Christmas Links #24


Links  Here we are then, the end of Christmas Links for this year and the surprising reveal of exactly what I was doing with the accompanying videos featuring people walking about random places across the globe at Christmastime.  It wasn't random.  We were following the itinerary of Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin, but around the world in twenty-four posts.  The destinations listed on this page just happened to match the number of days in advent.

I had hoped to post the video of Michael returning to London at the end of the trip, where he's cross with a newspaper vender and isn't allowed back into the Reform Club, but it's not on YouTube and neither is a video of the Reform Club at Christmas.  So instead find above the opening of the journey as he explains the effort he's about to undertake which only makes me want to rewatch the thing all the more.  Happy Christmas!
Sugababes are releasing their new album of ‘lost’ music (today) and fans are elated: ‘Pop justice!’:
"After years in the pop wilderness, the original Sugababes trio is about to drop new album The Lost Tapes – a collection of songs that were leaked as demos in 2013."
[Editor's note:  Holy Fuck!]

"The 12 Days of Big Finishmas Christmas sale is here! Check this page for updates on the downloads on offer!"

"A group of four British women recently arrived on a remote Antarctic island to look after its population of passing tourists and penguins. As they prepare for Christmas at the bottom of the world, they tell BBC News how they're settling into their new home."

"Arriva North West warned customers services in and out of the city centre "may be extremely congested""

"‘Twas the festive season of 2015, and my 5-year-old daughter Molly was trying to explain to me the holiday ditty all the kindergarteners were going to sing in unison at the annual concert."

"Some think I’m a bit of a Scrooge, says teaching assistant who can afford to give everyone turkey and all the trimmings."

"It can save you time as well as money on your energy bills but can it cook a whole roast dinner? We find out."

"Carpenter Tan Koon Tat has been beset by rain and the rising cost of materials, but is still determined to bring some festive cheer to the neighbourhood in Marsiling."

"If you’re stuck for things to watch this festive season, this just might be what you’re after."

"Five Iberian lynx were released into the wild this week in southern Spain as part of an expanding breeding programme aimed at conserving one the most endangered feline species."

Christmas Links #23

"Tail Town Cats will spotlight six adorable adoptable cats as they climb the Festivus pole; viewers at home can watch live."

A parent’s guide to setting up a new games console at Christmas:
"If your children have a new Xbox, Playstation or Nintendo Switch waiting under the tree, here is what you need to know about subscriptions, parental controls … and getting the most fun out of it for all the family."

"Birkenhead used to have fab Christmas lights and a Christmas light switch on."

Cirencester couple creates Christmas model village:
"A couple have created a model village and decorated their house for Christmas to raise money for charity."

"A limited edition three-way death match featuring Shoppe Geō, Funko, and Comfort Zone."

"The question everyone wants answered at this time of year is whether or not it snow at Christmas. Helen Willetts has the answer."

"For many in construction, Christmas is not the season of goodwill. Sadly Ebenezer Scrooge has always had his hands on construction’s cash as we head into Christmas.  The old excuse was that the office was shutting and no one was around to process the payments. With online flexible banking this rings a bit hollow, yet we still see companies hoarding cash at the year end."

"Six in ten Britons who celebrate Christmas don’t consider celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ an important part of the festive celebrations."

"Read about some of the cartoons we hold in our collection, including artwork for Christmas cards."

"On the plus side, you never have to remember to water this tree."

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1933.

Although Eric Gill's sculpture of Prospero and Ariel was created in 1931, it wasn't until 1933 that it was installed above the entrance to Broadcasting House.  Art in Context has posted a superb article about the creation of the statue and an analysis of the controversy surrounding the artist.  In 2006, an article by one of Gill's biographers Fiona MacCarthy opens with a subheading which asks "Eric Gill's reprehensible private life would doubtless land him in prison today. But does that mean we should value his sculpture less?" To which I say, yes, yes it does.  This old Night Waves celebration sounds horrible in hindsight, doesn't it?

