Every Episode of David Attenborough’s Life Series, Ranked [The Atlantic] This Sunday, Sir David Attenborough, naturalist, maker of wildlife documentaries, snuggler of gorillas, wielder of That Voice, keeper of the blue shirt, and Most Trusted Man in Britain, turns 90. To mark the occasion, and celebrate his unbeatable oeuvre, I re-watched all 79 episodes of his Life Collection, and ranked them from worst to best—or, really, from least great to greatest.
Sir David Attenborough is decidely NOT dead. Yet. But he is turning 90 in a few days, and the BBC is very wisely choosing to celebrate him while he's still around to enjoy it. Their tribute page features quite a lot of material, which isn't all that hard when you consider that he's been on the air for 60 years, but does feature some rare treasures like color footage of his very first Zoo Quest program (sorry, programme), along with color still photos from the same. A BBC archivist stumbled upon a total of six color Zoo Quest episodes, all of which will air in Britain as part of the tribute. [more inside]
Victoria Wood - comedian, actress, singer and songwriter, screenwriter and director - has passed away at 62 on 20 April 2016, after a short battle with cancer. [more inside]
BBC: "Ever since the Victoria and Albert Museum opened, textiles and how they're used has been a primary focus. But it's taken until now to organise a whole exhibition about underwear. The curator says more than any other clothing, underwear is a mix of the alluring and the utterly practical." [V&A]
BBC: "David Cameron has defended a government pro-EU membership campaign, amid criticism that £9m of public money is being spent on "one-sided propaganda". The PM said the government was "not neutral" in the referendum and the cost was "money well spent". The 16-page leaflets will be sent to 27 million UK homes from next week." [more inside]
BBC Radio 2 presents a 4-hour, 4-part career retrospective of Pet Shop Boys. The first two hours, Chart (Part 1, Part 2) cover their 11 main studio albums released during their 28-year relationship with the Parlophone music label. Hour three, Collaborate, covers their forays outside of pop music into musical theater, silent film scoring, ballet, and even a BBC Proms classical music piece. The final hour, The Pop Kids [which deviates from PSB naming conventions in ways that annoy me deeply -ed] looks at their most recent recordings, both done for their own label, X2. [more inside]
BBC: "At least 69 people have been killed and scores injured in an explosion at a public park in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, officials say. The park was crowded with families, some celebrating Easter. Many victims are said to be women and children. Police told the BBC it appeared to be a suicide bomb. A Pakistan Taliban faction said it carried out the attack. Pakistan's president has condemned the blast and the regional government has announced three days of mourning."
BBC: It's been a ratings smash, caused meltdown on social media and an online leak of the last episode has made global headlines. But is the success of the TV adaptation of John Le Carre's The Night Manager down to its star names - or the enduring appeal of the spy? [There are no actual spoilers in this piece, although there are a couple of images from later episodes.]
Brussels explosions: Many dead in airport and metro terror attacks BBC: "Many people have been killed or seriously injured in terrorist attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station, Belgium's PM says. Two explosions hit Zaventem airport at about 07:00 GMT, and another struck Maelbeek metro station an hour later. The government has not confirmed casualty numbers. Brussels transport officials say 15 died at Maelbeek and media say up to 13 died at the airport. Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level. The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels."
Paul Daniels, internationally renowned magician and television performer, has died aged 77 after a diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour in late February 2016. [more inside]
The BBC teams up with the Orkestra Obsolete on the anniversary of New Order's Blue Monday to find out what it would sound like played on a diddley bow, hammered dulcimer, harmonium, zither, musical saw, and singing glasses.
Children of the Stones (previously) is the revolutionary 1977 British children's television drama telling the story of an astrophysicist and his son who arrive in the village of Milbury to study the giant Neolithic stones which surround it, and the community which is held in a strange captivity by the psychic forces generated by the stones. For BBC Radio, writer and comedian Stewart Lee explores the ground breaking television series and examines its special place in the memories of those children who watched it on its initial transmission in a state of excitement and terror. [more inside]
Despite our rapidly advanced dental technology, the idea of dental drilling still scares many of us today. Now imagine your teeth being drilled by Neolithic tools and our ancestors suddenly appear a great deal braver than us. They must have known the true fear of a trip to the dentist.For BBC Earth, Colin Barras investigates the evidence for the existence of dentistry in prehistoric times.
