Britain's longest running sitcom Last of the Summer Wine came to an end on Sunday, gathering 5.4 million viewers rather than the 20 million of its heyday. Filmed in Holmfirth, Yorkshire it followed the exploits of playful, cantankerous retirees for 37 years. Though the last bathtub has rolled, Britons can watch the final episode on Iplayer. Location map, some quotes, scriptwriter Roy Clarke interview. We won't see its like again, but you can hear Ronnie Hazlehurst's theme tune set to words for Compo's funeral.
Pinball - a fun brainstorming and decisionmaking online tool from the BBC.
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]
On August 16th 1951 a number of people in the quiet southern French town of Pont St.Esprit began to fall ill. Stomach pains were soon followed by violent and often terrifying hallucinations. Local hospitals were soon overwhelmed and more than thirty people were taken to asylums in nearby towns. It was soon decided that the cause was bread poisoning and the evidence pointed to just one Bakery. The reason, it was believed was 'ergot', a fungal infection found in Rye bread which had often caused mass poisonings in Medieval times. Journalist Hank Albarelli, however, claims that a recently released CIA memo shows that the CIA were in fact testing LSD on the inhabitants of the town. [more inside]
From the BBC blog of documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis: Experiments in the Laboratory of Consumerism 1959-67: "I have quite a lot of film from the archives that was shot in the Madison Avenue agencies in the mid 1960s, and I thought I would put some sections up. It is great because it shows some of the major advertising men and women of the time, many of whom are the real-life models for characters in Mad Men." Includes a 9-minute video interview with the late Herta Herzog. [more inside]
The BBC's Dimensions site lets you view a range of phenomena overlaid on different parts of the Earth. What if the moon was sitting on Alice Springs? What do the Pakistan floods look like if placed on England? What would the walls of Beijing look like around London? Much more to explore.
Sherlock Holmes is running around modern day London. Airing Sundays on BBC1, The BBC has reinvented the master dectective and his sidekick for 2010. Sherlock is cast as a modern day "high functioning sociopath" while Watson is a former army doctor with PSTD returned from Afghanistan. It has been written and created by Doctor Who writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. Reviews are in and the update is a stellar success. The series has been sold worldwide, however UK viewers can watch with BBC iplayer. Rumor has it that those unwilling to wait for release can find alternative sources for viewing.
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.
Every Dr Who Opening Theme Every Dr Who Theme from 1963 to the present. [SLYT]
"I have just got my hands on something wonderful and precious. It is five computer drives containing the unedited rushes of everything shot by the BBC in Afghanistan over the last thirty years." [more inside]
"Sixteen-year-old Sabera, with a pretty yellow head scarf, frets that she is missing school. 'I was about to get engaged, and the boy came to ask me himself, before sending his parents. A lady in our neighbourhood saw us, and called the police,' she explains. She was sentenced to three years but, in an act of mercy, it was shortened to 18 months . . ." The BBC reports from an Afghan women's prison. [more inside]
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]
Vanessa Mae Nicholson is one of Britain’s most successful young musicians. A classical violinist and former child prodigy who self-describes her crossover style as "violin techno-acoustic fusion," her fans praise her modern creativity and frenetic, lightning-fast riffs. But is her talent learned or genetic? Documentary from BBC1 in 2008: Vanessa Mae - The Making of Me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. [more inside]
50 Impressions in Two Minutes and Classic Movie Lines (neither of which are precisely what you think), followed by acting master classes with Kevin Spacey, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Caine, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, and, last but certainly not least, Marlon Brando. All by Peter Serafinowicz, who you may know as Spaced's Duane Benzie or Shaun of the Dead's Pete. (Thanks, iridic!)
Some kind soul recently uploaded, in five parts, a 1991 BBC Omnibus television documentary about Peter Greenaway, who never ceases to inspire me in his dedication to push film into new, richly interesting places, to liberate it from its addiction to stale 19th-century psychological narrative and to open it up to accept and incorporate all manner of artistic information it's usually denied. Cleverly titled Anatomy of a Filmmaker — Greenaway is an enthusiast of the nude human figure, which he sees as the single constant of art — it covers the filmmaker's career from his earliest shorts up through Prospero's Books. There are bits about the time he spent honing his skills cutting together British propaganda, his experience with painting and his longtime collaboration with Sacha Vierny. It also presents subsections on Greenaway's own inspirational creators, including John Cage and the increasingly-intriguing-to-me R.B. Kitaj.
