Monday, 21 June 2010

Frank Sidebottom / Chris Sievey, RIP

image Terrible news from Twitter, sadly confirmed by the Manchester Evening News, one of our favourite comedians (and host of our 100th favourite TV show of the last decade) Frank Sidebottom has died after losing his battle with cancer.

As an off-kilter comic in the 1980s, the most obvious move might have been for Chris Sievey’s alter ego to have become one of the Friday Night Live “Thatcher eh? Grr!” crowd, but instead his act took a delightfully innocent turn, putting on a distinctively family friendly act, but one so wonderfully bizarre his appearances on kids television were disappointingly few and far between.

It says a lot about Frank Sidebottom that when he has cropped up on TV, radio and the mainstream media, his appearances have really stuck in our memory. Here are a few of our favourites.


- Frank becoming the most well-known contributor to legendarily raucous kids comic Oink!, Indeed, an Oink!-based tie-in single, for the post part only available via mail order, even made the lower echelons of the Indie Charts in the late 1980s.

- A brief but memorable scene in 1989 Marks & Gran-penned role reversal sitcom “Snakes & Ladders” saw newly gentrified pauper John Gordon Sinclair visit a posh London wine bar. Taking place in a futuristic world where “South Britain” is a place of luxury in sharp contrast to the squalor of the North, this was best encapsulated by the way this posh London wine bar only ever played songs by performed Frank Sidebottom.

- Before operating principally from within the head of his alter ego, Chris Sievey wrote a couple of games for the ZX Spectrum, both of which are playable at the excellent World Of Spectrum;

1983’s “Flying Train” was just a wonderful kind of arcade affair that seemed to prevail on Uncle Clive’s black box or wires in the early 1980s, right from the very first instruction screen packing in delightful jokes, throwing in a phony “R Tape loading error” message before cheekily telling you to buy an Oric instead, and using precisely the pleasing turn of phrase that you just would never expect to see in a more sober kind of videogame:image

  • The game itself was simple, yet – considering it was only a free giveaway game issued (quite uniquely at the time) as the B-side to Sievey’s 7” single “Camouflage” – quite enjoyable, with the player dropping the top half of a locomotive onto the bottom half of a locomotive. Why? Because you’re a railwaynaut. That’s why.
  • - The following year saw Chris Sievey quite neatly reverse this process, with his first (and only) ‘proper’ Spectrum release The Biz. This was a more traditional cassette-based release, on the Virgin Games label, with the B-side of the tape containing eight tracks from his band, Chris Sievey And The Freshies. The game itself was hugely enjoyable at the time, and somewhat surprisingly considering hardly anyone else even remembers it, still is. Despite being written wholly in BASIC, there’s a lot of depth beneath the surface, and it’s unquestionably our favourite “Rock Manager” game of all time.



    Indeed, us writing this tribute has become slightly delayed by us taking time out to start our new band (The Brokens) on the road to rock superstardom. No need to take our word on how much fun The Biz is, you can enjoy it for yourself right here.

    - “The Biz” wasn’t Chris Sievey’s last dalliance with videogames, however. EA’s TV campaign for FIFA 10 – one of the world’s most popular videogaming franchises – saw a lovely little cameo from Frank Sidebottom himself, possibly to the mild bemusement of viewers in the USA, where the advert also aired.

    image  - The early 1990s saw Frank become a more regular fixture on our TV screens, with Timperley’s finest regularly cropping up alongside host Tony Wilson in Channel Four’s UK version of MTV’s Remote Control. Much more enjoyable however was Frank’s Fantastic Shed Show, going out in the wee small hours on ITV, with a tiny budget, and which saw Frank interviewing and introducing guests from Dennis Taylor to Pop Will Eat Itself. The programme also saw early appearances from Frank’s “next door neighbour” Mrs Merton, played by Caroline Aherne, who went on to become a huge comedy hit on her own.

