Cloughie and the Damned Utd (2006)

I have read some very good books this year (Ubik, Blood Meridian, The Road) but the stand out so far has been ‘The Damned Utd’ by David Peace.

An account of Brian Cloughs short tenure as manager of English First Division high fliers Leeds Utd in the mid seventies, it tells the story through the eyes of Brian Clough, through his words, though the words are a fiction of the author. From what I remember about the man through his television and radio appearances, the Clough imagined here is accurate, but also more complex than I would have thought. Driven to succeed by perceived ‘failures’ and bad luck, this man is vulnerable yet has an unassailable belief in his own powers. Highly emotional, a family man with a strict moral code on winning and losing, his failings at Leeds give the story a poignant, even tragic, edge. The book presents him as an isolated figure, adrift in Yorkshire, seperated from his family and his managerial partner, Peter Taylor.

At Leeds, the team of players he inherits from his bitter rival Don Revie is resistant to Cloughs unique charms and they present an almost united sullen blank face in spite of the managers cajoling. As the season gets underway the cracks begin to show very quickly, and with the team not winning, most of the fans, many of the players, the Directors and Chairman want Brian Clough out.

There are 44 chapters, one for each day of his stewardship of Leeds, and contained within those chapters are flashbacks to his days as manager of Hartlepools(sic), his triumphs at Derby County and then the fall from grace, as he languishes at Third Division Brighton.

As a character study of a great manager, as an historical study of the minutiae of football in the seventies, and as a novel, it succeeds. The book is evocative and sparks interest in clough so much that I want to read more about him – and there is a book called ‘Provided you don’t kiss me’ by Duncan Hamilton that looks like it will fulfil that need. I really cannot recommend this book enough.

Watchmen movie trailer (2008)

I live literally 5 minutes away from Alan Moore. I see him walking down the street from time to time. I think he is one of the most inventive writers, and probably one of the greatest comic book writers ever. Anyway, Zack Snyder (who directed 300) is making a film of (arguably) Moore’s most brilliant work – Watchmen. Next June cannot come quick enough;

Links!! – Official site for the movie – the ever-marvellous denofgeek site interview Dave Gibbons about Watchmen etc…

Delia Derbyshires lost recordings (1960s)

A horde of tapes belonging to the BBC Radiophonic Workshops Delia Derbyshire have been uncovered;

The experimental dance track has to be heard to be believed – it is literally 30 years ahead of its time.

Also; – for more Delia Derbyshire recordings

Jif Dessert Toppings Press Advert (1979)

Remember these things? Fruity syrup to splash all over your dessert (where Ice Cream would have been the most obvious choice) that came in a range of flavours – I am sure you can still get the Strawberry one. Anyway – 3 paper labels from these things plus £1 got you a space calender that would tell you what day a date fell on right through until ‘2001 ad’! Good job too – advertising a 1979 calender in the midst of the summer holidays isn’t the brightest promotion idea ever.

Taken from 2000ad & Starlord prog 126, 18th of August 1979.

Upate – final thoughts on Dr Who series 4 and an old Dr Who Game from the days of ‘home computing’

After all the incredible hype and excitement surrounding this years finale (rightly so, in the wake of ‘The Stolen Earth‘ probably the best episode so far of the rebooted Dr Who) has died down, I want to poke through the ashes.

The Positives

I thought Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, and thought she was the best assistant of the reboot so far, she brought maturity and honest emotion to the role, and seemed to be more than a match for the Doctor, who seemed to regard her as an equal. Her acting in the finale, ‘Journeys End‘ was brilliant and heartbreaking as she went from Doctor-Donna to Donna the Temp from Chiswick. I will miss her, and I think her performances have proved many people wrong.

The highlight of this series was Bernard Cribbins as Wilfrid Mott. He brought some funny moments (like when trying to swap his paintball gun for the huge Dalek-Buster Rose had) but he also brought a lot of emotion and feeling to the show. I was moved by his humanity when the world was slipping into chaos and self-destruction (the awesome ‘Turn Left‘) and he was given the honour of the final scene of this years series as he took his grand-daughter back, at a terrible price, but did so with dignity. I will really miss him, because you get the feeling he will not be back.

