Monday, 17 May 2010

My name is Alex Drake, I voted and woke up in 1983

Before I say another word, I'd like to dedicate this first blog to a dear friend of mine who never stopped believing and encouraged me to go the extra mile. Colin Arneld sadly did not live to see this, but I hope wherever he is , he is in a better place.

Greetings sad followers of The great Lord Topping. I too will be joining some of you every Saturday on listen again somewhere in the tail end of Simon Logan. Seems some of us just can't get enough of that voice.

Apologies for not writing more but a strange thing happened.... I voted and found myself in 1983. It was the oddest thing, George Osborne was Chancellor of the exchequer and all my Labour mates were in a deep funk, people were organizing marches... It took more than a week to realize this wasn't just a nightmare, but that I was in fact in 1983. So I spent the rest of the week digging up my polyester trousers, silk shirts and power ties. After that, I caught up on some telly!

Let us begin with the worst of the lot. No fun writing these things if you can't have a good moan is there?

Chelsea won the FA Cup and the league .... No that's it , isn't that bad enough? Ok Didier Drogba was man of the match and man of the season. King of the divers, mate of John "I've done her" Terry , and Cashley "Hot Geordie Lass not good enough" Cole.

Then my in box was inundated ( I got two e-mails and three FB group invites) about Fat Mike and his austerity budget at our club, the fabled the brilliant the one the only Newcastle United . Seems our owner has found new ways to torture supporters. We can only have new players if we sack the tea lady, rent out the Leazes End to visiting young Tories and pledge eternal loyalty to Satan, OR he might have a few Bob but nothing certain. Either way, NUFC's least loved or admired manager has full say in player affairs but no budget for transfers. Lovely! Another summer watching other clubs vie for players we cannot afford . Not like they were going to come THIS far north in any case. No hot & cold running Perrier or Harrod's for the WAGs. I wonder if Chelsea can throw us a few of their cast-offs on loan?

Reet! BGT or Bores & gormless twats has thrown up ( and I do mean thrown up) some real winners in the last two weeks. The fact that Piers and Amanda Holden keep putting through tone deaf singers and other acts designed solely to annoy Darth Cowell may be amusing to some, but I had hoped to be spared this. The lack of quality reaching our television screens during auditions is astonishing. Now I like a good car crash as much as the next guy, but when a man does bad magic accompanied by even worse flute recital, or when dead fit " so called strippers " manage to bore me, I have to ask myself how they managed to get past the vetting phase. Surely they read the bit about TALENT in the name. The other thing that gets me is the enduring appeal of yet another Urban Street Troop. When will we be free of these creatures who think regurgitating the same 20 dance steps over and over is even remotely interesting to anybody over the age of 12? I want my circus freaks, trannies, singers comedians, magicians and animal acts.

Notwithstanding the dreck I was forced to endure, a few bright spots made the ordeal worth it. I look forward to many weeks of the following...

The Impressionist Paul
The He/She off the Ferries
The topless stripper fire eating lass
The wee little girl who sings
The other Lad who does Motown
I'm pretty sure there was an animal act that got through, but I can't be certain
I know I'm missing some acts here, but I can't be expected to remember them all having just lapsed out of a coma into a nightmare.

Speaking of Nightmares, Poor little Hamster... How do you take the building of Wembley, complete with cost overruns and interesting science and make it too boring to endure more than 5 minutes? Perhaps I'm too used the boffins on BBC4 just getting to the point and assuming you're familiar with the science or history in question. God Love Channel 4 ( both of them) . Sea shanties, the story of Science, Time Team, Blitz Street, Boats that built Britain, I'm in a Rock Band, even the great masters series is pretty decent if not a touch full of itself at times.

ITV has not been a complete cultural wasteland. I would watch Joanna Lumley do a 6 part documentary on the European adventures of Sunderland ( well maybe not... or maybe yes, for a laugh). She did with the Nile what that useless art critic guy could not do with Lost Tribes of Africa. The underrated but well written and well acted The Prisoner, is coming to an end. I decided to let it run over me like a refreshing stream of cold mountain water and NOT try to second guess it. A good thing too, the last ep answers as many questions as it raises and works well in 2010. Imagine if we were all number files on a vast server? Imagine if we lived our lives on this server, blissfully unaware of the real world. Well we do , it's called Facebook. Any roads, the answers are satisfying and the last ep frustratingly two weeks off now. While we are still waiting for Corrie to get better, we did watch Blanche's funeral and the farewell special. She encompasses all that is great about Corrie. Simple stories with humour, sharpness and wit, with above all else believability anchored in reality . Perhaps the current writers should review old scripts and try to recapture that spirit before it wanders off totally into phsycho drama land complete with dust ups, bizarre love triangles and incredibly improbable stories "because it's cool". Corrie has wandered so far from where it was two years ago, I can scarcely recognize it.

