Sunday 5 May 2024

The Birth of Thames Television in 1968

Boasting productions such as The Bill, Minder, Man about the House, Rainbow and The Sooty Show, Thames Television produced some of my favourite television programmes of all time. And then there’s that iconic Thames Television ident, featuring the London skyline against Johnny Hawksworth’s classic Thames theme. Yes, there’s a lot to love about Thames Television. But you know what? I know barely anything about how it came to enrich our lives, so let’s head back to the late 1960s to find out.

Friday 22 March 2024

The Slow, Slow Start of BBC Video

I still remember the first BBC Video I got: Pyramids of Mars, the classic 1975 Doctor Who serial featuring Tom Baker. This was in 1987, and it meant a lot to a five-year-old who had only been on the planet long enough to catch the end of Colin Baker’s tenure in the role. But BBC Video was about more than just Doctor Who. Suddenly, the BBC’s archive could be opened up to a country rapidly installing VCRs in their homes. However, it was an enterprise hampered by a slow start. A slow, slow start.

Saturday 17 February 2024

YouTube Pick: My Brother David

The tale of David Scarboro isn't one I was overly familiar with, but his short life and career on British television is, in itself, very much like the soap opera which defined his early fame. Full of highs, lows and tragedy, it's almost as if the infamous EastEnders doof doofs were positioned perilously above his head once he found fame. And the excellent 1989 edition of Scene entitled My Brother David tells an emotional story, all family pride and revulsion at the way the press tore his life apart.

Sunday 11 February 2024

BBC Select: A Failed Subscription Service

If, in 1987, you had been watching television very late at night, we’re talking post-closedown late, you could have stumbled across something very interesting on BBC2. To be precise, you would have encountered an encrypted engineering test. These tests would have made little sense to the average man on the street. But, for the BBC, they represented tentative steps into their first subscription service. And it failed spectacularly.

Sunday 28 January 2024

Early Children's ITV Continuity Captured

I’ve been digging through some Betamax tapes this weekend and, as luck would have it, the first one I pulled out of the box had an absolute gem on it. And it came in the form of a rare clip of Children’s ITV continuity.