BBC: David Cameron says a deal struck with EU leaders will give the UK "special status" and he will campaign with his "heart and soul" to stay in the union. The PM said the agreement, reached late on Friday after two days of talks in Brussels, would include a seven-year "emergency brake" on welfare payments. He added the deal included changes to EU treaties and would be presented to his cabinet on Saturday at 10:00 GMT. EU exit campaigners said the "hollow" deal offered only "very minor changes". [more inside]
How To Survive A Nuclear Bomb an 'interactive survival experience' from the channel that brought you Threads.
Full cast radio adaptations of The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake, Farewell My Lovely, The Long Goodbye, The High Window, and three more Raymond Chandler mysteries. Starring Toby Stephens as Philip Marlowe.
First broadcast on Feb 5th 1924, the BBC's Greenwitch Time Signal has collected some history. The pips have marked the hour with six (or seven) beeps for over 90 years. Sometimes the pips arrive on time, but the merely human announcers "crash the pips" by talking over them. Sometimes, the pips go missing entirely, throwing the BBC and its listeners off-kilter. In 2014, Radio 4 celebrated their 90th birthday in musical fashion. A short medley of announcers playing with, swearing at, and missing the pips (via). [more inside]
In the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a massively popular BBC sitcom called Are You Being Served, about the “antics” of the staff of the Grace Brothers department store ... [One of the main characters] was devoted to her cat, Tiddles. She would regale her colleagues each day with tales of its various misfortunes, and was always keen to finish work on time to get home and attend to its catly needs. She rarely called the moggy by its proper name, though – it was always referred to as “my pussy”.A tribute to Mrs. Slocombe's Pussy.
RIP Sir Terry Wogan, Irish radio and television presenter whose long career at the BBC included many notable shows including Wake up to Wogan, the Wogan chatshow, Blankety Blank and The Eurovision Song Contest. [more inside]
A study has examined how long alleged conspiracies could "survive" before being revealed - deliberately or unwittingly - to the public at large.Here is the paper itself.
After more than 100 women and girls came forward with reports of sexual assault and robbery by gangs of men in the German city of Cologne on New Year's Eve, Cologne's police chief has been removed from his post. [more inside]
A German Christmas card with just "England" on the envelope has reached the right address in Gloucestershire.
"This caption is a blatant lie." On the 2nd April 2005, BBC Four broadcast the BBC’s first live drama for over 20 years which was a remake of The Quatermass Experiment, starring Jason Flemyng. A dvd was eagerly anticipated but as this exhaustive investigation demonstrates people did not end up buying the version which was originally broadcast.
BBC Arts::Photography - "Billy Name was the in-house photographer at Andy Warhol's Factory studio, where he lived from 1964-1970. A newly published book, Billy Name: The Silver Age, collects his work to tell the story of that heady time." [more inside]
A long time ago in a TV studio not so far away, the stars of the original Star Wars film came to the BBC to promote their then-unknown movie Star Wars at the BBC (Iplayer) (Youtube) [more inside]
Whether you know the basic story or not, you may enjoy Mark Steel's lecture on Beethoven's life for its entertaining (and decidedly informal) presentation.
In 1993 the BBC produced a television series known as "From A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring." One episode in particular stands out for shining a rare light on the peculiar practice of badge engineering cars to reflect subtle gradations in status. The result is somewhere between the Maysles' Salseman and Easton Ellis' American Psycho.
As part of the one-hour special Adele at the BBC hosted by Graham Norton, the program featured an audition of Adele impersonators demonstrating their talents. Among the performers was a mild-mannered nanny calling herself Jenny. Actually, that's probably not the name they know her by.
