If you grew up as a kid in the UK during the mid-70s through to the early 80s it’s a safe bet that you a spent few Saturday mornings glued to the tube watching kids show Tiswas (or “This Is Saturday, What A Show!”, “Today Is Saturday, Wear A (or Wake-up And) Smile!”, or (unofficially) “This Is Saturday, Watch And Suffer!”).
Tiswas had a live studio audience filled with young fans and tried to bring on various musical acts who were popular during the years it was broadcast such as Elvis Costello, Motörhead and in this case, The Pretenders. In 1981 Chrissie Hynde, Martin Chambers and Pete Farndon had the pleasure of participating in a skit called “The Phantom Flan Flinger Challenge.” The title of the segment sounds both delicious and gross but if you’ve ever seen the show you know things are not going to end well for Chrissie and her bandmates.
As it was a common practice to “repurpose” Tiswas’ videotape masters (“tape over” them) only a small number of episodes (according to some sources only 22) actually still exist.
Given the rarity of surviving Tiswas shows, I am happy to report that not only is the quality of this footage pretty great, it also contains a rather startling moment involving one of Tiswas’ hosts, Chris Tarrant, and Chrissie Hynde that will make you wonder if Tarrant ever made it out of the studio alive. I’ll leave you to ponder what that all means while you watch this amusing four minutes of footage.
The BBC science and technology show Tomorrow’s World ran for almost 40 years (and was affectionately parodied in Look Around You), but the bit of that show that concerns us here was just a hair longer than two minutes. It was a short glimpse at the seminal German band Kraftwerk, performing their song “Autobahn” in 1975, just before their ten year run of LPs from Radio-Activity through Electric Café completely changed the face of popular music, inspiring electronic dance/techno, hip-hop, and pretty much every form of post-punk rock music that used a synthesizer, making their classic lineup arguably as influential as Elvis. If only the BBC had known what was to come, they might have been persuaded to show more than just two minutes of the 22-minute song.
A few years ago, The Guardian made a rather bold claim about the snippet of footage, placing Kraftwerk’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it segment at NUMBER 1 in their series of 50 key events in the history of dance music! I actually find that assertion entirely plausible.
The germinating moment for British dance music occurred, strangely, in a 1975 edition of Tomorrow’s World, which featured four young Germans dressed like geography teachers, apparently playing camping stoves with wired-up knitting needles. This was Kraftwerk performing “Autobahn.”
“The sounds are created in their studio in Dusseldorf,” presenter Raymond Baxter explained, “then reprogrammed and then recreated onstage with the minimum of fuss.” Here was the entire electronic ethic in one TV clip: the rejection of rock’s fake spontaneity, the fastidious attention to detail, the Europhile slickness, the devotion to rhythm. It was sublime.
When Kraftwerk toured Britain later in 1975, David Bowie’s patronage ensured a long line of followers from OMD to Underworld. Not that everything they planned came to fruition. “Next year, Kraftwerk hope to eliminate the keyboard altogether,” Baxter told us, “and create jackets with electronic lapels that can be played by touch”. It could still happen.
Bonus! Enjoy this clip of Kraftwerk’s robot doubles, also on Tomorrow’s World, but from 1991.
Derek and Clive were foul-mouthed, devastatingly funny, lewd characters invented by the beloved British comedic duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in the early 1970’s. Cook and Moore were in New York in 1973 touring Broadway with their show Good Evening, a reworked live stage version of their 1964-1970 BBC television show Not Only…But Also (many episodes of which were unfortunately erased by the shortsightedly thrifty BBC).
At Cook’s request Island Records co-founder and music industry mogul Chris Blackwell provided the two with time at Electric Lady Studios in New York simply to hang out, drink, improvise, and riff off each other, mainly to relieve the tension and frustration that had built up during their time working together in New York.
The resulting surreal improvisation birthed working class British Trade Centre bathroom attendants Derek and Clive, updated and ruder variations of their earlier Pete and Dud characters. As usual Cook managed to make Moore dissolve into helpless laughter. No plans were initially made to release the recordings of their uproarious, stream of consciousness dialogue, but Blackwell passed around bootleg copies to his friends in the music business for years.
