Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Podbible Issue 4

Podbible Issue 4

If you were in the vicinity of Brighton, London or Edinburgh last week, you might have come across the latest edition of 'Podbible' magazine which was being distributed at various locations.

'Round The Archives' has never thought it would ever find itself at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but we technically ended up there in spirit at least, when 'Podbible' ('The Essential Guide To Podcasts') made the journey, with a page that included the following in the list of Amateur and Independent podcasts :

'Round The Archives' : Andrew, Lisa and friends cover a bewildering range of archive TV shows in more detail than you can shake a 625-line 2-inch videotape at!

Getting publicity is always a challenge for the little people like us, so our sincere thanks to editors Stu Whiffen and Adam Richardson for making this possible and to Scroobius Pip for distributing the copies up and down the land.

You can follow 'Podbible' on Twitter (@podbible) and see the latest issue in .pdf form on their website here.

(Written by Andrew Trowbridge)

Friday, 9 August 2019

Parkin's Patch

Parkin's Patch

I once asked Andrew if I could write for the blog, as I prefer to scribe rather than broadcast, sometimes. Thankfully he graciously said, ‘Yes. OK’ - that’s a commission in ‘Round the Archives’ speak, by the way. But I got sidelined with things like ‘Life’, ‘Work’ and watching my ever-expanding archive of retro television and Sci Fi ‘B’-movies.

Also, I was looking for an angle; something to bind a series of articles together rather than stick a pin in a heap of DVDs. So I broke down subject matters and thought it best I stick to what I knew. "That’s easy" thinks I...

I need a challenge. An investigation, perhaps, into Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue.

The Borrowed? That’s easy, I’m borrowing an episode of a series or serial to use as an example of a typical set piece. The Old and/or New? Archive or recent programmes broadcast from the early days up to say the last 20 years - that's still relatively new to us! The Blue? Be it ever so humble, that bastion of all Television staples the ‘Cop Show’. From 'Murder Bag' to 'Wild Bill', 'Dixon' to 'Line Of Duty'; the subject matter is forever evolving.

So, I’ve been a little cannier than just plonking a number of bog-standard shows on the autopsy slab. I've mixed the old with the recent, the simple with the complex and the popular with the long-forgotten.

Readers and listeners of 'Round The Archives', I’m proud to give you the first slice of my contribution that doesn’t involve writing an obituary.

I give you Part One of ‘Regional Rozzers’...

Now Elwyn Jones must have been minted. Rolling in it! His was a name that dominated the late sixties, and early seventies in the area of the television crime series. He favoured no channel; BBC or ITV, he was happy to slave away over his hot typewriter, banging out 'Softly Softly, Task Force', 'Barlow [Is Large]', 'Jack the Ripper' (the Barlow and Watt investigation as featured in edition of 'RTA' Episode 25) and 'Second Verdict'. The man was unstoppable.

But it’s not one of these major productions of his that caught my eye a couple of years ago, but a little regional number where the Yorkshire accents were thick and so was the ale.

'Parkin’s Patch' is one of those forgotten little treasures that’s available on DVD, but isn’t really mentioned by anyone. Laced with so many fresh new faces just breaking into television and old hands popping up all over the place, it’s a veritable Who’s Who of northern acting, but as we will discover not necessarily of the Yorkshire ilk.

Yorkshire Television started transmitting on Monday 29th July 1968, from its Leeds studios and (get this!) it was the first purpose-built colour production studio in the UK. In fact, it was so new that even though its programmes were produced in colour it wasn’t until 15th November 1969 that they transmitted in colour. Before that it was B&W only, mainly because colour sets were as about as rare as a Yorkshire ‘BAFTA’ at that time.

So, production started in their Kirkstall Road studios of the new 25-minute crime drama ‘Parkin’s Patch’ with Elwyn in full creative and writing mode for a number of the episodes. For all 26 episodes of the first and only season the producer was Terence Williams, later in charge of 'Juliet Bravo' and ‘The Chinese Detective’.  So, the production was in good hands, although it was never going to reach the public recognition of something like 'The Sweeney'.

This was a nice small provincial policing drama set in the fictional town of Fickley, nestling somewhere in the North Yorkshire Moors. Using the then much-heralded ‘Unit Beat Policing’ model, the series capitalised on the work of the lowly beat bobby, living within his community in his Police House/Station. This was years before ‘Heartbeat’ but it's clear to see how the formula was remorselessly plundered and rebranded to fit the profile of the then up-and-coming star Nick Berry in 1992. Please note this too is a Yorkshire TV production, although based on a series of books.

