Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Further Fashions Of The Indoor League

Now then - the Queen's Hotel in Leeds has most recently been in the news as the place where Sir Jimmy Savile lay in state, but back in 1973, it was the venue for the awful, brilliant 'Indoor League'.

First of all, we're taking a look at a specific character, Stan Denton from Dartnell near Barnsley. Stan is a table skittles fanatic, and it must run in the family, as he's up against his cousin, Dennis Jones. Host Freddie Trueman describes them as artists, and he has a point: I mean, anyone can swing a wooden ball on a chain and knock down something in its path, but these lads knock down everything. I can't say I understand the scoring system, or what a 'flopper' is, but they know, and that's the main thing.

Please note the beermat propping up the table.

Stan is the reigning Yorkshire champ and, you will notice, a Leeds fan. All piss-taking aside, I think it's wonderful that someone loved Stan enough to knit him his outrageously complicated cardigan, and that Stan loved them enough in turn to wear it on national television. In case you weren't clear on his sporting allegiance, he is also wearing a Leeds United tee shirt in the classic seventies style, i.e. plain white with writing on it. Below the midriff, he's sporting a pair of deep fawn / dog shit coloured slacks and brown shiny shoes. His hair is great, too, just got combed at the front; just got up at the back.

His chip shop owning cousin Dennis is conservatively dressed in comparison, with his green jacket, black trousers, blue shirt and plum coloured knitted tie. There's no knowing what football team he supports. It would be remiss of me not to point out just how far up the female adjudicator's trousers have been pulled, perhaps in a hurry.

Unbelievably, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the 'sheer, naked drama' of Table Skittles, and the fashions of the men who excel at it, so here are a few more of its most skilful exponents.

This is James Porter from Doncaster. James was 75 on the day of filming, and looks great. Not many septugenarians would be so on trend, but Dennis' pale orange shirt, contrasting tie with pin, gold watch, patterned handkerchief and, in particular, his button hole, mark him out as a man who, although perhaps not a dandy or a fop, understands the importance of looking good and hasn't yet lost a keen eye for what's in and what's out.

His opponent, Grimsby fisherman Terry Lodge, cuts a dash with his caramel coloured ensemble (including a bizarre drawstring collar polo shirt) and Ian Brady haircut. He must be doing something right, however, as he soon defeats Mr. Porter and powers forward to the semi final.

Phillip Senior of Barnsley (left) is only 21, but 'he moves that little ball like a magic wand'. His look, eye catching at the time, is a jaw dropper these days, and can perhaps be best be described as 'member of Fairport Convention at a wedding'. Pleated checked pants with unusual external pockets, stone coloured bri-nylon shirt, brown pinstriped hunters style jacket and ginger Jesus 'pop style' hair and beard - all accessorised with an ever burning Embassy Number One.

Phillip walks away with the Indoor League Indoor Skittles title in the end, earning a career best £100 for the victory. When asked how he feels, he simply says "'appy". I know what he means.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Lunar Disco

'Moon Zero Two' is a fairly unique Hammer film. It's not much good, but it's unique. The studio had made sci fi films before (most notably the 'Quatermass' series) but they tended to be earthbound, set in the present and rather serious, 'MZ2' (as I call it, but not often - it doesn't come up that much) is set in space, in the future and was described, as you can see from the poster, as the 'first Moon Western'. And it is a Western, a proper John Wayne style adventure complete with showdowns, saloons, dancing girls, territorial disputes and bar room brawls, all filtered through the prevailing Carnaby Street trend for garish pop art colour and space age plastic fashions and decor, including some iconic chairs designed by Eero Arnio.

It's a piece of fluff, but fluff's alright, isn't it? I rather like some fluff every now and again, especially if its vaguely groovy. Despite being a box office flop, 'MZ2' was released a year before that other kitsch lunar colony TV classic 'UFO', and may well have influenced Gerry Anderson in terms of setting, costume and look, although Gerry would never admit that. As it is, there are enough disparities between the productions (not least in terms of conscious vs unconscious camp) that it's not really a big deal (though his later 'Space 1999' happily rips off both productions). 

PS like 'UFO', 'MZ2' has a great soundtrack by jazz big band leader Don Ellis, which sadly remains unreleased. If you're reading this, and you have a record label, sort that out for me, please.

Moon Zero Two

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Astounding Adventure

'First Men In The Moon' is classic entertainment from start to finish, aided greatly by a slightly tongue in cheek approach and some excellent (for the time) special effects. Our old mate Nigel Kneale adapted HG Wells' proto-steampunk story for the big screen and, naturally, made a bloody good job of it.

The film also looks great, brilliantly designed and soaked in wonderful Eastman colour. It's intelligent, fun and, most of all, hugely entertaining, something that the creators of the recent, soporific BBC4 adaptation would have done well to take on board. Basically, it's fantastic - a film I've seen time and time again and never failed to enjoy, and that's all I have to say on the matter, so there you go. 

First Men In The Moon

Friday, 25 November 2011


Milton Reid does some first class lurking as one of the henchmen in 'Dr. No'.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


A treasury of fuzzy, abstract images from a module in the BBC 'Science Topics' series for schools.


Dan Forrest: "Mmn, I thought Doctors were supposed to smell medicinal, not sexy".

Strange Paradise

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Severed Legs & Co

It's 1976, it's 'Top Of the Pops'. The as yet unnamed 'Legs & Co' are called upon to interpret a disco version of the 'Jaws' theme by this man --

The routine, choreographed by the notorious Flick Colby, boggles the mind and bends the parameters of reality. Six pretty girls, wearing only skin tight rubber wet suit tops, high kick and pirouette around, occasionally pausing to mime shock and horror at an imaginary shark attack.

Now and again, dangling bare legs are superimposed at the top of the screen and, all the while, a pathetic balsa wood panto backdrop of a seascape has a number of cut out cardboard fins pulled jerkily across it. The girls glow, then perspire, then sweat like dray horses. Later on, no doubt, they are admitted to hospital, as the Lalo Schifrin record (not one of his best) slides further and further down the charts.

Here it is in all its murky glory.

It makes you proud to be British.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Derren Nesbitt, Actor

Derren Nesbitt gets his clipped German accent out of the Left Luggage as Gunther Esslin in 'Chorale', a 1982 episode of 'The Chinese Detective'.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hammer 101

Half Bone, Half Bandage

Another cool and slightly forgotten Hammer film, 'The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb' is a smart little b movie that re-uses props and elements of the storylines of 'The Mummy', yet still ploughs its own slightly bonkers furrow, not least because it looks different to most Hammer's of the period, being filmed at Elstree rather than Bray, and has some unfamiliar actors alongside Michael Ripper (playing an Arab with a cockney accent).

Terence Morgan plays the purring villain Adam Beauchamp, and Leslie Howard's lookalike son Ronald plays the slightly ineffectual hero. French actress Jeanne Roland provides the mutual love interest, a heaving chest and lots of dialogue mangled by her rather thick accent. It's great. 

The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb