Tuesday, 31 January 2017

My Choice For The Next Doctor Who - Joe Gilgun

As gutting though it was to hear Peter Capaldi will be leaving Doctor Who at Christmas (especially as it would have been good to see him perform in another show runner's vision for the show, as opposed to Steven Moffat's vision, which has been increasingly pants) it does of course offer up that exciting period of guessing who will be the next Doctor.

My own choice would be This is England, Pride and Misfits star Joe Gilgun

He'd be perfect! But he'd have to keep his Chorley accent because, as Christopher Eccleston proved, 'lots of plants have a north' It's time for a northern Doctor once more, and Gilgun is such a good physical actor he'd be a natural fit for the role. Plus, look at this photo from Ripper Street where he's ramped up a Doctory kind of look to the max!

I can't take the credit for coming up with this contender though; Iain Stott on Letterboxd has been floating it for some time now and he's a wise man that Iain. So listen up BBC, and give Gilgun the gig!

Failing that; Mark Williams (Father Brown and formerly Rory's dad in Doctor Who) Ian Hart, Paterson Joseph or Phil Daniels. For my reasoning, see the list I made over on Letterboxd

Out On Blue Six: Asia, RIP John Wetton

John Wetton, the lead singer, founder member and principal songwriter of prog rock supergroup Asia, has passed away following a battle with cancer at the age of 67.

A real journeyman of rock, it's easy to name the bands Wetton wasn't in, than the ones he was, but here goes all the same; King Crimson, Uriah Heep, Family, Mogul Thrash, Wishbone Ash, Roxy Music, U.K, Jack-Knife, Qango, Icon and Asia, were all graced by Wetton's presence at one time or another. It was perhaps Asia that Wetton will be most remembered for, thanks in no small part to the massive 1982 American hit Heat of the Moment from their eponymous debut, which I'll share here in tribute to the man

Carl Palmer must be fed up of funerals right now.


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Someday My Prince Will Come/Philip and His Seven Wives: Two Films by Marc Isaacs

Someday My Prince Will Come (2005): A beautiful, (bitter)sweet exploration of the tentative steps of first love for ten-year-old Laura-Anne, a girl residing in the semi-rural, semi-industrial Cumbrian backwater of Siddick. Told extensively from Laura-Anne’s point of view, the film uses a narration of rhyming couplets by our young heroine to colour in the details of her hopes and dreams for love and happiness and provide both insight and humour.

Philip and His Seven Wives (2006): A former messianic rabbi, Philip claims to have received a month of visitations from God in which he was told that he was a prophet. From there, Philip left the church to embrace an Old Testament/Mr Wroe’s Virgins style life; taking seven diverse women to be his wife, all living together under one roof in Hove. It is the most unconventional of domestic set-ups, and one that is often hard for us viewers to comprehend or condone.

See the full review of both films, released by Second Run DVD, at The Geek Show

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Out On Blue Six: Joe Jackson

Steppin' Out seems to be all around again at the moment. Not just because it currently features regularly on the BBC4 repeats of 1983 Top of The Pops - where the likes of John Peel and David 'Kid' Jensen inform us how acclaimed and award winning the video is - but also because it's currently being used on adverts for P+O Ferries too.

That award winning, acclaimed video was directed by Steve Barron and filmed in one night at the St Regis Hotel, New York City in the summer of 1982. It shows a hotel maid adopting a Cinderella style role and dreaming of the high life whilst the real high-living guests of the room she's tending to are out on the town. 

The song was inspired by Jackson's time in New York and the excitement and anticipation of a night out driving around the city. It scored well in the States - proving to be his biggest hit there - as well as his native UK. And quite right too; it's a beautiful track.

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Petition To Prevent Trump's State Visit To The UK

Please sign this petition if you do not want this fascist here. Let's make it clear to the appeasement loving Theresa May that we do not want a relationship, 'special' or otherwise, with a fascist dictator. Let's stop this rot now. Let's make a stand against Brexit Britain being reliant on cosying up to a global bully. Let's see how President Fart likes being refused entry to a country!

