Posts tagged: BBC

Doctor Who

Surely this highly educated and experienced physician, whom by sheer coincidence happened to be at the Californian golf course, to be first at the scene of Han Solo’s plane crash deserved to be given his name by the BBC. For the record – Dr. Sanjay Khurana.

Doctor Who

Expert In The BBC

What do you think of when you hear those three letters? The BBC – The British Broadcasting Corporation. It does seem to conjure up images of the 1950s with men in their stiff suits and ties with a stuffy presence of the old boys club in charge of a public service broadcaster not only for the UK but around the globe. I have always been fond of the BBC. Something as British as cheese scones, strawberries at Wimbledon and Shakespeare. I do confess in my early teens, when I became a news junkie, I went through a phase of watching only Sky News. I hope I can be forgiven for my naivety at such a tender age, to not understand how news bias works. Sure the BBC can at times have a bias but it is more impartial than most. Plus I prefer the presenters journalists.

Been attempting to plan a trip to the BBC Tour of New Broadcasting House for many months. Initially it was an idea for my birthday late last year but tickets seem to sell out fast and you need to book almost two months in advance, particularly if you want a choice in time slots. For Clive’s birthday I booked the BBC Tour for 10:45am on Friday 20th February, as a belated gift. It was a special birthday – he had only revealed his true age to me about two months previously and I had attended a celebratory dinner at The Peacock in Henton on Saturday 7th February

Due to personal circumstances, I was quite sure that Clive would cancel our meeting in Central London and I would need to find another person (sixty plus) to take instead. However from the outset, he text me to not cancel the tour. This was not an option in any case, as tickets were non transferable and non refundable. As the day came closer, it was going to be the highlight of my week and even weekend. However it was to surpass all my expectations.

Waking up at 7am on a day off is actually a lie in for me, as I am used to waking up before 6am on weekdays to get into the office bright and early. I got ready and then headed to the train station, purchased my One Day Travelcard from the ticket machine and got to platform one with a minute to spare before the 08:32 service arrived promptly, to whisk me to Central London. From Paddington I took the Hammersmith & City Line to St. Pancras – King’s Cross to await the arrival of Clive on his first class East Midland service originating from Sheffield. The train was scheduled to pull in at 10:06am. Having navigated myself around the station and being aware where the East Midland trains were schedule to arrive and depart (upstairs) I headed to Starbucks for a large cup of tea. I was disappointed the member of staff whom took my order did not ask for my name on the cup. Although by pure coincidence the person in front of me in the queue was called “Andrew” but as he was ordering coffee (like 90% of the people around me) it was unlikely for our orders to get mixed up. I then made my way back up to wait for Clive and kept regular contact via SMS, while he probably had his fifteenth cup of complimentary coffee.

East Midland Mainline Departure/Arrival Board

The train arrived early and I got off my seat to wait by the gates scanning all the commuters, looking for the 6 ft Mr. D. He arrived eventually and we acknowledged each others presence with a small salute. It was great to see Clive, for the first time since his birthday and the life changing news. I thought it best to clear the air and talk this through before moving on with our day. I had realised that I had not purchased a Zone 1 TravelCard for Clive, but thankfully had my Oyster Card which had plenty of credit for the few journeys we were going to make into the West End. The Tube Assistant app I had downloaded recently onto my HTC One M8 had a nifty feature to show which carriage is closed to the exit on your journey. Geoff will probably be annoyed but unsure if the Station Master app has finally arrived on Android. We made our way from St. Pancras to Oxford Circus which is just a five minute journey on the Victoria Line. We then had just a minute walk to be at the heart of the action. We were outside New Broadcasting House. Our tour was about to begin. First though we had to find the entrance. I asked a security guard in his high visibility jacket and was directed to the side entrance. We then had to go through an airport style security check of my coat and a full pat down with a magic wand by a security guard before we were given access to the building to join a long queue. We then had to check in and be given our BBC Tour lanyard. Our tour guides were Amita (also from Slough) and John. The group was a mixed bag with a handful of “adults” and then a teenage party who were all from a radio project at their secondary school but everybody was based in the UK. No language issues here.

While we waited, we could look into the bowel of the building. You will know this part of the building, you see if briefly at the start of every main news bulletin and on the hour on BBC News (formerly known as BBC News 24). This was perhaps the highlight for me, as I have always had a great admiration for everything the BBC does from a news perspective. Sure it is far from perfect but it is a news source, I and million others come to rely on a daily basis. Eventually our tour began and we were taken on a brief security briefing before being shown part of the live news from a big screen. Simon McCoy (he of paper ream fame) was presenting along side another presenter, whom I could not identify but will check the schedules. We were then taken to see The One Show studio, before being whisked across to the Radio Theatre to take part in a play. Clive volunteered to do the sound affects while a five of children took speaking roles. I recorded the video but hit the file limited, so will need to work some video editing magic to join the two clips together and upload to YouTube.

