Friday, 22 June 2012
THE BEATLES Now These Days Are Gone (Fantastic 2006 UK Genesis Publications 256-page numbered limited edition superior quality book featuring previously unpublished photographs by Michael Peto, printed & hand bound in Milan on 200gsm matt-art stock. The photographs are reproduced in duotone with image varnishing & the text is printed in three separate inks, signed by Sir Alan Langlands - Yet another magnificent book to the high quality we have come to expect from Genesis)
When photojournalist Michael Peto died in 1970, he left the University of Dundee an incredible collection of 130,000 prints and negatives. Two years ago, while archiving the collection, the University found hundreds of photographs of the most influential band in history, none of which had ever been published before.
All the photos were taken in 1965 while The Beatles were shooting their second feature film, Help! Michael Peto was working for The Observer Sunday newspaper - then the UK's most prestigious publication for photojournalists. His position there ensured considerable access to The Beatles over the course of a year.
The book features Over 250 rare and unpublished images of The Beatles taken in 1965 at the height of their fame.
Renowned music journalist Paolo Hewitt contributes an essay reflecting on the pivotal importance of 1965 in Beatle history, while Professor Jim Tomlinson of the University of Dundee provides a deeper insight into the historical context of The Beatles' success.
Acclaimed photographer Colin Jones writes the book's Foreword.
Numbers 1-350 of the edition are 'Deluxe' copies, bound in full leather. These copies come with a set of three prints, suitable for framing, not included elsewhere in the book, the only photos of The Beatles that Michael Peto took in 1966. The prints feature John Lennon with legendary British comic Peter Cook filming a short sketch for the television series Not Only... But Also.
Deluxe copies are also signed by Richard Lester, the director of A Hard Day's Night and Help!
All copies are gold-blocked on the spine and front board, and are housed in a red slipcase inset with four portraits of The Beatles.
NOW THESE DAYS ARE GONE contains 256 pages (315mm x 268mm), printed and hand-bound in Milan on 200gsm matt-art stock. The photographs are reproduced in duotone with image varnishing, and the text is printed in three separate inks.
Every copy in the edition is signed by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, Sir Alan Langlands.
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Get Carter is probably Michael Caine’s greatest movie, well, it is for me anyway! This 1971 British crime movie was directed by Mike Hodges and starringalongside Caine were, Ian Hendry, Britt Eckland, John Osbone and Bryan Mosley (Alf Roberts of Corrie)The screenplay was adapted by Hodges from TedLewis’ 1969 novel Jack’s ReturnHome. Producer Michael Klinger optionedthe book and made a deal for the ailing MGM studioto finance and release the film, bringing in Hodges and Caine. Caine became aco-producer of the film.Get Carter wasHodges' first feature film as director, as well as marking the screen debut of Alun Armstrong. MGM were scaling backtheir European operations and the film became the last project approved beforethe American company closed its BorehamwoodStudios.
The story follows a London gangster,the eponymous Jack Carter played by Caine, who travels to the North East of England todiscover more about the events surrounding the supposedly accidental death ofhis brother. Suspecting foul play, he investigates and interrogates, getting afeel for the city and its hardened criminal element; with vengeance on his mindthe situation builds to a violent conclusion.
Caine and Hodges hadambitions to produce a more gritty and realistic portrayal of on-screenviolence and criminal behaviour ina British film. Caine incorporated his knowledge of real criminal acquaintancesinto his characterisation of Carter. Hodges andCinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky drew heavily ontheir backgrounds in documentaryfilm. This, combined with Hodges' research into the contemporarycriminal underworld of Newcastle (in particular the one-armed bandit murder) anduse of hundreds of local bystanders as extras,as well as shooting with a long lens produced a naturalistic feel in manyscenes. The shoot was incident free and progressed speedily, despite a one daystrike by the ACCT Union.The production went from novel to finished film in eight months, with locationshooting in Newcastle and Gateshead lasting 40 days.
