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Archive for November, 2008

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Posted by Big Boo on November 21st, 2008

With the news that TV legend Timmy Mallett just entering the jungle on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (a UK reality TV show) I was reminded of the show that he will always be best remembered for – Wacaday.

Wacaday was an incredibly popular early morning show that was always shown during any of the school holidays at 9am.  It was part of the line up for TVam, the company that broadcast breakfast television to the nation on ITV during the 1980s.  This timeslot would normally have been occupied by Roland Rat Superstar, but the ailing TVam had sold the rights to Roland in 1985 to the BBC and so Wacaday was conceived to fill the void.

With the sale of Mr. Rat taking place just a matter of a couple of weeks before a school holiday it was deemed the easiest way out was to make a spin off show from TVam’s Saturday morning kids show The Wide Awake Club.  One of the presenters of this show was Timmy Mallett, who was chosen to host Wacaday.  Mallet was (and still is) a colourfully dressed bespectacled loon who was little more than a big kid himself, although one with an ego the size of a planet.  There’s no doubt that Timmy Mallett brought the show to life, but he could be a bit grating at times.

The format of the show was half an hour packed with jokes, games, reports and cartoons (there seemed to be a predilection towards shape changing warrior robots as I believe both Transformers and Gobots cartoons were often aired).  Most series featured reports by Timmy from different parts of the world, in an attempt to be educational which often failed thanks to Timmy’s tomfoolery (timfoolery?).  Looking back it’s amazing how much was squeezed into a half hour TV programme.

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D&G Medicine Man Test Card Watch

Posted by Big Boo on November 20th, 2008

I went on holiday recently and whilst flicking through a magazine that was in my hotel room I came across an advert for a rather cool looking watch from Dolce & Gabbana featuring a TV test card as the clock face.

This took me my surprise because I really didn’t think a designer brand such as D&G would create something like this, but I take my hat off to them for producing such a cool looking watch in the shape of the D&G Medicine Man (I have no idea how they came up with that name though!).

Its a gents watch and features a stainless steel bracelet strap, is Indiglo backlit and the dial is exactly the right dimensions to look like a standard format television screen with 4:3 aspect ratio. Its also water resistant to 50 metres.

I don’t know if the test card chosen is a particular one or not, but it certainly looks pretty accurate and reminds me of the test cards that used to appear on TV when there was nothing being broadcast (that never happens these days!). What would be cool is if they made one with the girl and the clown playing noughts and crosses.

If you fancy picking one of these timepieces up for yourself then they are available from Goldsmiths.

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Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Posted by Big Boo on November 19th, 2008

Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood is the first song I can remember being banned, although as I’ve now found out it wasn’t quite as big as a ban as I thought it was, but more on that later.

The song was the debut single for Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and it topped the charts in the UK, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.  In the UK the song held the top spot for five weeks before dropping down the charts, but the release of the bands second single, Two Tribes, saw it climb again back up to the number two position whilst that song occupied the top spot.  The song went on to sell 1.9 million copies, making it today the 7th best selling single in the UK of all time.

The song spawned a fashion craze as well with the “Frankie Says Relax” T-Shirt, with big bold black letters on a plain white shirt similar in style to the Choose Life T-Shirts sported by fans of Wham!  In fact, you can still pick up such a shirt (artificially aged for good measure) at 80sTees.

So how did the song’s infamous ban by the BBC come about.  Well, the song was initially played on Top of the Pops on 5th January 1984 which helped it rise up the charts to number 6.  The following week Radio 1 DJ Mike Read aired his disgust for both the songs cover artwork and its lyrics, and refused to play the song.  The BBC itself also suffered from some raised eyebrows internally, and so the corporation decided to ban the song across all BBC channels, backing up Mike Read in the process.

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The Ready Brek Orange Glow

Posted by Big Boo on November 18th, 2008

I was watching TV last night and happened upon a new advert for Ready Brek, the instant porridge cereal (oatmeal to our US readers).  What caught my eye was the fact that Weetabix, the manufacturers of Ready Brek, have brought back the concept of the orange glow, which was how the product was advertised during the 1980s.

The idea that the adverts tried to get across was that a bowl of Ready Brek in the morning for breakfast set a child up for the day by keeping them warm and full of energy, at least until lunch time anyway.

