One of my favourite DVD commentaries I’ve ever heard is John Cleese’s on the Fawlty Towers Remastered box set.1 Of course, I could listen to John Cleese talk about comedy forever and a day, but more than that: it’s rare to hear someone of his generation so utterly committed to the art of giving a good commentary. Having clearly rewatched the episodes in preparation, there are very few awkward pauses; the whole thing is dense with facts. Moreover, rarely has someone been so endlessly generous in talking about the talents of the cast of a show… and genuinely makes you appreciate why they are so good, rather than just gushing.
My favourite thing about the commentary, though?2 His thoughts, 30 years later, as to which parts of Fawlty Towers are his favourite, and which bits he likes the least. The former have been talked about before – Basil’s Best Bits on Gold, for example – but I find the latter especially interesting. Having read a number of ill-thought-through criticisms of Fawlty Towers over the years, it seems the only person who actually has any sensible ones is a certain J. Cleese.
Here then, are some of his least favourite things about the show, as taken from his commentary. I’ve picked what I think is his most interesting criticism of each episode. Enjoy.
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■ Posted 11th February 2015 @ 4pm in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
I’m getting quite the collection of these little pieces of ephemera: leaflets given out at sitcom recordings. From The Brittas Empire, Every Silver Lining, new Yes Prime Minister, and Birds of a Feather, comes the latest: Up the Women, Series 2 Episode 3, “Bowls”.
RX: 16th February 2014, Studio 2, The London Studios.
TX: 4th February 2015, BBC Two, 10:00pm.
Compared to some of the lovely leaflets in my collection, this maybe isn’t one of the best – crooked, and not especially well laid out. (There’s a big gap where something interesting behind-the-scenes could have been added.) The character descriptions are good, though. Anyway, I highly recommend you give the series a try if you haven’t already. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
As ever, I’m always on the lookout for more of these – so if you have any hanging around, please, scan ‘em in and send me a link. Unless you don’t want you. You heartless bastard.
■ Posted 9th February 2015 @ 8pm in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
Picture the scene. You’re sitting there watching television, and something bad happens. Maybe it’s a voiceover in the wrong place, over the last scene of the programme instead of the end credits. Maybe the channel goes to an ad break in the middle of a scene. Maybe the first part of a programme keeps repeating over and over again. Maybe the aspect ratio has all gone to shit. Maybe it’s a full-blown breakdown, badly-dealt with and with no apology.
And across the internet, the familiar lament goes: “Tch, automation, eh?”
Except: it isn’t. Automation doesn’t really have anything to do with it at all. And I’m going to do my best to convince you. So what does cause complete inanities to go to air?
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■ Posted 21st January 2015 @ 1pm in Television. 1 Comment.
Sunday morning, 28th December 2014, and something unpleasant is going down on Comedy Central UK.
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■ Posted 2nd January 2015 @ 6pm in Television. 1 Comment.
Exactly five years ago today, Dirty Feed came into being. (Actually, that’s strictly not true – it was called Transistorised for most of that first year – but let’s ignore that, as it was a rubbish name.) After Noise To Signal closed, I wanted a place of my own to post my nonsense. No real plans, no ambitious proposals: just “let’s talk about stuff I’m interested in and see what happens”.
I rarely do navel-gazing posts here – in fact, bizarrely, even the change in name from Transistorised to Dirty Feed wasn’t actually noted on the site. But I thought I’d allow myself something just this once. What follows is a list of some of my favourite things on the site over the past five years. I ORDER YOU TO ENJOY IT.
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■ Posted 1st January 2015 @ 11am in Meta. No Comments Yet.
Next year, I am going to learn how to watch television and listen to the radio.
Or more specifically: next year, I am going to learn how to watch television and listen to the radio by myself.
Of course, I used to do nothing but this. My fond memories of watching TV when I was growing up aren’t as a family: it was my own shows, alone. My formative experiences with comedy, watching Fawlty Towers and Red Dwarf and Trev and Simon’s Stupid Video over and over and over again, were solitary experiences. There was nobody about in the middle of the night, where I sat watching Pets on 4Later. And those 10 minute Television X free-to-air promos… actually, let’s skip that one.
Still, over the years, things changed. I moved in with my girlfriend, and we started watching more TV together. And gradually, watching stuff by myself got less fun. If a show was really that great, I’d want to share it with her. Sure, I might enjoy a show by myself… but it was far more fun to watch it together, to laugh together, to stare in horror together, to talk about it afterwards together. And slowly, it became a habit… to the point where, without really even thinking about it that much, I barely watch anything by myself any more. It just doesn’t appeal to me at all.
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■ Posted 30th November 2014 @ 11am in Radio, Television. 1 Comment.
On Saturday, Pointless Celebrities did their second radio special. And to celebrate the event, Richard Osman had lots of jingles at his disposal. As possibly one of the most Dirty-Feed-friendly programmes ever broadcast, we had to mark the event somehow.
Now, many shows might have just got some cheap, nasty, mock radio jingles done – maybe because they wanted cheap, or maybe because they wouldn’t have any idea companies exist whose entire purpose is to create radio jingles. But the beauty of Pointless – as with all great programmes – is how much care is taken in the production. So we get resings of tracks which originally came from US jingle companies JAM and PAMS – who both produced Radio 1 jingles for decades.1
The result of this? That, much like TV Offal, all the jingles heard on Pointless were originally sung for US radio stations. And if you don’t want to hear a comparison between the two different versions, then you’re clearly on the wrong site. What are you doing here? Go away.
Download “Pointless Celebrities Jingles – 18/10/14″ (6MB MP3, 4:09)
For the record, the jingles in order are: Turbo Z #18, Turbo Z #4, Turbo Z #26 (my favourite), Turbo Z #1, Series 34 ‘Music Power’ #23, Series 27 ‘Jet Set’ #2, Turbo Z #6, Series 33 ‘Fun Vibrations’ #16, and Series 34 ‘Music Power’ #14. (With thanks to Robin Blamires for helping me identify that last one.)
All huge amounts of fun, and the delight with which Alexander Armstrong greeted them was a joy to behold. (Though well done Trevor Nelson for calling them “dated”, which is possibly the least interesting thing that could possibly be said about them.) It is, however, slightly ridiculous that Pointless not only has better jingles than an awful lot of radio stations, but also knows how to use them better…
■ Posted 19th October 2014 @ 5pm in Jingles, Radio, Television. No Comments Yet.
Well, not really worked in. More worked by. First in a room next door, transferring material from tape to playout server, and then in the other room next door doing scheduling. But it’s the first TV place I went to where I actually got paid money for being there… so it has a special place in my heart. I don’t wish to romanticise too much, but I always got a little thrill as I walked through the room and saw that bank of monitors.
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■ Posted 9th October 2014 @ 9pm in Television. No Comments Yet.
I don’t tend to talk much about my Tumblr blog on this site. I use it for posting little pictures, thoughts, or snatches of audio, some of which develop into something more substantial over here. But I do feel I have to acknowledge by far my post popular post over there. It’s just hit over 200 likes/reblogs.
Extraordinarily unsafe for work.
Maybe I should stop talking about old radio airchecks or obscure sitcom edits on here, and just concentrate on women enjoying dog cock.
■ Posted 22nd September 2014 @ 2pm in Internet. No Comments Yet.