Silent Sunday: Lippy Kids

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Cowardly May Says "The United States is responsible for the United States policy on refugees."

As Donald Trump introduces an indefinite ban on entry to the US from Muslim-majority nations and Syrian refugees (essentially a religious ban) Theresa May, back from the US with her begging bowl, failed to condemn the President's actions stating that "The United States is responsible for the United States' policy on refugees. The United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom's policy on refugees"

Yeah, that's kind of the attitude a lot of nations had towards Nazi Germany. It's the attitude of 'Let's keep our heads in the sand and not upset the applecart, because I've pinned all my trade hopes on this megalomaniac' 

That it is my country that has decided to take this stance deeply saddens and appalls me. To Theresa May I say this; "all that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing" Theresa May, you and your government are not good. Shame on you all.

RIP John Hurt

I got the text in the middle of the night from a friend and instantly my heart sank. I don't really have the words, I'm just fed up of my heroes passing away.


Theme Time: The Shadows - Radio 2's Sound of the 60s

Normally my Theme Time posts are related to TV programmes but I can't let what has happened this week pass by without marking it in some way, and so today I'm sharing The Shadows' 1963 hit Foot Tapper, the theme from Radio 2's Sound of the 60s, the long running Saturday morning series that has been a mainstay of the station since 1983.

The reason I'm sharing it is because the time has come for the show's legendary presenter, the warm and mellifluous toned Brian Matthew, to hang up his headphones of the show at the age of 88 due to recurring ill health.

Matthew had presented the show for twenty-six years, taking the baton from previous presenters such as Keith Fordyce and Simon Dee in March 1990. He continued to present the show each week right up until the 19th of November last year when a fall at home took him off the air. Since then, the show has been hosted by Sir Tim Rice and yesterday it was announced by Radio 2 that the production company that makes the show and Brian both agreed that it was "the right time for Brian to step off the weekly treadmill of presenting the show", and that they hope that Matthew will be well enough to present special one-off programmes for them in the near future. However, Matthew told The Telegraph that this version of events was "Balderdash" adding "I was ready, willing and able to go back, and they've just said that they are going to put the programme in the hands of other people" If that is really the case, then this is the most shoddy way to treat a national institution and the voice of several generations - but not unexpected given the BBC's track record with its talent.

Brian Matthew joined the BBC in 1954, hosting the Saturday Skiffle Club on the Light Programme in 1957, which became Saturday Club the following year and Easy Beat, interviewing the very best of the music world in the 1960s. By the '70s, Matthew was hosting My Top 12 on Radio's 1 and 2, before becoming the presenter of Round Midnight on 2 from 1978 to 1990. He received the Gold Award at the Sonys in 2008, a fitting tribute to the man whose catchphrase was "That's your lot for this week, see you next week"

It's a shame we won't now.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Alive and Kicking aka Indian Summer (1996)

A truly stunning and emotionally engaging film from playwright Martin Sherman and Sister, My Sister director Nancy Meckler, Indian Summer (also known in the US and on DVD as Alive and Kicking) tells the story of Tonio, a young gay dancer who is HIV Positive played with superb intensity, authenticity and humour by Jason Flemying. Believing his beautiful body - the tool of his trade - to have betrayed him with illness, Tonio pushes both it and himself to the limits for his art in the run up to his failing company's revival of the gay-themed ballet Indian Summer.

But at its heart the film is an honest depiction of a love affair between Tonio and Jack (Antony Sher, a fine turn) an older man who works as a therapist for HIV and AIDS patients and their families and who is overweight, prone to drinking and occasionally self-destructive. Because they're so opposite, and because the illness Tonio will one day succumb to is forever in their, and therefore, our minds, the film can truthfully explore the insecurities and conflicts that arise from love that other chocolate box romantic films simply shy away from. 

