Posts Tagged With: dance

Uptown Funk: The CBeebies Edition

Do. Do-DO-Do, Do-DO-Do, Do-Do. You’re humming it now, aren’t you? Oh, it’s catchy. It’s one of the most cynically manipulative records since ‘The Living Years’, a cocktail of old sounds under a modern groove, several records ripped off (amateurs borrow, experts steal) in order to make a song that teenagers play loudly through their phones in those evening alcopop sessions in the park, even as their parents dance badly to it at the office disco. It is masterfully produced, expertly performed and I love it. Say what you like about the state of contemporary music; Mark Ronson’s a genius.

I first encountered ‘Uptown Funk’ at Butlins, in February last year, where it featured in the finale of Diversity‘s street dance act. They were tight, they were effortlessly entertaining and I was humming that song for weeks. Winter turned into spring and someone did a lipdub featuring hundreds of classic movies. Then someone else did a montage using dance sequences. Then someone else did the same thing with the Golden Age of Hollywood. I have not linked to any of these because chances are you’ve seen them, and because my own meagre offering – proud of it as I am – does tend to pale into insignificance. But that’s OK. “Always,” said Max Ehrmann, “there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Here’s a reflection on parenting. When you’re faced with the prospect of bad behaviour, you can sometimes circumvent it by simply upstaging it. One evening in August I had to entertain four tired, slightly fractious children – and a very well-behaved dog – in the van in a Lidl car park while Emily shopped. I did this by turning up the radio, and singing along to ‘Uptown Funk’ at the top of my voice, accompanied by with the sort of extravagant, flamboyant Dad dancing that would make Carlton Banks raise an eyebrow. In doing so I attracted the attention of several passers-by, as well as the cashiers in Lidl, who stared in bemusement while Emily pretended she didn’t know who I was.

When we were done, Thomas said “Dad, that was really embarrassing.”

I said “You think that was embarrassing? You just wait and see what I’ve got planned for your teenage years.”


Fast forward to October, and the video you saw at the beginning. I won’t go into the details, except to say that I restricted myself to HD clips only, which is why certain programmes aren’t featured (I’d have loved to have included Big Cook, Little Cook, but the surviving footage on YouTube really is rather grainy). In a way, that sort of self-imposed limitation made things easier, because otherwise you find yourself floundering under the weight of serious choice fatigue. There are so many CBeebies programmes (past and present) in which dancing features. Several shows are featured more than once, partly because they fit but partly because I was exhausted and just wanted to finish the thing. This was as painstakingly down-to-the-frame as anything I’ve ever done, and hopefully it shows, at least in the decent parts.

The first person I showed it to was Alan Gilbey. “It’s good,” he said, “but it needs more Dinopaws!”. Which gave me another idea, but that’s still in the works, so you can’t see it yet. In the meantime, this went on YouTube and round the houses (I’ve been informed, anecdotally, that several people who are in it saw it and liked it) and there it now sits, drawing in a steady stream of visitors. Certainly the hit count – 105,000 as we go to press – is gratifying, and as close to ‘viral’ as I am ever likely to get.

Just in case you’re interested, here’s a list of all the shows featured, in order of first appearance:

Show Me Show Me
Let’s Play
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Number Raps
The Lingo Show
The Tweenies
Dinosaur Raps
CBeebies Pantos: Strictly Cinderella
Something Special: We’re All Friends
My Story
The Three Little Pigs
Tilly and Friends
Charlie and Lola
Furchester Hotel
Peter Rabbit
Tree Fu Tom
Make Way For Noddy
Justin’s House
Sarah and Duck
Mr Bloom: Get Set Grow
Small Potatoes
Grandpa in my Pocket
Wussywat the Clumsy Cat
Let’s Celebrate
Baby Jake
Hey Duggee
Lunchtime Song
Same Smile
Mister Maker Round The World
Old Jack’s Boat
Katie Morag
Carrie and David’s Pop Shop
Swashbuckle does ‘Happy’
CBeebies Prom
In The Night Garden
The Let’s Go Club

Would I do it differently now? Probably. There are vague synchronicity issues I’d like to fix, mostly near the beginning (I swear the original is correct; I think it happened during the YouTube encoding). On the other hand it mostly works. A couple of scenes still make me wince. But I am pleased, in particular, with the way it unfolds in the last minute. Don’t believe me? Just watch.

