Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Monday, February 25, 2008

And now I'm bleedin' annoyed with Blogger!!

Erm, just went into the "settings" on Blogger earlier and saved a new template - which actually looks very similar to the one I was using only with a few "new features" - but it's now gone and f*cked up the paragraphing on loads of my previous posts!! They now look an unreadable mess! Why did this happen?!? I'll be damned if I'm gonna go back through all my old stuff and tidy it up. Not today anyway. Sorry folks.

But if any of you techno-boffins out there can assist, I'd be ever so grateful...

I wanna shoot-oot-oot-oot-oot-oot the whole day down

It's Monday and I feel down, depressed and despondent. I feel like The Boomtown Rats once did.

It might not have helped that I stayed up after midnight last night finishing my last epic blog post, so I'm a bit sleep-deprived.

How's your Monday going? Hope you feel better than I do...

Drama Queen OC x

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Reset, restart, rewrite!

She's back, back, BACK!! Last Wednesday, Martha Jones arrived in the Torchwood hub and reeked havoc. Well, not quite. But I'm pleased to say Freema A was actually quite good in the first of her Torchwood outings and the arrival of Martha in the Hub injected a new lease of life into proceedings. And away from the restrictions of the Dr-Martha relationship, Martha appears to have matured somewhat. She's no longer shackled by the whole "mooning over the Dr" thing for one thing. As a medical advisor for UNIT she was able to put her expertise to decent use in "Reset". There was a nice reunion with Jack and some nods to the past season of DW too, which were subtle rather than overplayed, with references to Martha and Jack's recent adventures, her family and of course, the Dr: "Do you miss him?" All well done. And an amusing conversation with Ianto in which he revealed to Martha that relations with Jack were "avant garde".

Added to the mix we had Alan "Jim Robinson" Dale as the evil Professor Copley! It's so odd to see the former Aussie soap star now virtually an international superstar, what with his recent appearances in Ugly Betty to boot, but good for him! He was actually quite convincing as Copley, a shame the character was so short-lived though. I felt he had more potential.

In fact the episode as a whole felt like it was a bit rushed. With Martha's return/arrival taking up a fair amount of screen time, the Mayfly/Pharm plotline felt like it needed more consideration/exposition (I think this story could have made a decent two-parter). And am I the only one who found the Mayfly plotline a touch confusing? Still, "Reset" was definitely one of the better episodes of Season Two to date.

And finally...Shock! Horror! Owen got shot dead at at the end!! Or did he? The fact that next week's episode is entitled "Dead Man Walking" is a slight giveaway ... And if Suzie could be resurrected why shouldn't Toadface?

Anyway. As I've been in a creative kind of mood, I'd like to present you with - TA-DAH! - my own alternative version of "Reset"...Here's what MIGHT have happened...

And erm - it's a bit long, but I hope you still enjoy ...

RESET - the alternative version

Jack, Owen, Gwen and Tosh stand next to the round entrance door to the Hub.

Suddenly the door starts to open. Jack steps forward whilst the others hang back. Through the door emerges an attractive young black girl, dressed in a black trouser suit and carrying a shoulder bag. Her hair is piled on top of her head in a sophisticated style. Ianto steps from behind Martha, having chaperoned her into the building and joins Owen, Gwen and Tosh.
Martha looks around her and smiles, then steps over to Jack. The two embrace and engage in their own conversation, whilst the others remain at a "discreet" distance.

Gwen (pulling a goofy expression with her gappy teeth): Who the feck is that?


Owen: Cor blimey. Some new hot totty in the Hub!


Ianto: Not as hot as Jack.


Owen: Oh well, if you're not interested, that's a bit less competition for me then.


Tosh (sighing): Owen, is it actually possible for you to stop thinking from between your legs for just five seconds?


Owen (bridling): What? What kind of a fella do you take me for, Tosh? Get your facts straight, darling. I only think about sex every TEN seconds.


Tosh (rolls her eyes, then quietly): If you bothered to look a little closer you might see there's another attractive person round here, Owen.


(Owen makes to glance around the room, and looks perplexed).


Owen: Er, really?


Tosh: Yes. Someone that sees through the macho, sexist facade to the potentially decent person beneath.


(
Gwen snickers).

Owen: Er...well sorry Tosh, but I can't see anyone who fits that description.


(He looks back over at Martha and continues to stare at her intently, totally missing the hurt expression on Tosh's face).


Cor. Even in that trouser suit you can tell she's got a nice bod.


Gwen: Oh put a sock in it, Mr Sex Maniac 2008.


Owen: What? Well that must make you Miss Sex Maniac 2006 then, Miss Hypocrite Cooper. Or have you forgotten the season one sub-plot already? Someone slip you an amnesia pill as well, like your hubby?


Gwen (looking panicked): Shut it A-hole!


Owen: No, I think A-holes are more Jack and Ianto's style.


(At the mention of his name, Jack breaks off from his conversation with Martha and they both look over).


Ianto: Oh I see. Always got to bring it down to some filthy level, haven't you Owen?


Owen: Oh stop being a prude in a suit, Ianto. You're only jealous cos I've had more "get it on with the co-stars" plotlines than you. And you're just frustrated because you snogged Jack in "To the last man" and the writers haven't resumed that plot strand again. Sorry mate. Looks like you're doomed to be the "celibate doorman with occasionally funny lines" character for ever more!


(Jack and Martha walk over to join the others, now witness to every word).


Ianto
: Well I'd rather be that than an ugly, lipless toad face like you matey. I bet you've got a two inch schlong as well. When fully erect.


Gwen (butting in) : Er, excuse me Ianto, it's four inches actually. But it didn't bother me, because as they, "It's not the width of the ship, it's..."


(She stops, realising her mega-blunder).


Owen (blushing furiously) Oh yeah, tell the world, why don't you Miss Slut-bitch Cooper! Bloody women, they can never keep their traps shut.


Tosh: I object to that!


Owen: Oh button it, Geek Features.


Tosh: Who are you referring to as a geek? Thanks for the tip-off about the dick size, Gwen, I think I'll go and try my luck elsewhere.


Jack (blowing his top): SHUT UP!!!! What the hell's got into you lot? Don't you realise we have a very, VERY special visitor in our midst? Do you honestly think she wants to be a party to this FILTH?


Gwen/Tosh/Owen/Ianto: Sorry. (Then all under their breaths) Hypocrite/He can talk/Filth is his middle name/Jack Harkness wrote the book on "filth".

Jack: That's better. Now without further ado, I would like to introduce....Ms Martha Jones!


(Martha gives the team a winning smile. She is greeted by silence and stony faces in response).


Ahem!


Gwen (jumping to it): Oh, er, yes! Hello Martha and welcome to the hub! I'm Gwendolyn Cooper, but you can call me Gwen.


Tosh
: And I'm Toshiko Sato. I'm the resident geek, apparently (glares at Owen).


Ianto
: Erm...Hello! Hello! I'm Ianto. Doorman, general dogsbody and Torchwood's stand-up comic!


Owen (moves forward so he's standing closest to Martha): Owen Harper, medical genius and complete and utter studmuffin.


