Exploring Cardiff's Roath Lock studios, home of Doctor Who, Casualty, Upstairs Downstairs and the Welsh language Pobol y Cwm. Oh yeah, and there's a trailer for Doctor Who series 7, in which Farscape fans will catch a glimpse of Ben Browder.
Simon Cowell (aka 'Karaoke Sauron') has for some time dominated Saturday nights on UK TV, but he now faces a challenge... [more inside]
Why Borgen's all the buzz at Westminster A moody, Danish political drama, complete with subtitles, prolonged pauses and superficially consensual continental politics would not seem the sort of programme to become the hot topic in the coffee bars and corridors of the Commons. Even more improbably the central character in Borgen is such an unlikely figure when viewed from the staid, male dominated world of Westminster. Birgitte Nyborg is an attractive, well-intentioned, left-leaning, green-tinged female prime minister who's worried about her weight and leads a party called "The Moderates".
The long running English sitcom Only Fools And Horses is going to be remade in the US…. The Guardians showbiz spies reveal the subtle tinkerings that have been made to the original formula. The funniest thing ever on television. Allegedly. (This is funnier)
In the UK, people pay a yearly licence fee to watch live television, with revenues funding the BBC. TV Licensing is the group that collects fees, and they use a number of methods — some real, some imaginary, some in between — to gain compliance. But one Briton remains determined not to play that game.
The BBC has put up a page presenting statistics dealing with deaths on British roads between 1999 and 2010. A slightly older page presenting mostly the same statistics (up to 2008) can be visited here; this earlier version was published in conjunction with several other articles, including one looking in-depth at a single crash and its aftermath in Stevenage in 2007.
The BBC broadcasted the science and technology showcase show Tomorrow's World (titles on piano) on 7 July 1965 on BBC1, it ran for 38 years until it was cancelled at the beginning of 2003. Unlike the boosterism of US science programs, Tomorrow's World was more famous for it's live stunts and wry outlook ( James Burke experiences the "convenient" office of the future and the future of home gardening and crushing ennui). The BBC has an archive of episodes and clips for UK visitors, everyone else will have to be content with clips concerning Home Computers, New Banking, Nellie The School Computer, The Elliot Light Pen, Mobile Phones, and Moog Synthesizers.
The Nightmare Man was a four part BBC sf/horror drama about some... thing slaughtering the inhabitants of a remote Scottish island. [more inside]
The contestants on the grand final of the BBC's The Great British Bake Off were upstaged by the brief 'explicit' appearance of a squirrel. This has apparently shocked a nation. (possibly NSFW unless you work in a zoo/farm/park/pet shop etc)
RIP David Croft, writer / producer of some of Britain's most well known and loved sitcoms including Dad's Army, Are You Being Served?, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi! and 'Allo 'Allo!
"I play a CD of a long Evan Parker sax solo while they [enter the theatre]. I figure if people can’t put up with that then they will probably not be able to put up with me." Quoth Benito Strauss, in the context of the Daily Mail's crusade against cruelty to millonaire stand-up Michael McIntyre: Yeah, I'd love it if someone would do a post on Stewart Lee. So: [more inside]
Your Paintings a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation and participating collections and museums from across the UK, is a website which aims to show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings, the stories behind the paintings, and where to see them for real. It is made up of paintings from thousands of museums and other public institutions around the country. Currently the archive contains 63,000 of the approximately 200,000 publically-owned artworks that make up the national collection. [more inside]
In other words, months before The War Games, The Mind Robber has quietly given us an origin story for the Doctor that is almost, but not quite, what we eventually get from the later "official" version. - Philip Sandifer discusses an alternate origin for Doctor Who.
In the dim and distant past before video recorders, never mind DVDs and the interweb, the only way a Doctor Who fan could re-live old episodes of the programme was via the Target Books novelizations. The BBC is reissuing some of the classic stories with new intros by the likes of Neil Gaiman. [more inside]
This week the BBC broadcast a Panorama special (UK only link, YouTube links here and here) on what it presented as the alarming rise of game addiction. Thoughtful responses from Rock, Paper, Shotgun and EDGE, both of whom point out a number of problems with it.
