results time. 39 results to go.

22:49
29 results to go, and we’re second last, with one point. We need to pull out of this shit.

And, it was around that part of the night I gave up. We’d lost horribly, and I had some other things to play with, so I went off with those. We didn’t finish last. I think we were about 5th last. Can’t remember, don’t particularly care. Still, it was an enjoyable mess of songs. Some catchy, some complete dross, and some I’m actually considering buying. All in all, it’s been just like every other Eurovision. Except, it’s just not the same since Terry stopped doing it…

1980s ITV Athletics theme… (The Heat – Richard Myhill)

Some of you may remember this. Many of you won’t. I could probably copy and paste the following from many other articles I’ve written about my love of obscure themes, but I won’t.

Back in the days when ITV actually had some athletics coverage, they used a guitar/piano type theme, which as a kid, I adored. I instantly knew I was in for an afternoon / evening of… erm, athletics.

ITV revamped their coverage for the 1990 European Championships in Split, and this awesome theme was dropped. Unfortunately, no video exists of the introductions that use the theme on youtube, or anywhere else for that matter, except for a realplayer video I have. It’s 35 seconds long, and 655K in size. You can imagine the quality.

I’d never heard this music anywhere else (except in an advert played once on the radio when going down the A19 when I was about 7 or 8).

In a series of mind ramblings involving Shazam (that mobile phone app that attempts to guess which song you’re listening to), and its inability to name this particular track, I typed into Google, “ITV Athletics theme”. The first few results were for the newer theme (which I’ve already got), but one hit was from Amazon…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/ITV-Athletics/dp/B002X3LOB6

I took one look at the ‘CD cover’, and the generic name / artist of this track, and thought “Yeah, Okay. This is going to be an awful re-recording of something”.

I pressed play on the sample. The wallet flew out of my pocket quicker than what a Shearas Punjabi Wrap flies out of my body the morning after a night out. It’s amazingly the very same track!

For anyone with access to Spotify, here’s the link to the full track:-
Spotify Link

For the record…
00:00-00:30 seconds was never played
00:30-01:00 was the main theme
01:00-01:10 was the bit Jim Rosenthal used to talk over.

NOTE: The timings above are entirely wrong, as I failed to notice a subtle edited loop in the original theme, despite listening to the track constantly for around an hour.

The rest of the track was rarely played, but occasionally edited for random purposes such as viewer competitions, etc.

I thought for many years it was by Argent/Van Hooke, as they knocked out many themes for ITV around this time, but no, it’s actually by the same guy who did the famous 1970s-2000s Grandstand theme, Keith Mansfield.

EDIT 2: It’s not Keith Mansfield, it’s Richard Myhill, and is entitled “The Heat” from his record “Out Front”. the confusion probably came about by whoever released this, because it was featured on the KPM record library.

Right now, I want to be stood in the middle of an athletics track, in the pouring rain, looking slightly pissed off and uttering those immortal words… “Hello, from Brussels”…

BBC REH 387… Yes, it’s more theme tunes!

It’s a while since I’ve done a theme-music oriented post. This time it’s not from a CD, it’s from an LP, but not any old one, this one is from the 1980, and it’s as far as I can tell, it’s called “BBC Comedy themes”. Now, this record isn’t mine, unfortunately. Instead, it was thrust into my sweaty palms by Andy the Iridium Fan, and span on my turntable for approximately 38 minutes…

01. THE GOODIES THEME – The Goodies (1975, Bradleys, BRADL 1010)

I don’t particularly like this theme. I didn’t really like The Goodies. I was too young for them, and they haven’t been repeated for decades. (Note, hoewever, that they’re getting repeats on BBC2 this month). It’s just one of the tunes with sets of words that grate on me. Not listenable. Sorry.

02. FAWLTY TOWERS – The Dennis Wilson Quartet

There’s no release / catalogue data for this one, so presumably, it was never released “officially”. It’s a happy tune, then dark, then happy, then dark again. Slow. I have a feeling it’s one of those themes where a short piece of music was recorded for the show, then when the show becomes popular, the theme is extended to fill the space on a record. Rather the reverse of library music. If this was a piece of library music, I’d expect a bit more information on the sleeve.

03. THE LIKELY LADS (WHATEVER HAPPENED TO YOU?) – Highly Likely (1973, BBc Records, RESL 10)

These types of “theme” send shivers down my spine, as I absolutely love them. A proper song, written by the writer of the actual series itself. Famed for it’s chorus, “oooh, what happened to you, whatever happened to me, what became of the people, we used to be”.

