June 4, 2001
[tv] I’m losing the will to live — 12 hours watching the Big Brother house. ‘1.05am Bubble asks Amma if she swallows. Amma says she doesn’t then suggests that the boys swallow a cup of “it”. Their own or someone else’s, she doesn’t specify. Paul says he is well up for a game of strip poker. If the fact that he is reading the Posh and Becks biography wasn’t enough of a hint, here is another that Paul is one classy bloke. Elizabeth is still in the kitchen washing and wiping things. She is perhaps thinking about feeding her boyfriend his rusks. 9.35am Penny fears that when she leaves the house, the crowds there to see her may be so large there could be “a Princess Diana moment”. Yes, and they’ll all be holding flaming torches and shouting “Burn the witch”.’
May 30, 2001
[tv] Grange HillThe Gripper Stebson Years. ‘Off-screen, Mark Savage found his on-screen persona a nightmare. Wherever Mark went, people challenged him to fights and at a football match supporters told him: “Oi Gripper, you’re gonna get your ‘ead kicked in!” To make matters worse, there was a wave of copycat bullying sweeping the nation. “It was open season on Gripper”, Mark told Now magazine in 1998. “People really thought I was Gripper and pulled knives on me and all sorts.”‘ [Related: What Gripper Stebson Did Next]
May 28, 2001
[film] The Independent profiles Jerry Bruckheimer. ‘… [Bruckheimer] was one of the originators of high concept in Hollywood. We are talking high not as in high art or high church, but as in the height of a pile of $100 bills starting from the floor and reaching up to the top of Bruckheimer’s utterly groomed grey hair. Mention what critics say about his movies and he gives a shit-eating grin in which his heavy lower lip falls further. Critics don’t have points on the gross, he says. And critics aren’t necessary in show business. As befits any apostle of high-concept movies, Jerry Bruckheimer is instantly understandable: mystery, doubt, ambiguity and concealment are anathema to him.’
May 19, 2001
[tv] Tony Soprano’s female trouble — excellent profile from Salon of The Sopranos. ‘If you haven’t seen “The Sopranos,” which this Sunday will conclude its third season, you’re missing something extraordinary. It’s arguably the cleverest and most entertaining extended drama that’s ever been on TV. Tony is expertly played with a gruff masculinity by Gandolfini; his emotionally and morally compromised wife, Carmela, is done to a ruined turn by the infinitely expressive Edie Falco; mother Livia, now departed with the death of actress Nancy Marchand, exhibited oceans of pain and scorn in a massive, equine face; proud and bitter Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese), forced to cede power to his nephew Tony, is a study in aging gracelessly.’
May 8, 2001
[tv] Big Brother goes digital. ‘The new series of Big Brother will run for up to 21 hours a day on digital network E4, Channel 4 has announced. Fans will be able to spy on the house on TV all day long, and many will be able to make their weekly eviction votes through their remote control.’
May 4, 2001
[distractions] You are… The Surrealist Link. ‘You are the most gutless cassock. Goodbye!’
April 29, 2001
[more comics] Tim Bisley’s list of Top Ten Collected Comics‘Those are my fave reads of the moment. Whenever I get a coffee break from serving the great unwashed at Fantasy Bazaar, those are the books I take into the bog. However if I do not need the loo, I go into the storeroom and mutilate Jar Jar Binks dolls.’
April 26, 2001
[cyberpunk] The Guardian previews a new documentary about the life and work of William Gibson‘”He’ll talk until the cows come home about literature,” explains Neale. “But the stuff he hasn’t gone on the record about in the past, things like the loss of his parents, his dodging of the draft and taking drugs took a long time to get out of him. I had to go back and ask him those things several times. But drug culture was such a big part of his life. “He decided to go on the record in a way that he has very deliberately avoided for a long time. Bits and pieces of his story have come out in interviews over the years, but the full story hasn’t been told in its entirety. I suppose he has always been a bit of a recluse”.’
