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The Fast Show: Series 2 DVD Edits

The Fast Show Series 2 - selected article

Some people fantasise about power. Some people fantasise about money. Some people fantasise about getting their genitalia constantly sucked by a steady stream of people they have specially recruited. Me? I fantasise of comparing the original broadcasts of every single episode of The Fast Show with the versions released on DVD, and noting down each and every difference. Every so often, someone will pop up on a forum and query something which has changed on the commercial releases of the programme; it’d be nice to get all the facts together in one place.

Sadly, it was difficult enough to track down the original broadcast of a single episode of One Foot in the Grave, let alone every last episode of The Fast Show. But back in September of this year, BBC Two repeated the first six episodes of Series 2. And these repeats are certainly the closest we can easily get to the original versions without disinterring some dusty old off-air VHS tapes.1

Let’s take a look and see what’s different, shall we? Just for clarity, we are comparing the 2015 repeats with the version released on The Ultimate Fast Show Collection DVD set. If this doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, then feel free to go and read the exact opposite of this article.

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  1. It is possible, of course, that the BBC have done some minor edits to the programmes for the 2015 repeat run. They would be interesting to document, certainly, but are unlikely to have a great effect on the differences detailed here. 

■ Posted 24th November 2015 @ 6am in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.

Hearts of Darkness: The Thrilling Conclusion

Screengrab from Hearts of Darkness. Everybody in the car looking annoyed.

This is a continuation from Part One of this article, about edits to the One Foot in the Grave episode “Hearts of Darkness”. Make sure you read that first – this won’t make any sense without it…

“On BBC 1 now, One Foot in the Grave. When a day in the country turns sour, and disturbing practices are brought to light, Victor Meldrew comes to the rescue.”

Continuity announcement for the first broadcast of “Hearts of Darkness”

Finally, we have it. After many years of wondering, I’ve finally tracked down a copy of the original broadcast version of “Hearts of Darkness”. Many thanks to go Andy Walmsley for digging out his recording. I am eternally grateful.

And his effort is well rewarded. Because what we’ve found is even more interesting than we might have guessed. Because no, the DVD version isn’t the same as the original broadcast, as I suspected in my last article. But neither is it the expected edited version either.

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■ Posted 19th October 2015 @ 7pm in Best Of, Comedy, Television. 1 Comment.

One Foot in the Grave: Hearts of Darkness

Final shot of programme, just to ruin it for everyone

“Wakey, wakey, everyone! It’s quite nice out here now. I’ve just been watching two frogs having sex!” – Mr Swainey

14th February 1993, BBC1, and the first showing of the One Foot in the Grave episode “Hearts of Darkness’. The episode, dealing with abuse in an old people’s home, caused a certain amount of controversy for its scenes of violence – to the point where the episode was edited for all future broadcasts.

Here’s a quote from David Renwick on the DVD commentary for the episode:

“The version we’re seeing now has been edited, I mean was edited for repeat transmission by the BBC – not in accordance with my wishes, I have to say – and some of the kicking that Arabella Weir does in one of the scenes that’s coming up has been removed, because people complained.”

Which indicates that not only was the episode was edited for repeats, but indeed the DVD set itself contains the edited version.

Before we get into the nitty gritty about this, it’s worth pausing for a moment and talking about why this matters. True, edits to programmes have been an ongoing feature of this site. But this particular edit brings up two especially interesting points.

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■ Posted 8th October 2015 @ 10am in Best Of, Comedy, Television. 1 Comment.

A Dirty Montage

Whilst I’m getting my shit together to actually write something on here, here’s something fun to be getting along with. Over the past few years I’ve been getting some jingles sung for the site, courtesy of JAM Creative Productions of Dallas. My chum Duncan Newmarch has put together a montage of some of these jingles… with the odd added sound effect added here and there.1 Some of the jingles, including the first, are hot off the mixing desk this week:

Yes, that definitely wins the award for “Most Uses of the Word ‘Dirty’ in Two and a Half Minutes of Audio”.

These jingles were all originally sung for US or UK radio stations between the years 1976 and 1991. It gives me a kick that this site can use versions of the same material made for New York’s Z-100 in the 80s, or Radio 1 in the 90s. (For a bit more on the history of these jingles, check out this article I wrote earlier in the year.)

You will have heard some of these jingles on the front of a few of my audio posts, but the main reason I’ve been buying them is for my podcast, which abruptly stopped in September 2012. I’ve been feeling guilty about that for ages, especially as people have actually been asking when it’s going to return. The reason I haven’t really talked about it on here is simple: it felt self-indulgent, and I didn’t want to promise a date I couldn’t keep. Which is good, as it’s been “a couple of months” now for three years.

