Posts Tagged ‘Radio 2’

Pat Mills: Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History: Part Two

March 30, 2018

The brutal treatment inflicted by the two ‘Prefects of Discipline’ understandable left Mills with a hatred of the Catholic church. He isn’t alone there. The Irish comedian Dave Allen, and his countryman, the much-loved Radio 2 broadcaster and presenter Terry Wogan, also had no particular love of the church because of the similar sadistic discipline they’d also received as part of their Catholic education. And I’ve met many ordinary people since then, who have also fallen away from the church, and often against Christianity altogether, because of it. One of my uncles was brought up a Catholic, but never attended church. This was partly due to the brutality of the monks, who taught him at his school.

Mills also corrects the impression that Judge Dredd was immediately the favourite strip in the comic. The good lawman wasn’t, and it was months before he attained that position. And he also attacks Michael Moorcock for his comments criticising the early 2000AD in the pages of the Observer. Moorcock was horrified by Invasion, and its tale of resistance to the conquest of Britain by the Russians, hastily changed two weeks or so before publication to ‘the Volgans’. Moorcock had been the boy editor of Tarzan comic, and declared that in his day the creators had cared about comics, unlike now, when the creators of 2000AD didn’t. This annoyed Mills, and obviously still rankles, because he and the others were putting a lot of work in to it, and creating characters that children would like and want to read about. One of the recommendations he makes to prospective comics’ creators is that writers should spend four weeks crafting their character, writing and rewriting the initial scripts and outlines of the character in order to get them just right. And artists need two weeks creating and revising their portrayal of them. This was difficult then, as creators were not paid for what Mike McMahon called ‘staring out of the window time’, though Mills generally managed to find someway round that. It’s impossible now, with tight budget and time constraints.

I can see Moorcock’s point about the Invasion strip. It wasn’t Mills’ own idea, although he did it well. True to his beliefs, its hero was working class, a docker called Bill Savage. He didn’t initially want to work on it, and was only persuaded to by the then editor telling him he could have Maggie Thatcher shot on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. But it is a right-wing, Tory fantasy. It appeared at the tale end of the ’70s, when MI5, the CIA and Maggie Thatcher had all been convinced that the Labour leader, Harold Wilson, was a KGB agent, and the trade unions and the Labour party riddled with Communists or fellow-travelers ready to do the bidding of Moscow. The strikes in the period led to various arch-Tories, like the editor of the Times, Peregrine Worsthorne, trying to organise a coup against the 1975 Labour administration. And ITV launched their own wretched SF series, in which a group of resistance fighters battle a future socialist dictatorship.

He also discusses the office hatred of the character Finn and the man it was based on. Finn was Cornish, driving a taxi round the streets of Plymouth by day. He was practising witch, and at night battled the forces of evil and against social injustice. The character was based on a man he knew, an ex-squaddie who was a witch. Mills has great affection for this man, who introduced him to modern witchcraft, and in whose company Mills joined in ceremonies at the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire. But the management didn’t like him, and had him sacked. There was a persistent dislike of the character, which seemed to come from its basis in witchcraft, and Mills himself was the subject of lurid stories about what he was supposed to get up to at these ceremonies. This ended with the strip’s abrupt cancellation, without proper explanation. Mills states that he is very distantly related to one of the women executed for witchcraft at Salem, and so is very definitely down on people, who despise and malign witches.

I’m not surprised by either the rumours and the hostility to the strip. This was the 1990s, the heyday of the Satanism scare, when across America, Britain and Europe there were stories of gangs of Satanists abusing animals. Children were being conceived by abused women, used as ‘brood mares’, to be later used as sacrifices to Satan. It was all rubbish, but repeated by a wide range of people from Fundamentalist Christians to secular feminist social workers. And it destroyed many lives. You may remember the Orkney scandal, where forty children were taken into care following allegations of abuse. The minister at the local kirk was supposed to be a Satanist, who had an inverted crucifix hanging from his ceiling. It was no such thing. It was, in fact, a model aeroplane.

Much of this dangerous bilge came from a group of rightwing evangelicals at the Express. I’m not surprised. I can remember the Sunday Express repeating some of this drivel, including the ludicrous claim that CND was Satanic because of its symbol. This was declared to be an old medieval witchcraft symbol, based on a broken cross. I mentioned this once to a very left-wing, religious friend, who had been a member of the nuclear disarmament group. He looked straight at me and said levelly, ‘No. It’s semaphore’. The scare pretty much disappeared in Britain after a regular psychiatrist issued a report stating very firmly that such groups didn’t exist. There are several excellent books written against the scare. The two I read are Jeffrey S. Victor’s Satanic Panic and Peter Hough’s Witchcraft: A Strange Conflict. Victor is an American sociologist, and he takes apart both the claims and gives the sociological reasons behind them. Hough is one-time collaborator of ufologist Jenny Randles, and his book comes at it from a sympathetic viewpoint to modern witches and the occult milieu. He talks about the political beliefs of modern occultists. These naturally range all over the political spectrum, but the majority are Lib Dems or supporters of the Green Party and keen on protecting the environment. And far from sacrificing babies or animals, those I knew were more likely to be peaceful veggies than evil monsters straight from the pages of Dennis Wheatley or Hammer Horror.

