While searching Youtube for the famous (infamous?) “Kinnock: The Movie” 1987 election broadcast, I came upon this less well remembered, but excellent broadcast from the same election. I understand that Ed Miliband’s in a rather awkward position right now (not helped by Blair’s disloyal intervention), but he really ought to have a look at this, and reflect on the fact that there was a time when the Labour leadership felt able to tell the unvarnished truth about Thatcher, the Tories and what they represent:
A BBC South West programme, Inside Out, will tonight look back at the racist practices that stopped black people from working on the buses in Bristol.
In 1963 a young black man in Bristol was refused an interview for a job on the buses because of the colour of his skin.
It sparked a protest which attracted national attention and ultimately led the way to the Race Relations Act.
Bristol bus boycott 50 years on
But for those who had been refused job interviews, there was never an apology from the Bristol Omnibus Company nor from the union (the T&GWU) preventing them getting work on the buses. I’ve heard, but have yet to find confirmation, that Unite has now issued an apology for the racism of its predecessor union.
Reporter Alastair McKee has been to meet and interview some of the people involved in the boycott.
It is essential viewing for anyone with illusions about the history of the Bristish trade union movement, or who thinks UK unions have a qualitively better record on dealing with racism than, say, the Israeli Histadrut. Many of the arguments used at the time by union members and lay officials (see clip above) will have a familiar ring to anyone who follows the antics of today’s anti-EU fanatics of both right and “left.”
Inside Out West is broadcast on Monday, 25 February on BBC One at 19:30 GMT and nationwide for seven days thereafter on the iPlayer.
Mr Justice Sweeney said he had concerns about the “absolute fundamental deficits of understanding which the questions demonstrate”. He added that, since most of the answers were in his directions to the jury, he doubted that “the extent to which anything said by me is going to be capable of getting them back on track again”.
“I am like Mr Edis in the position that after 30 years of criminal trials I have never come across this at this late stage,” said the judge. “Never.”
Mr Justice Sweeney’s remarks as he discharged an incompetent jury in the Vicky Pryce case, somehow reminded me of this little classic:
Richard Briers (who died today) was a wonderful farceur, light-comedy actor and occasional Shakespearian. He was also a definitive Bertie Wooster on the radio.
It’s almost a pity that he will forever be remembered for one particular role:
No question, of course, of which party the well-meaning, but deluded and self-righteous middle class prat Tom Good would have been founder-member.
Dave Osler got seven. I got nine. Test your knowledge in this jolly quiz:
Clive Dunn was one of the remaining stragglers from the war fighting generation.
Clive Robert Benjamin Dunn was born on January 9 1920 in London. He was educated at Sevenoaks, where he flirted with Fascism and joined the Black Shirts. He soon gave up the teenage political infatuation, however, and left school at 16 to try to find work in film. After failing to land a job as clapperboard boy, he attended the Italia Conti stage school in London, where he trained for his first stage part.
. . .
Called up in 1940, Dunn joined the 4th Hussars and was eventually posted to Greece. He spent months in the Greek countryside doing his best to avoid the enemy, but was eventually captured by a German patrol. Dunn remembered two weeks as a prisoner near Corinth with “thousands of starving and dysentery-ridden British, Indians and Palestinians”. He was then transported to Austria. “We were packed into cattle trucks like rotten sardines, smelly from diarrhoea and dysentery, with no food, one petrol can for water and one for use as a latrine.”
The journey took seven days. On arrival at the PoW camp the prisoners gave the guards a list of their civilian employment. Dunn remembered that after so long without food, 70 per cent of the 2,000 men claimed to have been butchers or cooks.
Update:- My family loved Dad’s Army but I didn’t find Clive Dunn’s Lance-Corporal Jones funny. His part was slapstick – running about with his bayonet while shouting “don’t panic”. I preferred the diffident public school Sergeant Walker saying to Captain Mainwaring’s latest daft idea, “Do you think that’s wise, Sir?” and the sly allusions at his relationship with Mrs Pike. My mother liked the gentle, daffy Godfrey and the spiv Walker. Kids at school said my dad looked like Private “we’re all doomed” Frazer. And of course we loved the English village cosiness – as exotic to us as the Beverley Hillbillies.
