Sunday, 28 February 2016

RIP Frank Kelly

Father Ted star Frank Kelly, famous for playing the irascible drunkard Father Jack in the Channel 4 sitcom, has passed away aged 77.

Kelly was diagnosed with Parkinsons last year and away from Father Ted was known for his roles in Emmerdale, The Deal, TaffinEvelyn, and Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie. In his native Ireland he made his name in shows such as Wanderly Wagon and Hall's Pictorial Weekly and, in 1984, hit the charts at number 8 in Ireland and number 26 in the UK respectively with The Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Countdown

Uncannily, his death today on the 28th February coincides with his Father Ted co-star Dermot Morgan's death 18 years ago to the day.


Silent Sunday : Baby Blue

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Friday, 26 February 2016

Girls With Guns

Top of the Pops dance troupe Legs and Co, offer up a gun toting pose for this 1978 photoshoot. 

OK, I'm a bit late for Valentine's Day, but I couldn't resist sharing this

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Rapid Reviews : The Obsession by GF Newman

GF Newman is the kind of writer famed for tackling the big issues and courting controversy. On television he was well known for the groundbreaking 1978 mini-series Law and Order which shed a light on the corruption at the heart of our police force and penal systems. He followed this up with the 1983 mini-series The Nation's Health which addressed the ruination of the NHS at the hands of Thatcher's heartless conservative government. 

As a novelist, GF Newman is perhaps most famous for Sir, You Bastard, a stunning debut that followed the corrupt career of an ambitious young Scotland Yard detective and helped pave the way for Law and Order. But in 1980 he wrote this novel, The Obsession, which has become very topical in the Yewtree age we now live in; given that it is about a Tory junior minister having an affair with a twelve-year-old girl.

Hobbie Kalmann is forty-two, a junior minister in the government, a man with considerable power and reputation. Afra is gifted, inquisitive, pretty and, as the twelve-year old lover of Hobbie Kalmann, the source of a tender and tragically relentless passion. Caught in an obsession that combines lust and innocence, Kalmann risks the collapse of his world for the one person who gives it meaning, Afra.

(from the blurb on the back of the 1980 paperback)

I must admit I read this because I wondered if Newman had managed to shed some pre-emptive light on the rumours that now dog the Tory government and indeed the establishment of the early '80s. Was this an attempt to uncover what was rotten and bring it to the public's mind in the same way he had so successfully unmasked police corruption in both Sir, You Bastard and Law and Order? Well, no sadly if that was ever Newman's intention, he doesn't really pull it off here. The Obsession doesn't discuss a secret network of paedophiles in the upper echelons of British society, instead it concentrates solely on Kalmann and presents him as a minority who genuinely believes he is in love with Afra.

Unfortunately this is where The Obsession gets a bit...well, icky and uncomfortable. Newman's descriptions are rather worryingly voyeuristic and there's something to be said in the notion that the way he approaches the relationship is somehow appeasing paedophiles. It is Afra who is shown to make the first move, time and time again, and Kalmann who submits after some internal conflict and resistance. Despite this sexual impulse, Afra is written as a very naive twelve year old, at odds with Kalmann's assertions that she is mature for her age. She is always depicted as being very childish in the scenes which Newman allows her to be apart from Kalmann which poses an interesting complexity and the notion on people believing what they want to believe to indulge in their heart's desires. Kalmann is an unsympathetic character, but the manner in which Newman approaches his crimes almost seems like he's trying to gain some sympathy.

Equally icky is Newman's characterisation of Afra's friend Eugenia, who indulges in incestuous sex games with her brothers as if it were the norm. Call me prudish, but this was a real eye-opener for me and not what I'd personally consider normal. Again, there's a danger here that the impulses paedophiles have could be considered justified from this text, rather than condemned.

But before you give up hope, Newman manages to introduce Eugenia into Kalmann and Afra's secret weekends and, tapping into Kalmann's thoughts, Newman reveals that he begins to harbour feelings of lust for Eugenia too which blows away any of his repeated beliefs that he is not a paedophile and that he is simply someone who has fallen for a twelve-year old girl. Without giving anything away, the weekend is a tragic disaster and comeuppances are delivered, though even then one gets a sense that neither Kalmann or Afra have learnt anything from the experience.