Broadcast on Halloween night 1992 Ghostwatch - a live investigation into a haunted house - was one of the most controversial and terrifying programs the BBC has ever shown. [more inside]
The Chancellor of the UK coalition government has announced the details of the Comprehensive Spending Review, setting budgets for government departments to 2014/15. Total savings will be £18 billion. Local government funding will be cut 7% each year for the next four years. The Arts Council budget will be cut by 30%. 490,000 jobs are forecast to be lost over the period in the public sector. The average cuts for each government department will be 19%. The speech. HM Treasury Spending Review pages. Guardian summary. Independent article. Nick Robinson's blog for the BBC. Make your own cuts with the Guardian's interactive tool. Graphic showing 09/10 government spending (that is, before the cuts).
Back in the 80s when Doctor Who was mired in a creative and ratings slump, the programme's creator Sydney Newman was asked how to revive it. His answer - regenerate the Doctor as a woman. [more inside]
This past Saturday evening a woman dumped a rescue cat into a garbage bin on the side of a residential street in Coventry, U.K. Fifteen hours later owner Darryl Mann: "I came down to feed Lola on Sunday morning but couldn’t find her anywhere. It was really hot day outside and I searched nearby alleyways but suddenly heard a tiny meowing coming from the bin. I looked inside and I found her in the bin, she was terrified and covered in her own mess....At first I thought she’d somehow climbed inside the bin herself but when I checked the CCTV I was gobsmacked to see some a woman had done it deliberately." Mann posted the video to YouTube and Facebook in an effort to find the perpetrator. As a result, the woman was identified by this morning. [more inside]
RIP Trinity Square, Gateshead - a Brutalist car park made famous for it's appearance in the classic British crime drama Get Carter is being demolished this week.
TV idents provide a bridge between programmes, remind the viewer of the channel they're watching and give the announcer something to talk over about what's on next and later. YouTube is a veritable treasure trove of idents, especially British ones, including
Classic BBC2 idents of the 90's, [more inside]
Classic BBC2 idents of the 90's, [more inside]
The Martians And Us a BBC documentary series on the history of British science fiction. Part 1 - 'From Apes To Aliens' (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) Part 2 - 'Trouble In Paradise' (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) Part 3 - The End Of The World As We Know It (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) [more inside]
With Matt Smith making his US debut as Doctor Who tonight, showrunner Steven Moffat gives an interview to Tor.com. Meanwhile in the UK viewers have just had their first sight of a controversial new Dalek redesign.
BBC Radio 6 Music, home of amongst other things the Adam and Joe show, is facing the axe. Phil Jupitus on why this sucks. (Previously, previously, previously, previously)
"My exact words were: I’d like to overthrow the government. I was a young firebrand and I wanted to answer honestly. I was very angry about the social injustice in Britain under Thatcher and I’m delighted that came into the show." - former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel on the shows 80s political stance. Terrance Dicks and Andrew Cartmel on Newsnight. Meanwhile former Doctor David Tennant gives his veiws on the Master-like characteristics of Tory leader David Cameron.
This month marks the 25th aniversary of Elite, the groundbreaking 3D space trading game. The making of Elite. More on the making of Elite from The Backroom Boys. Emulate the original BBC Micro version. The Dark Wheel.
"Working in art film or commercial cinema is like dancing through a mine field, and every broadcaster is now racing down market in a desperate attempt to survive. But what is happening at the BBC is the real scandal: it is bigger than all the rest combined, it is free from direct commercial pressure and its public service obligations carry cultural responsibilities. There are no excuses." Veteran producer Tony Garnett, has launched a blistering attack on the current process of drama commissioning at the BBC
A biased shadow of its former self, a waste of money dominated by champagne socialists, a victim of media fragmentation, a political pawn or still the trusted heart of the UK's (and, arguably, the world's) broadcasting world? As scandal after scandal threatens to undermine confidence in the BBC and the voices calling for the dissolution of the licence fee gain a more cohesive platform, can the BBC survive, - is it the solution or the problem, and can the British public really afford to let it die the death of a thousand cuts? On the day after the BBC announces it will put every UK publically owned oil painting online and the Director General talks about the BBC's "special responsibility" to culture in the UK, what should the role of the BBC be and, perhaps more importantly, what should it cost?
The Kneale Tapes (1, 2, 3, 4) documentary about British science fiction screenwriter Nigel Kneale. [more inside]
This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. - The BBC releases its script for use in the event of nuclear war.
