Television Personalities

A chronological exploration of Dan Treacy's songs, revealing some of the influences and stories that lie behind them, plus a glossary of some of the places, people and things that are mentioned.
See also the sections on people that Dan mentions, and influential films.

Early singles Don't the kids just love it Mummy your not watching me They could have been bigger than the Beatles The painted word
Early Singles Don't the Kids Mummy Beatles Painted
How I learned to love the bomb Privilege Closer to god I was a mod Don't cry baby
Bomb Privilege Closer Mod Baby

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early singles

Oxford St., W1
Running for two miles from Tottenham Court Road down to Marble Arch, Oxford Street is the main shopping area of London's West End. Carnaby Street is located just off it. Number 100, Oxford Street was the address of the famous 100 Club, the venue which hosted the legendary punk festival of 20/21 September 1976, organised by Malcolm McLaren. It witnessed the debut performances of Siouxsie and the Banshees (with Sid Vicious on drums) and Subway Sect, plus appearances from the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned and the Buzzcocks.

Part Time Punks
The King's Road A street located in Chelsea, Central London, close to where Dan Treacy was born. One of the centres of the Swinging London scene in the Sixties, along with Carnaby Street. Also home of Malcolm McLaren's 'Sex' shop (the name was later changed to 'Seditionaries', also the title of an unreleased TVP song), where those part-time punks could buy their bondage trousers.
Rough Trade The Rough Trade independent record shop, founded in 1976 in Notting Hill, London.
Siouxsie and the Banshees Enduring punk survivors, formed in 1976. The nucleus of the band was singer Siouxsie and bassist Steve Severin, with Budgie on drums (from 1980). The band used various guitarists, including Robert Smith of The Cure, who enjoyed two spells with the band. Officially disbanded in 1996. Siouxsie and Budgie continue as The Creatures.
John Peel Legendary British broadcaster, who started out as a DJ in the States before returning to Britain in 1967. His work on the pirate station Radio London (see 'In A Perfumed Garden') led to him joining the BBC's Radio One upon its inception in 1967, a position he still holds. His late night programme 'Top Gear' introduced the concept of the 'Peel Session', whereby artistes record songs especially for the show. A great number of these sessions have since been released. Peel has established a reputation for his eclectic and wide-ranging playlists, which span many styles. He is also responsible for giving numerous new bands their first coverage over the airwaves.
O Level single Ed Ball's splinter group, whose 'Pseudo Punks' single is an obvious influence on this song.
Read About Seymour Contemporary debut single from friends of the TVPs, The Swell Maps, whose bass-player was a certain Jowe Head.
The Lurkers Punk band from Fulham, London. One of the first wave.
Pogo A 'dance' popularised by Punk audiences, which consisted of bouncing up and down as if on a pogo stick.

Where's Bill Grundy Now?
TV journalist and presenter, who conducted the infamous interview with the Sex Pistols on the 'Today' programme in 1976. See entry in the people section. The brief tune which is played on lead guitar at the start of this song is actually a short sample of the theme tune to the 'Today' show. Incidentally, this was voted 35th best single of 1979 by the NME!
Richard and Liz Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who were married to each other twice.

Happy Families
They met at the Roxy London's first significant Punk venue, in Covent Garden.
Poly Styrene Lead singer of the band X Ray Spex.
Mr and Mrs Strummer Joe Strummer of the Clash, presumably.
Hammersmith Palais A venue in Shepherds Bush, London's West End. '(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais' is also the title of a 1978 Clash single.

Posing at the Roundhouse
The Roundhouse The Roundhouse is a former railway engine turning shed in Chalk Farm, Camden, North London. It is famous for holding underground rock gigs in the Sixties by the likes of Pink Floyd and the Doors (the UFO and Middle Earth Clubs were held there). It remained a gig venue until falling into disuse in the early Eighties, but is now functioning once more as a venue for music and the arts.
When Billy's there Possibly a reference to Billy Idol, then singer of the band Generation X and something of a Punk icon.
the Marquee For details of the Marquee Club, see the entry for 'Geoffrey Ingram' below.

