The BBC has announced that it will be producing a radio dramatization of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's book, Good Omens. The radio drama will be broadcast as six episodes in December on BBC Radio 4, and will feature Mark Heap and Peter Serafinowicz in the lead roles.
The Fast Show summary from Wikipedia:
The Fast Show, known as Brilliant in the US, was a BBC comedy sketch show programme that ran from 1994 to 1997, with a special in 2000 and 2014. It was one of the most popular sketch shows of the 1990s in the UK. The show's central performers were Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day, Mark Williams, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Caroline Aherne. Other significant cast members included Paul Shearer, Rhys Thomas, Jeff Harding, Maria McErlane, Eryl Maynard, Colin McFarlane and Donna Ewin.[more inside]
It was loosely structured and relied on character sketches, recurring running gags, and many catchphrases. Its fast-paced "blackout" style set it apart from traditional sketch series because of the number and relative brevity of its sketches; a typical half-hour TV sketch comedy of the period might have consisted of nine or ten major items, with contrived situations and extended setups, whereas the premiere episode of The Fast Show featured twenty-seven sketches in thirty minutes, with some items lasting less than ten seconds and none running longer than three minutes. Its innovative style and presentation influenced many later series such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show.
Last night, Kate Bush performed her first concert in 35 years at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. She last toured in 1979, following the release of Lionheart. "Not since the surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for a one-off show in 2007 has there been such hype over a comeback." - The Guardian. Last week, BBC 4 released an hour-long documentary called The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill that reflects on Bush’s long and enigmatic career. It features appearances from Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Tori Amos, Annie Clark, Big Boi, Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Kahn, and more. Vimeo link. Guardian review.
Shakespeare's Restless World is a BBC radio series (podcast link) where the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, explores England during the lifetime of William Shakespeare as represented by twenty objects, much in the way of his earlier A History of the World in a 100 Objects (previously). The focus is on Shakespeare's plays and how they were understood by his contemporaries. The series was also published as a book.
On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. In 1964, Peter Watkins wrote and produced a docudrama for the BBC, from the perspective of a documentary crew on the ground, depicting the battle and its aftermath: Culloden. [1:12:14]
A hypnotic video merging every actor who's played Doctor Who into one average face. [SLYT] (Laughing Squid via)
In 1924 the BBC transmitted its first live outside broadcast: a duet between cellist Beatrice Harrison and the nightingales nesting in the garden of her Surrey home. Capturing the song of the Nightingale. [more inside]
Italo Calvino profiled on the BBC TV show Book Mark in 1985: [SLYT] Rare interview with the great Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels.
The BBC will be covering World War One in great detail over the next four years. They've already started, with podcasts, interactive guides, online courses, programs new and old plus much, much more. Perhaps it's best to start at the beginning, with Professor Margaret MacMillan's Countdown to World War One (podcast link) or the account of her fellow historian Christopher Clark, Month of Madness. Of course, how the war started is still contested by historians, as recounted in The Great War of Words. The latter two are also part of the main WWI podcast. Or you can dive into the Music and Culture section, go through an A-Z guide or look at comics drawn by modern cartoonists.
In 1998, after over 40 years in the music studio, orchestral arranger and music producer Sir George Martin (the 5th Beatle, or maybe the 6th, or possibly the 7th, depending on how you count or where your priorities lie) decided he was going to retire with a selfish project: recording an album (mostly) entirely of Beatles songs. This ~50 minute BBC documentary recorded many moments from the creation of this swan song, In My Life. The film features interviews with and studio footage of Phil Collins, Robin Williams, Bobby McFerrin, JohnWilliams (classical guitarist, not Star Wars composer), Goldie Hawn, Jim Carrey, and Céline Dion. [more inside]
Which sport are you physically most suited for? Find out with some help from the BBC!
"The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon": In 1994, workers demolishing a toy shop in Blackburn, England stumbled on hundreds of films of Edwardian-era daily life made and collected by Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon. This BBC series describes their rediscovery and historical significance, revisits filming locations, and includes interviews with relatives of some of the films' subjects. [more inside]
As the last of the African teams exits at the Round of 16, filmmaker and columnist Farai Sevenzo looks at the state of African football, bedevilled by the perennial problems of poor organisation, tactical indiscipline and rows over money. [BBC]
“Je Suis La Jeune Fille.” “Yes, that’s French they’re speaking. But no, these children aren’t French – they’re American!” If you grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, or watched children's TV programming from that era in the US or UK, no doubt you saw that commercial for Muzzy (formally titled Muzzy in Gondoland). The show was first produced by the BBC in 1986 to teach English as a second language, as seen in this playlist of five videos, and later expanded with Muzzy Comes Back in 1989 (six episode playlist). The shows were both translated in to French, German (playlist), Spanish (and the Spanish vocabulary builder), and Italian (Muzzy in Gondoland, Muzzy Comes Back).