An interesting, bold read, but not without its flaws. Apropos of nothing, I kept seeing/hearing Kalmann as David Cameron - not that he's a peado of course...

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Out On Blue Six : Sabrina Johnston

End Transmission

Grimsby (2016)

Firstly, it's called Grimsby. I refuse to call it by its lame American title, The Brothers Grimsby, which doesn't even make any sense - Grimsby isn't their surname, it's where they're from!

Anyway, on to the film...

Grimsby is Shameless meets James Bond. A ribald, gross-out and utterly silly cartoonish comedy from that king of offensive puerile humour, Sacha Baron Cohen. If you like the man, then the chances are you'll enjoy the film. If you don't then it really won't be your cup of tea.

Like The Dictator, Grimsby is a purely fictional tale. I think I prefer it when Baron Cohen uses a narrative rather than playing 'candid camera' on the general public in the guise of one of his characters. Though, I'm aware I'm in a minority here, as more people rave about films like Borat and Bruno than they do The Dictator.

Baron Cohen stars as Nobby, a knuckleheaded, feckless football fan with a Gallagher-esque haircut who hails from Grimsby and has not seen his kid brother for twenty-eight years, when he was adopted by a family from London. His brother Sebastian thrived away from Grimsby and was recruited by MI6 to become a sleek assassin and one of their top Bond-esque agents. He's played by Mark Strong, who gamely approaches the role completely straight. When Nobby gets wind of where to find his brother, he gatecrashes a charity gala and inadvertently gets his brother framed as an enemy agent in the eyes of his paymasters at MI6. Together, they go on the run across the globe and attempt to foil a sinister eugenicist plot that I imagine Iain Duncan Smith would greatly admire -  eradicating the working classes of the world to solve the population problem.

The film boasts an impressive cast of supporting players but sadly wastes a good deal of them. Indeed, blink and you'll miss turns from David Harewood, Rebecca Front, Alex Lowe and Miles Jupp, all of whom I expect ended up on the cutting room floor. But there's Ian McShane and Isla Fisher at MI6, PenĂ©lope Cruz as an A-list actress with an interest in global health care and, representing Grimsby, we have the likes of Johnny Vegas, John Thomson, Ricky Tomlinson and, best of all, Rebel Wilson in another scene stealing role as Nobby's girlfriend that brings plenty of laughs yet once again requires her to do little more than laugh at her own appearance. 

As funny as she is, just once I'd like to see her appear in a film in which her figure is not the central joke. Unfortunately it's something I doubt we'll see until/unless she writes her own material and has the confidence not to go for the obvious. Some surprise appearances from Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi and Precious star Gabourey Sidibe also lift the film.

Whilst some of the film's biggest gag setpieces don't fly as well as one imagines Baron Cohen et al expected, you have to marvel at their commitment to utter gross-out spectacle. Better for me personally was some of the one liners and smaller setpieces - such as Nobby's ill timed cheer at hearing the England football result at the charity function just as a wheelchairbound boy reveals he has AIDS - and the unexpected political bite found in Baron Cohen's affectionate support for his characters.

Whilst not a huge success - the direction only seems assured of itself with the big comic setpieces and the computer game shoot 'em up style action, losing some of the appreciation necessary for the smaller, but no less vital character comedy moments - Grimsby is nevertheless short and colourful enough to impress. It's certainly got more oomph and more belly laughs than Dad's Army. And any film that gives Donald Trump AIDS, is alright by me!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Lunch Hour (1961)

God, but Shirley Anne Field was gorgeous. I mean, just look at her


Anyway, I love this film, it's still so very witty and inventive that to call it a B Movie short seems somehow offensively unfair. 

Lunch Hour begins with a conventional and amusing enough premise but it's sheer joy is that it takes you somewhere completely unexpected, topping its own inherent humour as it progresses to is conclusion after just 60 minutes. Robert Stephens stars as a married executive at a wallpaper manufacturer who has become besotted by a younger woman (Shirley Anne Field) recently hired from art school to paint the designs. Because Stephens' character is married he cannot engage in an illicit affair with her in the evenings, so they must court one another during their lunch hour - but suitable locations prove increasingly hard to come by and prone to interruption. 

