Talk Hard.

Film The AV Club on Pump Up The Volume:
"The movie originally came from a script called Radio Death,” he explained to The A.V. Club. “It was the story about a guy who was planning to commit suicide on the air, but was having so much fun announcing it and discussing different ways with which he could off himself. But every night he would have his suicide on his mind and he’d go on-air and say, ‘Stay tuned, because this night could be your lucky night. I might kill myself on the air.’ And then that became his whole thing. So I wrote the script about this much darker guy than Happy Harry Hard-On wound up being."
Somewhere I have an old cassette on which I missed all of Christian Slater's DJ material from the film with music from the soundtrack which with the old tape to tape system sounded just like I'd nabbed it from a dodgy broadcast from pirate radio.

Extracting the BBC Genome:
This American Life.

Radio Although Radio Four Extra rebroadcast some classic episodes of TAL recently, there are a couple of mentions of the show and it's prehistory in the BBC Genome.

In 1993, two years before TAL began in its original form as Your Radio Playhouse, Ira Glass was the producer on the first episode of a series, Your Place of Mine?, "a collaboration between documentary makers from five countries. Over the next ten weeks, programmes from Australia, America, Canada, Ireland and Britain. Stories which cross boundaries - of geography and generation." The synopsis of the episode is pure TAL:
"1. Big Sisters. "Whatever the guys do we can do better. "On the streets of Chicago the girl gangs rule the patch. They are rough and tough, seeking power, friendship and "family".
The episode was co-produced with NPR but their audio archive "only" goes back to 2001 and I can't find another trace of it.

Then in 1998, the Postscript strand on Radio 3 ran a series called "This American Life" in which "Ian Peacock attempts to understand America through its self-image on radio and television" and in episode 3, Niagra Falls:
"From a rain-swept pier on Lake Michigan, award-winning broadcaster Ira Glass attempts to decode America on his weekly national programme. Recently, he has covered every possible American concept, from Canadians to wackiness and the cult of Frank Sinatra. He, of all people, must have an overview of what an American really is."
The strand has since been discontinued and I can't find audio of this either but here are the three TAL episodes referred to in that synopsis:



"the cult of Frank Sinatra"

iPlayer Update.

TV Let us return briefly to the iPlayer shenanigans of the past and specifically the malfunctions in the Roku 3 app.

The short version is that they've been fixed. The black bars have gone and the Roku app's working better than it ever has, no need to mess about with the interface between the iPad version and the Chromecast.

That's (1) sorted. None of the other items I addressed in that post - at least the suggestion portions have yet - but the app is being improved with tricks I didn't mention and has already.

Now it's possible to begin watching a programme from the start even if its in the process of being broadcast, which means I'll now be able to toilet properly between the end of the Agents of Shield and Have I Got New For You on a Friday night. Many is the evening when I've feared laughter in case of accidents.y PVR to hand.

In the coming weeks the ability to transfer favourites between devices with keyboards and screens and devices that are just screens will also be added so we'll be able to add potential viewing experiences on a computer and have them appear on a television version which is immeasurably exciting.  Replicating favourite in various places has become especially tedious.

My Favourite Film of 1985.

Film As with plenty of films on this list, St Elmo's Fire is so ingrained in my psyche it's almost impossible for me to offer a critique. The usual meagre research for this article/post/exposition reveals to me that Rob Lowe won Worst Actor Razzie for his performance as college nostalgist Billy Hicks and so close am I to this hundred and ten minutes, it's impossible for me to objectively judge if they were right.

All I can think about is the key scene when he comforts Demi's flibbertigibbet Jules with an explanation for St. Elmos Fire and how warm Lowe is, so much so it comforted me on a number of occasions during my teenage years (when I probably saw the film as often as Adventure In Babysitting).  On the few occasion people have needed me to help them in similar ways, I'm sure it's Billy Hicks I'm channelling.

Except the problem with that scene, with his speech is that it's completely false. Here's what Billy says:
Jules, y'know, honey... this isn't real. You know what it is? It's St. Elmo's Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them... there was no fire. There wasn't even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you're making up all of this. We're all going through this. It's our time at the edge.
Let's pick our way through this now and painfully debunk the message utilising passages from what seems like a pretty well referenced Wikipedia entry.

Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere.

Actually, St. Elmo's fire is a form of matter called plasma, which is also produced in stars, high temperature flame, and by lightning. The electric field around the object in question causes ionization of the air molecules, producing a faint glow easily visible in low-light conditions. Roughly 1000 volts per centimeter induces St. Elmo's fire; the number depends greatly on the geometry of the object. Sharp points lower the required voltage because electric fields are more concentrated in areas of high curvature, so discharges are more intense at the ends of pointed objects.

Conditions that can generate St. Elmo's fire are present during thunderstorms, when high voltage differentials are present between clouds and the ground underneath. Air molecules glow owing to the effects of such voltage, producing St. Elmo's fire.

The nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere cause St. Elmo's fire to fluoresce with blue or violet light; this is similar to the mechanism that causes neon lights to glow.

Sailors would guide entire journeys by it ...

It is a sign of electricity in the air, which can interfere with compass readings, making it poor as a navigational tool and some sailors may have regarded it as an omen of bad luck and stormy weather. Other references indicate that sailors may have actually considered St. Elmo's fire as a good omen (as in, a sign of the presence of their patron saint).

.... but the joke was on them... there was no fire.

