Memories of BBC Television Centre.
The British Broadcasting Corporation's central production hub for the past fifty years closes this week
(though parts of it will reopen soon as a post-production facility
). There have been many hagiographies
, but this is perhaps the most poignant. It's a building full of the memories of millions, good and bad (SLYT).
Verity Lambert dies. Verity
was amongst other things the first producer of Doctor Who
and essentially co-created the series along with writer Sydney Newman
and the pilot director Waris Hussein
. She would later have a hand in bringing everything from Minder
to Jonathan Creek
to the screen. [more inside]
In a speech for the Royal Television Society, ITV chairman Michael Grade questions how much the home audience is aware of fakery and whether they should have to be.
It's a fascinating piece which includes examples of when television programmes haven't been, shall we say, completely honest with the viewer -- why am I so surprised about the prizes on Blind Date
possibly being rigged? Grade suggests there should be zero tolerance in relation to these things, but isn't it just a case of us accepting that fact-based entertainment television always requires an element of fiction for it to be watchable?
British people of a certain age will know about sitting in a school hall or classroom watching this clock waiting for 'Middle English' or 'How We Used To Live' to begin. This website recreates old tv clocks
in flash and it's like watching decades of anticipation pass you by -- and very cleverly, they tell the correct time
. Many are available as screensavers
BBC One's new channel idents.
Dancers are out, circles are in. Along with hippos synchronised swimming, gravity defying cyclists and surfers. Dude.
BBC Open News Archive
Eighty iconic news reports available in a variety of formats. Here is the full directory
. For another example of the cool things Auntie as been offering lately, see the downloadable mp3 commentary for the Christmas episode of Doctor Who
Newest Doctor Who David Tennant
received his first showcase tonight on the BBC's Children in Need Appeal
in an excellent special episode written by Russell T Davies and also starring Billie Piper. In case anyone missed it, it's available online at their website
, in streaming Real format. Fantastic!
Michael Piller has died
. The man who was the father of modern Star Trek and television sci-fi in general.
The Sky At Night
Every episode of the BBC science series made since the end of 2001 viewable online. Anything I know about the universe I learnt from Patrick Moore.
Kenneth Williams on television
The overall feeling is of a medium trying and failing to find a way of capturing an extraordinary talent.
Homicide: Life on the Street Crossovers & A Multiverse Explored
An amazing piece of tv research. Did you know that almost all US television happened in the mind of Tommy Westphall, the autistic child in 'St. Elsewhere'? Some 163 series from 'Friends' to 'The X-Files'. Don't you just love crossovers?
In '24 Hour Quiz
', three contestants spend many days in a mini-Big Brother environment ('The Pod') constantly having questions fired at them with no end in sight. 'off the telly' fill in the blanks
: "There's no getting away from it, '24 Hour Quiz' is quite the worst thing currently showing on ITV1 (that's even allowing for 'Footballers' Wives'). That it's spread-eagled across the schedules in three separate editions just compounds the agony. This is cheap, worthless television, offering up a huge mallet with which to beat the ITV network. It plays to our worst suspicions about the channel, and that's just annoying. There's nothing about the show that's prepared to confound or surprise, other than its sheer shoddiness." Has anyone else seen this? Is it really the worst gameshow format ever?
Back to the archive, one tape at a time
. A new old episode of previously missing Doctor Who has turned up. It's episode two of The Dalek Master Plan
which means we've now got three of the twelve parts that make up that story. Nine to go... (a clip with lots of Daleks in can be seen here
Memorable TV themes
A short but interesting rumination. Blissfully it mentions composers W. Snuffy Walden
who along with Mike Post
writes the best in the business. I haven't seen thirtysomething
in years but I know Walden's tie-in CD inside out. What's your favourite TV theme?
Everything you'd need to know about American Television
(almost), including why certain episodes in a season suddenly feature a really exciting plotline, a crossover with another show or a movie star and why that period is called sweeps. Comforting to know that it isn't just in the UK that no one is watching TV on a Saturday night. [via tvtattle
Tv Licenses do not infringe people's human rights.
Journalist and broadcaster Jonathan Miller refused to pay his license because it seemed as though the BBC had license to charge what they like raise the charge when they like; and that it didn't take into account the gulf between someone only receiving an Analogue service as opposed to digital. He lost the case. Serious implications.
