Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS.

TV This week, after a few years of limping along with a 3 mobile dongle we finally had BT unlimited broadband installed in the flat. Even with a 15gb data allowance per month and a relatively fast speed, the 3 account was always a bit inhibiting, especially towards the end of each month when online sessions would be punctuated with glances at the dialer software to check how much had been up or downloaded. It had still been an epoch change from the dial-up which I’d been using right up until the end of the last decade but I still watched longingly as the iPlayer's television on your television become the norm and Lovefilm Instant emergeed, only able to use each sparingly. In desperation.

Now, well now it’s all just sort of there. It’s there at this computer. It’s in the wifi through my aging netbook and rashly bought Kindle. It’s in a freebee Google tv box and the blu-ray player which have otherwise sat unused. Because we are in a flat many floors up with all of its interim wiring and some way from the exchange it’s not terribly fast (though I thought it would be faster and technical phone calls will be made) but again, it’s is just there like a bottomless, infinite reservoir of data, no podcast too large, no video too long. It is and I’m sure you’ve already guessed where I’m going with this, like moving from a shed into the TARDIS, everything, finally, a whole universe in point of fact available to me. Finally.

Which does make one wonder, why, when faced with a similarly infinite space, Clara Oswald hasn’t decided to go exploring before, why such things and the swimming pool or the library or what looked like the Cloister Room were such a surprise to her in Steve Thompson’s Journey To The Centre The TARDIS. The didactic answer is that as a function of the premise of the series, for all her mysteries, she is still the viewpoint character and so we have to experience such things through her eyes. The unfortunate side effect of that is she becomes amazingly uninquisitive. Admittedly with all of time and space on the other side of the doors, she was probably distracted but even when you’re on an exotic holiday, you still want to reconnoitre the hotel.

For all the billing, this isn’t the series' first deep exploration of the TARDIS’s interior. Apart from The Invasion of Time’s old hospital (which I’ve always thought was a perfectly fine metaphor for the ship’s internal architecture given what the title character is called) (chooses to call himself) (whatever), there’s Fifth's post-regenerative scarf unravelling in Castrovalva and the visit to the aforementioned Cloister Room in Logopolis. The TARGET novelisation of The Edge of Destruction opened out the weirdness into the corridors and engine rooms of the ship and in the Eighth Doctor novels, there’s even a meadow in there somewhere filled with a colony of butterflies. The Eighth Doctor’s console room is still, incidentally, my favourite.

The mighty Michael Pickwoad’s conception, aided by Bryan Hitch, grabs its inspiration from everything which has gone before, the messy architectural free for all of Invasion albeit joined together by similar doors, the surrealistic element of rooms which both exist inside and outside of time and reality and an area which appears to totally exist outside (though it may be an illusion). One could be churlish and suggest there aren’t enough roundels, but roundels haven’t been particular in fashion since the 90s, apart from a brief return after the TARDIS regenerated itself during the Earth arc in the BBC Books (ask your granddad). But a visit to the gorgeous Avatar-like room that actually creates the inside of the TARDIS was more than enough compensation.

Has the TARDIS always been an infinite space? In volume one of the series, there always seemed to be moments when the best way to save the ship was to jettison a few rooms during much jeopardy, but with an infinite number that doesn’t seem to be much of a loss. Similarly in The Doctor’s Wife, there’s much talk of how important it is to lose the Russell T Davies era console room in a huge metaphorical act of letting go of history (especially after the thing stood around in Cardiff for a few years until the production team could afford to make the episode). But it feels like it should be infinite if only because for it not to be would make a nonsense of its acronym. It’s a relative dimension, after all.

The Danny Boyle inspired trip into the Eye of Harmony, or Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project for the highbrow, was a pleasant surprise and the explanation seemed to find a happy medium between what Robert Holmes established in The Deadly Assassin and the spin-off media scrambled about with as a way of justifying its appearance inside the TARDIS in the TV movie. Here, the Doctor says that it’s an “exploding star in the act of becoming a black hole” and that thanks to “timelord engineering, you rip the star from it's orbit suspend it in a purpose built state of decay”. In the spin-offs it’s suggested that TARDISes have an echo of the original, but what’s to say that in destroying Gallifrey he didn’t preserve the original?

