Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Archive Tape Digging: December 2020

It's been well over two years since my last edition of Archive Tape Digging, but it's not been for a lack of trying. Unfortunately, I simply haven't had many video tapes come my way since 2018 - naturally, this year's pandemic hasn't helped - so there hasn't been much to report. I have, however, pushed back the 'oldest footage found' date a couple of times since the last ATD, but I'm frustratingly still a few months off that big milestone of a find from the 1970s. Well, I did actually find an October 1979 recording of Doctor Who, but aside from 1/3 of a second of a BBC1 ident there was nothing outside of that serial on the tape. Oh and, only today, I found a recording from December 1978. Yes, 1978. But it was just a transmission of the film High Noon - no continuity or anything else around it.

Nonetheless, I have found a few bits and pieces along the way, so thought I may as well collate the most interesting finds here.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray

The Strange World of Gurney Slade is, quite simply, mind-bogglingly ahead of its time. It's so modern, clever, funny and meta that it's difficult to imagine what audiences in 1960 made of it. But that's when this ATV comedy, starring Anthony Newley and written by Sid Green and Dick Hills, aired. In a world of black and white, the boundary threshing ambitions of Gurney Slade brought a new dimension to television. Audiences weren't necessarily ready for this new world, but, for the 1960s to evolve into the creative decade it was to become, it needed Gurney Slade hammering on the door early on. And now, 60 years later, Network have released it on an amazing Blu-ray set.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

The Curious British Telly Fanzine is Here!

As the title suggests, the Curious British Telly fanzine is here! A nod to the world of old school fanzines and a physical extension of this very blog, the Curious British Telly fanzine contains reviews, interviews, features, a big quiz and even a bit of art. All the content is exclusive to the fanzine and will remain a print-only experience. The full contents are as per below:

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Just Another Day


Looking back at the past, during the midst of a pandemic, has provided a momentary respite from the unfolding tragedy outside our sanitised and mask-clad front doors. Getting nostalgic is far from a panacea, but it's comforting to remember what we, through rose-tinted glasses, deem as simpler times. It's even more intriguing, however, to compare and contrast these bygone times with our modern age. And the perfect source material for evidence of the former is Just Another Day. 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Book Review: Opening the Box of Delights


It's that time of year where, as the leaves start to clutter our gardens and the days become shorter and colder, we need a dose of comfort more than ever. And, for many of us, this comfort can be found in The Box of Delights. Starting life as a 1935 novel written by John Masefield, The Box of Delights is a good old fashioned fantasy adventure which pits schoolboy Kay Harker against the evil machinations of Abner Brown. A popular book on its initial release, it found a new lease of life in 1984 when the BBC adapted the series for Christmas. And a new book written by Philip W. Errington lifts the lid on both Masefield and his most famous novel.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

In Discussion with Joy Whitby


It's easy (and fashionable) to label individuals as pioneers, but it's much harder for those individuals to justify such plaudits. Joy Whitby, however, is an exception. Her career is one that speaks for itself and underlines its credentials in the boldest marks imaginable. Starting her career at the BBC in the mid-1950s, Joy has spent nearly 70 years ensuring that children are entertained. Now, column inches may tend to be reserved for those in front of the camera, but it's important to remember that television is a team effort. Those behind the cameras are equally important and that's why I decided to get in touch with Joy and find out more about her story.

Monday, 15 June 2020

A Chat with Fred Harris


Certain names are synonymous with children's television in the UK and Fred Harris is one of them. Starring in almost endless run of shows through the 1970s, 80s and beyond, Harris has managed to entertain generation after generation. And it's a rare presenter who can claim such longevity and plaudits.

Last year, I managed to talk to him about his work on Ragtime for one of my books on lesser known children's television. However, as I've already set out, there's a lot more to Harris' career than one or two shows. And there's even more to his career than just children's television. Seeing as his was a story that deserved to be told, I decided to get back in touch with Fred for a deeper look at his career.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

London is Drowning


London is Drowning concerns itself with an unprecedented disaster that even human ingenuity is unable to stem the tide of. It is, however, far removed from the very real disaster that coronavirus is. But there are still aspects of London is Drowning which chime with a disturbing prescience.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

My New Book is Out!


You may have noticed that Curious British Telly has been very quiet for the last year and a bit. But there's no need to worry. My passion for the oddities of British television remains strong. And, for the last year, I've been working on my new book More Curiosities of British Children's TV. And, even better, it's now available through Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.