The Troubled Production History of Girls On Top
Monday, July 30, 2012 expat 0 Comments
By Smarter Than The Average!
Alluded to as Four-Play in a profile of Ruby Wax in the 27th May 1983 issue of Television Weekly (much later, Martin Aston’s article in the 9th November 1985 issue of Melody Maker revealed that another potential title was Bitches On Heat), the first news of production taking place on Girls On Top comes in the 11th August 1983 issue of Television Today. Here it goes by the name of Four Fs To Share, and “production of 13 episodes is expected to be next spring”. A pilot has already been made, produced by Tony Charles, who its said will go on and produce the series, and directed by Baz Taylor, who would have had to drop out of directing the show to work on the upcoming series of Shine On Harvey Moon.
The following spring, the 27th April 1984 issue of Television Weekly reports the bad news that “a sitcom series of six half hours called Girls On Top was due to go into rehearsal this week but has been held up by the electricians dispute”. This electrician’s dispute took place at Central’s Nottingham Studios on Lenton Lane, where the show was to have been (and was eventually) recorded. It adds that Paul Jackson will produce and direct the show, and that “the series will go out in the Autumn”.
The same article also mentions a Tracey Ullman series which never happened: “Starting shooting in July is an all film series of five half hours, Five Faces Of Tracey, in which she takes a different character per show and plays it through a self-contained story. Three have been written so far, one by Ullman and two Wax and Ullman together”. One would imagine that quite a bit of Tracey Ullman’s material was incorporated into her later projects, but who knows what happened to the Ruby Wax scripts.
The 13th September 1984 issue of Television Today tells us that Girls On Top is now “to be recorded in January. Girls On Top was originally to have been recorded last April, but was delayed by the strike of 28 electricians at Central’s Lenton Lane studio complex”. The 24th January 1985 issue of Television Today says of Girls On Top that “three days of location filming in the Nottingham area took place last week and studio work begins today, Thursday, until March 13”.
In fact, what was recorded in January 1985 was a second pilot (subtitled Four-Play), according to the 8th February 1985 issue of Television Weekly. Its article starts by saying that “WitzEnd Production have just completed episode one of Girls On Top, a seven-part sitcom, for Central”. However, the same piece does contradict the end date given in the previous article, saying that shooting for the rest of the series is “scheduled to begin in May”. One could theorise that May was proposed as a time to record the remaining episodes of Girls On Top, but it was pushed earlier when Happy Families was being mooted for shooting around this time. It may also have been moved so as not to conflict with Adrian Edmonson’s and Jennifer Saunders’ wedding plans, married as they were on the 11th May 1985. (Incidentally, on the subject of Jennifer Saunders’ domestic life, she gave birth to her first child Eleanor on the 22nd January 1986, which means that she must have been impregnated in late April 1985, exactly in the middle of the three-month break between recording Girls On Top and filming Happy Families. Nice one, Ade!)
Happy Families was shot between the 10th of June and the end of August 1985 in locations including Liverpool, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and BBC Manchester, according to the 30th May 1985 issue of Television Today and the 31st May 1985 issue of Broadcast. More interestingly, both articles say that when he commissioned Happy Families, Head of BBC Network Production at Manchester Roger Bolton offered Paul Jackson two series. Happy Families was one and the other was, as Television Today put it, “a second, as yet undecided, series due to begin production in the summer of 1986”. Presumably this undecided production became Filthy, Rich And Catflap.
In short, the Girls On Top shooting history runs thus: a pilot was recorded by May 1983; the first series was meant to be recorded in April 1984; the first broadcast of the first series was supposed to be in Autumn 1984; the first series was actually recorded in early 1985; and the first broadcast of the first episode was on 23rd October 1985. So in fact it was actually an understatement for the 15th August 1985 issue of Television Today and the 31st October to 6th November 1985 issue of Time Out to say that the series had been delayed for a year.
The recording of the second series was far smoother and, according to the 8th May 1986 issue of Television Today, “studio work at Central’s Nottingham Studios began last week and will finish on June 12”.
The thirteen episodes of both series were released as a two-DVD set from Network on the 22nd January 2007. The set notably omits Four Fs To Share, the 1983 Girls On Top pilot with no Paul Jackson involvement. Which raises the question - where is it?
