More TV Memories – Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy.

Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy (Cartoon Network, 1999-2008)

This is another show that I was introduced to by Cartoon Network, so I thought that I would begin by saying a little more about my memories of watching that digital channel. Almost 20 years ago now (I don’t think I can believe it) in the late-90s when we got OnDigital one of the channels that was part of the package was Cartoon Network.

By this point I had stopped watching CBBC and CITV regularly because I was doing my GCSEs and I felt that it was finally time to leave behind Tots TV and the like and spend more time revising (although I probably did anyway). So Cartoon Network presented a challenge for me. Would it get me back into watching cartoons just as I thought that I had outgrown them?

Then there was the concept of Cartoon Network being a 24-hour channel that showed nothing but cartoons. Having been used to the what was offered by CBBC and CITV for many years, suddenly having the opportunity to watch cartoons all day long, most of which wouldn’t ever be shown on those strands, was rather odd. Cartoons on TV at 9pm? This madness will never last!

But it turned out that taking a look was a very good idea because Cartoon Network introduced me to two of what must be my all-time favourite TV shows that I have already written about on here, Cult Toons and Space Ghost: Coast To Coast, I am still very fond of both because they really did stretch the boundaries of television in such a creative and bizarre way that I have barely seen before or since, and then there was also this enjoyable show. vlcsnap-00518

Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy was a cartoon about the adventures of three boys who all shared the same name. (Edd always wore a hat and was nicknamed “Double D” to help avoid confusion). They were all rather fond of jawbreakers (also known as gobstoppers), and there was also a distinctive animation style where they all seemed to have rather wobbly body parts, along with their strange voices (every episode also contained the word “Ed” in its title) and frequent silly sound effects. There were a few other recurring characters in the show including a boy who always went around with a plank. vlcsnap-00522

I remember that some episodes of Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy were repeated rather regularly on Cartoon Network (another children’s TV concept that I was previously unfamiliar with), and I tried to catch them whenever I could, it did seem to be on TV endlessly for a short while. It seems that some episodes of the show were also released on DVD and there was even a film. Watching a few episodes again recently definitely brought some good memories back. vlcsnap-00531

It seems that Ed, Edd ‘N’ Eddy was one of the more popular and enduring Cartoon Network shows of its era, and it was good to discover that it ran for six series over almost a decade. There are even more great Cartoon Network shows that I want to write about on here including Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls, so look out for those soon.

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More TV Memories – Hotlinks.

Hotlinks (BBC Choice, 2000)

This is a show that I very much doubt anybody will remember watching at the time, but I still want to tell you all about it, and I’ll explain why. A while ago I did a few pieces looking back at the most memorable shows on early digital channel BBC Choice which recently had its 20th anniversary, but there is one that I enjoyed so much I have decided to do a full piece about it.

The scope and scheduling of BBC Choice changed a lot in the 4½ years that it was on air, and in 2000 there was a prime-time strand introduced called Refreshing TV, which featured shows that were 15 minutes long that seemed to be repeated endlessly, and one of these was Hotlinks, which along with various shows on other channels including UK Play and Cartoon Network was definitely up there with my favourites from this era.

Hotlinks was a show that was a guide to all the best things that were currently happening in TV, film, music, the internet and so on, and there was a new edition once a week. What struck me about the show was the way that this was all presented. The host of Hotlinks was a rather glamorous-looking woman called Nomy (I never did find out who the woman who played her was though unfortunately) who described herself as an “infomaniac”, wore a silvery dress and told us everything that we needed to know for that week. vlcsnap-00315

Along with this, there was the virtual reality background which had various changing pictures on it, beeping sound effects, and there was also text constantly scrolling along the screen in an old-fashioned computer typeface. Wow, it’s the year 2000 and we’re in the future now, so for more information on what was featured the show you could even visit the website, whatever will they think of next! vlcsnap-00420

Hotlinks seemed to change its format for the last few editions, turning into more of an European travelogue, before ending after about six months, never to be seen on the TV or referenced by anybody else again. The show also used a lot of of-its-time computing/internet terminology, with most editions featuring Nomy saying “your Hotlinks connection has now timed out” before closing her eyes and the show ending with no credits at all (except for “© BBC MM”). vlcsnap-00422

Hotlinks seemed to be presented as if Nomy actually was the internet or the world wide web, a sort of search engine in human form. Probably not that surprisingly there is almost nothing about the show online, but I feel lucky to have seen it, I think that it’s my favourite BBC Choice show of them all, and to realise that this is almost two decades ago now is just extraordinary. vlcsnap-00517

Adam is logging off now…

More TV Memories – CatDog.