    - Sadly, it took until 2006 before Frank was given his own standalone series, but when it arrived, it was every bit as special as “Shed Show”. Channel M’s “Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show in B/W With Repeats In Colour” was a marvellous little gem, tucked away in a part of the Sky EPG few outside Manchester ever visit. As the title suggested, the first airing of each episode was in monochrome, while subsequent repeats were in full colour. Why? Because it was BRILLIANT, that’s why. All great fun, with Frank interviewing a variety of guests (with David Soul seemed especially confused by the goings on), making on-location reports from the streets of Manchester, and even including a stop-motion animated show-within-the-show. If that weren’t enough, Channel M’s nightly testcard contained Frank engaging in bouts of improvised whimsy with his cardboard sidekick Little Frank.

    Even when diagnosed with cancer, Frank – speaking through his Twitter feed - remained resolutely upbeat and in character

    image imageFrank’s upbeat nature continued, regularly performing gigs and auctioning his artwork for cancer charities, right up until the shocking news earlier today, less than 24 hours after Frank’s last Twitter update, which announced that a future gig with his Oh Blimey Band should still be going ahead.

    Despite rarely appearing on television, his records barely troubling the Top Forty, it seems that absolutely loads of people had a soft spot for Frank Sidebottom, so much so that as we type these words, “Frank Sidebottom” is the second highest trending term on Twitter globally, with people expressing their shock at the news even outnumbering people talking about the World Cup.


    Right now, there’s the start of a Twitter campaign to get Frank’s World Cup Song “Three Shirts On My Line” – to number one in the charts. All proceeds go to Cancer Research, We’re still trying to find a link to where the song can be purchased, Until then, here’s a live version. If we find a working link to where it can be bought, we’ll update this post accordingly.


    RIP Frank Sidebottom. He will be missed. You know he will. He really will.

    [UPDATE} A Facebook campaign has been started to get Frank Sidebottom to number one. Details: here.

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    Saturday, 12 June 2010

    ITV Sport don’t do books…

    …but if they did, they’d be… well….



    Friday, 11 June 2010

    BrokenTV’s World Cup Waygoose: Part Four

    So, the World Cup is GO. The coverage so far does seem very good, with ITV Sport proving when they really put their minds to it, they can still cover a World Cup as well as they did in the 1980s. Having Adrian Chiles as the main anchor certainly helps – we can’t imagine any other anchorman for the world’s biggest sporting event admitting he missed the first goal because he’d nipped out for a piss. We’re typing this out while the BBC’s first match is taking place, and their coverage seems very good so far, but then, that’s a given, a bit like saying “Hey, I reckon Brazil could do well this year”.

    One other highlight we’ve found so far is The Guardian’s “World Cup Twitter replay”, which gives a high-speed replay of matches, represented only by the most commonly used words on Twitter at the time. It makes for surprisingly compelling viewing, a bit like somehow playing Football Manager 2003 on a lava lamp:

    image Anyway, posters!

    1994 – USA

    image From this point on, the World Cup posters get a lot better than what we’ve seen, providing less scope for easy japery. The poster for the World Cup in 1994 is very well done, though it doesn’t really look very American, does it? The typeface used looks a bit more suited to a tournament taking place in Africa, the central image being backed in painted yellow makes it feel a bit like the tournament is taking place in Australia, and it’s only really the Star Spangled Banner draped across a rough representation of the US mainland that gives any clue as to where it’s taking place.

    Now, if it were us…


    That, or a representation of Diana Ross missing that penalty in the opening ceremony, against a backdrop montage of all the clip show idiots smugly sneering about it, as if they’re the first person to have ever noticed it.

    1998 – France

    imageAh, France 1998, and the World Cup finally coming home. Maybe the best tournament that we’ve lived through, with the possible exception of Mexico 1986. A nice lively poster, too, full of verve, energy, and it’s even (broadly) in the same colours as the French kit from that tournament. Though the designers still don’t seem to have worked out how to draw in the semi-circles on the edges of the 18 yard boxes. Or the six yard boxes, for that matter. And those corner spots are way too big, surely those are against FIFA regulations.

