2018 week 25

June 24th, 2018

Countdown finals and BBC Brain finals in the Week.

On the blog…

  • ITV catchup is shit.
  • 1983: The Style Council try to be homoerotic, and fail.
  • 1983: Jarmila Kratochilova wins the world athletics championships, an unprecedented 400m and 800m double.
  • 2018: Marine Le Pen is a useless racist shit, rules a court.
  • William Vague calls for an evidence-based approach to cannabis laws. The Interior Ministry sticks its fingers in its ears and goes "la la la can't hear you".
  • Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato have the best-selling single, The Greatest Showman the best-selling album.
  • Settled weather; cool in midweek, but warming up for the new week.

2018 week 24

June 17th, 2018

The Week covered Best Home Cook, Buy it Now, and a brief tribute to Paddy Feeny.

The main blog…

  • Shuttle Triumph and Tragedy (C5) – decent.
  • 1983: Shuttlecocks a-HOY! Wham! are in the studio.
  • 2018: You are Boris Becker, and I claim diplomatic immunity.
  • Settled weather continues.

Philip Lee and human rights

June 16th, 2018

Notes on a speech by Dr Philip Lee, the Human Rights minister in the Lord Chancellor's office. Given to Bright Blue, 9.15 on 12 June 2018.

"Recognition of human rights is what true conservatism is all about." Dr. Lee began his speech with a tour of the history of social reformers within the Coservative party. Peel, Disraeli, Shaftsbury, Emmeline Pankhurst, Churchill. The Conservatives have a long history of social progress, and are perhaps a little shy of trumpeting their past achievements.

His speech then harked back to the speech Foxface gave when assuming office in July 2016. The one about not being held back, about building a great meritocratic society. The question he left hanging: What's she done about these problems in the years since? How is Foxface following in the tradition of Peel, Disraeli, etc?

There has been an absence of hope, a failure of integration. Society is not taking responsibility for itself. Seeing what's happened in Syria, Dr. Lee was worried that extremist elements might worm their way into the social fabric. Some of us might argue that they already have a platform on LBC.

Dr. Lee did not mince his words about the far-right headbangers who would roll back the ECHR. "Those colleagues are wrong. It is them who would turn back the tide of history."

Dr. Lee saw a need to recalibrate society. He saw it was necessary to regulate markets – the question was not if markets were regulated, but how this should best be done.

"Markets have their place, but they must work for humanity and dignity. Too often, people are sacrificed for the market." He compared this task with ending child labour in the 19th century – it was not done because it was profitable, but because it was right.

(More: On the need for a civic society, and meaningful discussions)

2018 week 23

June 10th, 2018

The Week looks at Hardball and the new pastimes on House of Games. Plus a quick look at The £100k Drop, and a piece of silliness: has The Chase been cancelled?

On the main blog:

  • 1983: Bananarama deliver a speech from the Top of the Pops balcony.
  • 1983: "The Conservatives are on the side of the City, even though the City is not on the side of the people."
  • 2018: The people of Manchester just want trains to work on a timetable rather than a calendar.
  • Jess Glynne and The Greatest Showman are still number one.
  • Settled weather and a nor-easterly airflow meant cloud for much of the week.

Key stage 3

June 6th, 2018

Piccadilly Radio 3.0 launched nationally. Here's a sample hour from 4.30 on Monday:

Detail's in the article!

The immediate question: how is this service different from the existing Heat Radio? It's a similar mix, mostly uptempo pop, perhaps a bit more modern. The longer-term question: will Hits give Heat a bit more space to carve a different path? Already, we see Heat giving space to "This is me" and Lady Gaga, both absent from Hits.

2018 week 22

June 3rd, 2018

The Week looked at Carnage and Revolution on Sky1. Both are very competent shows, well-made. But on KYTV, they get no audience.

This week…

  • "I'm in Dunstable." "Bad luck. You should be in Barnstaple."
  • The worst TOTP rerun we've had the misfortune to see – mercifully, BBC4 viewers were spared Pat Sharp and Ji**y Sa**le.
  • 1983: Clare Short was ticked off for suggesting that a minister was not sober. Alan Clark, a minister in the Employment office, even sober would meet Miss Short's description of "incapable".
  • Five Star resigned from office in Italy, after being blocked by President Eliot Fletcher.
  • The Visa payment network took most of Friday off.
  • Changes on the charts: Jess Glynne I'll be OK tops singles, Snow Patrol Wildness the best-selling album.
  • Settled and warm, and similar next week.

Football writings

May 31st, 2018

Two football questions from Jack of the Online Writings:

If Rotherham win the play-off final, would that be the first time all three teams relegated from [Division II] have gone straight back up?

Am I right in thinking there will be no London teams in [Division IV] next season?