New York Times: Tracey's Technological Woes
Friday, June 22, 2012 expat 0 Comments
By JACOB BERNSTEIN
Published: June 22, 2012
WITH numbers. Without. One capital letter. None. More than eight characters. Fewer than 16.
“It’s a nightmare,” the comedian Tracey Ullman said. “These passwords just keep getting longer and longer. I try to think of a startling emotional thing that jogs my memory or something that’s frightening, or my grandmother’s name with 666 at the end. But I really don’t know what to do.”
Neither, it would seem, does the actress Parker Posey, who said she writes them down “on tiny pieces of paper, like little secrets, because yes, someone could find them.” But then, Ms. Posey added, she forgets which Web sites the codes are for.
The writer Paul Rudnick finds himself equally bewildered. Simply tracking down the password for his Time Warner Cable modem was like “a ‘Bourne Identity’ moment,” Mr. Rudnick recalled.
Just a decade ago, an Internet user rarely had to do more than enter a simple, easy-to-remember e-mail password, recycling it for every online account. But as our dependency on the Internet has grown, so has the complexity of its restrictions.
The end result: a mind-boggling array of personal codes squirreled away in computer files, scribbled on Post-it notes or simply lost in the ether. Virtually any online user without a computer science degree now seems to be one failed login attempt away from a nervous breakdown.
Worse, are the dreaded security questions, which began simply enough (“In what city were you born?”) but have increasingly “moved from the purely factual to things that would require you to have a judgment,” lamented Jeffrey Leeds, the president of Leeds Equity and a fixture on the New York social scene.
“It’d be fine if it was my mother’s maiden name,” Mr. Leeds said. “That is different from ‘What is the name of your first girlfriend?’ You think: ‘Well, what do you mean by girlfriend? Is that the first woman I ever slept with, or someone I liked who never particularly liked me back?’ It’s a march through your entire personal history just to get on some damn Web site which will deliver your groceries.”
Wireless providers have concocted a particularly dizzying array of hurdles to get on their Web sites. At Verizon, choices include “What is the title of your favorite book?” and “What is your favorite food?” both of which Olivia Kraus, a lawyer in New York, dismisses as silly questions to ask anyone over age 7. “The whole favorite thing is so juvenile,” she said.
Mr. Rudnick also finds the questions misguided. “They should go negative,” he suggested. “What’s your least favorite color, who’s your least favorite relative and who’s the last person on earth you would date? People would remember those questions, and they’d enjoy answering them far more.”
At AT&T, customers can pick among quasi-existential queries like “What is your dream job?” or brainteasers like “What is the last name of the most famous person you’ve ever met?”
That last one confounded Kevin Hertzog, a set designer in New York and recent AT&T Wireless defector.
“What constitutes meeting?” Mr. Hertzog said. “Barbra Streisand asked me if we had a set of 12 plates in stock when I worked at Bergdorf Goodman, but I’ve had breakfast with Calvin Klein, so which person have I really met? Does it count if you shout out someone’s name on the red carpet on the Academy Awards as they walk by? If you go to the Christy Turlington event at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills and buy a yoga pant from her?”
Further, Mr. Hertzog said he could never bring himself to make that his security question anyway: “I’d be too embarrassed even if no one else knew about it.”
Mickey Boardman, the editorial director of Paper Magazine, said he was often stumped from the get-go. “One password check asked my first phone number,” he said in an e-mail, “and I can barely remember my current number.”
“They’ll ask you something like, ‘Who was your first teacher?’ and I can never remember if that means my first-grade teacher or kindergarten, because kindergarten isn’t really school,” Mr. Boardman continued. “And my first-grade teacher, Miss Thies, got married halfway through the year and became Mrs. Newell. So it’s mayhem.”
That online accounts are unsecure does not seem to be a matter of much debate. Over the last several months, Facebook has been subjected to numerous security breaches, as anyone who has unwittingly posted pictures of Nike sneakers or Christian Louboutin heels can tell you.
On June 6, the social networking site LinkedIn confirmed that it was the victim of a security attack, and more than six million people had their passwords stolen. That week, Mitt Romney’s Hotmail account was hacked, echoing a similar episode in 2008 involving Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account.
But it is less clear to cybersecurity experts that having a password with extra numbers or special characters actually makes customers safer.
“People’s choice of passwords is not the real problem today,” said Dr. Joseph Bonneau, a University of Cambridge researcher who studies cyber security. “The real problem is typing in passwords to the wrong Web site, which is stealing them.”