Smashing Time
The title of a 1967 film, set in Swinging London. See entry in the films section.
The Tower of London Situated on the banks of the Thames close to Tower Bridge, the Tower of London was first built in 1078 by William the Conqueror (1066-1087). During the Tower's long history it has served as a palace, prison, treasury, zoo and arsenal. The Crown Jewels are housed here.
Madame Tussaud's Famous waxwork museum, in Marylebone Road, London NW1.
the West End Always popular with tourists, London's West End is the shopping centre of the capital, and includes some of the city's most exclusive and expensive districts, including Kensington, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Belgravia and Soho. It also includes Westminster, home of the government. The West End is also where many of the capital's theatres are located.
London Dungeon Ghoulish tourist attraction in London, SE1.
Soho Area of West London and the historic home of the city's sex industry.
Wimpy Bar First seen on Britain's High Streets in 1954, Wimpy was the UK's first taste of the burger bar in the days before McDonald's etc. The first outlet opened in the Strand, in London's West End.
Hyde Park Largest of the parks in London. Famous features include the Serpentine lake, the Albert Memorial and Speakers Corner.
King's Road See entry above under 'Part Time Punks'.
Carnaby Street Made famous by Mary Quant in the Sixties, Carnaby Street's trendy boutiques in London's West End made it the centre of Swinging London's fashion scene.

King And Country
The title of a 1964 Joseph Losey film. See entry in the films section.
Single Version
Steal your memories from 'Dad's Army' A long-running BBC television comedy series (1968 - 1977) about a group of Home Guard soldiers during WWII. The Home Guard (the name was changed from the original Local Defence Volunteers) was set up to defend Britain in case of Nazi invasion, and consisted of volunteers who were either too old for conscription or otherwise exempt. These forces were known colloquially as the Dad's Army.
Album Version
Dan's lead guitar on the album version echoes The Byrds 'Eight Miles High'.

Away Day To Brighton (live)
From 'Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts'.
Brighton is a seaside town on the South coast of England, about 50 miles from London. It was a popular destination for scooter rallies - it's where the Mods head to in the film Quadrophenia. An 'Away Day Return' is a type of railway ticket.

Hello Edward (live)
From 'Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts'.
Edward worked in a shop Ed Ball apparently did work in a gunshop at an early point in his career.
Top of the Pops Long-running BBC pop chart show, first screened on New Year's Day, 1964.
The chorus borrows the tune from the traditional French song 'Frere Jacques'.

Girl On A Motorcycle (live)
From 'Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts'.
A 1968 film starring Marianne Faithful and Alain Delon. See entry in the films section.

Part Time Punks (live)
From 'Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts'.
the Monochrome Set An eccentric, art-school band formed in 1978 from early members of Adam and the Ants. They originally signed to Rough Trade, issuing three singles before being picked up by Virgin Records, who issued their debut album 'Strange Boutique' in 1980. This treatment of 'Part Time Punks' admirably mimics the early Monochrome Set sound. But why?

Red And Purple Flashes (live)
From 'Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts'.
This is probably an error on the sleeve of 'Paisley Shirts and Mini Skirts', as 'with' rather than 'and' would make more sense. 'Red with purple flashes' is widely attributed to how Eddie Phillips of cult band The Creation described their music in 1966, although 'purple with red flashes' is apparently the original quote. The quote appears on the sleeve of the TVPs debut album. The Creation, of course, impressed Alan McGee so much that he named his record label after them and called his own band Biff Bang Pow, the title of a Creation song. He later returned the favour by signing them when they reformed in the Nineties. For more information on The Creation, click here.
'Red With Purple Flashes' was also the debut single from Ed Ball's The Times, released on the Whaam! label in March 1981. The sleeve design featured a pastiche of Warhol's Campbell's soup cans.
If I had a ladder A lyric recycled in 'Painting By Numbers'.

I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives
Barrett was a founder member of Pink Floyd. See entry in the people section.
A little pet mouse In Pink Floyd's 'Bike', which closes the debut album 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', Barrett sings, 'I've got a mouse and he hasn't got a house'.
Musically, there are echoes here of the Pink Floyd song 'Brain Damage' from 1973's 'Dark Side Of The Moon'.

Arthur the Gardener
You've all been very kind A quote from the film The Elephant Man (1980), the true story of John Merrick, the celebrated 'elephant man' of Victorian England.

and don't the kids just love it

This Angry Silence
The Angry Silence is a British film from 1960. An example of the 'kitchen sink' social drama of the period, it stars Richard Attenborough as a young factory worker who makes a stand against his fellow workers and unions members when they stage a wildcat strike.

The Glittering Prizes
The title of a 1975 novel by Frederick Raphael concerning the lives and loves of a group of contemporary students at Cambridge University, from the mid-Fifties to the Seventies. The phrase reappears in 'Hard Luck Story Number 39'.

World Of Pauline Lewis
Mary Quant Sixties fashion designer, whose name is indelibly linked to the mini skirt.

Silly Girl
A train to Crewe A town in Cheshire, in the north of England, about 30 miles south of Liverpool. It is an important junction in the railway network.

Diary of a Young Man
The name of a 1964 TV play by Ken Loach, who later went on to direct such gritty social dramas as the TV plays Up The Junction and Cathy Come Home (both 1965), and the feature films Poor Cow (1967), Kes (1969) and My Name is Joe (1998).