Channel 4 was a bright spot waiting to light the gloom that has become the interregnum ( that's Roman for geet big vacation) between Top Gear series. Time Team is like crack. Watching Baldrick guide us through muck and dirt, (How appropriate) has just got even better. Until now we've had a cast of characters including funny bald archaeologist number one with dangly white hair and his brother second funny archaeologist with dangly white hair. These amusing people have been joined as of the last few eps, by the SEXY archaeologist Dr Helen Geake. She can excavate me any time she wants.

Now I know the High Lord Kieth has a problem with Jamie Oliver. TBH for a while so did I, he was tired, preachy and frankly flogging a dead horse. He has however returned to his roots. "Jamie does..." is all about expanding your culinary mind. He assumes ( finally), that we know how to cook basics like fish or broil meat . In this series he tells us how to approach other cookery with ease while loosing the cooking for dummies short cuts. I am confident that if I made any of the recipes presented, for a native, I would not be insulting their national cuisine. Moreover, I'm not just hungry, but in the mood to cook after watching the new series.

"You have been watching" , like the on hols 8 out of 10 cats, is funny, verrrrry funny . But it does does one supremely important service that Cats does not. You don't have sit through an entire ep of Michael Whiner or Manswers to take the piss out of it. The B a s t a r d s special was a compilation of everything we thought, said outloud.

My favourite network, The Beeb, It has to be, I spend more time on one or another of the BBC's than any other, was single handedly responsible for 75% or more of our viewing time. To think that this great institution is already hunkering down in it's tower to face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and taking arms against a sea of Tory troubles.

Doctor Who has yet to disappoint me on the same level as say the Colin Baker doc. Amy pond, skinny legs and all, is brilliant, I love her, not like I love Rose, but I love her. She is right up there with Leela of the Janus thorns. Matt Smith ( not the one from ITV sports) is soooo good, I have seen flashes of Throughton , Pertwee and Tom Baker . At one point I almost expected to see K-9 trundle out and insult. Now is it a "Children's programme"? You have to be kidding. It hasn't been a children's programme since the Daleks appeared and scared the brown stuff out of an entire generation. I have been firmly behind the settee since then and proud of it. Is the science on Doctor Who suspect? It's Science fiction, of course it is. In what world would David Tennant pull Kylie Minogue? In what world a man twice her age would get lucky with Billie Piper? ( Oh yeah Ginger twat ) .
Any road, aside from the unsatisfactory denouement in the Victory of the Daleks, the science ( as established by canon) holds up nicely. Possibly the best series since the last Peter Davison series.

I'm in a rock band is object lesson in how to build a band and how to wallow in the best music ever made in the guise of a "how to" documentary. Totally thought the drummers were talking through their collective arses. It's the guitarist stupid. ACDC, the Quo, Stones, Pistols, are instantly recognizable from the first three guitar strums you hear. Drummers, ( Buddy Rich and Phil Collins aside) are as expendable as Amy Barlow actresses and sometimes as rubbish, yes Ringo , I'm talking to you. Poor man , there was an entire segment of Ringo jokes.

Luther. Prisoner 313 sizzles in a sexy scary sort of sensuality that makes you want to throw away sanity and ride the black widow express. Luther himself is so compelling as the brooding highly intelligent man surrounded by turkeys too stupid to see the forest for the trees. I know police work is nothing like this , but I'm prepared to suspend belief.

Outnumbered is a treat to watch. I would hope I never have children like that ever, but those lines are beyond belief funny.

Ireland's favourite gay man, no not Louis Walsh, but Graham Norton, displayed an incredible sense of humour. It's not his fault some PR hack at the Beeb thought it would be a good idea to piss off 6,500 plus DW fans. I Like the way they have the animated Norton being chased by Daleks in the trail just before DW now. Unfortunately poor Graham was victim of bad bookings. The ep Monday last, Brooke Shields, Miranda Hart and Kevin Bacon topped by the terrible twins Jedward, didn't stand a chance. I tuned out point one nano seconds after he said Jedward. Honestly? where are the camp comedians, the knitting lady who covers houses, that funny actress who flashes her boobs or the frankly strange web sites, the cheeky interviews with people who know the rules of Norton. If I wanted American stars I'd watch Woss. Barring last Monday, I have been loyal to the animated Norton.

Top gear repeats on the BBC, because I think it's sad to watch Dave all day....

I'll have to lump in all the sciency timey wimey stuff into one section.... Story of science, Victoria a love story, Sacred music, Great masters, Sea shanties, Boats that made Britain, Coast, Guitar heroes, any train spotter stuff.

Then there was BBC News 24.... Took me an age to pry myself off that particular drug. I am addicted to political drama, even when it personally pains me. The work of all those reporters, policy boffins, observers, columnists and general news gadgees was the most fun I've had with my clothes on in years. Not since we got relegated last year was I so engrossed and repelled at the same time. Something about history in the making you cannot ignore.

Is the licence fee worth it? You bet it is.

Happy Birthday Paddy MacDee , big 60 today!

This post brought to you by Beat Surrender on Listen again. That's right boys and girls, the same canny device you can hear Keith Telly Topping on now SIX days a week. BTW Sir, where were you this afternoon (Monday)? Must have somehow missed you.

Gotta run, fire department here for yet another false alarm across the street!

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