While the farewell scene between David Tennant's 10th Doctor and Billie Piper's Rose has just topped SFX magazine's poll of greatest moments in sci-fi, the BBC has announced that on August 23rd, Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor will appear in his first episode, entitled "Deep Breath" and directed by Ben Wheatley (previously). Here's a teaser. [more inside]
A herd of hippopotamuses once owned by the late Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar has been taking over the countryside near his former ranch
Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, was a dangerous place to be in the late 1970s. With bombs, shootings, British Army Patrols, riots on the streets, and The Ramones and New York Dolls on the turntable, the most punk thing 5 Catholic lads could do was to sing upbeat songs about adolescent lust, girls, getting nowhere with said girls, and the general struggles of being young. In the bleeding heart of The Troubles, The Undertones escaped by dreaming of a life more ordinary. [more inside]
Korean grandmothers sell Bacchus drinks (energy drinks) and sex on the side. Once part of Korea's economic engine, older Korean women are turning to prostitution to pay for their living costs. The Bacchus women also work the hiking trails where they offer coffee and sex.
BBC re-reports: Fifa is facing fresh allegations of corruption over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The Sunday Times has obtained millions of secret documents - emails, letters and bank transfers - which it alleges are proof that the disgraced Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totalling US$5m (£3m) to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid.
The BBC assesses the World Cup Groups: Group A/ Group B/Group C/Group D/Group E/Group F/Group G/Group H. [more inside]
Second Breath. On Saturday night, the first breath of the BBC's new Arts initiative was a live stream on the evening of Museums at Night which included this short dance piece by Russell Maliphant and English National Ballet at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester. All the BBC Arts clips also have their own page which includes other reports from Saturday including a visit with Spencer Tunick in Folkstone and artist Bill Fontana discussing his superb Vertical Echoes sound installation. [more inside]
"Britain's richest people are wealthier than ever before, with a combined fortune of almost £520bn, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. The total wealth of the richest 1,000 individuals, couples or families jumped 15% in a year, the survey said. Wealth expert Philip Beresford, who compiled the list, said he had never before seen such a "phenomenal" rise in personal fortune... Mr Beresford said: "The richest people in Britain have had an astonishing year. While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country." - The total figure for the Rich List is equivalent to a third of the UK's gross domestic product."
Before there was Firefly, after there was Star Trek, in between there was… Blake's 7 (previously). The BBC's dystopian space opera ran for four series, ended with arguably the bleakest finale in sci-fi TV, yet never achieved popularity in proportion to its influence. To accompany its DVD release, documentary filmmaker Kevin Jon Davies prepared making-of videos for the first three series, which he has now posted YouTube: Series 1, Series 2, Series 3. Learn the origins of Blake's dysfunctional band of freedom-fighters, the secrets of the show's horrible SFX, watch the cast read aloud their worst reviews, and much more!
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle is both a television show featuring stand-up comedian Stewart Lee (previously), and the whimsical clown car in the opening credits of the show’s first season. Lee’s patronizing, repetitive, and defeatist style may appear thoughtful or ironic, but taking him at face value reveals a darker, more interesting picture (NSFW language): [more inside]
The BBC put together a series of television commentaries from Orson Welles, "Orson Wells' Sketchbook" none of which need more than his then slightly unfamiliar face (without, he underscores, the usual false nose he wears for roles), his unmistakable voice, and his illustrations — taken, literally, from his sketchbook. In these six fifteen-minute broadcasts, which originally aired in 1955, Welles talks about not just the inauspicious beginnings of his illustrious working life but his experiences with the critics, the police, John Barrymore and Harry Houdini, the infamous radio production of War of the Worlds , and bullfighting Playlist here.
Four women have had new vaginas grown in the laboratory and implanted by doctors in the US. "A tissue sample and a biodegradable scaffold were used to grow vaginas in the right size and shape for each woman as well as being a tissue match. They all reported normal levels of "desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction" and painless intercourse. Experts said the study, published in the Lancet, was the latest example of the power of regenerative medicine. "
The Delian Mode (Kara Blake, 2009) - A 25-minute documentary about composer and pioneering electronic musician Delia Derbyshire, perhaps most familiar to Mefites for writing the theme song for "Doctor Who".
Short BBC report about a small study where people with depression were given small doses of ketamine: "A team at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust gave patients doses of ketamine over 40 minutes on up to six occasions. Eight showed improvements in reported levels of depression, with four of them improving so much they were no longer classed as depressed. Some responded within six hours of the first infusion of ketamine. Lead researcher Dr Rupert McShane said: "It really is dramatic for some people, it's the sort of thing really that makes it worth doing psychiatry, it's a really wonderful thing to see. He added: "[The patients] say 'ah this is how I used to think' and the relatives say 'we've got x back'.""
