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Archive for December, 2008

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Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Posted by Big Boo on December 15th, 2008

In 1984 during the run up to the Christmas period one of the big stories on the TV news was that of the terrible famine that was taking place in Ethiopia.  All the pictures of starving children were seen by Bob Geldof who was so moved and angered about the situation that he decided to do something about it.

Bob started gathering together many of the pop stars of the day to record a song written by the Irish star of The Boomtown Rats.  Geldof’s criteria was that the acts had to be famous, in order to make as much impact as possible, and that they had to donate their talents free of charge.

One of the first stars on board was Midge Ure, who put music to Geldof’s lyrics, but the list grew to encompass such notables as Phil Collins, who played the drums on the record, Sting, Bono, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, David Bowie, Boy George, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Bananarama, Spandau Ballet and many more.  Bowie and McCartney were not able to make the recording date so their recordings were dubbed on later, and Boy George had to jet over by Concorde to be at the recording!

The record went straight to number one in the UK charts when it was released on 29th November 1984 and stayed there for five weeks, being the UK Christmas top song.  The song was also rereleased the following year after the Live Aid concert.

Read more…

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Favourite Smallfilms Production

Posted by Big Boo on December 13th, 2008

To mark the sad passing of Smallfilm’s co-founder Oliver Postgate this weeks survey is concerned with the wonderful pieces of childrens television that the company produced.

I’ve purposely limited the selection to four possibilities, which to my mind are the most recognisable as being part of the Smallfilms stable.   Whilst all these fine programmes were actually made before the 1980’s they were still regularly aired during the decade.  Smallfilms did actually produce further work in the 1980’s, most notably What-A-Mess and Tottie – The Story of a Doll’s House, but as I say I’ve decided to go for the classics for this survey.

Which was your favourite Smallfilms production?
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A Selection of 1980s Christmas TV Ads

Posted by Big Boo on December 12th, 2008

Whilst scooting around YouTube I came across a great selection of TV ads that were aired over the Christmas period of 1983.  One thing it shows is just how classy TV adverts could be back in the 1980’s, but also how cheesey they could be too.  You also get to see a few famous faces looking a bit younger (in most cases)…

We start off with an example of a classy advert, this being for Black Magic chocolates, which plays to the romantic idea of giving chocs to your girlfriend to impress her.  This guy does a good job though my booking out an entire restaurant!

Next is a terrible aftershave advert for Mandate – Worn by Men, Loved by Women – with a rather crusty looking chap attempting to kiss the camera, followed by an advert for Baileys Irish Cream where a woman with a dodgy haircut decides to dip her little finger in a glass of the drink.

Going back to a staple food of the Christmas period (chocolate) we have a rather jolly but a bit naff advert for Quality Street.  For me Quality Street is one of my cherished memories of Christmas as our family always got one of the big tins at Christmas.  Back then you were either a Quality Street or Cadbury’s Roses family at Christmas, as unlike today these were the only sweets generally sold in such large containers.

Not to give the impression that Christmas is just about chocolate and alcohol (surely not?) but we now have another alcohol advert, this time for Tia Maria.  If the “ingredient list” for Tia Maria isn’t cheesey enough for you, then the man’s comment to his wife at the end certainly is.

Read more…

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Sweets Wordsearch

Posted by Big Boo on December 11th, 2008

I’ve written about many of the different types of penny sweets and chocolates before on this site, but today for a change I thought I’d provide you with a little bit of a distraction for a change in the form of a good old word search puzzle.

Assuming you have Java installed on your computer then below this post you should find a great interactive wordsearch puzzle. To use it click on the New Game button then just click and drag a box around the words as you find them using the mouse, and they’ll automatically be marked off on the list. Many thanks to Mike Hall for his great little applet.

And if after all that puzzling you feel a bit peckish, then why not pay a visit to online sweet shop A Quarter Of, where all the various goodies contained above can still be bought. They also have a great line in selection boxes, including an eighties themed gift box and a rather tasty looking festive stocking.

Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Oliver Postgate 1925-2008

Posted by Big Boo on December 10th, 2008

It is with much sadness that I must report the death of Oliver Postgate who passed away aged 83 on December 8th 2008.

Along with his business partner Peter Firmin he created the animation company Smallfilms, with Postgate coming up with most of the concepts and carrying out the stop motion filming, whilst Firmin created the models and artwork.  Postgate was also responsible for most of the voice over work in the Smallfilms productions, so it was he who was the voice of Bagpuss!

Their first production was Ivor the Engine in 1959, which was originally in black and white but was later remade in colour in the late 1970’s.  The duo went on to create such memorable series as The Saga of Noggin the Nog, Pogle’s Wood and my personal favourites, Bagpuss and The Clangers.

I would like to take this opportunity to send my condolences to Oliver Postgate’s family and friends.  The world of childrens TV has lost one of its great creators, but it is heartening to think that his work is still popular today, with Ivor, Bagpuss and The Clangers in particular still regularly airing on UK television.

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Posted by Big Boo on December 9th, 2008

Hi-De-Hi was an immensely popular sitcom made by the BBC during most of the 1980’s. A pilot episode was aired on News Years Day 1980, so it was in fact one of the very first TV shows of the decade! The first series proper began the following year and from then it ran until 1988. It was written by David Croft (‘Allo ‘Allo) and Jimmy Perry.

The show was set in a 1960’s holiday camp called Maplins, based heavily on the concept of Butlins which was an incredibly popular family holiday destination during that era.  The show followed the antics of the various members of staff on the camp at the fictional town of Crimpton-on-Sea as they kept the holiday makers entertained.

The first series opened with the camp getting a new Entertainments Manager in the form of Jeffery Fairbrother (the late Simon Cadell), an archaeology professor who had grown tired of academia.  This put him in charge of all the entertainment staff, or Yellow Coats, which was a job that he tried to run fairly and openly, but usually meant he got taken advantage of.  He was recently divorced, and this meant he found himself prey to the romantic advances of Gladys Pugh (Ruth Madoc) who was the camps sports organiser and chief Yellow Coat.  So strong was this on screen relationship in the nations mind that the pair made a TV advert for Cadbury’s Wispa that made it appear they were an item off screen too.

Read more…

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Goofy Glasses

Posted by Big Boo on December 8th, 2008

I always wanted a pair of these as a kid, but my Mum would never let me have a pair because she feared I would end up poking my eyes out with them or something equally hideous.

Ultimately completely useless, these glasses do nothing to help you see any better, but do look hilarious in action.  They consisted of a pair of glasses with two mini Slinky springs attached to the lens area.  The other end of the Slinkys had plastic eyeballs attached, normally blood shot and with a wild looking stare to them.

When placed on your head the springs naturally succumbed to gravity and the eyeballs plummeted downwards towards your chest, making it look as if your eyes had literally popped out on stalks.  The only problem was that it was very impractical as a joke, as ideally you would want the eyes to drop down at your command for the best impact.  This was almost impossible to achieve without tipping your head right back so that the eyes could rest on the glasses.

I’m pleased to say these are still available from the nice people at Stocking Fillers, so if you want to look like a Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall when he ends up out on the surface of Mars, now’s your chance…

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Did You Have Your Mittens on Elastic?

Posted by Big Boo on December 6th, 2008

Yesterday I wrote about the practice of sewing your mittens onto elastic as a child in order to prevent you losing them.  My Mum certainly did this for me and my sister, but what about you.  Did you have your mittens kept safe by having them constantly dangling from your coat sleeves, or did you risk losing them at every opportunity?

Did you used to have your gloves or mittens on elastic?
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