Olympic athletes come in all shapes and sizes. The BBC's handy new app allows you to see which athlete you are the closest body match with. [more inside]
A Guide to Writing Sherlockian-Tea Habits. In which EnigmaticPenguin (of death) schools fanfiction authors in correct English tea theory and practice. Follow up: Biscuits.
Chirp is an application that allows information such as photos, text or links to be transmitted to devices in earshot. The "chirp" containing the link to the data may be played from a devices or broadcast over radio or PA systems. Unlike many similar system the technology does not require receiving devices to be pre-paired. For now available only as an iPhone application. Discussion and demonstration.
Quite Likely The Worst Job Ever: 'The men who made it their living by forcing entry into London’s sewers at low tide and wandering through them, sometimes for miles, searching out and collecting the miscellaneous scraps washed down from the streets above' [more inside]
A Magazine article on when to take off a wedding ring after a marriage fails generated a large response from readers. The feature asked when it was appropriate to remove the band, and explored the symbolism of doing so. Here, readers share their stories about the dilemma of what to do with a symbol of marriage once the relationship has broken down.
Where are you on the global fat scale? The BBC investigates.
Today marks the end of an era as the BBC World Service broadcasts for the last time from its longtime home at Bush House. [more inside]
First Class was a titanic "electronic" tea time BBC general knowledge quiz show in the late 1980s, presented by heartthrob Debbie Greenwood (now a regular on QVC UK) with the aid of a BBC Micro called Eugene. Two teams of teenagers represented their schools as they battled for supremacy playing a random selection of arcade games like skateboarder 720 degrees and Hypersports, the ultimate prize an Acorn Archimedes. Now, the nail-biting encounter between Armthorpe School in Sheffield and Montagu School of Kettering is on YouTube [parts 1, 2 & 3]
The BBC's new Olympics 2012 ad (full 2m40s version; SLYT) is a CGI masterpiece for the video gamer era. (best viewed with YouTube HD resolution settings on) [more inside]
Breaking Out. This afternoon, in a lift in Manchester ... a BBC Research and Development experiment into new editorial formats.
The Hollow Crown is a season of 4 of Shakespeare's history plays being broadcast by the BBC. Avoiding past mistakes these are made for a television audience and set on location. [more inside]
There are fears for the future editorial independence of the BBC after news journalists were ordered to come up with money-generating ideas for the corporation, a leaked email reveals. BBC bosses have told reporters to think of money-making schemes and present them to their line managers at forthcoming job appraisals – raising concerns that the organisation's prized editorial standards will be compromised by commercial imperatives. The 2,400 staff working in the BBC's Global News department, including the BBC World Service, have been told that they must now "exploit new commercial opportunities [and] maximise the value we create with our journalism".
"Book TV's After Words features the author of a recently published hardback non-fiction book interviewed by a guest host with some knowledge, background, or connection to the subject matter of the book." There's also a podcast version (link goes to XML feed), for those who'd rather listen. Many more non-fiction author interviews can be found at Booknotes (transcripts and streaming video). If your tastes run to interviews with authors of fiction, check out the BBC's Modern Writers archive. (BookTV (but not specifically After Words) previously, Booknotes (but before the series ended) previously.)
'Caught in the act: the first record of copulating fossil vertebrates.' [BBC.co.uk] "The remains of the 47-million-year old animals were unearthed in the famous Messel Pit near Darmstadt, Germany. They were found as male-female pairs. In two cases, the males even had their tails tucked under their partners' as would be expected from the coital position. Details are carried in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters."
"I've been lucky enough to film with elephants, gorillas, bears and none of them have ever sat on my head."
Magic Meerkat Moments: In this clip from BBC's Planet Earth Live, we get to see meerkats, which have become so acclimated to film crews that they now view them as part of the landscape and use them for shade and as vantage points. [via]
Shock of the New is a 1980 documentary television series by Robert Hughes produced by the BBC in association with Time-Life Films and RM Productions. ... It addressed the development of modern art since the Impressionists and was accompanied by a book of the same name; its combination of insight, wit and accessibility are still widely praised. - Wikipedia [more inside]
BBC's Essential Mix has been running two hour DJ sets for nearly 20 years, usually continuous mixes of current club tracks. Nicolas Jaar took things in a decidedly different direction this week, with an eclectic mix of sound track music, jazz, hip-hop, IDM and pop music with just a sprinkling of deep house here and there. Truly essential listening.
Ben Howard performing a cover of Call me Maybe by Carly Rae Jespen on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge. [more inside]
Irene Shubik started as a television script-writer, first writing for Encyclopædia Britannica Films (some videos on Archive.org) in the United States before moving back England, where she was hired on at Associated British Corporation. There, she worked as a story editor for the prolific TV producer Sydney Newman on the anthology series 'Armchair Theatre.' A long-time fan of science fiction, Shubik approached Newman about creating a science fiction version of 'Armchair Theatre,' and Newman agreed. The result was 'Out of This World,' which ran for a single season in 1962. Shubik followed Newman to BBC, where they continued the theme of 'Out of This World' with a new program, 'Out of the Unknown.' Between the two series, 63 episodes were made, though only 21 episodes survive in full, and audio and video clips survive from another 18 episodes. The videos and original short stories are linked below the break. [more inside]
The Up Series [previously] continues. This documentary series, begun in 1964, has revisited the lives of a select group of British citizens once every seven years of their life. 56 Up, which shows the group at age 56, will air sometime in mid-May on the BBC, but until then, have this great Guardian article about the impact of the films on the lives of the people featured in them.
