1st October 2008
2nd October 2008
Today was apparently railway night on BBC Four, with a documentary by Ian Hislop about Dr Beeching’s infamous railway cuts, followed by Victoria Wood’s Crewe to Crewe, an epic journey across northern England and Scotland on early-1990s, about-to-be-privatised British Rail.
Surely the most promising night of telly in ages… and I completely forgot about the whole thing while watching Buzzcocks and Beautiful People on BBC Two. Fortunately, these shows were also good! Everybody wins!
Looks like I have a date with iPlayer at the weekend (Great Railway Journeys is unavailable, but I taped it off UK Horizons ages ago, so that’s OK; you can come round and watch it with me if you want).
4th October 2008
A contest has been launched to find the world’s oldest television. It’s the brainchild of Digital UK, who want to dispel the (fairly widespread) myth that a new TV set is required to receive digital TV.
Reading the BBC’s report brought back memories of a dull family holiday in North Wales in the mid-1990s, the only memorable moment for me being the ancient 1970s-vintage TV set in our room which took about thirty minutes to warm up and had just four channel buttons (BBC1, BBC2, IBA1 and IBA2, the latter two presumably for snooty people who didn’t want to have anything labelled “ITV” in their living room).
Anyway, John Logie Baird’s grandson has been roped in to help the campaign, and spake forth to BBC Radio Scotland yesterday:-
“It might be something from before WWII or the late 60s or 70s. We will see what kind of entries we get. Ideally it would be something as old as 1936 when the first electronic TVs came onto the market.”
I’d like to see them convert one of those to Digital — which set-top box on the market today can output a 405-line VHF signal?
6th October 2008
9th October 2008
The livery on the new Metrolink trams looks awfully familiar. I’m not sure if Merseyrail should consider it an honour or an insult.
13th October 2008
Gordon Brown tonight abandoned his parliamentary battle to allow police to detain terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days, after the Lords overwhelmingly rejected the proposal by 191 votes.
The bill will be held “in reserve”, so our civil liberties could still be eroded at some point in the future, but for now, at least, it’s dead in the water.
Now, how about scrapping those ID cards?
14th October 2008
Former Thomas the Tank Engine narrator Ringo Starr has been upsetting people again.
Ringo Starr has warned fans to stop sending him mail and presents.
The Beatles legend said in a clip on his website that anything he receives after October 20 will be “tossed”.
He can’t stop answering fan mail — who else is going to encourage Marge Simpson’s painting hobby?
16th October 2008
Every time Merseyrail seems like its about to shake off its Miseryrail tag, they manage to shoot themselves in the foot.
Merseyrail is introducing a minimum off-peak day return fare of £3 for travel after 9.30am, meaning that for thousands of passengers making shorter journeys, it will be cheaper to buy an “anytime” day return.
So an off-peak return journey from Aigburth to Liverpool Central, currently priced at £1.95, goes up to £2.50 — that’s a 28% increase. Great.
It doesn’t affect me directly, because I have a season ticket; and yes, I know that Merseyrail fares are incredibly cheap compared to elsewhere in the country, but I can’t help that the fair denizens of Merseyside are being shafted.
17th October 2008
Tom Baker hosting HIGNFY in a couple of weeks time? Hmm…
18th October 2008
Soap actors, tremble in fear, for Harry Hill’s TV Burp is back tonight!
It’s one of those shows that’s impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t seen it. Harry Hill shows clips of Coronation Street that look strange when shown out of context? What’s hilarious about that? Fortunately, I don’t have to explain, because there are loads of clips on YouTube to do it for me.
So, settle in for the first of a 25 (TWENTY FIVE!) episode run, tonight at 6.55pm on ITV1, but not before you’ve headed over to Amazon for what will surely be the must-have DVD this Christmas: Harry Hill’s TV Burp Gold
19th October 2008
The thing that annoys me about BBC Two’s Comedy Thursdays is the inconsistency. For every Never Mind the Buzzcocks there’s a Mock the Week; That Mitchell and Webb Look was rapidly followed by Vivienne Vyle. Then there was The Peter Serafinowicz Show, which was just inconsistent in its own right.
When Beautiful People came along a couple of weeks ago, it didn’t win me over straight away. I’ve invested too much time in disappointing TV shows over the years, so anything new has to work hard to win me over. Also, I was slightly upset by the flashbacks to 1997, implying that my teenage years are now considered the province of rose-tinted nostalgia. I’M STILL YOUNG, DAMMIT!
Then in episode 2, completely out of the blue, the principal cast launch into a medley of hits from the musicals and I knew this was a show for me. I think it’s Meera Syal wondering around droning “Only women bleed” that puts the icing on the cake.
26th October 2008
27th October 2008
29th October 2008
It has its own sidebar on the BBC News site, and approximately one million pointless blog entries on MediaGuardian — the Brand/Ross “phone prank scandal” is officially big news. It’s even attracted a comment from Gordon Brown, who apparently has nothing more important to focus on. Everyone else seems to have weighed in, so here are my thoughts on the matter.
I quite like Russell Brand. I never listened to his Radio 2 show, but I’ve enjoyed much of the stuff he’s done on telly (Ponderland was a pleasant surprise, and he was one of the best guests to grace the panel of HIGNFY this year). This isn’t the first time he’s crossed the line, but I can’t imagine that the Daily Mail will get their wish and see him disappear into obscurity.
However, despite what the majority of Radio 1 listeners apparently think, I don’t think Brand and Ross’s antics were funny or clever. Yes, comedy should be all about challenging preconceptions and pushing boundaries, but this didn’t do that — it was just… well, stupid.
Has the BBC over-reacted in the face of a tabloid witch-hunt? Yes, but they did themselves no favours by hiding behind bland statements from anonymous spokesmen for days, while the corporation’s enemies were demanding blood. The BBC’s slowness to respond has allowed the tabloids to fuel the story with plenty of good old-fashioned hysteria.
Now its time to get a sense of proportion: at this moment Google News reports 4,115 articles about this kerfuffle. Meanwhile people are dying in wars, losing jobs, and having their civil liberties taken away — can we start reading about that on the front pages please?