The Birmingham Central Library, one of the largest and most important public libraries in Europe, has often been vilified as one of the ugliest buildings in Britain. A prime example of Brutalism, English Heritage has (controversially) recommended that the structure should be listed. Others want it to go the way of Portsmouth's hated Tricorn Centre. [more inside]
Seventy years ago today a world land speed record was set that has never been broken... on July 3, 1938 LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard reached the giddy speed of 126mph. [more inside]
Birth of the National Health Service - How the state of the nation's health became a political ideal
The NHS at 60. The National Health Service is 60 on July 5th. Take a look at documents, audio and video related to the birth and growth of this "radical plan."
RIP Tartan Films. The UK-based film distribution company has gone into administration, laying off it's entire staff. [more inside]
My Bloody Valentine recently completed a staggering series of concerts at London's legendary Roundhouse venue in Camden.
My Bloody Valentine recently completed a staggering series of concerts at London's legendary Roundhouse venue in Camden. [more inside]
95% of degree courses in video gaming at British universities leave graduates unfit to work in the industry, according to Games Up?, an organisation set up to address the UKs video games skills shortage. Maths skills are a particular weakness.
Amy Winehouse has Emphysema. The 24 year old artist, whose career has netted multiple awards but has often been overshadowed by her drug use, now faces a lung condition that can be slowed but never reversed, with effects ranging from shortness of breath to cyanosis and heart faliure.
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.
Product Placement Banned in U.K. Minister says it 'contaminates programs'.
With flagrant disregard for their waistlines and their own gustatory limitations, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins (known as The Supersizers) have been going back in time to the diets of their ancestors for the (education?) amusement of the general public (well, people who watch BBC Two). Restoration | Edwardian | Victorian | Wartime | Seventies [more inside]
In Bed With Chris Needham (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) A BBC video-diary documentary from 1991 depicting the trails and tribulations of a teenage metal fan as he tries to knock his band, Manslaughter, into shape for its first gig, with many digressions into his philosophy of life along the way. Some NSFW swearing. [more inside]
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.
Allotments: how to get one, and what to grow in it once you've got it. Lots of people have allotments. Lots. Geddit?
To celebrate its hundredth edition the Observer Sport Monthly publishes it's ten best Top Tens. [more inside]
To Whom It May Concern: If you are reading this then I can only assume that you have removed the pond under which this note is buried... [more inside]
Jake and Dinos Chapman have bought a stack of Adolf Hitlers paintings for £115,000 and defaced them with rainbows and butterflies for their new show, "If Hitler Had Been a Hippy, How Happy Would We Be". The show also recreates "Fucking Hell", a huge swastika shaped diorama of tiny plastic nazis torturing and killing each other, which had been destroyed in a fire.
"The Guardian has been granted exclusive and unfettered access to one of the most controversial research facilities at a British university." Caring or cruel? Inside the primate laboratory. Audio slideshow. A necessary evil - Colin Blakemore. Wise monkeys - Gill Langley.
Planet Mechanics Dick Strawbridge and Jem Stansfield have been travelling Europe (for National Geographic UK) on a mission to lower energy consumption (and make interesting television). Air Propelled Sandwich | Cow Power | Lake District Dilemma | Solar Paella | Electric Water Taxi | Surf Power | Heavy Metal House | Tree Powered Truck
Article in UK newspaper The Independent about two members of Nottingham University, U.K., Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza, who were arrested last week on terrorism charges and held for six days before being released without charge. The reason was that they had downloaded a terrorist manual from a US government website, which MA student Sabir needed for his research into terrorism, and which was approved by his supervisor. His friend Hicham Yezza, former student and current administrator at the university was arrested for helping to print out the 1500 page document. On release Yezza was then immediately rearrested on immigration charges and now faces imminent deportation, despite being a resident of the UK for 13 years and currently in the process of applying for citizenship. A campaign is currently underway to prevent this. [more inside]
Observer literary editor Robert McCrum, retiring after ten years in the job, writes about the revolution in the book world he's seen over the last decade.
"It's constituency was the drunk, unemployed insomniac, student, loners that understood my passion for the minutia of television."
The classic post-pub television program of the nineties, In Bed With Medinner had a simple format - Bob Mills would present and comment on clips from the many documentaries he had made over the years. [more inside]
A 15-year-old in London is being prosecuted for holding a sign calling Scientology a "cult", during a peaceful demonstration (0:55-1:40). The teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey, in which he described the Church of Scientology as a "cult" ... The City of London police came under fire two years ago when it emerged that more than 20 officers, ranging from constable to chief superintendent, had accepted gifts worth thousands of pounds from the Church of Scientology. The City of London Chief Superintendent, Kevin Hurley, praised Scientology for "raising the spiritual wealth of society" during the opening of its headquarters in 2006. Last year a video praising Scientology emerged featuring Ken Stewart, another of the City of London's chief superintendents via
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."