CatDog (Nickelodeon, 1998-2004)

I thought that it was about time for another cartoon review. This is a show that although it was originally shown on Nickelodeon, I remember watching it on Channel 4 as part of the children’s shows strand during weekends and school holidays in the late-90s (I’m fairly sure it wasn’t ever shown on CBBC or CITV). CatDog is a cartoon with an idea that is so bizarre even Cow And Chicken seems straightforward by comparison, which was once described by Radio Times as “janus-faced jocularity with the cartoon chimera”. Er, right…

CatDog are brothers that are somewhat inseparable, although they can’t really help it, because they are conjoined, with the cat (voiced by Jim Cummings) at one end, and the dog (voiced by Tom Kenny of SpongeBob SqaurePants fame) who had a big purple nose at the other, they live in what appears to be a rocket and they struggle to get along. But wait, where does all the poop go? That’s some kind of living hell, that’s some kind of living hell, Brian! Er, excuse me… vlcsnap-00046

So of course, everywhere that they went, the other one would be with them, and whatever one was up to, the other one would inevitably interfere and cause chaos. It definitely comes across as another one of those cartoons where one of the main characters is stupid, and the other one is stupider. Every edition featured two stories and watching a few again recently made me realise that they were usually guaranteed to go off in a rather odd direction. vlcsnap-00054

There were a few other regular characters in CatDog including Winslow the mouse, Rancid Rabbit, and The Greasers, a group of dogs who were always irritating CatDog. There were also various other animals featuring that were rather odd-looking colours which reminded me of that other cartoon Doug a little. Also among the cast to provide some of the voices was Billy West of The Ren And Stimpy Show fame among many other cartoons. vlcsnap-00151

I think that CatDog was also shown regularly on Nickelodeon in the early-2000s when I had access to that channel on ITV Digital. Four series were made but none of them have been released on DVD in this country, and there was also a computer game made. And well, it’s yet another of those bizarre shows that once you see it, you never forget it. You definitely can’t confuse it with anything else on TV.

Game Show Memories – Pointless Celebrities.

Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 2011-present)

One of my favourite game shows from the past decade has been Pointless, and it eventually became popular enough with viewers for there to be an inevitable spin-off celebrity series hosted by Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman. There have now been so many editions of this series it seems that just about everyone from every field of fame has had a go at facing the questions, but I wanted to focus on one particular edition.

If you are a regular visitor to this blog you might remember my story about when I went mildly giddy about the reformation of Bananarama. And having enjoyed a lot of 80s pop music and game shows, I wondered if the two things could be combined. I don’t mean Never Mind The Buzzcocks because that’s more of a comedy panel game, I mean a show where they were being asked proper quiz questions and playing for prizes. vlcsnap-00001

So I was very pleased when I remembered that Sara and Keren from Bananarama appeared as a team on a music-themed edition of Pointless Celebrities in November 2013 (which is before the reunion was announced). Their opponents were Ali Campbell and Mike Rutherford, Sandie Shaw and Sheila Ferguson, and Ritchie Neville and Scott Robinson from Five. How would they get on? vlcsnap-00002

The first round was about films that have a colon in their title. Sara and Keren both give correct answers that score 27 points and they progress through to the next round. Alexander did acknowledge that they had known one another since they were four years old and indeed they seem to be so close that they even gave answers that scored the same amount of points. Ali and Mike were eliminated. vlcsnap-00003

The second round was about female athletes who won a medal for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics. Again Sara and Keren both give correct answers to progress to the next round with a score of 55, but then there’s an odd moment which I think has only happened about three or four times in the entire run of Pointless. The opposing teams give so many incorrect answers that they actually have to abandon the question and they are asked about something different for the tiebreaker. Well Richard didn’t know where to look! Sandie and Sheila are eventually eliminated. vlcsnap-00004

We are now into the third round where it’s Sara and Keren against Ritchie and Scott in the best-of-three. The first question is about David Bowie singles and the ladies win this one by a comfortable margin of 4-70. Question two is about Dr Suess books, but they give a wrong answer here so it’s now one each. The third and deciding question is on Strictly Come Dancing which they win 3-73 so they are into the final! vlcsnap-00005

And of course as Sara and Keren have made the final they win the almost coveted Pointless trophy! Who needs a Brit Award when you’ve got this! Now they have won something for themselves, they’ll be playing for the star prize of £2,500 for charity. There are a choice of four categories and they choose France. Can they get the pointless answer at the crucial time? They decide to choose some African countries that have French as an official language. Will it go all the way? Their best-performing answer scores only one point, oh they were so close! Despite this disappointment it was still great seeing them take part. vlcsnap-00006

More TV Memories – Bid Best Bits – Part 8.