Some of the criticism I've seen relating to the film online (in the amazon reviews for example) is that the film is a little dated now. I'm not altogether sure what they mean by that; do they mean that HIV and AIDS isn't as prominent a threat as it once was and so the message of the film doesn't feel as topical now? Or are they simply pointing towards the filmmaking style and the authentic snapshot of the 1990s? If it's the latter I have to disagree; I personally really like a film that can evoke such memories of a past I have shared and which is emphatically rooted in time and place. And if it is the former, then I continue to be at a loss; does a second world war film lose resonance when viewed today because we live in a time of relative peace? One thing that strikes me about how the film handles the illness is that it seems utterly truthful and, above all, real; when the company are holding a vigil around the hospital bed of the dying Ramon (Anthony Higgins) and the night nurse advises them that he can't hear them talking to him, when Bill Nighy turns to her and reassures her that 'we've done this before' it feels utterly realistic. These tragedies were what people had to endure on a daily basis, a fact which is thankfully almost incomprehensible to me.

Whatever title you chose to call this, as a film it succeeds in touching you - whether it's a scene like the one mentioned above, the ups and downs of Tonio and Jack's relationship, or the many moments of comedy it offers too (the bit where Tonio and his lesbian best friend and fellow dancer Millie, played by future EastEnder Diane Parish, try to go straight and bed one another is a genuinely amusing highlight - it's like watching two children play at being grown-ups) - with the final dance scene crushing you completely, in a good way. Beautifully written, directed, acted and scored, this comes recommended.

Girls With Guns

Lara Croft - BBW style

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Out On Blue Six: Weezer, RIP Mary Tyler Moore

Weezer's 1994 hit Buddy Holly, with that fabulous Happy Days themed pop video and which namechecks Mary Tyler Moore, who has sadly passed away at the age of 80.

Tyler Moore, will be best remembered for her eponymous role in the US sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in which she played Mary Richards, a thirtysomething single woman and TV news producer - a role which arguably laid the foundations for the depiction of modern women on TV. Alongside this, she starred in The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-'66) as Van Dyke's character's wife, and in the films Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1967, and Ordinary People in 1980 which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.


End Transmission

Tonight's Tele Tip: Lefties, BBC4 10pm

There is what sounds like an interesting three-part documentary series starting on BBC4 tonight looking at examples of extreme left activism in the British society of the '70s and '80s entitled, predictably enough, Lefties  

I had presumed that Lefties was a new documentary series but upon further investigation I find that this is actually a repeat of a series originally broadcast on BBC4 in 2006 and which, bizarrely, past me by at the time. Presumably the corporation has considered it ripe for a repeat with the rise in socialist politics that has stemmed from Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour party.

Tonight's episode, Property is Theft, focuses on Villa Road in Brixton which, in the 1970s, was a series of squats whose residents lived by their beliefs in communal living, collective activism and a Marxist ideology. The other episodes in the series are Angry Wimmin, which looks at the Revolutionary Feminist Movement of the 1970s which proposed the notion of 'political lesbianism' and the withdrawal of sexual relations with men, and A Lot of Balls which explores the failed attempt by the News on Sunday to launch a left wing mass market Sunday newspaper in the 1980s.

Home (2003)

The great JG Ballard's short story The Enormous Space from his 1990 anthology War Fever got the TV treatment from BBC4 in the mid 00s, with this superb adaptation retitled simply Home.

Written and directed by Richard Curson-Smith, the film bears the imprint of influences such as Polanski's Repulsion and Cul-de-Sac but manages to make this suburban horror story compelling in its own right - perhaps because (like a lot of Ballard's work) it gets more relevant as time and technology marches on. 

The story, tapping into Ballard's obsessions with suburban living, inner space, estrangement and detachment, madness and the trauma of a car crash, concerns Antony Sher's middle-class suburbanite Gerry Ballantyne who, after some time off work to recuperate from said car accident and in which time his wife chose to leave him for another man, finds the very notion of returning to the everyday life of work and interaction with the world unbearable. One morning, on a whim, he decides to retreat indoors to where he feels safest, determined to undertake an experiment of his own devising; he shall become a profound hermit, shunning the world and reducing his environment to the bare essentials, working through the stores of food and drink within his home until he is forced to rely solely on the house itself for comfort, shelter and sustenance, like an insane episode of The Good Life.