All of which said, the bestest thing about this TARDIS is that it’s haunted by the echoes and whispers of its previous occupants, the early observations of Ian and Barbara mingling with the Ninth Doctor, tiny fragments echoing through the corridors. Zagreus was another huge TARDIS exploration story, albeit with a more metaphysical approach utilising an old Pertwee staring fan project to similar effect, but unlike here, what he was saying, barely inaudible was supposed to be an important part of the plot. This was about atmosphere, and even for those of us who’ve bought all of the available dvds, all of Doctor Who at our fingertips, there’s still something pretty chilling about them emerging in the new series.

If all of this squeeing about the set suggests I’m reticent about giving an actual opinion about the episode, you’d be right because, well, hum. Oh no, that’s not fair. It’s fine. It’s more than fine. It’s just… oh fuck it’s the reset button. It’s the sodding reset button. Some professional reviews have suggested that this was some kind of Swiftian satire on the nature of fandom and how we are forever complaining about the simplistic, Fanthorpian ways in which Doctor Who often completes its stories even after ten episodes of corridors and capture and funnily enough I’m not one of those. I don’t mind the sonic screwdriver, god in the machine methodology which emerges when one often least expects it (cf, The Wheel in Space).

But I still hate sodding, fucking reset buttons. Call it a big friendly button, actually make a prop all you want but it means in effect we’ve spent the past forty-five minutes watching something which didn’t happen and has, with the exception of some intrigue for the viewer which we’ll discuss later, no relevance to the main story, conversations unhad, deaths undone. Every sci-fi series has one now and then and they’re always deeply, deeply disappointing, especially when, as was the case with Star Trek: Voyager they happened pretty much every season. They’re the sci-fi television equivalent of Bobby Ewing leaving the shower, the cliché we were all bawled at for using in creative writing at school, “Luckily, it was all a dream.”

About the only time it can be acceptable is when it’s a false reset, when some element of everything that’s gone before is retained. Harry Kim swapping starships. Angel remembering a day of happiness with Buffy. In Doctor Who terms, Martha Jones’s family in Last of the Time Lords (not that it’s ever been adequately explained what happened to the human race at the other end of time without a home to go to). Turn Left works because it’s an alternate reality episode, which is also important within the internal narrative architecture of that season and the return of Rose (not that we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility that given the weekly reference’s I’ve somehow missed, Journey To The Centre The TARDIS isn’t also …).

Journey To The Centre The TARDIS tries to have it both ways. One Doctor sees his older self on the other side of the amortised crack graphic and so knows that he’s at the end of a version of his older self’s adventure and refers to it as such. But he doesn’t know what happened, other than that it was terribly bad. All of those big passionate speeches for naught, his truth seeking conversations with Clara forgotten, at least for him so that, although we remember because we’re watching a television programme, at some point we’re going to have to sit through them all again, however ironically they may be achieved with a sardonically Moffaty wink to the camera. Oh for and indeed goodness sake.

About the only good thing you can say about this is that at least it explains somewhat the ending of the TV movie, which until now didn’t make much sense although it’s true that also made the mistake of allowing its characters to remember the previous timeline even though in theory it didn’t happen to them. That’s the problem reset buttons within tv sci-fi when time travel is involved -- you can’t win – something is always messed up at the end and people like me will always find fault with you. That’s the other reason I'm against them. They patronise the audience. They suggest, hey, we know it doesn’t make sense but you’re not one of those people so it doesn’t matter.

As I intimated, there is a counter argument that we as audience members and active imaginative participants in the drama mean that it’s not a total reset switch, we remember the conversations, the implications of what Clara read in The History of the Time War though, frankly who wrote that book given that the whole thing’s supposed to be a timelocked secret? Unless it’s dropped through time from some point in the future when like Charles Moore’s Thatcher biography there was a moment when this terrible knowledge could be written down. Why would you have it on display? Not since Chronotis absentmindedly lent the Ancient and Worshipful Law of Gallifrey to Chris Parsons has there been this kind of bibliographic negligence.

More on Clara watch later. Given that apart from these scraps, this whole endeavour was (as far we know) dramatically pointless, what about the rest? in almost every respect this is a step up on Thompson's previous The Curse of the Black Spot.  It’s good that the title wasn’t just a reference but the structure did to some extent pay homage to Verne’s book and its film versions as the travellers shifted from chamber to chamber attacked by the monsters that lie within. The reveal of their nature was shocking except it was slightly undermined, at least for me, by me misunderstanding the surprise and thinking that somehow they were all discarded Claras, that he’d found many more in the intervening time which we’d somehow previously not known about, which is a shame because the coup de grace of us not seeing half of the adventure is bold enough.

