Tag Archives: BBC

➤ Shapersofthe80s is declared an “invaluable website” by British historian

“winter of discontent” ,  Leicester Square, strikes,

Britain’s infamous “winter of discontent” that brought down the Labour government in 1979: as public service workers went on strike, rubbish piled-up even in London’s Leicester Square

Seasons in the Sun,Battle for Britain, Dominic Sandbrook, books, history, Allen Lane,❚ AN “INVALUABLE WEBSITE” — this is the verdict on Shapersofthe80s by historian Dominic Sandbrook, author of the rich new cultural analysis, Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974–1979. It’s a doorstep of a book, yet highly readable, which reveals numerous upbeat aspects to the chaotic decade many write off as worthless.

Chapter 31 is especially inspirational! Sandbrook gives generous credit to key characters who Shapersofthe80s has long maintained deserve recognition as movers and shapers pivotal to the energy of the 80s. And, having quoted chunks from our own texts, the historian gives due acknowledgement in his extensive bibliography. Indeed, the scope of his research is more impressive than for much other contemporary history, as Sandbrook not only cites political and economic mandarins, but also sifts fine detail from popular culture and eye-witness reportage across the whole social spectrum.

Sandbrook writes: “Behind the lurid news stories, the late 1970s were the decisive point in our recent history. Across the country, a profound argument about the future of the nation was being played out, not just in families and schools but in everything from episodes of Doctor Who to singles by the Clash. These years marked the peak of trade union power and the apogee of an old working-class Britain – but they also saw the birth of home computers, the rise of the ready meal and the triumph of a Grantham grocer’s daughter who would change our history for ever”

Seasons in the Sun is the fourth title in Sandbrook’s survey of postwar Britain. His unstuffy combination of high and low life is behind the BBC2 series The Seventies currently viewable live and on iPlayer.

BBC2 series The Seventies,Seasons in the Sun ,Dominic Sandbrook

Sandbrook’s Seasons in the Sun forms the basis of the current BBC2 TV series The Seventies


❏ “The first three volumes of Dominic Sandbrook’s epic history of Britain between 1956 and 1979 were exceptionally good. The fourth, Seasons in the Sun, is magnificent … marked by its pace, style, wit, narrative and characterisation as by its exhaustive research.” — Roger Hutchinson, Scotsman

❏ “Sandbrook has created a specific style of narrative history, blending high politics, social change and popular culture … his books are always readable and assured, and Seasons in the Sun is no exception … Anyone who genuinely believes we have never been so badly governed should read this splendid book.” — Stephen Robinson, Sunday Times

1977, Jayaben Desai, Grunwick, strike, picket

August 1977: Jayaben Desai, treasurer of the strike committee at the Grunwick photo-processing plant, had been picketing for a year, supported by white, male trade unionists while postmen blocked the company’s mail. (Photograph by Graham Wood/Getty)


➢ Playwright David Edgar draws together the Sandbrook quartet in The Guardian, May 9, 2012: The 1970s was the moment when our century arrived… As Sandbrook insists, the women’s liberation movement was as much about Hull’s fishermen’s wives and female machinists at Ford Dagenham as feminist activists disrupting Miss World. In 1971, workers campaigning against the closure of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders borrowed the student tactic of the sit-in. As 1970s chronicler Andy Beckett argues, the gay groups who stood shoulder to shoulder with trade unionists outside Grunwick prefigured an alliance which “would become commonplace in the decade to come”. The identity politics that were to become such a satirised feature of the left of the 1970s arose not just out of campus and culture but class war… / continued at Guardian online


➤ That Boy George bio-drama gets a repeat — take it all with a large pinch of salt!

Worried About The Boy, theBlitzClub,Boy George,Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth,BBC, TV drama

Worried About The Boy: Queens of London’s Blitz Club and pioneers of the 80s New Romantic style, Christopher (Daniel Wallace) and George (Douglas Booth) as fictionalised in the BBC drama

❚ FOR VIEWERS CATCHING UP TONIGHT on the repeat of Worried About The Boy, the BBC’s sanitised drama about Boy George’s teen romancings, read how Shapersofthe80s canvassed the reactions of original Blitz Kids live during its first transmission in 2010.

