Monday 26 July 2010

Monster Memories: GHOSTWATCH

Saturday October 31st 1992 was a memorable day for me. I had always been an avid supporter of Halloween particularly the custom of ‘Trick or Treating’. Being 13 I (reluctantly) announced that this was to be the final time and I was retiring from ‘Trick or Treating. But, as there was no school the next day I could stay out as long as I wanted! The night was mine and this was going to be the big one! However, I decided to be back home by 9:00pm because there was a television show that had caught my interest it was called Ghostwatch.
Having previously viewed the BBC's CrimeWatch and Badger Watch we thought this show was in the same vein. And so with the faint smell of the turnip jack lantern’s candle burning out in the air we sat down as a family to watch the show. We missed the credits at the beginning believing that the show was ‘live’ were convinced that we could see the shape of a figure behind the curtains. I remember being engulfed in the show, turning to my parents and saying, “If this is real we are watching television history!” As the show progressed and Pipes unleashed his power and all hell broke loose it became apparent to us that it wasn’t real but we enjoyed the programme nevertheless. I was right though, it did make television history. Stephen Volk’s Ghostwatch became one of the most controversial British television events ever. The BBC was undated with phone calls and letters from viewers both angry and scared. They were criticised by the newspapers for terrifying the nation and so the BBC after assuring everyone that Michael Parkinson and Sarah Greene were safe vowed to never repeat the show again. After many years of wishing that I had recorded it and discussing it with others that also remembered it I was delighted to discover that British Film Institute had released it on DVD! 17 years later I was finally able to sit down and watch it again, all the memories of that Halloween night came flooding back to me! There are behind-the-scenes information on the dvd along with a photo of actor Keith Ferrari made up as Pipes in all his glory! And so I couldn’t resist sketching him standing behind Michael Parkinson on the Ghostwatch set, creating a painting called ‘Ghostwatching’ a small tribute to my favourite Halloween special. My fondness for the show firmly established I was delighted to be commissioned by the Ghostwatch Behind the Curtains project to depict that now infamous Halloween night! The image has been well received by many who claimed that it brought back memories for them, prompting them to seek out the dvd for a second viewing. The painting also received high praise from Ghostwatch creator/ writer Stephen Volk!

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Sunday 11 July 2010

'Science Spotlight’ 7/12 Sir Richard Owen

Sir Richard Owen KCB (1804-1892)
Born in Lancaster, apprenticed to a local surgeon in 1820. He enrolled as a medical student at the University of Edinburgh in 1824, completing his medical course in London only to abandon the medical practice instead perusing a career in anatomical research. In 1827, Owen was appointed Assistant Curator of the Royal College of Surgeons. To further his understanding of anatomy he dissected deceased specimens donated by London zoo, acquiring a vast knowledge of comparative anatomy.
Owen had a particular interest in extinct animals, naming many species, publishing several scientific papers on the subject also coining the word Dinosauria (meaning "Terrible Reptile" or "Fearfully Great Reptile"). An astute politician, and friend to the Royal family Prince Albert requested he tutor the royal children and supervise the construction of the prehistoric life exhibition at the Crystal Palace. Having being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and Superintendent of the Natural History Departments of the British Museum, he established the British Museum of Natural History in South Kensington in 1881. Notorious for discrediting his fellow scientists, and claiming the scientific discoveries of others as his own, he continued to work until his official retirement at the age of 79. He was made a knight of the Order of the Bath in 1883.

© Arfon Jones 2010. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 9 July 2010

Frank's Fantastic Farewell

Last night, Beth and I convened on Castlefield Arena in Manchester joining 5,000 other fans to celebrate the life and career of Chris Sievey a.k.a Frank Sidebottom. Many members of the audience wore papier mache heads and Altrincham football shirts I wore the badge he sent me 2 weeks before he died. This open-air extravaganza was tarnished only by the sad fact that he was no longer with us, Despite this we all remained upbeat during the festivities.

The evening started with Frank’s brilliant Channel M test card via the big screen as the Frank Sidebottom’s Oh Blimey Biggest Band took to the stage performing some of Frank’s classic songs with vocals provided by Frank’s long lost big brother Hank Sidebottom!After a few hilarious clips from his ‘Frank Sidebottom’s Proper Telly Show in B/W’ an interview with Radio 2 DJ Mark Radcliffe of Mark and Lard fame. He reminisced about life on the road with Chris and Frank when he was he was a drummer for the Oh Blimey Band.
Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy followed, sharing his story of his first encounter with Frank then played four of his songs closing with a touching 'Timperley Sunset’ reference.

The evening progressed with further tributes from family and friends including fellow cult legend, the great Charlie Chuck!Along with Mr B the Gentleman Rapper and Moonchester the official mascot of Manchester City F.C spaced between clips from Frank’s past television ventures including ‘Frank’s Fantastic Shed Show’. ’Frank’s World’, the animated short created by the man himself and the hilariously funny, never aired ‘Frank Sidebottom’s Celebrity Sleep Over’ were Frank dropped in on former Smiths' drummer, Mike Joyce.

The show ended with a performance by the Refreshies an updated version of The Freshies with Harry Sievey Chris’ youngest son stepping in before eldest son Stirling Sievey (Roger the boy next door) closed what was an emotional evening’s worth of entertainment asking the crowd to ‘Guess who's been On Match of the Day?! A send off that lived up to all that was Frank Sidebottom.

With ‘Guess who's been On Match of the Day? now on iTunes as a posthumous bid to get Frank to No 1 in the charts Along with plans to erect a statue of Frank in Timperley the Frank Sidebottom legacy is far from over!


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