Martha (sarcastic tone): And completely and utterly modest too, I see. Goodness, I can see we're going to have SO much fun together, aren't we Owen?


(The rest of the team burst into laughter and Owen looks highly embarrassed).


O
wen (quickly attempting to recover his composure): Er, yes! Yes you're bound to have lots of fun with me, Ms Jones and I've got plenty of knowledge to share with you (casts a disparaging glance at the other team members ). Which is more than can be said for some. By the way, Jack said you were some kind of medical advisor. Who for, exactly?

Martha (casual tone): Oh, UNIT.


Owen: Ahaaa. That's Unlimited Nymphomaniacs in Torchwood, yes?


Martha: In your dreams, sunshine. No, it's United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. Do you know what "intelligence" means, Owen?


(Owen's face drops whilst the others giggle again).


Owen: Erm. Yeah! Course I do. Right, well must go, things to do and all that...


(He saunters off sheepishly).

(Cut to later. Jack and Martha are on their own, in Jack's office).

Jack: So, Martha.


Martha: So, Jack.


Jack: Martha.


Martha: Jack.


Jack: Martha.


Martha: J - Oh, this is getting VERY silly isn't it, Mr Harkness?

Jack: It is, Ms Jones. So how's the family?


Martha: Oh, same old. Mum's still a bitter and twisted old shrew, Dad's the comedy element, Tish is gorgeous but dim, and Leo's a piece of eye candy who never gets any decent storylines. You'd never have guessed that they'd all been held captive and subjected to horrendous torture at the hands of the Master for a year. It's soap opera theatrics as usual with the Jones clan. Still blame Russell for that.

Jack: Same old then. And, do you erm, miss...HIM?

Martha: Nope!

Jack: What? You mean you don't miss having the opportunity to travel to different places, planets and times?


Martha: Nope.
Been there, done that.

Jack: Meeting alien beings from other worlds and experiencing things that the rest of mankind can only dream of?


Martha: Definitely nope. Aliens are very passe to me now.

Jack: Travelling in a transcendentally dimensional craft with one amazingly knowledgeable, clever and funny Time Lord??


Martha (laughing): Jack, my darling, I've already said...nope!

Jack: What? You - really don't miss...the Dr?!!


Martha: Erm. What did I just say?? Nope, nope and treble NOPE!!

Jack: Oh. Well in that case, WHY this lack of emotion toward the Dr, exactly?

(Pause).

Martha: Well, he wouldn't shag me, would he?


(Another pause)


Jack: Mmm. You have a point there. Kind of a waste of time I suppose...

Martha: Exactly. Anyway Jack, what's all this about loads of human beings carking it then?

(Cut to later. In a bid to find out more about the mysterious deaths, Martha it about to infiltrate top secret, government-sponsored medical research centre, the Firm. She walks into the reception of the Firm, wearing a cunning disguise which consists of a bubble perm wig, flasher mac and thigh boots).

Receptionist (who looks like a scarier version of Peggy Mitchell, if possible): 'Evenin. Want something do yer?


Martha: Erm, that's not a very professional or helpful attitude is it? And also we're in Cardiff. Where's your Welsh accent?

Receptionist (leans forward, menacing tone): I might ask you the same, love. The management 'ere at the Firm pride themselves on employing bona fide, cock-er-ney staff. Such as me. Now what was it that you wanted?


(As if to reinforce her point, two Grant Mitchell types step out from behind her, with folded arms and an aggressive stance).


Martha: Blimey. The customer services here are pretty unique aren't they?

Receptionist: 'Ave yer got an appointment or what?!

Martha: No I haven't.

Receptionist:
Well, that ain't no good, sweetheart. (She turns to the two men behind her) Baz and Daz - show this young lady aaaart now, won't yer?

(The two thugs make a move on Martha).


Martha: No, wait, wait! I've come to offer myself as a volunteer for clinical trials. I've got this problem, you see...


Receptionist: They all say that. Where's yer proof?

Martha (sighing): Oh okay then.


(She opens her mac wide, allowing both the receptionist and the thuggish blokes to get a good eyeful. The receptionist and bodyguards' eyes almost pop out of their head).


Receptionist: Oh. That's a different matter entirely.
(Touches button on intercom). Professor Copoff? I have another volunteer for yer!

(Cut to later.
Martha is sitting in Professor Copoff's office. The Professor sits behind his desk watching her closely. He is tall and distinguished with receding grey hair and bears an uncanny resemblance to Jim Robinson from "Neighbours").

Martha: Strewth, cobber! You don't 'alf remind me of -

Copoff (holding up his hand): STOP, please. I've heard this several times before, Miss -


Martha: Bones. Martha Bones.


Copoff: I wish.


Martha: Sorry?

Copoff: Nothing.


Martha (under breath) God, whose idea was it to give me that name? (Clears throat). Well
Professor, like I said I'm offering myself up for medical trials and this (opens mac) is my problem.

Copoff (eyes wide): Oh I see. We'll prepare for operation right away.


Martha: Thank you, Professor.

Copoff: You're welcome. Now, as I'm fully booked up today, I'm afraid I won't be able to give you a proper examination until tomorrow. So we'll book you into one of our luxury rooms for an overnight stay. (His voice grows hard). But a word of advice, Ms Bones. This is a top secret establishment and there are a lot of things going on which you...would be advised to NOT be privy to. So may I politely request that you stay within the boundaries of the accommodation area. You are NOT permitted to wander off limits. Understood?

Martha: Understood.

Copoff (cold smile): I knew you'd see sense. Until tomorrow, Ms Bones.

Martha: Yes, until tomorrrow.

(She walks out of the door and starts to whistle the "Neighbours" theme tune. From inside the office she thinks she hears gagging noises. She stops whistling and abruptly the gagging noises cease. Shrugging, she walks off).


(Later, the middle of the night.
The door of Martha's guest room creaks open and she tiptoes into the corridor outside).

Martha: God almightey. If I have to watch another vintage episode of "Minder" I'll slash my wrists. Hardly five star accommodation...now. What's really going on here?

She walks down a few corridors until she comes to a door which says: "Keep out. This room contains many exciting and secret things!")

Martha: Oh give me strength. Ever heard the expression "Open invitation"?

(Looking around to make sure she isn't being watched, she slowly opens the door. Suddenly a bright pink flag drops down from the ceiling with the words: "Fooled you!!" The room is little more than a broom cupboard).

Oh f*cking hell.


(Next to this room is another door which says "Tea room").


Well, I could do with a cuppa after enduring all those episodes of Arthur "Bleedin'" Daley.


(She opens the door and walks in. It's pitch black within. The door slams shut behind her - and she realises there's no handle on the inside. Through the darkness she can make out what look like upright, cylindrical tanks. As her eyesight adjusts, she realise that each tank holds some kind of alien lifeform within).


What the...


(Suddenly something hits her from behind and everything goes black...
)

(Later. Martha comes to. She's strapped to an operating table. Professor Copoff stands before her, wearing a lab coat with a smug expression on his face. Behind him one of the thuggish men from reception stands guard).