The 1990s were also a period of crisis for the comic, which went into a spiral of decline as their best talent was stolen by DC for their Vertigo adult imprint. There was a succession of editors, who, flailing around for some way to halt the decline, blamed the remaining creators. They were increasingly critical, and seemed to be encouraging the abuse letters being sent to them from what seemed to be a small minority of fans. There were also plans to interest TV and Hollywood in developing 2000AD characters in film. Mills and Wagner were horrified to find they were giving away the rights dirt cheap – in one case as low as pound. The comic was close to collapse, but was eventually saved by Rebellion and its current editor.

Continued in Part Three.

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Radio 2 Programme with Trevor McDonald on the British West Indies Regiment

October 18, 2016

Another programme on Black history is also on the radio tonight. This is Huge and Mighty Men of Valour, in which the ITV newsreader and the 21st century’s answer to Alan Whicker, Trevor McDonald, talks about the history of the British West Indies Regiment. the blurb for this in the Radio Times runs

Trevor McDonald presents the untold story of the West Indies role in the British Empire’s war effort. Until 1915 the War Office was reluctant to recruit West Indian troops but heavy losses changed their perspective and thousands of young men willingly signed up for the newly formed British West Indies Regiment. Such was their physical fitness and readiness to work that they were dubbed “huge and mighty men of valour” . But racism and poor conditions at the end of the War resulted in a mutiny and the radicalisation of many troops who, upon their return home, helped sow the seeds of self-determination, which rattled the colonial powers.

This is on tonight, Tuesday 18th October 2016, at 10.00 pm on Radio 2. If you miss it, I should think it’ll be available on BBC iplayer.

A First World War Indian Army Recruiting Poster

November 6, 2014

Indian Recruiting Poster

This week I’ve been blogging about the contribution of non-White servicemen and women and that of Chinese labourers to the imperial forces during the First World War. This has partly been because, as Guy Debord’s Cat reported earlier this week, one of the Nazi splinter groups of the Fascist Right has been selling poppies and other merchandise. They’re trying to cash in on the patriotic mourning in Remembrance Day, and appropriate it for White Nationalism.

This is in complete contradiction to history. I’ve described in my previous blog posts how the scholars at the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres have researched and teach the multicultural composition of the British imperial forces. The former British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol even had a display on it. After nearly a century of scandalous neglect, there is now a monument to these brave men and women amongst the monuments to the White fallen in Flanders. Radio 4 has also broadcast a programme on the contribution of the Chinese labourers, and tomorrow at 9 pm, Radio 2 will also broadcast a show on the Indian squaddies, who did their patriotic duty and joined up.

I found this recruiting poster for the Indian Army in one of the history books I’ve got here at home, simply entitled History of the World: the Last Five Hundred Years, edited by Esmond Wright, and published by W.H. Smith in 1984. The text reads: ‘This soldier is guarding India. He is guarding his home and his household. Thus we are guarding your home and you must join the army.’ While the British exploitation of India under the Empire is a fact of history, this shows without doubt that Indian soldiers fought in the imperial forces for their homeland. It disproves any attempt to claim Remembrance Day by White bigots for themselves.

Radio 2 Programme on Indian Soldiers in WW I

November 5, 2014

Earlier this week I reblogged a piece from Guy Debord’s Cat on the way the Nazi right were trying to cash in on Remembrance Day. They were selling poppies and merchandise with the intention of appropriating this act of commemoration for the fallen as a unique symbol of White British patriotism. In my own comment to the Cat’s eloquent piece, I pointed out that the British imperial forces not only included Whites, but also non-White servicemen and women. They also included Chinese labourers. These served with honour alongside their White comrades, but it is sadly only in the last decade or so that their contribution to the War has received the recognition it deserves. In the early part of this century the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol staged an exhibition on non-White servicemen in the First World War. Radio 4 has also broadcast a programme about the Chinese labour force, whose own role in the conflict has really on just been recently rediscovered. Dominiek Dendooven, of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium, also gave a presentation in a seminar the archaeology department of Bristol University some years ago on ‘Multicultural War in Flanders’. This covered the material remains of the non-White troopers and labourers, and the trench art they produced during and after this most terrible of wars.

This Saturday, the 8th November, Radio 2 is also broadcasting a programme at 9 pm on the Indian squaddies in the conflict, Forgotten Heroes: the Indian Army in the Great War. The blurb for this in the Radio Times reads:

Sarfraz Manzoor tells the story of the 1.27 million men from the Indian Army who fought alongside British troops in every major battle from Ypres to Gallipolli – a fact almost completely overlooked in the history books. On the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Manzoor redresses the balance, revealed through letters written home by sepoys – an expression for infantry soldier from the Perian/Urdu word – which were saved by military censors.