Brothers In Erm...


Between 1967 and 1971, The Move released four albums - five, if you count the live mini-album Something Else - crammed full of some of the most inventive pop music of the late sixties. And, erm, early seventies. Alongside the hit singles, you'll find an eclectic mix of longer and more experimental tracks, spoken word pieces, orchestral arrangements, guitar freakouts, judiciously chosen cover versions, acoustic ballads, lost classics, irritating throwaways and just plain silliness for silliness' sake; indeed, 1970's Looking On ends with them heckling The Duke Of Edinburgh. No, really. All of the band's members contribute to both the songwriting and the lead vocals, and from the flashy pop-art pop thrills of Walk Upon The Water through to the proggy proto-ELO classical pretensions of It Wasn't My Idea To Dance, you'd be hard pushed to find a more concise snapshot of just how much and how quickly everything changed in those musically and culturally turbulent years. They may not be quite as good as The Beatles' albums from the corresponding timeframe, but there's certainly a case for claiming they're more interesting.

Yet you'll struggle ever to find Looking On, or for that matter Move, Shazam, Message From The Country or even Something Else if we're counting it, on any list of 'classic' albums. This is largely because - like Herman's Hermits, Julie Felix, Level 42, The Mock Turtles, Daphne & Celeste and so many others from so many eras and genres - they had the temerity to make good albums that were perfectly tailored to their audience at the time, but which now just don't fit the 'rules' of what makes a 'classic' album as set out by a seemingly endless procession of bombastic broadsheet rock critic bores. Quite why anyone would need quite so many rundowns of 'classic' albums is another question, but they keep on churning them out regardless, always with the same earnest and reverential yet box-ticking dependence on an accepted 'canon' that everyone agrees on. Anything that doesn't fit in to it, apparently, just isn't worth paying any attention to.

Sometimes this is even applied within an artist's own discography; The Kinks and The Small Faces both have one 'allowed' album apiece while the only slightly less defined and coherent but no less listenable ones either side of them are generally ignored, whereas earlier Beach Boys efforts cannot possibly be listened to for pleasure but instead have to be scoured for 'stepping stones' 'towards' Pet Sounds, and David Bowie's first two albums don't even get that level of flippant analysis, with an infuriatingly prevalent tendency to dismiss them as 'not a proper part of his discography'. Sometimes it's even applied within the same album, with The Queen Is Dead only allowed to hang on to its inevitable position in the top ten 'classics' on the condition that the critic is permitted to moan that it would be better served by the absence of Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others. The fact that it was deliberately included as an annoying closing track, and that the fade-in-out intro was intended to represent the sound of a humourless listener 'leaving' the album and closing the door behind them, is a joke that is apparently lost on them.

And that was where this half-finished sitting-around-for-a-while bit of musing originally ended. Short on coherency, unconvincing in concept, and lacking an effective ending, it would doubtless have met with the disapproval of those selfsame 'classic album'-obsessed rock critics. If it actually was, erm, an album. But it's worth revisiting now, considering that several of said 'quality' rock journalism droners have recently taken to penning bewildering pieces announcing that, in this age of downloading and random play, the 'album' is now officially finished as an artform forever no arguments, while others have countered this by - you guessed it - referring back to that same sodding predictable set of albums all over again. They're both wrong, of course, and the truth of the matter is that the 'album' is hardly likely to disappear from history while there are so many out there that nobody's blathering on for way too many column inches demanding that you listen to on their terms. So put down that copy of Different Class and try something you've not really thought about before. You never know, there might even be something as good as The Ben Crawley Steel Co. on it.

Mind you, it's still worth avoiding Tarantula by Ride, though.


The Ten Most Non-Canonical Non-Canonical Cartoon Characters


As long as there've been animated spinoffs, there have been performers or writers that wouldn't play ball, rights complications that required an entire battallion of irons to iron out, interfering network executives who insisted that a cutesy semi-invisible lamb was essential for appealing to 'the kids', and many, many other factors that necessitated the removal of a popular established character and their replacement with someone - or, crucially, something - else. Here's ten of the most... well, they're just ten of them, aren't they?