This theme was remade many years later by the punk rock band “Snuff”, released under the title “Christmas Single”.

04. SOME MOTHER’S DO ‘AVE ‘EM – Ron Grainer (1978, Polydor, 2384.107)

Here’s a fascinating fact for you. Did you know that the theme tune for this show actually spells out “Some Mohters Do Ave Em” in morse code? Apparently, it does. Ronnie Hazelhurst, you absolute, but slightly dead, legend.

This particular track, however, is the perfect example of non-library filler music. According to this recording, the SMDAE theme is 18 seconds long. Unfortunately, after the end of the famous 18-second piccolo intro, the theme is transformed into some ungodly abomination of ‘jazz’, roughly based around the theme, complete with painfully out-of-place glockenspiel.

Originally, it was recorded for the 1978 album “Sixteen Small Screen Greats”. This album is still in existence somewhere, and this is what it looks like.

05. Q. 8. THEME – Spike Milligan + Ed Welch (1979, UNITED ARTISTS, UAG 30223)

I’m totally unfamilar with the show, but am in love with this theme. Ed Welch is one of my heroes. If I could shake his hand, I would. I didn’t even know this was one of his while the record was playing. One day, I’ll do a blog post about Ed Welch. This theme, apparently, is the main theme for the show, left to loop a couple of times, with Mr. Milligan providing some ad-libbing during the theme’s quiet parts.

06. STEPTOE AND SON (Old Ned), The Ron Grainer Orchestra, (1962, Pye 7N 45141)

This is the “famous” version of the theme, meaning that this is the version most likely to turn up if anyone mentions this particular theme. I didn’t realise it was particular recording was so old, but it is – conicidentally, ATIF brought round a Steptoe + Son soundtrack LP from 1962, and it was used on there too.

07. MONTY PYTHON (THE LIBERTY BELL) – The Band of The Welsh Guards (1971 BBC RESL 121)

As far as I know, this could have been the version used on the programme. It is, after all, released on the BBC record label. It’s the full thing though, therefore it doesn’t have the fart noise as the end. Not the same without this.

SIDE B

08. THEME FROM MASH – The Mash (1970, CBS 8536)

Accodring to the sleeve notes, the instrumental version of the theme was never officially released, therefore they’ve resorted to including the version released as a single. Thankfully, they didn’t go with the version listed on the Ronnie Hazelhurst album listed above.

09. DAD’S ARMY (WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE KIDDING MR. HITLER?) – Bud Flanagan (PYE 7N 17854)

Timed at just over a minute long, yet still one of the most recognisable themes on the album. It was recorded in 1969, and was the last recording from Bud Flanagan before he died. It’s not actually a war song. Play a few seconds of it to anyone, and it’s instantly recognisable. This is the “full” version, with the extra couple of lines worth of lyrics.

10. GOING STRAIGHT – Ronnie Barker (1978, EMI 2768)

The spin-off from Porridge, with its own sotry-telling theme tune. I’ve never seen the show, so not sure how much of it got used in the programme itself. It’s a jolly, rather humorous number. On a separate note, I was asked a quizzical question by someone at work… “what was the show that came after Porrige?” Not only could I give the title, I could sing the theme tune. I believe the personconcerned thought I was rather odd for knowing this, and he’d be right.

11. LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE (1978, POLYDOR 2384.107)

Oh dear. It’s another one from the afore-mentioned Ronnie Hazelhurst album. This is one of the few programmes I can think of, that for each episode, they just re-recorded the theme, along with the incidental music. Here’s an odd question I’m not expecting an answer to… did any other school “sing” this theme around the harvest festival time, as in, someone gave it lyrics? Something about eating bread…

12. THE LIVER BIRDS (ON A MOUNTAIN STANDS A LADY) – The Scaffold (1969 EMI PARLOPHONE 5812)

This particular recording formed the B side of the single “Gin Gan Goolie”, and only reached #38 in the charts. I know of the show, and know that it had the laaa-la-laaaa-laaa bit in it, but after checking youtube, it would appear this isn’t the version used in the programme – it had different lyrics, and a whistly bit at the start. No doubt, though, this was the base of the theme, but this recording is just a song, later adapted for the programme.

