April 26, 2016
by Paul
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Reminiscences from Kenneth MacLeod of “Westward Diary”

Kenneth Macleod at his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000

Kenneth Macleod at his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000

Following my visit to interview Westward Television’s Kenneth MacLeod in August 2000, he sent me these reminiscences to be included on my website “Westward Shrine”. That website is now defunct, so I am republishing these memoirs here to allow them to be able to be read.

Childhood days

My earliest days were in Kent and my first memories are of Broadstairs, where we lived. It was a wonderful place for a child. I have fond memories of it and regard it as home. We were not a conventional family. My mother and father were both in the theatre and were married during a run of “Joy Bells”, a highly successful musical starring George Robey, which ran for two years. The arrival of the “Talkies” and the depression meant fewer lavish musicals. Dad was forced to find other work. After various selling jobs, he found regular work at Manston airport but the money was poor. He supplemented this by playing piano in a dance band, working as a Tote clerk at dog races and extra waiting at odd functions (not to mention the occasional appearance at the Bohemia Theatre, Broadstairs).
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April 26, 2016
by Paul
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“We poor buggers would go on every night and get slaughtered and crucified” – ‘Westward Diary’ presenter Kenneth MacLeod talks in 2000

Kenneth Macleod at his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000 when I interviewed him

Kenneth MacLeod at his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000

I used to run a tribute website for Westward Television called “Westward Shrine”. You can see it here via the miracle of the Wayback Machine on www.archive.org. Westward Television was the ITV franchise for the Westcountry from 1961 to 1981. I used to love it as a kid, and have always been fascinated in memorabilia about it.

After some correspondence with his daughter via a chance internet search, I was extremely privileged and honoured to be invited by Kenneth MacLeod to go to his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000. I spent a wonderful two hours with Kenneth. He was on a great form and, looking back on it, I was extremely fortunate to be able to record the following transcript where he talks in depth about the old days of Westward Television. Kenneth MacLeod sadly died on January 31st 2003.

The topics we talked about were: Continue Reading →

April 23, 2016
by Paul
Comments Off on Doctor in the House episode written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman

Doctor in the House episode written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman

A bit of a gem this, that reminds us of John Cleese’s strength as a comedy writer and his work outside of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers. This Doctor in the House series was a fantastic success, showing at peak time on Saturday evening on ITV, via London Weekend Television. JC and GC wrote this opening episode. Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden, of “Goodies” fame, wrote most of the episodes, with Barry Cryer and Bernard McKenna also writing. A wider writing team wrote the subsequent Doctor at Large.

This is very funny, and shows the talent of Barry Evans, as Michael Upton, who was always my favourite character in the series.


April 23, 2016
by Paul
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The USA: The clue is in the title – and it is the greatest example of pooled sovereignity between states

Four of the USA’s founding fathers: (l to r) Adams, Morris, Hamilton, Jefferson

There was a rather strange moment on Thursday’s BBC Question Time. There was a discussion about President Obama’s intervention in the EU referendum debate.

Liam Fox was waxing lyrically about how the USA has great democracy, and all we want is the same democracy ourselves without our country being, he posited, controlled by “Brussels”. Continue Reading →

April 17, 2016
by Paul
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Saturday morning TV as it used to be!

I think this was all before “Swap Shop”. I think there was an Ed Stewart programme at some stage. But around 1971, the BBC1 TV staple on Saturday mornings was a combination of the “Banana Splits” and “Here come the Double Deckers” – both of which programmes had very catchy theme tunes. Happy memories!

April 16, 2016
by Paul
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Timely reminder – when the Guardian’s attempt to influence US politics backfired spectacularly

Owen Jones in the Guardian recently wrote an article entitled: “I signed an open letter to Donald Trump, and you should too”:

Trump’s unapologetic embrace of racism, xenophobia and misogyny vindicates all of those ugly prejudices the world over. And millions of Americans are horrified about Trump. They deserve our solidarity and support. There is, after all, another United States, one forged by immigrants and transformed by courageous Americans who fought racism, sexism and homophobia. That is a United States millions of us believe in. And that is why we should sign this letter.

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April 16, 2016
by Paul
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Muse – the greatest arena rock band ever!

I saw Muse at the O2 on Thursday night with my good lady wife. This band are the mutt’s nuts. What a sound! I found the drumming unbelievably good. And of course Matt Bellamy is a remarkable talent with his fantastic falsetto voice and his mind-blowing guitar. Great sounds – varied instrumentation – tremendous visuals.

If there is a greater arena rock band then I’d like to know about them!

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April 13, 2016
by Paul
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Is Leeds showing the way forward on prostitution?

Considering our own forward-thinking policy on prostitution, I wonder if readers approve of the scheme currently being run in Leeds. The BBC reports:

A suburb in Leeds is the first place in the UK where it is permitted for women to sell sex between specified hours. The “managed approach” was introduced to try to control the trade.

…in this specified network of roads, street prostitutes can sell their services from 19.00 to 07.00 BST, without being stopped by police. Continue Reading →

April 13, 2016
by Paul
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St Ives referendum – Is this the way forward to stop seaside idylls being ghost towns?

The idyllic, but seagull-dive-bombed, seaside town of St Ives is holding a referendum, as the BBC reports:

On 5 May, the council will ask residents to vote on a new town plan, which includes a promise to restrict second home ownership.
If the vote is passed, new housing projects will get planning permission only on condition that the homes are reserved for people to live in full-time. Developers will not be allowed to sell the buildings to anyone who has a residence elsewhere.

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April 13, 2016
by Paul
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The government’s EU “remain” booklet hits the doormats…and it is spookily reminiscent of its 1975 counterpart

P1010392 (2)Here’s the very booklet I received yesterday from Her Majesty’s government. It’s a rather dry looking document, but the message is clear, as it is repeated, more or less, three times on the cover of the booklet:

Why The Government believes that voting to remain in the European Union is in the best decision for the UK.

…on the front and:

The Government believes that voting to remain in the European Union is the best decision for the UK.

and Continue Reading →

April 10, 2016
by Paul
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Could the Republican party save the world from Trump, but split apart?

Things have changed since my last post on this. Last time, I thought it was relatively certain that Trump would be the Republican US Presidential nominee. I am not so sure now. First, we had Mitt Romney’s extraordinary, unprecedented excoriation of Trump. Then we had that unheard of event: the Trump gaffe machine gun finally fired a round which rebounded on him – I refer to his rapidly recounted suggestion that women who have abortions should be punished (which, lest we forget, was followed by a casual grunt to confirm that he thought it inconceivable that the men involved should even be considered for equal treatment). Continue Reading →