I know I am still going on about Bid TV almost five years after it closed down now, but this month is also the 18th anniversary of the launch, so I thought that I would take a look back at yet another memorable moment that made this channel worth watching for me. By its very nature Bid TV had to be a live channel, this meant that there was the potential for things to often go wrong, and this would be dealt with in various ways. vlcsnap-00730

Sometimes the phonelines would go down, or the graphics would fail, meaning nothing could be sold. In the early days, to fill the gap they used to show a sequence on a loop featuring Andy Hodgson telling us how to bid, along with a couple of trails (which were usually the “well done Hazel that looks like!” or “Simon, bid again, Simon!” ones that were so awesome that I think they deserve an individual review at some point). vlcsnap-00003

Later on they would usually fill the time by showing some of the infomercials from the likes of Screenshop that often turned up after Bid TV had closed for the night including No Wet Wonder Foam and the classic with the juicer starring “a thousand-year-old man in a leotard” as Andy Hodgson always called him (“a whole apple?”). And in later years, they would just keep the presenter live on air, and I remember some having to fill for about 30 or 40 minutes and simply keep talking while things were sorted out behind the scenes. vlcsnap-00002

There was another way that Bid TV would have technical problems, but this time it would be beyond their control. On about three or four occasions they had a major powercut, which not only took all their channels off the air, but also made the website go down too. You can imagine just how frustrating this must have been for them, and the presenters probably had to stand there in the dark studio wondering if they would ever get back on air before the end of the night. vlcsnap-00731

When they did eventually return though, which sometimes could take up to three or four hours, it would be worth watching simply because it would be total chaos, and they would have to wait for all of the technology to be ready and working again, so there would be the wrong graphics on the screen, sound faults, lights going out, random cuts to colour bars, and most of the time the presenters seemingly had no idea what item was coming next because the schedule was all over the place. It still wouldn’t stop some viewers from trying to phone in and buy though! vlcsnap-00001

The YouTube Files – A rather strange 80s music video.

When I started this blog, it was so I could mostly go on about old cartoons and game shows that people might have enjoyed like I did when I was younger. But recently I have decided to try and discover a little more about 80s pop music and share it on here. This includes watching the Top Of The Pops repeats from 1986 on BBC4, and listening to Sounds Of The 80s on BBC Radio 2, and Forgotten 80s on Absolute 80s.

Recently a song was played on Forgotten 80s that I was pleased to hear again, not just because it’s one of my favourite hit singles from that decade, but it reminded me that it had a pioneering and somewhat odd music video. I have always enjoyed videos that have been rather creative and used computer graphics and strange effects, perhaps the most famous example of this from the 80s is “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel, but I decided to track down this equally fascinating other video on YouTube and review it here.

“Hyperactive!” by Thomas Dolby originally entered the singles chart in January 1984 where it reached no. 17, but I remember the video first caught my attention after a remix entered the chart almost exactly a decade later in 1994. Even though I think I only saw it about once or twice on TV at the time it must have made an impact with me as I’ve never forgotten it. vlcsnap-00001

How do you make a good music video? You’ve got just four minutes to create a memorable masterpiece that will get shown endlessly on the TV and stand out among the others. It seems that in the 80s this mostly consisted a lot of bluescreen technology, and making people stand in a white void for days on end, as special effects were added around them. Although it could probably be bettered in about five minutes at home now, “Hyperactive!” definitely made the most of what was available at the time. vlcsnap-00002

I suppose the first thing that struck me about the video was the idea where there was a cube on Dolby’s head with his face on it, and to show his changing facial expressions, he tore a page off the front which had a different face underneath. The other very bizarre image that really stayed with me was when a tinier version of Dolby was on his own hand who played the trombone through his nose. Even he began to look rather confused by this point. vlcsnap-00005

There were also lots of visual effects such as flipping the picture round, split-screen and so on, I wonder how many computers had smoke pouring out the back of them by the end of all this. There is then a moment that I have seen a lot of people describe as “nightmare fuel” where Dolby is holding a ventriloquist’s dummy with his own face that performs the end of the song. vlcsnap-00009

Oh, and his head explodes at the end, I nearly forgot to say that.