In black and white
Guest post by Pink Prosecco
Citizen Khan (BBC 1, Mondays, 10.20 pm) has attracted formal complaints, and plenty of more informal negative comments too. It’s certainly neither subtle nor original – but I find it more difficult to be sure whether or not it deserves complaints because it is racist or anti-Muslim. The central character, ‘Citizen’ Khan, is a rather monstrous creation, and most of the characters seem stereotypical. But this is the case with many sit coms. Basil Fawlty and Alf Garnett were both grotesque. Khan’s prospective son-in-law seems a bit daft – but so was the ridiculous Alice in The Vicar of Dibley.
Of course Muslims are targets of bigotry, which does mean that Citizen Khan can’t be judged in quite the same way, perhaps, as a programme about a white, culturally Christian family. But it could be argued that the programme’s makers, by reducing the Khans to a set of cheesy stereotypes, have just helped pull Muslims more firmly into the mainstream in a way a more earnest and nervous programme couldn’t have done. Although a few complaints have focused on the disrespectful treatment of Islam, the character who uses a mask of piety to conceal her party going tastes – and gets away with it – could strike a chord with anyone who has sneaked their way round parental restraints, whatever their religious background.
It’s not a great programme. Goodness Gracious Me was cleverer and funnier. But I don’t think it’s going to be giving the EDL any comfort. As Adil Ray, who plays the title role, points out:
“The biggest, most important, thing you can do is laugh at yourself….You then negate anything anybody can ever do. It’s the ultimate weapon. If you can laugh at yourself, it doesn’t matter what anybody says to you as you’re laughing already.”
One of my favourite actors, Bob Hoskins, is retiring due to ill-health. He starred in probably the finest-ever Brit gangster film (far better than any of Guy Ritchie’s crap) , The Long Good Friday, the gut-wrenching romantic thriller Mona Lisa, and the hilarious part-animated Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
He is also, by all accounts, a thoroughly good guy.
The Graun reports:
Bob Hoskins is to retire from acting following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease last autumn, it was announced on Wednesday.
A statement issued on his behalf said: “He wishes to thank all the great and brilliant people he has worked with over the years, and all of his fans who have supported him during a wonderful career. Bob is now looking forward to his retirement with his family, and would greatly appreciate that his privacy be respected at this time.”
Hoskins, one of Britain’s best-loved actors, known for his gruff bonhomie, has been working for more than 30 years. He first found fame on the small screen in Dennis Potter’s Pennies from Heaven, and then in cinemas as a London gangster-turned-businessman in The Long Good Friday (1980).
Hoskins had leading roles in Brazil (1985), Mona Lisa (1986), Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) and Mermaids (1990) and Super Mario Bros (1993) – which he described in a recent Guardian interview as “the worst thing I ever did”.
Many will know him best for a series of adverts shot in the late 80s and early 90s for BT with his catchphrase, “It’s good to talk”. He teamed up with Shane Meadows for Twenty Four Seven (1997) and A Room for Romeo Brass (2000), and winning much acclaim for his role in Atom Egoyan’s Felicia’s Journey (1999).
Most recently, Hoskins was seen in Made in Dagenham, Snow White and the Huntsman and Outside Bet. On the set of that film, about the Wapping newspaper dispute in the mid-80s, Hoskins told the Guardian why he kept on working: “There’s always someone who rings up and says: ‘Now Bob, before you go, there’s a cracking little swansong for you’.”