Eventually Cook decided that the tapes should be released properly, something Moore was unsure about, not wanting his newly popular, cuddly image in America to be tainted by the taboo topics and copious profanity of his alter ego. Extra live material from an appearance at the Bottom Line was added and Derek and Clive (Live) was released in 1976 on Island Records. There were two follow-up albums on Virgin Records, Derek and Clive Come Again and Derek and Clive Ad Nauseum. During the recording of Ad Nauseum in 1978 Virgin founder Richard Branson arranged for a prank involving a fake drug bust to take place in the studio.
Director Russell Mulcahy’s documentary Derek and Clive Get the Horn, chronicling the recording of Ad Nauseum, shows the disintegration of Cook and Moore’s relationship. Cook’s cruelest, snarkiest remarks aimed at Moore played a hand in their resulting estrangement. This album, during which Moore walked out, was their last collaboration of original material.
It’s hard to believe now that jokes about erections (“getting the horn”), blasphemy, masturbation, and liberal use of the epithet “cunt” was so shocking, but at the time British officials were so outraged at the language on the Derek and Clive albums that a concerted effort was made to suppress them. A UK gas station attendant was actually fired just for owning a copy of their second album, Derek and Clive Come Again. Peter Cook testified at the man’s tribunal. A zealous member of the Greater Manchester Police confiscated and impounded several hundred copies of the original video release (it had been denied a cinematic release by the British Board of Film Classification) of Derek and Clive Get the Horn, forcing the company that released it into bankruptcy. Four years ago it was discovered that three separate branches of British law enforcement in the late 1970’s had planned to bring formal obscenity charges against Cook and Moore.
Of course not—as we have a whole thirty-minute concert of The Kinks to watch! And it’s a candy box full of all our favorite centers!
02. “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues”
03. “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”
06. “Good Golly Miss Molly”
07. “You Really Got Me”
08. “All Day And All Of the Night”
09. “Waterloo Sunset”
10. “The Village Green Preservation Society”
An incredible moment in TV, Film and Comedy history: Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan interviewed by Tony Bilbow. Recorded at the Roundhouse’s Cinema City, London, for BBC TV’s Film Night, which aired on November 8th, 1970.
This is probably Kate Bush’s first TV interview from March 16th, 1978, when her debut single “Wuthering Heights” hit the top of the UK charts. Interviewed by Denis Tuohy, on the BBC’s Tonight show (fore-runner of Newsnight), who starts off by describing her song as ‘strange, lovely and fascinating’ before asking what was Kate’s attraction to Emily Brontë‘s novel Wuthering Heights, and the character Catherine Earnshaw?
In a sweet, child-like voice, teenager Kate explains it wasn’t so much the book rather the last 5 minutes of a TV series, based on the novel, which she saw as a child that had Cathy at a window wanting to get in. The image stuck, and Kate thought it ‘perfect material for a song.’
Kate started writing songs when she was around 11 or 12. She wrote in secret, and was unable to perform her songs in front of anyone, believing that if she did sing in front of others, then she had to give her best performance - which was something Kate felt she hadn’t quite mastered.
It was through a friend of her brother that tapes of her singing were passed onto executives in the recording industry, eventually reaching Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, who was wanting to help ‘struggling artists’. Gilmour put up the money to pay for a demo of selected songs, which secured Kate a record deal. She was 16-years-of-age.
Over the next 2 years, Kate took time to write new material and worked towards creating a stage persona. When asked by Tuohy what inspired her song-writing, Kate replied:
‘It is very often from other people. I mean people are just so full of poetry, they say it all the time. There are the most amazing phrases that people come up with that aren’t covered, and you can really draw from people’s minds.’
This short film on Member’s Only Gentlemen’s Clubs and London Club Life from 1965, may look dated and even slightly quaint, capturing a world of seedy Anthony Powell characters in run-down, thread-bare, drafty rooms, but in very real terms, little has changed.
The Old Boy’s Network of privilege and power is still very much alive, and the British Establishment is probably now stronger than it has been in decades. Look at the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee, or the sofa jingoism of the Olympics, or this week with the failure of the Church of England to vote in favor of Women Bishops, and now today, the appointment of Lord Tony Hall as the new Director General of the BBC.
Hall was chosen by Lord Christopher Patten, whose previous choice for DG had been the hapless “incurious” George Entwistle, the man who was forced to resign after 54 days in office. Now Patten has appointed Hall - without an interview - as the new DG.
