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Clive James - narrator, 1982 FOCA video


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#1 Catch 22

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 01:39

All -

Being new around here, I've been spending *lots* of time reading all of the old threads on this forum, beginning in November 1999 and working forward from there. Big fun! I stumbled across one today from last December in which the subject was Gilles Villeneuve, and the originator mentioned watching the 1982 season-in-review video which I assume was the one produced by FOCA.

Now, 1982 was one of the most amazing seasons ever, fraught with horror and loaded with surprises, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. My question is simple: Who was/is Clive James, the narrator of the FOCA video, and has he ever done anything else in the same vein?

His commentary on that program is one of the funniest 90 minutes I've ever heard, and if there are any more like it, I must have them! I've watched that video far more times than all the others I have put together, and it never fails to tickle me (despite the tragic memories it resurrects).

Many thanks for any information you can provide.

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#2 Wolf

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 01:45

I'm sure that more informed people on this Forum will correct me if I'm wrong on this one. The only Clive James I've heard of is an OZ who used to do many TV shows (I've seen documentaries about various places- NY, London &c) with ever present sense of humour and irony. I belive I've seen this one too.

#3 Bernd

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 01:48

Clive James is an Australian ex-patriot who now lives in London he is a professional comedian who excels in doing shows on cities of the world ie Postcards from NY, Postcards from Paris etc. I was not aware that he had done a F1 video I will have to get that one :) He is as you say very amusing!

#4 Wolf

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 01:51

How did he become ex-patriot (how does anyone for that matter)?

#5 Bernd

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 02:33

I think it may actually just be expatriot actually. All it means it that you have moved to another country from your place of birth.

#6 Bernd

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 02:41

DOH! Got it wrong twice the word is actually EXPATRIATE

#7 MattFoster

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 02:56

Clive James is an Australian writer who is based in the UK.

He hosts a talk show and does occasional Postcard documentaries.

He has done at least two FOCA season reviews. 82 and 84 and I am sure at least one from the 90's

He is very witty and a very big F1 fan so he knows his stuff, not like Peter Ustinov in 1987. Ustinov is a very funny man but he sounded uncomfortable at best reading the script he was handed.

Cheers
Matt

#8 doohanOK

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 05:37

Clive James was born in Australia, and now lives in England.

He no longer has his talk show (in which often would appear Damon Hill every now and again), he currently has decided to cease that effort and is apparently getting back to writing, of which he has written many books.

His brilliant "Postcards" series featured James going to all sorts of places, and putting them all into in a funny sense of humour and irony.

regards,
doohanOK.

#9 Barry Lake

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 06:22

He does have a clever wit but I met him once, didn't like him at all.

Mention of Peter Ustinov, though, reminds me of his brilliant c.1955 record "Grand Prix du Roc". Hilarious at the time - and would be to 1950s fans on The Nostalgia Forum, but it would go "over the heads" of anyone not familiar with the times.

Absolutely brilliant.

Ustinov always reminded me of Duncan Hamilton - and vice versa.


#10 William Dale Jr

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 06:23

Clive James also appeared at the 1993 Australian F1GP Celebrity race, being the only male representative in a field full of females (well, Dame Edna Everage was there too with Neil Crompton in the passenger's seat, but lets not get into that...). He also made a few shows around F1, one before the 1997 season and one where he spent a weekend in the Jordan team at Adelaide in 1995. The latter I have on tape, and it also features Clive getting both Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher into the same room for an interview, courtesy of a certain B. Ecclestone Esq... Clive also did FOCA's 1986 F1 Season Review video.

#11 david_martin

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 06:51

Originally posted by Barry Lake

Mention of Peter Ustinov, though, reminds me of his brilliant c.1955 record "Grand Prix du Roc". Hilarious at the time - and would be to 1950s fans on The Nostalgia Forum, but it would go "over the heads" of anyone not familiar with the times.

Absolutely brilliant.

Ustinov always reminded me of Duncan Hamilton - and vice versa.


Who could forget Girling Floss (complete with Ustinov provided sound effects) ?[p][Edited by david_martin on 11-05-2000]

#12 Barry Boor

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 07:54

To give anyone a taste of the humour in that 1982 video; there was a collision at the final hairpin at Long Beach. Without looking at the film, and I don't have time right now, I think it was Giacomelli shunting into the back of Arnoux, (apologies if tthe drivers are wrong.)

Clive:
"And then Giacomelli drop-kicked Arnoux out of the race at the hairpin. Arnoux hardly laughed at all......."

