That’s the sound of the little bell ringing in the back of your head. Maybe it’s dulled by the accumulation of years surrounding it. Perhaps it rings with a muffled clapper – you recognise the words, but can’t really wring the context out of your brain. You may have even seen this mentioned somewhere – although mentions of the same are very difficult to find – perhaps while trying to find Threesome or Kira Reed’s Easy Guide to Fulfilling Your Fantasies.
But I challenge you, gentle reader, to find anyone who has watched a single episode.
I have, of course. I’ve seen about two or three, but bearing in mind that I was 14 when this was aired, and add to that the fact that one series was made – and one that was never repeated, sold on, or renewed (and no clips are on the Internet – I’ve looked!) – and you may have to forgive me for my memories being a little hazy.
I’ll do my best.
So what is it?
L!VE TV‘s Blonde, Busty, & Keane (which is the correct spelling, complete with Oxford comma and ampersand) does, indeed, exist; although it isn’t mentioned in the official L!VE TV prospectus, an IMDb listing exists, as does a brief mention on GitHub!
It is, effectively, a spy caper series starring Jane Blonde (porn star Katie Ann Day) and Tracey Keane (actress Madeleine Curtis), two attractive young ladies employed as secret agents by spymaster Busty Farquar (Annabel Rivkin – I’m assuming not the same Annabel Rivkin who writes for ES Magazine et al, but you never know, she might be!). Written and shot by L!VE themselves in and around their Canary Wharf headquarters, and directed by John Wolskel (who went on to write horror movies), Blonde, Busty, & Keane lasted for one series.
Eight episodes, aired between September and October 1999.
What’s different about it?
The gimmick here – if one can call it a gimmick – is that it bills itself as an erotic series. It isn’t – there isn’t any actual sex in it, and the sex there is is always done quickly and with clothes on – but, at the very least, it was shown during the L!VE Late 10pm slot and contained what can best be termed “a moderate amount of nudity”.
I’m really selling this to you, I can tell.
One prominent example I can think of is a scene in which Blonde and Keane get stuck in a skip – it’s not meant to be, but it’s genuinely a skip – full of… something meant to trap them, I guess. Blonde manages to activate a hitherto-unmentioned explosive device in Keane’s bra, which manages to effect their escape as well as render Keane topless for the next few minutes.
There is, even, a continuing plot with a recurring villain – Baron Schwanzer (Alan Blyton) – and, if my memory serves me correctly, several side characters including a stereotypical Frenchman complete with beret, stripy hat and garlic necklace. Busty, while busty, is never particularly involved in the action and never once removes her business suit.
I also can’t really say much for the storylines, but as far as I can remember, they are a mess.
So what was the point?
It’s difficult to tell.
From a young ILB’s memory, Blonde, Busty, & Keane seemed to have had a lower budget than other homegrown series like Threesome. Sets were small (I suspect mostly built in the office in One Canada Square), plots were threadbare, characters had no character, and in addition to having nothing that could reasonably be termed a ‘sex scene’, what nudity there was was both brief and non-sexy.
14-year-old ILB wasn’t difficult to turn on. Practically everything else did, but I remember being both bored and confused by this. I genuinely don’t remember ever being once titillated, amused or intrigued by any part of this programme, which probably explains why I only remember watching it twice.
Exotica Erotica was on afterwards, so that’s probably why.
Is there anything positive to say about it?
I’ll skip past the ‘strong women doing heroic stuff’ tag, because this doesn’t really exemplify this. Bikini Avengers is right there, my dudes.
For all its flaws, Blonde, Busty, & Keane is an example of both what not to do with an erotic spy story (ie. no sex; limited nudity; no plot) and what to do with a very limited budget (ie. use what you have for scenery; small cast; inventive use of outdoor props).
It even had a bit of promotion, with Day appearing on L!VE’s The Sex Show talking about it and a trailer made (which sadly I can’t find anywhere; it has an MST3K-like set up with silhouetted men in a cinema), before quietly disappearing into the netherworld.
ILB’s Extra Bit
This post was originally planned to be a deep dive into Blonde, Busty, & Keane with all the resources I could find, but realistically, there are no resources. Vague references aside, there’s very little evidence that this programme ever existed, and while the cynical side of me wants to think that MGN (who owned the channel) buried it somewhere quiet and dark, the realistic side of me rationalises that it was quickly realised they had produced something that proved not to be marketable, and pulled it.
The same slot that aired Blonde, Busty, & Keane was also used for imports of short-form American programmes like Compromising Situations and Love Street; this is what it went back to shortly after the aforementioned show stopped running.
What is confusing, however is why it appears to be completely expunged from televisual history. It was certainly filmed once, and aired once. Cable television proved to be difficult to record from on VHS (I certainly failed to get any of Knightmare from Sci-Fi), but this is the sort of thing that someone would record, surely?
So where is it…?