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Classic shows that have almost been forgotten, as well as shows that should probably have been forgotten

January 6, 2016

What TV's on at the BFI in February? Including Nuts In May, Penda's Fen, Artemis 81 and Leap In The Dark

Posted on January 6, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Time to look at what the BFI is showing in February. Yes, February. I never got my January guide, and since it's now January and the February guide turned up yesterday, let's just do February. I'll be ahead of schedule for a change then.

February's actually not got a huge amount of TV, but what there is is largely TV plays - and good 'uns, too. As well as Dexter Press Gang Fletcher introducing Nuts In May, we also have a season of David Rudkin's TV plays. Who's Rudkin? Well, he wrote about 90% of the pagan dramas in TMINE's guide to religion, including Penda's Fen and Artemis 81, both of which get an airing in the season (although since the BFI describes the latter as 'one of the medium's greatest productions', I'm not entirely sure they've actually watched it yet). 

But as well as those, Rudkin's The Living Grave is also being shown. This was part of a somewhat odd, supernatural anthology series that aired on BBC Two called Leap In The Dark. This ran for 20 episodes in four series, over a period of eight years from 1973 to 1980, and featured work from Rudkin, as well as Fay Weldon and Alan Garner among others. Each episode featured a different incident of the paranormal, some in the modern day, but most set in other time periods.

So far, so ordinary, you might think. What's odd about Leap In the Dark is that all these incidents were real events - indeed, the first series consisted only of documentaries, while the later series are technically docudramas, rather than dramas. Rushkin's The Living Grave is about a young woman who regresses under hypnosis to the 1700s, with Rushkin's play recreating both the hypnosis sessions and the 1700s. And it's this week's Wednesday's Play.

Continue reading "What TV's on at the BFI in February? Including Nuts In May, Penda's Fen, Artemis 81 and Leap In The Dark"

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October 6, 2015

What TV's on at the BFI in October/November? Including Diana Rigg and The Avengers

Posted on October 6, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Around August, things get a bit weird with the BFI's scheduling and it starts putting out brochures for a month and a half at a time. As I was away on holiday in August, I missed out on September/October, but now we have October/November, which gives us a fair few events from the tail end of October together with a copious number from November.

The highlight of the list is an afternoon with Dame Diana Rigg to celebrate 50 years of Emma Peel and air a couple of episodes of The Avengers, including the superb The House That Jack Built. However, there's also a preview of ITV's Jekyll and Hyde, talks on romance and race and disability on TV, Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard's reunion in Staying On, showings of all seven episodes of Bouquet of Barbed Wire, and a season on the evolution of the TV documentary. 

All that and more after the jump. But first, do yourself a favour and if you haven't watched it already, watch The House That Jack Built. It's aces.

Continue reading "What TV's on at the BFI in October/November? Including Diana Rigg and The Avengers"

October 1, 2015

60s-style Thunderbirds is back thanks to Thunderbirds 1965

Posted on October 1, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Thunderbirds, as most of you will know, was a 1960s Gerry Anderson series that used 'Supermarionation' puppets to enact stories in which a family of brothers go to the rescue of people around the world in a series of advanced rocket-ships called Thunderbirds. Just in case this doesn't ring a bell (you do own a TV, right?), here's the lovingly restored, HD-quality title sequence to give you a rough idea of what it was like:

The show made a resurgence in the 80s and it was remade this year by ITV but using CGI. I thought it good for what it was, but it lacked a certain charm compared to the puppet version. 

Apparently, other people agree. A recent Kickstarter project has taken three audio-only Thunderbirds adventure recorded in the 1960s by the original cast, and is using Supermarionation to create what are effectively three new episodes of the 1960s series. And here's the title sequence and a clip from the first one, The Abominable Snowman:

Pretty authentic, huh?


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