Geoffrey Ingram
A character in Shelagh Delaney's play A Taste of Honey. The role was played by actor Murray Melvin in the 1961 film.
Oxfam shop In 1942, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief was set up in response to the Nazi occupation of Greece, and the subsequent Allied blockade which starved the civilian population of food and medical supplies. In the post-war era, Oxfam (as it became known) began to campaign for the relief of peoples affected by famine and war. To raise funds they operate numerous shops which sell used clothing and other goods, donated by the public.
Hammersmith Broadway A street in West London, W6.
the face The mod word for somebody whose clothes and record collection are incredibly hip and at the cutting edge of fashion. The Small Faces got their name for being 'faces' of below average height!
Safeways A supermarket chain.
a Jam gig The Jam; Mod / Who-influenced band consisting of Paul Weller (guitar, vocals), Bruce Foxton (bass) and Rick Buckler (drums). They released their first single in 1977 and became massively popular in the UK. Clearly, they were a big influence on the early TVP sound. They split up in 1982, with Weller forming the much-maligned Style Council.
The Marquee was sold out Originally a jazz club, the Marquee Club moved from Oxford Street to 90 Wardour Street in Soho in London's West End in March 1964. A key venue on the city's live music circuit, the club played host to more or less every big name from the last thirty years. In 1988 it moved premises to a former cinema in Charing Cross Road, a few streets away, and finally closed in 1996. The building is now a pub, apparently.
When this song was played live it often mutated into The Kinks 'David Watts' (also covered by the Jam), with which it shares lyrical and musical similarities. An example can be heard on the live album 'Camping In France'. The alternate take of this song, from the 'Three Wishes' single, also includes the tongue-in-cheek line 'This is the modern world', lifted from the Jam's third single, 'The Modern World', released in October 1977. Also, during the live version of 'I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives' on 'Chocolate Art', Dan reveals 'I know where Paul Weller lives' (although he doesn't divulge his address).

Jackanory Stories
'Jackanory' was a long-running BBC childrens TV programme screened from 1965 - 95. Over the course of a week, a narrator would read extracts from a childrens story, which was usually illustrated. Famous people who appeared on the programme include Peter Sellers, Kenneth Williams, Alan Bennett, Judi Dench and Prince Charles, who famously read one of his own works in 1984.
Travel Intercity Prior to privatisation of the UK railways in 1996, Intercity was the name of the section of British Rail which operated direct services between the major towns and cities of the country.

Parties In Chelsea
An area of Central London, where the King's Road can be found. Ed Ball is a keen supporter of Chelsea football club.

La Grande Illusion
The title of Jean Renoir's classic 1937 First World War Prisoner-of-War camp drama. See entry in the films section.

A Picture of Dorian Gray
The title of Oscar Wilde's supernatural novel, published in 1891. It tells the story of a hedonistic young man who retains his youthful looks while his increasingly dissolute ways causes his portrait, which is kept locked away in the attic, to age and become as twisted and ugly as his real personality.

Look Back In Anger
A play written by John Osborne, whose character Jimmy Porter introduced the stage to the concept of the Angry Young Man, when first staged in 1956 at the Royal Court Theatre. It was filmed in 1958, with Richard Burton playing Jimmy. Incidentally, the director of the film was Tony Richardson, who had produced the original theatrical staging. The same director is also responsible for A Taste of Honey (1961) (see entries for the film and Rita Tushingham), 1962's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (see entry for Tom Courtenay) and Tom Jones (1963, starring Albert Finney).
John Osborne also wrote a television play in the 1970s called 'You're Not Watching Me Mummy', which could have been an influence (thanks to Mark Sherrin for the info). It is also worth noting that 'A Sense of Detachment' is the title of a 1972 Osborne play - possibly echoed in 'A Sense of Belonging'?

Whaam! Records
Whaam! by Roy Lichtenstein The record label founded by Dan and Ed Ball took its name from a 1963 Roy Lichtenstein painting.