Lieutenant M'Ress from Star Trek: The Animated Adventures


Often overlooked in the ever-expanding 'Trek Universe', this cartoon series was in fact the first follow-on of them all and was produced in the early seventies by Filmation (remember that name, you'll be hearing it a lot). Most of the original cast were reunited in the voiceover studio, but budgetary restrictions meant that they couldn't actually afford to have a full complement of Enterprise crew on board, and something have to give. That 'something' was the hapless Ensign Pavel Chekov, although Walter Koenig proved to be slightly less hapless when he arranged a deal that allowed him to write for the series instead (which, erm, presumably ended up costing them just as much). His replacement was the newly-invented Lieutenant M'Ress, an orange-skinned, yellow-eyed, purring-voiced Felis Sapiens from the conveniently named planet Caitia, who in a possibly Koening-precipitated spot of economic casting was voiced by doubling-up Nurse Christine Chapel actress Majel Barrett. Although occasionally called on to capitalise on her feline characteristics, for example calming the noisy cat-like fear-projecting Moauvian Waul or ripping open unattended binbags and then acting surprised when the contents spilled out all over her, M'Ress was normally to be found standing at the back doing very little. Though she was still more fortunate than her similarly invented contemporary Lieutenant Arex; a James Doohan-voiced six-limbed oddity who did even less. M'Ress would later appear in a couple of spin-off novels and in the long-running comic strip, where she was reinvented as green-skinned, less lion-faced and more attractive than her small screen equivalent, alongside a blonde Uhura and a black Sulu.


N'Kima from Tarzan, Lord Of The Jungle


It wasn't just humans that could cause headaches for animation studios. When Filmation turned their attention to Edgar Rice Burroughs' jungle-dwelling creation a year or two later, they had little trouble getting the rights to the vine-swinger himself, but getting his most famous sidekick to play ball was a different matter. Cheeta the Chimpanzee had not in fact been part of the original literary blueprint, but made his name as an integral part of the series of Tarzan films starring Johnny Weismuller (Tarzan 'yell': uninspired), and went on to secure a further starring role in the action-packed waste-paper-basket-title-sequenced late sixties television version starring Ron Ely (Tarzan 'yell': getting there). By the time that Filmation came calling, though, the superannuated supporting actor had retired from showbiz; quite how he could have been coaxed into a recording studio anyway is a matter of some debate, but intellectual property rights prevented Filmation from using Cheeta in any way, shape or form if the real one wasn't involved. Wary of invoking a lawsuit, producer Lou Schimer took the slightly less legally dubious course of using an equally intelligent monkey named N'Kima, loosely modelled on a similarly named simian that appeared in the original novels, and voiced by Schimer himself alongside star Robert Ridgely (Tarzan 'yell': much-imitated operatic yodel, seemingly fashioned so it would fit neatly over the bombastic closing theme without missing a beat). N'Kima's function was much like that of some sort of K9/Sonic Screwdriver hybrid, constantly alerting his human master to hidden dangers with a startled look and a high-pitched chirrup, and forever turning up in the nick of time, often accompanied by a cavalry-esque assortment of elephants and other 'hard mates', to save the day at the end of the latest logic-taxing skirmish with aliens, ice monsters and giant lizards.


H.E.R.B.I.E. The Robot from The Fantastic Four

 
Back at the height of post-Superman late seventies superhero excitement, a group of Hollywood bigwigs decided that The Human Torch, better known as one quarter of veteran Marvel comics combo The Fantastic Four, was ideal source material for a multi-million-moneyspinning-merchandise bonanza transfer to the silver screen. There was only one drawback to this plan - it wasn't until all the contracts had been signed that it emerged that Marvel were planning to make a Fantastic Four cartoon series in conjunction with DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. As a result they were unable to use The Human Torch in the series, and - ignoring the fact that many other Marvel characters such as She-Hulk, Medusa, Power Man and, erm, She-Thing had occasionally deputised for errant Fantastic Four-ers in the comic book - the producers devised instead a cutesy maintenance robot called Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-Type, Integrated Electronics, or H.E.R.B.I.E. for short, who did little bar operate equipment and perform mildly comic household tasks with his extendable limbs. H.E.R.B.I.E. was subsumed into 'proper' Fantastic Four shortly afterwards with an appearance in a comic strip storyline, which ended with him self-destructing in a noble bid both to save his human cohorts and to spare television viewers from any threatened revivals. And the Human Torch movie? It never got past the drawing board.