So why are Web sites suddenly requiring users to add special characters or numbers? “It’s security theater,” Dr. Bonneau said. “So people feel safe. It makes the Web sites seem like they’re taking things more seriously, when in fact most of them have no control if you have malware. In absence of a way to tackle bigger problems, it’s easy to add restrictions. They don’t want to seem less secure than competitors.”
Larry Kramer, the playwright and AIDS activist, is outraged.
“I don’t think any of the proprietors of these sites have spoken about this in any kind of intelligent way,” Mr. Kramer said. “And there’s no standard code, there’s no ‘Can we all work on this together?’ Or anything like that. It’s a mess. You’d think AOL and Gmail would talk to each other and find a way to sort this out.”
Most technology companies do not want to talk about their systems. AT&T and Time Warner Cable declined interview requests. Verizon did put someone on the phone, but not from the department in charge of its sometimes frustrating Web site.
As it turned out, Tracy Hulver, Verizon’s chief identity strategist, was having his own trouble keeping his online accounts straight. “I remember my passwords at this point, but I have trouble matching those passwords with the appropriate user ID,” Mr. Hulver said. “So I may have a user account THulver on one account, and on another account it’s Thulver01, because on that I had to put an alphanumeric. And matching those passwords to those user IDs winds up being the thing that frustrates me the most.”
The MSNBC host Al Sharpton echoed this frustration. On any given day, he might use five passwords, Mr. Sharpton said. “You walk around all day trying to remember them so that you don’t look like you’re senile when you can’t turn on your computer in front of your staff,” he said. “Every one of them is younger than me.”
So what’s a hopeless technophobe to do?
Courtney Love recommends using mnemonics, saying it was something even a simpleton like herself could use. “You use the lyrics to a song,” she said, for example, “ ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ — litswd-1 — and that way you can’t forget it.”
Still, she ran into trouble when she started using “Hey Jude.” “I kept forgetting if it was ‘Hey Jude, don’t make it bad’ or ‘Hey Jude, don’t make it sad,’ ” she said. “So I gave up on that.”
And the comedian Sandra Bernhard noted that a trick like this would not work for her Time Warner Cable wireless router, which comes with a preselected unchangeable password that ranges from 13 to 28 characters. “We have that one written down somewhere, but where it is I’d be hard pressed to tell you,” she said, adding that her relationship with the cable provider is “an S&M experience without the pleasure.”
Ms. Ullman recently consolidated her most important passwords on a Post-it note beside her computer. The inherent security risk of this was less troublesome to her than her sense of ironic defeat. “I thought the whole point of computers was, you were never going to have to write again,” she said.
And don’t get her started on those newly trendy captcha phrases, the squiggly lines of random text that are designed to block spammers but drive real, live customers batty.
“Don’t you hate those?” Ms. Ullman said. “I always get those wrong because it looks like they were written by someone on LSD. It’s awful.”
All 67 Episodes of "Tracey Takes On" Now On Hulu!
Saturday, June 02, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Every episode of Tracey Takes On (47 in total) is available to watch on Hulu, along with three end-of-season "Best Of" specials, as well as two Tracey Ullman specials, Tracey Ullman Takes On New York and Tracey Ullman - A Class Act. If that wasn't enough, all 15 character special episodes are also available! Only a couple of these were released on DVD and VHS. None were aired. In them, Tracey discusses each character and each character's best bits are run. A true gem! Watch your favorite character, and only your favorite character's dedicated episode! Ruby and Fern get two specials btw.
Just a reminder, Tracey's Showtime series, Tracey Ullman's State of the Union is also available.
Eric Idle's What About Dick Plays Limited Engagement With All-Star Cast!
Saturday, April 28, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Jay Weston's great HuffPo piece on "What About Dick?" came with this bonus nugget:
Tracey Ullman, of course, is the alcoholic aunt, and I noted the co-producers of her TV series, Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement, in the audience.Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement were writers for "Tracey Takes On", and "Tracey Ullman: A Class Act".
It should also be noted that Tracey worked with both Billy Connolly and Tim Curry before - Billy in "Tracey Takes On" and Tim in "The Tracey Ullman Show".
Russell Brand Rests His Head On Tracey's Chest
Saturday, April 28, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Russ a bust flush
NO prizes for guessing what was impressing Russell Brand about the script for this play.
