(This page is produced by the Site Editor) - updated 4th September 2006
The Woman In Black - 1989 Film - Susan Hill
Theres 'scary' and theres 'absolutely terrifying'. This film is definately the latter.
Adapted from Susan Hill's book, 'The Woman In Black', never has there been a more terrifying ghost story to grace our TV screens. Made in 1989 and shot mostly at Maldon in Essex, it tells the sory of a young solicitor who has been asked to sort out the Estate of the late Mrs Drablow. Howevers there is clearly something not quite right in the village of Crythin Gifford and young Arthur Kidd finds more than he bargained for when he begins to go through Mrs Drablow's house and belongings.
Chilling in the extreme, this film will not only have you hiding behind your cushions, you'll remember it for years afterwards. Hollywood couldn't hope to match this frighteningly good ghost story. Its a mystery that unfolds gradually and the appearances of the Woman In Black leave one almost cold.
A wonderful cast including, Adrian Rawlings, Bernard Hepton, David Daker, Clare Holman and Pauline Moran as the woman, and directed by Herbet Wise, it rightly had four award nominations. Dim the lights, find your favourite Teddy bear and make sure you don't have heart problems.
If you like to be frightened out of your wits then I highly recommend this TV film. In fact I honestly can't think of anything anywhere nearly as scary as this is.....
Jack Palance - City Slickers
Few in the film business can walk on to a set and draw gasps. Jack Palance (like Brynner below) has presence. For a man in his 70s, Jack Palance was still able to scare you witless with almost minimal dialogue (AND make you laugh) in 'City Slickers' made in 1991. I still haven't forgotten his drawn out death after being run over by a tank in the 1956 film 'Attack' - it was sublime.
As 'Curly' the tough cowboy, he barely has to say a word to strike fear into the rest of the cast members - and rightly so. This man is a real pro and what a flash of inspiration to cast Palance in the role. In the end he completely steals the film and it left film-goers rather cheated when they buried him in sand before the film had even finished. So much so that they brought him back (as his twin brother) in City Slickers 2 - The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994).
Palance doesn't appear in 'City Slickers' until around 20 minutes into the film and once you've seen the film once, you can almost skip over the first few scenes which are mostly plot setting any way. The neurotic Billy Crystal makes a wonderful foil for Palance and there is much to laugh at. Memorable lines from the film include a scene where Crystal and Palance are riding through a valley and Palance (who has no tolerance for 'City Folk') starts to chuckle. Crystal asks him what he's laughing at. Palance, with that wonderful gravel-stripped voice of his replies: "I'm just thinking about what I'm gonna to do to ya".
There are very few indeed that can get a reaction just from appearing in a scene. Palance and Brynner could achieve more with a look on film than any of todays so called stars. For those new to Palance (surely there can't be many), I recommend you check out the Palance Filmography to get an idea of just how much this man has done. 'City Slickers' sums up nicely what Palance is all about - presence. Well worth keeping as a permanent fixture in any DVD collection as its a comedy you can enjoy many times. The sequel is equally good too!
Westworld - Still stands up
Whilst so many sci-fi films have not stood the test of time, Westworld (Michael Crichton) starring Yul Brynner certainly has. Made in 1973 it is quite low-tech - at least by modern standards. Its longevity (apart from good direction) is down to the fact that far more was left to the imagination rather than relying wholly on effects- something that Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to do.
Yul Brynner, noted for his presence on film was perhaps better known for 'The King and I' and 'The Magnificent Seven' but he totally excels himself here. He plays the part of a robot gunslinger and the way he moves leaves one in awe of his acting talents - who needs effects with Brynner in the role.
I must have seen this film a 100 times but I never tire of it. With a brilliant soundtrack and more than a touch of humour, it remains a classic. The chase in the second half of the film leaves one on the edge of ones seat. Just don't bother with the sequel - it was truly dreadful.
There are some remarkable things to be found in Westworld despite its apparent low-tech effects. For one thing the robots have eyesight that is made up of pixels - barely known about when this film was made. The fact that the robots have contracted a computer virus at a time when none existed is also remarkable. The use of silver/chrome contact lenses on Brynner gives him a frightening appearance - made worse in fact when he smiles!