Last night, ninety-five thousand British Internet users took part in 'Test The Nation
', an IQ quiz, broadcast live on BBC television, which attempted to survey the intelligence on the national. As a simulcast it was only partially successful -- the questions appearing on television sometimes five minutes before appearing on computer, but the results from those who coped with the technology were quite interesting. Any other UK Mefites take part? The test is still available for the curious.
Another trip into TV Hell.
In the UK we're much kinder to bad television -- shows will go on for weeks without an audience and often get comissioned for second series before someone releases they're awful (yes you 'Let Them Eat Cake' -- if that French and Saunder monstrosity had been on UStv it would have been cancelled after two episodes -- if it had been comissioned at all). 'Off The Telly' considers all the things prospective television producers need to avoid if they're going to create something they're proud of. Does anyone else have any bad examples?
I've always had a love hate relationship with The Big Breakfast
. But now that it's come to the end
of a ten year run I think something will be missing in the morning -- it offered something different to the slow newscasting on the BBC and the slow presenters on GMtv. The show went out with a characteristic flourish, not only with this mad scoop on Britney Spears
, but also by dumping a giant garden gnome outside Channel 4 offices
, it's hand remodelled to give a 'v' sign to the bosses who wielded the axe. Goodbye, you beauty.
Golden Globe nominations again.
No sign of Buffy in any category again...
Was Christmas TV really ever all that special?
'Off The Telly' reviews three decades of Christmas Day television in Britain. "It's funny...that Christmas time is actually an excuse for some of the worst TV atrocities of the year to be inflicted upon us. Christmas telly does not equate with quality. And yet, never does TV become a more integral part of our own family or personal routines and traditions. And never are we so receptive to a gathering of disparate middle-of-the-road celebrities and their stale party pieces." And for the ultra-cynic, TV-Go-Home's Charlie Booker presents an alternative schedule
Richard & Judy's new show on Channel 4 has begun.
Three episodes in and Judy still looks nervous and Richard's marbles have still escaped him. But they've also taken a turn in 'National Enquirer' territory, featuring an item about non-movement excersise programmes and a video about a man who could change shape. As 'Off The Telly' reports: "This pandered to Richard and Judy’s well-worn obsession with anything of a freakish nature. The footage showed an ordinary person - or “Spookman” as Richard instantly dubbed him - whose face ostensibly changed into others as you studied it. The studio crew were convinced, gasping on cue, and Richard was rapt: “Oh man, I could watch this all night”
BBC 2 are axing their current channel idents
One of the pleasures of this UKtv channel is seeing how they'll be banging, crashing or stretching that little number two. Is this a revolutionary development
or just another example of meddling from a channel which is having trouble finding an identity within the UK's multi-channel future?
Robert Kilroy-Silk is the 'king' of the British talkshows (a title conferred because he's the only
male talkshow host). 'Off The Telly' investigates why an ex-MP and potential Prime Minister now finds himself attempting to relate with the common people three hundred and sixty mornings a year (including repeats). Typical quote: "I suppose I’m really lucky, I get on really well with my son - always have - but some fathers and sons don’t always find it easy to be friends ... some boys are even deprived of their father altogether, when he walks out, and dumps not just their wife, but them. Which is a bit like you Mike, you haven’t seen your Craig, who’s 15, for seven years. Why’s that?" No on screen fights then, but one old buffer got frisky one morning and tried to remove his pants . . .
I'll bet NBC don't do this.
Overnight between Thursday and Sunday, Channel 4 network in the UK broadcast an alomost separate station called 4Later
, who's stock in trade is cheap documentaries
about unusual subjects, Troma films
and televised Poker games
. Currently, the moments between these shows are punctuated by the opinions of 'The Collective'
an on-line community who webcam their thoughts. So a bit like Mefi, but they get to see each other's faces. Funny, sweet and honest . . .
The Big Breakfast
used to be the cornerstone of British breakfast television
. In recent weeks, however, it's been looking a bit limp
, the recent sacking of a host
being the least of their worries. And although much of the country are looking elsewhere
for their morning TV, the head of the network it's on
has come out in support
. Perhaps he should be looking to the past