#13 Darren Galpin

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Posted 03 November 2000 - 08:10

The big thing about that celebrity race was that before he was entered, he couldn't drive. A TV program here documented his driving lessons (did a week of lessons and took the test), and then went racing. I don't remember it being all female though - I could have sworn Rowan Atkinson was racing there too.

#14 William Dale Jr

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Posted 04 November 2000 - 02:05

No, totally sure the race was all female - bar Clive, of course. The promoters at Adelaide had all-female celebrity races in 1993 and 1994, which were all female except for one entrant each year, Clive in 1993 and Plucka Duck (for those who don't know, he was a character on Australian TV).

#15 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 04 November 2000 - 11:11

Jame's is probably more famous now for his appearances on British TV. However, he is a well respected writer with some novels and poetry to his credit. I first came upon him when he was the TV critic of the Observer newspaper between 1972 and 1982. His reviews were often witty and insightful. Many of them were collated into three anthology books, "Visions before Midnight", "The Crystal Bucket" and "Glued to the Box". Well worth tracking down. His autobiography is also very funny. I have read parts 1 and 2, "Unreliable Memoirs" and "Falling Towards England". A third book also exists now but I don't know its name. He is quite an intellectual with a huge interest in the classic arts, especially ballet, but I do feel he has "Dummed Down" over the year for his TV audiences.

#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 November 2000 - 14:11

At least twice I have seen him with a fairly large selection of drivers from the upcoming GP joking around with them, looking at their personalities... he once had David Coulthard show off his worn out 'lucky' underpants, for instance, and it was really all quite funny.

#17 nigel red5

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Posted 05 November 2000 - 01:24

F1 programmes that Clive James has presented include...

1. The F1 season reviews 1982, 1984 & 1986.
2. The Clive James Grand Prix show (Australia 1995)
3. Clive James meets Damon Hill (1996)
4. The Clive James F1 show (pre-season 1997) with 14 F1
drivers in the studio.

#18 Catch 22

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Posted 05 November 2000 - 02:53

Thanks much, Nige!

I have a pretty dire dub of the '82 tape and have never seen either of the 1984 or 1986 reviews. Anybody know where I might be able to purchase new copies of all three of them? While I'd love to see the others as well, I imagine they'd be impossible to find stateside.

#19 Barry Boor

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Posted 05 November 2000 - 08:25

Steve, I would go to http://www.dukevideo.com

They are the #1 suppliers of motorsport videos in the U.K. and if you contact them they might just have the facility to produce on U.S. format cassettes.

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#20 Catch 22

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Posted 07 November 2000 - 03:58

Thanks, Barry! I'll do just that. (I think they have an American outlet as well, actually.)

My favorite line from the 1982 video: "... and here's a big girl." Then there's the discourse on the woman almost run down in Austria...

#21 lofong

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 21:16

While searching unsuccessfully for something totally unrelated, I stumbled across this old thread. What a great character with a very perceptive eye and a wonderful turn of phrase!

I always personally recall Clive James, from an even earlier era than mentioned here, as host of the old "Cinema" TV program, around the late 60s maybe, where I believe he replaced Michael Parkinson as presenter. Later in the 1970s he also had a career in the rock world, writing lyrics and touring with the now-forgotten Pete Atkin. Thankfully he was a long time F-1 fan so he brought his wit directly into our world. Living away from the U.K. these days, I haven't heard much of him in a long while.

I seem to recall reading that he turned his back on the sport in disgust immediately after the Austrian GP in 2002.

Did he keep this promise or has he been back since?

#22 Alan Cox

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 21:38

Clive's absence from terrestial TV is a great loss. I understand that he now devotes all his time to internet broadcasting - I don't know if his face and style suddenly didn't fit in with the way TV has gone in the last 5 or 6 years. I suspect he is probably just too clever and witty for it nowadays.

http://www.clivejames.com/index.cfm

#23 Haddock

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 21:40

I have the 1986 video - and very enjoyable it is too, he has an amusingly dry style . Dare I say that James Allen could learn a lot from him.....

"John Player was the first billboard off the line, carried at high speed by Ayrton Senna' Lotus"

"Mansell was left to draw the conclusion that ethics have little bearing on tactics"

"Balestre removed his shades, so as to give our camera the full benefit of his charisma"

"De Cesaris blew a turbo but wittily managed to spray oil over a large section of the track before coming to rest"

etc etc

#24 FerrariV12

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 22:13

Clive James is definitely my favourite narrator out of all the F1 season review videos I own (1981-1997). To be honest I didn't know why they didn't have him doing it regularly in the mid 1980s. The girl on that 1983 tape makes me want to blow my brains out : , and the 1985 format of having the drivers talk through their races, while maybe original and quite insightful, just doesn't seem to flow very well (after all they are professional racing drivers, not commentators). James' own brand of humour, coupled with his genuine enthusiasm and knowledge, is a winning combination for me every time

#25 Hank the Deuce

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 22:48

I recall a doco on the Las Vegas GP from 1981, shown on TV a good 15-odd years ago, that Clive did. Highlights included Alan Jones talking about his exploits on the gaming tables, John Watson describing the effects on his equilibrium, of shooting through the concrete canyons... can't recall much more of it than that...