Get Carter suffered in its promotion on two fronts, firstlyfrom MGM's problems and secondly because of the declining British filmindustry, which relied increasingly on US investment. Initial UK criticalreaction to the film was mixed, with British reviewers grudgingly appreciativeof the film's technical excellence, but dismayed by the complex plotting, theexcessive violence and amorality, in particular Carter's apparent lack ofremorse at his actions. Despitethis the film did good business in the UK and produced a respectable profit(exact figures for the gross are not available). Conversely, US critics weregenerally more enthusiastic and praised the film, but it was poorly promoted inthe States by United Artists andlanguished on the drive in circuitwhile MGM focused its resources on producing a blaxploitation remake, Hit Man. On its release thefilm received no awards and did not seem likely to be well remembered. However,despite its lack of availability on home media until 1993 it always maintaineda cult following. Endorsements from a new generation of directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie led to acritical reappraisal which saw it recognised as one of the best British moviesof all time. In 1999, Get Carter was ranked 16th on the BFI Top 100 films of the20th century; five years later, a survey of British film critics in Total Film magazine choseit as the greatest British film of all time. Get Carter wasremade in 2000 by Wraner Bros underthe same title with Sylvester Stallone starringas Jack Carter, while Caine appears in a supporting role. This remake was notwell received by critics in the USA and was not given a UK theatrical release.
Newcastle born Gangster Jack Carter (MichaelCaine) has lived in London for years in the employ of organised crime bosses theFletchers (Terence Rigby and John Bindon). Jack is sleeping with Fletcher'sgirlfriend Anna (Britt Ekland) and plans to escape to South America with her.But first he must return to Newcastle and Gateshead to attend the funeral ofhis brother Frank, who died in a purported drunk driving accident. Notsatisfied with the official explaination Jack wants to investigate for himself.At the funeral Jack meets with his brother's teenage daughter Doreen andFrank's mistress Margaret (Dorothy White), who is evasive.
Jack goes to NewcastleRacecourse seeking an old acquaintance called Albert Swift forinformation about his brother‘s death. Swift evades him, but Jack encountersanother old associate, Eric Paice, now employed as a chauffeur, although hewill not say for whom. Tailing Eric to the country house of crime boss CyrilKinnear (John Osborne), Jack bursts in on Kinnear playing poker. He meets aglamorous but drunken woman called Glenda (Geraldine Moffat). Having learnedlittle but made his presence felt Jack leaves; Eric warns him against damagingrelations between Kinnear and the Fletchers. Back in town Jack is threatened by henchmen to leave town, but hefights them off; capturing and interrogating one to find out who wanted himgone, and is given the name Brumby.
Jack knows Cliff Brumby (Bryan Mosley) as a businessman withcontrolling interests in local seaside amusementarcades. Visiting Brumby’s house, Jack discovers Brumby knows nothingabout him; believing he has been set up, he leaves. Next morning, two of Jack'scriminal colleagues from London arrive, sent by the Fletchers to take him back,but he escapes. Jack meets Margaret to talk about Frank, but Fletcher's men arewaiting and pursue him. He is rescued by Glenda driving a sports car, who takeshim to meet Brumby at his new rooftop restaurant development atop amulti-storey car park. Brumby identifies Kinnear as Frank's killer, explainingKinnear is trying to take over his business. He offers Jack £5,000 if he willkill the crime boss, which he refuses.
Jack has sex with Glenda at herflat, where he finds and watches a pornographic film. The participants areshown to be Doreen, Glenda, Margaret and Albert Swift. Doreen is forced to havesex with Swift. Overcome with emotion, Jack is enraged and he half drownsGlenda in the bath. She tells him the film was Kinnear’s and she thinks Doreenwas 'pulled' by Eric. Forcing Glenda in the boot of her car, Jack drives off tofind Albert.
Jack tracks Albert down in a betting shop, who confesses he toldBrumby that Doreen was Frank's daughter. Brumby showed Frank the film to incitehim to call the police on Kinnear. Eric and two of his men were responsible forFrank's death, forcing him to drink a bottle of whisky beforehand. Informationextracted, Jack knifes Albert in the stomach for being an accessory. Jack isattacked by the London gangsters and Eric, who has informed Fletcher of Jackand Anna’s affair. Jack shoots one of them dead; Eric and the others escape,pushing the sports car into the river, with Glenda still trapped inside.Returning to the car park Jack finds Brumby, beating him senseless and throwinghim over the side to his death. He then posts the porn film to the Vice Squad at Scotland Yard in London.
Jack abducts Margaret at gunpoint. He telephones Kinnear in themiddle of a wild party, telling him he has the film and making a deal to givehim Eric in exchange for his silence. Kinnear agrees, sending Eric to an agreedlocation; however, he simultaneously phones a hitman to dispose of Jack. Jackdrives Margaret to the grounds of Kinnear's estate, kills her with a fatalinjection of Heroin andleaves her body there; then he calls the police to raid Kinnear’s party.