    Our favourite recollection of France ‘98: France winning the final, and, just because he didn’t have anything else to really contribute to the conversation, a BBC pundit (was it Lawrenson? It might have been Mark Lawrenson) desperately noting that as France had won the thing without even having any decent strikers (poor old Stephane Guivarc’h), maybe that would be a ‘tactic’ other countries would use from that point on. As if picking rubbish strikers would actually be a ‘tactic’. (Insert uninspired Emile Heskey joke here.)

    2002 – Japan/Korea

    image Another great poster, maybe one of our favourites so far. It’s not absolutely perfect though, the placement of the text seems to be a bit of an afterthought, and it doesn’t even try to sum up either host nation. We’d have plumped for maybe a photoshoot of dozens of colourfully haired J-Pop and K-Pop starlets in cosplay uniforms. But then, that’s probably the kind of thing you’d expect from slightly desperate males who spend too much time playing videogames and using the internet. But come on! What about Ayumi Hamasaki and Wondergirls peering out shyly from beneath a pile of flags? Cor!

    2006 – Germany

    image Ignoring the chuckling Mr Men that make up the tournament logo, this is another great poster, marred only slightly by the fact no-one has used footballs that look like that since about 1966. At least if it had been an Adidas Telstar ball, which is a bona-fide design classic, we could allow it. Admittedly, the poster doesn’t really ‘say’ Germany, but if we want to see lazy assumptions on what constitutes German culture, we could just pick up a copy of The Sun in any month where England are about to play Germany. We really would have loved it if Tok Tok Vs Soffy O had played at the opening ceremony, mind.

    Germany 2006 was another great tournament, mind. And hey! Maybe all those stars represent what Marco Materazzi saw after Zidane headbutted him! Eh? Eh? Aah, factually inaccurate cutting edge satire arriving  just three years and eleven months too late, there.

    2010 – South Africa

    image Finally, the poster for the current tournament (i.e. the one we’re half-ignoring right NOW, in order to write this rubbish). It’s very good poster, too. A footballer, playing football, the subtle inclusion of a map of South Africa as the footballer’s lower neck, a lovely clear design, AND the football is the classic Adidas Telstar ball, as used in the 1970 and 1974 tournaments. It’s a wonderful poster that we’re finding it hard to be negative about.

    HOWEVER! If it were really to encapsulate what seems to the most obvious trait of the 2010 World Cup, it just needs one very subtle inclusion.

    image Enjoy the football, everyone!


    Thursday, 10 June 2010

    BrokenTV’s World Cup Waygoose: Part Three

    Previously on BrokenTV’s World Cup Waygoose: we assumed that after a couple of fairly boring official World Cup posters (from 1966 and 1970), the poster for the 1974 tournament in West Germany would be especially dull. Pretty much something like this:

    image Were we right, or were we just being as stultifyingly idiotic as all the Britons who feel the need to post comments on American sports blog articles about ‘soccer’ angrily exclaiming “IT’S CALLED FOOTBALL”?

    (Note to such people: Americans tend to call it soccer, it’s an American website, written by an American writer, for an audience mainly comprised of American people. That’s what they call the sport, as their have their own sport which they call football, you dolts. Would you post on the Gazzetta Dello Sport website petulantly bitching about how “it’s not called calcio, it’s called football”? No, you wouldn’t, so stop being every bit as ignorant of slightly different cultures as you like to think Americans are when they refer to the sport of association football as ‘soccer’. Thank you.)

    1974 – WEST GERMANY

    imageSee how wrong we were. That right there is a pretty great official poster. A simplistic yet hugely effective action shot of a footballer kicking a football, against a nicely understated brown backdrop. The reliably classy Helvetica used for the text, with the dates of the tournament and the host cities modestly tucked out of the way, and a pleasingly effective “WM74” official logo. We can’t even think of anything nasty to say about it, it’s a brilliant poster.