Broadcasting House

As we made our way through the 1930s art deco building, the former entrance to Old Broadcasting House, we were shown some memorabilia. One was the original microphone that would have been used by George VI for his “Kings Speech” during 1936. There was also the original speakers used by His Royal Highness to broadcast the first ever Christmas Message to the people of Great Britain and the Empire (now Commonwealth) in 1932. We were asked if anybody knew who had written the speech for the monarch – a member of the school group, a 16 year old boy responded with Rudyard Kipling – he was of course correct. We were amazed at his knowledge and when probed as to how he knew this information, he responded with the most confident line I have ever heard, “Well I’m an expert in the BBC”. Now just consider this for a moment. You are on a BBC Tour on BBC premises with staff with extensive knowledge of the history of the organisation and you come out with not just the answer to a question but the reason why you have this fountain of knowledge. I wish I had been as committed to the broadcaster at that age. The moment took me back, what was I passionate about now at the tender age of 33 – approximately 17 years senior to this intelligent young man. (Double the amount of time he has been alive). This is something to consider for another time.

Our tour ended with a brief interactive element – volunteers were requested, those whom had not taken part in the radio play. Two people to present the news from auto-cue and then after a brief training video from Carol Kirkwood on how to present the weather. Again I recorded elements of this and will upload to YouTube.

BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the organisation, never to miss a marketing opportunity had a small shop next to the cafe which is where the tour ends and we had a brief look at some of the merchandise before planning the rest of our afternoon. We had more than six hours to kill. Before leaving we decided to have a hot beverage at the Cafe Nero which lives opposite The One Show studio. The barriers had been erected now and there was a strong security precence, passes being checked. We opted to grab our drinks and sit outside to look out for any famous faces. Inside, Robert Peston was getting a drink and being on autopilot as I was but in a rather lower volume I said out “Robert Peston” to Clive but Robert noticed as he picked up his drink and turned around and smiled at me and then went back to his chair and his notebook. Sitting outside we spotted a number of people including Richard Osman from quiz show Pointless, Tim Willcox news correspondent (wearing peach trousers or jeans) and finally from BBC Radio 1 (a station I am now far too old to listen to) Greg James. Although I have to confess for Greg James I had to do some Google image searches to confirm he was indeed the person we saw walking out with his girlfriend to probably grab some lunch.

The original plan had been to head to the British Library so I carry out some research on my grandfather whom fought against the Japanese in the Burma Campaign of World War II. However on contacting the Asian and Oriental Studies department, no records of the Army Officer were found and I have been referred to India. The office in New Delhi have yet to respond to my e-mail but I am not expecting a reply. Particularly with a government department using GMail to host their e-mail account. We then went ahead with out follow up plan which was to explore St. Pancras Station and in particular the Grand Midland Hotel, now fully restored to it’s 1860s spender. Little did I know the exclusive afternoon we would have.

Do you remember the music video to Wannabe? Yes by the Spice Girls around 1996. The start of the video was shot here in the Victorian staircase of The Grand Midland Hotel. After walking around some of the corridors, we made our way down to The Chambers Club. Little did I know that this is where we would spend the rest of the having a late lunch, catching up with my good friendand mentor whom I have now known for over twenty years.

ClockGrand StaircaseClive

This blog post is dedicated to Diamond Geezer. Over the past thirteen years I have followed his daily posts covering various events and locations but predominately the things to see, hear and do in and around the capital. Of course he completed this tour back in May last year. His one image on FlickR is much better than my collection from my mobile and I have the utmost respect for somebody who has the ability to write a fresh post everyday and care to stay fully anonymous in our celebrity centric world.

Comedy Genius

Stumbled onto this video while switching over from the football on ITV HD. I know I should be more dedicated and sit through all seven hours of the annual BBC telethon but some years are better than others. The first edition away from Television Centre was always going to be interesting and I am surprised they selected Eltree Studios. (However it worked out well, with Strictly Come Dancing being based in Blackpool this weekend) Although it was poor excuse for international football on the other side (even if it is watching England lose!)

Hats off to Harry Hill for coming up with such a brilliant concept and casting each part perfectly. I have to say I miss his Saturday early evening TV Burp show. Just a shame I got into it rather late. Oh well, only a month to go until his movie is released in cinemas.