Firestar from Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends

 
Said movie was still supposedly 'in development' as late as 1981, scuppering plans for The Human Torch to feature in yet another animated series. Throwing decades worth of established Marvel continuity right out of the window, Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends purported to chronicle the college days of Peter Parker, when he attended the oddly named Empire State University and 'roomed' with The X-Men's Iceman Bobby Drake. The vacant room in their dorm was originally to have been occupied by none other than Johnny Storm, but as the rights to the character were unavailable he was hastily replaced with Firestar. Effectively a female Human Torch in all but name, Firestar had essentially the same powers except that she was able to retain her human appearance when Flaming On. Born plain old Angelica Jones, Firestar's powers derived from her ability to harness microwave radiation from the atmosphere, and - from the look of the transformation sequence seen in the shows - also allowed her to turn her her a vivid shade of red and undergo a substantial increase in bra size. There was also the occasional hint that she was enjoying some sort of romantic fling with Iceman, although we'd put money on the sex being lukewarm. Unlike most of the others on this list, Firestar did go on to enjoy a successful transition to comic book form and in time became a much-loved Marvel character. Also Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends had an ace squiggly synth-festooned theme tune. Stitch that, 'purists'!


Veenie And Marion from The Partridge Family 2200AD


The jury's still out on why anyone would have considered an animated Partridge Family spinoff to be something that the universe actually needed in the first place, but consider they did, and a handful of Hanna-Barbera sponsored episodes transplanting Shirley and her overfreckled singing clan into a never-explained Jetsons-esque World Of Tomorrow did limp out before being abruptly cancelled mid-season. David Cassidy and Shirley Jones declined to become involved with their cartoon incarnations, but 'the kids' all lent their variable performing talents to the soundtrack, and yet even with all of the original characters on board (including the dog), the producers still felt that there was something missing. Thankfully they didn't just reach straight for Ricky Segall, the irritating squeaky-voiced sheepdog-resembling brat brought in to 'enliven' the latterday episodes of the original sitcom, but instead opted to give Keith and Laurie a couple of alien school chums, Venusian Veenie and Martian Marion. As cartoon aliens go they were pretty nondescript-looking, resembling little more than recoloured human characters with antennae affixed, and indeed barring Marion's tendency to levitate when overemotional their actual characters were little different from those of the average cartoon teenager's pal. As such, they completely failed to add anything to a series that was in dire need of an added something, rendering the whole enterprise a pale shadow of the original. Just be glad that they never got to join in with the singing.


Batmite from The New Adventures Of Batman

 
This is a strange one. Batmite, a sort of Batman-costumed imp thing whose primary function was to try and help the Dynamic Duo out but invariably end up making things worse, and to blush when kissed by Batgirl (revealing a pair of heart-festooned boxer shorts in the process), was a prominent regular in Filmation's The New Adventures Of Batman and bore all the hallmarks of an ill-fitting oddity that had been thought up by the producers to add a bit of comic relief. Thorough investigation of Bat-Lore, though, reveals that he did in fact have a secure grounding in the Caped Crusader's comic strip adventures, being some sort of interdimensional Batman fan who occasionally popped up to watch his heroes at work. Thus it was that in the true tradition of Rupert Bear's child-frightening twig-fashioned cohort Raggerty, the producers simply spotted this minor character and decided that they would work well within the confines of this new adaptation. Nonetheless, it remains the case that most people's only contact with Batmite was through his cartoon-assisted moment in the spotlight. Whither Ace The Bat-Hound?