As always, the most memorable horror stories are set in an environment where one initially feels comfortable and so it is here. Westworld is set in the Delos amusement park where paying visitors are meant to have fun. One of the technicians in the film remarks that some of the computers were built by other computers and they don't actually KNOW how they work. This is true today and yet when this film was made we were still tinkering with transistors - barely scratching the surface of silicon chips. Whether these were all accidents or whether the writer had enormous foresight we may never know but Westworld stands on its own two feet rather well.
The trouble is, when you have as good a storyline as this, just where do you go with it? The same can be said of 'The Prisoner' (1968), 'The Hitcher' (1986) and the absolutely brilliant 'Duel' (1971).
Batman looks set to stay in the can - and so does Vision On
For years now, the original wonderfully camp 60's Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward has eluded DVD buyers - at least a quality version has. Numerous bootleg versions continue to make the rounds but it has never officially been released because of arguments over rights. Any hopes of its release look set to flounder as the daughter of the late William Dozier (producer of Batman) sues 20th Century Fox for money she felt should have been paid to her father when Fox did a deal with the Networks. More here.
This is all very well but what so often happens is that legal wrangles can often tie up old TV series to such an extent that the public (who in this case gave the series cult status anyway) never get to see it again. Adam West and Burt Ward remain as charismatic as ever. West and Ward brought something to the series that made it work on several levels and added little things of their own - often to the annoyance of the producer but to the delight of its audience.
In the case of 'Vision On', rights of those who contributed to the series has recently now reverted to the artistes themselves rather than the BBC but this again makes it so expensive to broadcast (or even release on DVD), it simply won't happen, well unless all those involved either waive any royalties or reach some kind of joint agreement. I have to say, that seems unlikely.
The best we can expect is perhaps a brief clip in some top 100 childrens programmes type thing. As for Batman, well who knows....
Did Star Trek lose its way
One wonders to what degree an interest in Star Trek makes one a Trekkie. The idea of learning Klingon doesn't appeal to me personally, although like many kids I sat in wonder at all the futuristic sets as Spock, Kirk and Scottie got to grips with whatever alien was plaguing them that week. However I always felt that Star Trek had lost its way somehow. Whilst I made efforts to accept Picard, he was a very different kind of Captain in a very different kind of series. In the end, money became such a driving force by the time we got to 'Enterprise', things were looking distinctly rocky - more artificial in fact than the paper mache sets in the first series.
The original Star Trek had a kind of simplicity about it and a regular crew that viewers took to their hearts like a family - similar to the format that 'Dads Army' had I suppose. The only padding was the incladenstine meetings between Kirk and some female member of the crew. It was fast paced and all comfortably familiar.
I once remarked that 'Deep Space Nine' was like 'Eastenders' in space. It had become bogged down with issues and jargon to the point where the fun element had all but vanished. The originals had humour, adventure and style and this was all forgotten.
Come to think of it, the comparision with 'Dads Army' gives rise to all kinds of possibilities and a cast swap would have worked rather well. Capt Mainwaring looking rather too important in the Captain's chair with Sgt Wilson as Spock "Do you think thats wise Sir?" with Frazer as Scotty "We're all doomed". Private Godfrey as McCoy a real hoot, treating crew with sister Dolly's upside down cake. Who do you think you are kidding Mr Rodenberry?
Northern City & West End - Drivers Eye View
Now don't get me wrong. I'm no trainspotter, but you have to admit theres a certain fascination with London's underground. There are unused stations and all kinds of undiscovered (at least by the public) aspects of its construction and indeed the way it all works.
I recently came across a DVD (Northern City & West End) which takes you on a journey of the northern line - from the drivers cab. Most of us have used the tube at least once in our lives but few if any get to see things from the drivers viewpoint. It does sound anoraky but trust me, this is pretty cool to watch - and quite informative. There are other DVDs covering other train routes in the UK too.