RIP actor Warren Mitchell who had significant career on both stage and screen but will always be best remembered for playing the iconic and controversial bigot, Alf Garnett in the British television series Till Death Us Do Part and In Sickness and in Health [more inside]
The Stone Tape is a television play, first broadcast on the BBC as a Christmas ghost story back in 1972. It was written by Nigel Kneale, best known as the writer of Quatermass. BBC radio is broadcasting a new adaptation tonight (along with an adaptation of The Ring)
BBC: "If you're white, male and poor enough to qualify for a free meal at school then you face the toughest challenge when starting out in life. That's what the Equality and Human Right Commission (EHRC) has said in "the most comprehensive review ever carried out on progress towards greater equality in Britain"."
Suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter has suggested there was an agreement in place for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup - before the vote took place. The 79-year-old told Russian news agency Tass of a "discussion" in 2010 about future World Cups.
BBC Four Presents three programmes about the psychedelic era of British pop: Psychedelic Britannia, 60s Psychedelic Rock at the BBC, Arena - Magical Mystery Tour. Tune in, turn on, chill out.
Between 1973 and 1983, Vincent Price starred in twenty-two episodes of radio horror for the BBC. Price claimed the stories were drawn from his own reminiscences, though certain plots bear strong resemblances to classic pieces by Roald Dahl and Bram Stoker. Click on and listen, if you can afford...THE PRICE OF FEAR. [more inside]
"A growing number of people on low incomes are now living in shared housing - known as "houses in multiple occupation" - where each room is rented separately. But there's concern that many tenants are living in poor conditions." [SLBBC]
Half-heard whispers. A creaking door. A missed step. From Vertigo to Videodrome, the scariest movies exploit our greatest – and most basic – fears. Fear Itself - BBC Documentary (SLYT NSFW)
After thirteen seasons, Stephen Fry has announced he is stepping down as host of the BBC panel show QI. He will be replaced by Sandi Toksvig.
The Sherlock special trailer (SLYT)
When the Kashmir earthquake struck in October 2005, Tabinda Kokab was a teacher in a remote village close to the epicentre. She recalls the day that changed her life, and how it forced her to throw off the expectations that Pakistani society had placed on her as a woman. [more inside]
Vankadarath Saritha, Delhi's first female bus driver - "Women have been to space so why can't we drive a bus?"
After the triumph of OK Computer, Radiohead fell into a creative tailspin -- and frontman Thom Yorke into a nervous breakdown. Exhausted from touring, hounded by press, and jaded by copycats, he escaped into the electronica scene pioneered by Kraftwerk and Warp Records -- fertile ground, the band discovered. Trading spacey rock for apocalyptic brooding, they teased their new sound not with singles or music videos but with innovative web streaming and cryptic, dreamlike "blips" -- winterlands, flocks of cubes, eyeballs, bears. After nearly breaking up over tracklist angst, they cut the kid in half. Thus fifteen years ago today, Kid A and (later) Amnesiac debuted, a confounding mix of electronic fugue, whalesong, pulsing IDM, drunken piano, and epic jazz funeral whose insights into anxiety, political dysfunction, and climate crisis would make it one of the most revered albums of the twenty-first century. See the documentary Reflections on Kid A for interviews and live cuts, or look inside for much more. [more inside]
After teasing for hours on the official BBC Doctor Who twitter feed about #bigdoctorwhonews leading to a fever pitch of speculation re potential mega famous guests stars, new companion(s) or the recovery of lost episodes... it was finally announced that there will be a new spin-off YA series Class written by Patrick Ness centered around Coal Hill School in London
"'I was reading an article in the Radio Times the other day,' says Andrew Davies. 'The journalist was asking, "Why have all these classic serials got to be about the male lead getting his kit off?" And I thought, 'Hey! I started that!'" - Pride and Prejudice at 20: The scene that changed everything, by Nicholas Barber for BBC Culture. [more inside]
BBC Radio's From Our Own Correspondent (previously on Metafilter) turns 60 this month. To celebrate, they've released several special editions: the first ever UK edition; a discussion panel on foreign reporting's past, present and future (includes a thoughtful discussion of how much a reporter's personal point of view should inform their reporting); and a compilation of notable stories from the past 60 years.