7-ZARK-7 AND 1-ROVER-1 from Battle Of The Planets

 
We've all heard the story a million times before. American distributor buys Japanese animated series originally aimed at adults and re-edits it to remove the more violent and explicit elements though you still saw Princess' knickers in the opening titles and to disguise the fact that the main villain was a hermaphrodite and that all the stories were actually set on Earth and that the metal bird thing that the main good guy threw originally inflicted nasty slashing wounds on enemy troops rather than just making them sort of just look upwards and go 'a-a-aaaaaa' and whacks on a theme tune that sounds like a seventies BBC Sports theme having a fight with a disco record and millions of Anime/Manga fans pull grimacing faces for ever more. Bored yet? Well, we are, and not least because most of those who spit and roll their eyes whenever Battle Of The Planets is mentioned didn't have the faintest idea that Ninja Gatchaman Special Team Lucky Best Bear or whatever it was called even existed when they watched and enjoyed the adventures of G-Force as youngsters. With that in mind, please join us as we afford some long overdue respect to the one original element that the Americans did introduce. To cover for the shortfall in running time caused by the re-editing, not to mention explain some of the gaping resultant plotholes, in came R2D2-aping robot advisor 7-ZARK-7 and his equally mechanical pet dog, 1-ROVER-1. Although their primary function was to sound suitably grim and concerned whilst reacting to Spectra's henchmen closing in on our heroes and knocking Keyop to the floor (occasioning him to yelp, as ever, 'a-a-aaaaaa'), they served a neat dual purpose by being permitted to indulge in the odd spot of comedy banter, much of this deriving from 1-ROVER-1's ability to propel himself through the air by wagging his tail very quickly. They also enjoyed the occasional visit from G-Force themselves, in a rarely-seen 'badly drawn' incarnation. You can keep your eighty-six volumes of the 'Akinakama Robot-Jei' series - along with the fabled 'Firey Phoenix' and the brief flash of Princess' knickers in the opening titles, the bolted-on robots were one of the main reasons for tuning in to the Buzzfax-bookended epic, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.


Orko from He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe


There were only about three or four figures seen in the original TV-am-straddling advert for Masters Of The Universe ("you'll never win!" - "oh yes I will!"), but within a very short space of time the range increased exponentially, to the point where there were sufficient characters to spill out of Castle Grayskull and into a half-hour animated advert of their very own. Beast-Man, Ram-Man, Aqua-Man, Man-E-Faces, they were all called into service to pad out the cast list, and even notorious 'blue He-Man' ripoff figure Faker put in the odd appearance here and there. But there was one character that had not in fact previously appeared in plastic form, and was created by Filmation to provide that all-important comedy element. A red-robed hovering wizard-type thing from the planet Trolla, Orko was gainfully employed as the resident court jester-stroke-not very good magician at Castle Grayskull, and was one of the few (along with The Sorceress and Man-At-Arms, fact fans) who knew of Prince Adam's secret identity as He-Man. Such was Orko's unusual level of popularity - despite breaking all the rules for seamless integration of a new not-from-the-original character, he somehow seemed to catch on - that Mattel eventually gave in to public demand and released an Orko figure. Back to Snake Mountain with the lot of you.


Mr Cool and Cupcake from Fonz And The Happy Days Gang

 
We'd be here all day listing all of the eight million spinoffs from Happy Days, but one of the most well-remembered was this peculiar Hanna-Barbera offering which reunited the voices of all of Richie Cunningham's diner-based gang bar Anson 'Potsie' Williams. For reasons best known to themselves, Arthur Fonzarelli and his pals embarked on a Wolfman Jack-narrated journey through time, trying to get back to 1950's Milwaukee with only newly-endowed psuedo-superpowers to assist them; The Fonz with an amped-up version of his 'click fingers to make things happen' schtick, Richie with an ability to charm any passing female into helping them, and Ralph Malph with, erm, an inexhaustible supply of smoke bombs. Accompanying them on their travels were Mr Cool, a gruff-voiced Comedy Dog with a limited vocabulary and speech impediment ("Right Ronzie!"), and a Girl From The Future(tm) named Cupcake. How anyone could slot them into established Happy Days canon is something that, frankly, we'd pay good money to see, but in fact, the peculiar series was actually quite enjoyable in its own way. Mr Cool went on to join Fonzie in jumping ship towards brain-hurting cartoon-spinoff-from-a-cartoon-spinoff-from-a-live-action-spinoff Laverne And Shirley In The Army With The Fonz. No, that's not a joke.


Stan and Ollie from Laurel And Hardy


Included in this list because 'Laurel' and 'Hardy' as seen the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series bear even less relation to their cinematic inspirations than The Robonic Stooges. Wags would contend that this was because the animated versions of the bowler-sporting duo were actually funny, yet not only did the plotlines of these shorts bear little relation to Lucky Dog or Hats Off, the voices didn't even sound like the real Stan and Ollie. Perhaps this is best exemplified by the opening titles - the screen splits into four and shows a variety of clips of vaguely authentic-seeming Laurel And Hardy-styled antics, such as 'Stan' opening a window and knocking 'Ollie' off a ladder, flying a collapsing biplane, being chased by a giant alligator and so on (well, that did say 'vaguely'), along with the decidedly less explicable sight of 'Laurel' looking alarmed whilst 'Hardy' flaps his arms and flies around the room. The cartoon's one saving grace is that its mere existence never fails to infuriate ironically humourless hardcore fans of the duo.

