Archive for the Television Category

The Astronomer and The Hat

Posted in Television with tags , , , , on May 4, 2019 by telescoper

There’s been a lot of activity recently on social media, and perhaps even between real people, relating to Game of Thrones (which is, apparently, a television fantasy drama series of some sort). I don’t have a television at home so I haven’t seen any of this series at all. I do have a laptop with a DVD player so I suppose I could watch it that way but I suspect I’d find it rather childish. Being more interested in serious programmes I have instead in recent evenings been watching a selection of episodes from my complete boxed set of Ivor the Engine, a gritty documentary series about life on and around the Merioneth and Llantisilly Railway Traction Company Limited, which operates in the `top left-hand corner of Wales’.

Not many people seem to know that there is an astronomical connection with Ivor the Engine, seen above in the form of Professor D. Longfellow. He lives in Observatory Villa, Llaniog, has his own personal telescope and is sometimes consulted for answers to various problems. He thus provides an excellent illustration of the wider impact of astronomy in everyday life. In the screen grab above he is being interrupted by Dai Station who needs to know the location of the nearest volcano as he has found some dragon eggs that need to be kept warm.

Professor Longfellow makes an extended appearance in the following Episode, entitled The Hat, the central character of which is Mrs Porty, who is rich – so rich, in fact, that she has new hats sent to her all the way from London. At the risk of upsetting people with a plot spoiler, Mrs Porty goes around with a telescope cover on her head because she collected the wrong box from the railway station thinking it was a new hat.

P.S. If anyone knows where I can buy an outfit like Professor Longfellow’s please let me know. I feel I could
advance my career in astronomy even further if I wore more appropriate clothing.


The Best Men Can Be Unshaven

Posted in Beards, Biographical, Television with tags , , on January 16, 2019 by telescoper

This advertisement by the Gillette company (purveyors of razors and other shaving products) has been causing a social media meltdown among the male snowflake fraternity:

It seems that the message conveyed in this short film – that men could do more to tackle bullying and harassment – is proving unpopular with certain men. I think it’s a reasonable inference that those men who feel the need to rant about this commercial actually think that they should be entitled by virtue of their gonads to engage in the kind of behaviour challenged therein and indeed threatened by any suggestion that they should not behave like prats. in my opinion the fact that there has been such a reaction demonstrates beyond any doubt how important the message is that toxic masculinity is a problem.

As a recent winner of Beard of the Year I feel it is important to point out that because I have a full beard, I never use Gillette (or any other shaving) products. My continuing not to use Gillette products should therefore not be interpreted as opposition to the message contained in this particular advertisement nor should my refusal to be upset by a commercial be interpreted as an endorsement of Gillette products. If, on the other hand, the Gillette company were to find it within their capacity to introduce a range of beard care products then, in return for receipt of an appropriately generous free supply of said products, I would be willing to advertise them on this site. Indeed, given the ever-increasing numbers of men preferring to be unshaven, it would seem to be a good idea from purely business grounds to diversify its range in order to cater for the hirsute market. I hope this clarifies the situation.

P.S. Another idea would be for Gillette to develop a range of toxic shaving products, specifically for those men who think toxic masculinity is just fine….

What are we going to do now?

Posted in Politics, Television with tags , on January 16, 2019 by telescoper

After another tumultuous day in British politics, this blog is once again proud to be able to show exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the Cabinet discussions at Number 10 Downing Street:

What are we going to do now?

Posted in Politics, Television with tags , on November 15, 2018 by telescoper

On this tumultuous day in British politics, this blog is proud to be able to show exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the Cabinet discussions at Number 10 Downing Street:

Private Arnold Ridley

Posted in History, Television with tags , , , on November 11, 2018 by telescoper

You probably recognize the elderly gentleman in the photograph on the right as Arnold Ridley who played Private Godfrey in the TV comedy series Dad’s Army. You might not have realized that the person on the left is also Arnold Ridley, photographed shortly after he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in 1915. You also may not know that Ridley fought with great courage in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, during which he was very badly injured.

After being ordered to go `over the top’ near Gueudecourt as part of the Somme offensive, many of Ridley’s battalion were killed by machine gun fire as they advanced towards the enemy lines, but Ridley was among those who survived long enough to reach the German trenches.

In the desperate hand-to-hand struggle that ensued as he and the rest of unit fought their way along a trench, Ridley was knocked out by a blow from a rifle butt that turned out to have cracked his skull, and was bayonetted in the groin. His legs were riddled with shrapnel and he received a further bayonet wound to the hand, which left him permanently disabled. Somehow he survived, though for the rest of his life he suffered from blackouts and recurrent nightmares. He was discharged from the army on medical grounds in 1916, at the rank of Lance Corporal.

He never told anyone – not even his family – how he sustained his wartime injuries, and the facts only became known long after his death (in 1984, at the age of 88).

Kenneth Williams does Thermocouples

Posted in Television, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on October 7, 2018 by telescoper

Not a lot of people know that the late and very great Kenneth Williams appeared as a guest presenter on the popular and long-running BBC science and technology television programme Tomorrow’s World. This sort of presenting was not really his thing at all – Williams hated working with props of any kind, for example – but he’s word perfect on the script and manages to put his own very distinctive personality into this piece. Why aren’t all science programmes as fabulous as this?

For much of its existence, Tomorrow’s World was broadcast live to air, often immediately after a brief (and sometimes disastrous) tech rehearsal with the gadgets. With his vast experience of live performances in revue, I don’t think that have bothered Kenneth Williams very much. I almost wish that something had gone badly wrong, as he would not doubt have improvised in characteristically hilarious fashion. His familiarity with film and TV work enabled him to use the camera very effectively. He’s certainly very camp, but also very obviously very professional.

Here is a clip from the programme, first broadcast on January 2nd 1981. Enjoy!



Cosmology Big Brother

Posted in Television, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on August 17, 2018 by telescoper

I saw on Twitter today that the new series of Celebrity Big Brother has just started, though looking at the list of inmates housemates, I’m not sure whether the producers of this show understand the meaning of the word `celebrity’. At any rate, I’ve never heard of most of them.

I get the feeling that the Big Brother franchise may be getting a little tired, so I thought I’d pitch a new variant in order to boost the flagging ratings.

In Cosmology Big Brother a group of wannabe cosmologists live together in a specially-constructed house (with lots of whiteboards) isolated from the outside world (i.e. the arXiv). As the series progresses the furniture and rooms are gradually moved further apart, the temperature of the central heating is turned down, and the contents of the house become progressively more disordered.

Housemates are regularly voted out, at which point they have to enter the `real world’ (i.e. get a job in data science). Eventually only one person remains and whoever that is is awarded a research grant. They can then spend the rest of their life combining their study of cosmology with the usual activities of a Big Brother winner, e.g. opening supermarkets.