The YouTube Files – Bob Monkhouse On Game Shows.

Bob Monkhouse On Game Shows (Channel 4, 1998)

Following on from my review of Peter Kay’s Let’s Get Quizzical, here’s a look at the other documentary that formed part of a special night dedicated to game shows on Channel 4 in May 1998 which has turned up on YouTube. This one was hosted by Bob Monkhouse who was definitely someone who knew what it takes to put a good game show together, as well as being a big fan of them, he hosted lots throughout his long career including Celebrity Squares, The $64,000 Question, and Bob’s Full House which is one of my all-time favourites.

This hour-long documentary took a look back at six decades of game shows on TV. Although game shows have been on British television since the 1930s, it wasn’t until the launch of ITV in 1955 that cash prizes were given away, so when Double Your Money and Take Your Pick came to the screen they caused a sensation with viewers who could watch ordinary people finally be rewarded with money for their knowledge. Not a huge amount compared to what’s on offer today though of course. vlcsnap-00425

There were also a lot of contributors to the documentary including William G Stewart, who had worked behind the scenes on various successful game shows including Family Fortunes and The Price Is Right before becoming the host of Channel 4’s Fifteen-To-One, and he spoke about how hard it can be to get a format just right, but once you get all the correct elements up and running, it can run for practically years unchanged and still remain popular with viewers. Another thing touched on was how to write questions that are challenging enough to thoroughly test a contestant. vlcsnap-00430

Also contributing were various contestants who have been very successful on game shows over the years including Kevin Ashman (who once scored a remarkable 41 points on Mastermind), Daphne Fowler (who won the first series of Going For Gold) and Trevor Montague who spoke about their experiences of how it felt to become a winner. One thing that those three all have in common is that they have all been series champions of Fifteen-To-One, although Montague was famously later stripped of his trophy. vlcsnap-00435

Bob also took a look at some of the scandals that have happened in game shows, mostly concentrating on the famous one on American TV in the 1950s (indeed, another part of this game show night on Channel 4 was the premiere of the film Quiz Show that was based on the scandal), and how viewers had felt betrayed that a seemingly knowledgeable contestant who caused great excitement on his way to a huge cash prize had been given the questions in advance. quizzes0001

One thing that is interesting looking back at this documentary is that it was shown a short time before Who Wants To Be A Millionaire launched on ITV which really did bring game shows into a new era. 1998 was just about still a time on British TV when if you took part in a show and went home with a four-figure sum you would be fairly happy, restrictions on cash prizes that could be given away had been recently removed, and being able to become a millionaire just by giving a few correct answers was about to become a reality. There is no question that the game show is a genre that is still thriving.

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The YouTube Files – Let’s Get Quizzical.

Let’s Get Quizzical (Channel 4, 1998)

I have written a lot about game shows on this blog, so here’s a variation with a look at a documentary about game shows instead. In May 1998 Channel 4 had a special evening dedicated to game shows, featuring a straightforward documentary looking back at their TV history with Bob Monkhouse, along with a more amusing look at memorable moments with Peter Kay called Let’s Get Quizzical. I recently tracked both shows down on YouTube, and I thought they were interesting enough to be reviewed here.

Firstly, I was amused by the show’s title Let’s Get Quizzical because it reminded me of the time that the UK Game Shows website listed the similarly named Izzy Wizzy Let’s Get Quizzy as an interactive TV game show during the time when that particular genre was very popular, and nobody seemed to notice for a long time that it was actually a non-existent parody. They really should make a game show called that though, shouldn’t they?

Now Peter is a big fan of game shows. Honestly, he’s loved them ever since he was a boy. He still has warm memories of watching lots of them a long time ago with his parents, and he’d always join in with the catchphrases. In fact, Peter is so committed to game shows that he even once watched Cross Wits on Challenge TV, and he then admitted it on this show, right in front of everyone. vlcsnap-00395

But he really still doesn’t understand why they are so popular. Why are the hosts so smarmy? Where do they find the contestants from? And why do they risk putting themselves at the risk of being humiliated for such small prizes in return? Is it because simply people want to appear on TV at whatever cost? Or is it just because they’ve got a funny story that they want to tell the host? vlcsnap-00400