Naturally it isn't long before Gerry's eccentric and naive behaviour, borne from some kind of PTSD and agoraphobia following the accident, his subsequent convalescence and the trauma of his marital breakdown, develops and descends into a kind of manic primitivism; the stores barely last a fortnight (despite his proud boasts that his career within the food technology field would allow them to last much longer than they would for an average man) and, in his reliance on the house - or rather, his body's natural resistance to the slow death he is either wittingly or unwittingly committing himself to - he begins to consume everything from the pages of books to junk mail, before using great cunning to prey on his neighbours pets. 

All the while, Gerry becomes transfixed with the idea that the house is, in an adaptive response to his experiment, beginning to reveal secrets hitherto unknown to the populace. He believes the attic is becoming a vast, cathedral like space of brilliant light and that time and space stretches and warps before him. Intruders come to his door - 'the weapon' he used to shut himself off from the world, as he describes it - in the form of concerned neighbours and work colleagues, a policeman, a TV engineer and his estranged wife, each in turn threatening to disturb and distract Gerry from his breakthrough and, in some instances, he retaliates with disturbing, harrowing consequences. 

The task of adapting Ballard's story was a great one, and Curson-Smith brilliantly lands upon the idea of a video diary to record Gerry's progress with his experiment. It's used to wonderful effect as it clearly depicts the mental and physical deterioration of Gerry, whilst at the same time keeping the discovery he is onto inside the house ambiguous for much of the time, lending the exploration of the attic (or 'the top' as Gerry begins to refer to it - with the kitchen being 'base camp' -  as he begins his ascent like a mountaineer or Polar explorer)  a truly hallucinogenic, dreamlike and mysterious air. It goes without saying that Antony Sher's performance is impeccable taking us from the seemingly intelligent and rational ordinary man to the depths of depravity in an authentic, absorbing way. It's interesting to note that, even in the early stages of the story as he relates his plans and ambitions to his video diary, there's always something behind the eye, a hint of anxiety and mental fragility, beneath the bonhomie and lucidity.

As someone who has experienced some mild agoraphobia himself in the past in relation to depression and social anxiety, Home can be a bit of a hard watch at times, even now as I must admit to occasionally still possessing a residual attachment to the sense of security home provides, but the genius of Ballard lay in the fact that he could explore such real issues in such a compelling and intelligent manner, touching a nerve and making a statement. In this production, Ballard's voice is effectively captured as we are treated to a blackly humorous, disturbing and thought provoking delight. 

It's over ten years since Home was made and in the intervening time period the narrative at its heart has only become more topical with the normality of supermarket home delivery being only a click away upon the computer. With everything ready to go and available at your door, and the world lying in wait online, need anyone ever leave the house again? 

You can view this on YouTube, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Theme Time : Pet Shop Boys- The Clothes Show

Some shows are so etched in the memory that the moment you hear the theme tune you are transported back in time. Like the themes to Last of the Summer Wine, Bullseye, Bread and Howards Way, I only have to hear the Pet Shop Boys In The Night Mix, the theme to the BBC's The Clothes Show and I'm instantly back top those Sunday evenings as a kid in the '80s and '90s, when I had to tolerate watching a load of waffle about fashion because my sister wanted to watch it.

The Clothes Show made its debut on BBC1 on October 13th, 1986 (just six days before 7th birthday, of which I remember a nice cake with a Worzel Gummidge figure you could place a candle in) and its mix of catwalk reportage and tips on how to get the catwalk look on a budget was originally hosted by designer and former Mr Sandie Shaw, Jeff Banks and the classy hostess of BBC's Breakfast Time, Selina Scott. Later, i-D Magazine's editor Caryn Franklin joined the show, taking over from the main co-presenting duties with Banks once Scott left. 

The show ran for fourteen years and a series of hosts appeared alongside Banks and Franklin including Margherita Taylor, Brenda Emmanus, Richard Jobson and Tim Vincent. In 1989 the success of this teatime Sunday evening programme saw the launch of Birmingham NEC's annual Clothes Show Live, still held to this day, and even an accompanying magazine. The show's annual modelling competition boasted finds such as Jamie Theakston and Cat Deeley, whilst guest roving reporters included the inimitable Leigh Bowery, a character who completely bemused the childhood me at the time. 

