Category Archives: Blog

When a woman wants me to do anything, I always insist on knowing why

“When a woman wants me to do anything, I always insist on knowing why. The oftener you make them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more manageable you will find them in all the relations of life. It isn’t their fault (poor wretches) that they act first, and think afterwards; it’s the fault of the fools who humour them.”

The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, 1868

How’s that for good ol’ unreconstructed sexism? No way a writer would get away with that today. Then again, I’m reminded of what Jack Nicholson’s character says in the movie As Good as it Gets when a young female receptionist can’t resist asking him:

Receptionist: How do you write women so well?

Nicholson: I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.

As Good As It Gets
Continue reading When a woman wants me to do anything, I always insist on knowing why

Why should the dregs of our society act in a caring and decent manner when our self-seeking leaders don’t care about fairness and freedom?

GBH was a seven-part TV drama by Alan Bleasdale, set in a Northern town in the Thatcher years, broadcasted on Channel 4 in 1991.

In this scene Jim Nelson, the working class headmaster of a special school played by Michael Palin, sleepwalks out of his holiday caravan during a thunderstorm and crashes into a tree. Waking up on the ground  in his pyjamas, soaked to the skin, he finds Grosvenor, the impoverished aristocratic owner of the caravan park played by Daniel Massey, appearing from the bushes wearing an oilskin jacket, miner’s helmet and lamp, sheltering under an umbrella  with a half empty bottle of whisky under his arm.

Continue reading Why should the dregs of our society act in a caring and decent manner when our self-seeking leaders don’t care about fairness and freedom?

Off Air, Broadcast, W Stephen Gilbert

A Town Like New Orleans? BBC2
by W Stephen Gilbert
Broadcast
31 Aug 1981

The BBC Manchester series City was a more random collection of reports on where we’re at. I caught four editions, particularly enjoying Ian McNulty’s well thought-through film on musical life in Leeds. Apart from the diversity of musical styles, the fragmentation of socio-political attitudes also came over.

Continue reading Off Air, Broadcast, W Stephen Gilbert

Clive James, The Observer

Television
by Clive James
The Observer
23 Aug 1981

An unintentionally wonderful programme called A Town Like New Orleans (BBC2) showed what happens when people whose proper concerns should be some form of fruitful labour start mucking about with art. Few real artistes despise business – in fact the more original they are, the more they tend to respect the workaday world – but it is a hallmark of the dabbler that he prides himself in being set apart, and so it proved here.

Leeds it appears, is crawling with jazz and pop musicians who have managed to convince themselves that they are contributing to the biggest explosion in their respective art forms since King Oliver met Louis Armstrong or Phil Spector invented the wall of sound.

Continue reading Clive James, The Observer

Something stirring up North

A Town Like New Orleans?
BBC2
by Dennis Hackett
The Times, 15 Aug 1981

This was the last of an occasional series under the generic title City, “occasional” being a word often applied to something someone is not quite sure about. The town we were invited to compare with New Orleans was Leeds, as unlikely a parallel as one could imagine except that we were concerned with a particular aspect of it: music.

“Leeds is going to expand musically”, a voice told us. “It is going to be like New Orleans.” If that perhaps is not quite the way it is, there is evidence – with more than 200 live groups in the town – that something stirs in what might be thought of infertile ground.

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The making and breaking of street music

A Town Like New Orleans?
BBC2
The Mary Kenny Saturday TV Review
Daily Mail , 15 Aug 1981

They talk about books, plays, films, television programmes which ‘change your life,’ such is the dramatic impact.  Life changes come from inside the human soul, though, not from outside.

But last night’s programme A Town Like New Orleans? (BBC-2 – and the title refers to Leeds, of all places) had a direct influence on my behaviour. Having seen it, I deliberately went out and put money in every buskers collecting hat that I could see.

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Today’s Television, Peter Davalle, The Times

Today’s Television
Peter Davalle
The Times , 14 Aug 1981

A TOWN LIKE NEW ORLEANS? (BBC2, 9.45 pm) is about a musical explosion, or rather a series of pops, because this is a film about Leeds’ two hundred or so jazz, rock and folk groups that pack the pubs, the pavements and the front rooms of unlovely semi-detached houses. There’s even a couple swaying to flute and recorder among the daffodils of their back-garden.

The sounds of music are familiar enough to my ears, ranging from the innovatively interesting to the derivatively awful. What is special about Ian McNulty’s film is what the players have to say.

Continue reading Today’s Television, Peter Davalle, The Times

Blight row comes into full view – Northern Echo

by Ray Nichols
Northern Echo
12 July 1980

THE ROW over the demolition of New Kyo homes will be thrown open to millions on Monday night when the issue is debated on national television.

Residents, councillors and government officials will appear on BBC-2’s “Brass Tacks” programme entitled “The Blight,” which goes on air at 9.25 pm.

Continue reading Blight row comes into full view – Northern Echo

Picture of Wearside – in the right focus

Evening Chronicle, 30 August 1979

JOBLESS teenagers hope to give ailing Wearside a television tonic. They believe there is plenty in Sunderland to smile about and to prove it they are to make a film of life in the town.

The film makers then plan to send their documentary to the BBC in answer to a film about the town called “Are the Kids All Right” which painted a dismal picture of dole queues and street fights.

Continue reading Picture of Wearside – in the right focus