As I bid farewell to the Howard family for a while, here’s a rather nice videoclip of Simon May performing the theme to Howards’ Way from a few years back.
Go Girl was a thirteen part series from the early seventies about a crime-fighting Go-Go dancer (no really). The show was beset by financial problems and never made it to air. Most of it was then wiped, with only the pilot episode now known to exist (this did eventually surface on VHS a decade after it was made and is currently available as a bonus feature on the UK DVD of Take An Easy Ride).
Luan Peters is the eponymous go girl, Carol. Probably best known for playing an attractive New Zealand guest in Fawlty Towers, it’s obvious to see why Peters was cast – she’s perfect eye candy, capable of go-go dancing at the drop of a hat (and able to look remarkably cute in a bikini too).
It’s hard to work out whether Go Girl is a comedy, drama or something inbetween. Events kick off aboard a boat, where a group of well-heeled guests are eagerly tucking into a generous selection of food and drink. The direction favours extreme close-ups of the partygoers, which creates something of a claustrophobic feel. Meanwhile, elsewhere on board somebody’s rummaging through a safe ….
Following the title sequence (“when she moves, she is out of this world, she has got to be a go girl”) we cross to a swinging discotheque, where Carol and her friends are go-going like mad to Slade’s Coz I Luv You. After they take a break, a man called Juan (Walter Randall) trips her up and then plies her with champagne.
Long story short, he’s the man who’s stolen a pile of loot from the boat. Carol may be blonde, but she’s not completely dumb and doesn’t buy his smooth chat up lines (“you must think I’ve just fallen off a Christmas tree”). And the smile’s wiped off his face even further when he notices a man at the bar with a tattoo on his hand.
Juan disappears but he leaves behind an envelope. Carol and her boyfriend Adam (Simon Brent) open it to find …. a treasure map! They charter a boat to travel out to where x marks the spot, but by an incredible coincidence the boat is under the control of Rick (George Margo), who turns out to be the man with the tattoo (presumably Juan’s partner). Oh, and Juan’s on board, he’s just very, very dead.
It’s a ridiculous plot twist, which suggests this is more comedy than drama. The climatic fight on the very studio-bound island between Rick and Adam makes this even clearer.
Give Me A Ring Sometime is thirty minutes of gormless fun. It was never going to win any awards, but there’s plenty of incidental pleasures. Luan Peters is impossibly cute, medallion man Simon Brent (also the co-producer) is an effective sidekick whilst Randall and Margo both chew the attractive looking scenery with aplomb. The way the live-action gives way several times to brief animated sequences is also an interesting touch.
Shot in Spain, it comes across as an exploitation-style take on a typical ITC adventure series and whilst it’s no lost classic, it’s diverting enough.
One of the many joys of revisiting The Two Ronnies is the chance to hear Ronnie Hazlehurst’s iconic opening and closing music. It was just one of his many credits, as he also penned the themes for Are You Being Served?, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Last of the Summer Wine, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, To the Manor Born, Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister amongst others. Not a bad CV to have ….
The below recording comes from his album, Sixteen Small Screen Greats, and is a fairly close approximation of the original (albeit with a Piggy Malone/Charley Farley sidestep in the middle).
Few themes, especially the closing section, are quite so evocative. It instantly conjures up a sense of warmth and security as the memories of decades gone by come flooding back. Thank you Ronnie H.
I’ve recently, after a long break, uploaded some archive bits and bobs to my YouTube channel, including this two part documentary from 2003.
Sadly part one cuts out early (presumably there was a late schedule change and the timer let me down) whilst uploading part two is proving to be rather problematic, since BBC Worldwide appear to have a block on even short clips of Tony Hancock’s BBC shows. Quite why they should be so protective of him is a bit of a mystery. I’ll have another go at uploading part two – I’ll probably just cut the whole Hancock section out to be on the safe side.
Although it wasn’t known at the time, Monkhouse was reaching the end of his life and this might explain the downbeat tone of the piece. Heroes of Comedy this certainly isn’t ….
But whilst Monkhouse does dwell on the self destructive nature of some of Britain’s comedy greats, he also acknowledges their undoubted skills – even if, as with Frankie Howerd, he also admits that he never understood his appeal.
Part one tackles Tommy Cooper, Benny Hill, Frankie Howerd and Ken Dodd. There are no major revelations, since the frailties of Cooper, Hill and Howerd were already well known (had the recording not cut out I’d assume that the only living subject – Dodd – would have received an easier ride). The most absorbing sections occur when Monkhouse relates his own personal experiences with his subjects. Frankie Howerd, painted as an unpleasant sexual predator, certainly comes off worse here.
In part two, Monkhouse turns his attention to Morecambe & Wise, Peter Sellers and Tony Hancock. The character flaws of Sellers and Hancock were also very familiar, although again the personal touch from Monkhouse is of interest (he claims that Tony Hancock and Morecambe & Wise were rather condescending towards him).
Monkhouse’s comedy partner, Denis Goodwin, who took his own life at an early age, is also discussed, which fits into the general tone that comedy can be bitterly self-destructive.
Not always an easy watch then, but Bob Monkhouse doesn’t seem to have an axe to grind and – unlike some talking heads who have passed judgement on these people in other documentaries – at least he knew and worked with them.
I’ve recently been watching some editions of World in Action on YouTube (because that’s the way I like to roll) and the haunting theme music quickly captured my attention, just as it did all those years ago.
Composed by Shawn Weaver and Mick Phillips on the spot as an improvised jam, rather shockingly it appears that Weaver was diddled out of his royalties, as mentioned here. That, alas, was one injustice which World in Action never investigated …..
I’ve been rather impressed with a series of CGI recons that have appeared on YouTube during the past couple of months. At present, all of Marco Polo and the two missing episodes from The Crusade are up and the intention seems to be that all ninety seven episodes will be tackled in time.
There’s some undeniable rough edges which could benefit from additional work, but for now what’s been posted is certainly very watchable. Below is episode one of Marco Polo – The Roof of the World.