April 23, 2001
[tv] My Mobster Days Are Over — interview with James Gandolfini from The Sopranos. ‘Although the Soprano family is a fictional one, its doings are closely monitored by its non-fiction counterparts, who do not hesitate to pass their verdicts on the show and let the actors know if their behaviour does not ring true. “I talk to some gentlemen who have friends who are these poeple and most of them enjoy the show,” says Gandolfini. “They get a good laugh out of it, although once when I wore shorts in a barbecue scene it was relayed to me that it was not something these gentlemen would do, even at a barbecue.”‘
April 19, 2001
[tv] The Independent profiles Dom Joly‘he has decided to abandon his trademark giant mobile phone and hunker down to other projects that involve less public humiliation.”I don’t want to become the nation’s prankster,” he reflects. “Because they tend to be arses, really.” And also, maybe, because the prankster’s moment of hubris cannot be deferred indefinitely. “I had this terrible thought yesterday when I was taking my baby daughter for a walk in her stroller. I did a joke in the first series where a baby gets pulled into the air by a balloon. And I just thought, what if someone runs over the stroller in a car, and leers out the window and shouts ‘Aha! You don’t fool me!’ It would be dreadful. And I’d deserve it.”‘
April 11, 2001
[tv] You ask the Questions to… David Soul. ‘There’s a classic moment in the credits of Starsky & Hutch when I come running down some stairs, step on to a wall and do a “seat-drop” on top of my car. It is, without a doubt, the stupidest, most painful self-inflicted stunt I ever did. No stuntman would have been that stupid. Two years later, it cost me back surgery. Big price for the sake of a little ego.’
April 6, 2001
[soap] The Guardian reviews last night’s Eastenders…. On Lisa: ‘She is pregnant, and you consider with horror the frightful future fruit of Lisa’s womb and Phil’s loins. It will not, you suspect, be the nicer kind of child.’ [Related Link: BBC Episode Update]
[weblogs] There goes the neighbourhood…. Seethru has got it’s own weblog. [via Rebuke]
April 4, 2001
[soap] Who Shot Me? The Guardian interviews Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell). ‘”Working-class interests are not seen as having the same intrinsic value as middle-class ones. Opera is a middle-class interest, and it’s seen as high art. “I don’t see that as being of more worth than getting 20 million people to watch Roy tell Pat that her earrings are horrible.” He is referring to a seminal moment of ordinary pain when, as their relationship disintegrated, Pat Butcher’s husband took her to task over her gruesome jewellery. “I think that’s much more poignant, when a man tells a woman: ‘All this time I’ve lived with your earrings but they do my head in, and I’m man enough now to tell you I can’t cope with them anymore.’ It really took my breath away, that.”‘
March 26, 2001
[tv] The Guardian interviews Mary Whitehouse. ‘On Wednesday mornings, the hairdresser visits. And at lunchtime, the dining room of the Essex nursing home is a sea of high set curls. Mary Whitehouse surveys the wispy throng with a gimlet eye, then leans across the table. Her huge bead necklace swings precariously close to the plate of brown stew and swedes boiled senseless. “Some of these dears don’t have much hair to do,” she whispers.’