Similar fine are the crew of the scavenger ship even if the Red Dwarf like opening shots and overly dramatic music suggested something a bit more, well, fun, than the three brothers who’ve wandered in from a Nick Briggs authored, Alien referencing audio story (cf, most of his Dalek stories, Sword of Orion, Embrace the Darkness). The performances are varied, with Jahvel Hall the real standout as the android who isn’t. Some trivia: Mark Oliver previous appeared with Matt Smith on Moses Jones. Ashley Walters’s first screen credit (according to the IMDb) was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He also survived Outcasts, which as we know is almost Doctor Who. Noted: another episode with a tiny cast acting in a relatively confined space (set wise at least).

Gear change. The Eleventh Doctor’s becoming increasingly difficult to make out. He’s desperate not to seem great and terrible and powerful, but he’ll still do the gun thing, kill nasty people in cold blood and as here, effectively trap some blokes in his exotic hotel because they wrecked it which leads to their death entirely unaware that they won’t be in forty-five minutes, or the day before, or whatever. He’s also desperate to keep his secrets, as though the universe will split in two or a franchise will be wrecked if they become too obvious. Even "pointless" Clara can’t see what the problem is before she’s wiped from existence. Plus if it’s written in yon book, how is it a secret. The author of that book knows, whoever they are.

Oh Clara, what art thou? Unaware consciously of your other selves apparently but your attitude smells of Time Lord especially in those moments when your running your fingers across scars in the walls of the TARDIS and propensity to talk to yourself (not that companions haven’t done that in the past) (Martha Jones) but there’s also something about the sentence structure, the glib ways you’re thinking things through. Cameleon-arched Romana? Jenny? How many of you are there in the Whoniverse and how come you haven’t bumped into another one? Do you only emerge in the web of time when another of your kind dies? Will we find out by the end of this series?

Here’s an idea: as we discovered the other day, Jenna-Louise says that she was on the job for four months before they shot the TARDIS scene which suggests that there was at least that long between the initial production of Hide and this and I’d argue that there is a change in her performance between the OB material from last week and this as though she understands her character better after having shot some important scenes which explain plenty in between. It’s imperceptible, but yes, there is something. We won’t really know until the Pixley care package at the end of the year what the shooting schedule was like for the story and I’m probably making this up. There, at least, is a reason to watch all of this again, just to check, especially now that I have all of this data.


Horology To Lyme Regis and a row within the town council over the painting of a clock originally placed to celebrate the millenium. After thirteen years of service it's due for a repaint, which fine, except the original design included the names of the then mayor and town clerk and ...
"... members of the council's town management committee called a halt to the repainting of the lettering until they could see how much it would cost.

"Some members thought the names should be removed completely.

"Coun Terry O'Grady said: “It is wasting taxpayers' money. We should get the clock painted and leave it as it is.”

"Coun Lucy Campbell said: “I thought it was a really ugly clock in the first place. Fine, repair the clock and keep it in good repair but I don't see the point in doing extra bits of painting.”

"But Coun Michaela Ellis disagreed. She said: “It was put there as a heritage thing for that time and it should be kept up.”
Irrespective of why the names were put up there in the first place, how much more expensive is it going to be for someone to spend a couple of hours touching them up and ironically it's potentially less time has been taken in discussing whether they should be repaired. The underlying story is presumably to do with city heritage and history and the extent to which that should be maintained.

Tate Liverpool is 25.

Art Tate Liverpool will be 25 years old on the 24th May. Expect a soppy nostalgia trip here closer to the time, but I received the following press release and since they've been so approachable this past couple of years, I think it only fair of me to post the whole thing (which also saves me from pointlessly rewriting it).

Alexander Graham Bell's Hamlet.

Not yet, but soon. Researchers at the Smithsonian Institute have managed to resurrect Bell's voice from one of his wax-and-cardboard test discs from 1885:
"Early in 2011, Haber, his colleague physicist Earl Cornell and Peter Alyea, a digital conversion specialist at the Library of Congress, began analyzing the Volta Lab discs, unlocking sound inaccessible for more than a century. Muffled voices could be detected reciting Hamlet’s soliloquy, sequences of numbers and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Remarkable. The YouTube video of the recording at Wired doesn't include Hamlet but I'll keep my ear out.

Shakespeare at the BBC: Discovery: Frankenstein's Moon.

