Saturday 16 April 2022

What's on Tim's VHS Tape?

Investigating the contents of VHS tapes can often be a frustrating, unrewarding and absolute waste of time. Several years ago, when I was eager to accept any old donation of tapes, I received close to 200 videos to delve through; I found absolutely nothing. Actually, I lie, there was a BBC2 closedown from 1992 but it was so dull I couldn't be bothered digitising it.

But you have to take the rough with the smooth when it comes to old video tapes. For every 50 tapes you find packed full of episodes of Family Fortunes from 1999 (apologies if that's the epitome of what floats your boat) you may just find a little curio which hasn't been seen for decades. Recently, one of my Twitter followers, Tim, got in touch to say he had found an old video of his with some recordings on from 1985. There was a broadcast of the Dr Who and the Daleks film and an episode of The Young Ones.

Whilst these recordings are readily available in numerous formats, the true intrigue of a tape is always what surrounds these recordings. Often, a tape would be left running and end up recording something ephemeral like a local news report or a trailer for that season's comedy lineup. Not life changing or of significant cultural importance, but interesting enough to take a peek at a few decades later. And, thankfully, despite only being a two-hour long tape, there were several things worth looking at on Tim's tape.

Thursday 14 April 2022

Book Review: Bagpuss on a Rainy Day

Unbelievably, there were only 13 episodes of Bagpuss produced, and yet it remains one of the most popular and endearing children's television programmes broadcast in these fair isles. With its otherworldly and slightly jittery stop-motion animation bringing to life an archaic, dusty universe packed full of idiosyncratic characters and stories, Bagpuss is unparalleled in its look, atmosphere and sound. But this curious world wasn't contained purely within the confines of a television series. There is, if you look hard enough, further adventures awaiting the nation's favourite saggy, old cloth cat.

Not only are there the recently uncovered mouse tales, but, back in the programme's heyday, there were also a couple of Bagpuss books released through the iconic Picture Lions label. Released in 1974, the year that Bagpuss made its debut on BBC1, the two books were Bagpuss in the Sun and Bagpuss on a Rainy Day. Written by Oliver Postgate and illustrated by Peter Firmin, these are far from cheap tie-in releases designed to make a quick buck; these are the real deal, 24-carat Bagpuss handcrafted by master Bagpussmiths. I covered Bagpuss in the Sun in issue three of the Curious British Telly fanzine, but now it's time to take a look at Bagpuss on a Rainy Day.

Saturday 2 April 2022

Curious British Telly Fanzine Issue 6 - Out Now!

It may be a little later than planned - thanks to a combination of other projects and a nasty bout of sinusitis - but the good news is that the sixth issue of the Curious British Telly fanzine is finally here.

If you've previously read a copy, then you should know what to expect; articles which probe into the more unusual crevices of British television, quizzes, artwork and, of course, a wordsearch. But, rather than provide just a vague overview, I'm going to grant you the respect you deserve and expand a little further on the contents.