"Now, I'm willing to admit the policeman has a difficult job, a very hard job. But it's the essence of our society that the policeman's job should be hard. He's there to protect the free citizen, not to chase criminals—that's an incidental part of his job. The free citizen is always more of a nuisance to the policeman than the criminal. He knows what to do about the criminal." Orson Welles' musings on privacy and its erosion, police harassment, and the need for an International Association for the Protection of the Individual Against Officialdom. (part 2) [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]
From the BBC, A graphical treemap of the top 500 supercomputers in the world, arranged by country, speed, OS, application, processor and manufacturer. [more inside]
September 9th, 2011. Mark it on your calendars. Experts say that this will be the day that the last bunch of IPs is given out to ISPs. "...the net's entire existing address space will be exhausted about a year after that date.". [more inside]
BBC World Service has over 500 audio documentaries you can download. The subject matter is incredibly wide ranging, for example, internet cafés, the influence of Islamic art on William Morris, South African female AIDS activist Thembi Ngubane, Yiddish, the importance of cows, novelist Chinua Achebe, financial risk management, Obama as an intellectual, the physical and emotional effects of a car crash and many, many more. If the quantity and variety are overwhelming, you can subscribe to a podcast, which delivers a new documentary to you every single day.
“Vegetable, Vegetable or Vegetable” is an “intrusive and unpleasant game” featured on Ouch, the hour-long monthly BBC
podcast talk show on disability. In it, the show’s hosts must figure out a caller’s disability by asking “fiendish” questions, to which the caller may answer only yes or no. (When it’s all over, Daleks holler out the answer.) This is only one of the many scabrous, puckish, and unskittish ways in which Ouch covers life as a “crip,” a term the show uses unabashedly.
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.
The Hitler Downfall Parody Thing has, of course, been done on Metafilter, and done, and done. But it's still happening (with interesting permutations), and it's still funny. So much so that the BBC's Finlo Rohrer has been compelled to investigate. [more inside]
LONDON, the Metropolis and Glory of the Kingdom, was anciently the Seat of the British Empire; and since, stiled commonly, the Royal Chamber of our Kings. The Kings Chamber, the Heart of the Commonwealth, and a Short Draught of the whole Kingdom: As it was once described by Sir Edward Coke, sometime Recorder of this City. It may boast it self to be the largest in Extent, and the fairest built, the most Populous, and best inhabited (and that by a Civil, Rich and Sober People) of any in the World. And for a general Trade throughout the Universe, all other must give her the Precedence. [more inside]
Want to take better nature photographs? BBC Wildlife Magazine has published a stack of their 'masterclass' features online. [more inside]
Visualising the internet is a treemap of the top 100 sites on the internet. It is part of the BBC's SuperPower, "a season of progammes exploring the power of the internet," which includes videos on "How the internet changed my life" and the radio drama "How to Make Your First Billion."
Doctor Who Alignment Chart (single image link)
The Goon Show was a highly popular and immensely influential radio show on the BBC in the 1950s featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan. They would sometimes do live readings of episodes, here's a video recording of The Whistling Spy Enigma (parts 1, 2, 3) and a much later recording of Tales of Men's Shirts (parts 1, 2, 3). The first features Ray Ellington, musical director of the Goon Show, and the second John Cleese, who, like his fellow Pythons, was a huge fan of The Goon Show growing up. In the 50s BBC turned The Goon Show into a TV show with puppets, called Telegoons. A number of shows exist online: The Lurgi Strikes Britain (1, 2), The Nadger Plague (1, 2), Captain Seagoon RN (1, 2), Tales of Montmartre (1, 2), The First Albert Memorial to the Moon (1, 2), The Hastings Flyer (1, 2), The Affair of the Lone Banana (1, 2), The Africa Ship Canal (1, 2), The Booted Gorilla (1, 2), The Ascent of Mount Everest (1, 2), The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill on Sea (1, 2), Fort Knight (1, 2), The Terrible Revenge of Fred Fu Manchu (1, 2), The Lost Colony (1, 2) and, finally, back where we first began, the Telegoons version of The Whistling Spy Enigma (1, 2).
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)
Scott Walker's BBC TV program, simply titled Scott, ran for just six weeks in 1969. While footage has yet to surface (the 2006 Walker documentary 30 Century Man was unable to unearth anything), the audio portion of the two half-hour pilot episodes from 1968 has been made available [ep1-Aug 6] [ep2-Dec. 30], along with a thoughtful article. Scott performs some fine covers, including Jacques Brel's "Matilda" and "If You Go Away" in the August episode. (guest star: Kiki Dee)
"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.