    So, instead, we’re going to be nasty about something on television. Please could anyone involved in BBC Three’s “World Cup’s Most Shocking Moments” please go and live in  a ditch from now until the end of time? “Cor, when England ‘aven’t qualified, everyone always support’s whoever Germany’s opponents are, don’t they? We all do! Gorblimeyluvaduck, we all ‘ate dem Germans, don’t we!” Well, no. Some of us have made the logical leap that as no members of the German national team were actually involved in the holocaust, or indeed any part of World War II, there’s no real reason to dislike them in any way, unless of course you’re a bit of a bigoted fuck. Thank you.

    And “England’s Worst Ever Team” really wasn’t any better. “Ha ha! Gary Neville’s one of England’s worst ever players, because he once grew a wispy moustache and he’s an easy target for ridicule. And look! He hugged his team-mate and friend David Beckham a few times after he’d scored a goal, so he’s also secretly homosexual! I mean, yeah, he won about 80 caps for his country and I’m just a rubbish stand-up who appeared on a Paramount Comedy Channel panel show twice in 2007 and done little else since and all that, but… wispy moustache! A-ha-ha-ha.“ Really, for making us think “well, that’s a bit unfair” when hearing someone slag off Gary Neville (Gary sodding Neville!), you probably deserve to die in a house fire.

    1978 – ARGENTINA

    imageOver to South America for the next World Cup, and it’s in jolly old Argentina, then in the grip of a military dictatorship. POP FACT! The original draft for the poster had the intention more of keeping the visiting journalists in check, lest they ask a few too many questions on why all the poor people have suddenly ‘disappeared’ from Buenos Ares, and what are all these rumours about concentration camps?

    image“Oh. Right. Doesn’t matter. Tee-hee, Scotland are rubbish!”

    1982 – SPAIN

    image What the bloody hell? The last few posters had seen a return to a motif of “someone actually playing football”, but the poster for Spain ‘82 took things in a wholly new direction. We think, anyway. Though it might not have done. Is that someone playing football? Is that red thing in the top right a football? Is the multicoloured blob in the middle a footballer? Is the oblong in the bottom right meant to be a goal? Or is that in fact the official mascot of the 1982 World Cup, Surreal-O™?

    Well, it’s actually the latter. Surreal-O™ became a huge hit in school playgrounds around the globe, and even had his own spin-off animated series. BrokenTV was only a very tiny child at the time, but even we remember dashing home from infants and scoffing our tea in time for the continuity announcement along the lines of “but first on Children's’ ITV, another dose of Dadaist daredevilry from Surreal-O™ & Chums”.

    It was utterly brilliant, too. Surreal-O™, along with his best pal “Fergus Fluxus™”, and four-legged sidekick “Nouveau Réalisme The Dog™”, could often be found sitting around in expensive coffee shops pondering the launch of new literary journals, wondering if staying in bed all day could be classed as an anti-art statement, railing against the meaninglessness of broadcast mediums by refusing to appear on screen and speaking only in numbers for an entire three episode story arc, and accidentally smashing his dad’s greenhouse then trying to claim it had never actually been a greenhouse. Ah, happier times.

    1986 – MEXICO AGAIN

    After the disappointment of the 1970 Official World Cup poster, Mexico were given the tournament again, just so they could come up with a better poster. This was the result.

    image That’s right. A silhouette of Bruce Forsyth set against some Aztec statues, and a football. A winner, we’re saying, though we do prefer this unused draft that we have uncovered:


    1990 – ITALY

    image 1990! Thrills! Spills! Bellyaches! Toto Schillaci! A really boring World Cup Final! “That” BBC World Cup Grandstand theme tune that everyone loved, even though we preferred the ITV theme tune that year, because we’re awkward!

    An iconic image of The Colosseum, with a crude illustration of a football pitch in the middle, seemingly drawn by someone who didn’t have a bleeding clue what a football pitch actually looks like. We imagine the idea was to use the three colours of the Italian flag; the rosso, the blanco and the, erm, green. But really, if there’s ONE thing you’re going to make green when drawing the football pitch, it should be THE PITCH. The outer perimeter would be the place to put the red, you could just tell everyone it’s a running track or something. But no. They had to go and balls it up.

    Maybe they painted in the outer perimeter first, giggling to themselves over what must have seemed like the easiest commission ever. They were just to paint in the pitch itself, when they happened to take another glance at the design brief.

