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Archive for category: Media Musings

The Search for Doctor Who Magazine

The Search for Doctor Who Magazine

In our drive to reduce our possessions and be able to see things like walls and floors in our tiny 2-bed flat, it was gently pointed out to me that I might want to consider getting rid of my precious collection of Doctor Who Magazines. Which have been left to rest covered in dust in a distant corner of the living room.

However, unable to countenance such a vile piece of vandalism without at least the possibility of reading them again someday, I looked on the Internet to see if any kind souls had digitised them.

And lo and behold, a Russian site has PDF copies of what appears to be every single edition of Doctor Who Magazine to the end of 2016! Perfecto!

Except, foolishly, I wasn’t browsing in incognito mode. Thus by the end of the day, every banner advert was kindly telling me that I could find Hot! Russian! Ladies! through their website. I wonder what their stance on the UNIT dating controversy would be…

Next step: to tackle the six boxes of Empire magazine which have been preserved in a distant cupboard…

(It should be noted that I haven’t seen a new episode of Doctor Who for two years… The delights of Hell Bent taunt me still…)

The body doesn’t quite forget…

The body doesn’t quite forget…

So, you may not know (and if you don’t know, I’m amazed, it’s usually the third most interesting fact about myself I unselfishly volunteer without being asked), but I was a performer at the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, which was roughly two years ago yesterday.

So, anyway, in a way of a minor celebration/salute, I decided to put on the key musical track And I Will Kiss today in the office. At the key drumbeat points, my body somehow remembered that I was meant to DO something, but my conscious brain couldn’t actually remember what.

That didn’t seem to matter to my body, which KNEW it had to do something and so … well, if you’d been staring at me in the office, you’d have seen my arms and elbows raising from the keyboard for one second in an extra-ordinarily unchoreographed movement, because darn it the arms and elbow just KNEW it had to do something…

Will the body ever forget these movements from 2012 ?!

Surely green is the universal colour for “Go”, not blue?

Surely green is the universal colour for “Go”, not blue?

Red clip on a lanyardI was idly browsing through the website for the forthcoming Nine Worlds convention (no idea – I only know four of the guests listed!), when I came across their Communications Preferences System.

This basically means you can opt to wear a different coloured clip on your convention lanyard if you don’t want anyone to start a conversation with you (red), or if you want only people you know to start a conversation with you (yellow). Which would make sense for some people with particular social issues.

However, there’s a different colour for those who want to indicate that they’re happy for other people to initiate a conversation with them. Logically, I’d have thought that colour would be green for go – after all, cars move on green, pedestrians move on green, green is the logical action colour for most human endeavours.

But nope, it’s blue. I wonder why that is?

The Pet Shop Boys, China and “Thursday”

The Pet Shop Boys, China and “Thursday”

The second-best latest Pet Shop Boys song, Thursday, has just had its video published. Which essentially consists of static footage of the Pet Shop Boys singing mocked up onto billboards in Shanghai.

While the venn diagram of people who love the Pet Shop Boys songs, critique videos and have a vague understanding of Chinese culture may well be just me and Ian Fenn, I would like to point out one (in my mind) flaw:

– There is no Thursday in China. Or Wednesday, Tuesday or Friday for that matter. (You just count days of the week in Chinese – or at least, I do. So when we say Thursday, the Chinese equivalent is “the fourth day”)

Also. Really? Gawping at Chinese billboards and Chinese urban people doing their thing? Aside from it being creatively lazy, didn’t everyone do that in the 1980s with Blade Runner? Why aren’t people bored of this by now?

The same argument goes for Skyfall, which has an entire section set in Shanghai for no real apparent reason other than it’s so “now”. Daniel Craig didn’t even shoot any scenes there…

However, let it be known that the song is many shades of awesome, and should be listened to, loved, and cherished. Although anyone who says that this song is better than Love Is A Bourgeouis Construct needs their ears examining… and why they didn’t make a video for it, is anyone’s guess…

The TARDIS can be a dangerous thing…

The TARDIS can be a dangerous thing…

TARDIS power isolator

After all, any device that, when blown up, destroys the universe should be treated with care.

So it’s very good to see the BBC are taking their responsibilities very seriously.

(Taken courtesy of the BBC, who invited me to a preview of their actual TARDIS studio tour, which you can now take in Cardiff till the end of August.)

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing

A poster reminding BBC staff about the closure of BBC Television CentreAnyone who loves Britain’s televisual heritage will not have let the closure of BBC Television Centre go by without at least one sad thought of glorious days gone by, lamenting how the creative engine that kept the BBC going will now surely be lost, and how they will no longer find a home or see their friends and colleagues at the bar.