Pirate Bay to be blocked By UK ISPs. "File-sharing site The Pirate Bay must be blocked by UK internet service providers, the High Court has ruled." [more inside]
Limbless amphibian species found. [bbc.co.uk] A UK-Indian team of scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of limbless amphibian. The creature - about 168mm in length and pink in colour [image] - belongs to an enigmatic, limbless group of amphibians known as the caecilians [wiki].
I Woke Up Gay (SLYT): In the small town of Ystrad Mynach, South Wales, seven years ago, a 19-stone rugby-playing ladies man and bank clerk Chris Birch snapped his neck while larking around doing somersaults and backflips with his friends. As the tabloids excitedly revealed a while ago, he suffered a massive stroke and woke up as a completely different person -- a person who happened to be gay. [more inside]
The History of a Mystery is a 1996 BBC Timewatch Documentary about Rennes-le-Château and its 19th-century priest, Bérenger Saunière. [more inside]
High in the Himalayan foothills, fearless Gurung men risk their lives to harvest the massive nests of the world's largest honeybee. [more inside]
Young Edd Gould always enjoyed drawing comics of himself and his friends. Growing up in the internet age, his doodles evolved into Flash animations of increasing complexity, and in time Edd and pals Tom Ridgewell and Matt Hargreaves teamed up to produce an "Eddsworld" series of online webtoons and comics. At first crude and halting, the group's "eddisodes" progressed from surreal shorts and one-shots into full-fledged productions that pushed the boundaries of amateur web animation, with expressive characters, full soundtracks, complex effects, and a fast-paced, off-kilter sense of humor: MovieMakers - Spares - WTFuture - Rock Bottom - Hammer & Fail (2). At its height, the college co-op was producing shorts for Mitchell & Webb and the UN Climate Change Conference, fielding offers from Paramount and Cartoon Network, and racking up millions of hits on YouTube. Work slowed, however, when Gould was diagnosed with leukemia -- a relatively survivable form, though, and Gould carried on working gamely through his hospital stays. So it came as a shock last week when Matt and Tom announced that Edd had passed away, prompting an outpouring of grief and gratitude from all the fans he'd entertained and inspired in his short 23 years.
Jake Cole of the film blog Not Just Movies discusses the semi-legendary hour-long debate about Monty Python's Life of Brian on the BBC Four program Friday Night, Saturday Morning. The debate features Pythons John Cleese and Michael Palin on one side and opposite them broadcaster Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood, the Bishop of Southwark.
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.
Could you run a marathon without training? [bbc.co.uk] "London Marathon entrants have a month of training left for what’s seen as one of the greatest feats of human endurance. Yet Irish twins Jedward claim they completed the Los Angeles marathon without any training. So is it possible to run one on a whim?"
Simon Cowell (aka 'Karaoke Sauron') has for some time dominated Saturday nights on UK TV, but he now faces a challenge... [more inside]
The BBC has produced a fabulous infographic showing the ocean zones: Sunlight, Twilight, Midnight, Lower Midnight, and The Trenches. The page also includes videos showing: what happens to material at 100, 1000, and 10,000 meters down; the animals living in the Abyssal Plains (described in a lovely Scottish accent); and the story of Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh going down to the Mariana Trench in 1960. No one has been back there since, but director James Cameron and Richard Branson are among the contenders who are going to make a go of it. (Rumour has it that Cameron intends to be the sole person in the sub, while Branson is just financing a team.) Meanwhile, the Doer team (backed by Eric Schmidt of Google), says it's all about the science and not just being first in this century's race. And there's even a yellow submarine for the rest of us, if by "rest of us" one means "has $250,000 to spare for a single trip". Don't forget to click the links at the top of the infographic page to see everything.
Adults needing 8 consecutive hours of sleep every night is a common, generally unquestioned bit of medical wisdom that we are all familiar with. Is it really true?
Cassetteboy vs The News [SLYT, maybe NSFW]. A seamless mashup of fifteen BBC News episodes.
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".
Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark is a 13-part documentary produced by the BBC that was first aired on in 1969. It is considered to be a landmark in British Television's broadcasting of the visual arts. Here's the entire series (13 one-hour episodes) on YouTube. This is a treat for those of you who like History of Art, especially so if you haven't yet got around to seeing it. [more inside]
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 Written World is a five part radio series put together by Melyvn Bragg as part of the In Our Time BBC radio project. The programmes look at the history of written word, and how it has shaped our intellectual history. Each episode is available as a podcast and has an accompanying page (1 2 3 4 5) with images and links for further exploration. Also: The books that shaped history (narrated slideshow); the British Library page. [more inside]
Is Sherlock sexist? Steven Moffat's wanton women - as River Song would say, spoilers.
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.
"Richard Lewis is director of Durrell's Madagascar programme. Here he speaks about how the team and the local villagers are working to protect the world's rarest tortoise. This includes the drastic measure of "defacing" the beautiful shells in order to make the animals worthless on the black market."
A few sketches aired during the original run of Monty Python were subsequently lost. Half an episode, the tenth of the third series, was censored by the BBC. All that survives is the script. Also, never shot, but written, was the King Brian the Wild scene from Holy Grail. Additionally, a few sketches were either slightly censored post-broadcast or erased for other reasons. A couple of those sketches have have been found on tape [Warning: Autoplaying video]. The two sketches are Political Choreographer (here with a short bit exhorting you to support Channel 11 in Chicago), and an interstitial animation by Terry Gilliam. Also, the uncensored Summarize Proust sketch.
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.
"In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C. Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom. The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath. The result is the brine sinks in a descending plume. But as this extremely cold brine leaves the sea ice, it freezes the relatively fresh seawater it comes in contact with. This forms a fragile tube of ice around the descending plume, which grows into what has been called a brinicle." A BBC film crew has recorded one of these freezing life on the sea floor.