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.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Unnatural Causes: Lost Property


The climax to Lost Property is so unsettling and so enshrined in nightmare territory that it's one of the most disturbing moments of British television. But barely anyone remembers it.

Perhaps it was so shocking that the nation decided to blank it out from their memories. Or there weren't enough people watching. It was, after all, part of the forgotten Unnatural Causes anthology series. Airing on ITV in late 1986, Unnatural Causes was comprised of seven standalone plays which all focused on unusual deaths. I'd written about the magnificent Hidden Talents episode on here before, so I decided to try another edition to see how it compared. And Lost Property turned out to be equally intriguing.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Cult of Digging Through Old Video Tapes


I've been searching through piles of old video tapes and uploading them to YouTube for about three years now. The objective of scouring this redundant technology is very simple: I want to find old footage of British TV which is long forgotten. For the majority of the population, however, this quest barely raises the pulse rate. It's the epitome of a niche interest, but I'm not alone in this curious pursuit of the past. In fact, YouTube is packed full of people dusting down miles of magnetic tape and sharing the contents with the world.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Rik Mayall Lights up Jackanory in 1986


Rik Mayall was an explosion of kinetic energy which manifested itself in a unique style of comedy that alienated those who feared life and delighted everyone else. Roald Dahl, meanwhile, was a writer of children's books who managed to conjure up worlds which were highly relatable yet, at the same time, coloured fantastically with surreal and grotesque narratives. And, in January 1986, these two worlds collided when Mayall delivered a one man performance of Roald Dahl's 1981 novel George's Marvellous Medicine for BBC1's Jackanory.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

A Quick Look at Threads on Blu-Ray


In terms of British TV, it's unlikely that anything will ever be produced with the same emotional punch and raw, unforgiving honesty of Threads. And we should be grateful for that. Since it first aired in 1985, Threads has consistently terrified every single viewer that's happened to stumble across it. Positioned as a documentary following the dismal fortunes of a Britain caught up in a nuclear attack, Threads confronts all the social, economic and political horrors awaiting in a post-apocalyptic landscape and holds them up to the viewers' trembling eyes with a relentless vigour.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

The Forgotten World of British Children's TV - Vol. 8


Memories are fickle creatures and this is especially true for children. Being bombarded with so much information is difficult to store and process, so this is why so many memories appear to be completely blanked out or remembered hideously incorrectly. And when it comes to children's television this can be a frustrating quandary. Certain shows are barely remembered and the odd fragments we can retrieve are fuzzy at best. So, to rectify this state of affairs, I've started tracking down some fiendishly obscure British children's TV shows to help spark a more accurate recall. And that's why it's time to welcome in another edition of The Forgotten World of British Children's TV.