➢ 2010, Here exclusively at Shapersofthe80s, ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy

➢ 1980, Three key men in Boy George’s life — who was really who in the fictionalised BBC version of real life

➢ View WATB clips at the BBC TV website


Boy George, Twitter, March 2012, Worried About the Boy, BBC drama

Tweeted by Boy George, March 8, 2012

❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click


➤ Vision On, Sound On: 75 years since BBC TV beamed out ‘a mighty maze of mystic, magic rays’

The BBC’s opening broadcast, November 2, 1936

➢ Click the picture to watch The Television Song in a new window — from the film Television Comes to London

❚ ONLY ABOUT 400 “LOOKERS-IN” were able to view the world’s first scheduled television service in high-definition (240+ lines) at 3pm on November 2, 1936. The engineers wore white dust-coats and the star wore a cocktail dress. With immaculate middle-class enunciation, she sang a song full of amazement at the newest technology of its day:

♫ A mighty maze of mystic, magic rays
Is all about us in the blu-u-u-u-e,
And in sight and sound they trace
Living pictures out of space
To bring our new wonder to you-u-u-u-u ♫

Everyone knew the musical comedy star Adele Dixon, though not yet the BBC Television Orchestra conducted by Hyam Greenbaum, also glimpsed in the clip above. The opening show was called Variety, and the song was called simply Television — known universally today as The Television Song. It had been specially written for the occasion, with lyrics by James Dyrenforth and music by Kenneth Leslie-Smith. Its innocence still wows us for six.

Alexandra PalaceThe broadcast was being beamed from what became a landmark transmitter tower atop customised studios 350ft over North London at Alexandra Palace, the original “people’s palace of entertainment”. Two different black-and-white television systems were being tested in quick succession on that first afternoon, and then on alternate weeks for six months: in the 70 x 30 feet Studio A the Marconi-EMI 405-line electronic system; and in Studio B, John Logie Baird’s 240-line mechanical system.

Baird the tenacious Scot is usually claimed to be the inventor of television and between 1923–1925 he demonstrated his clunky apparatus with a spiral of revolving lenses in the Soho building which became Bianchi’s restaurant soon after, refurbished today as Little Italy. The Times reported in 1926: “The image was often blurred. But it substantiated a claim that it is possible to transmit and reproduce instantly such things as the play of expression on the human face.”

Baird’s televisor in Frith Street, 1925: before transmission, the received image at left has been scanned by a spiral of revolving lenses, shown at right with inventor Logie Baird. Photo: Hulton/Getty

The flaw lay in Baird’s underlying technology being mechanical. In the end, Marconi’s electronic rival proved to be the future and it endured until the 1960s. Cecil Madden, the BBC’s fledgling TV Programme Organiser, says the differences were all too apparent: “Working in the Baird studio was a bit like using Morse code when you knew that next door you could telephone.”

A kick-start to the novice TV industry had come two months earlier. At very short notice the rival systems had been demonstrated at Radiolympia, the annual exhibition mounted by the Radio Manufacturers’ Association. The radio industry couldn’t sell the stands for the 1936 show (Aug 24-Sep 3) and a desperate call for help went out: could television save the day? (All the more desperate considering that TV sets in 1936 cost a princely £150, which is equivalent to £8,300 in today’s money.) Given only nine days’ warning, Cecil Madden appointed himself producer of its first broadcast.

➢ The Alexandra Palace Television Society tells the tale alongside this film documentary about Radiolympia 1936…

❏ On August 26 at 11:45 a piece of Duke Ellington was heard, accompanied by a caption card reading, BBC Demonstration to Radiolympia by the Baird System, transmitted from its tiny one-camera studio. This was followed by another ten minutes of music. The highlight of the demonstration was to be a variety show someone had the bright idea of calling Here’s Looking At You, featuring a song with the same title by Ronnie Hill, performed by Helen McKay.

Alexandra Palace, BBC studio,

Alexandra Palace: Studio A with an Emitron camera

It was not until the next day, when everything was repeated using the Marconi-EMI system, that the show was seen in its full glory: with three cameras, two mobile and one fixed. This was the version filmed by British Movietone news cameras and featured above. “Hello Radiolympia,” said announcer Leslie Mitchell, standing in front of the first set of curtains. “Ladies and gentlemen, Here’s Looking at You.” And Miss McKay sang:

♫ Here’s looking at you
From out of the blue
Don’t make a fuss
Just settle down and look at us ♫

The 30-minute show that followed went out twice a day. Cecil Madden says: “It’s still unique because noone has ever done 20 programmes live, twice a day for ten days, from Alexandra Palace to the radio show at Olympia.”