Copoff: You really don't seem very capable of following instructions, do you Miss Bones? Such a pity. I was going to perform a minor operation for your "problem." Now you give me no choice but to take more...drastic measures.


Martha: Let me go! You're bang out of order Professor!

Baz: No darlin', you're bang out of order for going off limits. You 'eard the Professor.


Martha (trying a different tack): Look. I'm sorry. I only wanted a cup of tea!

Copoff: But you were in a restricted area. And you stumbled on something that you shouldn't have. My army of alien Mayflies. A slight side effect of all my operations admittedly. But soon they will take over the world, ah ha ha ha ha!!!


Martha: You're mad!!


Copoff (smirking): Not atall my dear. In return for helping the Mayflies, I've been promised a recurring role in Casualty and Holby City! And my own spin-off show, Copoff's Cases! No more starring in Ugly Betty ever!!

(He picks up a pair of rubber gloves and starts to put them on).


Now, time to remove your undergarments, I think.


Martha: No!! Please!! You can't! This is a children's programme!

Copoff (laughing): No my dear, this is Torchwood. I think you're confusing it with Dr Who. Unlike the latter programme, THIS is shown after the 9 o' clock watershed. Meaning as much sex and violence as we like.

Martha: God help me. So ...what are you going to do?!


Copoff: You are about to find out.


Martha: Look, I came in here for a simple operation, remember?


Copoff (laughs scornfully): What to have THIS removed?


(Before Martha can say anything he reaches under her flasher mac and pulls and yanks for a few seconds. Martha lets out several yelps of pain until the Professor suddenly rips out a fake, prosthetic breast, tearing it away from her flesh. He throws it across the room).


Really, Ms Bones. Trying the old three-breasted routine is very old hat you know. You cannot fool me.

Martha (fumes silently. Then, trying a different approach...): Tell me Professor, wouldn't you prefer a return appearance in a certain Australian soap opera to this third rate sci-fi show? (Mimics Aussie acccent) "Aaaaah fair dinkum, Scott! You can't treat Charlene like that!" Remember that one, "Jim"? Where's Helen Daniels?

Copoff: Nooo!! Be quiet!


Martha: "Strewth Mrs Mangel, Bouncer's weed all over Madge's flower beds - "


Copoff: SHUT UP!
(With a lightning movement, he whips out a hypodermic and sinks it into Martha's arm. Martha starts to black out.)

Martha: Stop! Please...don't hurt me...please...

(She's out like a light. Two cockney nurses, Kathy and Ange (played by Gillian Taylforth and Anita Dobson) appear to assist Copoff).


Copoff: Nurse Kathy? Bring the syrum.


Kathy: Yes, Professor.


Copoff: Incidentally when I was on my way to work this morning I thought I saw you in a motorway layby doing something rather...naughty?


Kathy: Nah Professor, If I was gonna do that I wouldn't do that on the bleedin' A1.

Copoff: Oh well. Nurse Ange? Once Baz has removed Ms Bone's knickers, prepare the insertion point.

Ange: Yes, professor.


Copoff: Oh, and I hope you haven't been on the G&T again?


Ange: No professor. I'm Teetotal these days.

Copoff: Glad to hear it. Now, prepare to insert the Mayfly into Ms Bones'...mayflower.


(
With a loud crashing sound, the door of Copoff's laboratory comes smashing from its hinges. Jack, Gwen, Owen and Tosh burst into the room. They shoot Baz, Kathy and Ange dead in a few short bursts of gunfire).

Jack: Hands up, Copoff! The game is up! We're from Torchwood and thanks to Martha's late night phone messages, we know exactly what you've been up to. You are a disgrace to humanity!


(Copoff quickly grabs the syringe, lying next to the prone form of Nurse Kathy).


Copoff (darting to his feet): I think not. Drop your weapons, or Ms Bones gives birth to a Mayfly.

Gwen: Leave her alone!


Copoff: Or what? You shoot me? Not before Ms Bones' gets injected.


Tosh: You're sick.


Copoff: Tell me something I don't know.


Owen: You're Jim Robinson.

Copoff: NOOOO!! Keep your mouth shut, you toad-faced cretin!
(He hovers the needle over Martha's privates).

Owen: NO!!


(In one single heroic bound, Owen dives at Copoff and rugby tackles him to the floor, causing him to drop the syringe. The two fight furiously. It looks like Owen is gaining the upper hand until Copoff gets in a quick punch, causing Owen to drop his gun. The two wrestle for the weapon until...there is a loud bang.
Owen falls to the flood, mortally wounded in the chest).

Jack/Gwen/Tosh: OWEN!!


Tosh: You bastard!!
(Speaking into a concealed transmitter in her watch). Now, Ianto!!

(Suddenly over the hospital's PA system comes the unmistakeable sound of ... the "Neighbours" theme tune. Copoff drops the gun, his hands going up to his forehead in agony).


Copoff: Noooo! Aaaaah don't dob me in, cobber!! No, no, I'm an international actor now, I don't do Australian....Kylie! Jason Donovan isn't gay, he's heterosexual! He's the sexiest spunk on Ramsey Street! Sexier than Harold Bishop! Noooooooo!!! Help me!!! I'm sinking into a quagmire of Australian mediocrity!! Ahhhh rack off, you flaming mongrels!! Aaaaaahhh!!


(He passes out).


(The team barely have time to breath a sigh of relief as realisation of Owen's situation kicks in. Tosh rushes over to his barely conscious form, sobbing).


Tosh: Owen! Owen!

(Jack takes his pulse. Owen's eyes are shutting.)


Jack: We're losing him...


(Martha comes to).


Martha: Oh thank God you're all here!
(Sees Owen). Oh my God! What's happened?

(Owen loses consciousness. Tosh is in hysterics).


(Ianto bursts through the door).

Ianto: Hey! I think you should -

Jack: The tape worked a treat Ianto but as you can see there are ... casualties.


Ianto: Yes I see, but there's something I need to -

Jack: Now is hardly the time for a token snog I'm afraid Ianto. Hardly an appropriate moment in this week's episode.


Ianto (under his breath, bitterly): It never is.

(Pulling himself together) No, Jack, as I was on my way here I heard a door in the corridor being bashed in and all of these horrible loud, cockney voices getting louder and louder...


Martha: This is the Firm, Ianto. They all talk like that here!

Ianto: Oh, I -

(The door bursts open again. An army of screeching, yelling, foul-mouthed ginger-haired Chavvy women surge into the laboratory).


Martha: OH MY GOD!!! IT'S...HER!!

Jack: Who?


Martha: Donna Bleedin' Noble!! The last time I saw her she was trying to flush me down the bog in the Royal Free Hospital! But now she's multiplied by 20 by the looks of things!!

Donna 1: Come 'ere!!!

Donna 2: We are the monstrous creations of Professor Copoff!!

Donna 3: We're his new creations!!

Donna 4: Donnapatra! Comin' at ya!!

Donna 5: We're gonna get yaaaaaaaaa!!

(
The army of Donnas rush headlong into the room, ready to take on the horrified Torchwood team...)

TO BE CONTINUED...