Anyway where was I? Oh yes. the series is headed by the lead character PC 501 Moss Parkin who appears in the opening titles to speak into his high tech ‘PYE’ police radio, uttering the legend “501 TO CONTROL” and then turns to survey his beat of the quite frankly unimpressive housing estates of Fickley. Actor John Flanagan is great for the part; this is the beginning of a long career portraying policemen. Here as the young married PC trying to get on within a community of gruff and somewhat eccentric Northerners, he shines through aided in part by the banter between him and the local CID Officer, DC Ron Radley, played by a young Gareth Thomas. So, he’s Welsh playing Yorkshire, while their boss Chief Superintendent Atkins is played by Scottish veteran Robert Urquhurt using a ‘cod’ Yorkshire accent.

Thank goodness for his wife Beth Parkin, played by Heather Page. Plus Peter Sallis, Warren Clarke, James Grout and Amos Brearly (OK, Ronald Magill, but he's always be Amos to me!) as the publican of one of Fickley’s many watering holes. Typecasting strikes again!

All 26 episodes exist, with storylines ranging from sheep rustling, swine fever, army deserters and con artists left, right and (Harrogate town) centre. There are a couple of episodes made solely in B&W mainly because the location work on those two episodes was filmed in B&W by accident.  Oh yes, the Christmas episode is a ghost story with a twist!
The episode ‘Nothing Personal’ was transmitted on Friday 5th December 1969. Transmission times are all over the shop depending upon which region you’re in. Anglia got the episode at 3.25pm, though everyone else gets it at various points in the evening. So, this wasn’t a national opt-in programme.

The titles roll and cut to film of someone in a hooded jacket (is it a parka, Lisa?) approaching the outside of Parkin’s Police House, forcing the door and breaking into his office. It's nicely shoot with proper night filming. In fact, there’s real night filming throughout this one. Mixed with typical Yorkshire rain, the set-up sting is quite promising. Cut to PC Parkin patrolling the streets in his Land Rover, jabbering on his police radio.

Beth his wife wakes upstairs to hear a crashing sound downstairs and clad in a shortie nightie goes to investigate, as you do. There's some wonderful late 60s d├ęcor going on here; lots of yellows, purples and browns, but why are the beds so small and so low? Were we all that much shorter in the 1960s? Cut to the intruder going to town on the police office, turning over a desk and ripping the phone out. You really think that if Mrs Parkin comes downstairs it’ll be ‘good night Vienna’.

Racking the tension up, with close-up shots, Beth enters the wrecked Police Office, and receives a shiner for her troubles. The would-be wrecker makes good their escape after delivering the haymaker. Beth gathers herself up, and realising that the phone lines are cut, uses DC Ron Bradley’s discarded police radio to summon help. PC Parkin races to the scene and the usual ritual of comforting followed by anger and rage at the perpetrator is played out.

Then enter DC Bradley as back-up stating he’s just heard the news. This is minor hole in the plot as Beth has his radio and he’s on duty (down the pub investigating a ‘lock in’ knowing Bradley). Throughout the whole series it's easy to see that CID have a strong reputation for supping in the line of duty. DC Bradley and the crime car (maybe Z Victor 2 as they like to drive off their patch a lot) start to search the not-so-heaving streets of Fickley.

The storyline progresses, and the tension is ramped up another notch as Beth starts to receive threatening phone calls. An attempt is made to trace them but this fails to get results.

Beth wonders if the attacker could be a relative of someone Moss has ‘Put Away’ but this is far from the truth, as we find out. She visits the family of man whose life Moss saved when he was having a stroke. The son, who idolises his father, blames Moss for saving his dad's life when all he wanted was to die. So, the son has deliberately targeted her to force Moss to pack up and leave the area.

It's that nice little touch of removing the obvious and inserting the left-field that helps the series along. Elwyn Jones has a nice way of weaving a very human aspect into what the might audience perceive as a mundane over-used plotline. This is Jones having a bash at a Northern 'Dixon' and it pays off. 26 episodes divided over a handful of writers is a tall order. You need to develop the characters and keep up the pace all within a 25-minute slot, something ‘The Bill’ often struggled with at that running-time. At least with 'Parkin’s Patch' you could set the storylines over two or three days, rather than solving a major crime on the same day.

As a drama it's not heavy. It's easy to delve in and out of without fear of losing any crucial character development. The storylines are fluid and the subject matter is always dealt with a serious undertone. If there is one thing I do have a hang-up with, it's the set designs. It’s too obvious that they are just flats on studio floors, resulting in a lack of depth to them. This, however, does not take away from the wonderful performances put in by regular and visiting artists. That rich Yorkshire drawl is fantastic and adds just that right amount of earthy grittiness to the plot.

So, if you’re hard up for something to watch, or fancy a relaxed but fun series to cut your Yorkshire Drama Teeth on, this is a grand start, lad!
And currently priced at £12.99 (at Amazon, but available from other good DVD stockists and retailers) for 26 episodes, it's not one that will break the piggy bank.

Next Time on ‘Regional Rozzers’: 

Things get a whole lot darker in the Welsh Valleys as the great Philip Madoc dons his anorak to investigate some very suspect goings on in ‘A Mind To Kill’...