#26 mctshirt

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 05:51

This may be of interest...an essay on Nikki Lauda that somehow involves humour AND the second law of thermodynamics:
http://www.clivejame.....0Nikki Lauda/

I seem to recall James being known as GLA (Greatest Living Australian) but I can't remember where, the UK possibly. I do remember being struck when reading one of his books that he learnt to read in Russian because he didn't feel he was getting the full meaning of Doestoevesky in an English translation. Now thats dedication.

#27 repcobrabham

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 06:56

i haven't seen any of these annuals (yet) but i cannot recommend unreliable memoirs highly enough: as one of the reviews said, do not read this book in public if you are at all self-conscious about suddenly shrieking with laughter...

#28 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 07:40

'Twas me - six year ago (blimey).

The TV review books are excellent too - for those old enough to remember TV in the 70s. James' TV comments weren't restricted to the finer points of dramas and plays. He was quite willing to discuss the political ramifications of Nixon's resignation in 1974, the moral ethics of Albert Speer's regular appearances on British TV, Bobby Charllton's hairstyle in "Superstars" or the uncanny resemblance of the Starship Enterprise's bridge to a Wimpy Bar.

We don't see or hear enough of him these days.

Having said that he was one of the guests on Graham Norton's show last night. Unfortunately, as is ever the case these days, he wasn't allowed to talk for long enough as Norton takes up far too much air time with his tele-prompted "witicisms".

#29 isynge

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 08:00

Surprised this hasn't been mentioned elsewhere in this thread, but his anthology, "Snakecharmers in Texas" has quite a few race review articles in it dating from the mid-1980s.

They're among the best observed and wittiest pieces of writing about motor sport out there. Well worth tracking down.

#30 Lec CRP1

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 08:45

There's a report of the 1984 Portugal GP by Clive James here, originally printed in the Observer. I remember reading it when it was reprinted in Oct 2002 and thinking "Ah, so this is what a real writer can do with a Grand Prix report." No offence to Jenkinson, Roebuck, Hughes, Hamilton etc, of course. Well, maybe a little bit towards Roebuck...

#31 James Page

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 08:50

Not sure if this one came from the 1981 or 1982 season review, but at the end of it, he said something along the lines of, "the teams packed up to go home, and the drivers went off for candlelit dinners with their accountants."

#32 petefenelon

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 09:06

Originally posted by lofong
Later in the 1970s he also had a career in the rock world, writing lyrics and touring with the now-forgotten Pete Atkin. Thankfully he was a long time F-1 fan so he brought his wit directly into our world. Living away from the U.K. these days, I haven't heard much of him in a long while.


Pete is far from forgotten (well, you could argue he was forgotten right from the start!) and is indeed still active in music. After the end of the CJ/PA recording contract in the mid 70s he became a carpenter and DIY enthusiast but eventually moved into radio production with the BBC where he was involved with various early-80s light entertainment and was largely responsible for This Sceptred Isle; he also continued to write, play and sing at a lower level.

His six 1970s albums reappeared early in the decade, a couple of discs of 'rediscovered' 1970s material were recorded ("A Dream of Fair Women" and "History and Geography") and one album of entirely new Clive/Pete material has been released - "Winter Spring". It's every bit as good as the old stuff. Pete and Clive occasionally tour, with Clive reading bits of his poetry and memoirs and telling the story behind some of the songs.

Quite a lot of Clive's lyrics appear in "The Book Of My Enemy (has been remaindered)" along with a selection of Clive's other verse.

"Smash Flops", the Pete Atkin website has pretty much everything you could want to know about Pete's career and collaboration with Clive.

Not that I'm a CJ/PA fan or anything ;P

(I should also add that much of the early story of their partnership is in Vol. III ("May Week Was In June") of Clive's Unreliable Memoirs (a sort of Last Open Road for intellectuals ;)) and that Vol. IV has just appeared - don't have it yet.)


#33 Jerome

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 10:38

Clive James has even written about... Wimbledon. It's way off-topic, but if there are any people curious, I'll post a little