Physically, St. Elmo's fire is a bright blue or violet glow, appearing like fire in some circumstances, from tall, sharply pointed structures such as lightning rods, masts, spires and chimneys, and on aircraft wings or nose cones. St. Elmo's fire can also appear on leaves and grass, and even at the tips of cattle horns. Often accompanying the glow is a distinct hissing or buzzing sound. It is sometimes confused with ball lightning.

In 1751, Benjamin Franklin hypothesized that a pointed iron rod would light up at the tip during a lightning storm, similar in appearance to St. Elmo's fire.

There wasn't even a St. Elmo. They made it up.

St. Elmo's fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formia (also called St. Elmo, one of the two Italian names for St. Erasmus, the other being St. Erasmo), the patron saint of sailors.
Disappointing, but educational.  You could also rationalise it as Billy deliberately disregarding the science because sometimes (and this is even a shock to a rationalist like me) faith and hope are more palpable and useful emotions than reality.

St. Elmo's Fire is one of the few films on this list for which my memory fails when trying to remember when I first saw it.  On release in 1985, I would have been too young to even know what it was let alone see it at the cinema (though as I type this I remember seeing adverts for it in Smash Hits).  But I did know John Parr's theme song very well, and may have bought a seven-inch of it at Penny Lane Records in Matthew Street before even seeing the film.  Eventually I owned a VCI copy of the VHS, then the dvd in the late 00s.  It's on Netflix too.

The soundtrack even on cassette was very expensive and became a key Christmas present in about 1992.  What I do have a vivid memory of is inviting three of my course friends, Melanie, Alex and Madeline to my dorm room for a group study session, one of the rare occasions my course mates visited me at home and putting the soundtrack on while we waited.  Mel smiled and said that she'd just paid £25 for the cd.  That was just eight years after the film's release which is the same length of time between now and the first Iron Man film.  It's our time at the edge, and how.

No Adrics.

TV The Office for National Statistics published the list of chosen baby names in 2014 and I thought I'd try and see how many of them have clearly been selected by Doctor Who fans. So after feeding all of the tv companion names (with the loosest definition to save arguments) into an Access database along with all the names and numbers (which I'm telling you so you don't think I spent a lot of time over this) we discover the following. Ace is surprisingly popular ("Ace!") and there are three new Peris in the world along with eight Romanas.  I'd do the spin-off companions too but I'd be here all day (and there's no point disappointing fans of Olla The Heat Vampire any further).

JACK - 5804
HARRY - 5379
AMELIA - 5327
GRACE - 2785
ADAM - 1790
ROSE - 990
MARTHA - 807
RORY - 755
JAMIE - 749
AMY - 668
SARAH - 601
JOHN - 601
SARA - 596
ZOE - 580
CLARA - 464
BEN - 364
POLLY - 193
TEGAN - 130
RIVER - 116
IAN - 80
LEELA - 79
RIVER - 63
CRAIG - 50
ACE - 39
JAMIE - 35
MIKE - 18
SUSAN - 15
PERI - 6
JO - 3
LIZ - 3

Poor Adric.

Extracting the BBC Genome:

Film Storyville is one of the BBC's primary documentary strands, co-funding and licensing non-fiction films from a range of sources under the guiding hand of producer Nick Fraser. Beginning on BBC Two in 1997 and now well embedded onto BBC Four, it's become a valid alternative to the televisual storytelling of the dominant form of presenter led and talking heads documentary, although obviously includes examples of both.

Between 1997 and 2002, Storyville was just on BBC Two.  Then for the opening months of 2002 it was exclusively on BBC Knowledge and when that closed shifted to BBC Four before eventually sharing between Two and Four, the former carrying the prestige, usually theatrical releases and repeats in a late night BBC Four on BBC Two slot after Newsnight and later.

As with Close-Up, I've often wondered which films were included in the strand across time and thanks to the BBC Genome that information is now readily available, so I decided to make a list.

Which isn't to to say there aren't other similar lists already. But the TVDB is pretty inconsistent and incomplete for much of the time. The Wikipedia covers the period beyond the Genome, as does obviously the BBC Programme page which began gathering scheduling information some time in 2007.

There isn't anything I can find which goes back as far as 1997 when the strand began.

Until now.

Which isn't to say this list will be perfect.  Obviously.

Firstly, I've left out transmission dates and descriptions.  For the purposes of this exercise I'm not sure how useful they are.  But if that is important for the purposes of your exercise, you should be able to find that information by copy/pasting the title into the Genome search box, along with the word Storyville if necessary.

There may also be omissions.  My process was to search for "Storyville" on the Genome and rekey the results.  If it wasn't designated as a Storyville broadcast on the listing pages of the Radio Times, it won't be here.

The Wikipedia, for example, has Winged Migration as a Storyville entry, as does Box of Broadcasts (so would have been listed as such on the Freeview EPG at some point, even though the Genome doesn't mention it so that information wasn't in the Radio Times listing and it has its own BBC programme page (but also this stubby page on BBC News where it is caption as Storyville).

Do let me know if I've missed anything.

I've ignored duplicate broadcasts too.  Some of them have been repeated dozens of times.  Paris Brothel.

Also, I've added director surnames in brackets where that information is available in the Genome which tends to be when the film was broadcast on BBC Two, for which entries were longer due to the position of the listing in the Radio Times.  Only post digital switchover did BBC Four's listings really become as detailed as the so-called main channels.

So the best I can say is that this list is largely accurate, I think.  I have only included the programmes listed in the Genome, which ends at the end 2009, so if you are interested in what happened after that you'll also have to consult the BBC programme pages or the Wikipedia.