Allan Brown switches on to the TV book oltheTV repeat. .. Back in the old days. repeats were just repeats — particularly prevalent in the sutnmer months and target of tnassed grttmblings in the Sunday papers. Now. courtesy of (’hannel Four. repeats no longer have so poor a reputation.
[I all goes back to the station‘s earliest days: the reluctance of [TV regions to contribute towards the fiscal welfare of their fledgling counterpart meant that (‘hannel Pour bosses were laced with a distinctly etnpty set of coffers. Buying in oldies like The .llunsters and The xi dums Family was a cheap and viable solution to this particular cash flow probletn. However. the idea of a venture as daring as ('hannel l-‘our stuffing their schedules with repeats could only have been an anathema to the BFI' exiles who stalled the new concern. Hence the notion of ‘archive television‘ was born.
‘Selection re-programming'. ‘hcritage viewing — call it what you will. the digging—up and re-packaging of ottr small screen past
has become big business; video releases of classics like Monty Python 's Flying (inns and Dr Who have all but kept BBC Enterprises afloat in the last few years: a cottage industry of merchandisers has sprung tip. supplying the baby boom generation with all the T—shirts. models and records their hearts could wish for. (‘hannel Four. meanwhile. has continued to expand its archival output. unearthing such long forgotten gems as The Human Jung/e and Danger-man in the process.
A predictable plethora of books has accompanied this Rennaissance of nostalgia. The fan clubs like Six of ()ne ( The Prisoner) and ()n-Target The Avengers have been producing their sweat-soaked fanzines for almost a decade now. ()nly recently have they tnade the leap into the mass market place.
It all started with Dave Rogers. In 1983. a publisher commissioned this forty-eight year old superfan to write a book on that mega-camp Sixties‘ spy pastiche The A t'engers. The result. a meticulously researched guide to every one of its 183 episodes. went on to become something of a best seller. A market had been born. one which recognised the genuine inventiveness of vintage classics like Department .8' and The ( ’humpions.
Rogers later bestowed a similar treatment upon The l’rojessionu/s and The New A t'engers before going on to produce an awesome encyclopaedia which documented virtually every cttlt show there ever was. At present. he's engaged upon the definitive book on The Prisoner.
Alas. Dave may be a little late. Patrick .‘vlc(}oohan's allegorical acid-binge has just received a fairly good going over at the hands of two Americans. Matthew White and Jaffer Ali.
The Prisoner is. beyond doubt. the Turin Shroud of television; endlessly analysed. this 1907 show. concerning a secret agent who resigns and is abducted to a sinisterly jolly village to be brainwashed. is seen by some to hold the secrets of life. the universe and anything. To others. it‘s nothing but radioactive hippy bilge.
Matthew and Ali's picture- cratnmed book sets out to discover exactly what all the fuss was about. What follows therein is a smorgasbord of theorising over each one of The Prisoner's seventeen episodes. Details like the giant white balloons which acted as village policemen. the sinister midget butler and McGoohan‘s impassioned cry of ‘I am not a number. I atn a free man!‘ are rigorously probed for significance. The authors conclude that the show was a televisual metaphor concerning the terrors of technology. bureaucracy and
will be signing copies of his new book Reﬂections on Scotland
Thursday 1 December 12.30—1 .30pm
Glasgow’s Most Stylish Bookstore
progress. Heavy stuff. It lightens up. however. with a chapter entitled ‘Notes. Anecdotes and Nonsense' and sortie very useful interviews. stills and script extracts.
Whatey‘er your opinions of The Prisoner. one thing is clear: 'l'clevision‘s back pages are gradually gaining the respect more usually accorded to the cinematic variety. Screening festivals are now a regular occurence. video releases continue unabated and TV companies are at last acknowledging the potential ofshows like .llun In xi
.S'uiteuse and (7.1". 0. by screening them at more respectable hours of the day. Your friendly neighbourhood bookshop should be tuning in soon. (Allan Brown)
I The Avengers Dave Roger (Michael Joseph £5.95).
I The Official Prisoner Handbook Matthew White and Jaffer Ali (Sedgwick & Jackson £7.95)
I The Avengers Anew Dave Rogers (Michael Josephs £5.95) The story of the New Avengers. Piles of pics of the portly McNee. (iareth l lunt and the self-styled thinking man's ‘crumpet' Joanna Lumley.
I Blind in One Ear Patrick McNee (Harraps £ l 2.95) Frothy autobiography from the doyen of cult TV. Little on The Avengers but enough name-dropping to fill three hundred pages.
I The Ohicial Batman Batbook Joel Eisnor ('l'itan Books £6.95) Hon hole in a doughnut! (‘omplete guide to the campest thing in a cape. Exhaustiver researched. wonderfully nostalgic and stuffed with colour pictures that will stop
your heart. Holy kitsch revival!
I Cult TV .lohn .lavra (Titan Books £8.95) Fantastically anarchic lucky-bag of facts. figures and photos. Runs the gamut from I Love Lucy to Randall and Hopkirk Deceased (‘()nly you. Jeff!’) and has a lot of fun in the process.
I Dr Who; 25 Glorious Years Peter Haining ( BBC Enterprises £14.95) .lust when you thought it was safe to come up from behind the sofa. the Bacofoil beasts return in book form. Take a well illustrated walk with the Sea Devils and the (‘ybermen through the 'l‘imelord's quarter century.
I Fawlty Towers John (.‘leese and (‘onnie Booth (Methuen £7.95) (‘ompletc collection of scripts. Not much use unless you plan to re-enact 'l’he (iermans in your living room. I ITV Encyclopaedia of Adventure Dave Rogers ( Boxtrce £9.95) 3200 series catalogued in a breath-taking display of fandom. Every square iawed hero is listed. every diabolical mastermind brought to book. Essential reading.
I The Prisoner Dean Motter (DC (‘omics £3.25) A four issue comic strip sequel to the tnost hotly debated TV show of them all. Superbly detailed and highly sympathetic treatment of Mc(ioohan‘s original ideas.
I Supermarionation John Peel (Simon & Schuster £13.95) (Jive this a very wide berth. Blotchy photographs. misinformed text. badly designed and generally quite loathsome. A shame really. considering the potential held by Joe 90. ('aptain Scarlet et al fora really tacky trip down memory lane. but there you go.
BOOK EVENTS Glasgow
I Anthony Lamont author of the Collins (iem Wine Guide. will be conducting a wine tasting on Thurs 1 Dec at John Smiths Bookshop. 57 St Vincent Street. (ilasgow. 6.30—7.3(lpm.
I Launch of the Glasgow Pub and Restaurant Guide 'l'hurs 8 Dec. John Smiths Bookshop. 57 St Vincent Street. 5.3(l—7pm.
I lan Wallace will be signing copies of his new book. Reﬂections on Seot/undon 'l'hurs 1 Dec.
1130—1 .3tlpm. in Volumes. 63—65 Queen Street. Glasgow.
I The School of Poets meets at (‘hristopher North Hotel. (iloucester Place on Sun 27 November. at 8pm. Readings will be given by Mike Dillon. Ken Nelson and Richard Matthewman. Free.
I Anne Stevenson will talk about the inﬂuence on her work of both Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath at the Poetry Association of Scotland meeting. 27 George Square (031 334 524i ) on Wed 30 November at 7.30pm. Admission £1 (Students and UB4lts free).
58 The List 25 Nov— 8 Dec 1988