on December 4, 2013 | |
Probably one of the biggest British heroes of the Second World War was Alan Turing. Indeed, although he can't be said to have won the war, without him, it's very possible we would have lost it, such was his contribution. Because Turing, after whom the famous 'Turing Test' is named, was the mathematician responsible for large parts not only of the Allies' code-breaking efforts, focusing particularly on Germany's Enigma machines, but some of the foundations of computing theory that are in use today even now.
So how did we reward him after the war? Well, he was gay so naturally we threatened to put him in prison, which prompted him to commit suicide. Well done us.
The story of Turing's life was turned into a stage play, Breaking The Code, which the BBC adapted in 1996 in association with PBS in the US, with Derek Jacobi as Turing. As with all stage plays turned into TV plays, differing runtimes meant that cuts and changes had to be made, so arguably the TV version is a slightly inferior piece in comparison to the original. It also didn't help that PBS asked for a speech on mathematics delivered by Jacobi to be cut because 'Americans won't understand it.' Oh dear.
But despite the shorter runtime, it's well worth a watch, especially if you'd never heard of Turing until now. Enjoy!
on November 28, 2013 | |
Many plays, particularly those in the theatre, are written to impart a message from the author. TV plays typically have been no different and especially during the 1970s in the UK, social realism and commentary on injustices in society were grist to the playwright's mill.
Largely, however, this wasn't the case for genre series, which were much more interested in ideas about science, technology and the future in the case of science-fiction shows - or just scaring people in the case of horror shows. But the first play in BBC2's 1972 supernatural anthology series Dead of Night, The Exorcism, married both the supernatural and social conscience to deliver a play about the divide between rich and poor that still was able to scare the crap out of the viewer.
Set in a recently purchased cottage in the countryside, The Exorcism sees various middle-class friends (Clive Swift, Edward Petherbridge, Anna Cropper and Sylvia Kay) get together for a dinner party and to revel in how much money they have. Unfortunately, their behaviour excites some particularly unfriendly proletariat ghosts and the party ends up going in a particularly bad direction for them all.
If you can get over the somewhat agitprop nature of Don Taylor's play, this is a real blood curdler that'll make you think while it scares you witless. Best watched at night, with the lights turned down, it's this week's Wednesday Play on Thursday. Enjoy - and if you like it, you can buy it and the two surviving episodes (Return Flight and A Woman Sobbing) on DVD.
PS Trivia lovers might like to know that the eighth episode of the series was going to be The Stone Tape, but that was eventually aired as a separate play.
on November 28, 2013 | |
Today's sad news is that action star Lewis Collins has died. Best known as Bodie from The Professionals, he also appeared in a plethora of other shows and movies, ranging from Who Dares Wins, which cashed in on the SAS raid on the Iranian embassy…
…through his own series of movies, including Commando Leopard and Codename: Wild Geese, through to shows like Cluedo, Robin of Sherwood and Jack The Ripper. He'll be much missed.
So what better way to commemorate his death than to look back at 1980s kids show Tales From Fat Tulip's Garden? Yes, I know he wasn't in it but bear with me.
Continue reading "Nostalgia Corner: Tales From Fat Tulip's Garden (1985-7)"