Monday, 31 March 2014

Out On Blue Six : Squeeze

End Transmission

This Is England '86 (2010)

Like many I guess, I'm eagerly anticipating This Is England '90 the third mini serial sequel to Shane Meadows excellent 2006 film (which had been postponed by Meadows unexpected project, that of filming the reunion of The Stone Roses) so as a result I've been revisiting the series which commenced with This Is England '86.

Picking up three years after the original film, '86 sees Meadows breathe new life into his characters and setting once more.  The transition from cinema to television doesn't - thankfully - mean a dip in quality, it feels like a natural step forward which actually builds on and in many cases improves the characterisation, with many of the supporting figures who were originally on the periphery now being fleshed out much more satisfactorily. Specifically coming to the fore this time around is the character of Lol played by the excellent Vicky McClure. Meadows has rightly pegged her as the mother of the group and creates a rich back story for her as well as placing her squarely into the serial's plot. McClure pretty much owns each scene she is in; it's a powerful performance that rightly allowed widespread recognition for her talents.

The action, set against the summer of the 86 World Cup, is as strong as you'd expect with the almost carousel like swing from bleak harrowing drama to laugh out loud hilarity topped off by nostalgia and the eclectic soundtrack of the time. Thomas Turgoose's Shaun has now left school and, with nothing but a place in the dole queue waiting for him, he is returned to the fold of Woody, Lol, Milky and Smell et al. 

The villain of the piece this time around is Lol's returning father played by a chilling and animalistic Johnny Harris. With his Peter Sutcliffe beard and the subsequent events his character plays out, that of raping one character and the reveal that he serially abused Lol, his own daughter for many years, means that Harris manages to do what we would initially believe impossible - he's scarier than Combo of the original film! His pivotal scenes are difficult and uncomfortable to watch and garnered strong reactions on the original transmission.

Speaking of Combo, Stephen Graham returns in the last act seeking redemption ("let me do a good thing" he says during a key scene) and, in doing so, manages to surprise not just the characters but also the viewers. It further shows us just what Meadows can do with an opening out of the original action; he adds great depth and dimension to both the characters and the overall proceedings. But let's not forget Meadows co-director on this project, Tom Harper, who was behind the camera for the first two of the four episodes.

I think I'll watch the second sequel This Is England '88 again this week too.

Out On Blue Six : The Jam

End Transmission


The gorgeous Valerie Leon as the oh so revealing office girl in the excellent Peter Cook film The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer - Note the poster for decimalisation on the cupboard door.

Smoking Hot

Vicky McClure.

You've got to love Vicky McClure - just a brilliant and fierce young talent

Going out to my mate Michael, who I know is a big fan :D

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Out On Blue Six : The Stone Roses

End Transmission

Theme Time : Ronnie Hazlehurst - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

Seeing as it's mother's day what better theme to share than the one from classic BBC sitcom Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

The show was written by Raymond Allen and ran for 20 episodes between 1973 and 1978. Originally the BBC wanted Ronnie Barker or Norman Wisdom to play the show's hapless hero, the accident prone and ineffectual Frank Spencer, but Michael Crawford bagged the role and created something truly unique and special.

The theme tune was composed by the prolific Ronnie Hazlehurst, a veteran of British TV comedy theme tunes of the 1970s and 80s. The show's title is cleverly spelt out on the piccolo in Morse Code.

 ••• ――― ―― • ―― ――― ― •••• • •―• ••• ―•• ――― •― •••― • • ―― •―•―•― S o   m e/m o   t h e r s  /d o  /a v    e/e m /(full stop). 

RIP Kate O'Mara

Another sad passing as legendary vamp Kate O'Mara has died aged 74 following a short illness.

Star of Hammer horrors, classics from ITC, Dynasty, Triangle, Howards Way and Doctor Who, she'll be much missed.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Crocodile Rock

The Blessed Kate and toothy friend

Out On Blue Six : David Bowie & Mick Jagger

I've always loved this - Two legends camping it up like nobody's business!

I love this moment; it's a lesson in not wanting to be outdone. Bowie drops to the floor and a fraction of a second later Jagger spots it and does the very same thing! Haha!

End Transmission

Leigh's Ladies : Ruth Sheen

Ruth Sheen

Number of filmed Leigh projects: Five from 1988 to the present day.

From 1988's High Hopes to 2010's Another Year; she may have aged, but that smile remains the same! And with good reason, given how her two characters in each film - Shirley and Gerri - are both two strong and positive women in a solid relationship, blessed with a joie de vivre and green fingers.