Well hope you enjoyed!! (Do you think I could get a job writing for Season Three of Torchwood? Well, maybe...)

(Screencaps courtesy of time-and-space.co.uk)

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Ta Ta ,Timewarden...

Timewarden is leaving us. Again. He's just announced he's closing down his blog. AGAIN. Nooooo!!!

He left us once. Then thankfully he regenerated (an appropriate anaology) and gave us more wonderfully researched, passionate posts that showcased his encylopediac knowledge of TV, film and music.

One of Tim's major passions is Dr Who - hence our mutual interest - although unlike me, he's been seriously unimpressed with the new, resurrected DW brought to us by Russell T Davies since 2005 (although my regular readers might know that I too have been harbouring growing doubts about the judgement of the Welshman and his effect on the future of the sci-fi prog. I'm getting more cynical by the hour...) Anyway despite our diametrically opposed views, Tim and I shared some passionate debates about DW which I really enjoyed and it was great exchanging opinions.

So I'm very sad to see him go. I hope he visits me here from time to time. And I've promised that I would write a post on Space:1999 (one of his favourite progs, pic above) for some time ... I will, one day, promise ...

Bye bye, Tim and good luck. Can't we persuade you to regenerate again? After all the Dr has done it numerous times, hasn't he?

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Homophobia - the worst disease...

"...you can't love who you want to love, in times like these" as Chumbawamba once so eloquently put it.

Post-housewarming party (hoorah - more on that one soon) and post-hangover (thank God) me and the hubbie watched Brokeback Mountain on DVD last night. A bit of a downbeat and sad end to an otherwise fun-filled weekend, but still rewarding viewing nevertheless.

I’d already seen “Brokeback” on the big screen but couldn’t resist snapping it up for a bargain price on DVD recently. A major incentive of course being the very sad and untimely death of Heath Ledger – this film boasts one of his best performances and I wanted to get it as a kind of tribute to him. Not to mention the fact that it’s a very interesting movie from a gay perspective.

In case you’ve been, um, up a mountain or working as a sheep herder on your lonesome, “Brokeback Mountain” is the story of two men, ranch hand Ennis del Mar and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist, who meet and fall in love on the fictional Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming, Western USA in 1963. The film documents their complex and sexual relationship over the next two twenty years, one complication being that, due to social and sexual pressures, they are both forced to marry women, yet still choose to carry on their clandestine affair. Another difficulty is geography, as Ennis and Jack both live far apart and liaisons are thus rare (on one occasion they don’t see each other for four years!) But the final and most arduous obstacle of all is homophobia, which (presumably) leads to the death of Jack at the end. This being 1963 and the American West, attitudes towards homosexuality were far from accepting and same-sex relations were generally regarded as an abomination.

Both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal do a fine job of portraying the tortured love affair of Ennis and Jack, and their intense frustration at the seemingly insurmountable barriers that prevent them from publicly expressing their love. What I like about the film is the “normalness” of the characters which makes for a refreshing change – there are no over-the-top, camp melodramatics here and not much “lovey-doveyness” between Ennis and Jack (although the latter is probably the more emotional of the two). They are portrayed as being two ordinary guys who just happen to be in love without a proper outlet for expressing their feelings and desires. Ledger’s Ennis is particularly true to life and you can really believe that men like him do exist – a person brim-full of anger, rage and frustration (he actually hits Jack a few times) yet with a sensitivity that is buried so deep it is rarely permitted to surface (e.g. at the movie's end, on his own, he clutches the dead Jack’s denim shirt to him and sobs – a very moving moment indeed). Which makes you realise that love between men can spring up in all kinds of places, in many different forms, and all those stories set on the gay scene in urban metropolises like London, San Francisco, New York etc provide a very small and narrow picture indeed.

The film also got me to thinking further– very obvious I know, but – how very different the experience of actually being gay can be across the world, not to mention how things have moved on considerably in only a few decades. After watching “Brokeback”, Gustavo and I couldn’t help remarking at how extremely fortunate we are to be living as we do now and not in Wyoming in the US in 1963. But in fact there are still many pockets of our supposedly enlightened society where bigoted and backward attitudes still prevail, with no signs of dissipating. To be openly gay (or for that matter, lesbian), to outwardly demonstrate one’s true sexuality, to form relationships with someone of the same sex, to show affection in public, to even be just known as gay – is still viewed as abhorrent by many.

As a 38 year old gay man, when I look back on my life, I’ve count myself as pretty lucky. DAMN lucky in actual fact. From age 7 onwards I grew up in York in North England. A lovely, historical city with a fair amount to see and do, but no gay scene or community so to speak. There was one pub next to the York Minster called “The York Arms” and apparently if you went through the door on the left entrance door that was the “gay side” of the pub. Mmm, great. I think there was a club which had a “gay friendly” night about once a month. That was pretty much about all there was on offer. Consequently I didn’t think there was much around to affirm my burgeoning sexuality and only properly “came out” once I moved away to the Midlands where I went to University – there was a Gay and Lesbian society there for students and for me, it was like an oasis in a desert. It was also where I met my first boyfriend. Years later I moved to Brighton on the South Coast which, with it’s extensive scene and community, is famed for being a gay “haven” and in general is a very “anything goes”, bohemian, accepting town. I had lots of positive experiences there which helped me to grow as a person. Fast forward to years later and I moved up to London which is where I’ve been ever since and eventually met Gustavo who is now my civil partner! (And I will have to tell you all the proper story of how we met one day, but the potted version is that he we didn’t meet in a bar or anything like that, he was my neighbour! Romance can spring up right on your doorstep eh!)

Anyway. The point I’m trying to arrive as is that I’ve had it pretty good and easy compared to some. And I should also add that nowhere can be viewed as entirely safe or accepting, unfortunately. I’m now living with Gustavo in an area of South-East London, which whilst not ultra-rough, could hardly be termed “posh” either – it’s somewhere in between. But I haven’t seen many gays or lesbians strutting around (okay – stereotype I know, as you can’t always tell who “is” or who “isn’t" and any existing friends of Dorothy in my locale aren't exactly likely to be seen roller-skating down the street in pink leotards to the sounds of Gloria Gaynor - for better or for worse). Also – and I am in no way being a racist here – a large proportion of the population where I live are black, and amongst some parts of the black community e.g. Jamaican culture, homosexuality is regarded as a major sin and an offence against God. Black men in particular regard being gay as a major slight on one’s masculinity and a sign of weakness – guys who take it up the a*se are termed “batty men” or “anti men”. And yeah, I’ve had this charming phrase shouted at me a good few times - nice. A few years ago I was walking down a street in North London holding Gustavo’s hand (perhaps a bit of a mistake given the area we were in) when two kids on bikes (one of them can have only been about 10 years old at the most) chased and threw a firework at us. Fortunately no damage was done but it still shook me and I learnt my lesson as a result.

As for where I’m living now, whilst I don’t exactly need to exit my front door wearing a riot shield or protective head gear, I also doubt that I'd walk down our local high street being openly demonstrative with my husband, for fear of something bad happening. Yet if I was walking down Old Compton Street in Soho kissing Gustavo or holding his hand, I doubt that anyone would so much as bat an eyelid. Probably flutter them in encouragement, more like.