Despite its success and loyal audience, The Clothes Show's time on the BBC came to a close in 2000, though it subsequently returned on the cable and satellite channel UKTV Style in 2006 and can now be seen on Really on weeknights since 2009. Hosts on this new incarnation have included former girl band member and premier WAG Louise Redknapp and the show's stalwart Caryn Franklin.

Whilst it is the Pet Shop Boys track which will be forever associated with the show, the series original theme was in fact a Shep Pettibone remix of Five Star's Find The Time, which had reached number 7 in the UK charts in July of 1986.

Saint Etienne were also asked to produce a theme tune for the show, but it was subsequently turned down. Poor St Etienne - they not only had their theme for the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies knocked back, but also The Clothes Show. The band subsequently released it on their album Built on Sand, a compilation of rarities from 1994-'99. "Imagine our horror," they wrote in the sleevenotes, "when we turned on to discover our 'theme' has been relegated to incidental music for the part of a programme called Wild About Wool. Hey ho. Feel free to use this theme for your own TV extravaganza"

Well I can't use it for that purpose, but as someone has kindly uploaded the entire album on YouTube, I can post it here and you'll be able to hear the band's proposed theme immediately, as it is track one...

Wordless Wednesday: Cafe

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Demand an Inquiry into the Trident Missile Cover Up

It's becoming increasingly clear that Theresa May and her government knew full well the facts relating to the dangerous missfire of the Trident missile ahead of the Trident renewal vote in the House last year.

This is nothing short of a disgusting cover up by the Tory government and it's obvious that May and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon are willing to cower and hide behind the 'National Security' line in order to play down this monumentally dangerous event as much as possible. Meanwhile, Trump's US administration is actually briefing their media on the details of the event - so how exactly is it an issue of national security?

The Green Party MP and Parliamentary chair of CND Caroline Lucas has tabled an early day motion for parliament to call for an inquiry into the missile test and the decision to hold the information from parliament and the public. Please ask that your MP signs this motion by completing the template email letter on the CND website here

We need to poke at the cracks at the Tory Party and the establishment's reliance on doomsday weapons to topple them both.

Out On Blue Six: The Slits

Just a fab cover...

End Transmission

Monday, 23 January 2017

RIP Gorden Kaye

Gorden Kaye, the actor famous for his role as cafe owner Rene Artois in the BBC sitcom 'Allo, 'Allo has died in a care home at the age of 75.

The actor was born in Huddersfield and was a prolific theatre performer received his big break playing Elsie Tanner's nephew Bernard in Coronation Street, before appearing in a string of sitcoms such as It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Are You Being Served? written by David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd, who went on to pen 'Allo, 'Allo with him in mind. The series ran for ten years and over 80 episodes as well as stage productions. It was cancelled in 1992 just two years after Kaye suffered serious head injuries in 1990's Burns' Day storm, when an advertising board came through his car windscreen.


Sophia Loren's Pussy


What did you think I was posting?

Out On Blue Six : Mott The Hoople, RIP Peter Overend Watts

Last year we lost drummer Dale Griffin and the band's greatest champion David Bowie, now bass player with 70s rock outfit Mott the Hoople, Pete Overend Watts has died of cancer at the age of 69


End Transmission

Friday, 20 January 2017

Out On Blue Six: China Crisis

Trump gets sworn in today to become the next President of the US. Obviously we'd rather this wasn't happening, but that's just a case of this song alas

End Transmission

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Anthropoid (2016)

The true story of the assassination of leading Nazi Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942 by the Czech resistance has been told several times now, most famously - for Western audiences, at least - with 1975's Operation Daybreak. It gets a further cinematic outing here with Anthropoid, a nail biting and effective tribute to those brave Czech exiles, trained by the British army and parachuted back into their home country to successfully assassinate the architect of the Holocaust; the most high-ranking Nazi to ever be murdered by the Allies throughout the whole war.