The BBC’s twice-daily running order for Radiolympia 1936. Click for the full document where eagle eyes will note readings by T S Eliot, Aldous Huxley and Rebecca West, and film appearances by Charles Laughton, Gertrude Lawrence and Paul Robeson. Source: Terra Media

The programme was received as far away as Bournemouth and Nottingham, and the Marconi-EMI team, with their mobile camera, were able to include some exterior shots from Ally Pally. All of which resulted in the official inauguration of the BBC Television Service being brought forward to early November. Regular programmes were broadcast twice a day from 3pm to 4pm and from 9pm to 10pm, except on Sundays. One of the early fears was that television would cause eye strain — even after only two hours a day.


2011 ➤ Strange and Egan return to the Blitz to kick off the 20-tweens

Return To The Blitz , Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, Red Rooms, Blitz Kids, New Romantics

Motormouths back in action: Strange and Egan interviewed on BBC London news last night in the club where they once reigned. Such were members’ powers of self-promotion at the Blitz, Egan said, that it was the 80s equivalent of Facebook Live!

❚ FED UP WITH BEING IMPERSONATED by the many lookalike websites online, Steve Strange and Rusty Egan have resolved their differences to collaborate on a brand-new official Blitz club website at:
theblitzclub, Return To The Blitz, New Romantics,website,logo
The partnership of Strange as greeter and Egan as deejay famously hosted the Blitz club-nights which launched the New Romantic fashion and electro-pop movement in 1980, and opened the door for much more sparkling new music during that decade. Last night the legendary motormouths blagged themselves a couple of valuable minutes on London’s TV news to announce a reunion party actually at the site of the original Blitz, then a Covent Garden wine bar which these days is an after-hours saucy gentlemen’s club called The Red Rooms (pictured above). And though the BBC presenters banged on about a 30th anniversary, any original Blitz Kid knows the club actually opened in 1979.

Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, theblitzclub, Blitz club,Derek Ridgers

Then and now: Egan and Strange photographed in 1979 at the Blitz by Derek Ridgers, and yesterday, Jan 7, 2011

Not one to let that stand in the way of a party, Strange says: “The furniture may have changed but there is no doubt we are heading back to our spiritual home.” Next Saturday night the Blitz partners wrap up three celebrations in one shebang, with live entertainment thrown in.

The Return To The Blitz party both celebrates their reunion and launches their website. It is an evening-only event from 8pm to midnight, with Rusty and Princess Julia on the decks while Steve and Rosemary Turner are hosting. In addition, from 7.30pm (doors open 7pm), Jus Forest will be reading from her book Remembering Eden, which is a celebration of Ultravox’s 30th anniversary tour.  Jan 15 itself was chosen to mark the day in 1981 when the single Vienna was released — the hit single that established Ultravox as the driving force for the new wave of electronic music. During the previous couple of years their vocalist Midge Ure and keyboard player Billy Currie had also played crucial roles in creating new music tailored to the Blitz club through the studio group Visage, which was fronted by Strange as vocalist.

Quilla Constance

Quilla Constance photographed by Simon Richardson

Performances on Saturday include a set by the new livepop band Paradise Point, whose bassist is Roman Kemp, son of Martin whose own band Spandau Ballet were launched from the Blitz in 1979. We’re also promised Quilla Constance, an electro-punk singer and lap dancer who will no doubt be taking advantage of The Red Rooms’ dance-poles.

True to the New Romantic ethos that insisted “the band holds a mirror up to the audience”, Rusty says: “The real stars are the people who come, dress up, dance and enjoy electronic 80s music at its best.” He is shrewdly inviting guests to “hit me with your own Top 10 — tunes I would hear in the Blitz club if it were open now … Current acts I like are LCD Soundsystem, Gossip, Muse, La Roux, The xx, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga.”

