World of Chig   

Happy 50th Birthday to Blue Peter!

It's World Food Day today and Blue Peter's 50th birthday. The government has decided to mark these occasions with a parade of our Olympians and Paralympians around London on buses, while sending the Queen to visit Google (according to their homepage):

Tonight, I will be scanning something which relates to one of these events, which will make you smile. No time now though...

I haven't yet watched today's 50th anniversary Blue Peter programme, but it reminded me to dig out this from my tape collection. This is what I was doing thirty years ago today. It's cassette number one from my collection, from 1978. (I'd had a tape recorder since 1975, but started numbering them from this one because on side 2 it has Blondie's Parallel Lines; the first album I ever taped from a friend's vinyl copy.)

On side 1 is Blue Peter's 20th anniversary programme, which I've labelled correctly on the spine, but for some reason called 'Blue Peter - Highlights from the 25th Anniversary Programme' on the inlay card, erroneously adding five years. (I was only 12 in October 1978, but it's no excuse!) The recording is an audio copy of the anniversary programme, which I deemed important enough to preserve for posterity by holding the microphone from my Kasuga cassette recorder in front of the TV for 25 minutes. As a sign of things to come, side one also includes three songs from Eurovision 1979.

To the twelve-year-old me in 1978, Blue Peter was more than an institution already and felt like it had been around for ever, so for it to make fifty is amazing. Congratulations to all concerned!

The Queen had a garden party yesterday for Blue Peter viewers and former presenters, but, according to Richard Bacon last night on his Five Live show (which I listen to every night), he and Janet Ellis weren't invited, so they had their own party, together. It's often been said that Janet Ellis was sacked from Blue Peter in 1987 because she was pregnant and not married to the father of the baby, but she says this is a myth and so does Biddy Baxter, Blue Peter's legendary editor. (Some people also think that the baby in question was Sophie Ellis-Bextor, but Janet had given birth to her eight years earlier.) Richard Bacon also had his moment of disgrace, but I really hope that these aren't the reasons why these two weren't invited to the palace, or it would indicate that things haven't moved on very much where the monarchy is concerned.

Good luck to Blue Peter and all who sail in her! May you never go the way of Grange Hill and Top Of The Pops.

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Life imitating art

Geraldine McQueen's 'very first number one single' (to quote Nicki Chapman) looks like it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 'The Winner's Song' (sadly missing the apostrophe on its sleeve, left) was in the bottom half of the top ten on Monday's sales and has risen to #4 after yesterday's. It has overtaken Leon Jackson's dull new song on iTunes today. Oh, irony of ironies! Geraldine just has to overhaul that Leon, the other ones (Kings of...) and P!nk, for Peter Kay to achieve his third number one in three singles, under three different names, after his own and character Brian Potter. Quite an achievement, and the campaign to have The Winner's Song as our Eurovision entry in Moscow gathers momentum. Well, Israel did it. Why can't we?(!)

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you missed the funniest TV show in years on Sunday night.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Geraldine is now at #2 in the midweek chart, having overtaking Leon Jackson. Only P!nk to beat.

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Oh What A Circus!

Take That have announced the title of the album that they will be releasing on the 1st of December, the same day that Britney Spears releases her new album, 'Circus'.

It's called, er, 'The Circus'.

Oh dear. It's almost the same as Britney's new one and exactly the same as Erasure's #6 album of 21 years ago. Never mind needing a little patience; it looks like the boys need a little imagination too.

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Boycott DFS*

...because the 14th of October, 72 days before Christmas, is not the date I want to hear Mariah Carey's All I Want For Bleedin' Christmas on your irritating TV ads. Bugger off and leave us alone!

*Even if you were never going to go there anyway. It's the thought that counts.

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Happy Birthday Paddington Bear!

Paddington Bear, our favourite asylum seeker, is fifty years old today. The polite Peruvian doesn't look a day over five, does he, boys and girls? I only mention this birthday because at secondary school, one of the highlights of my am-dram career was playing Mr. Brown in the play version of the Paddington Bear story, so I've always had a soft spot for the little fella. The highlight of the play for me was the hilarious cream cake scene, which always ended up with Paddington's cream cake (shaving foam) ending up splattered all over my face, oddly enough. A career in slapstick comedy beckoned, but I strayed from the path.

I used to watch the five minute Paddington programmes on the telly as well. This is how it all began:

Michael Bond, who created Paddington fifty years ago, was a cameraman on Blue Peter, which also celebrates its 50th birthday this week, but we'll get to that on Thursday...

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The X Factor begins (properly)

And I am quite excited, although I don't much like these early stages of the knockouts, when we are supposed to make a judgement and throw someone out after about ninety seconds of singing a song which has been edited to death, because that's all they get. Is there anyone here not expecting Daniel the pool cleaner to be first out tonight, if not one of the groups? Goodness only knows what was occupying the tiny mind of Minogue when Dannii put him into her final three last week. He was the worst of her six and simply cannot sing, except in the pub crooner/Vic Reeves style, which just sounds rubbish. If it was sympathy for his lost wife which got him through, it's very misplaced, so I can only think it was tactical. Dannii wants to attract the votes to her other two singers, so she is prepared to sacrifice one early on. It does make a kind of sense.

I have enjoyed the audition shows of this series so far, even if the judges have completely failed in their very simple mission to find some called Leo, who would obviously have been this year's winner, following Leona and Leon.

I have also had an added double frisson of excitement while watching this year. I recognised one of the auditioning acts in the second programme, as they have crossed my path before, photographically speaking, not once, but twice (and very nearly three times). The photos are sorted and ready to go to the tabloids, for a huge amount of money, should the need arise, because yes, they have made it to the final twelve. Hurrah! Can you guess which act it is? At the very least, the photos will appear on here during this series.

One of the other talented acts, wait for it, used to be babysat by the partner of the woman I sit next to at work. Oh yes, we are at the cutting edge of showbiz here. Sadly, that was floppy-haired schoolboy Liam, who made it to Simon Cowell's (rented) Barbadian bungalow, but the sight of Sinitta in her gold lamé bikini appeared to put him off and Simon didn't choose him for his final three. (Mistakenly, in my honest opinion. Eoghan is nowhere near good enough to be there.)

At this early stage, I think only Diana, Laura, Alexandra or Austin are potential winners. None of the groups has a cat in hell's chance, and JLS are nowhere near as good as Louis keeps pretending they are. Austin can really sing, but needs to calm down emotionally. He has also undergone a goth/New Romantic makeover, which is slightly worrying. Diana is captivating and amazing, and with Eva Cassidy having left the role of 'living Eva Cassidy' vacant quite a while ago, there's a place in the market for her, surely?

Who's your winner? (I wonder if anyone would have said Leon at this stage last year? I certainly wouldn't have done.)

One final thing that has occurred to me while watching The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing this year:

Are the bookies accepting bets on the winners of both series having the same name? I can see it happening...

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Yakshimash? Selem!

We make cultural learnings for the good people of Kazakhstan at 17:15 today, hopefully for make benefit glorious nation of England, as the Kazakhstani football team comes to Wembley, to play England in a World Cup qualifier.

The oil-rich country of Kazakhstan is probably fed up of seeing Borat (left) and his mankini, but it's worryingly warm in London today, so what's the betting a few England fans will go for it? Sacha Baron Cohen in a mankini is disturbing enough, but England fans will probably look more like these two below. Nice!

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