We were then treated to some of the more unusual game show moments from over the years, including some that had been shown rather frequently even by that point, such as Family Fortunes contestants being unable to name a famous Irishman, Ted Rogers on 3-2-1 struggling to explain the complicated rules, Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman laughing at rude words on Countdown, contestants turning down mink coats on Sale Of The Century, Fred Dinenage losing his patience on Gambit, contestants forgetting their glasses on Strike It Lucky, the disorganised chaos of The Golden Shot, and so on. vlcsnap-00397

And of course, one of Peter’s favourite game shows is Bullseye. Even then, Peter had perfected his famous “do you remember watching Bullseye, what were that about?” routine. He would watch every Sunday without fail and loved it. He thought Jim Bowen was marvellous, even when he was rather unconvincing at trying to tell contestants that they should be really pleased to have won the star prize of a speedboat. vlcsnap-00394

This was a fun look back at game shows, and I’ll review the Bob Monkhouse documentary soon as well.

The YouTube Files – The Silly World Of Michael Rosen.

I have always been overawed by celebrities. Although there have been a lot people in showbusiness whose work I have greatly admired over the years, I have never really had any desire to meet any of them in person. I would just find it really odd and it would end up being rather embarrassing.

I do remember one occasion though when I was in the company of a celebrity whose work I was familiar with. It was the time when children’s poet and writer Michael Rosen came to my infant school to tell some of his funny stories. I don’t remember when it was exactly but it must have been around the 1989/1990 mark when I was about six or seven years old, it was great, and he must have performed at just about every infant school in Britain by now.

I didn’t really think much about his work for a long time after that until something odd happened. I was watching some videos on YouTube one day when I noticed one recommended for me featured Michael Rosen, and I thought to myself that I remember that name from somewhere, so maybe I should have a look at some of his videos to find out what he’s up to now.

According to the description in his series of videos, he once wrote a book of poems and stories, but after they went out of print he couldn’t get anyone to publish a new version, so he decided to perform them to a camera and then put the videos on YouTube for people to watch so we were treated to some fun stories, including the sad tale of Harrybo’s granddad, his encounter with The Skyfoogle, his teacher at school who was so strict you weren’t allowed to breathe in her lessons, his dad’s struggle with a hot potato, and of course the time that when he was six he ate a bag of plums. vlcsnap-00384

Now I have a rather odd sense of humour, and one day on YouTube I discovered what are called “poops”, where videos are taken and then edited in various ways to feature rather rude and peculiar jokes. I had always found this kind of thing funny, so I thought that I’d watch some of these, and for some reason the poops of TV shows ChuckleVision and King Of The Hill made me laugh more than any other source that was used. vlcsnap-00388

It was then that I discovered that people had been using Michael’s videos as a source, so I thought I’d take a look. Now when I first watched them, I hadn’t seen many of the videos in their original context, so I wasn’t really sure why he was saying particular things and it was so strange. This along with the odd edits, and the strange video and audio effects making his face look all odd and giving him a silly high-pitched voice made me laugh so much I thought that it was terrific. vlcsnap-00389

There is one rather large problem with all of this though, Michael is fully aware of what has happened to his videos, and in an interview he spoke about the problems of when children wanted to watch his videos, they may instead encounter an edited one with the very rude jokes. He soon realised that there wasn’t much that he could do to stop this, and when he made his second wave of videos, including the one where he told the story of when he got rather overexcited by some chocolate cake, he said he realised what was going to happen. However, these poops have made him more famous in America, and he seems to have earned himself a rather large fanbase in Pennsylvania. vlcsnap-00391

Another element of this is just how popular these videos have become. Every year people are invited to take part in a collaboration to edit Michael’s videos which is then uploaded to YouTube on his birthday on 7 May, and some of those have lasted up to three hours. And just about every TV appearance by Michael has now been used as a source, including his storytelling on CBeebies, and a show that he presented about books on Teachers’ TV, a little-watched channel which only seemed to be on Freeview rather late at night a decade ago.

Some of these videos have had a huge response, including a rather odd one called “Michael Rosen Saying ‘Nice’ 1,364,546,901 Times” which has had millions of views, along with the also very popular performance of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”, and “Michael Rosen Embarrasses Himself On Pointless” has also been a big success. As Michael would say himself I’m sure, “fantastic”.