I shall always best remember Hoskins for the first role I saw him in: ‘Arthur’, the doomed sheet-music salesman in Dennis Potter’s elegiac 1978 TV series, Pennies From Heaven, in which he and co-star Cheryl Campbell lip-synched 1930′s pop songs to quite incredible emotional effect. Here he is, ‘singing’ Al Bowlly’s 1938 vocal (with the Lew Stone Orchestra), You Couldn’t Be Cuter:
My favourite scene from Pennies is this one, where the two lovers are holed-up in a barn, awaiting their inevitable, tragic, fate. ‘Joan’ (Cheryl Campbell) lip-synches Connee Boswell’s 1935 record of In The Middle Of A Kiss. I defy you to watch this without a damp eye:
Have a good and long retirement, Bob.
The Hollow Crown ended with the fourth play in the series, Henry V. It was brilliant, like the whole series, and it was great to see Henry V in sequence after the two Henry IV’s. I’ve seen Henry V several times, and the Falstaff and Mistress Quickly scene at the beginning doesn’t make much sense in a stand alone Henry V.
I thought framing the play with the funeral at beginning and end was a fine device. At first I was puzzled when a woman in black, who I couldn’t identify, turned up at the beginning, but at the end you see her again and it makes sense. By then you have enjoyed her as the radiant, playful Princess Katherine with rippling golden hair and a pale blue. girlish dress, and now she is transformed into a braided, draped piece of mourning and motherhood. The adventures and romance of Henry were glorious, but short-lived.
Henry V is a play with a fantastic action hero at its centre and so there were plenty of shots of Henry galloping on a white horse, his cloak flying behind him. Tom Hiddleston looked right – the director had left off the usual pudding basin haircut -and was a young man full of energy and warmth, surrounded by a posse of capable old codgers (all excellent, and Paul Freeman as Erpingham was perfect in his smiling delivery). Henry is an epitome of Rudyard Kipling’s If – he walks with kings (he is one) and has the common touch, all men count with him and none too much. This was an unbombastic Henry. Hiddleston seems to be able to do anything, so no doubt he could perform the famous motivational speeches, the once more in the breach, dear friends, and the Crispin Day one as a leader to his troops. But he was directed to get in a huddle with his immediate comrades urging them on hoarsely, like a coach at a football team rather than Elizabeth I at Tilbury. Very different from Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V. One of Branagh’s strengths is to convince as a leader of men, as he did in Shackleton.
They didn’t cut the Harfleur speech, when Henry threatens atrocities if the town does not surrender, as Laurence Olivier’s wartime version did. Any modern production of a play with a war setting will emphasise the cruelties and terrors, so there were plenty of shots of the Boy, who follows the army after he picked up the St George Cross armband at the beginning reacting to the deaths and fear around him.
I thought that a production that underlined the horrors was going to rob us of excitement – the advance of the cavalry and the arrow shower, but we got them both – a lovely wide shot of the horses approaching, the English bowmen waiting and the hooves thundering closer and closer. Not as good an arrow shower as in the Olivier and Branagh film versions, but pretty good.
Henry V is – well not pure jingoism, as nothing Shakespeare ever does is pure and simple – cynics, nay sayers and no-shows have their turns – it’s got a touch of the Wilfred Owen among the Rupert Brookery – but full on aggressive patriotism, with everyone in the play telling us how marvellous Henry V is – and of course he is marvellous, like James Bond with heavier responsibilities. His enemy is a sneery Dauphin (Edward Akrout, an English bloke’s nightmare of a handsome, French dude advertising perfume). The Dauphin and his henchmen are arrogant sods whose horses wear dressy armour – that concertinaed neck protector on the Dauphin’s horse looked amazing. The English stand stoically covered in mud. If there any image of Frenchman vs Englishman that has staying power with the English, this one is it, the flashy smoothy vs the dogged rough substance.
Like James Bond Henry gets the girl, who is delightful and French to boot (Melanie Thierry – utterly charming, whether giggly or serious). When in the final wooing scene Henry adds to his other virtues a GSOH and amusing self-deprecation and the beautiful young Prince and Princess kiss each other, it’s the end of a fairy tale, but they do not of course live happily ever after Henry dies, and England bleeds. The Chorus in the play tells us so, this production showed us, that glory existed but was cut short.