March 20, 2001
[tv] Anne Robinson: Cruella of prime time — a interesting profile from the Independent. ‘Anderson, then a junior hack on the Echo, remembers Robinson as “gutsy” even in the hard, recovery years. He recalls the moment she discovered her copy was being “blacked” by sub-editors because she was not a union member. Sheweighed barely six stone at the time. Anderson says she tottered up to the sub-editors on platform heels. “She stood in the middle of these guys and demanded to know who was blacking her copy,” he says, with some fondness. “Suddenly they were all taking great interest in their shoe laces.” There was never a problem with her copy again.’ [Related Link: Anne Robinson Version 3.0]
March 17, 2001
[tv] Mob Rules. Interview with Sopranos creator David Chase. ‘The one big problem with a TV series — and let’s take The Sopranos out of it, because one hopes this doesn’t apply to it — is that the leads of a TV series aren’t going to die. They just aren’t. And they’re certainly not going to die after the fifth week. So once life and death is taken out of a story about life, how pressing is it? In our lives, there’s life and death all the time. We’re afraid we’re going to get sick, we’re afraid we’re going to get hit by a bus, or someone we love is going to die. But in television that fear doesn’t exist, so the whole thing becomes rather . . . uninvolving. You have cops running around getting shot at, but by and large you know that these cops are not going to get killed.’ [via Guardian Weblog]
March 15, 2001
[tv] The Sopranos – easily the best thing on TV at the moment…. ‘Uncle June and I, we had our problems, with the business. But I never should’ve razzed him about eating pussy; this whole war could’ve been averted. Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this.’ — Tony Soprano. [Related Link: Ray Liotta Turned Down ‘Sopranos’]
March 14, 2001
[distractions] Ah… the Muppaphone. So distracting and clickable…. [thanks to Brainsluice] and Safeplaces — a ‘digital playground’. [thanks to Chris]
[gun fish barrel] So bad it’s good — Julie Burchill on Celebrity Big Brother. ‘The pathos of the short-term presenter is summed up heartbreakingly in the persons of Anthea Turner and Vanessa Feltz, the twin occupants of the lowest rung of the Big Brother ladder; as they fall apart – Vanessa messily and swiftly, Anthea more photogenically and professionally – it is horribly compelling, like watching a John Cassavetes film or hearing your neighbours’ marriage break up in gory detail through the wall. They are the flimsiest, most damaged and most compelling creatures in the house, with none of the confidence born of talent that Dee and Sweeney possess, or the dumb macho swagger of Eubank and Duffy.’
March 13, 2001
[crippled emotional needs] My email .sig circa 1994: ‘My every path is shrewn with cowpats from the devils own satanic herd.’ — Edmund Blackadder.
March 12, 2001
[tv] Tony Soprano must die. Another interesting profile of the next season of The Sopranos. ‘There’s more symmetry in the resemblances between the Feds and the wise guys: each have their rituals, their uniforms, their beer guts, their professional argots, their codes of masculinity and their fatal delusions. And both value systems, Chase suggests, are equally full of shit, with Tony whacking whoever needs to be whacked and the FBI breaking the very laws they’ve sworn to uphold in order to nail their man. Their crudity and invasiveness very nearly puts us on Tony’s side.’
March 9, 2001
I'm free![tv] Old BBC interview with Louis Theroux‘…Weird Weekends rested on the tremendous generosity of the Americans – they love British people, and don’t regard Britain as a threat. I’m actually half American but I have an English accent, and I capitalised on the reservoir of kindness and goodwill towards the British. I interviewed the Aryan Nations in Idaho, an ultra-extreme, radical right group, who talk about how there’s going to be a race war, and have swastikas all around their church. They wouldn’t let an American in there to interview them, but because I was British the guy let his guard down and talked about how much he loved Are You Being Served?’
March 6, 2001
You get that bus out, Butler![tv] The On The Buses Drinking Game… God forgive me… I’ve always liked On The Buses. I’m a child of the 70’s… I have no taste. From the Amazon review: ‘There was always something faintly dirty about On The Buses–and not just the humour, which was simply more of the polite strand of “blue” that British audiences had come to expect in the mid-1970s. It was the whole look: grey and miserable. And the setting: a dismal suburban bus depot, and an equally decrepit family home. Or perhaps it had something to do with Olive, and her lank greasy hair, and the knowing leer of Jack, Stan’s lecherous fellow conductor and partner-in-crime. A working-class comedy, one step up from the Beckett-like squalor of Steptoe And Son, it starred Reg Varney as Butler, a larrikin bus conductor with a hopeless romantic track record, and Stephen Lewis as “Blakey”, the inspector who tries valiantly to bring him undone.’ [Related Links: Blakey On-Line]
March 1, 2001
[hutch] Louis Theroux meets David Soul… interview from The Idler. ‘What do you want to be in life? I want to be happy, I want to be happy, I want to be happy, I want to be happy! You push push push push push. Happiness, it seems to me, is you kick back and you say “I’m happy!” It’s not something that you make, it’s something that you realise, that you come to. And it can be in a moment, it can be in a relationship, a day or a lifetime, but we’re not always happy, so why do you try to be happy? It’s trying! Trying! Pah! Don’t!’ [Related Links: Everything I ever needed to know I learned from Starsky and Hutch]
February 28, 2001
[tv] Sympathy for the (Jersey) Devil. Salon looks at the start of the third series of The Sopranos… ‘…the first season’s cunning plot architecture rested on the clash between Tony’s patriarchal mob world and his matriarchal family world. At work, Tony was a virile thug; with women, he was soft. His mother pushed his buttons, Carmela nagged him to be a modern, sensitive father and Melfi forced him to get in touch with his freakin’ feelings.’
