And so, my little ones, we come to the end of our long journey and coincidentally the beginning of my new life in Korea. On Wednesday 28 March 2003, the day JP broadcast a session by Prewar Yardsale, we flew to Incheon Airport and began the last six years of East Asian heaven in the year of the Sheep (having missed an arsonist killing 190 people on a train in Daegu in March). The UK said goodbye to BBC Choice (and Maurice Gibb, Noel Redding, Nina Simone and Johnny Cash) and hello to BBC Three. The US, Australia, Poland and the UK joined forces and invaded Iraq, an operation followed in real time by the BBC (as opposed to the Falklands, when pictures arrived in England after what seemed like 200 years). What marvellous benefits the digital age had brought us.
Anyway, as Tony Blair was slowly digging his own grave, Arsenal beat Southampton 1-0 to carry off the FA Cup, Italian scientists cloned a horse called Prometea, an earthquake in Algeria killed 2,200 in May, and the discovery of the body of David Kelly, a scientist at the Ministry of Defence, a few miles from his home prompted the Hutton Enquiry. August saw a massive power blackout in southeast England which knocked out 60% of the Underground, but this was nothing compared to the blackout in Italy the following month, which affected 56 million people.
(A TV-related theme using one word follows).
- Back from the dead: Dirty Den in Eastenders, and After Dark on Channel 4.
- Very quickly dead: Brian Conley’s Judgement Day game show, which was cancelled after two episodes due to low ratings (the second quickest cancellation in TV history).
- Wishing it was dead: Star Trek was recast as Enterprise and then Star Trek: Enterprise (the words horse and flog come to mind).
- Knock me dead: gay kisses on All My Children (USA) and Coronation Street (UK).
The final Festive Fifty presided over by John Peel was broadcast on Christmas and Boxing Day. The Fall nearly made it to the top spot with Theme From Sparta F.C. (a remixed version would top the posthumous chart the following year). Prime movers, though, were Cinerama, curiously the only time any part of the Wedding Present had a FF number one. Happy hardcore, long championed first by John’s children then by him, finally made an appearance at number 9 in the form of CLSM’s John Peel Is Not Enough. And listen to John’s reaction to Amsterdam’s Does This Train Stop On Merseyside? which was used when a locomotive was recently dedicated to him.
No complete recording of both shows seems to be online at the moment, so I have excavated the chart rundown alone, split into songs, and zipped up in six parts.
Well, it’s been a pleasure taking you through the years and filling up your Peel collections at the same time. I’ll sign off from this month-long extravaganza with one of my favourite tracks from the year, from the band who never did a Peel session. Really. One more thing. It’s been emotional.