Jack chases Eric along a beach until he is exhausted. He forcesEric to drink a full bottle of whisky as he did to Frank, then beats him todeath with his shotgun. As Jack is walking back along the shoreline, he is shotby the hitman with a sniper rifle. Jack's corpse lies on the beach as the waveswash around him.
In the late 1960s film censorship relaxationproduced an increase in dark, uncompromising films, with many directors pushingthe boundaries of acceptability. GetCarter was a film whichexplored this freedom. The filmwent from concept to finished film in just 10 months. In 1969 producer Michael Klinger devised plans fora gangster film to capitalise on public interest in the British criminalunderworld after the Kray Twins 'convictions. Klinger was invited to view a first print of Peter Walker’s Man of Violence (1969)and was unimpressed, telling the director "I'm going to make a gangsterfilm, but it's going to cost a lot more than this and it's going to be better." After searching many publishersfor material to adapt into a film, Klinger purchased the rights to Ted Lewis’s novel Jack’s Return Home. Andrew Spicer haswritten that "he [Klinger] sensed its potential to imbue the British crimethriller with the realism and violence of its American counterparts"
Klinger had been approached by another producer Nat Cohen to make a couple offilms for MGM. In financialtrouble and in shutting down its British operations, MGM was in the process ofclosing its Elstree Studios atBorehamwood and was looking tomake smaller budget films to turn a profit. At this time Klinger's friendRobert Littman had been appointed head of MGM Europe and so Klinger took hisproposal to him. MGM agreed areasonable but below average of 750,000 (there is some dispute as to whether itwas dollars or pounds ) for theproduction. Within months ofagreeing the deal MGM had pulled out of the UK. Klinger had seen Mike Hodges' 1969teleplays Suspect and immediately decided he was theideal candidate to direct his new project. Hodgeshad also previously worked on current affairs programme World in Action, the arts programme Tempo and a 1968 children’s televisionserial,The Tyrant King, and all these past experiences informed hisapproach to his directorial debut.
Klinger contacted Hodges onthe 27th January, 1970 with a copy of Jack's Return Home and contracted him to direct and adapt thescreenplay, paying him a flat fee of £7,000 for his services. Hodges' original working title for thefilm was Carter's The Name. SteveChibnall writes: "his treatment retained the essential structure ofLewis's novel with its strong narrative drive, but introduced some minorchanges to characterisation and more fundamental alterations to narratology." As Ted Lewis had not specified wherehis novel was set, Hodges felt free to relocate the story to a place he was familiar with,considering Grimsby, Lowestoft, Hull and North Shields beforedeciding on Newcastle Upon Tyne. Hodges said he was influenced in his writingby the works of Raymond Chandlerand Hollywood B Movies suchas Kiss Me Deadly asthey showed "how to use the crime story as an autopsy on society’s ills."Chibnall explains that Hodges did not employ a traditional noir motif of using avoiceover to expose the characters inner feelings. He also dispensed withflashbacks to Carter's youth featured in the novel which explored hisrelationship with his brother Frank, streamlining the plot to a linearnarrative spanning a single weekend.
Because of this the significanceof the double barrel shotgun as Carter's choice of weapon, or its positioningin the house are not expanded upon. In the novel Carter and Frank use it to gohunting in the countryside together, the gun symbolising family ties andCarter's memories of more innocent times.
Carter's killing of Brumby and his own assassination were furtheralterations from the novel, emphasising the films parallels withrevenge tragdey and Carter's role as what Geoff Mayercalls "the moral agent... a "Knight"forced to dispense his own sense of justice in a corrupt world." However in his DVD commentary Hodgesimplies that he did not see Carter as morally any more justified than those hekills, and his death is intended to present his actions to the audience as morallybankrupt and futile; "I wanted him to be dealt with in exactly the sameway he dealt with other people. Now that's a sort of Christian ethic in a way[...] That was a prerequisite of the film for me, that the hitman should go[click] and that's it.
The film's premiere was held in Los Angeles on 3 February 1971, with a preview held in New York on 3 March thatyear. The film finally openedfor general release across the UK on 10 March 1971 and in the USA on 18 March,where it was rated 'X’rating for violence and femalenudity, meaning it was for adults only. Itwas later reclassified as 'R’,meaning under 17's had to be accompanied by an adult. A censored edited version was releasedin West Germany on 6 August 1971, with a running time 9 minutes shorter thanthe original. Michael Klinger was involved in promotion of the film in the UK,using the experience from his background as a distributor to conduct a strongadvertising campaign. Teaser Posters forthe film appeared on the front of every London bus, with the tag-line 'Caine isCarter'.