    “Oh. Oh dear. It says here ‘and the central illustration MUST contain the three colours of Il Tricolore’… but I’ve already done the outside bits in green!”

    “You idiot! We can’t start again, João Havelange is already on his way here to collect the finished artwork! He’ll be furious. Look, er… just colour the pitch in red.”

    “But… that’ll look rubbish! It’ll look more like a basketball court, if anything. I won’t even have time to paint in the semi-circles on the edge of the eighteen yard boxes. And he’s bound to notice, he’s the President of FIFA, not some corrupt businessman who only cares about abusing his position for personal gain! We’re doomed.”

    ”Quick! He’s in the reception area!”

    “Ooh, bloody heck!”


    TOMORROW: 1994-2006,


    Wednesday, 9 June 2010

    BrokenTV’s World Cup Waygoose: Part Two

    Previously on BrokenTV’s World Cup Waygoose: we explained what a waygoose is, then started out trying to take an earnest look at the history of official World Cup Finals Posters, but ended up with nothing but lies and increasingly hamfisted doctored imagery. And now, BrokenTV’s World Cup Waygoose continues.


    1950 – BRAZIL

    imageFor the 1950 finals, the winners were universally expected to be host nation Brazil. Indeed, they were expected to win to such a degree, many of their group stage opponents rested their star players for their more winnable matches. Mexico actually fielded a team of mannequins dressed in football jerseys and Mexican hats for their first round match against the Brazilians, succumbing to a four-nil defeat. It might well have been more, but the plastic backline proved to make for a surprisingly effective offside trap. Plus, plastic full-backs are statistically less likely to be bamboozled by stepovers.

    The poster continued France 1938’s theme of “not bothering to draw an entire footballer”, this time only bothering to go as far as one leg. Presumably, the remainder of the football is attached to that leg, though we can’t really dismiss the notion that it’s merely a leg attached to a stick. Note the multinational socks, and the use of the Union Flag to represent England, as opposed to the St George’s Cross, which always used to be the case for some strange reason.

    And how did Brazil get on? Well, quite famously, they ended up losing in the final to a determined Uruguay team. By the time they’d reached the final, such was the fear they’d instilled into opponents wary of being humiliated, Brazil had mainly found themselves facing teams comprised of shop dummies, farmyard animals and kitchen appliances. By the time they came to face the Uruguayans, the Brazilian side had grown so complacent after so many walks in the park, they were taken by surprise at coming up against eleven animate objects.

    1954 – SWITZERLAND

    image Back to Europe for the 1954 World Cup, and as such a minimalist work was commissioned for the poster artwork. And how rubbish is that goalkeeper? That football is easily twice the size of a beach ball, and he still missed it. Though, to be fair, what with him only having one eye, his depth perception is probably not the best. If anything, it’s surprising he even made the squad.

    The increased size of the balls used in the tournament, as seen here, was part of a concerted effort to keep the final scores down. Clearly, it didn’t work; both the quarter-finals and semi-finals saw an astonishing average of 6.5 goals per match, including a demented match between Austria and hosts Switzerland which finished 7-5 to the Austrians. Something would HAVE to be done.

    1958 – SWEDEN

    image As the poster for the 1958 tournament showed, FIFA had probably messed with the rules a little TOO much. The increased size of the new match ball did succeed in keeping the scores low, with the quarter-finals now seeing an average of just two goals per match. This was mainly due to the fact that if the newly oversized ball could now barely fit beneath the crossbar, and even then the goalkeeper could generally keep a clean sheet by simply grabbing hold of the flags that FIFA insisted be affixed to the ball in a misguided attempt at bringing the competing nations together.

    The tournament took a sombre turn when the diminutive Yugoslav winger Boris Petelovic was crushed by one of the oversized footballs in a pre-tournament friendly against East Germany, after foolishly trying to collect a hoofed clearance on his shin. As a result, there was a tribute paid to him in the opening ceremony, and the official tournament poster was designed with his final moments in mind. Just look at his expression of dismayed resignation being obscured by the growing shadow of the brown sphere about to end his life. Brr.