February 27, 2001
[tv] Revealing portrait of Esther Rantzen in the Independent… ‘When she appeared on In the Psychiatrist’s Chair in 1993, Anthony Clare asked her: “How would you describe yourself?” “As a human being, do you mean?” she replied. “Well,” he said, with concern, “what else are you, Esther?” “A series of functions,” she answered. This is a woman with no inner life. Despite being so conscious of her image, Esther Rantzen is not the least bit introspective. “Introspection is a very narrow landscape for me,” she has said. “I don’t turn my attention inwards.” As a result, she doesn’t always see beyond the surface of the effect she is trying to create so as to discern the impact she’s actually having.’
February 19, 2001
[tv] Nice Spaced fan site‘Tim is still a skateboarding, baggy trousered, sci-fi loving, comic reading graphic artist but since we last saw him, he seems to have mellowed slightly. No longer driven by the bitterness of being dumped, Tim is enjoying being a single male. Happily ensconced in his new surroundings, he is heartily living a life denied him by the shackles of a comfortable loving environment.’
February 12, 2001
[magic] Guardian Unlimited interviews Paul Daniels (I think there is a Louis Theroux TV interview with him next week)… ‘Daniels’ autobiography, Under No Illusions, published last year, little endeared him to an already wary public. It was thick with bumptious notations (“No, it’s not a trick photograph. I was trading in the Bentley on the left for the one on the right. Now there’s posh!”) and toe-curling sexual detail (“Once I got upstairs, Debbie was lying stark naked on the bed – eat your heart out fellas! She was wearing the sort of sleeping blindfold you get on long-haul flights. Printed on it was Do Not Disturb. But further down her body she had a sign that said Disturb!”) He also alleged that he had slept with more than 300 women.’
February 3, 2001
[buffy] The Edible Buffy… you’re probably thinking it’s some nasty fan site dedicated to Buffy Fan Fiction but you could not be more wrong… ‘There are already a bazillion Buffy sites on the Internet, some specifically devoted to episode synopsis and analysis, the stars, the villains, and even the show’s philosophy. I figured I’d make my site slightly less redundant by exploring a heretofore untouched aspect of BtVS: the food.’
January 31, 2001
[comics] Dan from Venusberg on the Superfriends‘Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Superfriends, but it has filtered so deep into my geek consciousness that I sincerely believe that I remember whole episodes. Most peculiar.’ I’ve never seen it either but I know exactly what he means… [has it ever been broadcast in the UK?]
January 29, 2001
[tv] Long, interesting profile of Charlie Higson in the Independent… ‘.His favourite sitcom, as a child, was Dad’s Army. “I used to absolutely love it. As a kid, my favourite character was Clive Dunn, and I hated Captain Mainwaring, but now it’s the opposite. It happens to everyone as they grow up, doesn’t it?”‘ [Related Link: Charlie Higson’s Books]
January 27, 2001
[questions] Paul Kaye (Dennis Pennis) answers the Guardian Questionnaire. What is your favourite building? Karnak’s Temple, Luxor. Maybe it was the heat, but when I went there I found myself in this little antechamber and was overcome with visions of Egyptian orgies. I masturbated swiftly wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a camera around my neck – which just goes to prove that all tourists are wankers.’
