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Archive for January, 2009

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The BSB Squarial

Posted by Big Boo on January 23rd, 2009

Anybody who is old enough to remember the beginning of the 1980’s will know that in the UK we were stuck with just three television channels.  In 1982 Countdown was the first thing to air on Channel 4, giving us an amazing total of four channels, assuming of course you were lucky enough to live in an area where the signal for Channel 4 was strong enough and your TV aerial was up to the job.

By the mid 1980’s experiments into cable and satellite television broadcasting began, increasing the channel count dramatically, although obviously not to the extent that we’re bombarded with today.  Only trouble was that cable television was only available in certain small areas of the country, and satellite TV had yet to get fully off the ground (sorry, terrible joke there).

The biggest problem many people had with satellite TV though was the fact that they had to have a thumping great dish screwed to their wall or roof or installed in the back garden.  Many people disliked this idea, and I believe you even had to get planning permission at one stage (although that may have been if you wanted to put up more than one dish).

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Madballs

Posted by Big Boo on January 22nd, 2009

During the late 1980’s one of the most popular themes for toys aimed primarily at young boys was to make something that looked repulsive or disgusting in some way.  For example, the sugary sweet Cabbage Patch Kid was reinvented as a gruesome series of trading cards known as Garbage Pail Kids.  The subject of this post, the Madballs series, was another toy created around this kind of an idea.

Madballs were basically rubber balls that had been made to look like different kinds of strange and ugly creatures.  Egyptian Mummies, oversized eyeballs and skulls were actually the more normal end of the range of designs available, with the other end being odd slime drenched or vein covered abominations of nature.

Each ball was about the size of a baseball, but made from soft bouncy rubber.  They could be used as normal balls of course, although the lumpy facial features often made predicting where they would roll or bounce a little tricky.  Each ball had a name to match its looks, such as Slobulous, which had a massive drooling tongue and one eye popping out slightly, or Oculous Orbus, which was the aforementioned giant eyeball.

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Dirty Dancing

Posted by Big Boo on January 21st, 2009

dirty dancingDirty Dancing is a 1987 romance film charting the coming of age of a New York teenager named Frances Houseman, nicknamed Baby, during the 1960s.  Baby (played by Jennifer Grey) is a 17 year old middle class Jewish girl who goes on holiday with her family to a mountain resort.

Baby’s life already seems mapped out for her with plans to attend college to study economics, but things start to change when she meets the resorts dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze).  She is invited to a party where she first witnesses the style of dancing known as “dirty dancing”, so called due to the way the dancers are held close together in intimate looking ways whilst dancing.

Soon after, Baby learns that Johnny’s dance partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) is pregnant by her sisters boyfriend Robbie.  When she learns that Robbie intends to do nothing to help support the child, Baby borrows money from her father to help Penny have an illegal abortion, and also becomes Johnny’s new dance partner whilst Penny is unable to perform.

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Clockwork Space Hoppers

Posted by Big Boo on January 20th, 2009

clockwork space hoppersI have fond memories of bouncing around the back garden on my Space Hopper as a kid (one of the reasons why I chose it as the icon for my garden toys posts), and whilst it might not have been the most practical or energy efficient form of transport it was a lot of fun.  I especially loved the sound it made when bouncing on a hard surface such as concrete.  It had an almost metallic ring to it, as the air reverberated around inside the rubber of the Space Hopper itself.

Nowadays I’m probably a bit too big to hop around the back garden like mad on a piece of inflated orange rubber, but I can take the fun inside with these rather nifty little Clockwork Space Hoppers, available from Stocking Fillers.  These little guys hop around frantically for ages once you’ve wound them up, and better still they come in backs of two (one in the classic orange colour, the other a dark blue) so you can even have indoor Space Hopper races!

Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Tony Hart 1925-2009

Posted by Big Boo on January 19th, 2009

Tony HartI am sorry to have to report the death of another of my childhood heroes. Tony Hart died on Sunday 18th January 2009, having previously suffered two strokes in previous years which had sadly robbed this great man of his ability to draw and paint, which in his own words was “the greatest cross I have to bare”.