In this age of civil partnerships and growing acceptance for lesbians and gays, this is not the way things should be. But regrettably it still DOES seem to be the way in certain circles.

As a result I’m very interested in knowing what kind of experiences my gay bloggers (of which I know there are several) have had during their respective lifetimes.

And at the risk of sounding discriminatory I’m more than happy to hear the views of my “straight” (ahem) bloggers too!

A strong topic for debate, yes?

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Time to celebrate...

...for tomorrow we are having our...

HOUSEWARMING!!

Yep, after months of painting, ordering furniture, putting together some of the aforementioned furniture (of the flat-packed variety which I never again want to do) scrubbing, cleaning, fretting etc etc, we are now ready to unveil our groovy pad to the general public!! (Well, almost).

A full report with photos and gossip (I'm depending on the guests to be the instigators of that) will follow...

Meanwhile, we're happily accepting housewarming gifts from anyone who'd care to contribute, such as the one below which I thought was rather cool. Although I hasten to add we already have a tool box, which is erm, pink. It was a wedding gift from a friend. And the tools actually turned out to be very useful in doing up the flat!! Haven't dared to carry it down the street yet though...


Have a fab weekend!

OC xx

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm happy, hope you're happy too...

And I’ve been slow in posting my thoughts on this one! The eagerly awaited sequel to “Life on Mars” hit our screens last Thursday and was for the most part well-received by most.

With a premise not a million miles away from its predecessor, modern day detective Alex Drake (that’s female as opposed to male Alex) is shot by a criminal and finds herself transported back to 1981. She’s also no longer dressed in her policewoman civvies but in the attire of a high class hooker, with a voluminous perm to match. And then she encounters Gene Hunt, the copper she’d heard all about when reading up on the case of Sam Tyler, the cop who mysteriously disappeared from London of the 2000s to reappear in the 1970a, or so legend has it. And therewith a new relationship is struck, as Alex goes into partnership with old skool (i.e. bigoted, backward and brutish) Hunt, whilst simultaneously trying to figure out how to get back to 2008…

I’ll get my gripes out of the way first. Whilst still enjoyable, Ashes to Ashes does rather fall down in the originality department in that it re-uses wholesale the very same ideas from “Life on Mars” – cop wakes up in another time period with no obvious way of getting home and consequently has a number of issues to deal with: How will they adjust to living in a totally different time? Are they still in 2008 and merely hallucinating? Or have they really been transported back in time? Are they in a coma and dreaming the whole thing? These were the questions confronting Sam Tyler in both series of “Life” and now Alex is being subjected to exactly the same brand of weirdness. I hope we get a decent sense of resolution this time round - “Life on Mars" left things very open-ended indeed and whilst room for interpretation can sometimes be a good thing, it also felt frustrating. I’d like to see the writers going for a different tack or something really clever.

The plotline also seemed rather formulaic and was a typical storyline about tracking down a gangster, not exactly earth-shattering stuff. I admit that I switched off a few times. Also I don't know if they could condense down each episode to 45-50 minutes as opposed to 60 - it felt a little on the long side somehow with some padding they could have afforded to lose.

However, ample compensation came in the characterisation and there was a lot of fun to be had here. Keeley Hawes was excellent as Alex and she and Philip Glenister as Gene sparked off each other entertainingly. And this time the relationship is different to that of Sam and Gene – most obviously because Gene now has to work alongside a female DCI who is his “equal” – which is going to make for some interesting dynamics not to mention interesting viewing (this was nicely counter pointed by the inclusion of an ineffectual lady officer with a pudding bowl haircut, who Alex has to rescue). Too many male characters does create an atmosphere of machismo and rather too much thuggishness at times – I confess I’m more of a Charlie’s Angels man than Sweeney or Professionals – so the inclusion of a leading female character is undoubtedly welcome.

Keeley H looked great and was pretty foxy - even with her 80s styling she managed to look contemporary at the same time. I hope she doesn't end up getting it on with Gene though, which does seems to be the route that these male/female partner cop shows predictably go down – look at Dempsey and Makepeace or David and Maddie in Moonlighting – coppers who started off loathing each other but a couple of seasons later were snogging each others’ faces off. The old thin line between love and hate, and all that. As fun as Gene’s character is, he's not much of a horndog (in my book anyhow...) Personally I’d prefer to see Keeley get it on with a nice Tony Hadley type. We’ll see.

The other major point of appeal for me was of course the 1980s setting and styling. It will be interesting to see how authentically the production team can reproduce the 80s in later episodes. They did it fairly well in the opening story such as the scene where Alex finds herself on the barge in 1981, surrounded by lots of yahs in suits singing drunkenly to Ultravox’s “Vienna”. Then stepping outside we see that the Millennium dome and Canary Wharf have totally vanished – a nice bit of trickery. And then there was the freakyyyyyyyyyyy 80s clown! Modelled with frightening accuracy on the look David Bowie sports in the “Ashes to Ashes” video. In “Life on Mars” we had the freakyyyyyyyyy testcard girl but the clown is even creepier. What's his significance?

With the usual Cheeser reservations then, a good opening instalment. To tell the truth I don’t know how many more episodes of “Ashes to Ashes” I’ll be able to catch. Episode two is on tonight is but as we all know it’s also Valentine’s Day and I don’t think the hubbie would be very impressed if I plonked myself down in front of the box and ignored him…divorce might be imminent otherwise! So I am of course relying on the rest of you to keep me informed. Viva la 80s!

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Memories are made of this ... or are they?

Look I've tried it with an alien lesbian, I've tried it with a Northerner, now I'm trying it out with a ginga! One needs to keep one's options open, yes?

Oh my giddy aunt! (As the second incarnation of the Doctor used to say). I've actually written about "Torchwood" almost straight after broadcast!

Last night's instalment, "Adam" saw Toshiko getting it on with a ginger minger. Oh dear I’m being very anti-redhead aren’t I? I got told off recently for my comments about overweight people so I’m now trying to curb such unkind tendencies. Now the gingers are coming in for flak instead. I’ll soon have people of auburn persuasions up in arms, writing to me... But the guy playing Adam was still rather odd weird-looking and certainly not what I’d call hot. And he had a weird mouth. He really must have brainwashed Tosh something chronic to get her to fancy him. Still Ms Sato hasn’t exactly been having a bad time of it this season, first of all getting it together with young northern soldier Tommy and now this fella. Shame they all b*gger off and leave her…

"Adam" was all about an alien being called, strangely enough, Adam who had managed to infiltrate the hub by taking on human form and implanting false memories in the minds of all the team, so leading them to believe that he was a bona fide member of the Torchwood posse. Nasty!

Another Catherine Tregenna-penned script, this was mildly better than last week's. I say mildly as it still wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. The concept was interesting but resolution all too convenient (let's swallow lots of amnesia pills!) plus it wasn’t really explained was how Adam had arrived in the hub to begin with, nor where he’d originated from (it transpired later that he’d only been there 48 hours but such were his powers of suggestion, the team thought that they’d known him for years).

