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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

That was a tough clue, wasn’t it? “Alice Where Are Thou” – about President Roosevelt’s daughter. Could that be a clue? A detective named Alice? “A clue so large…” was a quote from Poirot – could it be Poirot? Sung by Ernest Pike? Any detective series named Pike? Or a detective who’s also a fisherman? Or likes Edward VII’s favourite tenor? Well, none of the above. Compare the music in these two:

On the right is the opening from “Open All Hours”, the 1970s comedy series starring Ronnie Barker and – in probably his third most famous role – Sir David Jason. His most famous role, of course, has to be Derek “Del Boy” Trotter in “Only Fools And Horses”. But the second? Read more

Have you ever seen the old noir film DOA? It’s from 1950, and opens with probably one of the cleverest openings in cinema. The protagonist would like to report a murder: his own. But what if he had died in the murder? What if he was solving his own murder from beyond the grave?

image: Wikipedia

image: Wikipedia

That was the premise of the first epsiode of Randall and Hopkirk (deceased). Private detective Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope) is a victim of a hit-and-run, in an attempt by the criminals to cover up their misdeeds, and decides that the only way is to haunt his former partner, Jeff Randall (played by Mike Pratt, who is also famous for writing Tommy Steele’s hit “Little White Bull”).

Marty has some suitably ghostly powers: he can generate wind storms by blowing, can break glass through mind power, and Read more

image: WikipediaRight, let’s start with a trivia question: what was the first British film to be legally shown in communist China? If, having read the title of this post, you said “The Sweeney”, you would be wrong. Mainly because, for some weird reason, they decided to title the spin-off movie “Sweeney!”. I know, weird, right? Still, if that wins you the next pub quiz it’ll all be worth it I’m sure.

But that’s what you did in the 70s with TV shows. Dire adaptations of Steptoe and Son (a jolly TV show turned into 90 minutes of heart-rending misery… twice), Dad’s Army drawn out at such length you could visibly see the paint drying on the sets, Sweeney! did much the same, stitching two episodes together and ramping up the violence and nudity.
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Little Voice” was on last night (if you’re in the UK, you can watch it on iPlayer for about a week). I mention this simply because the wonderful Annette Badland is in it. She’s never really been a star, never a household name, but she is one of those supporting cast players of whom I think “she’s never in a bad movie”. As Mrs Fezziwig, she’s one of the best things about the Patrick Stewart version of “A Christmas Carol” (I know it’s Hallmark, but it’s still my favourite version.)


I mention her specifically because she played Charlotte, a recurring character in the BBC’s detective series “Bergerac“.
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