Thursday, 22 March 2018
First viewed : 28 August 1990
This was a four part US mini-series about the 1943 murder of Sir Harry Oakes in the Bahamas. Oakes was a major landowner on the islands and a billionaire. Apart from the fact that it remains unsolved, what gives the case its enduring interest is the involvement of the Governor, the former King Edward VIII. The Duke of Windsor had been posted there to keep him safely out of Hitler's clutches and prevent him being used as a figurehead for a Quisling-style regime in Britain. He was in charge of directing the investigation into the death of Oakes, a friend of his, and brought in two US detectives who quickly settled on Oakes's arriviste son-in-law De Marigny. The Duke has been accused of accepting De Marigny's guilt too quickly to cover up his involvement in illegal currency transactions. He went to America to avoid being called as a witness at De Marigny's trial where the prosecutor's evidence unravelled.
There were no further legal proceedings regarding the murder and it's generally thought Oakes was killed by the Mob for obstructing plans for a casino on the island. No one has accused the Duke of complicity in the murder itself but the affair further damaged his reputation and he was unemployed for the rest of his life.
In the series Oakes was played by Rod Steiger, Armand Assante played De Marigny and Andrew Ray played the Duke.
Wednesday, 21 March 2018
First viewed : Autumn 1990
I knew this one was coming up soon. Charlie Parsons was able to move on from the farrago of Club X to a relatively disciplined, studio-based magazine show that came to epitomise the Youth TV genre. I had completely forgotten that it started out in the same Friday evening slot as The Tube with an early morning repeat but after a few months it became established in its Friday night back from the pub slot.
The original presenters were young Mancunian loudmouth ( but very competent ) Terry Christian and posh model Amanda de Cadenet soon joined by Londoner Mark Lamarr and the ghastly Katie Puckrick whose Valley Girl persona drove me up the wall. Once secure in its late night slot, the show became notorious for its "anything goes" policy including the infamous "The Hopefuls" slot where audience members did repellent stunts for a few moments of TV fame, accurately predicting the whole reality TV genre. There were always musical guests playing live , generating a fair few "incidents" themselves.
Among many memorable moments I'd pick :
- De Cadenet's appalling younger brother "Bruiser", an Eton pupil doing a guest presenter slot. When Christian asked him what his school motto was, guest Paul Heaton interjected, "class hate".
- Coronation St's Nigel Pivaro launching into a ( possibly alcohol-assisted ) rant about unemployment, oblivious to Christian's "you haven't seen the show before have you " expression
- In a similar vein , athelete Roger Black's discomfort at sitting on the sofa while a man put a condom up one nostril and pulled it out of the other, responding with an embarrassed "This is quality television !"
- John Lydon being a complete arsehole, prompting Christian's acidic " You can't have your punk heroes turn into pantomime dames can you ?"
- L7's Donna Spars treating the front row to a close up view of her genitalia
- Trainwreck alcoholic actress Lynne Perrie's beyond-embarrassing version of I Will Survive
- Christian inviting boxer Chris Ewbanks's hecklers to move a little closer
- Oliver Reed's sober contempt at being secretly filmed mooching about his dressing room
By it's very nature, you can't have youth TV programmes hanging around too long so five years for The Word was a pretty good innings.
Tuesday, 20 March 2018
First viewed : 6 August 1990
I saw a bit of this at my friend Carl's house but I can't remember why I was there. There was no football on that evening so I don't know what I was doing there on a Monday night. It sticks in the mind because the part I saw was when Pink Floyd were coming on and the previous Saturday I'd driven Carl and another friend Sean to Harrogate for a pre-season friendly and included Floyd's Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast on the mix tape for the ride. Both of them were suitably appalled by it and I recall Carl saying when they came on "If they're going to do the Rice Krispie song, it's going off !"
They didn't and in fact I doubt they've ever played it live.
Monday, 19 March 2018
First viewed : Summer 1990
This was another late night Friday item on ITV but rather more interesting than The Highwayman. Sharing only the producer with the long-running slasher franchise of the same name, the US / Canadian series concerned a pair of young cousins who inherit an antiques shop from an evil occultist uncle and have to track down a series of cursed objects sold from the shop that would otherwise wreak havoc. They were aided in their quests by an old business associate of their uncle who knew the provenance of the objects, a helpful device to explain the premise to the audience.
My viewing of this too was interrupted by post-pub lapses in consciousness but I was usually awake enough to appreciate the charms of Micki, played by Canadian actress Louise Robey ( mysteriously referred to by her surname only in the credits ) who was big of hair and disdainful of bra.
The series' three season-run was already over in the US and it has been overshadowed by a subsequent series featuring a M/F pair of paranormal investigators though I'd take Robey over Gillian Anderson any day.
Sunday, 18 March 2018
First viewed : Summer 1990
This was nothing to do with Dick Turpin, it was a short-lived US action series broadcast late night on a Friday on ITV. It starred a block of wood called Sam Jones - best known for being Flash Gordon in the 1980 film - as a road cop in the near future which looked and sounded very like the late eighties. He had an even more lunk -headed sidekick Jetto played by Mark Jackson, a former Australian rules footballer who was similarly challenged in the acting department. His rig had a concealed helicopter and could become invisible.
I only ever saw this half-conscious and it just seemed noisy and utterly vacuous. Only nine episodes were made.
Saturday, 17 March 2018
First viewed : 31 July 1990
This was a two part US mini-series based on a true crime book by Ann Rule about convicted murderer Diane Downs who killed one of her children and seriously wounded the other two in order to be with her selfish lover.. The prosecutor adopted the two surviving children after her conviction. Apart from Downs herself, all the character's names were changed to afford some measure of privacy.
Downs was played by Farrah Fawcett, a casting choice by which one imagines the fairly dowdy Downs would have been flattered. Her lover was played by real-life husband Ryan Neal. The ever-busy John Shea played the prosecutor.
The scene I remember best is the courtroom scene where it's alleged that Downs used Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf to psyche herself up for the shootings and she starts grooving along to it in the dock.
Friday, 16 March 2018
First viewed : 30 July 1990
This timely post-Cold War thriller was a joint venture between Granada and a German TV company. I can't remember too much of the plot detail but it starred the always reliable Jeroen Krabbe as a deceitful people smuggler whose main victims played by Suzanna Hamilton and Joanne Pearce unite to take revenge against him.