I didn’t find the character of Adam all that convincing, despite the actor’s attempts to do “evil looks” which were more amusing than frightening (akin to the “Neighbours” school of drama…) There was one quite good scene where Adam tortured Ianto, making him believe that he’d killed three women, which was fairly nasty. However I thought that Adam gave up far too easily and didn’t even put up a decent fight when Jack imprisoned him in the hub dungeons. Also, wasn’t he a bit silly carrying out all of his evil deeds in front of the Torchwood CCTV? He was bound to get sprung eventually…

Adam’s memory implants had caused some major changes as well as disruption amongst the team and the results were quite entertaining. Toshiko was now more confident and outgoing as well as in love with Adam. Owen had gone the other way and turned into a repressed, shy geek with glasses and a side parting. He also held a candle for Tosh and announced his love for her in a touching speech - sadly his feelings weren’t reciprocated. It was actually rather nice to see him as a modest, mild type for a change though and he came across as quite endearing. A pity he didn’t stay that way…And poor old Jack suffered the most torture of all. Under Adam’s influence he’s taken back to the place of his childhood and made to remember the death of his father, and separation from his brother, Gray…Aha! So that’s who “Gray” is! Remember Captain John’s remark at the end of the first episode, that he’d “seen Gray?” It’s all slowly falling into place…And the mysterious puzzle box at the end that Jack unlocks might have something to do with it…

Oh and Ms Gaptooth Cooper seemed to be suffering from temporary amnesia as she forgot who fiancé Rhys was and wondered what the hell he was doing in her home and they had to “start over” as it were.

Resolution came in the form of amnesia tablets, handed out by Jack to all of the team, which – oh happy day! – were able to erase everyone’s memories over the past 48 hours. Mmmm how very fortunate. Not to mention the fact that Adam had only been in the hub for 48 hours. Any longer and things might have been tricky. I’m getting a bit tired of the amnesia pill plot device though – far too lazy and convenient, not to mention the fact that it’s now been used several times. Can’t the writers come up with a better solution than this?

But hey! Guess which medical student-cum TARDIS traveller is due to arrive at the hub next week for a three episode stint? Yep, it’s Ms Martha Jones. And now apparently she’s working for UNIT. The girl has gone up in the world. Now as I said many a time in my reviews of Dr Who Season Three, I was quite fond of Martha even though I felt that Freema Agyeman wasn’t the most gifted of actresses. The character was also saddled with the “I love the Dr” schtich which became increasingly annoying. So it will be interesting (God I use that word an awful lot don’t I?) to see how she shapes up in "T-Wood". Away from the Doc and all that, she could turn out to be quite different. And interesting. Yes.

However one does kind of hope that Ms Jones doesn’t get pulled into the soap opera theatrics that have bedevilled “Torchwood” and end up sh&gging one, or more of the characters in the hub. Otherwise she might have to change her name to Martha Bones. Whoops, sorry. Or perhaps she’ll manage to rise above it all and preserve her decency for the duration of her three episode contract. One would hope so, but in Cardiff it seems that anyone is easy game...

(Screencap courtesy of time-and-space.co.uk)

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Happy you know what

Any of you got plans for February 14th?

DO tell.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Deadwood?

I have fallen behind in my Torchwood reviews. What a shameful state of affairs. My other bloggers have been way ahead of the game, posting up their post-episode reviews in next to no time. Perhaps it's got something to do with the fact that I'm once again losing enthusiasm for the show, despite my efforts to remain a loyal viewer. I am trying, honest...

Anyway here come my thoughts on the last couple of eps, ladies and gents...

To the Last Man

This episode was all about - okay I’m going to steal Steve’s description as he summed it up so well in his review - “a shell-shocked soldier removed from 1918 and cryogenically frozen by Torchwood in order for him to be reinserted back into his own time and so close up an immense rift in time that was forecast to destroy the world in 2008.”

Geddit? I confess to finding the execution of this (potentially interesting) idea a little confusing. Coupled with this was a sub-plot involving people from the Cardiff of the past seeping through the rift into the Cardiff of the present and then disappearing back to where they’d come from, all of which was going on in a disused hospital – cue “freaky” scenes with Gwen getting hassled by a psycho patients and nurses (no different to your average NHS hang-out then). But this was all kind of peripheral, and in the final analysis, didn’t add up to much (except of course to make the point that if the rift didn’t get sealed, the ghosts wouldn’t stop appearing and the whole world would fall into chaos…) The story itself felt very flat and actually seemed to drag. All the characters really had to do was sit back and wait for the moment when Tommy got sent back to the past.

However whilst weak on action and plot, the episode was undoubtedly stronger in the characterisation department.

One of the positive aspects of “To the Last Man” was that it gave Toshiko a bigger slice of the action and the relationship with her and the soldier – a northern lad called Tommy - was nicely played. Naoki Mori is a decent actress and although I was moaning about her character being little more than a cypher in Season One, slowly but surely, a personality is now beginning to emerge. Tosh is… A techno-boffin (well we knew that from the start I guess). Intelligent in an understated, rather than a “Look at me, aren’t I clever!” way. Somewhat shy and introverted. Gentle and caring. Innocent in the ways of the flesh. In fact some of these things probably explain exactly why why Tosh didn’t make a major impact in the first series – the fact that her character is a bit of a shrinking violet often meant that she sunk into the background. But that doesn’t mean she can’t get her own story sometimes as well.

Last season’s “Greeks Bearing Gifts” was a “Tosh” episode too and in that it transpired that she had a liking for, erm, ladies. This seems to have been forgotten and on this occasion Ms Sato decided to fixate on a fella. What IS it with the Torchwood scriptwriters? Are they trying to prove that the T-Wood team are a bunch of sexually fluid, snog and sh*g anything that moves swingers?! Nowt wrong with bisexuality, but it’s starting to get ridiculous.

The actor who played Tommy put in a decent performance – and was kind of cute in an unconventional looking way. He also did a good job of conveying the sense of dislocation someone out of their time would feel, although this aspect could have been examined in greater depth I felt.

One potentially interesting aspect of the episode was it's "Past Torchwood" characters, Gerald and Harriet (daaaarling!), who we saw all too briefly at the beginning and end of the episode as they arrived to rescue Tommy. I would have loved to have known more about them and wouldn't it have been fun if they'd run into the current members of the hub? As some of you will recall, Torchwood was established back in the 19th Century by Pauline Collins, sorry I mean Queen Victoria, in the Dr Who story "Tooth and Claw" and has been going strong since then. A delve into its history would make for a good episode, yes? A shame then that the chance to flesh out two old skool Torchwoodians was missed and that they couldn't be worked more cleverly into the plot.

Oh, AND! One more point of note. Jack and Ianto shared a passionate kiss that was totally superfluous to the plot! Where was that coming from? And more to the point, where is it headed? Is their previously discussed dinner date really going to occur? (With a bit of après meal too we hope?)

At the end of the day though, some decent character moments didn’t make for a strong enough story and at the end I was still left feeling dissatisfied. God I’m hard to please.

