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Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

Actress Alex Kingston as ER Doctor Corday

Well I didn’t really dream that but remember I was wishing we could hear again the Woman’s Hour dramatisation of Du Maurier‘s Rebecca?

Well I just spotted a listing for a new reading of Rebecca by Alex Kingston (Moll Flanders, ER’s Elizabeth Corday) on Friday nights on BBC Radio 2. The first part is available until Friday on the Radio 2 website (scroll down, it’s toward the bottom of the right hand sidebar) while the second (and subsequent) parts are on Friday nights at 21:15 BST.

Interesting trivia (via the Wikipedia entry):

In Ken Follett‘s thriller The Key to Rebecca, du Maurier’s novel Rebecca is used as the key for a code used by a German spy in World War II Cairo.

Mary, I think you will love this!

Daisy Daisy

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Ooops, I meant to link to this BBC Radio 4 programme starting in about 3 minutes (15:15 BST):

Julie Welch delves into her family history to unearth the connection between her eccentric great uncle King, Daisy Bell, and the most famous ode to the tandem.

Update: That link is now to the archive page where you can listen again to your heart’s content.

Dear Frankie

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Man and boy running across a Scottish beach

I finally got to see Dear Frankie last night:

Nine year-old Frankie and his single mum Lizzie have been on the move ever since Frankie can remember, most recently arriving in a seaside Scottish town. Wanting to protect her deaf son from the truth that they’ve run away from his father, Lizzie has invented a story that he is away at sea on the HMS Accra. Every few weeks, Lizzie writes to Frankie a make-believe letter from his father, telling of his adventures in exotic lands.

As Frankie tracks the ship’s progress around the globe, he discovers that it is due to dock in his hometown. With the real HMS Accra arriving in only a fortnight, Lizzie must choose between telling Frankie the truth or finding the perfect stranger to play Frankie’s father for just one day.

A cracking story, wonderful acting and a first class script. I’m on a mission now to try and see screenwriter Andrea Gibb’s other films.

Tellybox and wireless archives

There’s much excitement over the BBC has opening up its fully searchable experimental programme catalogue – “details of 946,614 BBC radio & TV programmes, dating back 75 years”. There’s a great introduction to the site by Tom Loosemore but best of all, Murky Murdoch is well pissed off about it.

First task: what was on television the day I was born? Harold Wilson (then Prime Minister), a documentary about Japan and another heartbreaking episode of Steptoe and Son.

I love that you can search for your favourite programmes – how about Nice Town? I’m thinking of starting a campaign to get the beeb (or anyone!) to broadcast it again.

Oh and the Woman’s Hour dramatisation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca with Harriet Walter and Michael Rosen. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

There’s plenty to explore but first thought is that the radio icon could be improved – I spent the first 10 minutes thinking it was a clapperboard therefore a movie icon. Or maybe I should go find my spectacles.

Forrin stuff on the tellybox

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

I don’t know why that word makes me smile but it does. A Channel 4 promo for E4 started using the word last year in trailers for “second chance Sunday”, an opportunity to catch up on new episodes of ER on a Sunday night. Useful for those who haven’t manipulated organised it so that the man of the house has his boys’ night out on a Thursday, leaving herself to wallow in ER and to catch up on anything taped during the rest of the week.

But I got to wondering earlier, we get so many US imports here in the UK (and very good some of them are too) but why don’t we get to see more imports from other English speaking countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand? I’d not expect the good old British public to accept many, God forbid, subtitled imports (and besides, the tv companies would probably dub the damn things) but surely there are some quality programmes being made out there that we’re not seeing?

But let’s pretend we can choose what we want to watch. Wherever you live in the world, what local shows would you recommend? Come to think of it, if you’re in the UK/US, which little gems should we be exporting?

And finally… if you’ve had your fill of medical dramas, reality shows and soap operas you’ll appreciate the Wikipedia list of television clichés. When I’ve a minute I might add a section for radio dramas, noting that in certain long-established radio soap operas the norm seems to be that a posh accent equals a decent, intelligent person while a regional accent indicates a ne’er-do-well with the intelligence of a jam jar.

[tags]radio, television, shows, imports[/tags]

BBC Archives

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

I think I just died and went to heaven: “The BBC plans to open up its archive to make a treasure trove of material available to everyone.” [via Ben Hammersley]

Ever wondered what’s in that archive? Who looks after it? It turns out there’s a huge database that’s been carefully tended by a gang of crack BBC librarians for decades. Nearly a million programmes are catalogued, with descriptions, contributor details and annotations drawn from a wonderfully detailed controlled vocabulary.

