It’s time for a look at what I’ve achieved on this blog so far in 2019. I thought for a change that I would do this at the halfway point of the year, because I have found out more information about some of the pieces that I have done, and I felt that I couldn’t sit on it for the next six months. And well, there’s no doubt for me about what has been the highlight of the year so far.
This was the news of the reunion of the chart-topping duo Shakespear’s Sister. I thought that they would never get back together, but last year it was announced that they had reconciled after 25 years apart which was unlikely enough, and then this year they caused a surprise by revealing that they had made some new songs and were going to tour the UK. Well, to put it mildly, I couldn’t believe it.
In May Siobhan and Marcella performed together on TV for the first time since December 1992. It’s fair to say that the response from viewers was mixed, but I’m sure that they will rehearse, gain in confidence, and the tour will be a great experience for everyone, I’ll always stand by them. But it’s not just seeing a new music video which is remarkable, it’s also seeing them interviewed in magazines, seeming to be comfortable in each other’s company again, and hugging on TV, I never thought that I would see the day. It really is the feelgood story of the year.
I recently reviewed the The Kid, shown on CBBC from 1987-1988. I decided to review this because I thought that there should be more about it online and it had a very short run on TV. Although I enjoyed it I didn’t know anything about the cast, but I presumed that they were proper actors who must have come from somewhere, so I did some research on them, and the results were rather interesting.
Firstly, I looked for some information about Steve Fairnie who played the lead role in The Kid, and it seems that he had a rather fascinating career, he doesn’t come across as the first person who would star in a zany children’s TV show. This is because he was primarily a musician, he released his first album in 1975, he was in various New Wave/Synthpop bands, including Writz (who made some TV appearances around 1979/1980), and he was also an artist.
Steve was also in Techno Twins, along with his wife Bev Sage, and in 1982 they had a minor hit single with their version of “Falling In Love Again”. He also had a rather striking look that could best be described as a New Romantic Charlie Chaplin. And there is a video online of Steve talking about The Kid and his career to Mick Robertson (best known for co-hosting CITV’s Magpie) on The Children’s Channel.
From what I’ve read about Steve he comes across as a entertainingly extrovert and multi-talented man, and no less a figure than Simon Mayo called him “one cool dude”. Steve Fairnie died suddenly in February 1993, he was 42 years old. It was really odd to discover that he died so long ago, I was only nine at the time. I would hope that over 25 years on from his death Steve would be pleased that I discovered his TV show (along with some of his music) and very much enjoyed it, he really was a one-off.
Also appearing the The Kid was Debbie Linden. Again, I didn’t know anything about her career, and I discovered that she was also a rather unlikely children’s TV personality. She was a glamour model, she also appeared in various TV shows in the early-80s including Are You Being Served? and 3-2-1, and it seems that she usually played the stereotypical “dumb blonde” role. Her story doesn’t have a happy ending, I read that she was rather troubled in her later years, and had a rather grim demise. Debbie died in October 1997, age 36. Realising that half the cast of The Kid are long gone definitely put a different perspective on watching the show again, but its “comic come to life” style reminded me of the more successful CITV show Zzzap!, and it definitely deserves to be better known.
A while ago I was having a look at some editions of TV Times that I have from the 80s, wondering if there were any shows that were before my time but I knew enough about them to be worthy of a review. One of these was Hold Tight, a CITV show that was originally hosted by Bob Carolgees, and one of the later series was co-hosted by Peter Simon (now I know that nowadays he seems to be making a fool of himself on increasingly small-time shopping channels, but I am still fond of a lot of his TV work).
The final series of Hold Tight was hosted by Barbie Wilde. Now again, this was someone that I didn’t really know anything about, but I discovered she has had an interesting career too. I found her website which features lots of pictures of her with some of the pop stars she interviewed on the show including The B-52s and Cliff Richard, and as well as being a children’s TV presenter in the 80s, she was appearing in horror films, and was also a host on ITV’s Night Network.
Now I enjoyed discovering all of this, and she seemed to be an interesting personality. So I decided to raise the stakes a little. If this really is someone who I would be a fan of, I thought wouldn’t it be great if she made a synthpop single in the 80s where she had blue hair in the video, because it seems that I am really fond of that type of thing, I don’t demand much, do I. And well… I wasn’t disappointed.
Although it wasn’t a hit, I did enjoy “Phantom Lady”, and that’s when I realised this was definitely someone I should find out more about, and I tracked her down on Twitter and followed her. I discovered that Barbie was also in a music/dance group called Shock that included Tik And Tok, they made a few songs and appeared on CITV’s Razzmatazz in 1982. I also looked for more on YouTube, and I found a video that Barbie appears in alongside… Bev Sage, wife of the aforementioned Steve Fairnie. How about that!
My most viewed blog piece of the year so far is something of a surprise. It’s my second look back at the career of Danielle Dax, someone who really pushed the musical boundaries in the 80s. It has already surpassed the record for the most number of a views a piece has had in a year with six months remaining. I always thought that this would be one of my more niche pieces, so I am very pleased that it has done so well. I don’t intend the piece to be the definitive word on her, but I did enjoy putting it together as it’s a story worth telling, it seems that there are more fans of hers out there than I ever realised which is terrific. I also found a podcast from about a year ago where Danielle is interviewed for over an hour about her career. She’s still out there somewhere…
Other things I have enjoyed reviewing this year include the children’s TV shows Captain Zep Space Detective, Chockablock, How Dare You! (Carrie Grant is another one who I didn’t realise appeared on CITV in the 80s), The Telebugs, Teletubbies, and Tricks And Tracks (it was a pleasure to be reacquainted with Albie The Robot). Comedies I have reviewed include Faith In The Future, Girls On Top, the recently rediscovered Hardwicke House, Home To Roost, Out Of This World, and Six Pairs Of Pants. I have also enjoyed reviewing more game shows, soaps, and adverts.
The plan is simply to continue with more pieces. Lots more reviews of game shows, sitcoms, and so on are planned to come. And as I come toward my fifth anniversary of doing this, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank people for your interest, wherever you are, especially those who have liked, commented, and spread the word. It’s good to know you enjoy my nostalgic memories.