13. THE FALL AND RISE OF REGINALD PERRIN (1978 POLYDOR 3284.107)

As the album plays its penultimate track, I must admit to hating the last two themes. This one has the sickening combination of a show I don’t particularly know, awful 70s flutes, hideously twangy guitar, and a catalogue number of 3284.107. Yup, Ronnie Hazelhurst again. Now you may think I don’t like this guy. You’d be wrong, it’s just unfortunate they chose poor recordings for this album. I’m tempted to trawl ebay to see if I can get an original of the album, just to hear how bad the other tracks are.

14. IT AIN’T HALF HOT HOT MUM (MEET THE GANG) (1975 EMI EMC 3074)

By the time the show ended, I wasn’t even 2 years old. I can’t say I remember seeing a complete episode. I do, however, remember the “variety show” opening of the show. It’s the song they used to sing on that. It’s just not great.

So, there we are, 14 tracks. Some good, some bad, some I’d rather carve out of existence. It seems to follow the path of all of the other theme albums I’ve had the chance to listen to.

Pat Sharp, Mullet extraordinaire.

It’s not often I get set challenges to write on this blog. I believe the last one may have been about a Rice Krispie square. It’s buried in the archives somewhere. Anyway, I was having a discussion with a certain Mr. Dick Brown. you may remember him from the infamous website dick-brown.com. I’ve actually linked to the website, because, honestly, at the moment, the site looks better than its done since its inception.

Anyway, I’d like to say this was a drunken discussion, but unfortunately, no, we were both sat in Employment Palace. As the boredom took hold, he looked at me and said (or rather, emailed me) those infamous words…

“Was pat sharpes mullet the greatest hair cut ever? Please explain your answer and show your working out. ”

YES, is the answer to this, for Mr. Patrick Sharpin, was without doubt the king of mullets. Note, how I say, was, as in recent times, he has ditched the trademark mullet, and has since disappeared into obscurity. Imagine if Hitler Charlie Chaplin had shaved off his famous toothbrush moustache? Would he be as famous? I am quite sure the answer is quite simply no.

To prove this, we just have to take a quick look at “Fun House”. Mr. Sharp’s tea-time extravaganza, featuring all of the things important to an adolescent, watching telly on a friday afternoon whilst on a complete sugar rush that is expected to last all weekend. Yes, those things are go-karts, mess, people falling over, a huge padded obstacle course (which I would often dream about going into) and above-all, a presenter with a wacky hairstyle and a jolly personality.

It would be wrong of me to think of Mr. Sharp as simply just the presenter of Fun House. During the late eighties and early nineties, who can forget this foray into the pop charts, with such classics as his remake of “Use it up And Wear it Out” – a duo with Mick Brown. I actually owned this particular single. I use the past tense there, as it was so indescribably bad, it ended up getting thrown out. I do remember, however, that the cover featured Mr Sharp’s mullet. The label was an embossed silver colour, and I have no idea what the B side was.

Mr. Sharp was last spotted in an episode of Never Mind The Buzzcocks, unfortunately sans mullet.

In conclusion, I am happy that Mr. Sharp brought the mullet back to the publics attention. I never had the chance to grow one. That’s probably a good thing.

EDIT: Thanks to c64glen for finding a video on Youtube with Mr. Sharp, and Melanie + Martine…

Hard to believe the twins are nearly in their 40s…

Yesterday turned out great

My word. Considering I was claiming it was going to be a shit day, it actually went really good.

No sooner had I pressed “Send” on my previous post, Daddykins awoke, and came downstairs. Before I even had a chance to plead with him to take me somewhere, his first words uttered to me were “Get your shoes on”…

“…why? Where are we going?” I replied. It seemed a bit of an odd statement considering he’d only been awake a few minutes.

“Don’t know yet” was his reply.

I was shocked, and delighted. Me and Daddykins were going on a proper day out for the first time since at least 1997. Sure, we’d been places before, but not for a proper Father/son type thing. There had always been “complications”. OK, I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t got the new car, but I’ll not use that as an excuse. I’m sure my dad took me out because he loved me… yes, that must be the reason.

Needless to say, I took my camera. My dad must have had some idea where we were going, as we headed in the direction of the North Yorkshire Moors. Well, when I general, I mean DIRECTLY, even taking the necessary shortcuts Daddykins had picked up during his many years working around that area.

This narrowed it down to a few places… three, in fact. Whitby, Grosmont, or Goathland, the real-life village which is the setting for Heartbeat’s “Aidensfield”. Whitby was quickly ruled out, which is just as well, as it’s expensive, probably crowded, and there’s nowhere to park easily. I remember this from when we used to go to days out to Whitby as a child. We (being me, my mother, nanna, and any other freinds/relatives who tagged along) would get dropped off, then my dad used to disappear somwehre with the car, sometimes taking half an hour to return, after parking it in some obscure back lane for free.