Becoming Mike Teevee

Friday 27th September will go down in the history of UK television as a bumper day. Perhaps not since Christmas were so many shows starting, returning or saying goodbye on an epic night of television, focused mainly on Channel 4. Late September is always the time that new shows start Stateside and favourites, such as Glee and The Big Bang Theory return for another season.

Unsure why this date was chosen but it was UK premiere of new ABC show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I had anticipated this show for over a year. Since the post credit scene of The Avengers, it was only a matter of time before Joss Whedon returned to his first love – the small small screen. Televisions shows based on movies are rare, the usual route is for a television show to become so popular and successful for it to transition onto the big screen. The level of success for a movie is debatable. Just look at 2010 A-Team or 2011 Sex In The City 2. The Sarah Connor Chronicles was an intelligently written, well paced action series which was an off shoot of the Terminator franchise. At one point it was mooted that it would have a plot line to lead into the Terminator Salvation movie but in the end this did not happen. You can appreciate the difficulty for a director to consider the plot for the standalone movie and not having to consider canon from other medium. It was a shame the show only lasted two series because it deserved much more. The casting was perfect, particularly Lena Headley in the lead role and Summer Glau as a Terminator, Cameron. They were able to move away from ever becoming a Terminator of the week show to a character driven story, showing the lengths a mother will go to to protect her son. Plus there was the interesting sub plot of FBI agent Ellison on the trail of all these incidents and trying to put the pieces together.

The idea of a television show in the Marvel Universe was great and I liked the idea that Iron Man, Thor and friends would not be making a direct appearance. This allows for the development of the core characters of Agent Phil Coulson and his special team. Although I wish Cobie Smulders had an expanded role. The only character we know and love is Agent Coulson. The other new characters we need to warm to. Nevertheless it was good fun, enough nods to the other (unseen) characters and enough going on to make you look forward to next week. However as Michelle said at the end of the show, she hopes it does not become ‘mutant’ of the week like some other shows. There needs to be a cohesive story arch and if there is one man who can pull this off, it is is creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. Do not take my word for it, check out the reviews over on ShowRatings.tv.

We have stopped watching The X Factor this year. In reality we kind of stopped watching for the past few years, preferring to watch Strictly Come Dancing as our prime time weekend show. The X Factor would always be an afterthought we would watch on delay and fast forward through the majority of the sob stories and focus on the performances. However the quality of the show has declined in recent years. Although I was a casual watcher of the BBC dance show, in married life I have become converted. There was even a time a few years ago when we would record (and religiously watch) sister show It Takes Two weeknight evenings on BBC Two. I have a great deal of respect for these so called celebrities to learn a new skill such as ballroom dancing before an audience of millions and then be judged by the public each Saturday evening.

I have been a big fan of this show, since it premiered way back in 2006. At the time I worked on a helpdesk and it was my manager Nic, whom brought the show to my attention. Insisting we watch the show on premiere night, even though we had been able to watch online via the Channel 4 website on the Monday before the Friday evening broadcast. Do remember, this was a year before the launch of BBC iPlayer, 4oD and other online catchup services. Luck would have it that I would also have the opportunity to see series two recorded at Pinewood Studios. Probably one of my favourite television show recordings to attend and see all the hard work that goes into putting together a thirty minute situation comedy. We had to wait several months before the episode (episode two in series two) was screen. I was able to secure tickets for a series three recording but was unable to get into the studio on the night due to major oversubscription. Standing Room Only, who provide tickets for this and many other game shows and comedies, always release more tickets than they can accommodate. This is to counteract the large proportion of people that are no shows. The show has generally been good over the course the years and I would even stick my neck out and say the last series, screened in 2010 last series was the best. However, perhaps due to the technical nature of the show, it has always had clever moments and flashes rather than constant laughs. I believe because the scenarios have to built up. Like many fans I was hoping for a proper send off with series four but had to make do with a one hour special. My expectations were high but at the end of the show, I felt a little underwhelmed. It was a good send off and as a diehard fan, there were enough in jokes which linked in with the rest of the series. Check out some of the reviews, some include spoilers.

tv addicted

The State Of British Comedy

When did British comedy hit such an all time low? I am unsure of the exact moment of this decline but it has continued for several months. I feel very disappointed in the quality of recent brand new comedies on television. Now, I do not have Sky, so perhaps I am missing out on the top quality material (such as the return of The Kumars at No. 42) but I refuse to shell out a big fat subscription fee every month. Particularly as my viewing habits are actually limited to a set number of shows and channels. Back when my parents had the service, we still watched a minimum amount of material and even that was when there was something available. In most cases, even with hundreds of channels available, sometimes there was nothing worth watching and we would switch back to free-to-air terrestrial.

