Wasted on the Youth Guest Blog: Clinic’s Brian Campbell on The Young Ones | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Wasted on the Youth Guest Blog: Clinic’s Brian Campbell on The Young Ones

Sep 30, 2010
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(Under the Radar's Summer 2010 Issue is a special issue named the Wasted on the Youth Issue that features musicians and actors talking about their childhood memories and things they loved when they were kids. We're also posting web-exclusive essays that were not printed in the issue, including this one by Brian Campbell, bassist for Liverpool, England's Clinic.)

During my first year at high school, most of the other kids in our year were subjected to regular humiliating experiences by the older kids such as heads being flushed down the toilet, dinner money being taken from them, and other subtle forms of torture. My friend and I managed to escape such horrifying events due to our childhood obsession. We had an ace up our sleeve. We could recite verbatim full episodes of the TV show The Young Ones. Not only that, we could also do cracking impressions of the main characters, so when the scary iron fist of the bigger kids presented itself and came looming down the cold corridors, we'd start to impersonate Rik, Vyvyan, Neil, and Mike, and the older kids would generally laugh and turn their sadistic intentions to the other kids.

To view the show was not the easiest task to say the least. It was on BBC2 on Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. At that age, bedtime was set to 9 p.m. You'd sneakily watch it in your bedroom with the volume almost inaudible, praying your parents didn't hear. For some reason, this made it even better. Also, my friend's older sister would record the shows and we'd rush home from school, and spend our weekendsand our long hot summer holidaysindoors watching each episode over and over and over and over again, whilst our peers would be outside, playing football, getting fresh air, meeting girls and getting a tanlosers!

The shows were taped on his Ferguson Videostar VHS recorder. A state of the art piece of machinery at the time that was also the same size as Luxembourg. The Young Ones wasn't just the funniest TV show of the '80s, it also proved educational. It exposed us to a certain amount of left wing political and sexual views, and, more importantly, it showcased a number of musical acts that wouldn't usually be shown on TV. Acts included Madness, Motorhead (I still know all the words to "Ace of Spades"), The Damned (the original lineup with Captain Sensible on guitar), John Otway, and Amazulu. For the latter act we were thankful for the visionary Ferguson Videostar fast-forward feature on the remote control that was attached to the VCR by a wire! There was also an act called The Ken Bishop Nice Twelve who played a version of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." The act consisted of a number of famous faces, including Jools Holland, Stewart Copeland, and Chris Difford. For years to come, I would always think that Stewart Copeland was the drummer with Squeeze. There were also many references to other bands such as The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, Cliff Richard, Hawkwind, Marillion, and Simon & Garfunkel. This just somehow all added up to make the show even cooler.

My favorite episode was "Bambi," which featured Motorhead, and, amongst other things, dangerous aggressive escaping socks, the classic example of an only child, exploding washing machines, crop rotation in the 14th century, Toxteth O'Grady USA, decapitation, bacon sandwich, Mexican bandits, Disney nasties, smashing the oiks, a giant éclair, and Dr. Not The Nine O'Clock News all crammed into one episode. This show is closely followed by the episode "Sick," which involves projectile snot, acupuncture with 6-inch nails, an armed siege, and a negative reality inversion. Pure genius.

Many years on, we still get together, and after a few drinks, we can still annoy and bore our friends to tears about The Young Ones. We are self-confessed nerdy fans of the show and have been obsessed with it since childhood. There is still the ability to recite the lines, but sadly my memory for the scripts isn't what it used to be. My friend's memory, however, still is. So here's a friendly warning. If you happen to find yourself on, say, a long flight sat next to an Englishman with blond hair called Gareth, don't mention The Young Ones. This might make the flight slightly longer and even more unbearable.

(Brian Campebell is the bassist for Clinic, who formed in Liverpool, England in 1997. The band's latest album, Bubblegum, is released on October 4th. The Young Ones was a British comedy show that originally aired in England from 1982 to 1984. It developed a U.S. cult following when MTV started screening it; where it was one of the then-fledgling network's first non-music shows.)



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