Hall is a successful ex-BBC man, who currently runs the Royal Opera House. He may be a decent and honorable man, he may kiss dogs and pat babies, and help old age pensioners across the street, but he is a BBC man, steeped in the arcane and out-dated traditions of a Corporation that is out-of-touch with the reality of life in Britain. His appointment is rather like voting for a Mitt Romney rather than a Barack Obama, it’s a wishful return to an illusory past, rather than moving forward into the present century. Even some of the effusive praise on twitter harks back to an older time - this from broadcaster David Dimbleby:
‘A brilliant choice. It feels like being in the Royal Navy when they were told, “Winston is back!”’
It’s strange that a previous era of strife, hardship, bigotry and division should be seen as commendable. Earlier this year, the up-market Daily Telegraph (of all broadsheets) reported on the analysis of “the make-up of the Lords found that 45 per cent of peers also had a London club such as the Garrick Club, Carlton Club or White’s.”
The [analysis], published in the journal Sociology, also showed the enduring power of Eton and Oxbridge, with around one in 10 of all members of the Lords educated at the Berkshire school whose past pupils also include David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
Dr Matthew Bond, a sociologist at London South Bank University, who conducted the study, said that it showed that, despite reforms, the Lords continued to be dominated by those with “vested interests in traditional status structures”.
He said it showed that: “The persistent hold of the British establishment on the political imagination is not without reason.”
Those who went to school at Eton showed a particular propensity to join such clubs, the study found, while they were also popular among this with a background in the military, civil service and the church.
“These groups – hereditaries, males, Old Etonians, Tories and, to a lesser extent, business people – have vested interests in traditional status structures,” said Dr Bond.
“In their social characteristics they also closely mirror popular conceptions of an establishment which have featured in popular discussions of the British power structure since the 50s.
“If they do not have a monopoly over elite positions, they at least have a formidable presence.”
This “formidable presence” is what links Tony Blair’s working-class father’s move from Glaswegian Communism to middle-England Toryism, with Eton-educated David Cameron belief that elitism in education will mend Britain’s so-called “broken society.” This “formidable presence” isn’t tradition - it is the maintenance of an out-dated, misogynistic, divisive and malfunctioning Establishment.
Members Only is a fine snap shot of club life in the 1960s, which moves from gentlemen’s clubs to casinos and then onto the bohemian hang outs, such as the Colony Room (look out for the legendary Muriel Belcher) and jazz clubs, where a young Annie Ross performs.
I wonder if Mark Thompson had anything to declare when he went through customs en route for his new job at the New York Times? Probably not.
And now he is ensconced as CEO at the NYT, I wonder if “Gnasher” Thompson has anything to declare over the Jimmy Savile scandal that has engulfed the BBC?
Even so, I can’t help thinking that this is not the end of the story, for I find it hard to believe that Thompson knew nothing about those stories regarding Jimmy Savile, or was not at least aware of them. It now appears that I am not the only one who thinks this. Allegedly former BBC journalist, Keith Graves, finds it hard to believe, as he, or someone commenting under his name, posted on the Daily Mail:
Mark Thompson says that during his time at the BBC he “never heard any allegations” about Savile. During his years in the television newsroom, culminating in a period editing the flagship evening new, rumours about Savile being ‘into little girls’ were rife as were often crude comments about hims and his behaviour. It is inconceivable that those rumours, which were, I recall, often discussed in the BBC club bar by news staff, did not reach his ears.
- Keith Graves, Valencia, Spain, 28/10/2012 13:27
Even Mike Hollingsworth, the man who first employed Thompson as his assistant at the BBC, said in the Daily Telegraph, Thompson would have had to been “tone deaf” not to have heard rumors about Jimmy Savile.
“He must be mad denying that he’d heard anything about Saville. We had all heard the rumours. You would have to have been tone deaf not to have heard them…
“I know that Mark has a strong Catholic faith, but it wasn’t as if this was something that people would whisper about when he came into a room – he is a man of the world. You just have to look at the programming he put out when he took over at Channel 4 to see that he wasn’t in the least bit squeamish when it came to all kinds of discussions about sex.”
This incredulity from former colleagues has only increased the growing disquiet over the “baggage” Thompson is perceived to be bringing to his new job at the New York Times, as one of the paper’s editors, Margaret Sullivan wondered in a blog:
“How likely is it that [Thompson] knew nothing?....His integrity and decision-making are bound to affect The [New York] Times and its journalism – profoundly. It’s worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.”