Meat

With author Catherine Tregenna at the helm of this episode, I was seriously hoping that it would be the equivalent of a well-cooked, delicately braised, delicious-tasting piece of steak. Instead it turned out to be more akin to a gristly, greasy, manky old piece of KFC chicken.

Okay perhaps that’s slightly harsh. But in comparison with Season One’s standout episodes, “Out of Time” and “Captain Jack Harkness”, this story was a major let down and certainly unworthy of Ms Tregenna’s talents, lacking the poetry and sensitive writing/characterisation of her previous efforts. Was she forced to write this episode?

The plot, such as it was, concerned a bunch of criminals who were holding a giant alien monster – closely resembling an Earth whale but not looking desperately convincing – captive, and slicing up large chunks of it for human beings to feed off. Cue half-hearted attempt to espouse the evils of feeding off other creatures for our own appetites and having no respect for alien lifeforms in the process. Fair enough but these ideas only really came to the fore in the last scenes of the story, with Captain Jack getting all embarrassingly touchy-feely with the creature and bemoaning its plight (rather hard to do with a CGI alien that isn’t actually there – I could comment on the fact that the phallic shape of the creature probably appealed to Jack’s nature, but let’s not go there…)

The bits when Owen attempted to inject the creature with a giant syringe thing looked silly – definitely not one of the special effects’ teams better efforts. Seeing old whaley flapping about reminded me too much of the poor old whale who got splattered in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The rest of the episode just felt so … pedestrian. All that was really required for the team to do was track down the crooks that had imprisoned the alien and have a showdown. The aforementioned villains were nasty, boring and clichéd, just your standard stock baddies with no discernable characters.

I can’t actually think of much else to say about proceedings as my attention kept wandering and I actually got up and left the room on a couple of occasions.

Oh, yes! There was also a sub-plot involving Gwen and fatty fiancé Rhys, in which the gap-toothed one’s fella found out that – gasp! – she actually worked for Torchwood! As virtually the entire population of Cardiff now seems aware of their existence, it does seem rather odd that dim-wit Rhys was the last to twig. You’d also think that he might have grown just a little bit suspicious of all of Gwen’s comings and goings before now (and I’m not just talking about her horrible jiggy jiggy activities with Toadface Owen) – did Rhys really imagine that his beloved had a normal, 9-5 job? The argument scenes between them were quite well done, but didn’t really add anything dazzling to an already average episode.

I think Catherine Tregenna is better suited to writing more “old history” type stories – both of her episodes from last season revolved around characters from the early 20th Century – either brought forward to the present, or encountered when members of the Torchwood team travelled back in time. The drama and conflict that occurred as a result made for some genuinely thought-provoking episodes. “Meat” was an entirely different affair and just didn’t have the same depth or potential. Put bluntly, it was uninspiring and dull.

And to add, in terms of ongoing relationships between the T-Wood team, there’s been some pretty poor continuity to date. Character “involvements” are alternatively picked up or totally forgotten, all according to the whim of whoever is writing this week’s episode. There was no reference to Jack and Ianto’s snog from the week before and Toshiko seemed to have already forgotten about her beloved Tommy, preferring now to focus her attentions on Owen, of all people. Fickle cow. The extent to which the team are all fixating on one another is becoming laughable - tying in with my earlier point about the sliding sexual preferences of nearly all the major characters. And what IS going on with Jack and Gwen?! We keep getting lots of lingering Jack-Gwen looks as if to suggest there’s some kind of suppressed desire between them both, but nothing whatsoever has been said. Pur-lease! Mmm, I wonder if this might throw a spanner in the works for Gwen’s impending nuptials? And Ianto is bound to throw a hissy fit when he finds out that a gap-toothed Welsh wench is a rival for the horny Jack’s affections…Cue cat-fight in the church. Ooooh I hope so. Personally I think Gwen would be better off marrying a Weavel.

Mmmm. After an initially promising first couple of episodes this season, things seem to be on the slide again on the Torchwood quality meter. As Steve put it so accurately over on his blog: "... the episode kept me entertained ... (but) it didn't really excite me or impinge itself upon me for any decent length of time. It's like they're just not trying hard enough. They're on auto-pilot. It's all a bit lazy." Too right. It's nice to crash on the sofa at the end of a long day and stick Torchwood on the TV but it's all so ... undemanding. Decent sci-fi should be so much more challenging and dynamic than this.

Anyway, only a couple of months now until Season Four of Dr Who hits our screens. Catherine Tate aside, I'm hoping it will be a of a much higher calibre! Time will tell...

(Screencaps courtesy of time-and-space.co.uk)

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Just Say NO!!!

Aaaah bleedin' 'ell Tucker! The BBC are axing "Grange Hill"!! No waaaaay, mate!

Yes, after being broadcast for some thirty years, the popular children's drama series, set in a fictional comprehensive school, is finally coming into an end.

I feel quite gutted by this news, even though as an (apparent) adult I haven't watched the programme for a very long time. For one thing, it's shown before I get home so I don't get the chance.

But in my primary and secondary school days (appropriately enough) I was a major fan and remember quite clearly when the show erupted onto our TV screens in 1978. The series caused controversy right from the start, with its gritty, true-to-life portrayal of school life, as opposed to the "nicer", more cosy school dramas that had preceded it. Not to mention the characters themselves, like the tearaway Tucker Jenkins and mouthy madam Trisha Yates. Parents across the country were up in arms, worried that the antics of these rebellious pupils would somehow rub off on their own offspring.

Funny, because if you watch early episodes of "Grange Hill" now, they seem pretty tame in comparison with the kind of kids' TV we get in 2008 and what is now regarded as permissible television viewing. As one of the original actors from the show said, if they really showed what went on in schools in the 2000s, the programme would have to be broadcast after the 9 o' clock watershed. Standards have definitely changed and so in this respect it's understandable why they have decided to lay the show to rest.

However in its heyday, "Grange Hill" dealt with a variety of pertinent and controversial storylines, such as bullying, pupil-teacher romances, students throwing benches into the school swimming pool (ooooh!), heroin addiction (Zammo! more on him later), attempted suicide and even - gasp! - homosexual teachers!

So to commemorate the passing of this iconic kid's series, here's a mini tribute from moi, focussing on some of the most memorable characters (really I think this should be a Cheeser's Choice post!)

First off...

The pupils!

Peter "Tucker" Jenkins (see photo at the top of post, and the one above of the first cast line-up - Tucker's the one in the middle row with the dark-parted hair.) He was a right little rebel but somehow sexy with it (well erm, once he'd got past the pre-pubsecent period...) In his later years, he morphed into an English version of the Fonz / Danny Zucco from Grease with his leather jacket (see photo with Pogo below) and swaggering ways. Tucker was always getting into scrapes, though he wasn't a truly bad 'un, more of a lovable rogue and a point of identification for us kiddies (getting into strife with our teachers was something we all dreamed about but were too scared to actually do - so we lived our fantasies through Tucker). The character even went on to star in his own "Grange Hill" spin-off, "Tucker's Luck". And he was played by a very young Todd Carty, who later played the HIV positive character Mark Fowler in "Eastenders" for many years! Odd, cos "Grange Hill" seemed to serve as a kind of "warm up" school for lots of budding actors, many of whom graduated to "Eastenders" later on.