But wait… because there’s more! There was also a 12″ version of “Hyperactive!”, and a video made for this too, which contained about an extra minute of equally odd moments, and it’s no surprise that the video was nominated for some awards. Dolby had lots of other hit singles in the 80s and I should check those out too (“SCIENCE!” and all that), and in more recent years it seems that he has become an innovator in how to use modern computer technology to create music. vlcsnap-00012

I might take a look at some more of my favourite music videos soon.

A Return To The Mysterious World Of Danielle Dax.

As it’s the 60th birthday of Danielle Dax (yes, really), I thought that I would take the opportunity to have another look at her interesting career. Think of this piece as a sort-of deluxe extended version of the one that I did on here about a year ago, as I have found out some more things. Although it won’t ever be 100% comprehensive, I have tried to put together some more information that is worth sharing about Danielle’s TV appearances and magazine interviews in the 80s and early-90s. new

pre-1983: Danielle started her music career in a group called The Lemon Kittens who made three albums, “Spoonfed And Writhing” (1979), “We Buy A Hammer For Daddy” (1980), and “The Big Dentist” (1982). The earliest magazine interview that I have found with Danielle is from Sounds as early as January 1981. She then decided to launch a solo career…

1983: Around this time Danielle performed regularly at the Batcave club in London, and in June she was featured in an article in No. 1 magazine checking out the current goth scene. dax2

In October Danielle appeared on BBC2’s Riverside‘s Halloween special in what I presume is her first TV appearance to perform “Pariah”. When I found this on YouTube I was very surprised by her striking look of heavy make-up and bright red waist-length hair. It was a remarkable moment, and it is definitely one of my favourite songs by her. When I searched for Danielle on the BBC Genome, this was her earliest mention. I thought that it was good for her to get a namecheck in Radio Times.

I then found the page on a Twitter account that uploads old Radio Times pages, and I was very surprised to discover that there was also a picture of Danielle. Radio Times was Britain’s biggest-selling magazine at this time, I never expected her to feature. I even went so far as to buy this Radio Times online, and then I scanned the picture to feature in my first piece. I still get pleased when I see it appear in an online image search for Danielle, hopefully seeing the picture has brought more people wanting to find out about her career to my site. Also in this year Danielle’s first solo album “Pop-Eyes” was released. vlcsnap-00067

1984: Danielle appeared in horror film The Company Of Wolves (shown on BBC2 in December 1993 and November 1997, and BBC1 in September 1996), it was a shame that she wasn’t in more films, as it was a memorable performance. In November Danielle had what I’m fairly sure is her one and only reference in Smash Hits. There is a video on YouTube of Danielle performing “Bed Caves” in Holland, I’m not sure what year it’s from but it seems to be from around this time. In December Danielle performed “Hammerheads” on Channel 4’s The TubeAlso in this year her second solo album “Jesus Egg That Wept” was released. vlcsnap-00014

1985: Some more of Danielle’s TV appearances have turned up on YouTube since my last piece. Firstly, a performance of “Evil Honky Stomp” on TV in Norway… vlcsnap-00413

…and a performance of “Yummer Yummer Man” on TV in France. She definitely travelled around the world a lot. Danielle was also interviewed in NME, although I’m fairly sure that she never appeared on the cover of a music magazine in the UK, but she did also feature in a few fanzines. vlcsnap-00019

1986: There is a video on YouTube of Danielle’s concert at a small club in Switzerland, featuring performances of “Evil Honky Stomp”, “Hammerheads”, and “Pariah”. The compilation album “Up Amongst The Golden Spires” was also released in this year. vlcsnap-00015

In November Danielle was interviewed in No. 1 magazine talking about her spooky observations on life. So there was a picture of Danielle in No. 1 but not Smash Hits? Maybe No. 1 wasn’t such a bad magazine after all. dax1

1987: I thought that I would try and find out the exact date of when Danielle’s concert at the Camden Palace in September 1985 was shown on TV (as part of the Live From London series). It seems that it was planned to be shown on LWT in May at 1am just before closedown, but then it was postponed (I’m not sure why), and it was eventually shown in June (only in the LWT region I think). It has been released on DVD. There is also an hour-long concert of Danielle in Tokyo that was shown on Japanese TV online. Another compilation album “The Chemical Wedding” was released. vlcsnap-00025

