Bears and foxes and sockses, oh my!

Yes, there’ll be bears and a fox and a pair of socks at the Fringe this year, yay! After a year off Goodbear are back with Dougal, no, not the dog, it’s the name of their new show. Oo, I might even make that a first night show, it’s always good to start well and I’m sure Mr Barnes and Mr Perryment will not disappoint me.

The Abbott and Costello of the sock world, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are back with Roll Up! I’ve been following their show development throughout the year on Facebook, bits have come and gone, and there’s plenty of video footage. I expect it honed to perfection by August!

And the Fox? Why, it’s my childhood hero Basil Brush! Apparently he sounds slightly different these days, but it was forty plus years ago when I was watching him on the telly. If only he’d come to the Fringe in 2015 – he could have met up with his old pal Rodney Bewes (this tablet wants to make him Rodney Beers! No, tablet demon, it’s Bewes). Mr Rodney was Basil’s side-kick in 1968, he’s the first one I can remember. After that there was Mr Derek, he stayed around a few years and was very good, but my favourite side-kick/straightman was Mr Roy, I loved it when he would grab Basil’s snout in exasperation to shut him up (while trying not to laugh).

Turns out Basil first appeared on telly as a support act to a magician before getting his big break with his own tv show. He was very influenced by Terry Thomas, he liked the charm and droll wit, and was always seen wearing a cravat (and comparing his clothes to now, he definitely had a better tailor back then, probably Saville Row). The stars were all queuing up to be on his show, Lulu, Cilla Black, Demis Roussos, to name a few, all eager to duet with him. Yes, Basil was so popular he even made a cameo appearance in The Goodies Rule-OK? 

Indeed, I shall have to go see the Fox, why, I learnt all my wit, humour and sarcasm from him (and Dougal, yes, the dog, and Brian). I wonder, will he still talk about Dirty Gertie from Number Thirty?! Does he still have that laugh? He must still use his catchphrase. Until next time, my friends,

Boom! Boom!

 

Well, that was a ride and a half!

And so tonight The Big Bang Theory finally came to an end (after which E4 announced they’re going to start showing it all again from the start). Gonna miss those guys! Sheldon Cooper must be my favourite comedy creation, closely followed by Niles Crane, both so brilliantly written and portrayed. Indeed, I used to watch Frasier as avidly as I’ve watched BBT these last twelve years. Even when Frasier was in the Friday 9pm slot my friends and I wouldn’t head to the pub until after it (mind, I would be oot til two o’clock or so).

It got me trying to remember what other american half hour comedy shows have had me so hooked over the years……

Roseanne immediately sprang to mind, okay so towards the end it seriously declined, but that is where my moose crush on Johnny Galecki began! I remember the hallowe’en episodes were always excellent. Grace Under Fire was another firm favourite, Home Improvement was around at that time, and Cybill, a show I loved for almost everyone in it apart from Cybill Shepherd (Christine Baranski was wonderful, of course). Oh yeah, Spin City too, Michael J.Fox was sooo, just sooo, yeah, moose crush time (and Jennifer Esposito was hot!)

I had videos recorded long play from the telly full of American comedies. The odd Married With Children episode thrown in as well. Crikey, almost forgot Third Rock From The Sun!! Wow, that was sooo funny and such a brilliant ensemble piece with great cameos (Christine Baranski and Laurie Metcalf to name two). Another connection – a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy) was briefly in Roseanne.

Later came My Name is Earl and Scrubs, then How I Met Your Mother. It took a while to get into HIMYM, but it sucked me in and by the sixth series I was seriously committed! Yeah, The Goldberg’s kinda pulled me in despite my lack of initial interest (I do like it when they have the people portrayed in it talking at the end).

But Bruce, what about Friends and Seinfeld? Seinfeld, I really did try, and it did make me laugh, but we just never gelled. Friends? They were on a break!! That’s when it lost me, oh I still watched but I was irked, the guys would, should have stuck by their bro, they were on a break, they were free agents. Wow, yeah, I’m still irked about that plotline now!

Two more classics that I adored, The Wonder Years and The Golden Girls. How come neither of them are being repeated on some channel?! They probably are, somewhere.

