Film Still on air now in a different form and long after I stopped listening to commercial radio on purpose, the "peaceful hour" on Liverpool's Radio City was how I went to sleep during my school years, broadcast between midnight and one. I can't remember who the DJ was, though YouTube suggests it might have been Paul Leckie, but I do have two vivid memories. One that every night someone would request Minnie Riperton's Loving You and there was a brief moment when my tweenie soprano voice could actually reach some of those high notes and the adverts repeated at what seemed like ten minute intervals for the latest film releases at the Video City chain of which our local was in Garston.
These adverts, which included clips of dialogue from the films and what must have been a pithy synopsis supplied by the film company were repeated so often that after a while I could quote them verbatim. Now there's only three films which pierce the fog: The Pick-Up Artist ("Hi, I'm Jack Jericho." "Did anyone ever tell you that you have the face of a Botticelli and the body of a Degas?"), The Boy Who Could Fly ("You told your mother something about a boy who rescued you." "What are you, a shrink?") and Working Girl ("I have a head for business and a bod for sin."). Every night these same adverts. But for some reason I never did actually see any of these films, on rental from Video City, which was odd because we were in there all the time.
As a family we were lent our first video player in the mid-80s. We ventured out that night to buy a blank tape from the Asda at Hunts Cross which would eventually be the permanent home for a recording of the James Spader starring Starcrossed which was broadcast as part of a sci-fi season on Channel 4 (with, if I can complete the memory, a purple sticker across the top which had been given away free with the 2000 AD spin-off "magazine" Crisis). But that evening it allowed us to finally experience the magic of recording something from live television and then playing it back. Pretty soon afterwards we decided to try renting some films and the nearest shop which wasn't also an off license was Video City in Garston.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, this is where I first hired Star Trek: The Next Generation, but before that, one summer holiday, I remember working through the whole of the available Police Academy series, loads of Disney and oddly one Sunday afternoon Robocop, which would have been my first 18 certificate film. Not a bad place to start. The decor is about what you'd imagine a mid-80s video shop to be, with woodchip wallpaper and those red plastic display boxes for new released and wall shelves for the back catalogue (with its often lurid box art). There might even have been a small, walled off section for adult selections. The place seems huge in my memory, but was still relatively small, so it could have been about the size of an average off license.
Yet despite all of the advertising efforts I would eventually see these three films through other means. The Pick-Up Artist, starring Robert Downey Jr in his notorious phase opposite Molly Ringwald just after she'd fallen out with John Hughes and was seeking more adult material was broadcast in the middle of the night on ITV back when they didn't simply rerun Loose Women and posh teletext, The Boy Who Could Fly was I think shown one morning on Channel 4 and I think I eventually saw Working Girl on a recording the same relative made of it from Sky for us. Even as I type this, I still can't believe that all these archaic means of accessing film were only thirty odd years ago. Though given that I'm forty, that is actually a very long time. Let the river run.