(Yeah, you knew that was coming.)

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The Doctor Dances

In the first instance, this may be the silliest thing I’ve ever done.

It all stemmed from a conversation at the tail end of the school run, one afternoon last week. Daniel suggested – as we rounded the corner by the one-day-a-week bookshop and the Indian restaurant where Emily booked a surprise birthday meal back in the summer of 2009 – that ballet was not a boy’s thing, and that only girls did it. I immediately informed him that there was a thriving boy’s ballet scene, and indeed that one of the most famous ballets in the book, Swan Lake, was repackaged in an all-male form some twenty years ago. Ballet, I reassured them, required stamina and as much physical prowess as any sport. Girls could do it, and many did, but there was no reason why boys couldn’t follow suit.

Sadly our children aren’t quite old enough for Billy Elliot. I could show them the T-Rex montage, I suppose, but it really doesn’t carry the same emotional resonance stripped out of its narrative. It’s one reason why I always get twitchy when I see the likes of ‘Memory’ performed at variety shows and revues, for example, because ‘Memory’ doesn’t mean a goddamned thing if you take it out of Cats. Similarly, Clint Eastwood’s “Do I feel lucky?” monologue at the end of Dirty Harry means nothing if you haven’t seen the earlier encounter (with a youthful Danny Glover, no less) in order that the two might be compared for tone, context and eventual outcome. You wouldn’t look up isolated scenes from Doctor Who and watch them on YouTube, would you? You would? Oh well, carry on then.

But amidst the random thoughts and images that were passing through my head that particular afternoon, one got snagged on a stray branch and lingered, and that was my review of ‘Asylum of the Daleks’. It’s a rubbish episode, but it was around that time, as I remembered, that I first really started to notice Matt Smith’s tendency to lapse into dance routines. Oh, I know there’s a lot of dancing in Eleventh-era Doctor Who. There are so many GIFs of that ridiculous ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ wedding scene that you could almost fill a Tumblr page with them. It’s probably got its own weather system. I don’t mean the dancing that is supposed to be dancing. I mean this.


I know even less about ballet than I do about football, so yes, I’m sure the feet are wrong. He’s a Time Lord. They’re probably Gallifreyan steps. There’s probably fan-fiction. No, don’t bother looking it up.

Things are much the same by the time we reach ‘The Rings of Akhaten’, an episode that features an awful lot of cavorting around the console, as only Smith knows how. That console has been the scene for many a merry dance, as multiple prior incarnations of the Doctor leap from switch to valve to dial to lever in the manner of Victor Frankenstein in his laboratory, before proclaiming (as Tennant did, in a sensationally stupid bit of revisionism) that the reason they did this was because the TARDIS is “designed to have six pilots, and I have to do it single handed”. I don’t think anyone actually believes this, any more than they believe River’s assertion that the TARDIS only wheezes because the Doctor leaves the brakes on. The leaping remains. But no one did it with quite as much visual panache as Smith did, and it really did seem to be the right moment to actually document this visually.

Edward wouldn’t sleep Friday night, so he kept me company as we went through every one of the Eleventh Doctor’s episodes looking for appropriate visual material, which is far less tedious (and which took less time) than it sounds. I wouldn’t pretend to be an expert choreographer, but I did at least try and match up the musical cadences with what the Doctor was doing, and I do hope that comes across. Musical choices were obvious – it couldn’t really be anything but ‘Dance of the Reed Flutes’. It’s just so airy.

I went to see the Nutcracker years ago, actually, in Covent Garden, and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle, even though there wasn’t much of a story (girl meets nutcracker / nutcracker develops sentience and fights off mouse / dancing confectionery). I had been ill the day before and the day after, laid up in bed with a stomach bug, when Emily came in to check how I was feeling.

“I might regenerate,” I managed to murmur between coughs. “I don’t know. It feels different this time…”

There’s still hope for my children, but I think I might be a lost cause.


Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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