Alan Humphries (second from left, middle row, above). Rotund friend of Tucker. I can't remember much about him except that he too was one of the school deviants (no, not THAT kind). Oh and he liked to smoke too, which was very daring in its day. I do recall one episode when the school is on a cross-channel ferry trip to France and Alan chucks his packet of fags into the sea ... even the bad ones are capable of reform it seems ...

Benny Green (second from right, middle row). One of the few black characters when the show kicked off. Again don't remember much about Benny but he was a bit of a "naughtie". Him, Alan and Tucker formed the school's rebel triumvirate in the early days.

Trisha Yates (bottom row, left). As said, quite a mouthy, cheeky mare, but basically a good soul. She was often getting into fights with other girls - cue lots of hair-pulling and rolling around in unconvincing fashion. I also seem to remember she had a sister who affectionately referred to Trisha as "piglet". Fortunately she didn't resemble one. Years later in "Tucker's Luck", Trisha and Tucker ran into one another - it transpired that Tucker had had a birrova crush on old Trish over the years and they got it together! Wooh!

Justin Bennett (middle row, first right). The token Middle Class pupil and a bit of a snot-nosed bore. The polar opposite to Tucker, Justin was a well spoken, well-dressed young boy who played cricket and the piano and also suffered from nosebleeds. Artistic or "wet" depending on your point of view. His parents were worried that Grange Hill would be a bad influence on him. And when Justin tried to prove himself to Tucker's lot by climbing up a roof and then falling off onto the concrete below, it looked as though they were right. They should have sent him to Eton.

Penny Lewis (bottom row, first right). Another Middle Class student and terribly, terribly posh and clever. Wrote lots of scathing articles for the school magazine. Erm. Can't think of much else to say about her, except ... the actress who played her, Ruth Davies, went on to change her name to "Rudi" and starred in a rather good Andrea Newman drama called "A Sense of Guilt". Although her character in that was somewhat annoying. And did you know that her Mum is the authoress Beryl Bainbridge? Now you do.

Michael Doyle (middle row, first left). The first of the school "bad boys" and Tucker's nemesis. However his evil doings weren't made to go unpunished. At the end of one series, he's made to pick up lots of garabage off the floor of the corridor, prompting Tucker to come out with the "priceless" comment: " 'ere Doyle, I always said you were a load of rubbish!" Gripper Stebson followed in his wake and was a much nastier proposition ...

Douglas "Pogo" Patterson. Tubby ginger kid, seen here being mentored by the older and wiser Tucker. Pogo was a clownish figure and also the school wheeler-dealer - always trying to sell things like chocolate hedgehogs or pens in order to line his pockets with dosh. One of Pogo's most memorable storylines occured when he stole and memorised the contents of a load of exam papers, thinking that he and his fellow classmates would be tested on the very same questions in their mock exam. But he'd stolen the wrong ones and a totally different set of questions came up! Awwww Pogo!

Cor blimey! Is that Michelle Fowler in the photo above? Nah! It's pupil Suzanne Ross. But you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's 'Chelle, cos the same actress, Susan Tully played both characters. Suzanne came first and was another school rebel as well as being apparently the first girl to mention period pains on the telly (radical!) Teacher Mr Hopwood tried to reform her to little avail, although I think she calmed down a bit later. One of Suzanne's best stunts was at a parent's evening, where she wilded up her hair "punk" style just to p*ss off the teachers and parents. These days it would take a lot more than a haircut to do that ...

Roland Browning - all together now: "I want to help you Ro-laaaaaand!" Erm, that was the phrase that one of Roland's fellow classmates, the nice and caring Janet St Clair, used to continually come out with when she realised he was being picked on by other pupils. Yes poor old Roly (a rather apt name given his somewhat wide girth) was a victim of bullying from the older school students, notably the nasty Gripper Stebson. A universal school situation that many of us unfortunately had to face at some point! Gripper and co were forcing Roland to give them money, otherwise they'd beat him up. It got to Roland so much in one episode, he walked out in front of some traffic and was knocked down. Fortunately Gripper and the bullies were sprung and the bullying stopped. Later Ro-land proved to be particularly adept at French and ended up dating some French bird, if memory serves correct ...

Samuel "Zammo" Maguire. Another lovable rogue in the Tucker mode who .... became a heroin addict!! Quite a daring move for Grange Hill in its day and this was definitely one its strongest storylines. Poor old Jackie, Zammo's adoring girlfriend didn't know how to handle him but was impressed when he apparently kicked the habit. Or had he? And of course who can forget the cheesey-as-hell anti-drugs record that was released in conjunction with this storyline, "Just Say No"?! Featuring all of the Grange Hill cast in various "tuneful" states of singing? And the accompanying video featuring the pupils a) trying not to laugh whilst miming to the lyrics b) bopping down the disco c) doing Kids from Fame style moves in leotards? And the intro bit with Zammo lecturing a potential smack addict is ... quality. Right, you've asked for it:



Aaaaaah ... memories are made of this. Perhaps.

The teachers

Mrs Bridget McCluskey (that's her above in the lovely diamond pattern sweater with lacy collars). She was Grange Hill's long standing headmistress from 1981-1991. Also known as Bridget the Midget. A firm but fair type in a matronly kind of way, well portrayed by Gwyneth Powell (now a bar lady in "Echo Beach", fact fans).

Mr Hopwood (above, standing next to Bridget). Woodwork teacher and good egg; a paternal sort. Considered handsome in his day, he was the object of several crushes by the girls, most notoriously Claire Scott, who ended up writing a diary chronicling her love (and lust?) for Mr H. And hands up if you know which serial killer actor Brian Capron went on to play in "Coronation Street"...?

Mr Bronson. "You Boy!" One of the most hated, feared teachers of all at the Hill, and consequently a bit of an icon. A French teacher and strict disciplinarian, he certainly made his mark. Pupils would do as they were told or suffer the wrath of Bronson. But he was also a huge figure of fun thanks to the Hitler-style toupee he wore. Mr B had a particularly tempestuous relationship with student Danny Kendall, but when Danny unexpectedly died we saw a sudden transformation in his character... The character was brilliantly played by Michael Sheard (a Dr Who stalwart having appeared in several stories). And I once saw him at a Dr Who convention, doing a Mr Bronson style send-up, dancing to "School's Out" with a load of p*ssed Who fans! Something I won't forget.

Of course there were many, many more characters (both pupils and teachers) who populated the corridors of Grange Hill but this (already long) post would become a novel-length one if I listed them all. So I hope you enjoyed that little trip down memory lane. RIP Grange Hill, you'll always be an integral part of my growing up and I won't forget you...

And what better way to round things off then the orginal Grange Hill theme and title sequence?! A great comic book pastiche that encapsulates all of the typical school "issues"! (And If you want to keep watching there's a bit of an episode to follow...)

Only one more thing to say: SAUSAGE!!!

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