"It's Five O'Clock, welcome to PM with Chris Lowe and Claire English..."

Radio In 1998, then-budding broadcast journalist Stuart Clarkson recorded a series of news programmes for an A-Level project. He's retained them in and in 2013 recorded snatches from similar or same programmes and offered up a comparison. Needless to say it's fascinating for hearing how different channels cover the same stories and especially hearing the 90s opening of the PM programme which I now try to listen to every day. As he says:
"We start with the pips and the openers for PM, presented by Chris Lowe and Claire English. Nice present tense openers with good audio. Then into the news bulletin with the legendary Brian Perkins, which is only 90 seconds in duration and a copy-only summary. Most of the wording is similar to the Radio 2 bulletin (GNS), although a few of the sentences have been turned round to make the copy read in a more snappy way. It sounds less ‘Radio 4′ than the Radio 2 news!"
I'd say that's intensified - quite often news readers across the services are reading the same text, which is also replicated on the BBC News website. Nevertheless the running order of the headlines does change, with different emphasise on Today in comparison to BBC Breakfast.


Geography Legacies is a defunct BBC web project from nearly ten years ago which attempted to capture local history through the stories of the people who live there. It lacks some context but nevertheless the content is well prepared and depthful and mostly by academics like this section about factory work in Lancashire:
"Throughout the period, a high proportion of factory workers were women (more than 60 per cent of the workforce at the end of the period) and children, many of whom were taken out of school at the earliest opportunity to boost the family's earning power. Women were heavily concentrated into weaving, the preparation of cotton for spinning in the dirty and dusty conditions of the cardroom, and ring spinning, a new technology which appeared in the 1880s. Especially unusual was the high proportion of married women, who formed more than one-third of the female labour force in certain weaving towns."
See also the Doomsday project...

Watching and listening to all of televised Doctor Who in order: The Sixth Doctor.

WHO 50: 2003:
Scream of the Shalka.

Animation Of all the false dawns during the wilderness years, Scream of the Shalka is perhaps the cruellest. Having been announced by the BBC as the official continuation of the series, treated as such by Doctor Who Magazine with a customary “Richard E Grant is the Doctor” cover and given much fanfare in the media on announcement, the overall impression being that since it was never coming back to television, someone had to do something, by a cruel irony in that very same issue of DWM there was a stop press news announcement on the cover that the show would be returning to television so the whole exercise was obsolete even before it began streaming.

But nevertheless, for all that, it did spawn one of the best articles about the making of some Doctor Who in the franchise’s history, in which Benjamin Cook who (apparently as a result) would later be treated like a king when visiting the set of the revived series (even to the point of eventually co-authoring a book with Russell T Davies) documents a morning spent trying to get interviews with the participants, some warier than others, and particular with Richard E Grant. Much of his time is spent in broom cupboards and car parks and the overall impression is of a man stuck in the same position as the journalist in ABBA: The Movie and trying to make the best of it.

You can read it yourself here, but the whole thing’s dripping with irony. Look, there’s David Tennant, at the BBC to record something else but having talked himself into appearing in Shalka as Caretaker 2 says, “It’s very hard not to get excited. I would kill to do more of these. […] My granny even knitted me a long Tom Baker scarf. And a cricket jumper. I used to jump around the back garden making up my own stories. As I got older, I’d make up my own seasons” just as REG is denying that he is the Doctor, distancing himself from the role even as he’s recording it (though not ruling himself out of more episodes).

There’s also the novelisation of the story, produced by writer Paul Cornell himself, in what was originally proposed to be a line of new BBC books slotted in with the past Doctor releases, which includes a thirty page section about the making of the adventure (and has a synopsis of Ben Cook’s day from the other side) and the original outline with interjections from James Goss, the BBC online producer whose idea it was to create a new continuation online and himself one of the best writers in subsequent, slightly more canonical spin-off projects, as well as the other creatives behind the series.

Plus, because no version of Doctor Who seems to be able to exist without some kind of extension, there’s Shalka’s own spin-off story, published to tie-in with one of BBC Cult website’s attempts to create original content, the Vampire Magazine, which is remarkably still available here. In the tradition of “unbound” spin-off stories, The Feast of Stone by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright doesn’t so much continue Shalka’s story, as present an idea of what this status quo might be like in an ongoing sense and it’s perhaps to the webcast and the author’s credit that it remains credible, especially in relation to how the robot Master and companion Alison might interact.

Now, very soon, we have the prospect of Shalka itself receiving a dvd release with all the bells and whistles and in a watchable format, since the webcast’s delivery now feels antiquated with its stop/start downloading gaps, destroying any sense of momentum. Despite the omnirumours, 2Entertain, BBC Worldwide or whatever they’re called now, are clearly sensing that the end of releasable Doctor Who is nigh and they’re looking for something to fill the gaps. While more of the Shalka Doctor seems unlikely, perhaps this dvd release will the vanguard of whole stories being animated. Perhaps that’ll be its final legacy.  Perhaps.

The Minister of Chance.