For more details of Lichtenstein, see the entry in the people section.

mummy your not watching me

A Day In Heaven
Saint Peter Traditionally the angel who stands at the entrance to Heaven, the Pearly Gates, welcoming new arrivals.
Richard Harris Irish actor, born 1930. Had a reputation for hard drinking and hell-raising. Oscar-nominated for his role as Rugby-playing Frank Machin in the gritty drama This Sporting Life (1963). Amongst his better-known films are Camelot (1967), A Man Called Horse (1970), Cromwell (1970), Robin and Marian (1976) and The Field (1990) (for which he earned a second Oscar nomination). Harris appeared in Gladiator alongside Oliver Reed. He died of cancer in October 2002 shortly after completing filming for the second Harry Potter film, in which he played Dumbledore.
Christine Keeler Girl at the centre of the Profumo Scandal in 1963. See entry in the people section.
Charles Manson American serial killer and leader of a sect (the 'Manson Family') who carried out a series of ritualised murders in California in 1969. A disturbed upbringing guided Manson towards a lifetime of crime; by the late 60s, the charismatic, self-styled Messiah had attracted a group of followers to his desert ranch outside Los Angeles. Under the drug-influenced belief that certain Beatles songs (particularly 'Helter Skelter') contained personal instructions, he initiated a murder spree. On 9 August 1969, a group of Manson's followers acting on his orders murdered five people at a Hollywood mansion rented by the director Roman Polanski, who was away filming. The victims included, most infamously, the beautiful actress Sharon Tate, Polanski's pregnant wife. Two days later, Manson himself assisted in the slaughter of the LaBiancas, owners of a small supermarket chain. Charged with nine murders, Manson was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1971.
The live version from the 'Alive In The Living Room' album mentions Harpers & Queen, which is an up-market lifestyle and fashion magazine, formed in 1968 with the merger of Harper's Bazaar and Queen magazines.

Mummy Your Not Watching Me
'You're Not Watching Me Mummy' is the title of a John 'Look Back in Anger' Osborne television play, from the 1970s. A possible influence. Thanks to Mark Sherrin for the tip.

David Hockney's Diaries (long version)
British artist. See entry in the people section.
Note that David Hockney's Diaries is the title of a short documentary film made in 1973, in which Hockney himself talks through his personal photograph albums which constitute his diaries.
Isn't it good to be lost in the wood A lyric borrowed from Syd Barrett's 'Octopus', a song on his debut solo album, 'The Madcap Laughs' (1970).
Bruce gets all the girls Dan quotes himself! See 'And Don't the Kids Just Love It' below.
I use Fairy Liquid A brand of household detergent for washing dishes, sold on the gimmick that it's kind to your hands. The phrase 'Mummy knows best' was also used as a catch phrase in their adverts.

Painting By Numbers
A childrens painting set where a picture is divided up into numbered sections, to be filled in using the colour matched from the numbered palette.
Andy Warhol Pop artist. See entry in the people section.
White House Official residence of the President of the United States of America, in Washington DC.
Frank Sinatra 1915 - 1998. Popular American singer who also found acclaim as a film actor.
Letters eight miles high An obvious nod towards The Byrds' 'Eight Miles High'.
The Kremlin Moscow palace, home of the Russian President.
Pow! A word evocative of Pop Art. It brings to mind one of Lichtenstein's famous comic strip captions.

Lichtenstein Painting
Roy Lichtenstein, Pop Art painter. See entry in the people section.
She looks like the drowning girl 'The Drowning Girl' is a 1963 Lichtenstein painting.
International Rescue The name of the organisation in Gerry Anderson's Sixties puppet series, 'Thunderbirds'.

And Don't The Kids Just Love It
A Jam tribute / pastiche. The Times famously impersonated the band during a gig in London's Rock Garden, in Covent Garden. Invited to play at an event to promote the compilation LP 'A Splash of Colour', which sought to cash in on the contemporary paisley revival, Dan and Ed subversively played their set as the Jam, and left the stage after trashing their instruments.
Girl on the phone Opening track on The Jam's fourth album, 'Setting Sons' (1979).
Carnaby Street See 'Smashing Time' above for info. A Jam song with the same title was also the b-side to the band's second single, 'All Around The World', released in July 1977.
Bruce gets all the girls Bruce Foxton was the bassist in The Jam. This line also appears in the long version of 'David Hockney's Diaries'.
Stop! Possibly a pun on 'Start!', the Jam's eleventh single released in August 1980, and their second UK number one. It was itself based on the Beatles' 'Taxman'.
Dave Musker comments that 'and don't the kids...' was a quote they adopted as a catchphrase, possibly taken from the TV pop show 'Ready Steady Go'.

Biff Bang Pow
Creation cover, aptly released on a Creation Records flexi. Television Personalities have covered several Creation songs. Studio recordings of this song, 'Making Time' and 'Painter Man' have been released; in addition, 'How Does It Feel To Feel' was played live from time to time. Dan and Ed Ball hoped to re-release the Creation singles on their Whaam! label in the early Eighties, but were unable to licence them. Note also that Creation Records boss Alan McGee named his own band after this song. Ed Ball's The Times also included a song of the same name on their debut LP, but it was not a cover. The inner sleeve of the Jam's third album, 'All Mod Cons' featured a montage of Creation items which included the American 7" single of this song.

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