Sunday Reflections #14

I was going to write a followup post to last week’s reflection, covering some more things of a spiritual nature, but I’m in the middle of a bunch of night shifts at the moment, and my brain is fried. Therefore, I’m going to cover a slightly lighter theme, and look at some Sunday TV I remember from when I was a kid.

I’m going to start off with a programme I pretty much never watched, but deserves mention for it’s completely badass theme tune. The show is “Weekend World”, a politics show fronted by Brian Walden for many years. He was a Labour MP before becoming a very hard-hitting political journalist and interviewer, who could famously make even Margaret Thatcher squirm. The show was never my cup of tea, obviously – I’ve spent most of my life avoiding miserable shit like this, and there was plenty of miserable shit around in the eighties – but I’d usually watch the theme tune before turning it off!

Several things to notice here – trailer for films on Channel 4, always a Sunday lunchtime favourite, the LWT clock and classic “ribbon” ident, and then the “Weekend World” intro. The word “crisis” seems to belong there, as the world seemed to lurch from one crisis to another back then. In fact, with the map of the world and the heavy-rock music, I always thought that “Weekend World” had an apocalyptic vibe, and it always seemed to suggest the nuclear weapons were on their way, but if they were, you’d have seen this instead:

Don’t have nightmares.

It took me years to discover that the “Weekend World” theme was part of a much longer song called “Nantucket Sleighride” by Mountain, from 1972. It’s a brilliant piece, actually, so here it is.

Speaking of extracts from rock classics used as theme tunes, the BBC did exactly the same for another Sunday favourite, the Grand Prix:

It was used for years, and I think still is, although I’ve chosen 1993 here – a time when I used to follow Grand Prix, and watch it with my dad. We never had many interests in common, this might actually be about the only one. Anyway, the music is, of course, “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, from their album “Rumours”. Here’s a particularly impressive live performance from the late nineties. I love the stage set, I could almost imagine the Dark Crystal floating up through the floor!

My dad and I were both keen to see Nigel Mansell win the world championship, which he did only once, in 1992. He drove for Williams at the time, and in 2018, I got to visit the Williams Formula 1 HQ and museum for a work event. Here’s one of Nigel Mansell’s actual cars, featuring the famous red number 5 on the nose.

Seeing this had an odd effect on me, and turned me into bit of an emotional wreck. I was never particularly close to my dad, and never really a huge sports fan, but it represented one of the only real connections we ever had before he died in 1995, and I was very moved seeing it. I was surrounded by work colleagues at the time, and had to fight back tears. Strange.

I’ll finish up with another Sunday favourite that reminds me of my dad, as again we used to watch it together – ITV’s superb adaptations of Agatha Christie’s “Poirot”.

This show ran for years, and featured David Suchet in the lead role – he really was fantastic as the fussy, fastidious Belgian detective, solving mysteries with his “little grey cells”. The other cast members were superb too, and the whole thing was really well-produced, with a wonderful 1930s Art Deco atmosphere featuring some of Britain’s finest buildings from the period. I really enjoyed it. The stories were really absorbing too. I’ve never actually read any Agatha Christie, and I probably should.

I’ll just slip in another Christie reference here, as it was also shown on Sundays, and had another great theme – and that’s Miss Marple. I was never quite such a fan, but what says “English country village on a Sunday” better than this little gem?

I think that’ll do for my little Sunday televisual review for now, but I think there’s plenty of scope for future revisits to this theme.

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