Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Monday, 26 February 2007
Thursday, 22 February 2007
Mr Fry’s class of celebrity students, most looking very untidy in school uniform, includes nonconformist Walkers’ regular Gary Lineker, in that he’s the only one smartly dressed and not sporting a pair of ginormous fake ears, large-collared comedian Harry Hill, poptastic lasses Girls Aloud, actress Billie Piper, ex-“Top of the Pops” presenter Fearne Cotton and (unfortunately) big-mouthed Russell Brand. For those of you interested, I’ve posted a selection of screen caps from the advert on sister site “Editions of You” at http://timewarden59.blogspot.com.
Sunday, 18 February 2007
This post is also timely in that it’s an opportunity to let you know that Mr Ferry can be seen in concert on BBC1 this coming Friday at 11.15pm. The listings describe him as ex-Roxy which I can only hope is poor research on the part of that magazine’s compiler. Anyway, if you’re going out, set your VCRs! It’s only fifty minutes long but, nonetheless, very welcome. I do hope he performs some lesser-known songs, even some rarities would be nice, but I’m sure the programme will also include the better known hits such as “Let’s Stick Together” and, of course, “Love is the Drug”. Get ready to click your fingers to, “Late at night, I parked my car, Made my way to the singles bar…”
I could write a book on Roxy Music’s early history as they were as important to me in the Seventies as “Doctor Who” and the puppet shows of Gerry Anderson had been in the Sixties. Back in 1972, everything about the group seemed unusual which is probably what initially attracted me to them. Bryan Ferry was the singer of course, dabbling a little on keyboards, while the rest of the line-up included Phil Manzanera on guitar, Andy Mackay on oboe and saxophone, Brian Eno on synthesiser and Paul Thompson on drums. Roxy had no regular bass player. They had street cred but also an air of sophistication and it was the combination of the two that was so intoxicating.
The band signed to Island records better known as a reggae label! They released their eponymously-titled debut album before the first single. Usually a single is released a fortnight in advance as a promotional trailer for the longer work. And when the single was released, it wasn’t taken from the album. Perhaps not as business-minded back then, Ferry included no singles on either of the first two albums. In fact only four singles can be found on the first five studio albums before the band took a break from recording together. That first 45, “Virginia Plain”, was such a radical departure from anything else around at the time, even Bowie and Bolan, that I was instantly attracted to this sonic explosion.
“Pyjamarama” followed, as did a second album “For Your Pleasure” and indeed it was and still is! This record is regarded as their classic. It contains “Do the Strand” and “Editions of You”, released as a double a-sided single in the rest of Europe, as well as “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” and that’s even before you flip the LP over! It was also the last to feature Brian Eno before he left to pursue a solo career beginning with “Here Come the Warm Jets”. Meanwhile, Bryan Ferry started a solo career, to run alongside the band’s releases, allowing him to record other people’s songs, cover versions - but not the production-line pap normally associated with that term. Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” was the debut single taken from the album “These Foolish Things”.
Eddie Jobson of rock band Curved Air was recruited as a replacement for Eno, a more classically accomplished musician and violin and keyboard virtuoso. He was always cited as a proper member of the band but I’m not sure he really wasn’t a session musician. He stayed for the next three albums, “Stranded”, “Country Life” and “Siren”. Johnny Gustafson played bass on these, also, and was definitely a session player as when they toured “Country Life”, for example, ex-King Crimson bassist John Wetton took his place. Ironic, as, pre-Roxy, Bryan failed an audition to join Crimson. “Street Life” and “All I Want is You” were the third and fourth singles, from the third and fourth albums respectively. Two singles were released from “Siren”, “Love is the Drug” and “Both Ends Burning”.
Ferry followed up his first solo album with “Another Time, Another Place”, another record of cover versions but for the title track. Already the differentiating factor between solo and group career was beginning to erode. Two singles were released from this opus, “The In Crowd” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”. This period in Roxy’s history came to a close with a live album, “Viva! Roxy Music”, and a “Greatest Hits” collection including the first two singles on a long-player for the first time. They were reissued as a double a-sided single in the UK. By this time, both Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera also had solo projects underway so there was much material to keep the enthusiast happy.
Several years passed and Roxy eventually reformed to record three more albums. I caught them live, for a third and final time, on their “Manifesto” tour which they followed up with “Flesh and Blood” and “Avalon”, a highly polished swansong but a far cry from the sound with which they started out. Hits were aplenty including “Trash”, “Dance Away” and “Avalon” but, ironically, considering other people’s songs had previously been the province of Bryan’s solo work, Roxy Music’s only number one was a cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”! Drummer Paul Thompson had by now departed to run an antique firearms shop leaving the core trio of Bryan, Andy and Phil to conclude the second era of one of the most musically interesting bands of all-time, Roxy Music.
Saturday, 10 February 2007
News is supposed to be impartial, though, more and more, journalists leap upon the sensationalist bandwagon. They couldn’t get enough of the racism on “Celebrity Big Brother”! The hounds were baying for blood, bordering on incitement. Yet seemingly innocuous comments go unnoticed. Ben somebody-or-other on bland GMTV remarked that while Kylie has a successful career, all she really wants is to be normal and have a family. It doesn’t occur to Ben that his remark might be seen as offensive in some quarters. Is he suggesting that those without families are somehow abnormal or is he just another overpaid hack reporter, careless in his turn of phrase? I suspect the latter. So what’s he doing on TV in the first place, presuming his opinion is, in some way, more worthwhile than those of us who remain anonymous and suppressed?