"But It's Got Pipes In It!!"


For two nights early in 1987, it felt as though television had entirely lost control of itself.

Cutting a very long story very short indeed, Hardwicke House was an anarchic sitcom made by Central for ITV and set in a failing mid-eighties comprehensive school populated by feral pupils and a mixture of incompetent and sadistic staff. Its humour was pitched somewhere between the already pretty controversial 'kids run amok' post-punk children's comedy shows Educating Marmalade and Your Mother Wouldn't Like It (with which it shared some of its cast), and the politically-charged violent slapstick and taboo-breaking of the Comic Strip crowd; indeed, Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson were set to show up halfway through the series as Lenny and Tiny, two highly dangerous former pupils fresh out of borstal. It had been made with ITV's edgy late-night Sunday comedy slot - home to Spitting Image, Hale And Pace, Hot Metal and other fondly recalled shows you were 'allowed to stay up for' - in mind, but to the surprise and indeed concern of everyone involved with the show, was shunted into a midweek late evening slot, reputedly with the aim of capitalising on the recent early evening success of Central's Girls On Top, an itself hardly controversy-free (are you noticing a theme developing here?) vehicle for Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Tracey Ullman and Ruby Wax.

And so it was that, accompanied by a massive push from TV Times, those first two episodes went out on successive days between 8pm and 9pm, in what was possibly the most severe misjudging of the likelihood of scoring a hit TV show of all time. Of course, it was a 'hit' with those whom presumably would have sought it out in a later timeslot anyway, and I can personally attest to the playground being abuzz with excitement the next day (particularly over the scene with school bully Slasher Bates' gang eating raw liver as an initiation ceremony, and Granville Saxton's astonishing performance as the Dickensianly cruel Mr Fowl), much as it was over Blackadder II, Filthy Rich & Catflap, Happy Families and indeed Cool It! around the same time, but it sat much less comfortably with those who had been exposed to it by accident rather than design. The first episode, with its rough language, hefty swipes at apartheid and teacher with an unhealthy interest in half-naked boys, upset a huge proportion of the viewing audience, and the second, with its infamous electrocution gag, upset even more - in all seriousness, you would not believe how utterly massive and headline-pervading and indeed virtually tangible the outcry was unless you'd been there to witness it first hand; the overall impression was that there was almost a panic that television had wilfully launched an assault on taste and decency and that law and order would break down if something wasn't 'done' 'about' it straight away - to the extent that the series was pulled with immediate effect, and the already commissioned second series was written off at considerable expense; and, for that matter, a projected video release and tie-in 'School Yearbook' were summarily cancelled.

And that very nearly wasn't all - loath to admit to their own mistake, and keen to pander to the offended, Central's 'high ups' originally demanded that the series was wiped to eradicate any danger of it accidentally causing them further upset by reappearing in some form; it's difficult not to draw parallels here with the whole 'Video Nasties' phenomenon, which provoked many campaigners and politicians into suggesting quite sanely and soberly that those hapless low-budget Italian horror films could somehow affect people by their very existence from beyond the tape. Some subterfuge from the rightly disgruntled staff at Central saw to it that the tapes survived in clandestine circumstances, but they were hardly exactly at risk of damage through overuse. Rumblings of a late night reshowing later in the year, or even on Channel 4, came and went (well, there is still a question mark hanging over that, but that's a discussion for another time), and even if the tapes hadn't been erased, Hardwicke House itself had been as good as erased from TV history.

Hardly surprisingly, most people just seemed to forget about Hardwicke House after that - you'll search in vain for a mention of it in Roger Wilmut's Didn't You Kill My Mother-In-Law?, an exhaustive history of alternative comedy (and Mayall and Edmondson in particular) published barely eighteen months later, and it also bafflingly failed to join the rogue's gallery of similarly controversy-stricken drama and comedy shows in BBC2's TV Hell night in 1992. And yet there were those who just couldn't forget the thrill of what had been, whether retrospective commentators like it or not, a wild and dangerous intrusion into safe and sanitised fun family entertainment, and the mixture of incredulity and injustice that they had felt when they were suddenly told that they weren't allowed to see any more of it. Yes, injustice. Youngsters feel aggrieved about the most trivial and unreasonable things. Live with it. Anyway, as time went by, injustice was replaced by curiosity - as I've already noted in this post here, the listings for the untransmitted episodes of Hardwicke House were amongst the first things I looked up when I realised my local library had back issues of TV Times available for research purposes - and eventually incredulity that, even in an age where all manner of much more sensitive material has been prised from much more highly regulated archives and a few smudgy black and white frames of a forthcoming Doctor Who episode can be all over the internet in seconds, not a single second of unseen Hardwicke House - apart from an outtake that regularly does the rounds of the TV's Naughtiest Blunders-type shows - had ever surfaced in any form.