The original British QuadPosters with artwork by ArnaldoPutzo, in common with many film posters, has aspects or images thatdiffer from the finished screen version. Most strikingly in this instanceCarter is depicted wearing a gaudy floral jacket, as opposed to the darkraincoat and mohair suit he wears in the film. Asked in 2006, Putzu could notremember his artistic rational for painting the floral jacket, but said he waspainting a lot of flowers in designs at that time. Chibnall describes the flower power imagery as"what seems like a desperate and misguided attempt to suggest the hipnessof a genre which had largely fallen out of favour." However, poster collector SimBranaghan said "I think it's fantastic, that kind of quirkiness youwouldn't get these days." JonnyTrunk of Trunk Records (along time aficionado of the film and its history) has observed that the floralpattern of Carter's jacket is taken from the distinctive pillow and matchingsheet design from the bed in the scene where BrittEckland writhes naked on the phone to Jack. The poster also placesCarter's shotgun in Eric's hands, and features a grappling man and woman whoseem to belong to a different film. Promotionalshots and poster artwork exist from the film showing Carter holding a pump action shotgun; in the finishedfilm the only shotgun used by Carter is a double–barrelled shot gun which Carter finds on top of his brotherFrank's wardrobe.
M.G.M. sold distribution rightsto the film in the U.S.A. to UnitedArtists, who promoted it poorly, amidst worries the cockney dialogue inthe opening scene would be unintelligible to US audiences. The film's releasewas delayed while parts of the film were redubbed (with no great improvement). In the process of redubbing theopening, the version of the film with the original dialogue was lost. For yearsthe version shown on British television was the redubbed American cut. UA placed the film on the then indecline drive in movie circuit whereit played at the bottom of a double bill with FrankSinatra Vehicle Dirty Dingus Magee. In 1974 Michael Klinger complained topresident of UA Erik Pleskow aboutthe lacklustre promotion of Carter, and tried to get him to relinquish theUS rights to the film, so Klinger could find a better distributor.
The film did not encounter many censorship problems, although thescene where Carter knifes Albert Swift caused concern for the censor In South Africa the censor cut outBritt Ekland's phone sex scene, shortening her already brief role; her name wasstill left on the poster, leaving filmgoers to wonder why she was advertised asappearing. In France and Belgiumthe film was released under the title LaLoi Du Milieu. In Germany itwas called Jack Rechnet Ab (literal: Jack Settles Accounts), and in Spain and Mexico it was Asesino Implacable,(Implacable/Relentless Assassin) whilstin Turkey the film was named Alacaklar (payback of debts).
A resurgence of critical and public interest in the film in the1990s led to the BFI releasinga new print of the film in 1999. They worked with Hodges to restore the film,with Hodges sourcing another set of negatives of the original opening, whichwere found in the archives of the BBC. The team then spliced the beginning segmentonto a high quality print of the film. Thereissue premiered at the National FilmTheatre and went on general release on 11 June 1999, showing at the Tyneside cinema in Newcastle. It was also re-released in Germany andGreece in 2000, and in France in 2004.
Contrary to popular belief, Get Carter was not a financial failure, according to Steve Chibnall its box office takingswere "very respectable." On its opening week at ABC2 cinema at Shaftesbury Avenue, London, itbroke the house record, taking £8,188. It out-performed Up Pompeii which wasshowing in the larger ABC1. It also performed strongly when moved to the ABC sin Edgware and Fulham Road. On its general release in the North of England, Chibnall notes ithad a "very strong first week", before an unseasonal heatwave damaged cinema attendance. Chibnall writes that "Interestingly, although [the film's] downbeat and unsentimental tone is now thought to express the mood ofits times, the mass cinema audience preferred Love Story (Arthur Hiller 1970), which remained the most popular film in Britain throughout Get Carter's run."
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
It is impossible to think about Grange Hill in the 1980s without mentioning the character of Samuel ‘Zammo’ Maguire, the cheeky chappy whose life spiralled into heroin addiction in one of children’s television’s most ground-breaking storylines. Actor Lee MacDonald played Zammo for six years and helped to make Zammo one of the iconic characters of the 1980s.