The average ad consisted of a child eating his or her Ready Brek at the kitchen table, whereupon they would be surrounded by a bright orange glow, making them look as though they were radiating heat.  There would then be several scenes of the child leaving the house and performing tasks, such as going to school, whilst having to brave harsh weather conditions such as heavy rain and wind.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Posted by Big Boo on November 17th, 2008

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remains to this day my favourite childrens book, and whilst it may not be a product of the 1980’s (it was originally published in 1964 in the US and 1967 in the UK) it was at this time that I was the right age to read and enjoy this book all by myself.

There surely can’t be many who aren’t familiar with the story from either reading the book, hearing it read on Jackanory or watching one of the two film adaptations – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (released in 1971 and featuring Gene Wilder in the title role) and the more recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (released 2005 and starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka), but below is a brief recap.

Young Charlie Bucket is an only child from an incredibly poor family, who lives near to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, a strange imposing building where the only thing that ever leaves are the trucks containing the delicious sweets made there.  One day, Willy Wonka announces that he is putting five golden tickets in random bars of his chocolate, which will entitle the lucky finders to a tour of his factory.

Charlie is excited by the news, but also dismayed as he realises that being so poor he is unlikely to have the chance to buy a bar of chocolate let alone win a golden ticket.  One by one the tickets are found, the first by Augustus Gloop, a glutton of a boy who eats multiple bars a day.  Another is found by Violet Budgerigar, who normally is a world record bubble gum chewer.

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Did you want to be The Karate Kid?

Posted by Big Boo on November 15th, 2008

With the news that a remake of The Karate Kid is in the works starring Jaden Smith, son of movie star Will Smith, is in the works I thought it would be interesting to have a two part survey this week to see how much of an influence the original film was on kids.  So, firstly, did you do a martial art of any kind as a child?

Did you do Karate or another martial art as a child?
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And secondly, if you did take Karate, Judo, Tae Kwon Do or lessons in any other martial art, was watching The Karate Kid a big reason why you decided to start in the first place?

Did you take up your martial art after watching The Karate Kid?
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The Karate Kid

Posted by Big Boo on November 14th, 2008

Mention The Karate Kid to anyone of a certain age and chances are they’ll start to fondly reminisce about doing Crane Kicks in the school playground and start reciting the “Wax on, wax off, left a-circle, right a-circle” sequence of the film, that’s how much impact this film made on the impressionable young minds of the 1980’s.

Released in 1984, the film tells the story of Daniel (Ralph Macchio), a teenager who moves to California with his mother after his father has passed away.  Young Daniel is a bit headstrong but is otherwise a good kid, but gets in trouble at a beach party when he stands up for a girl named Ali (Elisabeth Shue) who he has taken a fancy to.  She is being harassed by her ex-boyfriend Johnny, and Daniel’s attempts to save her aren’t entirely successful as Johnny is well trained in the arts of Karate, being one of the star pupils of the Cobra Kai Dojo.

Daniel has unwittingly made his life a misery, as the members of the Cobra Kai bully him at every opportunity, until one fateful evening where the boys are attacking Daniel only to be fought off by an elderly man named Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), who sees the entire mob off with relative ease.  Mr. Miyagi is the otherwise mild mannered janitor of the appartments in which Daniel lives.

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Sinclair ZX81

Posted by Big Boo on November 13th, 2008

Sir Clive Sinclair has had his share of successes (the ZX Spectrum) and failures (the C5) but the ZX81 (known in the US as the Timex Sinclair 1000), despite being laughable as a computer these days, was at the time one of his success stories.

Unsurprisingly released in 1981, it was the follow up to the lesser known ZX80 which was similar in specification and looks, albeit the ZX80 being white with blue keys.  The machine had a Z80 processor, a cheap and reliable CPU that was used in many 8-bit computers, and a measly 1K of RAM, although the pictured additional RAM pack could boost it to a whopping 16K!

Graphically it could only display black or white pixels on a 256×192 sized screen, and additionally it was not possible to affect pixels individually.  Instead the user had a 32×24 array of characters that could be displayed on screen.  While most of these were letters or punctuation, some of the characters contained little blocks of 4×4 pixels, so a very low resolution image of 64×48 could be produced with care!  Later in its lifespan some clever coders found a way of affecting pixels individually, but by this time most ZX81’s had been retired in favour of something newer and more powerful.

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