Ain’t it nice to look back on old loves!  Who would win a hissy fit fight – Niles or Sheldon? What new comedy show will grab Laurie Metcalf for a cameo? Whatever happened to Harry?Did any of your old favourites pop up here?

Toodle pip! Sweet dreams  x

 

On the fringe of the light fantastic

As a young moose I loved Mary Poppins, I wanted her to take me on magical trips and dancing with penguins. A few evenings ago I fell in love with her all over again, what a gal! I for one thoroughly enjoyed Mary Poppins Returns, so much so, I intend to return to see it again before it leaves town. It’s  a snuggily warm blanket, so whimsical and quaintly British, with lots of little nods to the original, especially in the music with a few notes here and there from the earlier songs. All the cast were terrific, Emily Blunt is spot on as Poppins and Lin Manuel Miranda, well, I may have a bit of a crush on his smile!

And blimey Charlie – David Warner, Angela Lansbury and ol’ Dick too! Who says there’s no parts for old folks? And these are seriously old folk, I did the usual pastime of coming home from the cinema and spending the next hour or so on IMDB and the like checking out just how old they were, etc, and found out some rather interesting facts (well I thought so).

Most Interesting Fact I discovered, Beautiful Briny was actually originally intended for Mary Poppins but was cut, later to be used in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (another old favourite of mine). Angela Lansbury, of course, played the wonderful Eglantine Price; so great to see her again. She’s older that Dick Van Dyke by two months, a fine pair of nonagenarians!

How pleased was I to see David Warner playing Admiral Boom! On IMDB he’s listed as having 223 acting roles, okay so not all classics, but hey, there’s Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Babylon 5, The Omen, Time Bandits, Tron, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, and all manner of one-off appearances in tv shows. My college pals and I would always let out a cheer whenever he was spotted on screen, dunno how that started,  just one of those things!

And then there’s Binnacle, Admiral Boom’s man, he looked kind of familiar but I couldn’t place him. Apparently it’s one Jim Norton, first seen in The Face of Fu Manchu back in 1965 (a classic!). I spotted he was in an episode of The Adventures of Black Beauty (who remembers that from the 70s? Personally I preferred Follyfoot) in a long steady list of jobs that went Stateside in the 80s with L.A.Law, Cheers, Frasier, Star Trek Next Gen and even four episodes of Babylon 5! Ah, finally I found it, why he looked familiar – Father Ted’s Bishop Brennan! Of course!

Who’ll be the actors from today who’ll still be popping up in forty, fifty years time? Will this year’s crop of Fringers produce any future stalwarts of our screens?

Toodle pip!

 

Strictly honestly – I was in the pub!

Yeah, what was going to be a lunchtime/afternoon session rather overran. There was me reckoning I’d be home for Pointless Celebrities, which was a Strictly line-up, and next thing I knew it was quarter to eight! Well, there’s a lot to put right about the world in these current times, a couple of pints wasn’t anywhere near long enough to cover everything! And when the fresh air hit me I was rather hungry so a fish supper had to be purchased, yes, had to be (a fish supper means fish and chips, in fish and chip shops here if you want anything with chips it’s a supper). So after all that I only made it home for the last two couples on Strictly, damn, but it was a fine pub session taking in the Jolly Judge, Bow Bar, Dagda and the Cask and Barrel.

Hurrah for BBC iPlayer, I watched both shows on Sunday evening instead. No, I didn’t watch Bodyguard, am I the only one in the country who hasn’t seen any of it? Maybe I’ll get round to it sometime before another series comes out.

So Strictly…… well I did say about making some reference to Danny John-Jules’ Cat and, blow me down, first off was himself and Amy doing a foxtrot to the theme tune to Top Cat – I loved that cartoon so much as a calf. He’s the oldest celeb but crikey he’s pretty fit and has some great moves, I reckon he’ll go far.

Poor Seann had the tango, not an easy dance for a male celeb to start with, but he did go for it so he gave it plenty of attitude and character to make up for lack of technique. The scores weren’t helped by Katya putting in a lift that wasn’t allowed, but ever a comedian Seann said it wasn’t a lift, more of a “chuck”. Being used to hecklers and the like, the judges may find he’s one contestant who’ll always have a smart quip back at them.