Eventually, Stephens hits upon the idea of booking a room at a guest house for an hour in the middle of the day to finally consummate their affair. But to obtain the room from the manageress, played by Kay Walsh, he has had to tell a series of detailed lies - lies which soon lead to the unravelling of his relationship with the young girl who slowly starts to take on the lies as her own reality.

John Mortimer's script (adapted from a previous stage and TV play) tips its hat to the notion of female discontent and hints at the feminist empowerment that would become more prevalent at the tail end of the decade. But above all, it's just really funny and its absurdity and surrealism stems from the fact that James Hill's direction does not significantly alter its approach in any way shape or form. There are no moments of warning, the film maintains its realistic air which only serves to enhance the comic frustration for the Stephens character and, to some extent, the audience watching.

The performance from the leads are both exceptional and it's hardly surprising to note this remains one of Field's favourites. All too often in the 1960s and this genre of cinema, good looking young women were cast simply to play love interests. Whilst Lunch Hour sets Field up in that respect in its initial stages, it turns it completely on its head in the second half allowing her a real chance to shine and show her acting range in a manner which sadly was all too lacking in other roles. I love her mercurial nature here; from the quiet, amused girl of the first half to the fiery centrepoint of the final reel - by way of the downtrodden and exhausted wife and mother she has come to momentarily believe she truly is - and back again to the smiling, happy innocent over the credits, she is wholly superb.

Friday, 19 February 2016

The Party's Over (1965)

A story of beatniks, of sex, drugs, jazz, necrophilia and suicide, The Party's Over has a very acrimonious and difficult history. Its makers fought a two-year long battle with the censors before the Rank Organisation hacked it to ribbons and sold it on to an exploitation company. Thankfully, those lovely people at the BFI restored its original 1965 version and made it available to the masses as part of their Flipside series of offbeat British movies from the '60s and '70s.

Does it live up to the hype?

Well no, not really. Not to me anyway.

Written by American expatriate Marc Behm (co-author of Charade and Help!) and directed by Guy Hamilton (later famous for several Bond films) The Party's Over is set in Chelsea and centring on the search if an American heiress by her fiancĂ©, and his discovery that she has fallen in with a group of  nihilistic beatniks led by a charismatic Oliver Reed.

It's interesting to note that Hamilton was actually offered Dr. No in 1962 but he turned down the first outing of 007 to make this landmark swinging London movie instead. It's an intriguing initial first step away from the kitchen sink dramas of the first half of the decade but, as you can tell from the plot outline and the controversies that surrounded it, it's a much darker and more pessimistic swinging 60s picture than the surrealist kaleidoscope of colours that played out the decade. 

It's a striking and subversive anti-establishment film which unsurprisingly ruffled the feathers of the BBFC and Rank, leading to Hamilton removing his name from the butchery that was eventually released. Oliver Reed, still then a relative unknown, stars as Moise, the clique's 'leader'. What's most striking about Moise - and indeed the rest of his comrades - is that he's clearly very well educated; these aren't illiterate ruffians posing a threat to England's moral values, they're the urbane, intelligent enemy within whose hedonism and search for kicks seems unstoppable even, at times, for Moise's tastes.

"The 'message' was that they should by all means opt out but society would have to be replaced by something." Hamilton said. "It wasn't my function to tell them what that should be, but just opting out is insufficient." That message is loud and clear from the opening shot, a beautiful, near iconic, look of the partied-out group drifting aimlessly homewards across the Albert Bridge at dawn. It's a shot that looks so bleak and melancholic - at stark odds with so much of the 'let's do the party right here' type of movies that were The Party's Over's peers - that it easily sums up the insufficieny Hamilton is referring to.

Unfortunately, the film cannot achieve the promise of the controversy that surrounds it and it's too often a rather po-faced morality tale that isn't helped by some strange choices - most notably Mike Pratt's ludicrous American accent. Nevertheless, it scores high for nostalgia and John Barry's score - which pre-empts much of his later work on the Bond films to the extent that some of the interludes are exact carbon copies of the brassy blast lead-in to the infamous Bond theme - really helps set the very evocative mood of time and place, alongside the crisp black and white cinematography of Larry Pizer.

RIP Harper Lee

Sadly, it has been announced that Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has passed away at the age of 89.