Danielle never appeared on BBC1’s Top Of The Pops, but in July her video for “Big Hollow Man” was shown on The Chart Show on Channel 4, along with some facts that insisted that Danielle was huge in Japan. The video was also featured on the Indie Chart but it wasn’t played. She also performed this on TV in Germany. Also in this year Danielle’s third solo album “Inky Bloaters” was released. vlcsnap-00606
In December Danielle appeared on ITV’s Night Network to review the latest singles along with snooker star Steve Davis. I found an interview online where Danielle was asked what it was like to meet Steve, and she said that he was great, and he also phoned her granddad to say hello which made his day. Well my life was definitely enhanced for learning that piece of information. vlcsnap-00018

1988: In April the video for “Cathouse” was featured on The Chart Show‘s Indie Chart and Chart File Update (it was also Single Of The Week in Sounds). This led to more interviews in various magazines including Record Mirror and NME (with a picture in colour!). “Cathouse” is also Danielle’s most viewed video on YouTube with about 356,000 views. Another compilation album “Dark Adapted Eye” was also released. vlcsnap-00065

1989: It seems that around this time Danielle was beginning to be pushed in the American market a little more, and she signed to a major label. An article appeared about her in Billboard magazine where she was described as “one woman with the imaginative bravery to break loose”.

In April the video to “White Knuckle Ride” was played on The ITV Chart Show‘s Indie Chart. This video was the first time that I came across Danielle’s music while I was watching some old clips of The ITV Chart Show on YouTube, and I presumed that as much as I liked the song she was just some random here today/gone tomorrow indie woman trying to have a go, but it turned out that I was totally wrong about that. vlcsnap-00022

In July Danielle was interviewed by the computer on Channel 4’s Star Test. Although she was often portrayed as somewhat eccentric and mysterious (as Radio Times memorably put it), many people have commented that on this show she does come across as rather sensible and grounded, offering some interesting answers. I’m not really sure what motivated her to take part (apart from having a single to promote of course), but I’m glad she did. vlcsnap-00002

1990: A video was made for “Tomorrow Never Knows”, a cover of The Beatles song (I don’t know if this one was shown on The ITV Chart Show though). Also in this year Danielle’s fourth and final solo album “Blast The Human Flower” was released, which might have been a final attempt to have some commercial success. However, despite good reviews from critics the album seemed to fall into the Catch-22 of being too unusual to be mainstream, but too mainstream to be unusual. vlcsnap-00052

1991: I couldn’t find much for this year, apart from a few concert pictures, and a magazine article about Danielle visiting a radio station in America where she was described as a “sultry siren”. Unfortunately, this was around the time that Danielle left the music business, despite much praise from critics and fans, her hard work over the past decade and unique approach to music had brought her no hits. There isn’t much known about what she did next, even her official website has little information about her career post-1991, but here’s a few things that I have found out.

post-1991: Danielle’s most high-profile release since “Blast The Human Flower” has been the 1995 best-of “Comatose Non-Reaction”, which was released on her own record label Biter Of Thorpe. Isn’t it about time that all her albums were re-released in a big nice shiny boxset? I’d buy it. Away from music, Danielle has worked as a home and garden designer, and in May 1997 she appeared on BBC2’s Home Front and won their design competition. This edition hasn’t turned up on YouTube, I would very much like to see it, if anyone does upload it I will be your friend.

Also around the late-90s there were various shows about home design on ITV including Des Res and Our House, and it seems that Danielle might have contributed to these too (again I think these were only shown in the Carlton/LWT region), along with various magazine articles about her design work. I have also seen people say that Danielle was on the team of various TV makeover shows including BBC1’s Changing Rooms and ITV1’s 60 Minute Makeover, but again I don’t know if that’s right.

This all leads to when I found an article online about Danielle doing a small-time gig (her first for a very long time) about a year or two ago at a club in Dalston in London, which is only about a mile from where I live, I was very surprised to say the least. The article also featured some pictures of Danielle on stage, the first that I’ve seen of her for about 25 years, and she now seems to have bright blue hair and big red lips, and I couldn’t help but think that she looked like Stormer from 80s cartoon Jem

daxnow

You’ll never believe what Danielle Dax looks like now!

I should conclude by saying that I have noticed that many people still seem to have a lot of admiration and fondness for Danielle’s work, and although I only really discovered her myself about a year or two ago, I can clearly see why. And the amount of times that I’ve seen people say “she should’ve been bigger than Madonna” and regret that it didn’t work out for her is remarkable. Thanks for lots of great memories!