21. Depression

Tapehead no 21

Tapehead is having a mid-life crisis. And who can blame him after what he’s been watching this week ?

Seven years ago, Andrew Weston-Webb, a 45-year-old marketing manager in the City, had a home in the suburbs, a family company car, and a £50,000 salary.

“I threw it all away in order to find myself,” he explains to
40 Minutes in Portrait of a Mid-life Crisis.

“I felt completely screwed down by the demands of the job…I was working all the hours under the sun, then coming home and just collapsing in front of the telly.”

TapeHead knows how he feels.

He took to the streets, scavenging for rubbish, and now crafts the things that people throw away and sells these cast-offs back to them.

“I started discovering value in rubbish and, by that, discovering value in myself… I know where I am with nature”.

From working in the City, the poor man is now condemned to making sculptures out of discarded wooden objects. Not a television in sight. A truly sobering lesson for us all.

A bad week too for a man who has spent most of his television life having a mid-life crisis. This week on Casualty, Charlie hits the big four-zero, cracking up as badly as the NHS itself. It’s the last episode of the series, and a particularly depressing one: junkies, suicides, and not enough bedpans on the wards.

Even at 13, the subject of Working Parts’ Obsession underwent psychiatric evaluation, only to be told he had an obsession with plug sockets and light fittings.

“Well, I could have told him that.”

These days, his house is a museum for restored radios renowned throughout the wold. His collection of fuse boxes, electrical points, and cathode ray tubes is depressingly impressive.

“Death by meteorite is now as likely as being killed in a plane crash,” says an astronomer on Horizon. How depressing.

“If you tell the scientists that occasionally a stone the size of a mountain falls out the sky and causes a global catastrophe, they just don’t like it.”

Actual global catastrophe only take place once every 100,000 years but a minor one should take place over the next 50-200. Hit the deck.

Catastrophism dominates Horizon’s Hunt For The Doomsday Asteroid, which investigates the scientific possibilities that a fireball
or rock big enough to wipe out the human race, is heading our way.

“Devastating swarms of meteorites” are hurtling round the earth in clock-like patterns. Every now and then, one of them comes down.
In 1970, a fireball the strength of five Hiroshimas grazed the atmosphere and went back out to space (a film shows it gliding gently across a forest). In Wethersfield, Connecticut, a meteorite crashed through the ceiling of Wanda Donahue’s living room.

Two years ago, a rock, “the size of an aircraft carrier” passed close to the earth and was only spotted after it had gone by.

Next summer, an object one kilometre wide is scheduled to crash into Jupiter. Scientists will be watching to see the impact. Tapehead will be hiding under the bed.

In Horizon, you see a beautiful fireball spreading across the black sky. It’s so exciting you almost want to see it happen.

Grim days revisited on The Rock’n’Roll Years, which looks at the morass that was 1981: The Yorkshire Ripper, Ronnie and Maggie, the Toxteth riots. Not to mention Phil Collins going solo, Richard Stilgoe, the Rubik Cube Championships, and the worst catastrophe to hit the decade – Shakin’ Stevens.

Tape the clip of Diana Dors in the Prince Charming video to cheer yourself up.


Casualty: Sat, 8.15-9.05pm, BBC1
Horizon: Mon, 8-8.50pm, BBC2
40 Minutes – Portrait of a Mid-life Crisis: Tue, 9.50-10.30pm, BBC2
The Rock’n’Roll Years: Wed, 7-7.30pm, BBC1
Working Parts – Obsession: Wed, 9.45pm-10pm, C4