The Review Of The Year.

We’ve just about come to the end of my third year of doing this blog, and I have brought you over 130 new pieces in 2017 sharing more memories of various things, what a year it’s been, here are some of my highlights. First of all, I remember saying around the end of April that I had plenty more to tell you about, and then I didn’t do a piece for the whole of May. Sorry about that! But whenever I do get a good idea that I want to share I always enjoy bringing them to you on here. year

I reviewed some more game shows. These included me trying to defend Channel 4’s Cheap Cheap Cheap which was so obviously was going to be a big ratings flop from the moment it was announced but I tried to convince people that it wasn’t that bad really. I also had a look at some American versions of British game shows. There aren’t that many more game shows left to review now. 

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Barry pretends that he knows what’s happening in Cheap Cheap Cheap

Also this year we lost some great TV figures who had contributed a lot to game shows over the years. This included Bruce Forsyth who I paid a special tribute to when I looked back at his remarkable career, William G Stewart who hosted Channel 4’s Fifteen-To-One for almost 16 years, a show that I have written about a lot on here, and Keith Chegwin, who featured in my review of BBC1’s Happy Families, when he was the special celebrity guest who cranked up those grannies. 

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The much-missed Cheggers gets ready to do some granny cranking

I also looked back at some more comedy and children’s TV shows. Along with game shows, these are my three favourite TV genres, and there are plenty more sitcoms and cartoons still to review. I have also enjoyed writing about forgotten TV shows that I have found on YouTube including Atlantis High and The Preventers, plus the final episodes of various soaps. My most viewed piece that I wrote this year was on BBC1’s game show Winning Lines, with CBBC’s sketch show Stupid in second place. I was enjoying talking about TV on here, but then this blog went off in a different direction when something rather remarkable happened… 

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Atlantis High was great, honest

I know have gone about it a lot but when I discovered that pop group Bananarama decided to reform after they became friends again during a party in Bethnal Green which is where I live in London I was very surprised. When I discovered that the reason that Keren and Sara were here was because they at Siobhan’s house in Bethnal Green, I was shocked. Sara also mentioned this in an interview with Classic Pop magazine! I had recently been thinking about whatever happened to Siobhan when I remembered that it was the 25th anniversary of her massive chart-topping single “Stay”, and to discover that we lived so close to one another completely stunned me. 

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Sorry, what?!

This made me realise how much of an impact pop music has had on my life and I decided that I wanted to write about it more on here, something that I never thought I would have the confidence or ability to do just a few years earlier before I started all this. I realised that I was rather fond of women pop stars in the 80s and 90s who didn’t play the game so to speak, ones who wrote all of their songs, had a very distinctive image, weren’t manufactured and liked to be in control of their career, which seemingly led to constant bickering with their record labels.

I wrote about solo singers that I remember from the early-90s such as Betty Boo and Cathy Dennis, and I also wanted to find out more about Danielle Dax, and when I finally tracked down some information about her, I just thought she was terrific, to the extent that I bought the DVD of her concert. Although I said there seems to be little about what happened to Danielle post-1991 online, I did later discover that she performed a very low-key gig (also her first in over a decade) earlier this year at a club in Dalston, which again is very near where I live. Wow. I also got a good reply to the piece thanking me for telling her story. It’s not too late to make her a star, is it? 

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walking sick sick they walking the town

I also realised that I seem to have a fondness for female duos who probably couldn’t stand one another, leading them to go their separate ways in rather bitter circumstances. Along with Shakespear’s Sister (I even went so far as to review the time that they were imitated on Stars In Their Eyes!), I also looked back at Alisha’s Attic, Strawberry Switchblade, and Shampoo. It was great finding clips of their TV appearances on YouTube, magazine covers, and listening to their hits, they were all very charismatic and entertaining. I was surprised to discover Alisha’s Attic’s first attempt at pop stardom in the 1980s with a song that was described as “a wretched hi-NRG abomination” by Record Mirror. Well, we’ve all got to start somewhere. I also looked back at the group Fuzzbox. I was rather surprised when I tracked down their Twitter account because it seems that I have more followers. I’m more famous than Fuzzbox? How can that be possible?! 

