Archive for the Television Category

Lines on the Death of Sir Terry Wogan

Posted in Poetry, Television with tags on January 31, 2016 by telescoper

So, farewell then,
Sir Terry Wogan.

You were knighted
For services to
Blankety Blank.

Keith’s Mum
Thought you were
The Archbishop
Of Canterbury’s
Special Envoy
Who got
Kidnapped.

But it turns out
That was a
Different
Terry.

by Peter Coles (aged 52½)

 

Forbrydelsen

Posted in Television with tags , , , , on December 12, 2015 by telescoper

Over the past week or so I’ve been watching the original TV series The Killing (in Danish with English subtitles). This was actually first broadcast in Denmark in 2007 but apparently achieved a bit of a cult following in the United Kingdom in 2011 when it was shown on BBC4. That was round about the time that I basically gave up watching television so I missed it then. However, I saw the DVD box set at a drastically reduced price a few weeks ago and decided to buy it. I’m very glad I did.

Forbrydelsen,_DVD

I’ve been to Copenhagen many times in my life but this is the first time I’ve seen some familiar locations on the small screen, which added a personal dimension for me, but my main reason for doing a blog about it is just to salute it for being exceptionally good.  The Killing (in Danish Forbrydelsen: “The Crime”) is often quoted as an example of Nordic or Scandinavian Noir but that term is generally reserved for crime fiction novels rather than movies or television programmes.  The Killing definitely retains some elements in common with classic  Film Noir – a strong central female character and low-key visual style to name but two – but I’m not sure I would categorize it as “noir“. On the other hand some classic examples of film noir don’t display many of the characteristics associated with the genre either. Categories don’t really matter that much anyway, even when they are easily defined which is not the case with Noir.

The plot of The Killing revolves around the police investigation into a terrible crime: the brutal rape and murder of a young woman, Nanna Birk Larsen, who disappears after a Halloween party. Each of the twenty 50-minute long episodes depicts one day; the series has to be that long to accommodate all the twists, red herrings and false dawns, but it never loses pace or tension. That everything happens in a Nordic November means short days of grey skies and long wintry nights, establishing an appropriatelt sombre visual mood.

The complexity of the plot and the Copenhagen setting are not the most compelling things about this as a piece of TV drama, however. What stood out for me was the excellence of the acting not only from Sofie Gråbøl as lead investigator Sarah Lund but from the entire cast. The effect on the Birk Larsen family of the loss of their daughter in such cruel circumstances is portrayed most movingly, especially by Bjarne Henriksen as the father, Theis Birk Larsen.

I am so late writing about this that I don’t suppose I would spoil it for too many people if I revealed who did it, but I’ll refrain from doing it. What I will say, however, is that I was pretty confident that I knew who the perpetrator was right from Episode 1 and I proved to be right. That doesn’t mean that I’d make a great detective, just that I’ve had enough experience of detective stories to know some of the tricks writers use to throw the reader (or viewer) off the scent.

If you haven’t seen The Killing, I thoroughly recommend it. I gather there’s a second series too. I must watch that sometime…

 

Pogles’ Wood

Posted in Biographical, Television with tags , , on October 19, 2015 by telescoper

And now for something completely different: a piece of pure nostalgia. I remember watching Pogles’ Wood when I was a little boy. I wonder if any of my readers are old enough to remember Pippin, Tog and the Pogles? Here is an episode, called Honey Bees, which will bring it all back…

P.S. Should it be Pogles Wood, Pogle’s Wood or Pogles’ Wood?

The Meaning of Magna Carta

Posted in History, Television with tags , , on June 15, 2015 by telescoper

Today (15th June 2015) is the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta. To mark the occasion here is a short educational video explaining the meaning and significance of this important historical event:

Annual Appraisal Training

Posted in Television with tags , , on April 30, 2015 by telescoper

Teaching is over and the students are writing dissertations and revising for the summer examinations, so naturally the thoughts of staff here in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex are turning towards the annual round of staff appraisals. Naturally, as the Supreme Leader Head of School I shall myself be appraising a number of staff and in so doing I will be putting into practice the useful tips passed on to me by the following training video.

Farewell, Mr Spock

Posted in Biographical, Television on February 27, 2015 by telescoper

image

I was very sad to hear this afternoon of the death, at the age of 83, of actor Leonard Nimoy. Although he did a great many other things in a long and varied career, Leonard Nimoy will of course be remembered most fondly for his role as Mr Spock, Science Officer of the USS Enterprise, in Star Trek.

I was both fascinated and inspired by Mr Spock when I was young, so Leonard Nimoy’s death is like the loss of an old friend. I’m sure I’m not the only scientist of my generation who is feeling that way today. Mr Spock represented the outsider in all of us.

spock

Left Bank Two, for Tony Hart

Posted in Music, Television with tags , , , on February 16, 2015 by telescoper

Yesterday Twitter was awash with comments about the sad death of the pioneering children TV’s presenter Tony Hart. The trouble is that he died six years ago, thus demonstrating what I suspected for some time, i.e. that most users of social media have a very short attention span.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes.

When he actually died The newspapers and television were filled with suitably glowing tributes to Tony Hart, because he was not only a superb presenter but also a warm and generous person. That’s quite a rare combination in the world of television, so I’m told. Anyway, I’m not at all sorry to have the excuse to play tribute to him again as he is still greatly missed.

I knew of him primarily through Vision On, a programme which I watched avidly as a child, and only found out much later on that it was intended to be for deaf children. The show involved comedy sketches and cartoons, as well as Tony Hart’s contributions which involved creating works of art live in front of the camera. He hardly ever spoke and used only the simplest of materials to create very beautiful things with the idea that this would inspire his audience to get in touch with their artistic side without making it look too much like a lesson. He did it brilliantly.

My favourite bit of the programme was The Gallery, accompanied by a piece of music which is almost as redolent with nostalgia for me as the theme from Doctor Who. The track concerned is called Left Bank Two and was performed by the Noveltones, just a trio of vibraphone, guitar and drums played with brushes, I think it’s a masterpiece of relaxed simplicity. Nobody got his collar wet playing it, that’s for sure. It’s the sort of music you might have expected to hear in a smart cocktail bar in the early 60s but is now inextricably linked to The Gallery.

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