I will always have fond memories of reading To Kill A Mockingbird for GCSE English in '95/'96. A book that really opened my eyes - probably the only book I had to read for school that I truly came to enjoy and appreciate - and for that, I will always be grateful to her. 


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Dad's Army (2016)

Well this really is lions led by donkeys.

A first rate truly accomplished cast are squandered by an ineffectual, humourless script and a director who handles comedy like an accident prone around an unexploded bomb. This would be bad for any comedy film, but when that comedy film is a remake of a much loved, cherished and classic BBC sitcom, then you really are in trouble.

Dad's Army was actually spun off into the cinema once before in 1971. Despite retaining the original cast and writers it was not a great success. Some sitcoms - indeed the vast majority of them - simply do not work well by being 'opened up' for the big screen. The thing we all loved about Dad's Army, the original sitcom, was it gave us the chance to see a truly superb cast of character actors simply bounce off one another. In a lot of old episodes the plots were basic or even superfluous. It didn't really matter that nothing much happened beyond the four walls of the Church Hall, the charm lay in the assured performances of the ensemble in the funny little situations contained there. Director Oliver Parker has managed to pull together an equally impressive ensemble here, but he actually forgets to rely on them to just be the platoon and so misses the crucial draw of finding the humour in their interaction, because he's too busy pushing the plot. It's actually bewilderingly dumb how little we see of the cast together; meaning that all the wonderful interactions like Jonesy drifting off course into the realms of fantasy, Frazer constantly undermining Mainwaring with his morose scepticism, or Mainwaring's barely contained reverse-snobbery for the more urbane Wilson, are all criminally absent for much of the film. Indeed, you could almost forget Bill Paterson (Frazer) and Tom Courtenay (Jones) are even in it until the final reel, which finally throws the platoon together in the thick of it. 

Where the film does impress is actually boosting the female characters who - apart from the episode 'Mum's Army' so routinely stayed on the sidelines of the original show. Here these characters are brought forward to share the stage thanks to the Walmington ATS regiment headed up by Felicity Montagu as Mrs Mainwaring (previously only ever seen as a mighty bump in bunkbed) and featuring Sarah Lancashire as Mrs Pike, Alison Steadman as Mrs Fox, Emily Atack as Pte Walker's girlfriend (previously played by Wendy Richard, with Atack's hair being the exact replica of the '40s style the future 'Enders star wore) and the lovely Holli Dempsey from Derek as Vera, Pte Pike's girlfriend. I love Holli Dempsey *sighs* Of course the biggest female role goes to Catherine Zeta Jones as the Nazi spy who infiltrates this corner of England. And yes, she's as terrible as you would imagine.

But perhaps not as terrible as the script. I'd question if Hamish McColl has ever even seen an episode of Dad's Army as his script seems more influenced by Carry On films than it does any episode of the series and, worst of all, with its preoccupations with poor innuendo like 'slipping her a sausage', 'four balls' and 'the end' meaning CZJ's arse, this is more like Carry On England. I watched this in a rather full screening and most of these examples were met with either confusion or a stony silence. It's not helped that Oliver Parker really has no grasp of comedy and when you're relying on the comic chops of your cast to boost a shoddy script it really helps if you frame the action to their advantage. Parker doesn't and I wouldn't trust him to frame a funny painting let alone a shot that has some comic acting going on, as he fails it resolutely every time. 

I went into the screening not expecting much at all. I knew it wasn't going to be as good as the series but with zero expectations I argued I may at least be pleasantly surprised. My heart sank when the opening caption told us the events were taking place in 1944 - when the invasion threat the film concentrates upon was a very distant memory and the war was all but won. Hmmm. Despite such strange choices, such gaffes and such poor handling, you can see the good intentions in reviving Dad's Army, I don't think anyone involved here set out to tarnish its good name or make a bad movie, but I'd still argue why you would actually want to raise your head above the parapet to do so in the first place.

Ultimately, Dad's Army's good name remains intact. But this is far from a good movie, despite the film's obviously good intentions.

Still, one good thing came out of it; Ferne McCann got to rock the '40s ATS look for the premiere

Monday, 15 February 2016

Out On Blue Six : Viola Beach, RIP

It's been a desperately sad weekend following the news of the tragic deaths of Warrington band Viola Beach - Jack Dakin, Kris Leonard, Tomas Lowe and River Reeves - and their manager Craig Tarry, following a freak road accident in Stockholm, Sweden. Their beautiful promise will now never bear fruit.