Lee MacDonald was best known for playing the part of Zammo Maguire in the classic children's TV series Grange Hilll from 1982-1987. Since then he has made cameo appearances on Birds of a Feather, The Bill and a TV version of A Midsummers Night Drream. He trained as a boxer, but a car crash left him unable to fight anymore. He now runs a Locksmith/key-cutting shop in Wallington, Surrey. He learned this trade while filming Grange Hill, and opened his business around 1999.
He appeared in the Sky One show Clique de Celebrite until he was voted out on the fourth show. He was however invited back when Sophie Anderton left due to injury, but was again voted out on the seventh show of the series.
In October 2008, Lee appeared in Three's Celebrity Scissorhands , where celebrities learn to cut hair and do other beauty treatments, raising money for BBC Children In Need.
Zammo was the new school hero, the boy everyone wanted to be. His early years at Grange Hill were a riotous mischief-fest with stooge Jonah and others. A cheeky chappie, Zammo never took school life seriously but was sensitive to others' feelings. He would stick up for Roland when he was getting a hard time. But the later years would be more difficult for Zammo. The spectre of Bronson and the Jackie-Banksie love triangle became too much to bear and Zammo descended into heroin addiction. With the support of family and friends Zammo pulled back from the brink and returned to the sixth form looking to the future
Without doubt Grange Hill's most controversial storyline was that of Zammo's heroin addiction in 1986. When plans for a "junkie" character were first announced there was tabloid outrage. But Zammo's plight did much to raise awareness of drug-related issues. The cast released a single, "Just Say No", in April 1986 and it peaked at No. 5 in the charts, raising over £103,000 for the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse (SCODA).
The Grange Hill cast went on an anti-drugs tour across the country and Lee MacDonald, who played Zammo, found himself particularly in demand. But the icing on the cake was an invitation to the White House by America's First Lady, Nancy Reagan, in May 1986. Mrs Reagan was involved in the American "Just Say No" project and had heard about Grange Hill's campaign. So the cast and crew jetted off to Washington, along with producer Ronald Smedley. Sadly the credibility of "Just Say No!" has been tarnished in recent years; actor Mmloki Chrystie confirmed in a 2005 Grange Hill reunion special that the he took drugs while in the States to promote the campaign.
Drugs would feature in less high-profile storylines. 1995 saw Anna Wright selling them for her brother Gordon and four years later, Sarah-Jane Webster found herself addicted to temazepam.
Drugs would feature in less high-profile storylines. 1995 saw Anna Wright selling them for her brother Gordon and four years later, Sarah-Jane Webster found herself addicted to temazepam.
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Back in 2009 Coronation Street caused an outcry when stalwart Ken Barlow was heard criticising Christianity to Grandson Simon. This is how the story was reported
Ken Barlow, played by Bill Roach, made a string of outbursts against Christianity. He also accused his grandson Simon's school of indoctrinating him to Christianity before vowing to tell the youngster "the truth" about religion.
"He is already being indoctrinated. I went to his assembly last week and they had paintings on the wall depicting creation. He is being taught creationism," he said.
ITV message boards have been inundated by viewers labelling the comments "completely unacceptable".
An ITV spokesperson said: "Coronation Street is a soap opera set in modern society and therefore represents views from all side of the religious spectrum.
"At the moment we have a very positive story involving Sophie Webster and her new found interest in religion, Emily Bishop has also always been seen as a very positive representation of Christianity. Likewise Ken Barlow's different views on religion have always been a strong aspect of his character".
One viewer called Johnandy posted the message: "It was utterly outrageous that Ken should make the outright attacks on the Christian faith which he did during Sunday's episode.
"Corrie has always, as far as I could tell, been absolutely neutral on the issue of religion/faith and I have to wonder where the Sophie-story is going.
"When it comes to atheistic/agnostic/humanist views being propounded in the pre-eminent soap opera in the UK, and on Easter Sunday to boot, that is completely unacceptable.
"In case it has escaped the minds of the writers, producers and directors of this extremely popular programme, in the last census over seventy per cent of respondents claimed to have some Christian adherence."
Another web user, by the name of charley26, added: "As an individual who has not watched Coronation Street for the last few years I was shocked to retune and find the programme portraying the Christian faith in such a derogatory manner
"For Ken Barlow of all people to disregard creationism in schools, which is probably the only time children are exposed to any form of religion at an early age, was uncalled for"
"Church is a comfort to many people and is an integral part of our British history.