I’m the lucky developer who gets to turn this hidden treasure into a public website. No programme downloads yet, but a massive searchable programme catalogue.

In the early part of next year, you can look forward to a public beta with extensive programme details and broadcast histories. There are “On This Day” schedules that go back to 1933. It’s got full contributor histories, and Really Good Search. I can’t begin to describe the depth of this dataset – it had an entry for the one time in the 1990s when my dad was on local TV news as a spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council. The cataloguers have worked hard on this stuff for years, and it deserves a wide audience.

If you’ve got ideas on how you’d want to track down an obscure sci-fi drama from the 80s or a radio play from 1962, drop me a mail.

First request: the Woman’s Hour serialisation of Rebecca from the 1990s. I thought Mrs de Winter was played by Joanna David and Mrs Danvers by Anna Massey but I might be getting confused with the BBC tv adaptation. Or maybe they starred in both.

What about you, anything from the BBC radio archives you’d love to see available for download?

The World of Margaret

Monday, October 17th, 2005

I meant to post this last week but what with one thing and another I forgot. Last week’s Woman’s Hour drama was the story of Margaret and William:

Fed up with her limited life after a long marriage to the bowls-playing retired sweet salesman William, Margaret Collins decides to start her own on-line diary, or blog. At first William thinks this is just another of Margaret’s fads.

The first episode will be online until just before 20:00 BST today (about 4 hours from the time of this post) then you’ll have 24 hours to listen to the next episode, 48 hours to the next and so on as they are replaced by daily episodes of this week’s drama, Betsy and Napoleon.

Oh for goodness’ sake, I just deleted a bit of this post. The other news is that BBC Wales are making a Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood [an anagram of Doctor Who]. Which leads me to today’s quote of the day from Doctor Who/Torchwood writer, Russell T Davies:

“With Doctor Who we often had to pretend that bits of Cardiff were London, or Utah, or the planet Zog,” he said

Going to the Blogs?

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Thursday night’s Analysis (31 March 2005) focuses on blogging and politics:

In last year’s American election the internet became one of the key political battlefields. Thousands of individuals took to their computers to discuss the issues on their own Internet web pages, or blogs as they are known. Suddenly the agenda was being set not just by the politicians and the spin machines, or the mainstream media and the press barons, but by anyone with a computer and an opinion.

But this is not just an American phenomenon. There are hundreds of bloggers in Britain already writing and researching their own web pages. According to former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, they will become “a force in Britain, and it could ignite many new forces of conservatism.” Some have even suggested that the Internet and bloggers will change the nature of political debate, journalism and even democracy forever.

With an election expected in May, Kenan Malik explores the world of Blogs and analyses whether they could really change our democracy.

It’ll be broadcast live at 20:30 BST then available on the Listen Again page for 7 days.

Spotted while checking that link: Christopher Eccleston has quit as Doctor Who after just one episode of the new series has been screened.

Jeff Buckley documentary

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Fans might like to listen to a two part documentary, Mystery White Boy, on BBC 6 this Wednesday and Thursday (23/24 March 2005)

Buckley surfaced in the early 1990s, having honed his unique vocal style, mesmerising chord structures and writing skills in New York’s avant garde club scene. His debut album Grace became cult listening. Amongst Buckley’s own compositions the album also featured work by Benjamin Britten (Corpus Christi Carol) Leonard Cohen (Hallelujah) and James Shelton’s Lilac Wine.

But prior to the recording of the album My Sweetheart the Drunk, which was to be produced by Andy Wallace, Buckley was found dead in the Mississippi River, at the foot of Beale Street – the heart of the music district of Memphis.

You’ll be able to listen live online, via digital radio or listen again.

A tribute to Dave Allen

Monday, March 14th, 2005

I’m just listening to Paul Jackson’s tribute to Dave Allen: The Sit Down Stand Up, revised from the programme broadcast in January this year.

There’s no direct link yet but if you go to the BBC Radio 4 Listen Again page, look on the right hand sidebar and click on the (currently) first entry.

Update: The programme is no longer available on the BBC Radio 4 page, we’ll have to wait for a repeat.

The Art of Gee’s Bend

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

Remember that link to the quilt makers of Gee Bend, Alabama? Well there’s a programme on Radio 4 all about the quiltmakers in about 45 minutes from now [11:30 GMT, 24 February 2005]:

Some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced come from a tiny African-American community in a bend of Alabama River. Stephen Evans meets the women of the Gee’s Bend Quilting Bee, whose humble handiwork born out of slavery now graces some of the most prestigious galleries in America – and fetches high art prices.

It will be repeated next Monday at 12.15am, but if you can’t wait until then, it’s on the Listen Again page.

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