Last September, the BBC World Service programme Discovery interviewed forensic astronomer Don Olson who utilises the heavens in an attempt to solve cultural mysteries.

 As well as demonstrating that part of Mary Shelley's inspiration for Frankenstein was no embellishment, he "also outlines his theory that a star referred to in Shakespeare’s Hamlet was inspired by a spectacular supernova which blazed in sky one year during the playwright’s childhood."

The quarter hour programme is still available to listen to here.

WHO 50: 1985:

TV It's almost impossible not to grimace through Timelash. It's rubbish.

On paper there are some great ideas in here which wouldn't look out of place in one of Russell T Davies's pre-season episode plans for nu-Who: the return to the setting of an old adventure which is played very much as though we're supposed to have seen it in the series a few decades before; a stable wormhole dropping inhabitants of a planet far in the future into the dark ages (with the effects each of those appearances could have on the timeline) and most squandered, the idea of the Doctor meta-fictionally meeting one of his Dionysian imitatio, HG Wells.

But no matter what Colin and co might imply in the entertaining dvd commentary, it's a shambles and not even gloriously so. Everyone seems under-rehearsed, the script is underwritten in places, overwritten in others, the Bandrill is as disappointing a creature as has appeared in the series and when, not even the overacting and overreacting of Paul Darrow can save a pantomime like this you kind of wonder why anyone would want to buy it let alone watch it.

On the back of a new series, I really hope that there aren't any kids for whom this was their first classic story -- perhaps 2Entertain should have put a label on the back warning them to go and buy Genesis of the Daleks instead or have someone call a spade a spade and use some naughty words in the surprisingly honest documentary in an attempt to drive up the BBFC rating -- which on the face of it could have least included the description from the sleeve notes on the inside contains 'uninspiring sets and costumes'.

But (surprise) I don't come to completely bury Timelash. Because there is one good scene. Or rather shot. Here it is in full:

As film theorist David Bordwell explains in his brilliant exposition, this kind of shot is becoming increasingly common in film, in everything from Wes Anderson's movies to underrated I, Robot. He describes:
"The camera stands perpendicular to a rear surface, usually a wall. The characters are strung across the frame like clothes on a line. Sometimes they’re facing us, so the image looks like people in a police lineup. Sometimes the figures are in profile, usually for the sake of conversation, but just as often they talk while facing front."
That's not exactly what's going on here -- the studio camera is at a slight angle, but it's not often that you see the Doctor and his plus one simply in repose like this waiting for the next bit of plot to come along (unless they've been captured for the umpteenth time and it's the point in the story when Pertwee gets to deploy his moment of charm).

More often than not the Doctor is moving around, making plans, investigating. But here he is almost relaxed. But more than that, it's almost as though, in midst of some of the blandest direction known to the series, Pennant Roberts has, at least for a few seconds, decided to show the state of the relationship between these two travellers and their attitude to adventure.

They look used to one another, like the old married couple they're often described as because of the endless bickering, not even looking at each other, looking into the environment. There's a stillness to it. There was a paparazzi photo taken during the making of the first new series of Chris and Billie sitting side by side in their own star chairs texting someone and their attitude was the same as this, relaxed yet also somehow tense in one another's company.

The close ups within this scene are within the same plain -- in other words when we see Colin and Nicola's heads they're positioned as they are now, which is the kind of editing language prevalent in old Hollywood (you can see it often in Frank Capra's films) and that helps to elaborate on this mood. Then as the scene progresses, the effect is spoilt as the story kicks in again and anything related to real human drama goes out of the window.

Does this one shot save the story? Oh good god no, it's utter garbage, the whole other eighty-eight minutes. But just for a few brief moments, both of these characters become interesting and mysterious and we offered a glimpse of what could have been.

The Oxford Paragraphs:
Mary Shelley
1818 text

Books  As John Sutherland notices, a century of inaccurate, sensationalist film adaptations of Frankenstein have obscured Mary Shelley’s masterstroke: it isn’t explained how the creature comes into being.  As narrator, Victor Frankenstein describes the process of gathering the bones and whatnot, there are references to labs, but when his creation winks into life, there’s no lightning or slabs, with the Doctor obfuscating so that his experiment cannot be repeated.  The other surprise is the intellectual prowess of the beast.  Shelley’s monster is entirely sentient making his tragedy all the more compelling.  Unlike most screen versions he’s all too aware of his horrific frame and so when the humanity he’s so attracted to ultimately rejects him and he sets about reaping his revenge on his creator, it’s his civilisation that motivates him rather than some animalist brutality.  Even in this earlier, apparently coarser version, it’s one of the best novels I’ve read.