"I was both shocked and appalled by what I was watching on TV, let alone on Coronation St and on Easter Sunday. "
Last week it was disclosed that the programme intends to portray a 'born-again Christian' character to embark on a lesbian affair in a bid to make the soap more reflective of modern Britain. Sophie Webster, a 16-year-old character, may begin the relationship with another girl from her Bible study group.
Friday, 1 June 2012
"Sylvia's Mother" was a 1972 single by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show and the group's first hit song. It was written by Shel Silverstein and was highly successful in the United States, reaching No5 on the Billboard singles chart, as well as No1 in Ireland and No2 in the United Kingdom. It also spent 3 weeks at No1 on the Australian music charts, making it the 15th ranked single in Australia for 1972. It appeared on the group's first album, Doctor Hook.
"Sylvia's Mother" is autobiographical, with songwriter Shel Silverstein drawing upon his unsuccessful attempt to revive a failed relationship. Silverstein had been in love with a woman named Sylvia Pandolfi, but she would later be engaged to another man. Desperate to continue the relationship, Silverstein called Pandolfi's mother, Louisa, but she instead told him that the love had ended.
The lyrics tell the story in much the same way: A young man, despondent and near tears after learning that his ex-girlfriend (Sylvia Avery, with whom he had an earlier bad breakup) is leaving town, tries to telephone her to say one last good-bye, or at least try to get a suitable explanation as to why their relationship failed and maybe try to rekindle things. However, Sylvia's mother (Mrs. Avery) tells him that Sylvia is engaged to be married, and is trying to start a new life in Galveston. She asks the man not to say anything to her because she might start crying and want to stay. She tells the man Sylvia is hurrying to catch a 9:00 train. In an aside, she then tells Sylvia to take an umbrella, because "Sylvie, it's starting to rain". She then returns to the conversation, thanks the (unidentified) man for calling, and asks him to call back again. The pathos lies in Sylvia's mother being aware of both conversations, but the lovers only "pass in the night". Throughout the phone conversation, an operator cuts in to ask for more money ("40 cents more for the next three minutes") to continue the call.
In 1972, about the same time the Dr. Hook version was on the chart, country singer Bobby Bare recorded a cover version. Bare's version became a hit, reaching No. 12 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart that October. One of his last hit records during his stay at Mercury Records, "Sylvia's Mother" became the first of many Silverstein-penned songs Bare had success with, and would foreshadow both an entire album dedicated to Silverstein-penned songs (1973's Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends and Lies) and hit records written by Silverstein, including "Marie Laveaue," "The Winner," "Rosalie's Good Eats Café", "The Mermaid", "The Winner", "Warm and Free" and others. "Sylvia's Mother" was also covered by Bon Jovi on This Left Feels Right Live .
A sequel titled "Mrs. Avery" has been written and performed by British folk rockers The Men They Couldn't Hang. The song begins years later when the main character of "Sylvia's Mother" is divorced, has children of his own, and happens to find an old picture of Sylvia which prompts him to call her mother again.
Thursday, 31 May 2012
With Wimbledon just around the corner and after my earlier post featuring 1970s Wimbledon icon Bjorn Borg I thought I'd post this cover of the Radio Times from Wimbledon 1977 featuring Sue Barker who was beaten in the semis by American Ann Kiyomura-Hayashi.
David Wilkie MBE was born in Sri Lanka, the offspring of Scottish parents who were stationed in that country.
He was a pupil of Daniel Stewart's College in Edinburgh, and while a student there he joined the Warrender Baths Club, one of Scotland's most prestigious swimming and water polo clubs. It was there that he began to develop his specialist stroke, the breaststroke.
Wilkie first came to the public's attention when he won bronze in front of his home crowd in the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in the 200 metre breaststroke.
He wore a swim cap for that event during the commonwealth games, making him the first elite swimmer to wear one in a major competition.
Wilkie's world breakthrough came as a surprise to many when he won silver in the 200 m breaststroke at the Munich Olympics in 1972. He had acquired the reputation of avoiding hard work and not being sufficiently committed. However, it was clear from this performance that he had outstanding natural ability.
He trained hard in Florida, and his battle with Hencken was revisited again and again in various meets over the years. In that time Wilkie had won the World 200m breaststroke title in 1973, before breaking the world record and regaining the title in 1975. He also picked up two golds and one silver at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch in 1974, and added the European title to his collection.