Before I got any further an honorary mention must go out to Citizen Khan which broadcast last August on the Beeb. The trailer was cut well but the overall comedy value was low. Extremely low. It was like being taken back to the 1970s. The world has moved on a great deal since the time before I was born! They had to bring in housewife favourite, Kris Marshall from recent BT adverts and BBC sitcom My Family as a Muslim convert just to appeal to Middle England. Proof that a Muslim comedy could not apparently perform without some kind of outside ‘established actor’ help. I did not want to watch any minute beyond the first episode, however we decided to revisit and watch the entire series. Give it a chance, was what my wife, Michelle said was the best option. We had another reason, as we had seen one the stars, Maya Sondhi (who plays daughter Shazia) perform at The Tara Arts Centre with Ali back in December 2011. The BBC have renewed Citizen Khan for a second series, which I am willing to give another chance. However, this is the exception to the rule. I am just not sure if the original Citizen Khan shorts featured in another programme, Bellamy’s People was the ideal avenue for Adil Ray’s talent and a full blown series was too much too soon.

Plebs had been heavily trailed on ITV2, so I watched first episode. However, please note I watched the first episode, several weeks after it aired on television. My wife is a big fan of Celebrity Juice and we have recently started watching The Only Way Is Essex. As these are jewels in the crown of the channel, we were bound to get a great deal of exposure to Plebs. I was extremely disappointed in the comedy. Maybe I am a little outside of the target demographic but that does not mean I am banned from watching. The plot was limited, the jokes were poor and the overall taste was extremely low. This was comedy for the brain-dead generation. I could not stomach watching another minute, so gave up. If you are going to heavily advertise a new British homegrown comedy please please ITV ensure the quality of the writing is up there with the best comedies on television. Even with guest stars such as Danny Dyer, I believed this show was flawed from the start. Transferring modern day twenty-first century life into Ancient Rome, with the ultimate of socially awkward guys outside of the in-crowd trying to meet pretty girls. Sure not much in modern day Britain has changed and most boys of a certain age, are attempting the same thing in bars, pubs and clubs in towns and cities across the country.

I did not know that Ben Elton was working on a new comedy until I read an article in The Guardian one lunchtime at the office. I was looking forward to catching The Wright Way when it finally aired. However, due to my work life balance, I am usually in bed at 9:30pm. I would record the show on my Humax PVR and catch the following evening. I did not watch any further than episode two. While I really love David Haig as an actor, I am sure even he appreciates that we have moved on from 1996. He appears to perform this new role, as Health & Safety Council Office, Gerald Wright in a carbon copy format of Inspector Grimm from The Thin Blue Line. Ben, surely you have honed your technique over seventeen years. Try new ideas, formats and even actors. Do not get me wrong, I loved The Thin Blue Line, it was my favourite comedy when aired, but that was in the previous century and we have moved on a great deal since.

Back to ITV with their late night comedy, The Job Lot. The situation here is a job centre in the Midlands. This proved for me a little funnier than the other comedies I have mentioned. Mainly for the inclusion of a larger talented group cast and the fact that in this environment you can have many different characters appear to sign on the dole. In particular I was looking forward to seeing Zahra Ahmadi, whom you may recognise as Shabnam Masood from Eastenders. However her part was relatively minor and after episode four, I gave up once again. While it began well and did have some funny moments, the comedy fell back into the comfortable rhythm of type. Routine, we all enjoy but not from comedies, particularly those that are supposed to be fresh and brand new. I enjoyed seeing Sarah Hadland step out of the shadow of Miranda Hart and perform a comedic role in her own image. She was good but it was not enough to keep me hooked. Far too quickly the characters returned to type. Look out for one of the actors from Four Lions.

People constantly ask me why I watch some much US imported television. I rest my case. I just hope this is a minor blip and better talent is in the pipeline.

Being British

You never truly appreciate being British until you are away from these shores in lands (and galaxies) far far away. While in India in 1997, a special year for the young republic, I was able to observe at close quarters a relatively old country celebrating a major milestone of freedom, self rule and self determination. What did my extended family do celebrate such a momentous event? Nothing at all. This was a great disappointment to me as both a British tourist but an Indian by heritage but it did underline that while I was always envious of countries with their own Independence Day, I love the country that I call home. India is a greatly patriotic country, (just look at the appetite for cricket against arch rivals Pakistan) just a shame such sentiments did not transcend with my family. Where is Mr Bharat when you need him? In a twist of fate, Princess Diana tragically passed while I was still in the sub-continent and that single news event made a greater impact than the 50th anniversary.