January 15, 2001
[tv] MacIntyre uncovered — Guardian Unlimited profiles Donal MacIntyre. ‘So what precisely is Donal MacIntyre’s perspective? A man who fights to close down abusive care homes, yet describes being backstage with Naomi Campbell as a “unique experience” to tell his grandchildren about. A man who protects damaged teenage models, but gets a thrill from nearly being arrested because he “looked like” a hooligan. A man who would rather spend four of the past five years of his life undercover because, I suspect, he’s so alienated from the cynical, worldly tribe of hacks he’s found himself belonging to. A small-town lad, accidentally handsome, accidentally good at his job, accidentally famous.’
January 11, 2001
[moley] BBC News covers the new Adrian Mole TV series — The Cappuccino Years. ‘Adrian Mole is not just a figure of fun or soft comedy target – he is emblematic of the age in which we live. The title, The Cappuccino Years, relates to not just the current craze for coffee shop culture, explained Townsend. “It is a metaphor for the fact that Adrian Mole has a mixed race son whose skin is the colour of cappuccino, it is also a metaphor for the Labour government; a lot of froth – very little coffee. Adrian Mole is a conduit for what the country is like.”‘
December 31, 2000
[watching] The Sopranos ‘Unlike Francis Coppola’s operatic dramatisation of Mario Puzo’s Godfather epic, The Sopranos sustains a poignant, even mundane, intimacy in its focus on Tony, brought to vivid life by James Gandolfini’s mercurial performance. Alternatively seductive, exasperated, fearful, and murderous, Gandolfini is utterly convincing even when executing brutal shifts between domestic comedy and dramatic violence. Both he and the superb team of Italian-American actors recruited as his loyal (and, sometimes, not-so-loyal) henchman and their various “associates” make this mob as credible as the evocative Bronx and New Jersey locations where the episodes were filmed.’ [Related Links: Official Sopranos Site]
December 9, 2000
[history] Interesting page that looks at how the major TV channels (particularly the BBC) in the UK reacted to the news that Princess Diana was dead. ‘In the early hours, the BBC were quite happy to play this interview with eye witness Michael Soloman sourced from CNN. For some reason they cut the part at the end where he says “Baba Booey!”. As Private Eye reports, this is the catch phrase of American Shock Jock Howard Stern who encourages his listeners to phone CNN with bogus testimony of breaking news stories.’
December 5, 2000
[simpsons] What more do you need from a link? The 50 Greatest Moments in Simpsons History. From Rosebud: ‘Homer: “Mmm… 64 slices of American cheese.” “64… ” [eats a slice] “63… ” [eats another] [Next morning] “Two… “[slowly] “One… “[finished] [Marge walks in] Marge: “Have you been up all night eating cheese?” Homer: [slurred] “I think I’m blind… “ [via LukeLog]
November 29, 2000
[tv] Cheap night out? Book tickets for a TV show. Includes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and The Richard Blackwood Show.
November 22, 2000
[sooty sex] The Nutlog provides a link to another of the staples of my childhood being defiled: The Karma-Sooty. Sooty does… Bestiality! Tantric! Bagism?! 69!
November 8, 2000
[tv] Anne Robinson: “Matt you are the weakest link. Goodbye‘My nadir came in round six, when – even though I had answered all my questions correctly – I was chosen for elimination by my two remaining rivals, the Sun and the Express. A tabloid conspiracy. Now it was my turn to endure the “walk of shame”. Even though I had performed the best in that round, Annie turned to me and declared: “Matt, you are the weakest link.” Compounding my sense of rejection, she turned away even before she got to the final, mocking “Goodbye!” At the losers’ interview, I was asked how it felt to be voted off despite having been the strongest. “It’s a travesty of justice and an insult to my intelligence,” I complained.’
