Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Keep it Light


I was in the audience for last night's recording of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue at the Bath Forum, which saw Rory Bremner and Marcus Brigstocke locked in combat with Tony Hawks and Pippa Evans. I was going to wait until the two episodes aired (which will be on the 10th and 17th July) to try to do my thing of remembering as much about what didn't make the edit as I can, since ISIHAC is a difficult show to write spoiler-free notes on, but I do have one or two things that definitely won't make the edit or can be suitably vague about now.

One of the biggest laughs of the evening came when Jon Naismith was introducing the panel: whilst he was describing the first panellist Tony started to walk on and was halfway to his chair when he realised Jon was actually talking about Rory, and hurriedly ran back behind the curtain before Jon noticed him!

There was a tense moment at the top of the second show: Jack Dee got a few lines into his opening monologue when there was a power cut, which was followed by a uniquely funny yet worrying few minutes of ad-libbing (and Jon making some perhaps-only-semi-joking remarks about already having enough material for two episodes from the first one) from the darkened stage.

There was one new round which will be interesting to see if it makes the edit or not for reasons I can't really get into; I can't think of much else to say that doesn't cross the line into spoilers, the relatively new game of Songstoppers seems to be a permanent fixture now, and one of them brought the house down.

Oh: Watch out for a moment in Pick-Up Song that reduced everyone, including the rest of the panel, to literal tears of helpless laughter.

Sunday, 30 April 2023

Broken Gamebooks #22: Battleblade Warrior


And suddenly the roar of battle ceases, and the ranks of warriors part. Atop a mound of human bodies, right at the centre of the fighting, is the Lizard Man Champion. Nearly three metres tall, four-armed and splattered with gore, the immense creature is swinging a barbaric war-axe and a huge knife larger than your own sword. The Champion howls insanely, drunk with blood-lust, calling on any brave warrior to challenge him to a fight. Will you step forward to take him on (turn to 26), or take advantage of the distraction to break through the lines (turn to 213)?

So section 333 of Battleblade Warrior sets the scene for the only notable error in the thirty-first Fighting Fantasy gamebook, originally published in 1988... an error if, were it not for the fact that I find it quite funny, might not be covered here.

Saturday, 8 April 2023

Mirror Man


The second episode of Would I Lie to You? I was in the audience for, with guests Henning Wehn, Michelle Visage, Simon Gregson and Chizzy Akudolu, was recorded over a year ago, and I've been patiently waiting not only for the episode itself to air, but also for the outtakes show to go out, so I can go into more detail about anything I can remember without spoiling anything that might make the edit. (There's a second outtakes show next Friday, but the description indicates there's nothing from this episode there so I should be on safe ground publishing this now.) And here we are.

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Caption Captured

Okay, if you're reading this, by this point I'm going to assume you know the whole deal this blog has with the 1991 TV series The Diamond Brothers: South by South East at this point. If not, why not start at the beginning, then come back here? I'll wait.

Welcome back. Anyway, the exciting news here is that I have been made aware of the existence of another off-air recording of the sole UK broadcast in 1991, this one the property of Paul TG of theTimeVault podcast. And this one has slightly more of the transmission error that afflicted episode 3.

Paul shared a few videos with me on Twitter, confirming what I already believed to be the case: the 9 April interrupted broadcast cut off just after the Diamond Brothers leave the guest house, and the following week's one-third-episode began over the long panning shot of the railings. Most thrillingly of all, though, he shared with me the caption added to the beginning of the 16 April portion of episode 3:


See here for the crucial video of the beginning of "Episode Three Cont..."; Paul also shared with me videos of the end of the 16 April recommencement and the point at which his recording of the 9th April cuts off, which are nice to have but I don't think show anything that isn't on the existing YouTube upload of Neil James' copy. (Paul did mention that his original VHS recording captured the whole breakdown, including the entirety of Tommy Boyd and Neil Buchanan's dead air, but unfortunately the person who transferred it to DVD for him cut it out and the original tape is long since broken!)

Anyway, this is going to be tremendously useful when I finally get round to writing my episode guide on the show (still pending my finding out what the cast list for episode 3 should have read, so do get in touch if you have any thoughts on that).

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Revision Quest II


A few weeks back, I compared the 1997 and 2011 editions of an obscure adventure gamebook called Egyptian Quest, the latter of which was self-published by the author and contained several intriguing additions compared to the original printing.

