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Sunday 7 October 2012

Jimmy Savile implicated in the tragic story of a 15-year-old Top of the Pops dancer who took an overdose and died after spending the night with a “well-known disc jockey” in 1971

Back in May I wrote about the tragic story of a 15-year-old girl who killed herself in 1971.

A news report in The Guardian on April 6th of that year describes how she had danced on Top of the Pops on four occasions and, according to her diary, spent the night with a man the newspaper describes as “a well-known disc jockey”.

That girl was Claire Ufland. However, she was adopted and other reports call her by her adopted name of Claire McAlpine. She also used the stage name Samantha Claire.

It seems she died on March 30th. A month earlier her mother, Vera McAlpine, had read her diary and banned her from appearing on the show again.

I looked up details of Top of the Pops for the end of 1970 and begining of 1971 and found that Jimmy Savile presented the programme on 3 Dec, 25 Dec, 26 Dec, 14 Jan, 28 Jan, 11 Feb, and 25 Feb. (more…)

Filed under: Crime,History,TV & film — GS @ 7:22 am
Monday 24 September 2012

The end of the Oxford Road Show (video)

How the BBC’s studios nearly ended up opposite Platt Fields Park in Rusholme

Here in Manchester, New Broadcasting House is being demolished. But back in the mid-1950’s, when the BBC decided to build new northern regional headquarters, this famous location on Oxford Road wasn’t the first choice.

Workmen in a cage suspended from a crane inspect the front of the former BBC building during demolition

At the beginning of 1956 the BBC was scattered across eleven buildings in the Manchester area. In Piccadilly, space that the Corporation had rented above a bank since the 1920’s provided a studio for talk productions and another for television interviews (staff there witnessed the fatal Woolworths fire next-door in May 1979). The BBC’s main TV studio was in a old church on Dickenson Road in Rusholme. While another former church nearby, on the corner of Birch Lane and Plymouth Grove, was used as a garage for the outside broadcast lorries. (more…)

Thursday 17 May 2012

15-year-old girl committed suicide in 1971 after dancing on Top of the Pops and spending the night with a “well-known disc jockey”

I came across this story by accident as I was researching other subjects in back issues of The Guardian.

In April 1971, 15-year-old Claire Ufland was found dead on her bedroom floor with empty pill bottles nearby.

She had danced on Top of the Pops four times. But her mother had banned her from doing so again after she read the daughter’s diary and discovered she had spent the night with a “well known disc jockey.”

From The Guardian in 1971

The DJ isn’t named and it seems Claire Ufland lived in Watford. But there’s a Leeds connection…

She had recently appeared on two editions of Junior Showtime, made by Yorkshire Television in Leeds, and the company was editing the tapes to remove her following her tragic death.

Update (October 7, 2012)

My latest post on this story following the recent ITV documentary.

Filed under: TV & film — GS @ 3:20 am
Thursday 18 November 2010

Streetview sightseeing: do the Safety Dance

If you really want to do the Safety Dance properly you should visit the village of West Kington, which is near Bath. (more…)

Filed under: Fun,TV & film — GS @ 9:25 am
Sunday 7 November 2010

Street View sightseeing: Mr Benn’s house

As anyone who was a child in the 1970’s knows, Mr Benn lives at 52 Festive Road.

The artist David McKee lived ‘next door’ at 54 Festing Road in Putney (the house with the red front door) and his drawings of Festive Road were based on the real street.

Filed under: Fun,TV & film — GS @ 2:40 pm
Saturday 6 November 2010

Audio cassettes go digital

I’ve been transferring my audio cassettes to digital. It’s a job I put off for a long time, as there are about 250 of them.

Those that date from 1980 onwards are played in my Tascam Porta05 Ministudio — a multitrack cassette recorder that I bought in 1988.

Tapes from the 1970’s are more tricky. (more…)

Filed under: History,Net & technology,TV & film — GS @ 3:43 pm
Thursday 4 November 2010

Street View sightseeing: Miss Marple’s House (BBC 1980s series)

Miss Marple lives in the fictional village of St. Mary Mead. The house used as a location in the 1980s BBC series is on Five Bells Lane in Nether Wallop, Hampshire.

The shop in A Pocketful of Rye

Was the building next to Miss Marple’s house a shop at the time of filming or ever a shop? Perhaps it was all a bit of clever set-dressing by the BBC? Today it’s a house, but retains the old bread sign on the wall which can be seen in A Pocketful of Rye which was screened in 1985.

Miss Marple's house and the shop

In that story, the shopkeeper tells Miss Marple (Joan Hickson) about the murder of Rex Fortescue and later is seen delivering a newspaper which has further details about the case.

However, looking at the first story in the series — The Body In the Library (1984) — I see the bread sign isn’t there. Also at one point there’s a brief glimpse of a grassed area opposite Miss Marple’s house, which now is occupied by a more modern building.

I would guess that was built in the 1980s when they were still making the series and probably to the dismay of the BBC which needed an English village of the late 1940s. In later episodes the director employs some deft camera manoeuvres to avoid ever showing the opposite side of the street.

For example, in A Pocketful of Rye, as Miss Marple leaves her house and walks towards the shop, she seems to step over something. At first I couldn’t figure out what. Then I realised the camera is in that spot at the beginning of the shot, so she is stepping over the metal camera track.

The first shot in The Body In the Library includes an ivy-covered market cross in the foreground. The camera tracks and cranes up from the front of a bus, revealing Miss Marple’s home in the background. The cross was another prop courtesy of the BBC scenery department…

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Returning to A Pocketful of Rye, in real life the market place is some distance away and doesn’t have the covered feature with seats.

Village market place, A Pocketful of Rye

But the church-like building that appears as an infants school is further up the street that Miss Marple walks along.

School, A Pocketful of Rye

School, A Pocketful of Rye

The film-makers shot the scene with a telephoto lens, while the Street View photos are a wide-angle view, so it looks quite different.

View Larger Map

Like everywhere these days the place is blighted by vehicles. Then again, Miss Marple is a stylised version of country life that probably never existed. I won’t say ‘sanitised’ because there are an extraordinary number of murders!

Silvio Narizzano, who directed this episode, was the director of the classic 1960s British film ‘Georgy Girl’.

Will there ever be a better Miss Marple than Joan Hickson? I doubt it.

Filed under: Fun,TV & film — GS @ 1:53 pm
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