November 1, 2000
[tv] The Big Issue reports on what Gripper Stebson did next. ‘At that point, the tabloids swooped, offering the reporter who ran the story vast amounts of money to lead them to Mark. They promised to give the actor even bigger sums if he let them tell his story their way. Mark wouldn’t talk and the Press Gazette ran a story about the reporter Raj Johal’s principled refusal to reveal Mark’s whereabouts, despite the bank notes being wafted in front of him. After shaking off the newspapers and magazines, Mark decided to speak to The Big Issue instead. Between mouthfuls of chicken biryani he jokes about his ‘disappeared’ status. “I’ve always known where I’ve been – apart from the odd lost weekend,” he says.’ [Related Links: TV Cream on Grange Hill]
October 28, 2000
[tv] More on Blue PeterWhat became of the Blue Peter elephant? She went on to present the national lottery and marry Grant Bovey’ [from Guardian Unlimited’s Notes and Queries]
[tv] Blue Peter and Hunter S. Thompson. Stand back. Do not not mix. ‘…who is this, for Christ sakes? Fucker calls himself Groom. Looks like I’m minding the fucking baby today, I figure, well, may as well keep any possible conflict down to a minimum, after all I’m desperate enough to take this faggot job in the first place, I can’t afford another fuck up. Straight away, while the Freak’s talking some crap at me, I notice this damn idiot child badge on his fucking nylon shirt. I don’t like to ask what kind of freakin’ remedial school talisman that is. Probably just some warning badge for the good honest middle class folks to know to KEEP THE FUCK AWAY, MENTALLY DEFICIENT GIANT FREAK APPROACHING. One look back up to his dead-ass eyes. I shiver, and it ain’t the half dozen ‘Ludes I’d picked up in St. Paul’s the moment I came to this damn limey wasteland to steady my nerves. There’s evil in this bitch, I would swear on my fucking mother’s life.’
October 26, 2000
[eastenders] Good Grief! Sonia’s having a baby‘Sonia Jackson is one of a new breed of young soap mothers. She’s intelligent, hard-working, conscientious, and most emphatically not the Town Bike. She allowed Martin Fowler to get a bit carried away earlier in the year, but that’s no reflection on her – Martin would probably get carried away with Mo Harris if the lighting was low.’ [Related Links: Eastenders]
October 18, 2000
[tv] Brief profile of Phil Davis who appears in Channel 4’s new series North Square. ‘On these pages, Mark Lawson has suggested that North Square is unduly concerned with class. Davis, unsurprisingly, doesn’t agree. “It’s only a shock to middle-class people that there is this working-class guy running things for all these middle- class, intelligent barristers. You could say that all English drama is about class to some degree, but I don’t think North Square is about class predominantly: it’s about law, and how it is applied. That’s what is really interesting: in one scenario a woman loses her children and it’s tragic, in another some nutter is stealing underpants and it’s comic; that’s much more like real life, with a tragedy tumbling over a comedy. Plus the career side of it: you’re hoping for a plea on Monday so you can do the big fraud on Tuesday. Of course it goes on.”‘ [Related Links: Davis at IMDB]
[big brother] Ask Nasty Nick from the Independent. If you could make one apology, what would it be, and to whom? I’ve never had to make an apology, so I would apologise to no one.’ [via extenuating circumstances]
October 16, 2000
[lmg sells out] What has Fish in a Groove got to do with Attachments? ‘Like a sperm whale in a goldfish bowl, fish in a groove is making a splash.’ [Related Link: Guardian on]
October 15, 2000
[this morning deux] Two moments of TV Hell: Richard Madeley as Ali G and an animated photo of Judy Finnigan exposing herself in front of 12 million people. [Judy photo via My 2p]
October 12, 2000
[this morning] Guardian Unlimited profiles Richard and Judy. I work shifts, so often watch This Morning… totally facinated / scared by R&J… they really are the strangest couple on TV [apart from Cybil and Basil Faulty]. ‘Despite his idiosyncrasies, Judy loves Richard and, like many long-suffering wives, humours his more outlandish behaviour and ideas. She nods and enthuses appropriately and only very occasionally will shoot him a death stare when he is veering dangerously close to Saying Too Much. His response is to throw his arms in the air and adopt a “I’m just an open kinda guy” expression and carry on regardless. Like an embarrassing uncle who cannot see himself as others see him – perhaps because he took too much LSD in the 60s – his behaviour makes hers all the more admirable.’ [Related Link: BBC News report]

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