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They had a Fuzzbox and they liked to use it

Next year I plan to look back at lots more pop stars including Bananarama, but as they had about 30 hit singles it will take a while to put together, and I was really pleased when I got a reply from someone on one of the Shakespear’s Sister pieces saying that they went to one of the Bananarama reunion concerts and they also met the ladies after and they were great, it really is brilliant to know how well received the tour was by fans. I also bought the special editions of their first six albums featuring two CDs of songs and a DVD of music videos and TV appearances. 

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Yes they did, didn’t they!

Finally, I’d like to thank you for your continued support. My blog has had over 30,000 views in 2017 which is a new record for most views in a year, and your interest is the reason why I didn’t stop doing this after three days. It’s been a great experience and I hope you’ll look forward to what’s still to come. Whatever you’re doing, I hope you have an enjoyable 2018.

The YouTube Files – The Spooky World Of Shakespear’s Sister Part 3.

I wondered what Siobhan and Marcella had been up to in the years after “I Can Drive”, so here is the third part of the story of Shakespear’s Sister taking us from 1997 up to the present day. Both ladies are still in the music business and have separately released a lot more albums, although they have had a much lower profile, and it seems that most of Siobhan’s TV appearances in the past 20 years have been contributions to nostalgic documentaries looking back at 1980s pop music, although she has done a lot of other interesting things including songwriting, acting, DJing, even some modelling, and there is plenty more to discover, so let’s find out what happened next. s11

1997: After bringing the Shakespear’s Sister project to an end for the first time, Siobhan went off to do something a little different, by doing some straight acting in the short low-budget film Pinned, where she looked remarkably plain and subdued compared to her famous goth image from five years earlier. I’ve only seen a trail myself, unfortunately it seems that it didn’t get many positive reviews. vlcsnap-00051

Also in this year Marcella released “Flower”, the final single from the album “Feeler”.

1998: Siobhan reunited with Keren and Sara for the first time since 1988, and it seems that it was also the first time that they had seen one another since the split a decade earlier. They took part in Channel 4’s “A Song For Eurotrash“, a compilation album where various singers performed cover versions of songs made famous by the Eurovision Song Contest, and they contributed their version of Abba’s 1974 winner “Waterloo”. They were also interviewed by Chris Evans on TFI Fridayvlcsnap-00029

Marcella has done some acting too, including appearing in the 1978 Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film, and in this year she appeared in a film called This Town.

1999: Siobhan was interviewed alongside Keren and Sara for BBC2’s Young Guns Go For It, a series that looked back at 1980s pop music, to tell the story of Bananarama. vlcsnap-00105

2001: Marcella released her fourth solo album “Dancing Madly Sideways”. Bananarama were featured on Channel 4’s Top Ten, looking back at successful girl groups, which didn’t feature a contribution from Siobhan, but did from Marcella, who told the story of why the video to “Stay” was banned in Germany. They were also featured in BBC2’s I Love 1982, the year they had their first hit single. Shakespear’s Sister featured in an edition of BBC2’s TOTP2. vlcsnap-00002

2002: Bananarama were featured in yet another pop nostalgia series, ITV1’s Smash!, where Siobhan spoke again about her 80s days. Siobhan also joined Keren and Sara on stage at a London nightclub to perform “Venus” in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their first hit single. It seems that this is the only time they performed live together in the period between the split in 1988 and the reunion in 2017, and it was intended to be a one-off. vlcsnap-00104Siobhan released the single “Bitter Pill” under her own name which just missed the Top 100, and Marcella was the guest vocalist on Aurora’s “The Day It Rained Forever” which reached no. 29. Shakespear’s Sister were featured in BBC1’s It Takes Two, a documentary looking back at pop duos. 