The Russell T. Davis papers – As he prepares to leave the role of Doctor Who show runner (previously) he’s releasing a book of email exchanges with Doctor Who Magazine writer Benjamin Cook about his time on the longstanding British SF series, revealing the younger face of Who he’s like to see, and plans for a Doctor Who/Harry Potter crossover which never materialized.
Jamie Hewlett of Tank Girl and Gorrilaz fame has created the animated film that will be used to introduce the BBC's coverage of the summer Olympics with music by his fellow Gorrlaz compatriot, Damon Albarn, inspired by Monkey, the cult classic television program. [more inside]
The first known recording of a digital computer playing music, recorded by the BBC in 1951. The music played on a Ferantti Mark 1, one of the first commercial general-use computers, and was entered via punchtape and played on a speaker usually used for making clicks and tones to indicate program progress.
First it was Blake's 7, now another Terry Nation cult classic sf television programme is to return. The BBC have announced they are remaking Survivors. Telling the story of the survivors of a plague that wipes out most of Britain, the original was famed for its gritty and somewhat controversial story-telling.
As of 2010 Steven Moffat will be replacing Russell T. Davies as lead writer and executive producer of Doctor Who. In 2005 Davies revived the series, which had been dormant (bar the odd US co-production or audiodrama) since 1989, for BBC Wales. It won awards and was successful enough to spawn the spin-offs Sarah Jane Adventures and the popular-in-America Torchwood. He is replaced by Moffat, one of the regular writers on the show, whose highly acclaimed episodes have won a number of awards and nominations. "I applied before but I got knocked back 'cos the BBC wanted someone else. Also I was seven. Anyway, I'm glad the BBC has finally seen the light and it's a huge honour to be following Russell into the best - and the toughest - job in television. I say toughest 'cos Russell's at my window right now, pointing and laughing."
Record levels of immigration have had "little or no impact" on the economic well-being of Britons says a report (pdf) from an influential House of Lords committee. Initial reactions from the various parties, institutes and publications have been largely predictable. Coming so closely on the back of the BBC's recent "White" series on white working-class Britain, it looks likely to provoke some debate on British attitudes to immigration (pdf). [more inside]
The 'bullet magnet' is back. I can't believe that the British press kept a secret for so long (10 weeks is a miniature eternity in journalist time). It was supposed to last six months... I also can't believe that the odious Drudge has broken yet another big story. Was it all just a PR stunt? [more inside]
For the past 50 years, The British have made some of the funniest Comedy TV Shows. Come inside for A Video Chronology of The History of British TV Comedy. [more inside]
Mark Kermode reviews Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. "Is that a nest of tables? No, it's Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley having some red hot passionate embrace that is positively teaky." [more inside]
Fairytale of New York... censored! No, not now... Shane will make 50 this Christmas... Sadly not Kirsty.
BBC launch Flash version of iPlayer The BBC have developed iPlayer as a vehicle for online distribution of its programs. Originally this involved downloading a stand-alone application for windows users only. This application has had a troubled beta launch and has drawn criticism from Linux and Mac users who were unsupported. The Flash version is an attempt to placate these users (though I believe you have to be in the UK)
"Hello, and welcome to Mainly For Men (part 1, part 2). And, as the title implies, this is a programme, fellas, just for you." Yes, everything the BBC thought the red-blooded male back in the late 1960s would be interested in (ie women, cars and shark fishing). The result was so hideous it was never broadcast until a TV Hell themed night many years later. Possibly NSFW... some brief nudity ('artistic', naturally) and mild swearing. And rampant mind-blowing sexism.
Jon Ronson decides "I'm going to tell my son the worst swearword in the world". His follow up article is also interesting. Incidentally, his "Bad Science" colleague from The Guardian did uncover a list of the worst swearwords from the BBC no less (and previously)
Ronnie Hazlehurst RIP. Who? Well if you've seen any of the BBC's sitcoms and light entertainment programmes from the 70s onwards, you would have probably heard his work... [more inside]
For those of us who thought the BBC's mammoth self- marketing campaigns were one of the symptions of modern marketing excess, a trawl on the Internet has turned up this John Cleese-presented advertisment on What Have the BBC Ever Given Us?. And it being the BBC, Spitting Image have the right of rebuttal... [more inside]