TV With the return of QI, SF talks to RT about about some things.  This is a rarity.  He never gives "print" interviews:
“My favourite quotation, which would surprise some, is from the late Michael Ramsey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury when I was a boy – my mother always used to say, ‘Do you know he’s the same age as Cary Grant?’ – and he was accounted a very wise man. When asked to define wisdom he said, ‘Wisdom is the ability to cope.’ There are people from the Kalahari desert to the Arctic wastes who may not know much, but they can cope and are wise. But knowledge is very different.”
It's actually a very wise interview.  He notices, in a round about sort of way, that society is filled with very clever, very knowledgable people.  The problem we tend to be treated with contempt by the governmental approach to education, and the media, and to an extent far to many us let them.

The Whitworth Weekending

Art One of my favorite local art galleries, The Whitworth in Manchester, is closing for refurbishment and they're having a massive send off this weekend. I can't go for reasons of time and geography, but I thought you might be interested. Here's some coverage at Creative Tourist and here's the flier for the event.

For context, here's what happened when I visited as part of the "project", my brain frazzled by too much caffeine. Luckily, I've been back since and hope that the refurbishment doesn't remove its dated yet futuristic atmosphere.


Watching and listening to all of televised Doctor Who in order: The Fifth Doctor.

Micen Island.

Nature Marion Island’s plague of mice:
"When the cat’s away, the mice will play – and that old adage is unfortunately also true for Marion Island, one of two islands making up South Africa’s Prince Edward Island sub-Antarctic archipelago deep in the “Roaring Forties” of the Southern Ocean.

"The house mouse Mus musculus was accidentally introduced to Marion Island by sealers as long ago as the beginning of the 19th century, and because of its physical adaptability – it’s able to survive temperatures ranging from below freezing to hot desert conditions – this little alien mammal has thrived in the pristine island environment where it has no natural predators."
A breakfast warning. Your stomach may find some of the images distressing...

Hemingway's Way.

History LIFE photographer says Ernest Hemingway wanted to liberate enter Paris before the army, until Patton stopped him:
"“Hemingway’s idea,” Morse recalls, “to get into Paris before U.S. troops headed in was scuttled because someone — maybe a reporter who wasn’t invited along? Who knows? — someone leaked the plan to Patton, and before we knew it, the press camp was surrounded by military police. Patton walks in and says, ‘If any of you make a move toward Paris before the troops do, I’ll court martial you!’ Anyway, we went in shortly afterward. It was a quick trip from the outskirts, because there were so few Germans left to stop us.”


Nature He loves his lake: Local man’s effort to save Speedwell (local being Lititz, Pennsylvania).
"For Will Turnbull, Speedwell Forge Lake is a sanctuary – a place of calming serenity. When he learned that the lake had been drained in November 2011, he took action. The 38-year old Lititz resident, who is autistic, raised $500 to donate to the Save Speedwell group and was honored for his effort on July 25 when the organization planted a tree in his honor.

"The pink flowering dogwood was planted near the pavilion that overlooks the drained lake – a lake that Save Speedwell and Turnbull hope will again be a habitat for fish and wildlife and provide recreation opportunities for many."
Here's a local television news story about a tree planted in Turnbull's honour:

Liverpool International Music Festival 2013 from the air.

Liverpool International Music Festival 2013 from the air.

Music Unfortunately it's quite difficult to tell what with the trees and child's fun fair blocking the view but, even accounting for food festivals, Africa Oye and random hot days, this may well be the most people I've seen in the field beneath my window. It's day three of the free portion of the Liverpool International Music Festival 2013 and this shot was taken at about seven o'clock this even just as today's final act, Robbo Ranx Ft Ghetto Youth International With Damian, Steven And Julian Marley, this being the world music day.

I've been out and about on all three days and the mood's been good natured.  I had a particularly transcendental moment yesterday afternoon sitting opposite the bandstand listening to Sophia Ben Yousef covering Nina Simone's Feeing Good (here's an earlier performance on YouTube) (and here's her Sound Cloud) though I didn't get along quite so well on Friday night with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.  I had a prime spot next to the stage but there were too many people with cameras and phones recording the experience rather than living it which became too distracting.  This essentially.

But overall, the event seems have been a success, especially if the rapidity of twitter comments is a guide almost all of which have been positive.  Perhaps it's a shame that there aren't more of the larger acts in the free portion, though we do have Rebecca Ferguson, The Christians and Soul II Soul visiting tomorrow which is an interesting mix.  Perhaps there'll be even more people for that.  Perhaps I'll need to take another photo.  Either way congratulations organisers for creating something new from old that Liverpool can still be proud of.


Music This is real find. Potentially Tom Lehrer's greatest contribution to education is his song The Elements, which in some schools is the primary way in which the children learn about the chemical elements because they've been put to fairly recognisable tune, except in my school where no one had heard of him.

Anyway, this very morning, I've discovered that there was an earlier version of the song, with all the same elements but not in quite the same order and it was recorded live in Copenhagen in 1967. Having heard the version on his "An Evening Wasted With..." live album so many times its strange to hear it done quite this differently and with a whole different set of ad-libs.

Found here at the home of improbable research.  There'll be a short quiz next period.