Review: The 50 Greatest TV Dramas

In the UK: Saturday, C4, 9pm

There’s nothing quite like a list of “best anythings” to get people talking – or annoyed – as anyone who’s ever been on the new steam-powered InterWeb will tell you. But how about something as controversial as the “50 Greatest TV Dramas”?

Ooh aye? 50 greatest ever? Is that just shows that have been on British TV? Within recent memory? Who’s voting? And surely it’ll just be the most popular rather than the best that come out on top? And is it really possible to have a great debate about whether Fall of Eagles or Cold Warrior is better, when no bugger remembers either of them?

All valid criticisms of The 50 Greatest TV Dramas, which polled legions of the great and the good from British television history to compile said list. But, despite those criticisms, it was actually a pretty good list.

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Kneale Before Nigel

The Quatermass Memoirs

The Quatermass MemoirsI don’t know if you’ve ever done jury service or not. But if you haven’t, you may – or may not – be delighted to hear there’s often plenty of waiting around involved.

It’s up to you what you do with your time, of course. You can read, which will at least enable you to hear the tannoy system telling you where to go to ruin someone’s life. But unless you bring your own books, you’ll be reduced to reading whatever some kind person’s left behind.

Plus somehow, when you’ve just helped send someone down for eight years and everyone on the jury is having to eat massive amounts of chocolate to keep their blood sugar levels up from the shock of all the horrible things they’ve heard, you’re often just not in the mood to read anything too taxing.

You could, if you wanted to, blog. Judging by the GPRS charges on my Virgin bill for this month, this is a bad idea that will clearly bankrupt you.

So audio books are where it’s at. Now you won’t have time to get through all of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (I’m on hour 18 of 34), but something relatively light like a Big Finish play is just what the Doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, I’d listened to all mine already. So instead, I chose to listen to a little known oddity: The Quatermass Memoirs.

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Sad news: William Franklyn and Nigel Kneale have died

William FranklynTwo pieces of very sad news. William Franklyn, best known for a hell of a lot of things, actually, but principally as secret agent Peter Dallas in Top Secret and as the voice of Schweppes, has died. He was 81. Over his 50-year acting career, he played numerous roles in shows such as The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Avengers and French and Saunders. He also took over from Peter Jones as the voice of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the BBC Radio 4 serial.

Nigel KnealeNigel Kneale, one of the best writers television has ever had, died on Sunday, aged 84. Apart from the Quatermass series and an adaptation of 1984 that caused national furore, he was also responsible for a number of spectacular one-off plays such as The Stone Tape and The Road. Virtually all genre writers today owe him a great debt. He’ll be sorely missed.


Event review: Andromeda at the NFT

Julie Christie as Andromeda

Event: Andromeda at the NFT

Date: 10th July 2006

Host: Richard Hollis

Guests: Peter Halliday, Michael Hayes

Series summary: British scientists pick up a message from the Andromeda galaxy. After decoding it, they find it contains instructions on how to build a computer. They build it and after an accident that kills a lab worker, the computer creates a new life form in her image, which the scientists call Andromeda.

Episode summary: Episode six, The Face of the Tiger, sees the computer become ever more valuable to the government after it develops anti-ballistic missile technology. The computer, however, is starting to assert its own agenda through Andromeda, who is becomingly increasingly human.

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