Sadly this comedy series (BBC - 1993) which dealt with the effects on those who live with someone with brain damage received a barrage of complaints after it was broadcast - reason perhaps why it has never been shown since. A real pity as the script was excellent and unfortunately those that complained completely missed the points it made. Starring Richard Briers, Imelda Staunton and Adrian Edmondson, this was a humorous look at the day to day life of some poor pensioner (Godfrey Spry) struck by a wheelbarrow full of bricks whilst waiting at the Post Office. His attention span becomes reduced to around 30 seconds and his life revolves around TV ads - much to his Nephew Gordon's annoyance when he finds his shirts cut in half to demonstrate the cleaning power of new 'Banco'. Is the subject of madness funny? Yes sure - in much the same way that old age is. But perhaps more to the point who is qualified enough to put 'Madness' down on the diagnosis sheet?
If You See God Tell Him was written by David Renwick who has written for just about every comedy series going including the Two Ronnies and One Foot In the Grave. To my mind this four-parter was a masterpiece of writing and possibly one of Richard Briers' (Godfrey Spry) finest TV roles. Copies of this series (still unreleased) are jealously guarded. Its as rare as....well its rare!
What DOES amuse me is the spoof ads which appeared in the series have in some cases become real products including a washing up liquid called "New Concentrated Gleemy with Tangy Pineapple Fragrance" - now available in my local 99p shop. Godfrey Spry would be delighted!
The most memorable moments (and I have to admit there are so many) are when Godfrey cleans the loo with every cleaning product on the market at once (aptly to to Holst's 'Mars -Bringer of War') - with obvious consequences, and the brief moment when he comes face to face with yobs in Milton Keynes weilding a baseball bat followed by a black screen. It is cruelly funny and I can understand some viewers finding the series hard to take but hey wake up you lot - this is modern Britain. I can only congratulate David Renwick on the cynical viewpoint. First class David.
The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe - TV serial / series
Not too long ago this serial ended up in the top 50 whatever worst TV programmes although why that should be eludes me. Even its theme tune stuck in the minds of those that saw it and its probably as near to the book as you'll get. Made in Black & White and the staple diet of any self respecting schoolkid in the 1970s, it was compelling viewing.
Starring Robert Hoffman, made by Franco Films in 1964 and dubbed into English with a score by Robert Mellin and Gian-Piero Reverberi (The French version had a different score) - it somehow prints itself indelibly in adventure series of the time.
With children of my own I can verify that the "Adventures of Robinson Crusoe" STILL catches the imagination of youngsters whether in black and white or not. The story of Robinson Crusoe is well documented elsewhere so I won't bore you with that, but as TV serials go this is one of the best loved and for me, the best version. Its now out of print although copies of the subsequent video release in the 90s seem to have been transferred to DVD by enterprising individuals.
Sure, we all feel his pain at the loss of Dick the dog but perhaps now wonder why Crusoe felt he was so superior to 'Friday' the cannibal, putting him though lessons in table manners. Friday does make his own point about this with his use of the bow and arrow but I'll leave you to explore that one. Crusoe's attempts to create fire, make corn bread, cheese and generally improve his existence are all covered here. Dealing with solitude being perhaps the toughest. This was the tail end of Slavery when for many countries, they depended on such labour to remain rich. As an adult you can find much to think about but you can also revisit this lovely little series with the same eyes that saw it back in the 60s and 70s. The BBC lost their copy entirely but fortunately a surviving English copy was discovered in the 1990s.
Its the wonderful score that sticks in the mind. Not just the theme tune but the variations on it which run throughout the 13 episodes. Robert Mellin was a great lyricist and song writer in his own right but undoubtedly the score for this series is fondly remembered, picked up in more recent years by the 'Art Of Noise'.
Most Haunted - Fake?
Most Haunted (Antix productions) is shown on LivingTV but is it a fake? With such a plethora of TV channels on satellite and cable, one inevitably ends up watching stuff that is mere padding (at best). Its important to bear in mind that 'Most Haunted' is entertainment first and foremost and to make money. Almost 90% of the noises attributed to 'spirits' are pretty normal for old houses. Crikey, mine isn't that old and it makes all kinds of taps and creaks but I don't immediately jump out of my skin like an overgrown schoolgirl.