RIP lads.

Please help pay tribute to them and get them the critical and commercial acclaim they deserved and would no doubt go on to achieve by downloading the above track here - let's see of we can't get them to number one  

End Transmission


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Theme Time: Peter Schilling - Deutschland 83

Tonight sees the screening of the final episode of Deutschland 83 on Channel 4.

I've loved this wonderful German series about a young East German border patrol guard who is sent over the Berlin Wall by the Stasi to spy on the Western military at the height of the Cold War's nuclear threat. It's like a cross between The Lives of Others (for the espionage and suspense) and Ashes to Ashes (for the nostalgia of the music and pop culture references)

The theme tune is German pop star Peter Schilling's 1983 hit Major Tom (Coming Home) an affectionate ode/sequel to Bowie's Space Oddity. However I believe in its native Germany, the theme used is actually New Order's Blue Monday

Silent Sunday : Cheers!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Hawks (1988)

A film featuring James Bond and Goose from Top Gun, written by the bloke who wrote Last of the Summer Wine, from an idea by a Bee Gee.

As the current TV trails for Radio 4 has it, this is 'a curious bunch' indeed.

Made between his two outing as 007, Hawks is an intriguing vehicle for Timothy Dalton that allows him to show off his comic chops almost twenty years before Hot Fuzz. He stars as Bancroft, a solicitor and patient on a cancer ward, who takes a fellow terminally ill sufferer, a former American football player Deckermensky (Anthony Edwards) under his wing with the philosophy that they must face death with honesty and humour. The normal rules should not apply to them, for they are hawks in a world full of pigeons. Deckermensky resists at first, he's too depressed to treat his impending fate with the cynicism Bancroft is a proponent of, and what's nothing more than to take his own life before the going gets too bad. Eventually, Bancroft manages to talk him out of his suicidal thoughts and the pair ultimately form a strong friendship. They take flight from the hospital by stealing an ambulance and head off to Amsterdam, where they impulsively intend to indulge in one last sex fuelled romp before they die.

But their intentions are diverted when they come across two British damsels in distress; friends Hazel (Janet McTeer) and Maureen (Camille Coduri) who are in Holland searching for the one night stand that got Hazel pregnant. Like Bancroft and Deckermensky, our female characters are also strikingly different; Maureen is a diminutive and lippy blonde bombshell of a Londoner, who is quite worldly-wise, whilst Hazel is a tall and gawky, accident prone northerner, awkward in her own skin. I really love McTeer in this, I'm biased I guess because I've long since admired and crushed on her, but she's so wonderfully clutzy in a pre-Miranda kind of way, that she's effortlessly adorable. She's instantly attracted to Dalton's Bancroft (as indeed is Maureen to Deckermensky) but the two men occasionally struggle to see them as anything other than figures of fun or figures to lust after - so preoccupied and selfish are they to their own mortality. It's a slight shame that their misogyny isn't called out I guess, but this is the 1980s and Hawks, despite being a good little film, is as dated as befits that decade of filmmaking. 

One of the subtle things I enjoyed about Hawks is how, despite his bravado, it's clear that Bancroft is just as terrified of death as Deckermensky is. His cynical humour and red nose wearing are just ways to deflect the issue at hand, to hide from the inevitable - indeed, the beanie hat he habitually wears is just another example of him hiding from his fate; its to cover the baldness his deteriorating condition has developed. But whether Deckermensky, almost the I to Bancroft's Withnail, realises this bullshit is never implicitly stated. Personally, I like to think he knows full well, but is happy to play along with it because it allows him his opportunity to actually face death the way Bancroft is proposing.

Hawks is a funny film - there are some genuine laugh out loud moments, and anyone familiar with scriptwriter Roy Clarke's sitcoms will spot his kind of vernacular in lines such as "You think you know someone and all the time he's got a foot called Gerald" - that neatly avoids the mawkish. Yes, it's dated and yes Barry Gibbs' score is partly responsible for that, but it's a nice experience and dammit if I didn't feel a bit saddened by the end. 

One complaint though - whose idea was it to give Connie Booth just one line?

