Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Brand & Ross BBC Ballyhoo

Certain personages with a political axes to grind love to jump on our cherished BBC at every given opportunity. Certainly, they produce a fair share of shite, but don't we all? They've also knocked out some of the most amazing television and radio the world has ever seen over the years too, you know, and continue to do so...

One of the most ridiculous witch-hunts in recent memory was kicked off by the irreverent Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross calling ex-comedy waiter Andrew Sachs for a prearranged telephone interview. When Sach's answering machine clicked on instead of the absent man himself, the duo proceeded to leave some ramshackle, rather rude, but still highly amusing (for us listeners) messages in regards to the actor's grand-daughter and her possible sexual relations with the aforementioned Brand.

Over one humdrum week later and all hell has suddenly broken loose - Mr Sach's agent has made hay whilst blurting out they've complained to Aunty Beeb allowing Conservative bods & tabloids to jump on the band wagon, calling for the presenters heads, bellowing that senior BBC figures be bundled out the back door and the 25 year old "school-boy" producer be dragged through the cobbled streets, flogged with thorny bushes and dumped in the deep end of the Thames.

Taking a gander at the (no doubt fine and upstanding) Mr Sach's grand-daughter allows one to see immediately see what effect this sorry affair must have had on her once sheltered existence... Her Myspace page currently greets visitors with a hearty - "f*ck p~ss b#gger arse f"ck t$rd r&pe shyte, yeah that's right". Free speech in full, and some might say, glorious effect.

She looks like she'll have a whale of a time off the back of this, but really, this is officially the most pointless BBC scandal to date...

Monday, October 27, 2008


Around the release of the last Bond movie Poptique posted a bunch of blurbs concerning the many 007 doppelgangers who have crowded exploitation cinema since the release of the first James Bond epic Dr No - way, way back in 1963!

This proved to be a most heartily received series, and since you can't move for the man himself at the moment - looking mean and moody whilst flogging his Quantum of Solace, plus fizzy drinks, perfume and TV sets to
boot - I thought it was high-time to revisit the super-spy sub-genre!

Last time around I detailed some hitherto unheeded Bollywood cash-ins, so to kick off proceedings here's some seedy action from the now fairly well-known South Indian epic James Bond 777 (1971) - about as down and dirty as a 007 double can get...

Available from many popular torrent sites and on VCD, it's been languishing in my DVD collection for years and I still haven't gotten around to watching the whole thing...

Many of the Bollywood Bonds are still very hard to track down - and don't think I haven't tried. One I couldn't help but highlight is Shaan (1980), starring the legendary Amitabh Bachchan alongside Kulbhushan Kharbanda as a Blofeld type super villain! If you doubt it's Bondian credentials check out it's Maurice Binderesque title sequence (scored by the ever-reliable RD Burman!)...

We all have a soft spot for Roger Moore era, safari-suited Bond - but how much better would Octopussy have been with something like this shoved right in the centre of it?

The 1960s unsurprisingly spewed forth the largest number of Bondalikes, simply due to the Bondmania which swept the world in the wake of Goldfinger and Thunderball. Much more highly informed cinephiles than myself have delved deep into the Eurospy genre, but I've never been much of a fan, finding the majority of these low-budget cash-ins slow and ponderous. Much more fun were the Euro-super hero movies - or Euper-heroes as I like to call them - which added a dash of Bond to a melange of camp caped crusaders and Mexican wrestlers ( I touched on the genre in the Comic Book episode of Cult45).

A typical example of the Euro-Spy genre is the 077 adventure Espionage in Tangiers, available on a double-disc set with another secret-agent knock-off.

Easily the most infamous Euro-Spy Bondalike of them all is 1967’s OK Connery - also known as Operation Kid Brother. I’ve been trying to track down a wide-screen print for years, but I’m certain when I finally do it'll be the type of bare-faced exploitation cheek that is guaranteed not to live up to it's potential (neither incredibly good or astoundingly bad).

Aside from bagging a genuine Bond girl in the delectable form of Daniela Bianchi, plus M and Moneypenny themselves, the producers scored a somewhat dubious casting coup in the form of Sean’s non-acting bearded brother Neil Connery. (Note the tagline references to the same year’s Casino Royale, by the way…)

With a jaunty Ennio Morricone score, and Thunderball’s bad guy Adolfo Celi, you can’t get much closer to the Bondian bone than this - and it would be a peach to get a double-o commentary of the movie from both Neil and his more illustrious brother, but that’s a pipe-dream to say the least. Why the film remains unreleased officially remains a mystery - surely curiosity value alone should have snuck it out somewhere...

For my money, the best Bond movie still remains On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, although posterity sadly recalls George Lazenby, it’s one-shot star, disappearing off the radar almost immediately. This was far from the case, but he did have a run of almost ludicrous bad luck which began when he jumped ship from the famous franchise.

007 was looking a bit leaky at the beginning of the 70s, with the both Diamonds Are Forever and the initial Roger Moore pictures floating along successfully but unspectacularly. Over in Hong Kong Golden Harvest planned to blow them out of the water with the action-epic to end them all - Bond vs. Bruce Lee, with the Street Fighter thrown into the mix to spice things up further!

The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss was conceived as the ultimate international team-up with Bruce Lee headlining alongside Lazenby and Sonny Chiba. When Lee died unexpectedly the project began to wilt almost immediately, with Chiba abandoning the picture and Warner Bros. dropping the distribution duties, leaving Lazenby contractually stranded.

Nonetheless, Stoner (as it was eventually titled) is a hoot - with Angela Mao as his co-star and Sammo Hung along with Lee’s alleged mistress Betty Ting Pei in supporting roles. Released in 1974, this domestic trailer reveals Golden Harvest determinedly playing the double-o connection to the hilt.

Righto - that’s your lot for now, but I’m sure I’ll find time to bedazzle you with a few more non-Bonds before the Quantum of Solace runs it’s course.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Whilst at times it may seem I've abandoned the Poptique blog it's purely a misunderstanding - I'm just very busy working! I remain astounded by all the bloggers who can turn out article after article on a weekly, sometimes daily basis when I struggle summon up the energy to knock out one or two a month.

Since the hundredth post should surely be the cause for something special I thought it might be a change to showcase some of my own work, instead of some outrageous output from an Asian shanty town...

Poptique is my company identity as well as this blog's title. I'm a Creative Producer working in London and I write, produce and edit variety of content for broadcast channels in the UK. One of them - Sumo.tv - also commissioned me to produce Cult45, my very own exploitation film show, which aired earlier this year to great critical success and a viewership of at least 28 people (I know this because I got 28 lovely emails regarding the show). The final cuts of the episodes will all be available online by the end of the year.

Freelancing for Sumo.tv afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with some amazingly talented individuals - most notably animators Cyriak Harris, Elliot Cowan, and Dylan Lategan, illustrator Sarah Hopson and Vincent Tempest (who personally represented my entire production crew on Cult45) alongside temporarily retired co-presenter Emma Bain. Hats off to all of them :)