What REALLY gets my goat is Yvette Fielding calling up the spirits and then apparently being totally freaked out if theres so much as a mouse scurrying along the attic. This alone is annoying - that and the pseudo-gothic background theme that seems to run thoughout. Medium Derek Acorah now apprently exposed as a phoney doesn't help the programme's credibility. I'm not saying 'ghosts' don't exist. I have myself spent two chilly nights at the famous Borley Rectory and certainly encountered phenomena that doesn't fit any natural explanation but that doesn't mean its unnatural either. And even IF these places are haunted, how the heck are we supposed to believe that things happen at every single place they visit. The temptation to fake things is too great when you consider the money tied up in this. Post production must be a nightmare trying to produce something watchable.
If we got rid of Stu, the make-up girl, and Yvette Fielding, we might end up with something resembling a real ghost watch and a little more level-headed but this is TV junk of the highest order. For this kind of thing to have any credibility it needs to be carried out by genuine sceptics and with far better camera equipment. The human mind is a complex thing and too easily duped by knocks, scrapes and shadows - that IS natural.
Sure there MIGHT be a few paranormal events amongst all this fluff but you'd have a hard job finding them to be honest. I remember a scientist discovering that water (one of out most natural elements) has a memory and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that damp in walls can replay events much like a video recorder. Mind you, if life after death has Yvette Fielding in it, I'm hanging on a bit longer!
Next it'll be Celebrity Ghost Watch - John Prescott with a flickering candle. I despair, I really do.....
Peter Sellers Story - As He Filmed It
I'm one of the fortunate few to still have a video copy of the original uncut BBC2 Arena special shown in 1995. It is perhaps the most interesting insight into the real Peter Sellers as the vast majority of this wonderful documentary was filmed by Sellers himself. It is now available (slightly cut down) on DVD. Oddly enough, and I've read many critiques about this documentary is that no one gives Andy Sheppard the credit deserved for the wonderful soundtrack. It was written especially for this documentary and beautifully captures the mood and the very essence of Sellers himself. Sheppard completely transformed my view on Jazz and I have been an ardent fan of his work since I saw this film - go see him!
I won't at this point spoil your enjoyment of this documentary by giving a complete run-down - I think its best discovered for ones self, but Sellers was never comfortable with himself, and his life was a rather complex one. He was an over-grown schoolboy in many ways which reminds me of a comment I heard on the radio over Christmas - "Oh men NEVER grow up". Yes and hoorah for that. Maturity is something that is expected of us - not what we would choose. Sellers genius lay in his ability to hold on to some of that boyish mischief in an otherwise turbulent and somewhat tragic life.
The subsequent edited versions (one for a second showing on TV and another for release on DVD) lost (in my view) a great deal from the original three-hour version. Oddly enough even the DVD can be found in two versions - the UK DVD version is just over 80 minutes yet the Australian version around 135 minutes. Work that one out.
Sellers should have stuck with his first wife, an attractive and intelligent woman, but his upbringing scuppered any chances of that. The really sad thing is that his children (for all the money Sellers was bringing in) were left on the fringes of his life. As a parent myself, money or not, they are centre to my entire existence.
Nice Cup Of Tea And A Sit Down
This is actually the title of a book. I'm not given to critiques of books, in fact I'm not an avid reader at all. I always presumed that after Jermome K Jermome's 'Three Men In a Boat' that that was it, and have stuck to Beano Annuals and Haynes Manuals ever since. No doubt I'm missing out on great literary masterpieces but this apparent void in my life does not concern me. I'm more your factual reader and take after my Father in this respect. However, this book really caught my attention. For one thing its all about biscuits - not so much a historical record (although it is indeed peppered with one or two revelations and speculations for variety) but about the way most of us regard the humble biscuit tin and its contents. "Nice Cup Of Tea And A Sit Down" by 'Nicey & Wifey' is such a worthwhile addition to any book case. Personally I find the best spot for this book is the loo, since you can start reading at any page and it beats reading the back of the conditioner bottles.