However, it was after several years of intensive training, at the University of Miami, that Wilkie's finest hour came. He won gold in the 200 metre breaststroke at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, in a world-record time and preventing an American Sweep of the Men's swimming gold medals. He later added a 100 metre silver medal to his collection. In 1977 he was appointed MBE.
According to the British Olympic coach Dave Haller, Hencken was always more likely to be stronger over 100m, as his rapid arm movements were more suited to a sprint race, while Wilkie’s longer, more rhythmic strokes meant he was fancied over the longer distance. As it turned out, it was honours even for the pair. Hencken, as expected, triumphed in the shorter race, squeezing Wilkie into second, earning the Scot his second Olympic silver medal.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Kermit calls the Secret Service to hire real spies for Roger's closing number. (They're listed in the Yellow Pages.) However, Roger wants to do a cute, cuddly version of "Talk to the Animals". The spies, anxious for a chance to rub out James Bond, pose as fluffy animals to infiltrate the number in this the final Muppet Show from 1980.
Roger Moore arrives and Pops instantly recognizes him as James Bond. Roger points out that secret agents and spies are "all make believe." Once Roger has departed, "Agent" Pops calls for control to inform them that "007" has arrived. Roger catches Pops in the middle of his call, and demands to know who this "agent" is working for. "The frog! The frog!" Pops calls out. Roger releases Pops when he reveals that he too is working for "the frog."
"The Muppet Show theme. Gonzo's trumpet sounds like a coach's whistle, and so a soccer ball is thrown at him, pushing the trumpet down his throa.
For the opening number, a group of Viking pigs (described as "gentle, quaint, fun-loving old charmers" at the insistence of The Swedish Chef sing "In The Navy" as they pillage a coastal town.
Backstage,Scooter and Beauregard show Kermit the pies they got for the closing number. Kermit corrects them, he wantedspies for the closing number, as it was to be James Bond-themed. When he tells them to toss the pies away, Beauregard takes him literally and tosses his entire tray. Kermit is hit with one of the flying desserts.
Miss Piggy sings a flirtatious "On a Slow Boat to China" to Roger. Roger protests, claiming he is not Piggy's type, but she continues to woo him. The song is ended shortly before Roger's date arrives, and it is none other than Piggy's rival, Annie Sue. Roger reveals that they are going to the opening of Hamlet..
As Roger returns backstage, he stops to ask Kermit if they use pies on the show. "Spies?" Kermit asks. But Roger actually does mean pies for he's just "trod in one."
Lew Zealand and his singing fish sing a wet version of "You Light Up My Life" until he's pulled offstage by Piggy's Vaudevillian Hook.
Backstage, Piggy and Lew duke it out with hook and barracuda. Piggy insists the show have more class than Lew's fish act. When Lew has chased Miss Piggy off stage with Fred (the barracuda), Roger Moore approaches Kermit to ask if the show is always filled with such craziness. Kermit tells him that they're actually having a rather quiet night with no unforeseen disasters. Kermit is then instantly trampled by the cast of Vet's Hospital... but that was a foreseen disaster.
Dr Bob and his crew operate on a Viking from the opening number. He talks of his ancestor, the Viking, who "blundered at his plundering and was stupid with his pillaging." Dr. Bob ends the sketch with a new take on Roy Rogers trademark sign-off: "Good night, and may the good Lord take a Viking to you!"
Kermit calls the secret service for a bunch of spies. They arrive in an instant! When asked how he got the secret service's number, Kermit reveals that it was in the Yellow Pages. Kermit then explains that he was looking for spies for their closing number, a big spy spectacular featuring James Bond. At the mention of James Bond's name, the spies are all too eager to perform, or rather to "fix him."
When Kermit tries to tell Roger about the closing number, Roger reveals that he will be performing a "cute" number, surrounded by "oodles of cute, fluffy little creatures." The spies overhear this information, and since they are masters of disguise, dress up as cute, fluffy animals.
Muppet News flash. The News Man reports on an international spy ring trying to sneak ridiculous stories into the news. His very next news story is on a black and yellow striped mackerel being elected King. The Newsman doesn't believe it, of course, until the King arrives.
Kermit informs Scooter that the spies of snuck in amongst the animals. Scooter announces to the animals, "There are no spies in the closing number! Spies go home!" But no one does go home.
