Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sunday 21 April 1963

And what, you may well ask, is a Granatoid Tank? Well, it's a near-unstoppable tank driven by the evil robotic Granatoids.  Here's one, with its grumpy face, and its equally grumpy occupants (being robots, they talk in exactly the same way as Fireball XL5 pilot Robert).

George? Gerald? Grenville? We're never told
The Granatoids are bulldozing their way around Planet 73, recently discovered by the people of Earth, and being surveyed by a pair of Germanic scientists who are terrified of the unfriendly robots.  Helpfully, they sketch in some information about the Granatoids: "Zere is nussing zat can stop zem - zey are robots of hostile intelligence zat have been seeking a home for years."

Considering all they want's a  home, and Planet 73 seems a pretty unpromising spot, it strikes me that the best thing might just be to pack up and leave it to the Granatoids - but what do I know? Anyway, back at Space City there's the equally urgent problem of Space Doctor Venus's upcoming birthday.  Steve Zodiac and Matt Matic have decided to pool their resources and buy her a record she might like, and head to Space City's number one music-buying destination, Ma Doughty's record shop.

Ma Doughty herself is a ridiculous Oirish washerwoman stereotype (near enough every other word is "begorrah"), and the pale-eyed, lumpy-faced, eyebrowless utility puppet used for her looks distinctly sinister.

Still, she certainly seems to know her music, recommending "Formula 5", a gorgeous Barry Gray jazz tune.  At this distance it seems unlikely that people in 2063 will be buying jazz instrumentals on vinyl from little old ladies in record shops, but it's certainly a nice thought.  Here's a snatch of "Formula 5" for you.

As well they might, Steve and Matt groove away to the tune ("it sure is a cool number," judges Steve) in Ma Doughty's listening area (featuring various props familiar from earlier episodes)...

...but then they spot a strange, piano-like instrument in the corner.  It's an electrorchestra, which can reproduce the sound of any instrument.  You might almost call it some sort of "synthesiser".  Matt, showing a hitherto unsuspected musical side, gives us an expert demonstration (playing the standard Fireball XL5 "twist" tune used on the surprisingly frequent occasions in the show we see someone having a bit of a bop - as Steve and Ma Doughty do here).

Money clearly being no object, Steve and Matt decide to upgrade Venus's present from a 7" single to the massive (and presumably very pricey) electrorchestra.  Ma Doughty agrees to deliver it to Fireball XL5, but burning with desire to travel in space due to her Pappy being an early astronaut, she stows away in the box herself.  Eventually she's discovered when the XL5 crew head off to Planet 73 to answer the scientists' distress call.

Kept aboard the ship to ensure she doesn't get in the Granatoids' way, Ma Doughty insists that her Pappy bequeathed to her the secret of defeating the robots.  Nobody's in the mood to listen to a crazy Irish stereotype, though.  But it turns out that Ma's necklace is made from plyton, an incredibly scarce mineral fatal to Granatoids, and by standing in front of them she manages to frighten them off (I told you she was scary looking).

"Return to Granatoid!" the head robot commands, raising the question of why they're looking for a home if they've already got one.  No answer's forthcoming.

With crazy old Ma Doughty vindicated, and Venus's birthday here, it's time to party like its 2099!

The Granatoid Tanks is here, for your delectation.

Far back in the mists of time, we return to Noggin, King of the Nogs' quest to catch the wicked Arab who's stolen his crown.

Noggin's flying machine is airborne once more, and has reached the Sea of Silver Sand.  Spying a little house by a stream, Noggin and chums set the flying boat down, though Thor Nogsson's terrified the house belongs to an evil wizard.

He's half right: the occupant's a wizard, but a friendly one named Haroun Ibn-Dowd with a peculiar-looking genie (of which Thor Nogsson's predictably terrified) as his servant.

Haroun's more than happy to help Noggin in his search, revealing that the rightful king of the land has been usurped by his evil uncle.  He lends Noggin the genie to help, as well as disguises and mounts for him and Thor.  I can only quote Oliver Postgate's narration here: "Noggin looked quite peculiar.  And Thor Nogsson, veiled and robed like an Arab lady, looked even odder."

I'm not sure how we're meant to take the fact that Thor, with his massive beard, is playing the woman of the two.  To complete his humiliation, he has a great deal of trouble with his steed.

"Have you got any which haven't got pointed tops?"
You can watch the omnibus edition of parts 3 and 4 of Noggin and the Flying Machine here.

And now for some music.  Gerry and the Pacemakers are still topping the charts with "How Do You Do It?".  Up to number 4 this week here's Tommy Roe with "The Folk Singer".

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