It was reassuring to know that the 'Oreo' biscuit which I have the utmost contempt for (as biscuits go) was included and given a fairly resounding thumbs down. Its one of those biscuits that jostles uncontrollably with its neighbours and is no doubt snubbed by your average biscuit. Also interesting to realise that fig biscuits come in two varieties - cut and bake, and bake and cut. To summarise this book, I can only say that it has the same quality as musing the contents of ones own biscuit tin. It is a voyage of discovery without taxing the mind too much but perhaps more importantly, it made me laugh as much as 'Three Men In A Boat' did. Surely that is a good recommendation.
Tony Nabarro (left) kindly gave us the BSL equivalent of Pat Keysell's famous "None of your pictures can be returned". We are most grateful to Tony who is currently working hard to promote the use of BSL - something we think ALL children should learn at school as it is a universally accepted language. We hope this will also please our deaf or hard of hearing visitors.
"We are sorry we cannot return any of your pictures but we give a small prize for those that we show".
You will need Flash to view this.
Of the Serge Leone films I've always rated 'The Good The Bad And The Ugly' and 'Once Upon a Time in the West' as probably his best, and the latter is generally acknowledged to be the best Western ever made. Not that I'm a Western fan - I'm not. Nothing turns my stomach more than to see John Wayne waddling around the screen. That said I've no wish to dampen the spirits of those who do and I do like Leone's version of the Wild West - more art than film.
The Good The Bad And The Ugly had around 20 minutes missing, the missing footage showed up on DVD releases a while back as a bonus but only in Italian. However, in 2003, Eli Wallah (who frankly steals the film) and Clint Eastwood, went back to the recording studio and redubbed the missing chunks plus other segments that were found. How cool is that? It has since been released as a 'Special Edition' - worth checking out. It was completely restored by Triage Film Restorers to an incredibly high standard and it posed many problems, a summary of which can be found on this 2 DVD version.
Paul Rutan at Triage told me: "We all worked very hard on that title. We did all the other MGM, Leone Westerns, as well. But you really missed out. We restored this title to be projected in a theatre on a big anamorphic screen. It was fabulous in the venue it was designed for." These restored versions have to be seen to be believed.
Laurel & Hardy in Colour
Ok, I appreciate that purists will probably condem me for bringing this up, but in the 80s a series of colourised versions of classic Laurel & Hardy films surfaced on Video. They did not detract from the films in the slightest but what did strike me, particularly with 'Blockheads' is that with colour added, they could have been made last week. The only problem for me, is how on earth did the team behind them decide what exactly was in the background? Its no mean feat and the danger (with any film restoration too) is that its all too easy to go too far and end up putting things in that you THINK are there. Despite that, they were really interesting to watch and I hope they release these on DVD at some point. They may already have done so but I've yet to come across them.
Bits & Bobs (29th August 2005)
It seems hard to believe how big this site has become since I started it over four years ago. Certainly it has raised the profile of 'Vision On', given visitors a variety of signposts to source further information (if not debate), reunited many of those involved in it and encouraged the BBC to look again at the programme. My problem is I do TOO much. I have around 300 sites to watch over on a regular basis and at the moment I'm redesigning the 'On The Buses' website for a friend, which despite the fact it has a wealth of information
(I'm a fan too), its very difficult to navigate with so much info. That said its close to completion now and could be online over the next few weeks. For anyone who remembers Stan (Reg Varney) and Jack (Bob Grant) as well as the series, I do recommend you go look at the existing On The Buses website.
Other programmes I'm a big fan of, include 'Bewitched' which started the same year as 'Vision On'. I always thought Dick York was an incredibly talented actor - somewhat in the vein of Jim Carrey and 'Bewitched' was a warm comforting series somehow. Although Dick York never complained about his failing health (or reduced circumstances), I can't help feeling that this man was cheated of a fantastic TV/Film career. He sustained a permanent back injury a few years before and for much of 'Bewitched' he was helped on and off the set until finally, he could do it no more. Dick did so much to help those less fortunate right up until the end in 1992 (see interview), and in this respect perhaps his life was fulfilled but he was a very talented actor.
Dick had worked with Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly and others, notably in 'Inherit The Wind'. Both 'Sam' and 'Darrin' are long gone (Elizabeth Montgomery died due to cancer - 1995) but the series runs endlessly. Incidentally its beginning to surface on DVD now. Bit pricey for me at mo but may consider it as a birthday present:) Worth it for Aunt Clara!