Forgive me for interrupting the nostalgia fest – and none of this is meant to dismiss the great work that went on there – but the two BBC chat’n’compilation programmes that look back at the great days of Television Centre have reminded me of one thing:

As a current BBC employee, there is no way I – or many people I know – would have even had a chance of a job there back in the 1970s. That’s not down to my skills or experience, but simply because my face would not have fit. The two programmes that looked back at Television Centre didn’t feature any non-white people on its various panels, and hardly any women compared to today’s television schedules. What, no room for Floella Benjamin or Lenny Henry on the comfy sofa?

To be fair, this in itself was symptomatic of 1960s/70s Britain, an era where any thought of diversity (by today’s definition) was a sci-fi dream as alien as anything from Doctor Who, but in the mass rose-tinted view of a simpler life where everyone was friends with everyone else, this seems to have been forgotten.

A similar delusion seems to have befallen some people as they realise our television heroes back then were as flawed as their British society counterparts. It’s apparently a shocking revelation in a new Doctor Who behind-the-scenes expose book (ironically written by the man who directed/produced one of the Television Centre tribute shows) that William Hartnell was racist, and senior members of the production team would sometimes use their oblique power of promise to extract sexual favours from fans.

Forgive me if I’m not shocked at the thought that a white British man in his 60s in the 1960s would not have been entirely comfortable with people from other races. Or that the casting couch phenomenon was alive and well in 1980s/90s Britain. As the Seventh Doctor once said in one of the spin-off novels: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

None of this is written to denigrate the creative genius that created moments of joy and laughter for millions of people (or indeed the distress of those on the wrong end of the power equation), but let’s not pretend it didn’t happen. And isn’t happening now.

A BritCom blast from the past

A BritCom blast from the past

Back in the 1980s/1990s when I was very very interested in British comedy, I used to collect the odd scrapbook of newspaper/magazine articles of anything related to Blackadder et. al. This was mostly because this was pre-Internet, and I was stuck in mid-Wales and thus very much out of the loop. (Although ironically, I’m now living in West London, working for the BBC and still as out of the loop as ever. Who’s this Miranda woman?)

Fortunately, some kind person has seen fit to share their collection of articles from that time with the world by scanning it all in and posting it to that there Internet. So if you want to revisit articles about comedy gems from Absolutely to Whose Line Is It Anyway (by way of Alan Davies, Ardal O’Hanlon, Ben Elton, Blackadder, Comic Relief, Eddie Izzard, Frank Skinner, French and Saunders, Fry and Laurie, Harry Enfield, Have I Got News For You, Ian Hislop, Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Julian Clary, Monty Python, Paul Merton, Peter Cook, Private Eye, Rab C Nesbitt, Red Dwarf, Reeves and Mortimer, Richard Curtis, Rik Mayall,
Robbie Coltrane, Rory Bremner, Rowan Atkinson, Ruby Wax, Spitting Image, Steve Coogan, The Fast Show, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, The Young Ones / The Comic Strip Presents, Tony Slattery and Victoria Wood), pop along to this list of scans from tourmaline1973.

(Really ought to revive my British Comedy Library site one of these days)

Asylum of the Daleks – hurried thoughts

Asylum of the Daleks – hurried thoughts

Asylum of the Daleks – fantastic great episode, and couldn’t sleep afterwards. But I can’t help thinking Moffat’s written a great mainstream-friendly episode that would have been better placed in the 2013 50th anniversary season instead.

Performing in front of 60,000 people…

Performing in front of 60,000 people…

At the dress rehearsal for the London 2012 opening ceremony A crowd of 60,000 people at a dress rehearsal for the London 2012 opening ceremony (via @2012govuk on Twitter)

So as you may not have noticed, I’m one of the performing volunteers for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, in front of a total of 200,000 people in the stadium over three nights, and one billion TV viewers worldwide. Which, oddly, isn’t that daunting – probably because I’ve got a relatively small role.

You won’t get any particular spoilers from me (unless you want to know precisely where I’ll be, in which case just ask!) – but you may want to carve out 90 minutes of your life on Friday to watch the ceremony. I’ve seen most of it four times, and there are bits that still manage to either draw out a small tear. Or have me playing air synth with gusto.

So get in front of your TV just before 9pm UK time (or 4pm New York, 1pm California time). You’ll love it, I promise.

Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu and the Chinese in media

Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu and the Chinese in media

While the UK modern-day adaptation of Sherlock was deemed to be racist against the Chinese by some people (I haven’t seen it so am saving it for when I feel like seeing things that friends say are racist), the US modern-day adaptation of Sherlock (which moves Sherlock Holmes to modern-day New York) is set to star Lucy Liu as Watson (at least according to the Hollywood Reporter and Den Of Geek).

While it’s a great step forward in terms of Chinese representation in Western media, it’s just a shame that Watson tends to be one of the dullest (albiet dependable) roles one can play. Even Martin Freeman can’t do that much with it.

I’m also heavily amused that both publications are trumpeting it as Watson changes gender!, as opposed to Watson changes gender and race! Which either means Lucy Liu and/or US media has transcended race, or that the Chinese don’t really count in terms of race representation…