Monday, 24 August 2015

Can you help TV's The Prisoner?

Heading off to Portmeirion for a few days. 

Hopefully will be back Thursday. 

Activity for the journey sorted. 

Just need to find a crayon...

Sunday, 23 August 2015

EastEnders - Kathy Beale is Watching!

She's back... and TV Kack has the exclusive!

Vintage Target Book Covers for Vintage Doctor Who Stories

I can't seem to not do Target book covers these days. Some are serious, some are silly. I'm currently just over halfway through doing the Target covers for Peter Capaldi's second series. Just need to confirm a couple of story titles and check some the origin of some images I'm using. I'm amusing myself that I'm designing these covers without having seen the episodes. I get the feeling some of the original artists were also in a similar situation.

These are a little sideline that I did over an evening last week. They're based on photos that don't get seen all that often but using the original Target design to make them look familiar... if you see what I mean.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Blake's Kingdom - the theme park experience for all the family!

Being a veteran of the theme park entertainment experience, I'm always on the look out for the latest in days out for all the family. (I'm not really as I'm single and don't get out much but it sounds like a better opening sentence for this post than "I'm a lonely middle-aged man living on his own in the East Midlands...") 

Theme parks need themes. So as Disney announces that it plans a 'Star Wars Land', I've looked back into my extensive archives - a box file next to the gas meter under the stairs - and re-discovered this little foreshadowing of the famed Mickey Mouse company's latest plans.

Behold..... BLAKE'S KINGDOM!!

(Inspired by a tweet by Mr. C Hickman.) 

Further posts about Terry Nations's Blakes's 7 can be found by clicking on these handy links's.

Blake's 7 - The Virgin New Adventures

The Blake's 7 Dinosaur Book

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Come Back Mrs Noah on BBC DVD (and VHS!)

There are some TV shows that are still crying out for a DVD release. One of these is the sadly maligned 70s sitcom 'Come Back Mrs Noah'.

From the writers of 'Are You being Served?' - Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft - the show was a starring vehicle for Mollie Sugden. She played an ordinary British housewife who - after winning a national cookery competition - finds herself trapped on a British space station as it blasts off into Earth orbit. It also featured Donald Hewlett and Michael Knowles from 'It Ain't 'Alf Hot Mum' and Ian Lavender from 'Dad's Army'. There was also early roles for 'Allo Allo's Gordon Kaye (as a newsreader) and Vicki Michelle

It's never been released commercially or, indeed, been repeated. This is probably because it was a huge flop at the time of its original broadcast - garnering poor ratings and reviews. Clips appear with alarming regularity on TV shows about the worst TV ever - often out of context so the viewer is given little opportunity to make their own mind up. 

During the halcyon days of the BBC releasing everything and its aunty on VHS and DVD, I had hoped it might slip through - on the heels of its illustrious predecessors like 'Are You Being Served?' and 'Dad's Army'. Sadly this was not the case. 

So this little DVD sleeve here is a little taste of what could've been...

(As a footnote, here's a rare VHS sleeve from the programme's US release back in the 1980s. As was the case with many 'foreign' films and TV shows, 'Come Back Mrs Noah' was heavily re-edited, re-formatted and re-titled into something the producers thought would be more palatable to the American market - a hard hitting sci-fi thriller...)

The Doctor Who Actor Book of Pre-Chosen Short Stories!

A handful of books came our way in the 70s and 80s purporting to be the literary selections of both Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison. Their connection to Doctor Who was tenuous to say the least and seemed to be limited to the name of the actor on the cover and spine of the book. Peter Davison did get his face on the front but they ended up using a still that made him look like a school-kid peeping through one of those 'photo-op' boards you used to find on the pier at Brighton. 

There's been a suggestion that putting the faces of the current Doctor Who cast on the covers of these sort of anthologies might encourage children to read more. But since they ARE reading actual Doctor Who novels by the dozen not too mention the likes of Harry Potter, it all seemed rather redundant and was dropped. 

Friday, 14 August 2015

Doctor Who Target Books available on the London Underground

Are you old enough to recall that time in the late 70s when the Target range of Doctor Who novels shrank by about a quarter of an inch?  Here's why.... 

I remember those cast iron metal machines firmly fixed to the brickwork of the London Underground. These robust fellahs allowed to you purchase pocket-sized bars of Dairy Crunch or boxes of fruit Poppets

You put a coin in the slot and used all your strength to yank open a drawer in which - if you were lucky - was a single bar/box of confectionery. If there wasn't, hard luck... as the nearest member of staff was usually one of the nominees for Surliest Underground Worker of the Year.

Target Books - famous for their burgeoning collection of Doctor Who novelisations - had the idea of using these machines to sell their wares. I mean, who wouldn't want to read the novel of The Web of Fear in the very location in which it is set? 

A test model was constructed and installed on the platform of Covent Garden tube station in 1977. 

Sadly, the project was doomed from the start when it was discovered the books - despite being printed in a more compact form - were still too large to fit in the machine. Further attempts were made to shrink them to the size of a Kit Kat but the whole thing was hastily abandoned. 

The specially printed - and slightly smaller - books were eventually given away as part of a "Doctor Who Book Bonanza" competition the following year. 

And that is why, the Target novelisations' size shrank by several millimetres for a short period of time in 1978. 


Friday, 7 August 2015

The Official Edge of Darkness Annual 1986

Following my announcement of this year's annuals, I was distressed and dismayed - and to be honest completely disinterested - to receive a tweet from one of my loyal Twitter followers - Si Hodges is his name - telling of his disappointment over the fact that there was no 'Edge of Darkness' annual amongst the current crop. 

As I am essentially a 'nice' person, I hate to see my friends upset and set to work on remedying the situation. I spent much time in the loft rummaging about and after several minutes, I came up with this...

Yes, it's not much is it? But then this is the 1980s we are talking about.... (although eagle-eyed readers will probably spot the fact that I used the 1975 Doctor Who annual as partial inspiration for the lay out!)

I'm also indebted to Twitter followers Duncan Steele, Simon Hemsley, Dominator Rago and Wyfan for their helpful suggestions at content for the annual - An 'Escape from Northmoor' maze, "Grow Your Own Black Flowers" etc... £2 Woolworths Star Letter Gift Tokens are winging their way to you through the virtual post*.

*Statement of intent to send out a £2 Woolworths Gift Token to a person is not real and only part of a running gag. Gift Token no longer valid and non-existent. No cash alternative. A joke.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

TV Annuals for 2016 - Now not available from your local bookist!

It's that time of the year when WHSmith clears a huge section of their children's book department to offer up the latest flimsy hardback releases of the current licencing favourites - usually at 'Buy One Get One Half Price'.

After a lengthy consultation process, I can now reveal this year's choice selection of TV-based madness guaranteed to either infuriate you at their lack of availability or thank the Lord that they are completely made up.