Mehdi Kazemi is granted asylum in the UK. Mehdi, now 20, was studying in the UK when Parham (his boyfriend) was arrested for the crime of homosexuality by the Iranian government. Mehdi was named by his boyfriend and warned he was liable to arrest on his planned return. The UK Home Office denied him asylum [despite a thoughtful campaign by human rights campaigners] - because it was said he had overstayed his student visa and was therefore not seen as genuinely seeking asylum. So he escaped to the Netherlands. That's where it gets complicated. [more inside]
“I went into teaching full of belief and idealism... After five years I realised that there was no place for idealism in teaching"
George Plemper's extensive photographic record of south London working-class life from the 70s and early 80s, in particular children at Riverside school Thamesmead, was left hidden away in carrier bags for three decades. Now he's put it on Flicker
The UK Ministry of Defence has just released previously classified documents detailing numerous UFO sightings and alien contacts from across the country. Report yours at UFO Watch.
UK band The Get Out Clause made their newest video by performing in front of 80 of London's approximately 13 million CCTV cameras, and then requesting the footage via the Data Protection Act. The footage was then edited together into this music video. [more inside]
It's the story that has Britain in uproar*: Cliff Richard and General Franco: the 1968 Eurovision mystery. Did General Franco scupper the judging? Exhibit A: Cliff's UK entry, Congratulations. Exhibit 2: Spain's winning entry by Massiel, La la la. For added measure, exhibit iv: here's Cliff's 1973 entry, which believe it or not also did not win, Power to all our Friends (though Cliff's spectacular moves should not sway your opinion on the controversy* in any way). [*not really].
From The Adventures of Twizzle to the reboot of Captain Scarlet - for nearly fifty years - Gerry Anderson made television shows, but is still best remembered for the classic 'Supermarionation' period were, as this documentary shows (1, 2, 3, 4) he really was making the 21st century. [more inside]
Jacqui Smith to reclassify cannabis - despite pressure from the UK Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the Home Secretary has announced the reversal of Tony Blair's 2004 decision to downgrade cannabis. Critics see the move as pandering to tabloid scaremongering
Ebbsfleet? Never heard of it? Not even the new international railway station? A 50m sculpture is hoping to change that... the five short-listed designs have been revealed today.
Dan Dare, pilot of the future, scourge of the Venusian Mekon menace, and modernist architectural inspiration?
"The whole country must ask itself just what is really, fundamentally going wrong." An Austrian pensioner has admitted holding his daughter captive in a basement for 24 years, during which time he fathered seven children with her. [more inside]
Blake's Back! British science fiction classic Blakes 7 is getting the Battlestar Galactica treatment. [more inside]
A leaflet on alternative medicine produced by the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health has been condemned by Britain's first Professor of Complementary Medicine. [more inside]
The Carry On films have been a much-loved part of British life for the last 50 years, and they may even be making a new one. This give a quick feel of what you might of missed (slightly NSFW) And though it does have its knockers, one person liked them so much he made a religion out of them, literally.
Superstar Scottish comics writer Grant Morrison is about to tear the DC Universe apart again with Final Crisis, the latest in a series of apocalypses and world ending events he's inflicted on various comics worlds over the years. But there was a time before fame when he wrote the tie-in comic for ZOIDS, the robot dinosaur children's toy. So what did he do? Ushered in the apocalypse, in the form of THE BLACK ZOID.
110 Best Books. 'The perfect library' - According to the Torygraph... at least there's a 'Sci-fi' section among the usual suspects (And one or two bizarre choices - Pelzer! What the heck!)
Growing up in 70s and 80s Britain you were exposed to some rather disturbing Public Information Films on the television. But that was nothing... [more inside]
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]
So brothers Barney and Daniel Jones, aka Jonba Hehol and Morda Hehol, Jedi Masters, started their own church, and began planning their moon base, but they had underestimated the power of the Dark Side...
40% of Afghan aid returns to donor countries. In today's guardian, it has been reported that 40% of the money promised/delivered to aid Afghan has been spent on "corporate profits and consultancy fees" and that "Much of the money earmarked for aid is diverted to political or military purposes." [more inside]
Seventeen years Steve Feltham sold up everything, bought an old mobile library van and parked up alongside Loch Ness to look for Nessie... He's still there.
Edinburgh author Iain M. Banks, creator of the post capitalist space faring society The Culture and it's oddly named ships, has long been the UKs top science fiction writer, but has never had more than a toehold in the US (in part through lack of availability, in part due to lack of promotion and in part due to some pretty awful covers. That could change: Matter, his latest, has been heavily promoted in the US and sports a cover nearly identical to the UK edition. This week Orbit are releasing US editions of the two earliest Culture novels, with the third following in July, which could mean a complete release of all the novels in the US in order. [more inside]
"I'm not a politician, I'm an artist. Depravity is part of the job description," says self-styled dandy, former drug addict, and controversial British author Sebastian Horsely, who was denied entrance to the US by customs officials at Newark Airport on the grounds of "moral turpitude," a wide net that encompasses everything from fornication to being a "nuisance." Shades of Oscar Wilde.
Say you do a job and retire in or before 1996. Your coworker retires after 1997. Coworker gets six times more pension and you're asked to leave the country. Sounds unfair? Not to the British Government. [more inside]
Great Poets Of The 20th Century. From The Guardian so Brit bias... Introduction, William Boyd on Siegfried Sassoon, John Banville on Seamus Heaney, Jeanette Winterson on Ted Hughes, Andrew Motion on Philip Larkin, Margaret Drabble on Sylvia Plath, Rowan Williams on WH Auden, Craig Raine on T.S. Eliot.