2003: Siobhan appeared as a panellist on BBC2’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and also contributed to a documentary about the 25th anniversary of Smash Hits magazineShakespear’s Sister were featured on TOTP2 again

2004: Siobhan obtained the rights to her rejected third album “#3”, meaning it was finally available to buy eight years after it was made. Also in this year a best-of was released featuring a CD containing all the hits and some extras, plus a DVD of all the great videos and the Russian film. Siobhan appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks again, this time on the Christmas special. bestof0001

Bananarama were featured in a BBC2 documentary looking back at the 20th anniversary of Band Aid. Siobhan also did of a cover version of the Joy Division song “She’s Lost Control”, the video is a little risque to say the least.

2005: A second best-of was released called “Long Live The Queens!”, featuring some B-sides and remixes, along with “The MGA Sessions” album. Siobhan also released the singles “Bad Blood” and “Pulsatron”, which reached no. 95, and the video featured a brief appearance from her old mate Jacquie O’Sullivan. vlcsnap-00008

“Stay” was also included in Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Pop Videos, and Siobhan rerecorded “Venus” which was her chart-topping single in America.

2006: Siobhan rerecorded “Stay” where she performed all the vocals herself. Bananarama were featured in BBC1’s Be My Baby, a documentary about girl groups. By this point Marcella had formed a new band and released the album “The Upside Of Being Down”. Shakespear’s Sister were once again featured on TOTP2.

2009: The Shakespear’s Sister project was revived, with the fourth album “Songs From The Red Room” being released. Siobhan promoted this by being interviewed on ITV1’s Loose Women. She also performed her first gig under the Shakespear’s Sister name for almost 15 years in trendy Hoxton! vlcsnap-00086

2010: Marcella appeared as a contestant on ITV1’s musical contest Popstar To Operastar, where pop singers were challenged to sing in an operatic style. She was knocked out in the penultimate edition, finishing third overall. She also appeared on various shows talking about her career including BBC1’s BreakfastITV1’s Loose Women and The Alan Titchmarch Showand Channel 5’s Live From Studio Fivevlcsnap-00062

Siobhan made a video for the single “It’s A Trip”, again she had a distinctive look and it was great seeing her wear the old makeup again, she’s still got it. This is also my favourite song of hers from this era, I get something of a Goldfrapp/Moloko vibe from it. A limited-edition DVD was released of the videos from this era. Siobhan also went on tour, including a performance at the Isle Of Wight Festival. vlcsnap-00064

In November of this year, “Stay” entered the singles chart again for the first time since 1992 after a new generation was own over by this classic following a memorable performance by Cher Lloyd on ITV1’s The X Factor, it reached no. 12.

2011: The fifth Shakespear’s Sister album “Cosmic Dancer” was released, and a video was made for “Someone Else’s Girl”, which features the lyric “uh-oh, I’m in trouble“, which is a lovely tribute to Shampoo. Siobhan rerecorded “Really Saying Something” to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Bananarama’s first single, and an album of a live concert from 1992 was released, along with “The Red Room Sessions”. She also appeared in the short film What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor.

2012: Two more best-ofs were released called “Rarities” and “Remixes”. Siobhan featured in yet another pop music documentary, BBC2’s I Was In A Girl Band Once. There are a few other videos on YouTube from around this time of Siobhan being interviewed for various websites talking about her careervlcsnap-00023

2013: Two more best-ofs were released both called “The Other Side”. The Shakespear’s Sister project came to an end for a second time, and all the online presence seemed to be removed, including the official website, along with the social media pages. Marcella’s fifth solo album “The Vehicle” was released which included a solo version of “Stay” and she was interviewed on Loose Women again. Later in the year she released a special Christmas album called “For The Holidays”. vlcsnap-00046

2014: Siobhan performed as a guest vocalist with Dexys Midnight Runners at the Glastonbury Festival (nice piece of trivia: Siobhan’s sister Maire played Eileen in the video for Dexys’ transatlantic chart-topper “Come On Eileen”). Shakespear’s Sister were also featured in BBC4’s Goth At The BBC compilation. vlcsnap-00012

In July of this year, Sara from Bananarama tweeted a picture of herself and Keren having a party with Siobhan, and it seems that this meetup was the first step towards their reunion, and Sara stated that her and Keren were round Siobhan’s house in Bethnal Green. Now this is where I live in London, and to say that I was surprised to discover Siobhan almost literally lived down the road from me is an understatement. This is even more odd considering I had read that Siobhan now lived in Los Angeles. Why she swapped LA for the ever-so-slightly less glamorous Bethnal Green I have no idea.