My other immediate favourite, Charles Venn, wowzer! Oh yay, he can dance, and he and Karen looked amazing together in red. Joe Sugg was actually pretty good at the jive, I was pleasantly surprised, but I’m not sure how he’ll cope with a rumba! Kate Silverton Cha Cha’d with plenty of attitude, but I reckon she’ll be a half-wayer. Another half-wayer I reckon is Graeme Swann, but I did love hearing Soul Limbo, of course he had to dance his Samba to the cricket theme tune, and Oti was as scrummy as ever!

Generally it’s another pretty good year with plenty of potential winners. More about the others next week. First out? If they’re in the dance-off, Susannah and Anton. Of course, if they get enough public votes to avoid it ….. but I’m not sure she has enough fans, even with Anton’s over-the-top antics.

If you’re thinking, what? Another post about that dancing tosh! Well, let’s say, if the title contains the word Strictly that’s what it’ll be about, forewarned and and all that.

Nighty night!

 

I ❤ Bab Pants

Yes, really, watching Babylon 5 again on the telly, still one of my favourite sci-fi shows. And that story arc! So looking forward to later in season 3 with Zathras and that mindf**k of a story arc of the fate of Babylon 4. I remember going round to a friend’s flat a few days after it first showed on tv, he was still in a dazed blown-away state from the sheer audacity of it. Who knew it would be picked up (pun intended) and shown on tv again?

Sad to say, a number of the top cast are no longer with us. The aforementioned Zathras, played (all of them) by Tim Choate died in 2004, aged only 49. Michael O’Hare, the original Babylon 5 Commander, Jeffrey Sinclair died in 2012. Security has lost Michael Garibaldi and Zack Allan, aka Jerry Doyle and Jeff Conway. Medical has lost Richard Biggs, who played Dr Steven Franklin, aged only 44. As the sane small voice of reason and conscience that was Vir Coto, Stephen Furst won many hearts again (I’d say Vir and Flounder weren’t that dissimilar, loveable, well-meaning, rabbits-in-headlights), sadly died last year. And, of course, Andreas Katsulus who blew me away as the magnificent G’Kar, died in 2006. Do they have Comic Cons in heaven?

Ah, G’Kar and Londo Mollari, the best double act in sci-fi, ever! It was like a Shakespearean epic between the pair, I’m really enjoying seeing those two again. Gotta admit, the Sheridan-Delenn romance really started to grate on me, watching it all on video some years ago I did fast forward at times! Bab Pants also had one of the best villains, Alfred Bester, played to the max by Walter Koenig, always a cheer when Bester turned up!

Ok, so I did watch Star Trek as a calf but it never really got me, never Trekified me. Babylon 5 wasn’t Star Trek, it was grubby, sarcastic, mean, humorous, personal agendas, and it had Ivanova!! Oh boy, she coulda taken on all the Trek women and come out on top! Finally a woman who wasn’t bland and dull, yes she showed her vulnerable side, but hey, don’t we all? And she had an accent, they all did, not the blandness of Trek voices. Oo, am I getting a bit ranty, perhaps?! Umm, at the time I did have some serious Trekky friends who could never quite agree that Bab Pants (or the also brilliant Farscape) could measure up to Star Trek – not even after that mindf**k Babylon 4 stunt!!

I do have a old SFX somewhere that has a Babylon 5 feature in it, there’s a picture of Ivanova that a dear friend of mine had signed by Claudia Christian for me. More on that later!

 

McNeil & Pamphilon: which ones were they?

Ones who gave out badges at the end of their show, yay! I do like a show that has free badges at the end. That was in the Pleasance Dome in 2011, the show was McNeil & Pamphilon: Which One Are You?, which besides sketches had them looking at their differences and how fans have their favourite of the two (I was definitely a Pamphilon). These two are very funny and play off each other brilliantly, they’re so relaxed and endearing it felt like watching two pals bantering in the pub, keeping everyone else thoroughly entertained and happy just to listen.

Okay at times they seem disturbingly close, like when McNeil had to touch Pamphilon’s balls – it’s there in my old Fringe diary, followed by “(rubber glove and lube)”?! McNeil also drew the short straw in the fashion stakes, Pamphilon looks cool in anything, but McNeil can make the same clothes look crap, demonstrated to make the point (oh, it was well made) by borrowing a hoody from an audience member. Old diaries are fun, apparently the School Rabbit Sketch was VERY sick and funny, I’m sure it was, wish I had one of those memories that can actually recall details! I gave them four stars.