Fancy watching it? I've put it on YouTube

Friday, 12 February 2016

Tender Loving Care (1993)

"Only those there's no hope for. Those who cause too many problems for everyone else. Those with no close family...When they've been in for over the twenty-four hours and there won't be a routine PM. It doesn't hurt. I make sure it's quick, and the bed's freed up for someone else"

The 1993 Screen One drama Tender Loving Care was a major departure Dawn French, then at the height of her fame as one half of the hit comedy duo French and Saunders and one of the Comic Strip Presents ensemble. In this unsettling drama from the pen of Lucy Gannon, French stars as Elaine, a lowly SEN (State Enrolled Nurse) who effectively runs the night-shift on an increasingly under-staffed geriatric ward with none of the perks of promotion or an increase in wage. Regardless of being overworked and underpaid, Elaine gets by with a bubbly demeanour and a pragmatic air. She's a diligent, caring professional, a good friend to her elderly, ailing neighbour (Joan Sims) and a wife and mother whose marriage to her endlessly chipper husband (Robert Pugh) is hitting the domestic doldrums - she's pretty much an everywoman then, and certainly any character in a generic medical soap you could care to name. But these qualities mask a dark secret: Elaine is murdering her patients.

It's a bold bit of casting. One of the joys of stand alone drama from the '80s and '90s was its refusal to pigeon-hole performers. As such actors who were normally associated with comedy often appeared in a Screen One, Screen Two, The Play on One or Screenplay in heavy dramatic roles; Ade Edmondson (Honest, Decent and True, News Hounds) Lenny Henry and Robbie Coltrane (Alive and Kicking) Alexei Sayle (Night Voice) Tony Robinson (The Silent Twins) Griff Rhys Jones (Ex and A View of Harry Clark - which also starred Elaine Paige!) and David Jason (Amongst Barbarians) For many, this was just the start of an impressive secondary career as a straight actor - just look at Edmondson's recent turn in War and Peace and Jason's many years on A Touch of Frost for proof. Nowadays they wouldn't gamble on such interesting choices, they'd just cast some former soap star or the current 'flavour-of-the-month' to ensure the production scored the biggest ratings possible. 

Elaine's criminal actions were not born of malice or revenge (though Gannon's script repeatedly makes much of her constantly being passed over for courses that could help see her get a foot on the career ladder) they were - as the quote at the start of this review explains  - 'nursing decisions', borne out of a skewed belief that she was providing a merciful release and always mindful of the fact that the extra-work required to maintain these patients in palliative terms would impact on how they could treat and help the others in her care who stood a greater chance of recovery. In French's performance and Gannon's script, Elaine is the archetypal Angel of Death figure; capable of tenderly combing the hair of a sleeping homeless patient she had just administered a lethal dosage of medication to. She's a particularly good, dedicated and caring nurse, extremely capable of doing her job...despite her unsettling desire to play God.

This chilling nature is revealed and subsequently threatened when Elaine takes co-worker, Mary (Rosemary Leach) into her confidence - or rather, when Mary reveals that she had known about Elaine's activities for some time, thereby forcing her into taking the older woman into her confidence. Despite clearly laying down the rules as she saw them (again, the above quote), Mary soon goes decidedly off-piste. She claims she has started receiving messages from God and uses this excuse to enter the business of mercy-killing with a tendency to bend and break the rules and 'nursing decisions' that Elaine has carefully adhered to. When she kills a suicidal rent-boy in retribution for what she sees as his 'sins', Elaine is naturally aghast at the actions of her 'apprentice' and fears the perils of any subsequent investigation which would threaten to uncover her activities and have justice come crashing down upon her head. She needs to act, fast, and in the meantime her neighbour isn't getting any better...

Inspired by a real-life Austrian case in which 42 patients died, Tender Loving Care has taken on greater resonance since its initial broadcast in 1993 when Britain has revealed itself to have its own Angels of Death working away within the NHS; the crimes of Beverly Allitt came to light around time of transmission, with Harold Shipman in 2000 and, just last year, Victorino Chua. Watching it again now, for the first time in probably over twenty years, these real-life, close to home incidents, make Gannon's drama all the more disturbing.

To get the BBC to consider repeating some of these classic plays please sign the petition I started here