"And maybe this is the time to share a secret that I've kept for quite a long time. I killed someone, once..." So begins BBC journalist Ray Gosling's televised confession in which he briefly describes the time he smothered his lover who was dying of AIDS. Police are now investigating.
Horrible Histories is a sketch comedy show made by the BBC for children. It's subject is history. Here are twenty-five sketches, including the stupid death of Edmund II, the pirate's rulebook, witchfinders direct, the song about Henry VIII's wives, Christians vs. Lions and crazy Caligula. [via Kate Beaton's twitterfeed]
The Interview is a programme from the BBC World Service. Each episode is a 30 minute in-depth question and answer session between the journalist – usually Carrie Gracie or Owen Bennett-Jones – and the subject. Over the past few years it has covered everything from literature – for example, Martin Amis and Seamus Heaney – to the nexus between neurology and music, with Oliver Sacks, and what it's like to be a sprinter with no feet. [more inside]
You guys know about BBC Radio 4's In Our Time, right? Each week, the broadcaster Melvyn Bragg hosts a 45-minute discussion on some aspect of culture, history, philosophy, religion or science. His guests are always three academics with expert knowledge of the chosen subject, and the tone is serious and detailed but never inaccessible. By respecting his audience's intelligence, Bragg delivers a programme of unrivaled interest, depth and educational value. The topics covered this year alone include The Frankfurt School, The Glencoe Massacre, Silas Marner and Ibn Khaldun. Eclectic, yes, but never less than fascinating. The good news is that the programme has just redesigned its website, making all 440 episodes to date available for your listening pleasure in its eminently browsable archive. In the dumbed-down 21st Century, it's a miracle that a programme like this still exists, so let's all make the most of it while we can.
"Then the prisoner came into the dock. A little man. Pale now, and looking insignficant as he stood there with four warders grouped around him. It seemed hard at that moment to associate with that figure the sardonic venom that once sneered from stations Hamburg and Bremen." [more inside]
"Papers that are scientifically flawed or comprise only modest technical increments often attract undue profile. At the same time publication of truly original findings may be delayed or rejected." In an open letter addressed to Senior Editors of peer-review journals, Professor Austin Smith (publications) and another 13 stem cell researchers from around the world have expressed their concerns over the current peer review process employed by the journals publishing in the field of stem cell biology. [more inside]
America: A Personal History of the United States (MLYT). Alistair Cooke's critically acclaimed series, originally released in 1972 to educational institutions in the US, but still unavailable on DVD in region 1 despite requests to the BBC. Synopsis here.
This is the introduction to The Virtual Revolution, an open source documentary, due for transmission on BBC Two next week, that will take stock of 20 years of change brought about by the World Wide Web. Only about 25% of the world population uses the Web today, however more than 70% of people have access to mobile or fixed communication devices capable of displaying Web content. The World Wide Web Foundation [prev] exists to bridge the 'digital divide' in Internet usage.
Last chance to see: Video of Mexico's Naica Cave of Crystals (Previously, and previously.) [more inside]
The hell with your unbreakable phone. BBC Reporter Dan Simmons destroys "the world's most rugged phone" in about three seconds.
MAN is one of a number of animals that make things, but man is the only one that depends for its very survival on the things he has made. That simple observation is the starting point for an ambitious history programme that the BBC will begin broadcasting on January 18th in which it aims to tell a history of the world through 100 objects in the British Museum (BM). A joint venture four years in the making between the BM and the BBC, the series features 100 15-minute radio broadcasts, a separate 13 episodes in which children visit the museum at night and try to unlock its mysteries, a BBC World Service package of tailored omnibus editions for broadcasting around the world and an interactive digital programme involving 350 museums in Britain which will be available free over the internet. The presenter is Neil MacGregor, the BM’s director, who has moved from the study of art to the contemplation of things. “Objects take you into the thought world of the past,” he says. “When you think about the skills required to make something you begin to think about the brain that made it.” via The Economist [more inside]
Over the Christmas holidays the BBC is showing a double episode of the television series Doctor Who... [more inside]
"Fun To Imagine" is a BBC series from 1983 featuring theoretical physicist Richard Feynman thinking aloud. What is fire? How do rubber bands work? Why do mirrors flip left-right but not up-down? All is explained in his lovely meanderingly lucid manner. [more inside]