The Steve Fairnie Story – Part 2.

…let’s continue the look back at the career of Steve Fairnie… steve2

1984: The Technos released “Nightime Heaven”, a great Synthpop song that reached no. 97 in March. They also released the single “The Spirit Of The Thing”. Also, Steve was involved in the making of the board game Hype, which was about “all the slime and grime of the music business”. Can you form a band, and take them from playing pubs to getting a record deal, making a single, and topping the chart? Hype came with a free 12″ single of The Technos’ theme for the game, but I don’t know if you had to play it while you were playing the game though. hype

1985: The Technos released the album “Foreign Land”. A remix of “Falling In Love Again” was released as a single, an update which showed just how much pop music had changed in the few years since it was originally a hit. “Foreign Land” was also re-released as a single, and it had some success on the US Hot Dance Club Play Chart. I’m not sure what genre you could class their music as (Gospel Synthpop? Techno Swing?) but I have enjoyed a lot of their songs. techno1

1986: Steve’s career took an unlikely swerve when he starred in the children’s TV show The Kid. This was a sketch show that contained no dialogue, and 13 five-minute long episodes were made. I wonder if it was an influence on the similar and much more successful “a comic coming to life” show Zzzap! that launched on CITV in 1993. I must say that Steve didn’t come across as the first person who would be a zany children’s TV personality, but his performance (and the distinctive red streak in his hair) along with the rest of the cast was very enjoyable. The Kid was co-created, co-written, and co-directed by David G Rose, who directed the “Falling In Love Again” video, and he also directed Danielle Dax’s 1985 concert that was shown on ITV and released on DVD, and her 1987 video for “Big Hollow Man”. How about that. vlcsnap-01290

1987: In March The Kid was shown on CBBC for the first time, as part of the afternoon strand The Album, which earned Steve a few namechecks in Radio Times. The Kid was also shown on The Children’s Channel in the early days of satellite TV. Steve appeared on that channel to promote The Kid, which was shown as part of the Roustabout strand with Mick Robertson, best known for hosting ITV’s Magpie. Steve promised viewers that there would be “very silly noises”. vlcsnap-01296

Also, rather curiously, some footage that wasn’t shown on TV from the interview is online, mostly consisting of Steve and Mick staring into space waiting for their cue as someone fiddled with a clapperboard. In June Steve and Bev were interviewed in the American magazine Billboard, where their music was described as “they aren’t your average anything“. vlcsnap-01292

1988: The final The Technos album (and Steve’s eighth and final album 13 years on from his first) “Songs For A Nervous World” was released. The Kid was also repeated on BBC1 in the summer, this time in a Saturday Morning slot, but I’m fairly sure that it hasn’t been shown on TV since, and there’s been no DVD release. After this, Steve turned away from making music, although he remained a keen supporter of Greenbelt (a Christian music festival that he first performed at in 1974), because, put it this way, he wasn’t an atheist. Steve now focused on his painting and lecturing work. vlcsnap-00009

post-1988: Steve died suddenly in February 1993, the day after his 42nd birthday. Hundreds attended his funeral, and his obituary was published in The Independent. It seems that he was a popular and influential figure in the music business, Simon Mayo said that he was “one cool dude”. It was rather odd to discover his work and realise that it has been over 25 years since he has gone, but it really was a fascinating career that deserves to be better known. There is also a comprehensive website about his work that preserves his legacy. But the story doesn’t end there, and it now takes a very bizarre twist… vlcsnap-00011

In April 2016, 23 years on from his death, there was “This Is Not A Rehearsal”, a celebratory retrospective of the artwork of Steve. This was held at a gallery in east London, which is very close to where I live! Among those who attended was Bev Sage (who, remember, is “Queen Of The Rapping Scene”) who has had a lot of success as an artist herself. So that’s the most high-profile celebration and reappraisal of his life and career since his funeral. And it happened less than half a mile from where I live. It was very odd to discover all this. Why here of all places? Why do these coincidences happen so often? Either way, it was good to know lots of people still think fondly of him. vlcsnap-00004

The year so far.

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. 2019

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. ss1

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. ss2

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. vlcsnap-01292

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. vlcsnap-01293

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. vlcsnap-01296

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. 


Steve Fairnie: 1951-1993.

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. 


Debbie Linden: 1961-1997.

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). vlcsnap-01297

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 Networkvlcsnap-00002

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. vlcsnap-01298

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! vlcsnap-01300

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… dd111

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. vlcsnap-01304

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.

The YouTube Files – The Kid.

The Kid (1986)

One of the reasons I set up this blog was to share memories of TV shows from years ago. These include the famous and popular shows that make a lot of people say “I remember that, it was great”. Then there are the less famous shows that there is little about online that make people say “I don’t really remember that, but it sounds interesting”. Then there are the shows that made such little impact and were so odd the only response can really be “Huh? Did that actually happen?”.

I recently found an example of a show that fits into the third category, and this is the story behind it. I’m sure you know that I like to look at old continuity clips on YouTube, and a while ago I was watching one from BBC1 in the late-80s that featured the end of a children’s show that I don’t remember watching at the time, but it seemed rather interesting, and I was curious to find out more about it.

Then recently, while I was trying to find something else, I discovered that all 13 episodes are on YouTube. They were uploaded by “R4949” (who it seems also worked on the show), so at last I can do a review. The Kid was a dialogue-free series consisting of short comedy sketches (every episode was five minutes long), and the opening sequence resembled the pages of a comic strip coming to life. tk1

The soundtrack featured some funky mid-80s synth music, accompanied by a few groans and squeals. The Kid featured a main cast of four characters who all got caught up in various adventures. They were The Kid, who had a red streak in his hair and a moustache, and drove a small pink car (Steve Fairnie, who also co-created the show), along with The Fat Man (Mike Savage), The Blonde (Debbie Linden), and The Girl (Nikki Brooks). vlcsnap-01261

All of the action happened within a square in the centre of the screen (which sometimes changed shape based on what was happening), and episodes included The Kid trying to organise a party, waiting for a train, trying to take a photograph, having a picnic, and so on. It also seems that his catchphrase (as such) was wiggling his little finger when he finally managed to do something right. vlcsnap-01265

The scheduling of The Kid was also rather curious. It seems that some episodes (dated 1986) were shown on BBC1 at 8:25am on Saturday Mornings in the summer of 1988 (although they are listed as repeats, I can’t find any editions listed on the BBC Genome from earlier than that). The same YouTube account has also put Steve Fairnie being interviewed about The Kid on The Children’s Channel from the early days of satellite TV in 1987, so it seems they were shown on there too. vlcsnap-01263

It could be said that The Kid was a forerunner of similar dialogue-free shows including Mr Bean, but a better comparison would be CITV’s long-running show Zzzap! which launched about seven years later (and if you’re fond of that show, I’d recommend giving this one a go). Whatever the case, it is just so odd to think that this had such a short run on TV, and unsurprisingly it has no Wikipedia entry. Someone must’ve watched it at the time though. Whatever it was all about, I’m glad they did it.