Monday, 24 September 2012

40 Minutes: The Outcasts

For some reason this documentary popped into my head today. I can vaguely remember watching some of it on its original broadcast (shot in summer 1984, screened in February 1985. I was 14 in Feb 1985) but I would imagine that either bedtime encroached (I had a paper round to get up for) or one of my parents perhaps thought it was a bit racy and I was ordered to bed. What really got my appetite flowing for it though was when Johnny Vaughan talked about on a TV show about TV a few years ago. And now some complete and utter genius has put the whole thing on You Tube.
The Outcasts tells the story of a group of bikers (like Hell's Angels but not allowed to call themselves Hell's Angels) in Great Yarmouth. They're led by a guy called Tramp, or Bobby to his mum (pictured below). Tramp likes his bikers to be rough and ready, but not too rough and ready. He doesn't allow anyone to claim the dole if they're capable of working. And if you are capable of working then he'll find you employment at The Outcasts' burger van. The burger van is there to raise money for the club and help pay fines and for solicitors. Indeed, fines and court appearances seem to be an occupational hazard for the gang. Apart from the burger van, the other un-rough-and-ready aspect to The Outcasts is that they have their own cheque book held at Lloyds Bank.

Not just anybody can join The Outcasts though, no sir! First you go through a period of 'hanging about' as your introduction to the gang. Then you have to go through different ceremonies and initiations before you're fully accepted and receive your 'Top Rocker', 'Bottom Rocker' and are allowed the club tattoo.
Tramp even goes so far as to inform the local police inspector when they're having a party. "Watch what yer doin" the inspector tells Tramp down the phone. "Oh, we will" Tramp replies, before adding "There'll be no messin' around wi' wood". This refers to a previous party when gang member Wulf was killed in a freak non-motorcycling accident. One of the gang is a qualified embalmer so did the honours for the funeral. The embalming process presented difficulties as half of Wulf's head was missing. Oh dear.
What I love about this is that it's a snapshot in time (check out the Squezy washing-up liquid bottle and old Heineken tins). I mean, you don't see proper grebos anymore. And I mean proper grebos, with chromed German helmets and a general air of muckiness. The last time I saw any Hell's Angels was a few years ago when me and my sister went to see Hayseed Dixie at a local festival. The St. Ledger chapter of Doncaster Hell's Angels were out in force there but everything was just a bit too clean. They had haircuts. Not right. Take it from me, there are men who attend heavy metal festivals these days wearing make-up. Bloody make-up! Can you imagine wearing a man wearing make-up in front of Tramp? No, it doesn't bear thinking about.
Anyway, keep watching because this edition of 40 Minutes will be discussed on Did You See..? (remember that? Ludovic Kennedy? Ben Elton: "Did You See..? Yes, I bloody well did see, thank you") and there's footage of a youthful Dougie Donnelly presenting the World Indoor Bowls Championships for afters. Terry Sullivan of Wales won in 1985, if you're interested. Before he went on to be in Brookside.

So, please watch 40 Minutes: The Outcasts, you won't regret it. But I'll warn you, watching this will make you want to join The Outcasts, they're that likeable.

And you have to love any TV show that puts this over the opening titles, don't you?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Half baked

I've never been what you'd call a devotee of The Great British Bake Off; I've dipped in and out. I think that might have something to do with the show's title - if it's a 'bake off' then surely that means two people going head-to-head to create one dish and the one which is the best will be determined the winner. I suppose The Great British Baking Tournament wouldn't really work. And what's 'great' about it? Anyway, looking for something to watch on the iPlayer yesterday I thought I'd give this week's episode a go (I have seen previous episodes in this series but shift work means I've not seen them all).
Let's look at the remaining contestants:
  • Brendan - looks like he could play a quiet priest in Father Ted. Good at baking.
  • Cathryn - good-looking, and she knows it.
  • Danny - a woman with a man's name. Looks like someone whose face you can't quite place. Would probably think nothing of spending £50 on a Cath Kidston tea caddy.
  • James - Ugh. Has a line in jumpers which make it look like he still wishes it was the austerity fifties.
  • John - clearly failed the audition for The Feeling.
  • Ryan - ALWAYS looks stressed. Doesn't appear to be enjoying himself much.
  • Sarah-Jane - vicar's wife. Looks scatty. Probably likes cats. Always crying.
The judges are Mary Berry (my mum had a book of hers in the 1970s. She looked ancient then so how old is she now?) and this git called Paul Hollywood. He has perfectly tufted hair covered in gunk and looks like he buys his jeans from Lidl.
The general consensus seems to be that it's 'nice television'. It isn't. Have you seen the way they look at Paul Hollywood when he disses something they've made? My mum used to do competition baking and let me tell you, those women would stab each other in the back if it meant that they turned out a better coffee and walnut cake than their competitors. For example, take Cathryn, plays the ditsy card but if looks could kill then Paul Hollywood would have been lying comatose on the floor of that marquee when he slagged off her opening gambit of sponge puddings this week. And she clearly wasn't amused when Sarah-Jane showed her how to knead her strudel pastry which then landed on the floor. Cathryn laughed it off but she wasn't fooling anyone - she wanted to kill.
One of the dishes they had to make this was queen of puddings. According to Mary Berry "it's a favourite in British families". Really? Because I've never heard of it. It's custard (with breadcrumbs in it. Ergh!) with jam on top and meringue on top of that. Sounds revolting. Now, get this, they had to make their own jam. In two hours. When my mum used to make jam it was like a military operation involving a huge pan, bags and bags of sugar and a lot of dicking around with a saucer. These fools want people to knock out not only jam but also a pudding in two hours. I'm not surprised Ryan always looks like he wants to go home. Anyway, Brendan won that. As you'd expect. He'll win.
Next up was a strudel. Now this show is called The Great British Bake Off. Strudel's German, isn't it? so that gave the cue to Mel and Sue to start speaking in German which I didn't understand (I left school before I was 18). Pretty annoying. To me strudel contains apple, and, at a push, mixed berries. These idiots were putting cheese in their strudels. I wouldn't want to eat that. Why do they mess around with things? Cheese is savoury, strudel is sweet. Fact. Anyway, John tried to slice his finger off, which meant he was sent to hospital. Because of that no star baker was announced this week as it was decided it was unfair to judge everyone's strudels when they weren't all present (spoiler alert! Oops, too late. Sorry). What an anti-climax.
What amazes me though is the way the viewer judges it as serious. They're all on Twitter on a Tuesday night, sofalizing, laughing at someone's latest mishap. Just remember this: it's a baking competition.
Right, I'll be looking at Gareth Malone's choir thing next. That's supposed to be 'nice television' as well, isn't it? I won't hold out much hope as Malone gives me the creeps. And why the obsession with choirs. If he decided to set up a heavy metal band then perhaps he'd go up in my estimation. I just bet I don't like it.