Norman Antony Hart was born 15th October 1925, attending Clayesmore School in Dorset. On leaving school in 1944 he joined the Indian Army as an officer in the 1st Gurkha Rifles. In 1950 he returned to civilian life and studied at Maidstone College of Art. Upon graduating he became a freelance artist and also worked as a display artist for a London store.

His break into television came in 1952 after he met a children’s TV producer from the BBC at a party. He was initially hired as the resident artist on a programme called Saturday Special. This began his career as a television artist that spanned fifty years, working on such notable programmes as Vision On, Take Hart and Hart Beat.  It is for Take Hart that I will always best remember Tony, along with his plasticene chum Morph.

Tony Hart leaves behind him a legacy that has inspired many a child to pick up a pencil or a paintbrush and create a work of art.  His tips and tricks made an artist out of anybody, and for many children there would have been no greater joy than seeing their own creation appear on TV as part of The Gallery segment of one of Tony’s shows.

My sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of this wonderful, inspirational man.

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Most Popular Flavour of Crisps

Posted by Big Boo on January 17th, 2009

I reported earlier this week on Hedgehog flavoured crisps and the new varieties that have just been launched by Walkers crisps in the UK, so what better to ask this week than what everybodies favourite flavour of crisp is.  I did this a while back specifically for Monster Munch, but this time any sort of crisp (or chips if your American) qualifies.

I’ve specified the most usual flavours in the poll already, but I’m experimenting this week with a feature of the polling system I use that allows readers to add their own options to the selections available, so if I’ve missed your favourite, go ahead and add it to the list!

The best flavour of crisp is...
Total Votes: 347 Started: January 15, 2009 1 = Added by a guest Back to Vote Screen
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Minder

Posted by Big Boo on January 16th, 2009

minderMinder was one of the most popular dramas of the 1980’s, and indeed Arthur Daley (played by George Cole) was voted second most popular UK TV character as recently as 2005 – he was beaten to the top spot by Coronation Street’s Stan and Hilda Ogden, which I suppose is fair enough since they were well known even if you never watched Corrie at the time.

Anyway, Minder was about the aforementioned Arthur Daley and his minder Terry McCann (Dennis Waterman).  Arthur was a bit of a wheeler dealer who frequently got himself into trouble by trying to take advantage of various gangster types, and it was up to Terry to make sure Arthur came to no harm.

Terry was a former professional boxer who ended up in prison for commiting GBH and attempted armed robbery.  When he gets out of prison he buys a car from Arthur, and soon finds himself with little option but to work for Daley as he finds getting a job elsewhere difficult.  Despite being in prison Terry is a loyal and honest person who always looks out for Arthur, even when most of the trouble Arthur brings is of his own making.

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Hedgehog Flavoured Crisps

Posted by Big Boo on January 15th, 2009

hedgehog flavoured crispsTowards the latter half of last year UK crisp manufacturer Walkers ran a competition for people to come up with a new flavour of potato crisps that Walkers could then manufacture.  Well, the results of the competition were released recently and the six flavours which are going to be manufactured can be seen at the end of this post.

Some of the new flavours are a little strange, and this reminded me of some crisps that were insanely popular for a short time at the beginning of the 1980’s.  In 1981 Phillip Lewis launched Hedgehog Flavoured Crisps, which sold like mad with people eager to sample what the humble hedgehog might taste like.  They were sold in beige coloured packets with a picture of a cartoon hedgehog licking its lips on the front (the cannibal!).

Of course, it turned out to be just a ruse, with the flavour of the crisps actually coming from pork fat (Mmmmmm, hog fat! as Homer once said).  Indeed on the back of the packet it jokingly said “Savour all the flavour of traditional country fare cooked the old fashioned way without harming a single spike of a real hedgehog“.

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