2015: Marcella released her sixth solo album “Grey Matterz”. Also around this time Shakespear’s Sister were featured in a picture clue round on BBC1’s game show Pointless, now there’s a legacy! pointless

2016: When looking for videos on YouTube, I found one that features an extravagantly dressed Siobhan live on stage during a special Halloween concert at a nightclub in Los Angeles. I don’t know if she is into all of this kind of thing, and maybe she does like to do some moonlighting performing burlesque down the pub whilst wearing a basque and fishnet stockings, but either way it was rather surprising. One YouTube comment said that she looked like “Lady Gaga’s grandmother”. vlcsnap-00110

2017: Siobhan announced that she would rejoin Bananarama for a UK tour, the first that they had ever done with the original lineup. They appeared on lots of TV shows to promote this, including BBC1’s The One Show and Breakfast, ITV’s This Morning, and featured in lots of magazines. They also performed “Venus” and “Cruel Summer” on various shows. We better make the most of it, because in one interview that I read, when Siobhan was asked if she would reunite with Marcella, she simply said “it’s certainly not on my agenda at the moment”. It still seems to be very cold between the two ladies 25 years after the split and it’s hugely unlikely that they’ll ever work together again. vlcsnap-00030

The tour has been very well received, it has got many positive reviews from critics and fans have loved it. And it seems that they did perform a special version of “Stay” which was a very emotional moment for everyone. I’ve also been looking at Siobhan’s Instagram page and she’s been putting pictures of herself on there in places that are within walking distance from where I live and she does seem to be fond of the Cockney culture, unbelievable. vlcsnap-00129

2018: Well this hasn’t happened yet of course but the plan is that Bananarama will perform the next stage of the reunion tour in Canada and America where they had a number one single with “Venus” in 1986, and it is rather remarkable to think that Siobhan will have her 60th birthday in this year. After that, who knows…? Thanks to Siobhan and Marcella for lots of great musical memories over the years.

The YouTube Files – The Delicious World Of Shampoo.

Here’s yet another 90s pop group that I remember. Shampoo were a female pop duo who consisted of Jacqueline Blake (born in November 1974 in Woolwich) and Caroline Askew (born in May 1977 in Plumstead) who met at school in London and described themselves as “inseparable”. There was a lot of debate about them at the time. Were they two moody teenagers with attitude, or just a pair of airhead blondes? Well one thing’s for sure, they weren’t one-hit wonders and they had girl power for real. They didn’t have any Top Ten hits in the UK but they definitely made an impact on pop music around the world in the mid-90s, although their fame came and went rather quickly. This piece will take a look back at their music videos and TV appearances from 1993-1996 on YouTube. shampoo

After getting their big break by appearing in the video for “Little Baby Nothing” by Manic Street Preachers, Jacqui and Carrie released two singles in 1993 that weren’t hits. The first was “Blisters And Bruises”, and the second was “Bouffant Headbutt” for which a video was made. This was the song that brought them to the attention of the music magazines, winning various “single of the week” awards and tipping them to be huge, and they were often compared to Fuzzbox. vlcsnap-00327.jpg

In July 1994 they made the breakthrough when “Trouble” was released to become their first hit single, reaching no. 11, their highest chart position and also their most memorable song. One of the things that I like about this song is that there is a rhyme that is so obvious they don’t even say it: “we’d get the night bus but the night bus never came/we’re eight miles from home and it started to… (thunderclap sound effect)“. They also performed this song in the first and second of their four Top Of The Pops appearances, one of them being on that bizarre edition that experimented with a filmised look that was hosted by Malcolm McLaren. vlcsnap-00373

In October 1994 the next single “Viva La Megababes” was released which reached no. 27. Around this time they appeared on CBBC’s Live & Kicking to tell John Barrowman how much they loved Barbie dolls (they were also big fans of East 17 and Take That), they were interviewed on BBC2’s The O Zone and ITV’s late-night music show The Beat at their old school in Plumstead, and they also appeared on the cover of Melody Makershampoo1