Martha Jones – even though she wasn’t given a great deal to do, when she was around she played her part well. They (the writers, especially Russell T Davies) are keen to show that she is progressing, from Torchwood 3 to UNIT, and at the end of series – who knows? Back to Torchwood? I loved her ‘breaking the fourth wall‘ look to camera when she was helping fly the Tardis back at the end of ‘Journeys End’. It was obvious she was having a lot of fun. That just made the episode even better. I hope she does get used on occasion, in much the same way they use Captain Jack.

Introducing Torchwood staff into the show – they were around for the final couple of episodes, and had little screen time (apart from Captain Jack), but when Gwen and Ianto let loose with those machine guns at the end of ‘The Stolen Earth’;

…that more than justified their inclusion – especially when Gwen started getting really aggressive;


The return of Davros was pretty cool, though the Daleks petered out in the ‘Journeys End’ episode, when they looked so awesome in ‘The Stolen Earth’. I am sure they will be back.

Nice to see the Ood back.

I think it is obligatory to state that anything Stephen Moffat writes for Dr Who is fantastic – and so it was, with his two-parter ‘Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead‘ being spooky and emotional and a bit mysterious (all that ‘River Song‘ business).

It was good to see Mickey, but what was the point unless it was setting him up for Torchwood? Let us hope so, otherwise it was a waste.

Fires of Pompeii‘ was great (Donna really coming up with the acting goods), as was ‘Midnight’.

David Tennant remains a brilliant actor and a great Doctor, and he is back for Christmas with the Cybermen, and beyond that for the specials next year.

Captain Jack was as great as ever, and Sarah Jane Smith had a powerful scene with her son Luke when she realises the Daleks are back. K9 saved the world as well!!

The regeneration cliffhanger at the end of ‘The Stolen Earth’ was EPIC.

It beats the likes of ‘Primeval’ into a cocked hat. ‘Robin Hood’, while good, isn’t close – this is the epitome of Saturday night TV entertainment, and it should be cherished – let us hope that a years break makes it come back stronger when the regular series reappears in 2010.

The Negatives

Rose – what was the point? The purpose of her return was, it appears to me, to seal her off for good with her very own Doctor to grow old with. Compared to Martha, who looked like she was having a jolly old time, Rose seemed to just mope around. A waste of time and it tarnished ‘Doomsday’ for me.

Jackie Tyler – much like her daughter, except that this was a complete waste of time, apart from getting one joke out of it (the Doctor getting a bit nervous about her being at the controls of the Tardis).

The Sontarans were wasted on an atypical ‘Invasion Earth’ storyline.

The Doctors Daughter‘ episode was rubbish, with a silly cloning story and no real buzz to the acting or action, and the ‘Partners In Crime‘ episode was plain boring and silly (and not silly in a good way). That did have an early glimpse of Rose though, which was a nice touch.

Harriet Jones getting killed off (presumably). I’ll miss her waving her ID about.

In summary…

3 so-so episodes, 5 good ones, 2 excellent and 3 classics – oh, and a brilliant Christmas episode (‘Voyage of the Damned’), and the 2008 Christmas special that is looking grrreat.

4x – Voyage of the Damned – 8 out of 10
4×01 – Partners in Crime – 5 out of 10
4×02 – The Fires of Pompeii – 8 out of 10
4×03 – Planet of the Ood – 7 out of 10
4×04 – The Sontaran Stratagem – 7 out of 10
4×05 – The Poison Sky – 5 out of 10
4×06 – The Doctors Daughter – 4 out of 10
4×07 – The Unicorn and the Wasp – 6 out of 10
4×08 – Silence in the Library – 9 out of 10
4×09 – Forest of the Dead – 8 out of 10
4×10 – Midnight – 8 out of 10
4×11 – Turn Left – 10 out of 10
4×12 – The Stolen Earth – 10 out of 10
4×13 – Journeys End – 9 out of 10


‘Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror’, which apart from being a great and generic sounding title, was a Commodore 64 game from 1986. It was reviewed in issue 13 of the Newsfield title Zzap!64 (April 1986);

and you can play it RIGHT NOW right here


See that there Zzap!64 review in bold colour;

Some history on the game;

More stuff about this game – apparently it was due to go on the Spectrum but never made it;

What were the games bundled with the CPC464??