Anyway, I heard about the death of Ian from my parents. I’ve yet to hear it on television. I presume that’s where they heard it but I haven’t as yet. He will, undoubtedly, be best-remembered for his portrayal of Sir Francis Urquhart in Andrew Davies’ dramatisation of “House of Cards”, and its two sequels “To Play the King” and “The Final Cut”, which spawned a catchphrase that subsequently became beloved of shifty politicians of all persuasions, “You might say that, I couldn’t possibly comment”! I’ll forgive him for murdering Susannah Harker at the end of the first in the trilogy simply because, as always, he gave such a terrifically polished performance!
Some of Ian’s other notable roles include playing the Master of the College, opposite David Jason’s Scullion, in “Porterhouse Blue”; Dr. Joseph Bell, the real-life model for Sherlock Holmes, in “Murder Rooms”; Sherlock Holmes himself in both “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “The Sign of Four”; and donning darkest apparel as Canon Black in the much-underrated “Strange” (see the small gallery below). In 1999, he appeared in children’s serial “The Magician’s House”, prompting many to suggest he’d make an excellent “Doctor Who”. Most recently, he has been seen as Chancellor of Court in “Bleak House”, another Andrew Davies’ adaptation, and one of the best interpretations of a classic novel in recent years. Mr Richardson was a truly talented actor.
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
And so to the books themselves… In the days before domestic video recorders, novelisations were a godsend for those wanting to relive particular episodes of favourite television series, the Target “Doctor Who” paperback series perhaps being the finest example. The first six of the ten “Space: 1999” books contain novelisations of 23 of the 24 episodes that comprise the first season of Gerry Anderson’s second live action series. Five of those six novels each includes four episodes between their covers, each story taking just three chapters to tell. The other book retells three episodes, with an allotted four chapters per story on this occasion. The next three books in the series detail untelevised adventures, some of which I believe are from unfilmed scripts rather than wholly original new ideas. The final book, although not having read it I can’t be certain, covers that elusive 24th episode in extended form.
At the time, the exploits of Martin Landau’s Commander John Koenig in deep space held my fascination as much if not more than the then current Doctor, Tom Baker. Last Sunday, I was able to relive what I regard as the show’s two finest episodes, “Dragon’s Domain” and “Mission of the Darians”, as they were broadcast back-to-back. And tonight, in “Black Sun”, the crew of Moonbase Alpha age a lot and get to meet God, as you do when living on a Moon improbably hurled out of its orbit to travel the darkest reaches of the Universe!
Tuesday, 6 February 2007
“I’ve seen the new series and it’s very impressive but I liked the old Dr Who, with the creaky old Cybermen and wobbly sets. Part of the appeal was that it was a bit rough. Now it’s all hi-tech, it doesn’t have the same effect on me. These days, Dr Who has to be a young leading man but I liked the Patrick Troughtons and Jon Pertwees - they weren’t these movie star types, just good character actors. It’d be good to see an older Dr Who but you won’t get that again. It’s all about demographics now.”
Saturday, 3 February 2007
Having said that soaps appear to be a favourite hunting ground for new guest stars to appear in “Doctor Who”, Russell also does look further afield. Stars from sitcoms, such as Richard Wilson and Zoë Wanamaker, have made their mark on the programme, although, to be fair, these are “serious” actors who have needed to make a living by whatever work comes their way. This tradition continues next season with Ardal O’Hanlan and Mark Gatiss. Then there are what you could call the cream of the crop, hopefully without appearing to be snobbish about it! In the recent past, actors as diverse as Simon Callow, Pauline Collins, Sophia Myles and Maureen Lipman have all graced the series. Coming up this season, viewers are to be treated to performances by Sir Derek Jacobi and “Life on Mars” star John Simm. In what capacity? I couldn’t possibly comment!!! And, while the original series might cast those who are generally regarded as light entertainers, such as Bonnie Langford and Ken Dodd, in the new series we’ve even seen an ex-pop singer in a pivotal role.
So, who could one choose who has had diverse experience hitherto and might fulfil some or all of the criteria required to play our good lady Doctor? I suggest Martine McCutcheon. She’s undoubtedly best known for playing Tiffany in 165 episodes of “EastEnders” between 1995 and 1998. Like Billie Piper, she’s had number one chart success with “Perfect Moment”. She’s appeared in “serious” drama such as “The Knock” and I loved her performance as Tash in “Spooks”. Coming up, later in the year, is an appearance in “Marple: At Bertram’s Hotel”. Martine’s also dipped her toes in the movie world playing alongside Hugh Grant and Bill Nighy in British romantic comedy “Love Actually”. She’s worked in the theatre in the musical “My Fair Lady” and she’s just been seen as a judge in “Soapstar Superstar”. I think she might just be loverly in the role of the next female Time Lord. In the pictures above, she’s even wearing Chris Eccleston’s leather jacket and the scarf is very appropriate, not to say fetching! Below, from “Party in the Park 2000”, Ms McCutcheon is seen in rock chick mode, alongside Queen guitarist Brian May in one of the pictures. And, who do you think was on the bill with her? None other than our very own Billie Piper!