More recently I've been revisiting Adam West's Batman (for me the ONLY Batman) and thoroughly enjoying it. This was total pantomine with occasionally some real digs at the establishment. In any event it worked across a wide range of ages and its about time that all the rights were sorted out and the series released on DVD so that the pirate versions don't keep appearing on EBAY! Whilst I'm no fan of bootlegging on such a grand scale, you can hardly blame those that do this if the rights are so heavily tied up, no one can release the damned thing. I do wonder how much of the original TV series now needs completely restoring but this was a problem with 'The Goodies' in that it was left SO long, the original material had become virtually unwatchable - compared to the quality of broadcast media now.
Also check out "Return To The Batcave" where Adam West and Burt Ward revisit their Batman years in an equally funny and camp way - and considerably older fellas too. Appearances from the original 'Riddler' and 'Catwoman' (more like Debbie Harry now) are just wonderful. Beneath the story is an amusing sub-story of Adam & Burt's first few weeks filming with the hilarious revelations that poor old Robin was doing his own stunts and spent the first few weeks being bandaged up. Jack Brewer plays Adam West in this sub-story (although there is no one that looks even vaguely like Adam West - or his legs) and Jason Marsden plays Burt Ward. Marsden's portrayal of Burt Ward is spot on and once the mask is on, you can't tell the two apart. I wonder why no one took the idea up to make a new series. Anyway, its as funny as the brilliant commentary on the 1966 Batman Film (available on DVD) - both of which get a nine out of ten as far as I'm concerned. The latter you can get under £7 and is money well spent!
Whilst the modern Batman has been enormously successful it left behind the cartoon-strip feel that the 60's series had and for my mind, the comedy too. Adam West describes it as "The theatre of the absurd" - and that about sums it up.
Lastly I do wish the BBC would transfer "If you see God tell him" to DVD. It was a four part comedy series starring Richard Briars, Adrian Edmondson and Imelda Staunton. A work of sheer genius. The BBC became increasingly nervous about it as it kind of suffered the same fate as 'Till Death Us Do Part' in that some of its critics completely missed the point it was making. In the case of "If you see God tell him", the basis of the comedy was the after affects of someone who suffers severe brain damage - a terrible thing but there IS a funny side too! A black comedy certainly and I'm only glad that I had the foresight to hit the record button on my video when it was first transmitted. I just lack episode three if anyone has it?
Remind me to start a campaign on the absurdities of political correctness - it drives me nuts. 'Love Thy Neighbour' gets totally slated by critics but actually the script is quite funny at times and we too often look at older material without due regard for the time it was written - besides, the point was missed entirely. Eddie was clearly racist (as was his black neighbour) and the series did much to highlight racism - it should be applauded for that if nothing else. A lot of programmes fall subject to 'Political Correctness' - if you're reasonably intelligent you'll get the point that the writers were making. If you're not, then you deserve 'PC' and the damage it has done to comedy over the last ten years. Writers end up with NOTHING to write about and 'PC' has done more to create a barrage of fifth-rate comedy than anything else. In an effort to improve things - we can (and have) actually made things worse since 'PC' is also an attack on human rights too. You can't have your cake AND eat it. I'm not racist and neither do I find 'Love They Neighbour' racist but i DO resent being told how I should think - thats WORSE in my view.
Susanne & Humphrey (23rd August 2005)
We finally managed to track down the long lost Susanne after she emailed us today. Sue is the daughter of the late Les Lilley who also worked on 'The Burbles' in Vision On. Les had been involved with 'Beyond Belief' with Roger Whittaker and started doing odds and ends for Patrick Dowling on Vision On (Les seemed to know everyone) and when they needed a child for a new idea they had, Les said "I've got one" and Sue (Suzanne) and Humphrey became household names. It was simply a series of photos with Sue and the Tortoise with suitable speech bubbles but could often be quite funny.
As an aside, the most common name for tortoises (apart from Fred) is 'Humphrey' - and purely on the strength of these two characters. In that respect both Susanne and Humphrey have passed virtually into folklore - strange world.
