October, 2005

The Avengers on BBC Four

Have I told you how much I love BBC Four? Truly, madly, deeply – that’s how much. I’ve just seen a trailer to say that The Avengers are coming soon on the channel. Fantastic news! From the looks of the stylish trail, they’re starting with the Emma Peel episodes. Roll on the re-released DVDs…

Sky News Again

I’m not entirely convinced that Sky News have quite got their new widescreen system sorted out.
Viewed on a 4:3 TV, there are some strange distortions in some clips, in particular, people appearing wide and fat (as opposed to the tall and thin you might expect). It means that close ups of Adam Boulton become especially scarey.
More seriously, the people running their captions need to realise that not everyone is viewing in widescreen, so they need to stop letting words disappear off the right of the screen.
Annoyingly, the scaffolding put up by the company next door to us has made terrestrial television nearly unwatchable now, so no Murray v Henman for us this afternoon (unless I want to watch it online). But then, having gone to bed watching the World Series, and then woken up to find it was still being played, in what was the longest ever World Series game lasting 5 hr 41 mins, I’ve probably seen enough sport today.

Funland Scheduling

OK, what genius scheduled BBC Three’s new comedy thriller Funland? Heavily trailed across terrestrial channels, it premiered with an hour long episode on Sunday at 10.00pm. The next episode followed tonight, except that it was actually two episodes back to back. In fact, they could easily have edited out the end credits and opening credit sequence since BBC Three didn’t even drop a trail into the middle of it (most unlike them).
So far, so strange, but it kind of makes sense. The next episode is next Sunday and is again scheduled for an hour. I suspect it’ll be another “pair” of epsiodes. More are scheduled to air the following Sundays and Mondays.
So far, so strange – if they’d wanted hour long shows, why were half hours commissioned?
But add into the mix the bizarre repeat mix. If you try to catch repeats you’re going to be completely lost. Yesterday’s episode had a late night repeat while today’s doesn’t. There’s an episode at midnight tomorrow, but is it the first or the second? Then there’s an episode on Wednesday at 9.00pm lasting 50 minutes (?) with a late night half hour showing lasting just half an hour. Thursday late night see’s another half hour, while Friday sees another hour at 9.00pm. If you can find your way through that mess, you’re doing well.
While multiple showings of programmes in a digital age are a good thing, it gets very confused when you’re running more than one episode a week. Surely a simple “new episode on Sunday” strategy would have been better?
I’m quite enjoying this show which is almost certainly not top of the Blackpool tourist board’s Christmas card list.

Pulp Fiction In Breach

This really annoys me. Basically BBC Three (a channel I’ve railed against before, but Funland was quite good last night, and Stuart Murphy’s going, so who knows), has been found in breach of showing Pulp Fiction too soon after the watershed.
In the past the BBC has played the film from 9.45pm which is seemingly OK, yet starting it at 9.10pm isn’t. While there is a 9.00pm watershed, it seems to be a flexible affair that means you can’t actually start more edgy material right after 9.00pm. Kind of defeats the point of a watershed.
So if 9.10’s too early, but 9.45’s OK, when’s the cutoff? Is 9.20 too early? What about 9.30?


Ringside with Dione

I know that The Guardian published this picture of Dione in their double-page spread on Thursday, but it’s still worth a look. It’s spectacular.
And this video from the flyby is also worth a 10MB download. Just wait until Cassini flys past Dione.

Hotel World

I read this because it was slim, and came for just 99p with a copy of the Telegraph in WH Smiths this week. I knew next to nothing about the book, and having it read it now, I’m not entirely sure that I know a great deal more now. The book is presented from the viewpoints of various characters all linked a hotel in an unnamed town somewhere in England.
Some of the stories were interesting. Some, much less so. I can’t exactly recommend this.

Fleshmarket Close

My second Ian Rankin Rebus novel, and unlike the first, I liked this a lot more.
A the theme of the novel is race, and we get everything from overt racism in our inner cities to Morecambe Bay-style cockel pickers. There are several stories going on simultaneously, that may, or may not be interlinked.
A good read.


I don’t know why, but it annoys me when generic bird-watchers are described as twitchers. Twitchers are that special breed of bird enthusiast who chases around the country looking for exceptionally rare speicies of birds. They’re a relatively rare breed themselves.
Anyway, this is all just an excuse for me noting that there are an abundance of bird-watchers in North Norfolk just now. And I don’t think they’re all watching out for migrating birds who might be bringing the bird-flu virus into the country.


Someone in a Newsnight editing booth has obviously been to see Michael Nyman recently because Susan Watts’ piece on nanotechnology this evening was packed full of Gatacca music. Fantastic.