The questions hinge on what Thompson knew about the Jimmy Savile scandal, when he was Director General at the BBC. It’s an important issue, one that saw his replacement, George Entwisle (or “Incurious George”) resign his position over not knowing about a Newsnight item that led to a gross libel against an innocent man. If Entwistle was considered guilty for not knowing about the serious allegations broadcast by his flagship news program, then where does that leave Thompson, who claims he knew little or virtually nothing about a planned Newsnight investigation into abuse allegations involving Jimmy Savile?
What little Thompson did know he dismissed in a letter to Conservative MP, Rob Wilson:
“What did happen is that, at a drinks reception late last year, a journalist mentioned to me the existence of the investigation and said words to the effect of “you must be worried about the Newsnight investigation?” This was the first I had heard of the investigation…Although I recall hearing at the time of his death that BBC Television might do something (a tribute) about Jimmy Savile in due course, again I had not been briefed about the programmes themselves. I assume they were commissioned and broadcast by BBC Vision, the BBC’s television arm, in the usual way.”
Here’s one for all the synth geeks out there: keyboard maestro Jan Hammer on the BBC TV show Rock School 2 in 1987, giving some advice on how best to play the keytar, or rather, his Yamaha KX5 remote keyboard.
Learn it and learn it well, children. As Jan is careful to point out, the key to getting his trademark note-bending synth style is not about a specific kind of keyboard or synth:
it’s really not [about] a particular instrument or a particular patch, it [could be] something with a sharp attack, with a reasonable amount of sustain, that is going through some sort of distortion device or an amp. And then it’s about what you play.
Most people only know Jan Hammer through his work on Miami Vice, but he was responsible for some brilliant music before the era of the-white-suit-with-rolled-up-sleeves.
‘Don’t You Know” by the Jan Hammer Group from 1977 is a classic break and a gorgeous tune in its own right, a beautiful slice of psych-funk that will wipe the smirk off any Hammer-doubters listening (even if it leaves his unfortunate comb over intact):
‘There is a nude orgy scene, but I don’t actually strap myself on to anything of the female nature,’ Dudley Moore tells Valerie Singleton about his latest film 10 in this interview from Tonight in Town in 1979.
While his comedy partner, Peter Cook has little to do but smoke cigarettes and rehearse the sidekick role he’d soon be performing, a few year’s down the line, for Joan Rivers’ chat show in 1986.
Thankfully, after a brief chat, Cook is allowed show off his mercurial, comic talents in an improvised sketch with Moore. It’s not classic Pete ‘n’ Dud, but it’s still worth watching, as so much of what these two comedy greats made has been sadly lost.
Bonus - seldom seen ‘Not Only, But Also’ sketch, after the jump…
As m’colleague Thomas McGrath and myself have reported before, those necrophilia stories about Jimmy Savile just won’t go away.
Now the Daily Star has published its version of those Savile corpse fucking allegations under the headline:
Pervert Savile and the Dead Bodies
Which is probably the best name for a Goth or a Country & Western band in years.
Unfortunately, the Star hasn’t put the story on-line yet, but I’m sure it will make for shocking reading.
Earlier today, broadcaster Paul Gambaccini told a stunned BBC Radio 5 presenter Nick Campbell that he was aware of accusations linking Jimmy Savile to necrophilia. Campbell then wrongly claimed this suggestion had never been made public - it had, on this very site in February this year. We suggest Nicky Campbell and the BBC should read Dangerous Minds more often, as they might learn something.
Savile’s attacks occurred in hospitals, clubs and the BBC. And it is the latter organization that is coming under considerable scrutiny by the police.
The question is how did the BBC employ such an individual, when there were known allegations against him? And what was the everyday culture at BBC that could allow Savile’s behavior to go unnoticed? Uncommented upon? Even tolerated?
A glimpse of how things were at the BBC can be found in Stephen Fry’s second volume of autobiography, The Fry Chronicles (pages 296-297 of the paperback edition), where he described a meeting with the BBC executive Jim Moir in 1983.