We saw them again in 2012, this time in the Baby Grand at the Pleasance Courtyard, a small, hot room, so, much like most venues then. Threading through the show was Pamphilon’s body-swapping machine and the joke that he fancied McNeil’s mum. Another four stars given.

2013 was the first time they brought Go 8-Bit to the Fringe, and more badges! Yay! Despite never having been much of a videogamer, I thoroughly enjoyed it seeing the enthusiasm and competitiveness it brought out! And the horror of some of the forfeits the lads, as team leaders, had to endure, well Pamphilon mainly. Forfeits like downing three shots of cheap vodka, eating a jar of chillies, getting dead-armed by all the winning team. All good fun, and worth five stars!

Oo, 2014 it went hi-tech, instead of, please switch off your mobile, it was, switch it on, go to the website and vote for who you think will win each video game. Umm, I didn’t bother, ok, so more like I was still getting used to my first android phone and didn’t really know what to do. Just as well, turned out that one lucky person who voted would then be randomly picked to play in the next game, aargh, like seriously, no way could I have done that! Hmmm, back down to four stars!? I did note that the forfeits weren’t as cruel as the previous year’s, was that a reason to lose a star?

As luck would have it, flicking through tv channels on 5th September 2016, I settled on a show on Dave hosted by Dara O’Briain, he’s usually a safe bet. Then, oo, isn’t that Steve McNeil, and there’s Sam Pamphilon, blimey Charlie, Go 8-Bit’s made it on to the telly! Nice one. Hang on, why is it Dara’s? No, it’s not yours Dara, it’s Sam and Neil’s, give it back! That was literally my thought process over the time it was on. Hey ho, maybe Dave wanted a bigger name to be able to entice viewers in. There’s been two series shown so far and another coming up next year. Well worth a watch, with a few beers, natch. It’s still great to see how competitive and focused some comedians can be, yeah right, Calman, it’s just a game!

Shame they don’t do the really cruel forfeits  😆

 

Nick Helm on Dave

I was just flicking through the telly channels when I happened upon Eat Your Heart Out With Nick Helm. Huh? Nick Helm has a food programme now?! Mr Shouty was conversing in French and later showing off his few words in Portuguese, all in lovely mild manner. Hmmm (looks into the distance, head to one side, a hazy wibbly-wobbliness takes us back, back…)

Friday 3rd August 2012, rushed home from work to get to the Pleasance Queen Dome in time for Nick Helm: This Means War. My choice, I just really like the poster, very Flashman/ Rik Mayall’s Bombardier, it worked for me. I had heard he was quite loud, quite loud?! He came on singing a Motorhead song, well, shouting it, then he seriously ripped into some of the audience, boy, was I glad we were well back in the middle of a row. One poor chap ended up on stage peeling spuds and being yelled at for most of the show, but while we felt the fear we enjoyed the show anyway.

I didn’t see Nick Helm again until 2015, well to be fair, in 2014 he only did two nights at the Pleasance Grand at £15 a pop, that’s ’cause he’d made it on to the telly in Uncle. Then in 2015, he appeared on the Free Fringe with a catchy show title, Nick Fuckin’ Helm: My Edinburgh Hour. This time, a young chap at the front who hadn’t clapped and laughed enough was made to sit behind Nick on the stage so that a more appreciative lady could gave the seat, again I was glad to be well back in the crowd! It was another very entertaining show, especially as the venue sound limiter kept cutting out the microphones whenever he sang – it’s not like Nick Helm really needs amplification in a room that size anyway!

So, his new tv show on Dave, well I really enjoyed it. Him and a mate just go places, eat loads of food and meet the chefs who cook it, and he’s quite sweet actually. There were two half hour shows together, the second had Nish Kumar as the buddy, he’s another chap who’s doing rather well these days. I saw him doing McNeil and Pamphilon’s Go 8-Bit back in 2013 and 2014, yes, at the Fringe it was theirs, not Dara O’Briain’s.

More about that later.