So, I’d best answer the question properly. Put simply: those first few podcasts were meant to be 10-minute trial offerings, leading up to a proper series of half-hour episodes. Unfortunately, in 2012, I suddenly – to my immense surprise – got a proper career, and things took a back seat for a while. Which is a shame, as I promise a section about Friendship is Magic in those trial episodes, and I had an awful lot to say about that series in 2012. Sadly, it’s all rather been said by now. Hey-ho.2

Anyway, I still don’t want to give a date, but I do have solid plans to actually return to making podcasts. I’ve spent far too much on these sodding jingles not to. In the meantime, enjoy these gorgeous silly jingles. I think every podcast could do with one.

  1. He also takes full responsibility for writing the lyric “DIRTY IN THE MORNING / DIRTY IN THE EVENING / DIRTY FEED! – DIRTY ALL DAY LONG.” 

  2. Not neigh-ho. Or, indeed, hay-ho. I have very specifically said “hey-ho”. 

■ Posted 19th September 2015 @ 1pm in Jingles, Meta. No Comments Yet.

The End of an Era: Yewtree Edition

On the 31st Aug 15, an event was to happen of such earth-shattering proportions, that it was to shatter the earth to its very proportions. Smashie & Nicey: The End of an Era was repeated on BBC Two, for the first time since 2010. And… well, an awful lot has happened since 2010. Were we about to get a butchered-to-hell edit?

Perhaps surprisingly, no. The edits were minimal – in fact, comparing the two versions side-by-side, I only spotted two. Let’s take a look, shall we?

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■ Posted 1st September 2015 @ 9am in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.

An Archive of Mediocre Television Reviews

Having gone on yet another explosive rant about Sam Wollaston recently, I am reminded that I’ve never linked to any of the TV reviews I’ve written for other sites on here. Part of me, to be honest, is disinclined to do so; some of the pieces I’m not very proud of at all. But there’s some good stuff amongst the dross, and besides: I’m cursed with a bizarre sense of fair play. If I’m going to be slagging people off on Twitter, or writing about poor journalism on here, it only feels fair to actually link to some of the stuff I’ve done which I’m not that keen on, rather than pretend it never existed.

So, here is a full archive of television reviews I have written elsewhere. These are mainly from the now-defunct media blog Noise To Signal, although there’s a couple from still active Doctor Who site Unlimited Rice Pudding!, and one from Red Dwarf fansite Ganymede & Titan. It doesn’t include anything lurking in Dirty Feed’s archive, or reviews of anything which isn’t strictly a television episode.

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■ Posted 25th August 2015 @ 6pm in Comedy, Meta, Television. 2 Comments.

The Most Important Thing You Will Ever Read About 9/11

The A.V. Club, “Fans discover Friends deleted an airport security subplot after 9/11″:

“For a show set in New York City in the late ’90s and early 2000s, it’s odd how little Friends ever touched on the events of September 11. In fact, the show never once commented on the tragic occasion, with the closest mention coming from an “FDNY” shirt Joey wore in later seasons. And yet recently, Friends fans uncovered a deleted subplot from an eighth season episode that actually dealt with airport security that was cut from a post-9/11 episode. Of course, it had nothing to do with the then-recently upgraded TSA practices; it just happened to be a bomb joke in an airport.”

OK, so let’s take a look at that video. Firstly: “Uploaded on Feb 6, 2007”. Slightly stretches the definition of “recent” in this context, doesn’t it? As in: the video was actually uploaded far closer to 9/11 than to today. Five and a half years on from 9/11; eight and a half years ago from now.

Secondly… what’s all this “fans” thing? That video – official opening scrolltext and all – is clearly an extra on a DVD release. So it’s less a “fans uncovered” thing, and more “production tells everyone ages ago in an officially licensed commercial product”. Sure, glancing around, it seems the video has gone viral recently – but pretending that this is new is just inaccurate.

Thirdly: embedding a video which purely rips off an extra from a DVD release makes me feel rather queasy. True, I did it on this G&T article – but it’s hardly the main focus of the article, and I did a load of pimping of the DVDs before I felt comfortable with it. The video in the A.V. Club article is really the main content of the piece, and it’s not attributed correctly anyway. Bleugh.

Despite my “hilarious” headline: of course none of this is the most important stuff in the world. And yet… it does point towards a major problem with some of the writing of this kind of material online: the pretence that everything has to be new, now, current. There’s an interesting article to be written about how material from 2007 suddenly goes viral, and the author steadfastly refuses to take it.

