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Archive for January, 2012

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Quantum Leap

Posted by Big Boo on January 18th, 2012

Quantum LeapQuantum Leap was a science fiction TV series that first aired in the US in 1989, so I guess it only just qualifies as a subject for this site, but I feel it deserves a space here as I have good memories of watching it.

Scott Bakula played Dr. Sam Beckett, a scientist who in the year 1999 invented the Quantum Leap accelerator, a device that allowed time travel within the lifetime of the person travelling. Faced with having his funding cut Sam tests out the machine by using it himself, and so begins his travels through time.

Trouble is, something went a little wrong (or caca as the original introduction to the programme put it) and whilst Sam does indeed travel through time, he does so by having his consciousness jump into the bodies of people from the past.

Seemingly stuck, and initially not knowing where he is due to his “swiss cheesed” memory, he soon comes to rely on his erstwhile assistant Al Calavicci (played by Dean Stockwell). Al is broadcast back through time in the form of a hologram, and tries to help Sam out in whatever predicament he finds himself in.

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Smiths Salt ‘n’ Shake Crisps

Posted by Big Boo on January 16th, 2012

Smiths Salt 'n' Shake CrispsSmith’s Salt ‘n’ Shake Crisps! Could there ever be a more British idea for a packet of crisps? The crisps that you salt yourself.

OK, at the end of the day all they were was regular old salted crisps, but there was something strangely compelling about opening a packet, rummaging around inside for the little blue sachet of salt, sprinkling said salt over the crisps, then holding the packet closed at the neck and furiously shaking it about in the hope that the salt might just reach the crisps at the bottom of the packet. It was just fun!

The brand was first launched in the 1920’s, making them one of the UK’s oldest types of crisps. They were apparently invented by Frank Smith and sold to pubs in the Cricklewood area of London. Prior to the invention of the “little blue bag of salt”, Smith had provided salt cellars for people to salt their crisps with, but the sachet came into existence simply because people were using too much salt and the cellars were emptied too quickly.

The little blue bag unsurprisingly became the identifier for these crisps, eventually being turned into a little character who appeared on the packets. Strangely he was square in shape, whilst the sachets were rectangular.

I have two very vivid memories of these crisps from my childhood. The first was the day we bought a packet of Salt ‘n’ Shake and found no less than six little blue bags of salt. I needed a drink after finishing that packet I can tell you.

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The Farmer Says

Posted by Big Boo on January 13th, 2012

The Farmer SaysWhen I was about 7 or 8 I had a friend who happened to have a younger sister of toddler age. One day whilst playing over at his house, his sister came in clutching her “The Farmer Says” toy. I had never seen one before but something about it just piqued my interest enough that I couldn’t resist having a go with it, despite being well out of the intended age range of it.

It consisted of a circular piece of plastic that had pictures of different animals running around it. In the centre of the toy there was a plastic arrow with a picture of a farmer on it. You turned the arrow to point at a particular animal, let’s say the cow, then pulled a string on the side which caused the arrow to spin around like mad and for the toy to utter the words “The cow says… Moo!”.

Somehow this toy mesmerised me. Perhaps it was the hypnotic spin of the arrow, or more likely just the crackly pronunciation of the recorded voice, but I sat there twisting the arrow and pulling the string until I had heard everything the farmer had to say, much to the annoyance of my mate who probably wanted to go off and play with toy cars or something with me.

A little on the history of this toy then to finish off. The first version was released in 1965 by Mattel and the sounds were stored on a little plastic disc, a bit like an old vinyl record. It has undergone surprisingly few revisions over time, with the first major change being replacing the pull string with a lever in the late Eighties. This change occured after a little girl was blinded by the string snapping and flicking into her eye.

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Posted by Big Boo on January 11th, 2012

TelebugsThe Telebugs was a cartoon shown as part of the after school children’s programming on ITV. It was about a group of three flying robots who would come to the aid of people in distress, and because they were also kitted out with microphones and cameras would double up as TV news reporters, reporting back on their own daring rescue missions! Not a bad idea really, a good way of making your life as a superhero pay for itself!

All three Telebugs looked somewhat similar, with sleek curved bodies and a television screen for a head. They differed in size and colour. CHIP (Coordinated Hexadecimal Information Processor) was the notional leader, and was the tallest and white in colour. SAMANTHA (Solar Activated Micro Automated Non-inTerference Hearing Apparatus) was yellow and, being a girl had a red ribbon moulded to the top of her head (in so far as a robot can be called female anyway).

The smallest Telebug was called BUG (Binary Unmanned Gamma camera) and he was red in colour, and was, I suppose given his name, the cameraman of the group. He also had a pet named MIC (Mobile Independent Camera) who flew alongside him and helped in filming duties.

The Telebugs travelled around by flying. Instead of legs they had booster rockets, which enabled them to both hover in place and fly off to the rescue of some poor hapless civilian.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Bob Holness 1928-2012

Posted by Big Boo on January 9th, 2012

Bob HolnessIt is with great sadness that I must mourn the passing of another TV legend from my youth. Bob Holness, the genial host of Eighties teens quiz Blockbusters passed away peacefully in his sleep on 6th January 2012, aged 83.

I confess that before Blockbusters came along I don’t think I had ever heard of Bob Holness, but both him and the show for which he is best known soon became firm favourites in our household, with everybody in the family joining in with the quiz whilst we were having our evening meal.

Whilst Bob Holness was probably best known to many for TV quiz shows, being the host on Blockbusters, a revival of the word panel game Call My Bluff and indeed his first appearance on British TV on the show Take A Letter (don’t worry if you’ve not heard of this one, it was on in the early Sixties) his career spanned almost 60 years with the main stay of his career being in radio presenting.

Holness was born in South Africa in 1928, although his family moved to the UK when he was a child and this is where he was educated. In the Fifties he returned to South Africa and in 1955 became a radio presenter. In 1956 he became the second actor to ever portray James Bond when he recorded a radio version of Moonraker, voicing the secret agent.

Bob was also the subject of an urban myth that claimed he had played the saxophone on Gerry Rafferty’s hit Baker Street. Not one to disappoint Bob used to play along with this myth and also embellish it, as he would also lay claim to being the lead guitarist on a song called Layla by Derek and the Dominoes.