So, Grosmont, or Goathland. I was indeed correct. Daddykins took one look at the parking situation in Grosmont, and thought “sod that”… I didn’t quite work out why, either the car park was full, or it was too expensive. Either way, we kept going, along the same road, through Grosmont, and onto Goathland. As we approached the centre of the village, our path was blocked by a policeman. Daddykins rolled the window down (or rather, pressed the button that brings the window down). and asked him what was going on…

“Oh, they’re just shooting a scene”, he replied. “Won’t take long… they’re averaging about 3 minutes per take”. Woooo! They were filming, there and then. I could hardly believe my luck. Daddykins got chatting to the copper.

“So, where’ve you came from?” The copper asked, to start conversation.
“Hartlepool… West View”, daddykins replied, quite correctly.
“Ohhh, West view Road?”, the copper replied.

Turns out that the guy’s grandparents lived on West View Road, near the Brus, and he used to eat in the (now demolished) Brus Cafe. What are the chances of that happening? It’s not quite as amazing as the time I stayed in a hotel on the Isle of Wight, and the owner knowing Eric Wilkie who used to drink in the Queens, and a good friend of mine and especially my dad. Even Coatesy knew him. Eric, you may remember, is whose front room I spewed up in on the Millenium night.

Er, anyway, I’ve swayed way off topic there. Back to Goathland. The take eventually finished, and we were free to go on our way, to the car park. It cost £2 to park up for the full day, which I consider entirely reasonable, though in previous visits, we parked for free on the edges of the road, but these are all now yellow-lined. Bugger. Either way, we parked up, and headed for the site of the filming…

Here’s one of the takes…

After I took this photo, I was told by some anonymous woman in a Hi-Vis jacket that I couldn’t take photos while they were recording. That, to me, doesn’t make much sense. 1) my camera is silent when taking photos, 2) I was in a public place.

I’ve always wondered how the law stands on such matters. I must admit, I was 100% compliant with her request – personally I just enjoyed watching the recording, and was happy in the knowledge that between takes, I could photograph what I wanted, most of it appearing very similar to what I could have shot during the takes – same people, same equipment, slightly different stance, maybe. It’s all a bit academic anyway, as I only took 6 photos while watching the filming. Ah well.

That was an added bonus to the day I wasn’t expecting in the first place.

We spent a big portion of the day at the train station, as they have steam trains there, and Daddykins loves them. As expected, the whole place is kept in a retro style, with old fashioned advertising placards dotted around.

The first thing we did when we got there was get some refreshments. Daddykins can’t function without his morning cup of coffee, and considering we’d went straight out, he never had chance to have it. I was surprised he’d went as long as he did without collapsing into a caffiene-deficiency related coma. Either way, we watched a total of 3 trains come in and out…

… each of them looking like that one. It’s a shame there’s only a few of these things running anymore, as they’re certainly impressive. And huge. And noisy.

During the wait between the trans approaching, we went for a walk up the side of the hill, which formed the valley that the station was in. Before you leave the station, however, was this gate…

Penalty for leaving the gate open, £2. I’m sure that this sign was added when two pounds was actually a lot of money, and actually a bit of a deterrent. Never mind though, as everyone who went through it did indeed close the gate. It wasn’t a hard walk, and the view for reaching the top was stunning

There was no mobile phone signal, however, even at the top of the big hill, which I was a little surprised about. I wasn’t planning to call anyone, it was merely an observation.

After we watched the trains, it was time to take a last walk around the village, and take in the scenery.Something which is clear with this place is that they will never need anyone to mow the lawns, as there’s sheep everywhere…

I thought it was great personally. Although this was a novelty for me, being an outsider, I could imagine that the residents would get really rather sick of their fluffy white prescense…

As this point, I went into Ye Olde Gift shoppe, and bought Daddykins a little momento of the day, as a thanks for the day out – another model car for his collection. 20 years ago, the roles would have been reversed – he’d have been the one buying ME the toy car, but he collects them. And he has a lot of them.

On the way back, I took more photos, and finally managed to get a decent shot of Roseberry Topping

And that was pretty much it. On the way home we went to the chippy, only to find that it was completely packed. Therefore, the day was completed with a trip to the Brus Chippy. The chips were very nice, if a little expensive, and a little unforgiving with the portions.

The full set of photos can be viewed here.