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Archive for July, 2008

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‘Allo ‘Allo

Posted by Big Boo on July 22nd, 2008

‘Allo ‘AlloWho would have thought that a show about a group of French villagers living in World War II Nazi occupied France would end up becoming one of the most popular television sitcoms from the 1980’s. It doesn’t sound like a premise for being funny really, does it? But ‘Allo ‘Allo somehow managed to take the situation and make much merriment from it thanks to a strong cast of characters and a barrowload of catchphrases.

The show aired from 1982 to 1992 and was written by David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd, the writing team behind other popular British sitcoms such as Are You Being Served? and Hi-De-Hi. Most of the storylines were set inside the Cafe Rene, a small restaurant and bar owned by Rene Artois, played by Gorden Kaye. Poor Rene usually found himself caught up in the middle of sticky situations when all he really wanted was a quiet life running his bar. Rene was picked on in some way or another by everyone, whether it be his tone deaf wife Edith, the French Resistance or members of the occupying German forces.

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Sinclair C5

Posted by Big Boo on July 21st, 2008

Sinclair C5One morning I was stood outside a friends house waiting for him to get his bicycle out for the ride to school, when coming from down the road we hear a strange humming noise, a bit like the sound of a milk float. Looking down the road we both instantly crease up at the sight of some guy heading towards us in a Sinclair C5. As he trundled past we tried, and failed, to keep a straight face. That was the first and only time that I’ve ever seen a C5 being driven.

The Sinclair C5 was launched in January 1985, and was met with much ridicule by all and sundry. It was invented by UK brainbox Sir Clive Sinclair (better known for the ZX Spectrum of course) who for many years had dreamt of making a personal electric vehicle. It was basically a lean back style tricycle with the addition of a motor and battery. It had a range of around five miles and could travel at 15mph, which was chosen as the top speed so that it could be driven without a driving licence under UK law. If the battery ran out then a pair of pedals could still be used to power the vehicle, so you weren’t completely stranded.

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Most Wanted Cool Black Vehicle

Posted by Big Boo on July 19th, 2008

The 1980’s spawned some great TV shows abour super charged, high technology vehicles, which were almost always black in colour. Knight Rider is surely the best known example, with KITT the amazing talking car with turbo boost, bullet proof body work and a built in Mattel Intellivision! Then there was Airwolf, the heavily armed and stupendously speedy helicopter, and of course Street Hawk the motorbike, again capable of crazy speeds and fitted with all manner of weapons.

There’s no doubt that any of these vehicles would make your journey to work each day much more enjoyable, and would certainly turn some heads (especially parking a helicopter in the car park) but which of these would you most like to own yourself?

Which highly advanced and very black vehicle would you like to own most?
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Bottle Coin Banks

Posted by Big Boo on July 18th, 2008

Bottle Coin BankYou don’t seem to see them around much these days, but time was when people used to save up all their loose change in a giant whiskey bottle. I never had one personally, but I remember my cousin having one, and it seems everyone knew someone who had one at some point.

The bottles themselves were normally for Bells Whiskey, and were huge. I’ve never seen bottles of whiskey this big for sale before, they were more like the size of the big champagne bottles that get sprayed everywhere at the end of a Formula 1 race.

I can only assume the bottles were used in pubs where whiskey was much in demand, as they would have been far too big for home consumption (unless you really like whiskey of course).

At the end of the day, people would empty out their pockets and pour any unwanted small coinage into the neck of the bottle. After several months a reasonably decent collection of coins could have built up, and with mixed coinage it was probably possible to get upwards of fifty quids worth of cash in there.

Acknowledgement to The Tovells personal blog, from where I got the image accompanying this post.

Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Mr. Rossi

Posted by Big Boo on July 17th, 2008

Mr. RossiMr. Rossi was not your typical type of cartoon. It wasn’t about a group of mechanised warriors taking on an evil foe. It wasn’t about a bunch of cuddly fun loving animals who love everybody unconditionally. It wasn’t even about a bunch of teenage kids and their strangely human like pet investigating mysteries, although it did feature a talking dog. Nope, Mr. Rossi was about an ordinary little man bored of his hum drum life and seeking something exciting to occupy his time.