Roger sings "Talk to the Animals" in the closing number, but is forced to fight numerous spies when they try to assassinate him during the song with appropriately changed lyrics for the situation. Roger comes out victorious, and the animals rejoice.
At the closing, Roger informs Kermit that he has learned his lesson. He's through with "cute, cuddly little animals," and will instead stick to the "sick, weird, disgusting animals" that he trusts.
Jimmy Edwards, comedy actor and script writer, was surprised byEamonn Andrews at the BBC’s Piccadilly 1 Studio. Jimmy is perhaps best known as Pa Glum in BBC radio’s Take ItFrom Here and as the headmaster ‘Professor’ in BBC TV’s Whack-O.
This account of Jimmy Edwards This Is Your Life is taken fromGus Smith’s biography of Eamonn Andrews...When Eamonn was asked for hisdefinition of the ideal Life subject, he said thoughtfully, ‘The basicrequirement is a good story, a varied story, and if you can add to that apleasant, bubbling personality then you have something else going.’ He could not have looked for a more bubblingsubject than comedian Jimmy Edwards. Regarded as a larger-than-life individual,and a healthy mocker of false emotions, he posed an undoubted challenge toEamonn. Would the presenter try to match his ebullience? Or would he be contentto stick to his script and let the irrepressible Edwards poke his wicked funwithout provoking him?
The comedian had been born in Barnes in 1920 and served as apilot in the war with the RAF and was awarded the DGFC. It was a gamble whetherhe would become a school teacher or go on the stage. Deciding on the stage, in1946 he made his debut at London’ Windmill Theatre, the famous training groundfor most of the country’s comics. However, it was in the radio series Take ItFrom Here that he eventually made his name. Eamonn made no secret of the factthat he was a fan of the programme.
It was now 1958. Jimmy Edwards was being described as ‘a gruffbachelor, whose prowess on the hunting, shooting and polo fields were as wellknown as the shape of his moustache.’ When not working, he liked to retire tohis 400-acre farm in Sussex and keep an eye on the dairy herd and horses. The fun began as Eamonn led the comic,protesting loudly, to the stage of the Shepherd’s Bush Theatre. As his friendsin the business were paraded before him, Edwards ran his fingers lightlythrough his moustache and poked fun at all and sundry. Eamonn kept resolutelyto his prepared script and refused to be drawn into verbal combat. It seemedthe only course he could take, otherwise his words would be lost in the welterof audience laughter. Meanwhile, thereal drama was taking place behind the scenes. The Life team had been experiencing considerable trouble in locatingJimmy Edwards’ sister in Australia, but eventually contacted her. When theyexplained to her the reason for the call, she said enthusiastically, ‘I’d loveto be a guest in the show. I know Jimmy would love it also. But how do I getover at such short notice?
‘We’ll fly you over.’ The Life researcher told her. It meantsome hectic, last-minute flight arrangements, and when she eventually arrivedit was only hours before the show, or just enough time for flowers to bedelivered to her hotel room in Lancaster Gate. When Eamonn introduced her atthe climax of the show there was spontaneous applause from the audience. EvenJimmy, a compulsive talker, was almost lost for words. At the outset, he said he had anticipated aprogramme of such sentimental impact that there wouldn’t be a dry eye betweenLand’s End and Val Parnell. He was wrong. As one critic observed, ‘There wereno dry eyes last night. They were wet with laughter.’ And he added, ‘Edwardsmade wicked fun of Andrews. Andrews, playing himself, saw his programme rippedto shreds.’ Leslie Jackson disagreed. He felt that Eamonn, as presenter of theshow, coped admirably with the comedian’s non-stop wise-cracking. ‘It was a funprogramme and Eamonn helped to make it so by refusing to take on Jimmy.’
Off-stage, Eamonn and Jimmy were friends. Eamonn, a radio man tohis finger tips, admired the comedian’s technique and how he disguised it socleverly behind his large moustache. To radio listeners he came across, as onecritic put it, ‘with the subtlety of a battering ram, flattening resistance andsweeping the audience on wave after wave of hilarity,’ but to Eamonn, Jimmyknew how to make an audience laugh and sound extremely funny on radio.
They called him the ice man, but there was so much more to Björn Borg than cool detachment and a wispy beard. Thirty Two years after the Swede's last and greatest Wimbledon triumph and with Wimbledon just around the corner,I offer a remarkable portrait of the rebellious teenager who became an accidental Nordic mystic - and an all-time great.