Sue has her own thread in the forum if you have any burning questions. She is older now (like the rest of us) and is a 40 year old Mum with children of her own - how cool is that? Sue says in her forum profile: "My Dad Les Lilley wrote the programme and I was recruited at the age of 3 to be that girl. I was finally retired when I started to loose my baby teeth and was replaced briefly by another Susanne who I think was the photographers daugher, and then for an even briefer time by my brother who had to talk to "Pom" the Hippopotomus!" - Sue.
Pat is always a busy lady but kindly put pen to paper (or digits to keyboard) and gave us a real insight into the origins of Vision On, its evolution and those involved in it. This has been added to the 'Pat Keysell' section of the Vision On story.
New Tony Hart Site (28th July 2005)
I've just finished work on the updated Tony Hart website. There are still areas I'm playing around with and I have another ten pages to add but essentially the look is there. Go take a peek.
Wilf Lunn Special Edition Prints (27th July 2005)
A set of four unique limited edition prints, signed by Wilf are now available through Wilf's site. They depict four of Wilf's cycles and each is hand-signed by Wilf - well worth the £19.95 I'd say. Order your prints now.
Vision On Tribute programme
Well its official. The BBC have commissioned a tribute programme centrered on Vision On that will hopefully start being put together at the end of this year. We all know what a brilliant format the series was and now a tribute programme has been commissioned. I am assured by Merryn Threadgould that she has already contacted Roc and Bill and it WILL happen. About time eh? Also, the copyright of much of the content has now passed back to the original creators.
We've all worked quite hard to promote the concept over the last two years but it appears that Merryn had also been pushing for this over the last year and a half. Wherever the seed was set, we can at last look forward to giving the programme the recognition it deserved.
'Digger' July 2005
As Editor I rarely voice opinions but for once I'm giving a more accurate picture of what this site is and who is involved in it. After a tenuous house move (and as I type this I'm in the middle of a box-filled office - not easy), we finally heard from Bill Mather who created the wonderful Digger character. Bill is a wonderful artist and sculptor to boot. Laurie Booth (as you'll know) actually worked on the camera side of things and said on numerous occasions, Vision On was so long ago he couldn't actually remember who created 'Digger' and as Bill has no recollection of Laurie we ended up with a kind of stalemate, well temporarily. Mind you it took two years and Paul Deacon to work out what the theme tune was - it was a long time ago, scripts are rare, and we have to rely on episode credits to gain even a lead sometimes.
Bearing in mind I was just a kid when Digger appeared and I'm going to stick my neck out here and I suspect that time as well as fleeting brushes can do little to help with memory retention after such a long time. Both Laurie and Bill are interesting men and will probably work out where each was at the time - with a little help.
This all brings me neatly to issues concerning copyright. Firstly, 'Its Prof Again' is principally here to promote the work of the bizarre minds of David Cleveland and friends but as time has gone on, it has also expanded to highlight the work of all those who worked on 'Vision On'. It does get a lot of visitors, from all over the world. However to raise interest in those involved in 'Vision On' it does require interesting content. Text alone would be dull to read. Images are sourced from personal photographs, the bulk of which were meticulously kept by David Cleveland himself. Pat keysell sent in the one of her, Tony and Wilf Lunn on the Vision On pages. However its hard to jog peoples memories without visual references to items and we do sometimes bend the rules a little to be able to do this. On the whole no one seems too bothered about this since without an image, some items (ie the Burbles) wouldn't even get a mention and despite being fairly simple concepts, they were somewhat fondly remembered. Its just plain nice to see them again is it not?
One could argue that even showing 'Prof' clips allows them to be watched and the artist is then not paid for this. I do appreciate that stance, but as David himself would agree with me, without showing a few clips, the Prof films would still be sitting in the East Anglian Archives and no one would ever see them - period. Showing the clips serves two purposes, it gives a smile and a flood of memories to those who view them sure, but more importantly gets them talked about and are seen with fresh eyes once more. It does encourage visitors to buy a Prof video (even if its not a mad dash) and this puts CAW films out there again - hoorah. They are low quality clips as a kind of compromise. If you want a better quality clip - buy the video!