Ruth Sheen's one of my favourite character actresses and a lot of that is down to her work with Mike Leigh. Perhaps capitalising on the happiness, positivity and above all, the sheer strength she seems to embody, Leigh has cast her largely to that type in High Hopes, Secrets and Lies (a cameo as 'laughing woman' which says it all really!) All or Nothing, Vera Drake and Another Year

In Vera Drake she's the titular role's partner, a bespectacled no nonsense madam who charges for her role in backstreet abortions and deals on the black market. It's another strong performance, but it's not one you could really call likeable, which makes it unique amongst her other Leigh roles.

I especially like the strength she brings to her character in All or Nothing including her other talent; singing. The legend has it that, as research, Leigh and Sheen would attend karaoke night once it was decided that her character would perform in such things on evening out with the girls - which was shown in the film. Sheen was so good in this preparation that she won the competition! 

But it's the role of Shirley in High Hopes that impresses me the most, creating a wonderfully believable relationship with her co-star Phil Davis as an irreverent left wing couple. She's feisty and funny as witnessed in her rebuttal of a leery come on from Martin, Davis' brother in law, played by Philip Jackson;

Martin: "Have you ever done any modelling?" 
Shirley: "No. I've done some yodelling"
*cue Martin attempting to yodel* 
Shirley: "I can see you haven't"

Friday, 28 March 2014

Fight For Yashika

Instead of being at school preparing for her forthcoming exams, Yashika, a top student at Oasis Academy Hadley, is currently detained at Yarl's Wood detention centre and facing deportation.

Yashika and her family fled to the UK from Mauritius two years ago when their lives were under threat. Yashika is now 18, an adult, and Theresa May MP has decided to separate her from her family and send her back 'home'

To deport an 18 year old schoolgirl, uprooting her from her mother, brother and sister is heartless. To do so just weeks before exams that will complete her education is just plain cruel. To do so on Mother's Day is just adding insult to injury.

Yashika was due to be deported on a BA flight on Tuesday. But BA is alleged to have refused to fly her.

Now Air Mauritius is set to take her on Sunday. 

Please consider signing the petition organised by Yashiki's teacher and fellow pupils HERE

Ollie & Maddy

Oliver Reed & Madeline Smith

What a pair! (Yes that is a double entendre regarding Maddy's tits!)

Out On Blue Six : The Sundays

I love The Sundays. One of my all time favourites. Harriet Wheeler has the sweetest voice. Voice of an angel.

I love their cover of Wild Horses. It's beautiful...

End Transmission

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Well Said Ken : Loach on Left Unity

Interesting article and call to arms in The Grauniad today from veteran filmmaker Ken Loach concerning the failure of the current Labour party and the need for a new left wing democratic party, in the shape of Left Unity

Read it here

For more information about Left Unity, visit their website here ahead of their conference in Manchester this Saturday

Smoking Hot

Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums

Of course the big news this week is that Gwyneth Paltrow has split from her husband Coldplay frontman Chris Martin after a little over a decade of marriage.

It's very sad. But surely what's more distressing is the prospect of Martin doing album of break up songs?! 

NHS : Lobbying Transparency

It seems that private companies are helping to decide the future of the NHS.

A lobbying company working for some of the worlds biggest drugs and medical equipment companies was paid by NHS England to write an influential report. It's claimed that the report could help shape the next five years of NHS strategy.

The NHS is owned by all of us, but NHS England - the body that runs the NHS here - doesn't have to publish details of the lobbyists they meet with. If enough of us kick up a stink right away, we could force them to come clean aboyt who's deciding the future of our NHS. The people who run NHS England aren't used to having the spotlight on them.

Please can you sign this petition to demand that we can see who's deciding the future of our NHS? Petition

Theme Time : Andy Pask & Charlie Morgan - The Bill

The Bill a mainstay of the ITV schedule for twenty six years. A police procedural set in the fictional London police station Sun Hill, it began life as a beautifully observed one off 1983 play entitled Woodentop by the great Geoff McQueen, before ITV, sensing the premise had legs, commissioned a full series for the following year. By 1988, the show went to a twice weekly half hour slot before reverting to hour long episodes in the late 90s and, in the last stages of its life becoming little more than a glorified soap with all the sensationalism such programmes wallow in (what is it with solid procedural fictional looks at our emergency services going to pot? London's Burning went soapy, Casualty is a third rate panto now and even Holby City has become pants recently?) leading to the chop in 2010.

The theme tune to The Bill was composed by Andy Pask and Charlie Morgan. Entitled Overkill it's an instantly familiar and distinctive tune that was used faithfully until an initial remix in the late 90s and subsequent tinkering until being dropped altogether a year before the show's eventual demise.

Here is that original version in all its 1980s glory

I bet you're all picturing the legs now aren't you?

Of course, the comedian Bill Bailey discusses the theme tune far better than I can in this clip from Room 101, alongside host Paul Merton...