This atmospheric and tense recreation boasts some fine performances from Ireland's Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan as Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, two brave men who would go on to become national heroes for their actions, and is altogether much more historically accurate and authentic than the 1975 production. If you're familiar with the story, you'll know what to expect in the final reel and, whilst doesn't make it any easier to watch, there's something poignantly beautiful and deeply affecting about how producer, director and co-writer Sean Ellis chooses to depict it.  

I know some people had issues with Anthropoid, citing both its slow build up to any action and the accented English on display as problematic. Granted, I'm no fan of the 'Allo, 'Allo approach to denote the fact that a character is actually foreign, and I did find myself struggling to make out some dialogue at times, but this is a minor complaint. As for the pacing, I had no issue here and felt that, in doing this, the film captured something of the life of the resistance in occupied Czechoslovakia, as well as the character of those willing to risk all for the cause. I also felt that the groundwork put in in the film's early stages meant that the aftermath of the mission and the subsequent fates of those on the sidelines had a greater impact as a result. It's fitting that the full story is told, however uncompromising that may be. 

Later this year we'll see another dramatisation of Gabčík and Kubiš' remarkable exploits, with an adaptation of Laurent Binet's stunning novel HHhH (albeit entitled The Man With The Iron Heart for the screen), starring Jack O'Connell and Jack Reynor. This may please those who felt disappointed by Anthropoid but personally, despite my love for O'Connell, I think it may struggle to surpass this offering, and I feel making Heydrich a central character rather than an ominous presence foreshadowing the action (as he is here) is something of a mistake.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

BBC Admits to Political Impartiality and Inaccurate Reporting

Finally, the BBC's governing body has found what we've all known for some time; that the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg is politically biased and happy to misrepresent and inaccurately report on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.

The ruling was based on a report Kuenssberg gave for the News at 6 following the terrorist attacks in Bataclan, Paris in November 2015 which inaccurately presented Corbyn's views on shoot-to-kill when Kuenssberg made it look as if Corbyn was answering a specific question she did not actually put to him.

Ironically, this comes just a day after the BBC's flagship magazine programme The One Show advised viewers on how to spot 'Fake News' When the show's guest Sanjeev Bhaskar asked who you could trust in the media these days, the reporter rather smugly replied 'Well I think we can trust the BBC'

Um, no. We really cannot.

Wordless Wednesday: Dog

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Nuts In May (1976)

Like all Mike Leigh films, Nuts In May is about relationships. Not just the relationship of the central protagonists and the relationships of (and their relationships with) the supporting characters , but also the relationship his characters have with the environment around them.

Keith and Candice-Marie Pratt are a couple whom you could actually describe as being ahead of their time. In 1976 their preoccupation with organic food was seen as eccentric, faddish and unnecessary - now, it's a valid, healthy alternative that is widely promoted. However, despite this progressiveness, they remain Pratt by name, prats by nature. And nature is of course very key to Nuts in May.

Keith for example is a very specific and all too familiar kind of man. Everyone knows a Keith Pratt - indeed I think he's there amongst the swimmers of Clevedon in the painfully naff 'on message' new BBC idents - y'know the one I mean; bearded, striking a pose that suggests he sees himself as the leader despite not quite being able to pull said pose off. In his natural habitat, Keith's a social worker and in all likelihood the pub bore (that's if Keith would ever actually venture into a pub) who lives his life via a series of tabulated systems and order. His character is largely derived from an understanding he has of the role of man in society and relationships, and a desire to be at one with nature and the countryside, but it is a role that - if he were to be honest with himself - he is not fully equipped to undertake. For Keith, the sense of enjoyment he takes from his holiday relies solely on everything going to plan - the plan he no doubt laboured over on his kitchen table at home - and the chance to tutor Candice-Marie in the way things ought to be. Spontaneity is not on Keith's radar and so, to arrive in a countryside of non-accredited herds, blase and unconcerned farmers and campsite proprietors, battery farmed hens, an authoritative policeman, and a quarryman after a quick buck from the tourists like him, it is as much of a crushing disappointment to Keith as finding himself sharing the same patch of grass with the likes of Ray and Honky and Finger - the 'tenement' class. Life is always going to be a disappointment to Keith Pratt and no matter how alternative he considers himself to be, he will always be confronted with the sobering notion that he is in fact as repressed, fascistic and deeply vulnerable as his father in all likelihood was before him.