    Surely, after such a senseless waste of a human life, FIFA would ensure that the size of match balls was restricted to a more sensible size? Well, if history has taught us anything, it’s that FIFA never really get things right.

    1962 – CHILE

    image In one of the most stupid miscalculations ever made by a sports governing body, FIFA finally accepted that making the match ball smaller would keep the sport entertaining, and new dimensions for a regulation match ball were drawn up in early 1959. However, things would not quite go according to plan.

    The original idea was for the ball to be a more modest 37.2 centimetres in diameter. However, a fly getting jammed in FIFA’s telex machine caused Santiago-based sportswear firm Ramirez, Toro and sons to make a prototype football with a diameter of some 37,200 kilometres. Not only did the sheer amount of material used to make the football cause a global shortage in leather, lace and rubber (causing supply chain chaos for the S&M manufacturing community), but the weight of the thing caused earthquakes on an unprecedented scale in the host nation.

    (Poking fun at the 1960 Valdivia earthquake? Too soon?)

    Much worse than that, the scale of the ball actually caused the globe’s axis to tilt wildly, meaning that from 1960 to 1962, Australia was technically inside the Antarctic circle, and the year of 1961 actually lasted some 437 days, effectively sending the months September to November into ‘extra time’. A series of tactical nuclear strikes eventually corrected the planet’s axis and trajectory around the sun, and the ball was eventually shot into space (where it’s now known as the planet Venus). Concerned that all those events would soon be forgotten about, it was decided that the official tournament poster would mark the events of 1960 and 1961.

    Despite all that, the tournament is mainly remembered for a small dog pissing on Jimmy Greaves.

    1966 – ENGLAND

    image “Some people are on the pitch! This is disgraceful behaviour, the match should be stopped and the result overturned immediately!” Ah, everyone remembers that famous piece of commentary from BBC Scotland’s Wee Kenny McWolstenhume.

    1966 is the year that, as everyone knows, a British team wearing red won the World Cup. Sadly though, it was England. This poster is a much jollier affair than in previous years, even if the main illustration looks like it’s from an Evening Standard comic strip, and not even an especially popular Evening Standard comic strip, rather than the finely crafted embodiment of a proud nation. And, of course, lions generally only exist in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia, so it’s very unlikely that World Cup Willie was actually eligible for an England call-up in the first place. Not to mention that there was almost definitely a clause in FIFA’s rule book that all 22 members of the squads in the 1966 finals had to be, at the very least, members of the Homo genus of bipedal primates. Typical England, always cheating.

    1970 – MEXICO

    image Much more like it. Mexico 1970, generally regarded as the greatest World Cup finals of all time (well, at least until the 2010 World Cup, where New Zealand will beat the Ivory Coast 7-6 in the final, after extra time). Note how the illustrations had been growing simpler over the previous few tournaments? 1962 saw a grandiose illustration actually taken by sending the artists into outer space, whereas 1966 saw a cartoon lion looking pretty pleased with itself against a plan backdrop. Mexico70 took things one step further, with a plain backdrop, and a few polygons thrown at the page in order to make a vague ‘ball’ shape. Luckily, it’s the iconic MEXICO70 typeface that really saves the day. And how iconic was the branding of this World Cup finals? Iconic enough for “MEXICO70” to already be included in Windows Live Writer’s inline spellcheck. That’s how iconic.

    We mean, admittedly, it does the same for pretty much any city name and number combination. Swansea1976 also avoids coming up as a spelling error, and it’s a matter of public record that nothing of any interest happened in Swansea in 1976. But anyway, it was a very memorable tournament. with loads of iconic moments, not limited to but including Pele sitting atop someone else’s shoulder. Gordon Banks making an overrated save from a header about fourteen yards out, and (quite brilliantly) one of the pitchside advertisement hoardings in the final being for the Daily Mirror.


    imageGiven the number of iconic moments it led to (Reader’s Voice: “Stop saying ‘iconic’!”), it’s all a bit of a shame that the official poster for the greatest World Cup final tournaments ever looked like the rejected artwork for a promo copy of a Primal Scream remix 12” from 1991. And the next tournament’s going to be in West Germany! How functional and minimalist will THAT be? It’ll probably just be the word “fussball74” in comic cans, beneath a beige circle. Oh no!