They also performed “Viva La Megababes” on CITV’s What’s Up Doc? as the hosts including Andy Crane and Pat Sharp threw some shapes and boogied on down in the background. In November 1994 their first album “We Are Shampoo” was released, but this only reached no. 45. There was a big buzz about them around this time though, and suddenly they were appearing in all the trendy magazines including The Face, NMESmash Hits, and Select, and in December 1994 they performed at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party shown live on BBC1 from the Docklands Arena in London. vlcsnap-00364

In February 1995 the next single “Delicious” was released which reached no. 21. They performed this on Channel 4’s late-night show The Word and they were interviewed on The O Zone again, this time at home. I remember reading an interview with Jamie Theakston where he said that Shampoo were among his least favourite interviewees from his time hosting The O Zone, describing them as “the monosyllabic queens”, and concluding “they’re not the sharpest tools in the box, let’s face it”. vlcsnap-00334

In August 1995 their biggest hit “Trouble” was re-issued, this time it reached no. 36. This was an attempt to break them in America by including the song on the soundtrack to the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers film and making a new video, but it wasn’t that successful. However, it seems that for a brief period they were hugely popular in Japan to the point that they were little short of megastars in that part of the world, and they sold a lot of albums there. Indeed such was their success in Asia there was a rumour around this time that they were among the richest women in Britain. vlcsnap-00369

Also in 1995 they appeared on CBBC’s Fully Booked, and I can only imagine what Morag The Cow made of them. Meanwhile, they released two more singles in Japan only, 1995’s “Warpaint” (for which a video was made), and 1996’s “Yeh Yeh Yeh (Tell Me Baby)”. vlcsnap-00381

In July 1996 their next single “Girl Power” was released which made no. 25. Now this is an interesting coincidence because they would often talk about “girl power” and how they were trying to send out a positive message to women, and a week after this song entered the chart another female pop group came on to the scene who had “girl power” as their motto who had massive success. They also performed this song on their third and fourth Top Of The Pops appearances. However, the second album also called “Girl Power” that was released in the same month didn’t chart. vlcsnap-00344

In September 1996 their next single which was a cover of The Waitresses song “I Know What Boys Like” was released which reached no. 42, missing the Top 40. And this turned out to be their final hit single. After this setback, they were practically never heard of again, although it seems that they did make a third album called “Absolute Shampoo” and they didn’t actually split until 2000. vlcsnap-00350

It is rather weird to think that Jacqui and Carrie are now both in their 40s and their first single was released almost 25 years ago, and I honestly have no idea what they are up to now or if they are still in contact with one another. If they now have children I wonder if they have ever told them about the time they became millionaires before they turned 20 years old. It must have been rather odd for them to have found fame at such a young age, but I hope that they enjoyed the experience of being an international pop star in their teens.

The YouTube Files – The Alisha’s Attic Story.

It’s time to remember another pop group who were great in the 90s. Alisha’s Attic were a duo who consisted of the sisters Karen (born in January 1971 in Chadwell Heath) and Shellie Poole (born in March 1972 in Barking), and they were the daughters of Brian Poole who with the Tremeloes had a UK Number One single in 1963 with “Do You Love Me”. They didn’t have any Top Ten hits (most of their singles seemed to peak at no. 12), but they wrote their songs and did have nine hit singles between 1996-2001, and this piece will take a look back at their various music videos and TV appearances on YouTube. As much as I like 90s pop music, it’s a shame that they didn’t make any songs in the 80s… attic

…but wait a moment. Because when I started to put this piece together I was very surprised to discover that Alisha’s Attic actually did bring out a single in the 1980s. In November 1988 they released the single “Sugar Daddy” (credited as “Keren & Chelle”), and they could only have been about 16 or 17 years old at the time. It couldn’t be more removed from the look and sound that they would become known for years later, with the song sounding like a sub-Stock Aitken Waterman energetic dance-pop record that Sinitta rejected. There was even a really cringeworthy video made for it, and it seems that it reached a mighty no. 167. I imagine that they are probably hugely embarrassed by it and have long since completely disowned it, but to think that this happened at all is just so bizarre I can’t really believe it. vlcsnap-00321