Clarissa Dickson Wright has passed away, aged 66. The surviving half of the BBC cooking show Two Fat Ladies, she "was utterly non-PC and fought for what she believed in, always, with no thought to her own personal cost," her agent said in the announcement. [more inside]
Musician Matthew Herbert presents a half hour program for BBC Radio 4 on The Art of the Loop. (Herbert's personal contract for the creation of music.) [more inside]
There Can Be Only One Snake v Crocodile in Northern Queensland
A man who served as UKIP's Commonwealth spokesman for a year is the former leader of a kidnapping gang in Pakistan, BBC Newsnight can reveal. Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto's gang were behind a high-profile kidnapping in Karachi in 2004 and he then took a £56,000 ransom payment in Manchester. In 2005, Bhutto, of Leeds, admitted being the gang's "boss" and was jailed for seven years by a UK court. UKIP said Bhutto, 35, had "recently" resigned his party membership.
Do you want to listen to a 2-hour DJ mix by Thom Yorke and Nigel Goodrich (of Radiohead and Atoms for Peace)? Of course you do. [more inside]
"Harry Shearer is best known for providing the voice of Mr Burns in The Simpsons and as Derek Smalls in spoof rock band Spinal Tap. His next role sees him take on former US president Richard Nixon in a series based on the disgraced politician behind closed doors... To borrow from Sir David's opening line - the following conversation was recorded by the BBC and these are the words actually spoken by Shearer and edited only for time." - The Beeb interviews Harry Shearer on his new role as Nixon.
BBC Future predicts what will happen over the next 150 years, and also for the next 100 quintillion years, in handy infographic form.
Beware of fans influencing the TV they love. And casual fans are being alienated by shows with devoted fans (spoilers for Sherlock).
The latest generation of the UK's world-leading state-backed surveillance technologies have reportedly captured shocking scenes of high-risk potentially lethal narcotics use by gangs (or "juvenile pods") of young dolphins, who have worked out how to get a high from chewing pufferfish to release their neurotoxins [more inside]
The other day, I woke up humming Guy Clark's "Dublin Blues." That terrific performance is from Transatlantic Sessions, a long-running project uniting musicians from different countries and varying musical backgrounds. "For almost two decades, the sessions have been inviting American musicians – from Rufus Wainwright to Emmylou Harris to James Taylor – to the UK to collaborate with British musicians steeped in the folk tradition, and filming the results. Imagine Later with Jools Holland, if all the acts played on each other's songs. And with more accordion." Drawing from Wikipedia's list of performances, I offer for your listening pleasure... Transatlantic Sessions. [more inside]
The Men Who Leaked The Secrets
To the likes of Brooks, Snowden was a disconcerting mystery; Glenn Greenwald, though, got him right away. "He had no power, no prestige, he grew up in a lower-middle-class family, totally obscure, totally ordinary," Greenwald says. "He didn't even have a high school diploma. But he was going to change the world – and I knew that." And, Greenwald also believed, so would he. "In all kinds of ways, my whole life has been in preparation for this moment," he says.[more inside]
Skinhead Farewell a BBC documentary on the controversial cult novelist James Moffat aka Richard Allen
Brass Tacks, a BBC documentary / studio discussion programme from 1977, looks at the burgeoning phenomena of punk rock. (SLYT)
BBC Radio 4's 'The Film Programme' talks to George A Romero. 'Forty five years after the release of genre-defining Night of the Living Dead, Francine Stock talks to the director George A Romero about inventing the undead zombie and where he might unearth horror in contemporary society. Plus why he doesn't rate Stanley Kubrick as a horror director.' [SL BBC Radio 4 episode] [more inside]
Grayson Perry's lectures on art: "Art is very popular but I think many people are still quite insecure around galleries, particularly commercial galleries which are quite intimidating. I want to answer a few of the very basic questions that perhaps people even in the art world think that it’s almost too gauche to ask. They might think they’re irrelevant or even that they’ve all been answered now and everybody knows the answer. I’m starting with this lecture called Democracy Has Bad Taste, because I want to talk about the issue of quality because I think this is one of the most burning issues around – how do we tell if something is good? Who tells us that it’s good? And of course does it really matter? And I want to talk about what are the criteria by which we judge art made today." [more inside]
A few months ago there was a list of links to classic video game emulators posted. Very recently, I'm pleased to report, those links all came true. The Internet Archive bespoke upon aforementioned consoles, computers, and mileposts on our way to the tech utopia of today, (seriously, where's my flying car?) and they asked us to do something: Imagine every computer that ever existed, literally, in your browser. And it was so. I have absolutely no affiliation with jscott, btw. Thought I should disclose that.
Noise: A Human History is a cool 30-part radio series by David Hendy in collaboration with the British Library Sound Archive and the BBC that explores the past 100,000 years of sound and listening.