We do the research to explain why both are correct statements.

2018 week 21

May 27th, 2018

The Button gets reviewed in the Week. Lovely show, even better with stronger rules.

In the weeknotes…

  • ITV's Royal Wedding went down well…
  • an experimental Blue Peter
  • 1983: Bananarama perform Cruel summer
  • 1983: Westminster surprises itself with a decisive vote not to bring back capital punishment. The idea dies here.
  • PES and Mudkip let Mark Zuckerberg off the hook.
  • As you were on the music charts: One kiss and The Greatest Showman still reign.
  • Sun turns to thunder on Sunday; only gradually settling next week.

2018 week 20

May 20th, 2018

Eurovision Song Contest recap in the Week.

On the blog…

  • 1983: Jimmy The Hoover appear on Top of the Pops, and the Funk Masters will be eclipsed by Clock.
  • 1983: Gringo, the cat of the Servoz family of Lamarche-sur-Saône, went missing last December. It emerged that he had absconded and made his way to the Servoz family's summer home on the Riviera, where neighbours looked after him. The Servoz family reckoned that Gringo couldn't stand the cold winters; the cat did not confirm or deny human speculation.
  • 2018: the greater failway, and a crash in Havana.
  • Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa have the top-selling single, the Arctic Monkeys the best-selling album.
  • Sunny, dry, and not too hot. A perfect late-spring week.

2018 week 19

May 13th, 2018

Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals, the longest regular Week of the year, and the only one I write in three-and-a-half days.

On the main blog:

  • Why reviewers don't cover Fascist FM.
  • 1983: Paul Young makes his TOTP debut, Bucks Fizz steal the show.
  • 1983: The PLO are chucked out of Damascus.
  • 1983: India win the world cup, McEnroe and Navratilova head for Wmbldn titles.
  • 2018: Apologies of a sort from The Feckbook and G****e, not taking adverts for the Repeal the Eighth plebiscite.
  • Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa remains number one, so does The Greatest Showman.
  • A hot bank holiday, settled thereafter.

2018 week 18

May 6th, 2018

The Week covers Only Connect and Ready or Not, two shows linked by being utterly assured about where they're going.


  • Elton John calls it the Blues on TOTP.
  • 1983: Clive Sinclair invested £13 million in an electric car.
  • 2018: Amber Rudd is out as Minister for Funk.
  • Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa have the number one single, The Greatest Showman is still number one album.
  • Rain on Wednesday, sunny and warm over the weekend.

Not getting excited for tomorrow's ballot

May 2nd, 2018

Local elections tomorrow. We've had letters from some of the council candidates.

To be precise, we've had eight letters since the start of the year from Adrian Delaney (Conservative). He's gone long about how he cleans up rubbish. He stands by shops in the Approved Conservative Pose™, he picks up litter, and wants to bring back free garden collections.

The problem we have with Adrian Delaney (Conservative) is the (Conservative) bit. He stands with the most obnoxious racists we've covered since the BNP in 2009. He will not get our vote, because he stands with racists.

We will not be voting for Labour. The party is in coalition at Westminster with the Conservatives, and chooses to betray all of its principles. Workers are suffering, and all to satisfy the hugemungously massive ego of its current "leader".

The manifestoes from the Greens and Lib Dems are sensible and relevant to the council's powers. A vote for either of these parties would also send a message to the real audience, the BBC and the newspapers. The message: we still don't want your stupid "breggsit" idea. We said no last year, and there is no mandate from earlier years.

(A full discussion)

2018 week 17

April 29th, 2018

A tribute to Dale Winton in the Week.


  • 1983: Bucks Fizz pine into a handmirror, and appear as punks over psychadelic shots of an electric substation. As, er, one does.
  • 1983: new leaders for Labour, the SDP, and the Progressive Conservatives.
  • 2018: terrorism in Toronto, from a radical menanist.
  • Ariana Grande has the biggest single, The Greatest Showman the top album.
  • Unsettled weather turned cold for the weekend, only slowly warming next week.

2018 week 16

April 22nd, 2018

The Week looked at I Don't Like Mondays on Channel 4, Change Your Tune on ITV, and the application game for Tenable. There's also a recurring theme through the notes, and a thumbs-up to CITV's Spy School.

On the main blog…:

  • Could Days Like These ever have worked? On a re-view, probably not.
  • The peak of Woganisation on Not Another Eurovision Song Contest (2002).
  • From June 1983: H2O and The Imposter on Top of the Pops, but Big Country win the week.
  • 1983: "It is in our interests politically and economically to remain in the EEC. There is no doubt that we have won the argument decisively," said Francis Pym, soon-to-be former foreign secretary.
  • 1983: Pop Quiz has a Live Aid special, Midge Ure against Bob Geldof. Midge is joined by Tracie and Paul Young, St Bob by John Moss and Tom Bailey.
  • 2018: The Windrush of Change blows deep, and may expose Foxface for the racist charlatan she is.
  • Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa have the best-selling single, the Manic Street Preachers top the albums chart.
  • Sunny and hot; showery in the week to come.