I should be more patriotic than I am, I mean the feeling should run deeper than just the national football team. I always feel British rather than purely English although at times the lines are blurred making the distinction quite difficult. I do feel part of a kingdom, although doubt it will be in existence as a United Kingdom for much longer. Time will tell. I recall one of my first ever blog entries on this blog (which is months away from being a decade old) I mention briefly the Golden Jubilee, I had been watching on television.

Trying to reflect on my achievements over the last ten years is rather simple. I could list them much like a shopping list but the reality is I would much prefer to note how I have grown as an individual. I have changed so much that I am perhaps completely unrecognisable from the person that was typing up this blog in raw HTML all those years ago. Friends have come and go, as have many family members but as wife to be, would say to me many years later, “the only constant in life is change…” Sometimes it is indeed these powerful constants that should be celebrated!

Sea Containers House

I take some pride in being a monarchist. The republican movement does not really have a worthwhile argument or following in any significant number to, in their current form be considered a credible threat. What they fail to understand is that you miss anything once it is gone and do you just replace years of history and regalia with an elected official, replaced once their term (of four years) is completed? Surely the most important part of the Monarchy is their longevity.

The Diamond Jubilee Concert

The One & Only

Being a creature of routine, I have very much settled into my new morning ritual. From January, I decided to get into work as early as humanly possible (being able to leave work early does sweeten the deal somewhat). This meant a change from catching the 07:04 train from Slough to the earlier service at 06:35. While this may seem rather drastic, I actually only get into work a mere twenty to twenty five minutes earlier than last year. Although I now leave my flat a good thirty minutes earlier than before. Nevertheless, I am generally the first person not just in my team to arrive but on my floor. I now religiously listen to BBC Radio 2 in the mornings (less so in the afternoon I am not a fan of Simon Mayo for various reasons) but I now get to listen to the tail end of Vanessa Feltz’s early morning show and catch Chris Evans from the get go for almost an hour. My favourite feature by some margin is On This Day which arrives promptly at 07:15am. It does exactly what it says on the tin, various trivia which occurred throughout history on this very day ending on a musical note. Today the song featured was one of my favourite songs from the early 1990s. Could they have found a better Friday song? I think not! Oh and just a four day week coming up, so next Friday the majority of people will be on holiday as well! Please note this is not the first time I have mentioned this song on my blog. Just a shame the former pop star could not find the real Chris Evans twitter account to contact when thanking the former Radio 1 DJ for playing his signature song!

Junior Artists

People are often surprised when I tell them I am an avid watcher of Eastenders. They expect me to have a broader, more high brow approach to television. The events in the fictional Walford, are perhaps rather too much in the realm of common denominator TV. So what appeals to me so much about this soap? I am sure I have mentioned it before (Eastenders is a regular occurring theme on this blog and I am surprised I have not created a separate sub category!). It is not the gritty hard hitting story lines. It is actually the losers in loserville (Garry Hobbs was a stand out favourite, until his rather romantic exit, in August 2009). I suppose I just take some strange enjoyment from seeing life’s losers depicted on screen on a regular basis. Back in September 2005, I posted about the amazing Salsa Magic from Latin love machine – José! Well in recent weeks, they bought in another minor character (but in this case for a much shorter run than our dear dance teacher from Dagenham). My mind was jolted by this blog entry on the Guardian website. Now it was something else to risk introducing a character for just two episodes but to give her name Poppy Meadow, I am sure an eight year old could have thought up a more appropriate name. However, while she was on screen, there was some strange fascination (almost like watching a car crash in slow motion) to see how low the script writers could sink. Having said that, the sub plot was rather funny, as the dialogue just did not go anywhere, the chemistry between Meadow and her best friend, regular Jodie Gold, proved to be rather electric. There was a spark, perhaps not that strong, but there was enough of that on screen magic, that you wanted to know more. Well, I personally wanted to know more, particularly why she had trekked across from Shepherd’s Bush to visit her friend in Walford on the day of a funeral. If this was an event having in my home town (and I was so closely connected to the family) I would have spent the time elsewhere.

Poppy Meadow

Unfortunately all the clips have been taken off YouTube and it was too long ago for me to try and get some screen grabs from iPlayer. My digital TV card died years ago and was donated to a friend soon afterwards. Thanks to some other websites, we even have a profile over on Talk Walford. Although as a rule, I tend to avoid sites such as these for the fear of reading spoilers. I am a strong believer in the mantra – if you know what is going to happen, what is the point of watching? My only hope is that Poppy is brought back soon, there is the huge potential there, even if not as a potential love interest for Tamwar. (Personally I feel she could do better than Walford’s answer to Jamie Oliver!)

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