Fast forward to the 90s… they were still struggling to break into the music business when they sent a demo tape of some songs to Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and he was so impressed by them he produced their first album. In August 1996 they finally had their first hit single with “I Am I Feel” which reached no. 14. This led to the first of their six appearances on Top Of The Pops, and I do remember the video catching my eye on ITV’s The Chart Show. They also performed this on Channel 4’s late-night music show The White Roomvlcsnap-00279

As ever it’s a tough decision, but I would have to say that this is my favourite single by them, and it really is a “girl power” anthem. “I Am I Feel” was also used as the theme to the ITV 1997-1999 sitcom My Wonderful Life, which gives me another opportunity to ask why isn’t this show out on DVD yet? It still hasn’t been released! Please bring it out! It was great! vlcsnap-00313

They were finally famous, and after Strawberry Switchblade and Shakespear’s Sister, it was great seeing another feisty female duo on the pop music scene. In November 1996 their next single “Alisha Rules The World” was released which reached no. 12, and they performed this on Top Of The Pops and also on TV in Australia. Also in November 1996, their first album, also called “Alisha Rules The World” (who is “Alisha”? It’s the name of Shellie’s imaginary childhood friend) was released, which reached no. 14. vlcsnap-00280

In March 1997 the next single “Indestructible” was released which again reached no. 12. This one really does have a terrific video. Also around this time they appeared on CBBC’s Live & Kicking and took part in a comedy sketch with Trevor And Simon, and as you should know by now I am always pleased to see pop stars who are up for being mildly embarrassed on live children’s TV shows. Also in 1997 they appeared on BBC2’s The O Zone and were nominated for a Brit Award in the Best British Newcomer category but they didn’t win. vlcsnap-00300

In July 1997 the final single off the first album “Air We Breathe” was released which was their third consecutive hit to reach no. 12. They performed this on Top Of The Pops and ITV’s Turner Round The World which also included a brief interview. In October 1997 Shellie appeared as a panellist on BBC2’s comedy music panel game Never Mind The Buzzcocksvlcsnap-00277

In September 1998 the first single from the second album “The Incidentals” was released which reached no. 13. They appeared on Top Of The Pops and Live & Kicking again, and also ITV’s CD:UK (some of their videos are a pain to find online, and rather oddly their CD:UK performance of this song is now credited as the official video on YouTube). In October 1998 the second album “Illumina” was released which reached no. 15, but it only spent a few weeks on the chart. vlcsnap-00296

In January 1999 the next single “I Wish I Were You” was released which reached no. 29. This led to another Top Of The Pops appearance and again although a video was made their CD:UK performance is credited as the official video on YouTube. In February 1999 Karen followed her sister by appearing on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Also around this time they appeared on BBC2’s Electric Circus and CBBC’s L & K Friday which was like Live & Kicking… but on a Friday. vlcsnap-00310

In April 1999 the third and final single from the second album “Barbarella” was released which reached no. 34. They didn’t release any singles in 2000. vlcsnap-00293

They returned in March 2001 with the first single from the third album “Push It All Aside” which reached no. 24. They even hired none other than the award-winning Sophie Muller to direct the videos for the singles from this album and unsurprisingly they were terrific. They also performed this in what was their sixth and final appearance on Top Of The Popsvlcsnap-00278

In July 2001 the next single “Pretender Got My Heart” was released, but this only reached no. 43, becoming their first single not to make the Top 40, and five years on from “I Am I Feel”, this turned out to be their final hit. In August 2001 the third album “The House We Built” was released which received positive reviews but reached a rather disappointing no. 55. In 2003 a best-of called “The Collection” was released featuring all the hit singles plus a few extras, and it was also around this time that Alisha’s Attic split. vlcsnap-00302

Shellie did have one more hit single by herself in August 2006 as the guest vocalist on Michael Gray’s “Borderline”, and this also reached no. 12! After going their separate ways, Karen and Shelly have had more success behind the scenes and now work in the music business as songwriters, and have also performed with various groups, although I’m not aware of them working together in the past decade. Karen has done particularly well with her songwriting work, contributing to some great Top Ten hit singles including “Song 4 Mutya” for Groove Armada, plus “Red Blooded Woman” and “Chocolate” for Kylie Minogue.