What About Dick? - 'Dick Anthem' (Amateur Video)
Friday, April 27, 2012 expat 0 Comments
What About Dick? Curtain Call (Amateur Video)
Friday, April 27, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Tracey and Fox's 25th Anniversary Special!
Saturday, April 21, 2012 expat 0 Comments
|Tracey modeling a pair of Lara Vincent cat ears|
BE SURE TO TUNE INTO FOX'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL TOMORROW NIGHT, SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2012 AT 8PM USA ON FOX!
ALSO, CHECK OUT AND 'LIKE' OUR FACEBOOK PAGE!!!
Tracey Visits Crom Castle
Monday, April 09, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Stars at Crom-ton!
The Absolutely Fabulous star has been busy shooting the show in Fermanagh with a whole host of stars including Britain's Got Talent judge David Walliams and Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart. And this week the celebs continued to arrive in the county, with Wild at Heart's Robert Bathurst and singer Tracey Ullman both spotted in Newtownbutler. The location at Crom has been dubbed "Crom-ton" after television's Downton.
Mrs. Foster said: "The fact that Crom Castle was selected as the venue to film the PG Wodehouse 'Blandings' stories is a real coup for Fermanagh.
"I was very encouraged, but not surprised, to hear from the production team how impressed they are with Crom Castle as a location. It really is a spectacular setting and it will look amazing on the television screen," she said.
"THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW" TURNS 25!
Thursday, April 05, 2012 expat 0 Comments
April 5, 1987 was the launch date of the all-new Fox network. The Tracey Ullman Show and Married... with Children aired that very same night, and were the first two original programs produced and screened on the network.
Fox's 25th Anniversary Special
Saturday, March 31, 2012 expat 0 Comments
"The Tracey Ullman Show" is expected to be part of FOX's 25th Anniversary Special, airing April 22, 2012 in the US. The "Married... with Children" cast is expected to reunite, along with the casts of "The X-Files" and "Beverley Hills 90210".
The network was born on April 5, 1987, the same night "The Tracey Ullman Show" premiered. That's right, "The Tracey Ullman Show" was premiered the very same night that FOX was launched, along with "Married... with Children"! "The Tracey Ullman Show" spun off "The Simpsons". You don't get more significant than that!
"The Tracey Ullman Show" celebrates its 25th Anniversary next month!!!
Tune in for the special!
Hulu: Down But Not Out
Saturday, March 31, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Readers will have noticed that Tracey Takes On was suddenly deleted from Hulu. We looked into the matter, and Takes On producer Allan McKeown has informed us that there was an uploading issue, but it should be resolved in the next couple of weeks.
Tracey Roundup: The Hunger Games, Spark, And A Former Husband
Saturday, March 31, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Tracey supports Spark
Candid video of Tracey joined by former "I Love You To Death" husband, Kevin Klein on the red carpet at "The Extra Man" New York premiere back in 2010:
Hulu Updates Itself Again... With Seasons 3 and 4 of "Tracey Takes On"
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 expat 0 Comments
As previously reported, "Tracey Takes On" moved from Amazon.com's "Amazon Instant Video" and iTunes late last year, to Hulu.
45 episodes are now available. 47 original episodes were produced. There is one episode missing from season 3 and 4. These are most likely to be added in the next couple of days.
What we forgot to point out in the last post, is that the Hulu episodes are completely unedited. As many are aware, the Season 3 and 4 DVD set that was released back in 2009, was heavily edited. Some episodes were even chopped down to 10 minutes! Amazon and iTunes also had edited episodes. Some were even combined with an additional episode to make up for lost time due to deleted material. These deletions were due to copyright issues. The DVD sets (seasons 1 and 2) that HBO put out back in 2005 and 2006, while complete, removed the opening and closing title/credits sequences for season 2, (which is the season that started the "Tracey and the characters singing 'They Don't Know'" opening and closing), due to copyright problems with the theme song. Hulu seems totally complete, with the original opening title and closing sequences restored!
We'll see if Tracey's additional two HBO specials will also be added. "Tracey Ullman: A Class Act" had been available on iTunes and Amazon.com. "A Class Act" was edited on those services, with the character "Trevor" completely edited out. Trevor has a closing music number, which must have been a problem legal wise.
Check Hulu out now!
TRACEY TAKES ON Added To Hulu!