Sounds pretty dull for a cartoon right? Well, of course it wasn’t purely about an every day man. He was friends with his neighbours talking dog, Harold, and a witch who makes his wishes come true. It was pretty bizarre really, but a generally gentle cartoon full of imagination, as Mr. Rossi would wish for all manner of things and would then go on an adventure with Harold thanks to the friendly witch.

Whilst I distinctly remember watching this show on Children’s ITV whilst doing my homework, which would mean it aired during the 1980’s in the UK, the cartoons were actually made in 1976 as feature length cartoons by Italian animator Bruno Bozetto. The series I remember seeing was entitled The Fantastic Adventures of Mr. Rossi, but this was actually the short film Il Signor Rossi Cerca La Felicità (Mr. Rossi Looks For Happiness) broken down into 20 minute chunks.

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Posted by Big Boo on July 16th, 2008

EliteBack in the days of 8-bit computers games were generally pretty simple affairs involving shooting aliens or jumping over barrels viewed in only two dimensions. That was until Elite came along.

Written for the BBC Micro by Ian Bell and David Braben in 1984, and published by Acornsoft, it was one of the first hugely popular games to use wireframe 3D graphics and was immense in size and scope.

Elite was billed as a space trading and combat game. The player initially piloted a space craft known as the Cobra Mk III, a fairly basic vessel that allowed them to buy and sell various commodities and transport them between planets in order to make a profit. Initially you had limited funds so could only trade in low cost items such as food, but once you had made a bob or two you could progress to items such as computers, luxury goods, furs, and even contraband such as narcotics, although dealing in the latter was a risk as it could get you in trouble with the space police.

The trick initially was to find a couple of planets you could shuttle between that were at different ends of the development scale. An agricultural world produced cheap food which you could sell at a profit to a tecnological world, for example. The technological world might produce computers very cheaply, which could then be sold on the agricultural world. The game progressed in this manner, with the player buying stock, jumping through hyperspace to another planet and docking with its space station to sell the goods and buy something else.

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Posted by Big Boo on July 15th, 2008

Wham!Wham! were undoubtedly one of the biggest bands of the 1980’s, with George Michael (real name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) and Andrew Ridgley becoming household names for a large proportion of the decade. Whilst most of the credit (and fans adoration) for the band generally goes to George, being main vocalist and song writer, it was Andrew who kept the style of the band fresh, adapting their look to match the songs they created.

However, whilst it might seem amazing now, Wham! very nearly may not have taken the UK by storm in the way they did if it wasn’t for Top of the Pops. The boys first started a band called The Executive in 1981, but soon changed the name to Wham! and their first single Wham Rap was released. You might be surprised to learn it tanked at the time, mainly due to a UK ban as it was a double A-side single containing two versions of the song, the social mix and the anti-social mix, the latter version attracting the ban. In the summer of 1982 they released Young Guns, which was struggling outside of the top 40 when the band appeared on Top of the Pops thanks to another act dropping out, but in the end made it to number 3.

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Posted by Big Boo on July 14th, 2008

Hangman BoardgameThe word guessing game of Hangman has been around for many, many years, and whilst it demands two players it can be played almost anywhere, so long as you have something to write with and something to write on.

In case you don’t know the rules (surely unlikely) one player thinks of a word and draws a number of dashes to indicate how many letters it contains. The other player then tries to guess the word by shouting out letters. If the letter is part of the word it is written in place over the respective dashes. If it isn’t, lines are added to a picture of a man on the gallows, which if completed signifies the end of the game, and the person who thought of the word is the winner. Obviously if the other player guesses the word before the hangman image is completed then they win.

Given such a simple concept, you have to wonder what the point was of turning it into a boardgame when a pencil and paper do just as well, if not better. The boardgame version consisted of two hinged plastic playing boards, a bit like the Battleships boardgame, another game to come originally from a pen and paper original, although at least with Battleships you had little model ships that made it feel more like you were a Naval Commander. Each of the Hangman boards contained a lot of little plastic tiles with letters on, which when the board was opened up could be slot into little holes in the top.

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