➢ Tickets are now sold out for Return To The Blitz (with Paradise Point & Special Guests) on Jan 15, 2011. Contact Rusty with playlist suggestions through the new website

➢ Remembering Eden – 30th Anniversary Tour Book celebrates the return of Ultravox, the synth-pop pioneers, to the live stage in 2009-10. Compiled by Jus Forrest and Helen Waterman, it tells the band’s story from the 80s right through the Return to Eden 2 tour, with interviews by Rob Kirby, fan reviews and many previously unpublished photos.

➢ Listen to Robert Elms interview Rusty Egan on BBC London about the Blitz club and how the new sounds he played were the springboard for a musical sea-change… “Steve Strange and me, we’re like chalk and cheese. I’m music, Steve’s fashion. But it’s obvious: music and fashion, you’ve got to have them together.”

Blitz Kids, George O'Dowd, Kim Bowen, Julia Fodor, Lee Sheldrick

Stars of the Blitz in 1980: George O’Dowd, Kim Bowen, Julia Fodor, Lee Sheldrick. Photographed © by Derek Ridgers


➢ The story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — at The Observer

➢ On this day in 1980 Spandau fired the starting gun for British clubland’s pop hopefuls: dada didi daaa!

➢ Who are the New Romantics, what are their sounds, and how do they dance?

➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the TV play, Worried About the Boy


➤ 200 new acts tipped for the new year in music

new music,tips for 2011
Shapersofthe80s has picked one act, almost randomly, from each of these lists published online by enthusiasts who between them have tipped more than 200 entertainers for the year ahead, so don’t say you’ve nothing new to listen to!

Nicki Minaj, pop Pinglewood — The world’s oldest music blog claims to have been at the bleeding edge “Posting mp3s since 1983” (unlikely since MPEG-1 didn’t appear till 1988, so may be record-holder for digital irony)
♫ Pick: Nicki Minaj

Drowned in Sound — Editorially independent music webzine, founded 1998, edited by Sean Adams
♫ Pick: Paris Suit Yourself

NME — Popular music magazine published weekly in the UK since 1952
♫ Pick: The Vaccines

Louder Than War — “We believe in the power of Rock’n’Roll” … a website dedicated to international punk rock pop culture, founded November 2010
♫ Pick: Deadbeat Echoes

Brother, acidlove, pop Designer Magazine — Gig promoters and Manchester’s third largest source of indie entertainment news set up five years ago for readers who access the web through low-spec computers at university, work or school
♫ Pick: Brother

Female First — Naomi Havergal’s selection for a “celebrity gossip and lifestyle” magazine website launched 2002 and published by First Active Media Ltd in Wigan, Lancashire
♫ Pick: We Are Enfant Terrible

NewBandDay — Totally anonymous and unaccountable “community” website published since 2010 on WordPress, so why heed a thing it says?
♫ Pick: Playfellow

Red Bull — Music journalist Bella Todd’s selection for the website of Red Bull, the controversial Austrian energy drink, created 1987
♫ Pick: Daley

JessieJ , pop BBC Sound of 2011 — Part of UK national broadcaster’s website where the Sound of 2011 list “aims to highlight the most promising new music for the year ahead, chosen by 161 UK-based tastemakers”, listed in alphabetical order from Sean Adams of Drowned in Sound to Radio 1 presenter, Reggie Yates
♫ Pick: Jessie J

The Guardian — Paul Lester’s first selection this year in New Band of the Day series published on UK national newspaper website
♫ Pick: D/R/U/G/S

Music Week’s key signings 2010 — Stuart Clarke’s selection of newish acts snapped up by A&R departments “all of whom will be vying for attention this year” according to 50-year-old UK music industry business magazine
♫ Pick: Creep

Still Corners, pop The Line Of Best Fit — An “editorial community of creative people united through a mutual love of good music”, founded 2007 in the UK by bloggers Rich Hughes and Rich Thane
♫ Pick: Still Corners

Nopaininpop — Religious music label since 2007 adminned at Facebook by Tom King and Thomas Oldham (both ex-Goldsmiths College London) and trading at Greedbag without any credible credentials while their original domain nopaininpop.com appears to be offline (registered by Tobias Jones of Peckham, London). Would you trust your soul to this dodgy bunch of missionaries?
♫ Pick: Forest Swords