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Monday, August 25, 2008
"Even Loonies Need Double~Glazing"
They do indeed.

The 90s were a crazy time! Literally...

What the eff am I talking (or even typing) about? I am, of course, referring to TAKING OVER THE ASYLUM, a 1994 'drama' from BBC SCOTLAND starring a certain DAVEY T (pictured above, below and beyond). I didn't see it when it was broadcast (I didn't see much back in '94 apart from booze 'n' burds) so I was glad to see that BBC4 have decided to give it another airing. Not so glad to see that it ain't viewable on the 'ole iPlayer but there you go. As a side~note, and as a means to vent my spleen, this is the third show in a fortnight that I wanted to watch on the iPlayer but they (and by 'they' I mean the numb~nuts that run the Big British Castle) didn't stick on.

Yup, that is Bobby from STILL GAME in the background!

What were the others? A documentary on the UK comic (that's before they became 'graphic novels') scene in the Eighties and a PLAY FOR TODAY episode from 1980 entitled, THE FLIPSIDE OF DOMINICK HIDE - which I remember lurvin' as a kid. What's the BEEB got against things I like? Maybe they read what I said about BONEKICKERS and SPOOKS: CODE 9. Anyway, we were treated to a double~bill of the series and what a start it was. I can see why it has been so highly revered and all the more galling that I cannot watch it again on the iPlayer (I'll stop going on about that now). What was most fun about the opening episode was noticing all the actors involved, quite a cast.

Battlefield II: Bambera's Revenge

Apart from the lead KEN STOTT and the floppy haired DAVEY T there was: MICHAEL "Shared A Few Drinks With Him Back in '97" SHEARD (right at the start!); another WHO connection with ANGELA "Bambera" BRUCE; a very young (and slightly podgy) ASHLEY "Looks Good Now Though" JENSEN; 'stars' of STILL GAME (in fact two, but there's probably more to come), GAVIN "Boabby" MITCHELL with MATT "Stevie The Bookie" COSTELLO; not to mention JEEVES & WOOSTER aunt replacement, ELIZABETH SPRIGGS; big in the 80s (in Scottish TV anyway) KATY "Miss Toner" MURPHY who turned up in a film I watched recently (but more of that in my next post); and ANGUS "Does A Good Orson Welles" MACFADYEN who I spent ages trying to figure out who he was and then, in the end, just IMDB'd him.

This is what's known as blowing your own trumpet.

And that was just the first episode, we also got LIZ "Boasts About Kissing Johnny Depp - No, Really" SMITH in the second episode; so you get the idea, great cast. Although I cannot claim to be a fan of Ken Stott, or The Stottster as he is now known, he certainly impresses here as the downtrodden everyman; a quiet, almost humble man. Very un~Scottish. Back in the day Scotland produced some great comedy/dramas (if you will pardon that hideous genre~fication) including TUTTI FRUTTI and YOUR CHEATIN' HEART (both of which starred the aforementioned Katy Murphy) and, oddly enough, they're all music~based.

Early rehearsal for THE IDIOT'S LANTERN...

Who could forget that moment in Tutti Frutti when the band played Love Hurts as Vincent's young (and pregnant I think) girlfriend threw herself off the bridge intercut with him sat singing the tune in a wheel chair. Brilliant and achingly beautiful. (But more of that when they finally get round to showing it again on BBC4 sometime in the next decade.) There were a couple of moments like that in TAKING OVER THE ASYLUM (yes, I'm still talking/typing about it), namely the playing of Hey Jude, another Beatles classic Help! and the "disintegration" of Davey T's character as he played numerous discs at record speed. I find it strange that Scotland should produce such music~intensive pieces full of pathos.

Did anyone else think he had a hairy arse at this moment?

Although set in a "loony bin" this story isn't some kind of TITICUT FOLLIES exposé of the insane as the lines between society and the mentally ill are barely distinguishable. It's about hopes and dreams of both young and old. No moment was more painfully heartbreaking than the confrontation between father and son where one wants to be a DJ and the other wanted to be a "goalie for Glasgow Rangers". It's a tale as old as time, the divide between generations; between father and son.

Just don't ask him to play a Housemartins number...

Davey T's performance as the manic depressive son was perfectly delivered and got some great lines making an amusing double~act with the aforementioned Angus Macfadyen whilst providing The Stottster's character with a sense of perspective and, ironically, hope. He admires the youngster after he feigned his illness in order to stay in the home just so he can continue his radio career. A moment that, in lesser hands, would not have come off as believable but thanks to these beautiful bastids we are presented with a truly warm and heartfelt moment. Sentimental? Possibly, but I see nothing wrong with a bit of sentiment.

Sorry mate, THE JOKER's been taken but as for THE RIDDLER...


'Til the next time,
C.

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posted by Cameron McEwan at 4:34 pm -
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