Dr Brooke Magnanti on the Vixen Hour.

Feminism Again, from Australia, for completist sake, a podcast of Brooke appearing on Joy 94.9's discussion programme about issues related to being a sex worker, which features a nostalgic portion about the dawn of blogging.  Aah, good times.

How long Jenna-Louise?!?

TV With the cancellation of Doctor Who Confidential, podcasts commentaries and the lack of long post-broadcast discursive set visit articles from Benjamin Cook in Doctor Who Magazine, until the Andrew Pixley specials, we fans are having snatch lumps of proper behind the scenes production stuff where we can. There are the what what amount to cut-cut-cut-cut down episodes of Confidential on the BBC website, but it's from BBC America that we find the latest titbit:

The whole thing is worth watching, but here's the key quote, from Jenna-Louise:

"Because we had a new TARDIS built, I actually was on the job for about four months before I got to work on it."

Well, that sounds like scheduling nightmare. It's all we're given but I expect how we could interpret this is Jenna-Louise filmed episode upon episode, masses of footage gathered and then they went back towards the end of the schedule and shot the TARDIS scenes and filled in the gaps.

So although Sunday's Hide was the second thing she shot, the first with Matt (Asylum was apparently first altogether), all of the TARDIS scenes were shot much, much later.  Which makes her work on that episode all the more remarkable because the shift between the two is seamless.

The implications of this are interesting for reviewers, because before this, we all assumed that an actor turned up to give their performance all in one go and comment on that (and most did at the weekend).  Now we know that the filming structure is much more akin to a film.

a stick of celery

Nature Scientists at the Michigan State University Extension and Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences have posted details of a new fungal disease which attack celery with devastating consequences:
"Celery anthracnose is caused by the fungus Colletotrichum acutatum. This specific fungus is known to infect other vegetables including pepper, tomato, and spinach. It was first reported as a pathogen on celery in Australia during the 1980s, and was first detected in Michigan in 2010. The common name of this disease is “anthracnose” and is shared with diseases of onions, tomatoes and cucurbits. However, anthracnose in these crops refers to diseases caused by other types of fungi, not the C. acutatum that infects celery.

"Symptoms include cupped leaves and twisted petioles with long and thin brown lesions (Figure 1). Other symptoms include development of adventitious roots. "
Prevention methods are included though it's pretty common sense stuff about washing everything and keep an eye out. A similar process as for human fungal infections then.

Why not become a Librarian? In the 1940s.

Books One of perennial jokes is that Google rendered by librarianship degree obsolete within a few years of me graduating. But what this old film demonstrates is the librarianship isn't just about the technicalities of the process of search. It's about helping the user with what they haven't otherwise thought of [via].

The Oxford Paragraphs
Edgar Allan Poe
Selected Tales

Books As the introduction to this selection of tales acknowledges, Edgar Allan Poe’s female "characters" are absent. Even in those stories which have a woman’s name as the title, they’re simply part of a metaphysical structure and barely given individual personality traits before quickly finding tragic death in a number of ways. His anonymous narrators instead enjoy the company of a string of psychologically damaged men often because they are seeking a kindred spirit. But at his best, Poe is thrilling. The Pit and the Pendulum and The Man of the Crowd are utterly absorbing their ability to place the reader at the centre of oblique, surreal environments and with the three C. Auguste Dupin he inadvertently creates the entire detective fiction genre albeit with slightly more static storytelling structure than Conan Doyle or Christie. If nothing else, I've learnt that you can’t judge a book by its Hammer Horror adaptations.


Film Despite becoming one of the fastest selling shiny discs of all time and loving it to bits, I haven't bought the home release of the first chunk of The Hobbit knowing that that an even longer version of that chunk will be available before Christmas.

Empire have been publishing interviews to accompany the publicity drive including this short chat with Ken Stott about his character Balin:
"For a dwarf he has some wisdom. I’m not sure how much wisdom a dwarf has, but he has some. But dwarves can always make mistakes. Dwarves can get things wrong. And he gets things wrong, too. He’s the force of dignity for the dwarves. He’s worried about the whole adventure. He takes no pleasure in killing. He’s a dwarf who has seen too much of it in the past. So he does not enter the venture wholeheartedly."
Which just goes to show that for all their meagre screentime, the back bench dwarf actors put just as much thought into their characters (aided by the script, of course).