A couple of years back, it looked as though all those unseen seconds of Hardwicke House finally were going to surface in one particular form, and I was commissioned to write a detailed history of the show for a prospective DVD release (which you can now find in my book Well At Least It's Free; as to why you'll find it there rather than inside a DVD case, well we're getting to that). The tapes had been located, the cast and crew clearances had all been obtained (which in itself was apparently no mean feat) and I had a fine time speaking to some of them and finding out some amazing behind-the-scenes detail. Unfortunately - and this really IS cutting a long story short - its untransmitted status meant that it had to be assessed as a 'new' programme by ITV's approval committee. The fact that this was only a short while after 'Sachsgate' should probably be taken into account, but it seems that they didn't much care for it at all, and refused to sanction its release on the grounds that it was not the sort of programme that ITV would wish itself to be associated with. This was largely due to - and I don't think I can really be accused of 'spoilering' a series that nobody can see - the final episode, which would have gone out in Easter week, in which a vicar gets hit by a falling cross at the school's Easter Service, and the staff attempt to cover up the incident. Not exactly Full House, admittedly, but who in the name of sanity did they think would even see an episode at the far end of a DVD release of a deeply, deeply obscure comedy series notably short on big names, let alone take sufficient offence to cause any actual tangible trouble for anyone? As with the DVD release of the similarly (if less severely) neglected Fist Of Fun, which did come out but was forcibly shorn of inoffensive material for ludicrous reasons, the kindest thing you can accuse these decision makers of is trying to tick a predefined amount of boxes on someone else's orders. The least kindest thing you can accuse them of, of course, is sheer cowardice, and capitulation to what the sort of people who ideally should be largely ignored might concievably and theoretically be expected to potentially think about something that is probably so far off their radar that we'd actually need a bigger campaign to get them to notice it than the one against the show in the first place. Meanwhile, ITV continues to gleefully associate itself with exploitative fly on the wall 'docudramas', glorified witch hunts under the pretence of 'hard hitting' current affairs, and that thing with Dom Joly in. Still, at least they protected us all from seeing Slasher drop someone over a banister.

So near, and yet so, so far. And yet it's difficult to convince people of just how much this trivial and inconsequential television programme, that means absolutely nothing either positive or negative in the history of the medium, means to me personally, or for that matter of why it does. Some have bluntly and repeatedly told me it's not funny, as if that should be a line drawn under the whole matter, apparently missing the point that its weirdly off-target gags that misfire more often than not are actually part of the appeal in the first place. The world would be a dull place if we shunned everything bar committee-approved 'classic sitcoms'. Others have scoffed that I wouldn't be nearly so interested if it hadn't been 'banned'; apart from being possibly the most pointlessly hypothetical argument of all time, that discounts the fact that, for those two exhiliarating days, it was up there with so many other shows of its era that, rightly or wrongly, I'm still ever so slightly interested in. But above all I just want to see it, and it seems ludicrous that now that I'm a fully grown adult, who has quite legally and legitimately sat through genuinely offensive films and albums (and that's not even getting started on the vile exploitative trash that gets forced into our consciousness unbidden by modern day TV), I should be told by finger-wagging PR-conscious nobodies that I'm not allowed to. And above even that, I want to see half an hour's worth of Rik and Ade at the top of their game, and it is truly staggering that when the proper tribute shows roll around, chances are that there won't be a single frame of them driving haphazardly into the playground and perving over Pam Ferris. Remember, somebody somewhere has decided that you are not allowed to see that.

So, that's Hardwicke House, and that's why I will keep going on and on and on and on and on and on and on about it until it gets broadcast or released or whatever. And I've not even mentioned which politically inconvenient name you might well find lurking halfway down the cast...


You can find a detailed history of Hardwicke House in my book Well At Least It's Free, available as a paperback here or as an eBook here.