This article misrepresents when the material was released, and where the material came from. Two very important facts, waylaid in the attempt to make the story seem exciting and new. That’s just rubbish.

■ Posted 24th August 2015 @ 11pm in Comedy, Journalism, Television. 1 Comment.

24 Hours in Channel 5 TX

Recreation of the 1997 Channel 5 logo - with thanks to Danny Stephenson

TX. Presentation. Playout. Whatever you call it, they’re the people responsible for taking the programmes, promos, adverts and continuity, packaging it all up, and making sure you have something to watch on your television… with the absolute bare minimum of breakdown captions. Yet oddly enough, despite the interest in the subject on many forums, there’s really very little writing online about what it’s actually like to work in transmission.

Last year, I left Channel 5 TX, having been there for a year and a half – and I thought people might be interested in a few details. What the bloody hell do we actually do all day, apart from sit and watch telly? Here’s your answer.

A few points first, however. Don’t expect any dirt to be dished – much as I’m sure it’d be entertaining to hear me whinge on, it’s not gonna happen. Also, there are certain confidential things which I’d love to be able to talk about, but can’t because… well, they’re confidential. Sorry about that. I can guarantee, however, that none of that affects what I have to say too much. Whilst some of the stuff I’ve had to leave out is really interesting, I think the below still represents the job pretty damn well.

Finally, and I can’t stress this enough: the below is just my perspective on the job. In no way whatsoever does it represent the views of Channel 5, or any of its partner companies.

Right, let’s get started, shall we?

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■ Posted 7th August 2015 @ 12pm in Best Of, Television. 6 Comments.

Listen to the Radio

30 years ago today, “We Built This City” was first released in the US. Many people know that some radio stations tailored the DJ chatter section near the end to add in their own local personalities; scroll down to Special Recordings here to listen to no less than four different versions created by CBS-FM.

A lesser-known fact, however, is that for some markets the front of the song was customised as well. Called a singover, or a power intro in more modern parlance, this involved jingle singers singing the station name over the front of the song. And seeing as every single post about jingles on here seems to come back to JAM Creative Productions, it’s hardly a surprise that they were involved with this little bit of fun over the airwaves – and posted about their part in it recently. Let’s take a listen:

Download “We Built This City singovers” (Original post on Facebook)


But what I find especially interesting about this is: this is how plenty of people would mainly have heard the song at the time. Their local radio station, playing all the hits. Assuming that the radio stations actually used the audio on a regular basis1 – and I see no reason why they wouldn’t – many people would always have experienced that song with their favourite station’s name sung over the front of it. A memory that fades through the years, with each passing experience of the song on endless compilation albums or later radio plays… until nobody remembers that how they’re now hearing the song is not how they first experienced it.

A minor historical detail, perhaps. But I bet if you played that audio to certain New Yorkers who listened to Z-100 in the 80s, their brain would spark up, and they’d instantly recognise something they’d entirely forgotten – and send them hurtling 30 years back through time. And that’s worth a hell of a lot.

It’s always worth remembering this stuff. It’s so easy for things like this to slip through the cracks. And remembering history in a way which isn’t just endlessly recycled, obvious clips takes constant vigilance.

  1. This is always a concern when dealing with audio coming straight from a master tape rather than off-air. Sure, it was created, but was it actually used? See also: many jingle demos sung with “WABC” call letters… plenty of which WABC never actually aired, or aired in a different form. 

■ Posted 1st August 2015 @ 8pm in Jingles, Radio. 1 Comment.

The Crystal Maze and “Modern Audiences”

So, that’s it – the Indiegogo for the “live immersive experience” of The Crystal Maze has closed, with an absolutely whopping £927,252 raised – a full 185% 85% over target.

If you haven’t heard of the project, this from the Indiegogo page sums it up:

“In the 90’s, The Crystal Maze, was one of the UK’s favourite television shows. Now we’re planning for it to return as a live immersive experience right in the heart of London!

You’ll get to play the maze just as contestants did on the original show – placing you at the centre of the action. What we really want, is for people to live the magic of the hit television programme for themselves.

We will be lovingly recreating the famous set just as it was on the original show. All four famous zones will be present; Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and Futuristic, not forgetting of course, The Crystal Dome!”

But the part I want to concentrate on is the following:

“Modern audiences want to do, not watch. In recent years, there has been a cultural shift towards entertainment that audiences can engage with in a more active way. More and more we are finding new audiences who want to experience, interact, and play as opposed to watch.”


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■ Posted 19th July 2015 @ 12pm in Live, Television. 2 Comments.

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