2018 week 14

April 8th, 2018

The Week covers the Mastermind final, and bad feeling on HIGNFY and Masterchef.

Grange Hill Rewatch concludes the 1995 series 18 with the main plots and the characters.

The Weeknotes:

  • We've taken Cast of Wonders to our podcast playlist.
  • From 1983: the annual cup final replay abbreviated edition of TOTP.
  • In the 1983 election, Labour decides that "a non-nuclear defence policy" is an ambition, not an overnight goal.
  • And 1983 Justin Trudeau gets a sneak peak at Return of the Jedi. What an example for the future PM to set, eh?
  • In 2018, Jeremy Corblyn breaks unleavened bread with some Jews.
  • Charles Battenburg has agreed to change his formal title from The Prince of Wales to The Second Severn Crossing.
  • The Greatest Showman has the best-selling single and album.
  • Increasingly settled, and average weather for the time of year.

2018 week 12

March 25th, 2018

Grange Hill Rewatch is going to a coach garage with Rose from Maid Marion and with Lucy as she finds she's HIV-negative.

The Week looks at Saturday night television from 1983, and traces a line from Punchlines – through producer Alan Boyd – to Takeaway.


  • Diddy TV leaves us cold
  • 1983: The TOTP studio is graced by Men at Work and the Toronto Blue Jays.
  • 1983: "Withdrawing from the EEC would be absolutely disasterous," said Margaret Thatcher.
  • 1983: Noel Edmonds is swindled out of £40,000.
  • 2018: Ant is challenged, Pudgimont a political prisoner, Corbyn's a cult, Aussies cheat, and The Facebook breaks everything.
  • Less cold than last week, but cooling.

2018 week 11

March 18th, 2018

The Week pays tribute to Jim Bowen and reviews What Would Your Kid Do?. Where else do you get theology in your game show reviews?

Grange Hill Rewatch follows the death of Lucy's mother and subsequent questioning about HIV tests. For my money, these episodes were Grange Hill at its very best.


  • Brad from The Vamps impresses with his BMX skills.
  • 1983: the 1000th edition of Top of the Pops features David Jason, Noel Edmonds, Paul Gambaccini, but other DJs turn up as well. Thompson Twins and Human League provide sterling performances.
  • 1983: Michael Parkinson is appointed to the board of TV-am, he comes up with programme ideas, and viewing figures slump even further.
  • 2018: "shut up and go away", says primary school minister.
  • Weather: a cold snap this weekend, warming up as next week progresses.

2018 week 10

March 11th, 2018

The Week looks at All Together Now, and brings us up-to-date on the Countdown trail.

Grange Hill Rewatch reviews all the ways a Dudley Dennis and Josh Plot went wrong, there's AIDS awareness, Lucy's mother goes to hospital, and the First Form spook some Scouts.

On my blog

  • 1983: Top of the Pops covers South Asia and Boulougne.
  • 1983: The Hitler Diaries emerge into a world of scepticism and disbelief.
  • 2018: nerve agents in Salisbury, and clocks slow in Kosov@.
  • Warmer than last week, and wet.

2018 week 09

March 4th, 2018

The Week looked at Prosiect Z and Cân i Gymru (S4C).

Grange Hill Rewatch is in 1995, hearts come out of Dudley's eyes and Anna's brother punches Becky and is arrested.

The weeknotes:

  • We watched Just Men (1983), and wished we hadn't.
  • A cracking 1983 TOTP, with Culture Club and Spandau Ballet in the studio, and a fabulous video from The Thompson Twins.
  • TV-am: Angela Rippon and Anna Ford are fired. Who now remembers Lynda Berry?
  • London's Marathon almost sets a world record.
  • News: SPD and CDU to form a grand coalition.
  • Rudimental and The Greatest Showman remain number one.
  • Crikey, it's cold outside, and the snow gets everywhere.

2018 week 08

February 25th, 2018

This week…

  • 1983: The BBC is trying to recapture the lightning from a bottle labelled "Bucks Fizz".
  • 1983: The price of petrol shot up by about 12p per gallon, to about £1.79 per gallon.
  • 2018: Unlike their customers, rivals scoffed: "A lack of our title product never stopped us in the past," said Pizza Hut.
  • "I'm not going anywhere," said Barnaby Joyce on Monday. "I resign," said Barnaby Joyce on Friday.
  • Rudimental and The Greatest Showman are still number one.
  • Cold this week, cold and snowy and messy next week. Do wrap up.