Candice-Marie is, on the surface, an almost child-like spiritual cross between a diligent Girl Guide and a Joni Mitchell-esque hippy. She's tooth achingly sweet, and seemingly happy to play the student to Keith's tutor in their marital relationship, but scratch the veneer and it becomes clear that she's actually placing Keith up on the foot rest of the pedestal, rather than on the pedestal itself. There's an unhealthy degree of passive aggressiveness in meek, cute little Candice-Marie as she goads Keith into action; first in telling Ray to switch off his radio, and later into confrontation with Honky and Finger, all the time using their elusive holiday happiness as something that is precariously at risk because of the behaviour of these others. She knows that Keith will rise to the bait, to prove himself the authoritarian he presumes to be in their relationship, and she plays on it in a way that is satisfyingly left unexplored by Leigh. It's fair to say that of all the characters Leigh has given us, Keith and Candice-Marie are perhaps the two we'd have liked to have seen more of and could have certainly stood up to the sequel treatment.

In stark contrast, the freewheeling Brummie couple Honky and Finger are capable of spontaneous, unadulterated enjoyment in a way that will always remain elusive to Keith and Candice-Marie who remain tightly encased in their separate sleeping bags whilst they roll and frolic on the grass beneath their ramshackle, ill equipped tent. Their unabashed sense of fun is akin to that of a child's experience of a holiday, whilst Keith and Candice-Marie opt to play the disapproving adults. This invariably means that Honky and Finger fail to understand or comply with the rules, as excitable kids are oft to do (and how joyously ironic is it that the next scene sees the rules and regulations loving Keith as the one to have a brush with the law?) yet when arriving at the confrontation over them making a fire, it is Keith whose mask of maturity slips to reveal all his frailty and vulnerabilities in the face of such disobedience and it is Honky who instinctively understands on a mature, emotional level, the embarrassing consequences of such a lapse, whilst Finger appears both to gloat and be bemused by Keith's tears. In one telling scene that occurs before this (on the morning after their initial exchange of words) Keith pointedly ignores Ray's greeting of good morning, simply because Ray is standing next to (and therefore, in Keith's eyes, has pledged his allegiance to Finger, thereby showing the true colours Keith has clearly long suspected, despite Candice-Marie having warmed to the Welshman) whereas Candice-Marie and Honky share a moment of almost sisterly solidarity in the camp's toilet block. Again, the real adults in each relationship are clearly signposted.

The odd man out of course is the solitary camper, Ray. The young Welshman, training to become a PE teacher, is clearly a personable young man given his interactions with both Honky and Finger, as well as those with Candice-Marie away from Keith's suffocating hold and desire to appear superior, but there's a strong suggestion of loneliness in the man - a backstory that is satisfyingly left unexplored by Leigh - that makes his coercion into singing with the overbearing Keith and Candice-Marie all the more painful and noteworthy. The comic tragedy of Ray is that he's taken himself off to the wilds of the countryside, only to find himself in the stiflingly awkward company he in all likelihood has to endure or tries to avoid at home.  Again, like with Keith, the countryside offers something that Ray did not expect or desire.  

Beautifully shot and devised, as well as superbly acted by Roger Sloman, Alison Steadman, Anthony O'Donnell, Sheila Kelley and Stephen Bill, Nuts In May quite rightly takes its place as a comic masterpiece of British television. Just look at that final shot of Keith, carrying loo roll and spade, struggling to climb over a barbed-wire fence to go off for a shit amongst the dangerous free range pigs. The vulnerability on display in that moment is both hilarious and utterly honest - and that's essentially everything Mike Leigh ever sets out to do.

Nuts In May has been released many times to VHS and DVD and has received several repeats down the years too. Some other Play for Today's are not as fortunate alas and so, to get the BBC to consider repeating some of these classic plays, please sign the petition I started here

(GIFS are from the Nuts In May tumblr page)