    TOMORROW: GERMANY 1974 onwards.


    Tuesday, 8 June 2010

    BrokenTV’s World Cup Waygoose: Part One

    Yes, ‘waygoose’. It’s a word! Look, it means “An annual feast of the persons employed in a printing office”, and was included in the 1914 Webster dictionary. Hey, we wanted to make the headline at least moderately alliterative, and that was the best we could find. ANYWAY, welcome to the first of our FIFA™ World™ Cup™ South™ Africa™ 2010™ updates, and as we’re still at the stage where no-one’s getting annoyed by vuvuzelas just yet we’ll kick things off with a little history. A look back at World Cup posters.

    Now, these are something that you hardly seem to see when the actual tournament is going on, but they tend to be used after the event quite often. The official poster art allows an artist from each host nation to sum up their homeland, the decade, and the continent-uniting power of football all in one simple image. And yet, the practice doesn’t even seem to warrant a Wikipedia entry of its own, nor is there much background information available on FIFA’s website.

    Now surely, there MUST be a lot of background information on each poster somewhere, but if there is, it’s not easy to find. Someone, preferably a blog with a surprisingly high Google ranking, really should get around to writing a definitive guide to these cultural artefacts.

    GOOD NEWS! Someone has done just that. BAD NEWS! It’s us. Disclaimer: where we aren’t sure of the facts, we are going to make things up. And that will be most of the time.


    1930: URUGUAY

     image The first ever World Cup, held in Uruguay and later aloft by the winning captain of that country, and maybe best known for being the World Cup that anyone who could be bothered turning up got to take part. This was mainly due to FIFA still being a relatively new body, and the four British nations abstaining (from the World Cup and FIFA itself), as they were still treating the Home Internationals at the true method of determining the best footballing nation on the planet. And we reckon even then, lazy comedians scoffed at the Baseball World Series only ever including teams from North America. Tsk, eh?

    Anyway, the cut and paste approach of the first ever World Cup was reflected in the first ever Official FIFA World Cup Poster, which has entirely out of fuzzy felt. And, it seems, Mr Tickle from Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men books saving a goalbound shot was the central image.

    1934: ITALY


    image Famously, the World Cup held under the gaze of Benito Mussolini, with the dictator keen to use the tournament as a means of promoting fascism. Astonishingly, this extended as far as post-mach interviews with goalscorers taking place in front of a backdrop comprised of jackbooted feet stomping on faces, and some controversial pitch-side advertising, as this rarely seen photo of the host nation’s post-final celebrations shows.

    image The poster itself was a little less overt in it’s support of murderous regimes, seeing a bigshorted sportsman kicking a ball. See, if nothing else, at least fascists in the 1930s knew their marketing. Much like how all marketing executives in the modern day are all fascists! Oh, come on! You wouldn’t come up with a campaign like the We! Buy! Any! Car! Dot! Com! one unless you’ve a deep seated desire to kick everyone who isn’t exactly like you very hard in the face.

    1938: FRANCE


    Ah, some things are just more fun to say when they’ve been translated into French, don’t they? “Coupe du Monde” is right up there with “ou est le gare” and “bon appetit”. Some may say that we’re being needlessly pretentious when we say that, but we’d say “au contraire”, which is certainly more sophisticated than just saying “bollocks”.

    The poster is a doozy, too. A huge golden footballer, standing atop the WORLD ITSELF. It’s quite interesting to see the acronym “FIFA” appear on a poster for the first time too, along with the lesser-spotted “FFFA”. What’s that, you might be asking. Well, as we can EXCLUSIVELY reveal, it’s the remnants of an earlier, less successful draft of the poster.