I had a hypothesis for those additions -- specifically, that they were written for the nineties edition but that had to be pared back to hit a strict word count -- and I had also intended to cover Egyptian Quest's sibling, Aztec Quest, in the same post. However, it turned out that there were far more changes than I was expecting, and I was able to make a much stronger case for my theory than I was expecting to from just the first book. So, like some weird DVD extra nobody asked for or watched, here are a selection of the changes between versions of Aztec Quest.

Sunday, 12 March 2023

A Slightly Convoluted and Badly Told Anecdote About Armstrong and Miller I Have Just Remembered


Back in 2010, I attended the first night of The Armstrong and Miller Tour at the Bristol Hippodrome. And it proved to be significant that it was the first night.

The show was predominantly live, but there was a pre-recorded series of animated inserts where Armstrong, Miller and the sole other member of the cast, Katherine Jakeways, voiced characters in an MMORPG (basically not unlike the later E4 sitcom Dead Pixels)... except for most of the show, the screen wasn't working, and only the audio was played in. And nobody seemed to notice; perhaps the audience were too polite to try and bring it to their attention, but nobody on the crew picked up on it, and the cast certainly didn't!

Eventually -- possibly this is a false memory, but it was before the very last insert was played in, certainly after quite a few of them had been -- Ben and Xander broke character to say, slightly embarrassedly, that we should have been able to see things as well as hear them in the bits where they and Jakeways were off-stage, but the projector wasn't working, and they managed to get things fixed in time for us to see the last one. Suddenly having visuals did make that one sketch much funnier, at the cost of basically ruining every other one... and the punchline to the whole thing, where the cast came back on stage dressed in the same ridiculous costumes as their MMORPG characters, who had agreed to meet up in real life, which had far less impact as a result.

Although it strikes me just now that we potentially missed out on something even funnier if nobody had noticed anything was wrong until that point...

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Appointment with Susan


I have written about Steve Jackson's Appointment with F.E.A.R., the seventeenth entry in the Fighting Fantasy series, before. But to recap, it departs from the series' usual swords-and-sorcery based books to provide a superhero adventure heavily influenced by the Golden Age of Comic Books, and provides unparalleled replay value by hiding the information you need to find the titular meeting in different places depending on which of four superpowers you choose to play with.

One thing Appointment also contains is this encounter, at section 410:

You arrive at Parker Airport and ask the nearest security guard whether anything is happening. "The Silver Crusader!" he gasps. "Thank goodness you're here! Follow me. I'll take you to the Control Tower." You follow him up into the Control Tower where you find the place buzzing with activity. The Air-Traffic Controller greets you nervously. "Have you heard? No? The police are on their way. Some guy calling himself 'the Tormentor' has hijacked a DC10 full of passengers to London. He's mad! No demands; nothing. Says he'll crash the plane. Blames it all on 'Susan'. We don't know what to do. A complete nutter! Is there anything you can do?"

Sunday, 19 February 2023

Ghost in the Magazine


On 4 October 1996, Have I Got News for You returns for its twelfth series. For some reason, several listings magazines incorrectly report the guest panellists will be David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, which the show feels compelled to address, showing the above clipping with the following joke:

"Good evening and welcome to 'Have I Got News for You', and we apologise to the millions of viewers who have tuned in expecting our guests to be the two stars of the hugely popular series 'The X-Files'. This information appeared in several newspapers and magazines, and yet no-one seems to know quite how it happened."

My purpose here today, however, is not to find out how that happened. (I don't think Anderson or Duchovny were even in the country at the time!) Two weeks later, for the third episode, the following call-back happens:


"Good evening and welcome to 'Have I Got News for You', and apologies to the millions of viewers who may have read that this week's guests were to be Lord Lawson and Mark Little, as I'm afraid they are."

One week later, the fourth show opens thusly:


"Good evening and a special hello to those of you who may have read in the current edition of TV Quick that this week's guests are Father Christmas and Rupert the Bear. So, welcome to the show, I'm Jemima Puddle-Duck."

Putting aside the revelation that HIGNFY only had one publicity image to use at the time... surely this is someone at TV Quick trying to keep the joke going for another week? (That might seem the obvious conclusion, but it's never mentioned on the show.) I wondered what the Radio Times listing for this episode said... and it doesn't mention either guest, indicating that information was not yet known and the editors of TV Quick weren't actually leaving that out just for the sake of the joke, they just decided to do the joke in absence of actually having the information available. Thereby creating a very odd non sequitur to anyone not watching old repeats in sequence, or who just happened to read the listing in isolation.