Tilda Swinton's Dance Along at Ebertfest 2013.

Ebertfest 2013 Dance Along from Ebertfest on Vimeo.

C. Auguste Dupin on some members of the press.

Journalism As you'll see tomorrow, hopefully, this week, this hermitage week, I have been mostly reading some selected works of Edgar Allan Poe. As part of the mission, I've discovered that he just about invented detective fiction with the character of C. Auguste Dupin.

In his second "adventure" The Mystery of Marie Roget (if you can call giving a long deductive lecture in a room an "adventure") Dupin coincidentally offers this marvellous take down of the press (included as a more specific refutation of news reports and columns about a murder), which still seems true a hundred and seventy years later:
"We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation -- to make a point -- than to further the cause of truth. The latter end is only pursued when it seems coincident with the former. The print which merely falls in with ordinary opinion (however well founded this opinion may be) earns for itself no credit with the mob. The mass of the people regard as profound only him who suggests pungent contradictions of the general idea. In ratiocination, not less than in literature, it is the epigram which is the most immediately and the most universally appreciated. In both, it is of the lowest order of merit."
Not to mention, now I suppose, some corners of broadcast news media.    The rest of the story is available here.

Magma beast.

Food This post about about the Magma Stainless Steel Grill seems so quintessentially Boing Boing, Jason Weisberger could be having us on:
"nce again the Magma BBQ saved my camping trip. Copied from the pages of The Samba, where user Rhinoculips shared his install, this is one fantastic addition to my arsenal of VW Westfalia camping gear!

"Set-up and break-down of the grill take me less than 3 minutes. The simple, small 1lb propane cans are easy to pack away in either the Magma's padded storage bag, or just stashed around my bus. It is easy to light and gets wonderfully hot, wonderfully quick! You can choose where to put yours, there are many, many mounting options."
I should read Boing Boing more than I do. But it's always difficult with any website that posts dozens of times a day. I lack the hours.

Who is the Secret Actor? #2

Film I wasn't intending to make this a weekly venture but ...

This week's column is shorter and more enigmatic and seems to be missing a final paragraph. Are we supposed to assume the writer is Once Famous Actor or Young Actress or neither?

The latter would make sense and confirm my assumption that this is someone who's already written for The Guardian like Romila Garai, who's previously written something similar when The Observer ran the "my week" column.

Let's see what Gender Genie says.

The first column when put through as a blog entry (which is what it amounts to) says:

Female Score: 403
Male Score: 548
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

This second column?

Female Score: 639
Male Score: 483
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

So that's inconclusive unless there's more than one columnist or we're seeing the gendered intrusion of sub-editors.

Just to check, I put my Doctor Who review this week through the genie too, and  ...

Female Score: 4057
Male Score: 4924
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Just for fun, I also passed Garai's my week column though and ...

Female Score: 1280
Male Score: 1481
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Which puts us right back at the beginning again. Until the actor person starts dropping proper anecdotes we won't really have a clue, especially since in terms of Garai's career, a Once Famous Actor has too many candidates ...


Music The dearth of new Origibabes news this month means I'm going to resort to posting this old video of the girls on the German version of Big Brother in 2000. Yes, in Germany, the Big Brother finale had musical guests. For completion sake, here they are doing the same synchronous stool routine on the country's Top of the Pops a week or so later. Watch for the moment when they nearly topple off the tiny stage.  Anyway, back to BB:


Copper mines.


People The Londonist on "The Day Batman Crashed Into Chelsea":
"June 1874, and a peculiar sight could be spied over Chelsea. A hot-air balloon hovered a kilometre above the ground with the most curious of payloads dangling beneath: a gigantic bat with a human at its controls.

"This Victorian Batman was M Vincent de Groof, otherwise known as “The Flying Man” or L’homme Volant. Newspaper accounts of this ambitious individual contradict in almost every conceivable way. He was either Belgian or French, sometimes Dutch. He was aged either 35 or 36. He’d had success with his flying contraption on the Continent, or else he’d rarely left the ground. Some accounts suggest he’d made a successful flight over Epping Forest a week before, yet seemingly nobody witnessed the feat. Whatever the details of his biography, he was now set on piloting his fragile wings through the skies of Chelsea."
The silhouette in the accompanying drawing does have some resemblance to Bill Finger's original artwork from Detective Comics.