    1942: NO WORLD CUP


    Due to World War II, there was no World Cup tournament, but few people realise that FIFA actually did commission a poster regardless. It only got as far as the draft stage, and included an image of two footballers tussling for a 50:50 ball, and Hitler ruining everyone’s fun by sticking a fucking great pitchfork through the ball. Boo! Well, in another exclusive, we’ve actually got that original poster design for you! Here! Now!


    1946: NO WORLD CUP

    1946, and despite the war being over, no World Cup again. With there having been no time for the qualification rounds (and many European nations still mostly being on fire at the time), it was all a pretty unworkable proposition. That said, FIFA did commission another poster for the non-tournament, which AGAIN, we have exclusively unearthed:





    Thursday, 3 June 2010

    We Love You, Stewart Morris

    Further to yesterday’s update, and with thanks to Louis Barfe of the excellent Cheeseford, here’s another brilliant clip of Stewart Morris at his angry best. “Cue the piper! PLAY, YOU BASTARD!”

    ”Is there any way of getting these old age pensioners to PLAY?” Really, if we’d been involved in these live broadcasts, we’d have kept cocking things up on purpose, solely for the benefit of people from the future putting things on YouTube. Whatever that turned out to be.

    Meanwhile, from the infamous Good King Memorex BBC VT Christmas tape, here’s some footage of Stewart Morris getting only mildly miffed with a take of The Wengelbert Humptyback Show.


    Sadly, that seems to be it on YouTube for shouty Stewart Morris moments. Unless anyone knows differently, of course. While it wouldn’t be too surprising if there aren’t that many recordings that survive of gallery chatter from 1970s/80s light entertainment shows (or indeed, recordings of the actual shows themselves) that are still in public circulation, we do really hope there are more out there.

    For now though, we’ll do what we can to increase the amount of Stewart Morris clippage on YouTube. Here, from 2003’s Pegg-narrated “What Was The Week We Watched”, is the tale of Stewart Morris deciding to… well, “slightly mislead” a certain internationally acclaimed diva.

    Apologies for aspect-ratio wrongness. It was recorded onto a steam-powered DVD recorder back in 2003, and we’re too technologically challenged (and lazy) to do much about putting it in 16:9.

    Coincidentally, that same episode of TWTWWW did include a look back at Eurovision 1977, but only includes a short exchange with Stewart Morris, and doesn’t even mention the talkback track, so it wasn’t worth putting online. Unless you all really want to find out that Angela Rippon is so tremendously polite, she meekly mimes the word ‘bloody’ when quoting an angry lighting technician.


    Wednesday, 2 June 2010

    Shut Up, Network!

    Really, we know we’ve blogged this before, but it really should become an annual event, that we put up at the time of year that Eurovision comes around. A swearier version of Dinner For One, if you like. It’s that video of legendarily short tempered BBC producer Stewart Morris, and his gallery talkback track from Eurovision 1977. ROLLER!


    If he’d been in the gallery for Eurovision 2010’s complicated pan-European flashmob dancing interval, his fury might well have actually destroyed Norway.

    Anyway, here are a couple more gallery talkback videos from YouTube. First up, early 1980s Saturday morning kids show No. 73, with someone saying “oh bollocks” within about ten seconds. (HERE, as embedding is disabled.) From the same uploader, here’s the gallery chatter for a 1990 episode of Motormouth, in a similarly non-embeddable video.

    You know what? We hate it when people disable the embedding on their YouTube videos. “Ooh, you’re not making this video go viral, so there.  No, you’ll have to get people looking at the full video page, which has my name on it, because I’m so very important. I’m very stringent with this policy, I’ll have you know. For example, I refuse to let people phone me. I insist that they actually have to come to my house if they want to tell me something. If they’re not willing to do that, I’m not interested. Additionally, I don’t own a television. If anyone wants to entertain me, they can bloody well come around to my house, and perform an episode of Luther, or Antiques Roadshow, or Match Of The Day, in my front room. Really. This is my policy… someone please visit me. I’m so very lonely.”

    That is the thought process behind every single person who makes their YouTube videos embeddable.


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