Friday, March 16, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Tracey Takes On... was deleted from both Amazon.com and iTunes' streaming services late last year. Now, it all makes sense. Like with "State of the Union", "Tracey Takes On" has been added to the Hulu service. The message from Amazon.com was that the contract to provide the series had expired. Tracey has been doing promos for Hulu promoting her shows since last year. We expected a full on Hulu move was upon us. How lovely! Seasons 1 and 2 are now up for viewing. Obviously, seasons 3 and 4 are next.
Check it out!
Tracey Attended The Women In The World Summit
Monday, March 12, 2012 expat 0 Comments
Young women are looking beyond Snooki and Kim Kardashian at the real world - and solving its problems
Young women are looking beyond Snooki and Kim Kardashian and their own shoe closets out at the real world and its problems — and solving them. That was the high-energy conclusion of the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center Saturday, organized by Newsweek/Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown with a list of guests she alone could gather.
From Angelina Jolie, who opened the three-day event, to U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, who closed, 2,000 attendees met speakers like International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Israeli opposition leader Tsipi Livni, Meryl Streep, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Madeleine Albright, Gael Garcia Bernal, Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, Diane von Furstenberg, Christy (Every Mother Counts) Turlington, Chelsea Clinton, Jenna and Barbara Bush (Global Health Corps) and their cousin, Lauren Bush Lauren (FEED). But it was the courage of women and girl activists from all over the world who blew even these top leaders and philanthropists away.
Women such as Zin Mar Aung, jailed in solitary confinement in Burma for 11 years just for carrying political flyers about Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — then, the minute she got out, she started organizing again. And Suma, who was sold in Nepal by her parents at 6 into indentured servitude for six years until an organization called Room to Read helped liberated her. Now, she helps liberate the 20,000 other girls who remain enslaved.
Suma's story will be told as part of a film called '10x10,' scheduled for release early next year.
Or Dalia Ziada, who like other Egyptian women walked first into Tahrir Square in front of the men because they thought soldiers wouldn’t touch them — only to be blocked by men from winning office now. She told the room, "There is no spring without flowers; there is no Arab spring without women."
And other activists fighting forced marriage in Pakistan and India, sex slavery in Mexico and even the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Six months ago, Brown set up the Women in the World Foundation to connect and fund nonprofits helping girls and women around the globe. "What's exciting about this event is that these women come here and get energized by the freedoms that we have here," said Brown, who became a U.S. citizen in 2005. "I think that by showing these women that we care about them, that we support them, either financially or with time, it fortifies them in their struggle."
What these girls are doing could energize a nation. Look at 17-year-old Talia Leman, who is linking companies with kids to raise money for their favorite causes, after raising $10 million for Katrina relief at her website RandomKid.com.
Jessica Matthews and fellow 23-year-old Julia Silverman invented Soccett, a soccer ball which, when kicked, recharges a battery inside to provide two hours of electricity for use in Third World places where there is none.
Lauren Bush Lauren sells bags at her FEED nonprofit that each feed two children in Kenya for a year. Columbia student Julie Zeilinger, 18, raises feminist consciousness on her blog at thefbomb.org. And anti-bullying activist Emily-Anne Rigal, 18, was praised by Lady Gaga for her WeStopHate.org site.
There's Chelsea Clinton, who has helped stop the passage of the HIV virus to newborns in partnership with Mothers2Mothers.org. And another First Daughter, Barbara Bush, whose Global Health Corps sends volunteers to clinics around the world based on the Teach for America model. "Our friends don't care what Kim Kardashian tweets," Jenna Bush, who co-founded Global Health Partners with her sister Barbara, told the Daily News.
"It's a choice," brilliant comedian Tracey Ullman told The News. "You can watch reality shows, or not. I mean, have fun. I heard all the women over there at the charity boutique shopping and saying, 'Aren’t these African bracelets gorgeous?' We love to shop. As Diane von Furstenberg said yesterday, 'Girls will be girls.' Have fun. But then get serious."
Tracey To Star In "What About Dick?" With Russell Brand
Monday, February 20, 2012 expat 0 Comments
One woman, many faces...
Welcome to All About Tracey!
Tracey Ullman has been making us laugh for over thirty years. This blog is dedicated in her honor.
Here you'll be able to find the latest on her new BBC comedy series, read and watch interviews, see photos, and much, much more. Be sure to comment on the articles posted and check back often!
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