(Written by Warren Cummings)

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Episode 38 now available

Episode 38 now available

Episode 38 of the 'Round The Archives' podcast (production code RTA038) sees Warren joining us again on the sofa as we remember the work of Freddie Jones in 'The Ghosts Of Motley Hall'.

Next, Martin Holmes survives the destruction of the Earth in the first episode of 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

Paul Chandler then tells us the story of 'Animal Kwackers', while Nick Goodman & Jo Bunsell unearth a rare recording of 'They Came From Somewhere Else'.

We round off with a return to Motley Hall and, during the course of the podcast, enjoy an assortment of adverts from 1984.

Disclaimer : 'Round The Archives' is not sponsored by Ellogg's Orn Lakes, despite the rumours...

Episode 38 of 'Round The Archives' can be heard here.

(Written by Andrew Trowbridge)

(Cover art by Martin Holmes)

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Don't Lets Chart 114 - Chekhov's Chicken

Don't Lets Chart 114 - Chekhov's Chicken

Last Christmas, Ben Baker was kind enough to lend his voice to Episode 30 of 'Round The Archives', so we were more than happy when we were asked to do a little things for 'Don't Let's Chart', the wonderful podcast he co-hosts with Phil Catterall.

Our approach is usually to look for the good in everything, but that does impose some limits on what we're prepared to run articles on. So when the offer came to compile a list of our Top 5 Worst Sitcoms Of All Time, we could hardly pass up the opportunity to do something slightly different.

It was surprisingly easy to do and we compiled the list in our heads whilst doing the washing-up. Which might give you an insight into our domestic arrangements...

But it was lovely to form part of this Listener Takeover episode, and coming hot on the heels of our Pipkins piece for 'The ExtonMoss Experiment' (still available here) proves that we'll do almost anything for the sake of our art.

Well, maybe not... Ahem...

'Don't Lets Chart 114 - Chekhov's Chicken' can be heard here.

Ben Baker can be heard on 'Round The Archives' Episode 30 here.

(Written by Andrew Trowbridge)

Monday, 1 July 2019

Episode 37 now available!

Episode 37 now available!

Episode 37 of 'Round The Archives' sees Martin looking at the first episode of 'The Thick Of It', while Paul finds himself banged up in Cell Block H when he enters the world of 'Prisoner'.

Warren visits us on the sofa so talk about the late Paul Darrow, then Nick is joined by his writing partner Jo Bunsell to comment on 'Johnny Jarvis'.

Finally, we return to the world of politics where the cast of 'Yes Minister' are engaged in some 'Party Games'...

Episode 37 of 'Round The Archives' can be heard here.

(Written by Andrew Trowbridge)
('Round The Archives' covers by Martin Holmes)

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Blakes 7 And The Pressure Point

Blakes 7 And The Pressure Point

I'll be honest and say that I didn't think we'd have that much to say about 'Blakes 7 - Pressure Point', but we got an unexpected fit of the giggles early on in the video and never looked back really.

Though I'm still not quite sure what I meant by my mention of the Liberator's "door-'ole"...(!)

What serious fans of the show make of our approach, we'll probably never know, but we're here to provide a piece of something-approaching-entertainment, and hopefully some of the fun we have whilst doing these will come across to the viewer.

As ever, turn the subtitles on for an added layer of oddness. Although Lisa wishes to point out that she is not quite as rude as you might gather from the screengrab below.

We even managed to crowbar in some references to some of our favourite podcasts.

Though I forgot to use the phrase 'Gan but not forgotten'...


Our video on 'Blakes 7 - Pressure Point' can be heard here.

(Written by Andrew Trowbridge)

Monday, 24 June 2019

The ExtonMoss Experiment - Episode 19

The ExtonMoss Experiment - Episode 19

Simon and Ken of 'The ExtonMoss Experiment' podcast have done a lot of lovely stuff for us this year, so we felt it only fair that we attempt to repay the debt a little.

We try and compare notes about our respective schedules from time to time, so that we don't cover the same subject matter, at least not within a couple of months. When the idea of covering Childrens' Programmes was discussed, we quickly bagsied 'Pipkins', soon narrowing it down to an episode involving Pirate Treasure.

But that still left the field wide open, so for Episode 19, a real Pick'n'Mix approach has been adopted, taking us from the more familiar 'Camberwick Green' and 'Bagpuss' to the sheer lunacy of 'Michael Bentine's Potty Time' and 'Ludwig'.

This episode covers a lot of ground in an hour, but as the 'Volume 1' suffix indicates, this is a rich seam of material and one they will hopefully be returning to...

Episode 19 of 'The ExtonMoss Experiment' can be heard here.

(Written by Andrew Trowbridge)

Podbible Issue 4

Podbible Issue 4 If you were in the vicinity of Brighton, London or Edinburgh last week, you might have come across the latest edition o...