Hugh [Laurie] and I were shown into his office. He sat us down on the sofa opposite his desk and asked if we had comedy plans. Only he wouldn’t have put it as simply as that, he probably said something like: ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ which would have been his way of saying: ‘What would you like to talk about?’ Jim routinely used colourful and perplexing metaphors of a quite staggering explicit nature. ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ might be his way of asking, ‘Shall we work together?’ I had always assumed that he only spoke like that to men, but not so long ago Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders confirmed that he had been quite as eye-watering in his choice of language with them. Ben Elton went on to create, and Mel Smith to play, a fictional head of Light Entertainment based on Jim Moir called Jumbo Whiffly in the sitcom Filthy Rich & Catflap. I hope you will not get the wrong impression of Moir from my description of his language. People of his kind are easy to underestimate, but I have never heard anyone who worked with him say a bad word about him. In the past forty years the BBC has had no more shrewd, capable, loyal, honourable and successful executive and certainly none with a more dazzling verbal imagination.
“There is so much talk about rumours, but I can tell you that neither from external sources or internally, neither by nods and winks or by innuendo, did I receive any scintilla of this story whatsoever, or discuss it or his behaviour with my superiors. There was not a scintilla of this either from Roger Ordish, his producer for 20 years.”
Should we be surprised? Not really. But it makes sense that Moir didn’t hear any allegations when it was seen as okay to use sexist, aggressive and offensive language such as ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ or, ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ on a regular basis. This kind masturbatory boy’s club culture covers up for a lot of unacceptable behavior.
This gives an idea how Jimmy Savile was once viewed by the British public - safe enough to look after your kids.
The above book Stranger Danger is available on Amazon, while a copy of the BBC’s child minder’s handbook has been sold on ebay. Which makes Savile’s years of alleged sexual abuse all the more horrifying.
The new Director General of the BBC, George Entwistle, apologized yesterday to all of the women who were allegedly abused by Savile:
“The women involved here have gone through something awful and something I deeply regret that they should have to go through and I would like to apologise on behalf of the organisation to each and every one of them for what they’ve had to endure here.”
Entwistle did not use the word “alleged” in his comment, which suggests Entwistle believes the evidence against Savile is comprehensive and damning. Entwistle added:
“When the police have finished everything they have to do and when they give me an assurance there is no danger of us in any way compromising or contaminating an investigation. I will take it further and make sure that any outstanding questions are answered properly.”
This week a documentary called Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile will be broadcast in Britain on ITV1. The documentary centers on allegations made by 5 women against the DJ, and former Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It presenter. It is claimed Sir Jimmy Savile committed acts of serious sexual assault, including rape, against girls as young as 12, whilst an employee of the BBC in the early 1970s.
The attacks are alleged to have taken place at various locations, including hotels, Savile’s Rolls Royce and at the Top of the Pops studio at BBC Television Center, which Savile is alleged to have described as a “happy hunting ground”..
A former detective, Mark Williams-Thomas carried out the TV investigation into the claims against Savile, in particular the presenter’s sexual activities at the BBC, which the program claims were an “open secret” at the BBC.
In response to the allegations which have appeared in various newspapers, the BBC issued a denial that it had investigated allegations of misconduct against Savile, but “no such evidence has been found.”
“Whilst the BBC condemns any of behavior of the type alleged in the strongest terms, in the absence of evidence of any kind found at the BBC that corroborates the allegations that have been made it is simply not possible for the corporation to take any further action.”
It’s the kind of bureaucratic doublespeak one expects form the BBC, which does not explain the fact some BBC employees were aware of Jimmy Savile’s sexual activities.
More on ‘Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile’, after the jump…
The London cast of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical perform 2 songs (“Aquarius” and “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)”) on BBC’s news show Nationwide, before taking over the studio and getting the presenters, including future coke-snorter, Frank Bough, up to dance.
The original 1968 London production of Hair opened at the Shaftesbury Theater, and provided a starting block for a diverse range of young talent including: Sonja Kristina, Paul Nicholas, Melba Moore, Elaine Paige, Paul Korda, Marsha Hunt, Floella Benjamin, Alex Harvey, Oliver Tobias, Richard O’Brien and Tim Curry. This was where Curry first met future Rocky Horror Picture Show writer O’Brien, and where Alex Harvey conjured up SAHB. Hair ran in London from 1968-1973, for 1,997 performances, until it was forced to close after the theater roof collapsed. It then relocated to the Queen’s Theater, where it ran for a further 111 performances between June and September 1974, when it finally closed. This was the cast performing before the final show on September 28th, 1974.