As Editor I earn not a penny, never have. Videos and merchandise are handled by David and CAW films and whoever else offers items for sale - nothing to do with the site itself. Certainly Vision On episodes are NOT available either here or through the BBC. However, any other animator or person involved with the series is more than welcome to sell items here. I very much welcome this. I cover the cost of running the site and will travel to talk to Vision On contributors where I can. I don't get paid for any of this. I'm here to ensure that ALL those involved with Vision On are represented and their work/contribution is highlighted, and their privacy guarded. I do it because I love the research and to get people talking about Vision On again. David Cleveland, Tony Hart, Pat Keysell and Wilf Lunn have always shown great support for the site, contributing memories, photographs and been wonderful hosts on many occasions too.
I do not make any claims that information is absolutely gospel - information comes in rather sporadically and often rather fuzzy after some 40 years (understandably), and I find myself rewriting whole chunks from time to time, just to keep pace with it all. Where information is incorrect I will endeavour to put things right but this site is not a documentary - its based on what I know and it will always be blighted by missing information, errors etc until I receive some new revelation that says otherwise. The site also includes opinion by a variety of people since without this, the site would be purely factual and probably only take two paragraphs like most other references about 'Vision On'. I therefore do not feel compelled to respond to DEMANDS that I cover this or that. Requests sure, but harsh words will usually result in the entire removal of items - its far simpler. The site makes no profit (it actually makes a loss of £100 a year) so I do ask that this is kept in mind when any requests are made.
It has always been an ambition of mine to see a lot of the animators work on a collective video. Some were often rather simple but like 'Vision On' it was the sum of the parts that made it what it was. The thought of an hour of Filopat & Patofil for instance, fills me with horror. Its too much. The success of Vision On was its light and shade, all the items contributing to the whole. The Prof can actually stand up to a full length video but only because (apart from the white coat) each episode was vastly different from the last. We can't show Vision On itself because the BBC hold the copyright and the costs of getting clearance would bankrupt me. Thats not meaness on the part of the BBC (indeed they have shown great support)j, its just the way the cog wheels turn and life frankly. I have 'touched' base with the Beeb from time to time and for the most part they're glad to see some of their early programmes held in such high regard but I am mindful not to infringe their copyright and make it plain on the foot of each page who owns the copyright. I'd dearly love them to support me in terms of archived items (in whatever form) but its a lot more complicated than that as there are way too many hoops to jump through. I just try to pay attention and make every attempt to get things right - even if sometimes i make a blunder.
Some artistes/animators held on to the rights for their work (the lucky ones) but I don't wish to see the site held back over copyright issues for items that otherwise would never see the light of day. Its a case of making a judgement based on common sense. If I do push the boundaries here and there, it is certainly not for my own benefit. If however anyone has any issues concerning copyright with included items, I'm happy to remove, correct, amend items as required. Even better I can create good keyword laden text links to drive traffic to other sites. I'm here to help. Thats about all I can say and at the same time continue to help the site grow and for work to be displayed and honour those who made it.
Lastly, there is some activity from BBC Bristol in terms of commisioning a 'Vision On' tribute programme but as Paul Deacon (BBC Archives), Laurie Booth and myself have stirred up the concept relentlessly, including a mention in the internal BBC magazine 9 months or so ago (thanks Paul) and endless phone conversations and email over the last two years, thats no doubt why its underway. Sound good to me!
David (as always) is busy. However he dropped me a line this week to let me know that he was on BBC Essex on Easter Monday to play a bit of the Prof show (a pilot he did in 1996 for radio using old records to play against) and to talk about this website and his video etc. He also says he really wants to do a small Prof book but is still trying to decide on a formula for it. A Prof clip was also used in the BBC's "Winners & Losers" one-off special. I'll see if its possible to put the radio item on the site - not sure yet. Thanks David for keeping me up to date on the above and best wishes from all your fans!
Vision On Book!
Copies of the original Vision On book STILL turn up on Ebay - try this link:
NEW Film clips added!'
A quick change of film clips. I must admit we don't change them frequently but now and again we swap them around. The quality is reduced to allow them to be played over the Internet. Get the video if you want to see more and in much better quality. A new Cid Sleuth (Jigsaw) clip was added too.