Britain. 1984. Christmas approaching. I didn’t want a Sinclair Spectrum or a Commodore 64. I wanted the Amstrad cpc464, with its choice of a monochrome green or colour monitor (£199 or £299 respectively in 1985), and it had a tape deck (the vital media device of the day) integrated with the keyboard. It also had a few games (including the dreaded ‘educational’ type) and ‘apps’ thrown in. the big question has to be ‘but what were the games and apps thrown in free with the Computer?’. Well, wait no more! Here they are in no particular order. All were produced under the ‘Amsoft’ banner, but were mostly produced by other developers.

Harrier Attack

One of the best of this freebie bunch, and the first game I saw demoing on an Amstrad. You are the pilot of a Harrier Jumpjet as it goes across a bleak (for bleak, read ‘Falkland Islands’) landscape. Yes, it is meant to evoke the spirit of the war against the Argentines. This game was developed soon after that war had ended. It is a bit like Scramble, but it is no great shakes today. This game does stand up better than any of the other games in this list though.

Roland on the Ropes

‘Roland’ is an anagram of ‘Arnold’, and ‘Arnold’ was the name of the first CPC prototype. Anyway, like Sonic was to Sega, so Roland was to Amstrad. With his ‘…on the ropes’ adventure, he was an Indiana Jones-type. Climbing ropes, shooting ghosts, in a pyramid. It was originally called ‘Fred‘ and was released on both the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, but then got re badged under the ‘Roland’ banner when it went onto the CPC464. That would explain why ‘Roland’ is both an intrepid explorer and an intrepid bug (see ‘Roland in the Caves’). The game, if you are interested, has been emulated here and is free to download. I have played the game on the Amstrad emu WinApe, but it plays terribly. I used to love it when it came with the free bundle, but time has not been kind to it.

Roland in the caves

This was the one that really sold the CPC464 to me. I saw it in Radio Rentals in Tamworth Town Centre, on the Amstrad colour monitor, and looked fantastic.

Trust me – I had an Atari 2600 and had mates who had C64s and Spectrums, but ‘Roland in the caves’ looked so full of colour and detail. Pity they forgot to include any game play with the thing. It was very boring. You play a flea, stuck in a cave on another planet. The objective is to get out of the cave before a pterodactyl gets you. Then do the same again in another cavzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. No. Just. No.

Oh Mummy!

Basic stuff. A bit of dig-dug and pac-man thrown together into an unspectacular game. You are an archaeologist digging around some tombs. You have to pick up some artefacts and avoid mummies.


There was one very good reason this was bundled in amongst several others – it was cack. Guide men across bridges from one house to another. That’s it.

Animal Vegetable Mineral

Bourne Educational Software. They produced software versions of games you could play with pen and paper. There was no need for them to exist as software. Let us move on.


Didn’t even get it out of its case.

Fruit Machine

Played with this a fair bit – get the vicarious thrills of Fruit Machines without the cash haemorrage! Probably not as good as the Palitoy Pocketeer version.

The Galactic Plague

This was the Space Invader-type shooter. It was, by all accounts, impossible, though I cannot recall it. Someone does though – the excellent CPCGameReviews site

Sultan’s Maze

Up there with the worlds worst cover art. Heavy on the felt tip pens by the looks of it. The game was slow and a throwback to the early ZX81 maze type games. Forgettable (and the artwork is regrettable).


Hangman on a computer. That’s it.

Timeman One

The words ‘Bourne Educational Software’ say it all. Its an educational game. About time – not as in ‘about time they made an educaitonal game’. It is an educational game on the subject of time.


The best Amstrad CPC resource out there;

As many Amstrad game covers as you are ever going to want to look at (French Site);

The history of Harrier Attack;