Based on what we know now, Gill's sculpture should simply not be there.  Given what he admitted to in his memoirs and other controversies which have effected the BBC's reputation over the years, it is reprehensible that they continue to have a work by this man at the front of their historic headquarters.  Just because it's embedded in the BBC's identity to the point that they named their in-house magazine after it and that its a familiar site is not an excuse for excusing the actions of its creator.  If Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft which was once "the Eric Gill museum" can get there, so can the BBC.

Behind The Scenes

Striking photograph of Broadcasting House from Munich born photographer Emil Otto Hoppe.

"The two tracks featured on this page were made in 1933 (BBC library number 304) and they may be the oldest surviving BBC location recordings. They appear on two sides of a 12-inch transcription disc which must have been part of a set. The other disc or discs can’t be found."
[London Sound Survey][BBC Programme Index]

"Taken with permission from Journeyman: the autobiography of Ewan MacColl [...] I had started doing occasional radio work in 1933 when I had been approached by Archie Harding, the North Regional Programme Director, to read some verses in a feature programme about May Day in England."
[Working Class Movement Library]

"In many ways it is intriguing that the Ellington Orchestra got the opportunity to broadcast on the BBC at all, and the decision to include both an interview with Ellington on the day of his arrival, 9th June 1933, and a forty-five minute performance by the Ellington Orchestra three nights into his week run at the London Palladium, really is noteworthy."
[Wall of Sound][BBC Programme Index]

An article about the restoration of an early television recording made using the 30 line vertical Baird process of a musical revue.
[The Dawn of TV][BBC Television Index]

"The year 1932 saw the close of the first decade of British broadcasting, a decade marked by a record of achievement which can have few parallels in the history of new -born public institutions."
[World Radio History]

"The year has again been marked by steady progress and expansion."

Christmas Links #22

Prawn Cocktail back on the Christmas menu, while Yorkshire Puddings remain the nation’s festive fave:
"Christmas is coming, and budding festive chefs can find inspiration in BBC Food’s most popular Christmas recipes of 2021."

"On Saaremaa, a local distillery turns town-square trees into festive mixers."

"Usually the only controversy over a crossword is the answer, but on the eve of the first day of Hanukkah, some New York Times readers found something a lot more upsetting."

"For seventy years, Queen Elizabeth II was a staple of Christmas Day, appearing on television, radio and on the internet throughout her reign to deliver her annual Christmas Message."

"Kelly Conlon was blocked because her New York firm is involved in a personal injury claim against operator of Radio City Music Hall."

"It's "knot" your fault that Christmas lights always get twisted."

"A kitten which went "from being left in a bin to being loved by so many people" is proof that Christmas wishes "really can come true", a charity has said."

"As I got older, I learned who the sender was and was brought into a secret world of his delusions."

"In a period of personal grief, producer Jimmy Iovine enlisted a range of pop stars for a good cause. And unto us “A Very Special Christmas” was born."

Christmas Links #21

Links   Finally to Review 2022, which is still developing with many more posts to go.  As you can see from the title, the idea was to only include material from non-BBC sources, but who better to tell its own story than the BBC itself?  After an intensive month of working through as many public digital archives and sources as I could, sorting the items into years in one big blog post (which is what this was going to be originally), I'm now in the process of augmenting that with some Google searches and a hunt through the BBC's own website for documentaries about significant moments in its history.  I'm also adding new links to older posts if something amazing crops up.

"The six sport stars will compete for the public vote on the night of the live show on Wednesday 21 December."

"We can all see it coming – but it/s still worth waiting for."

"New Time Lord pairs brown chequered suit with a bright orange jumper and tan brogues."

"In 1906, a new carol appeared in “The English Hymnal,” an influential collection of British church music."

"Now that Midtown is no more, it'd be hilarious if there were another Business Improvement District with an equally overblown name."

"Families have been urged not to put fat from Christmas dinners down the sink to avoid fatbergs forming in sewers."

"Mozilla, Google and Apple have announced that they are working together to build a new browser benchmark. The service will be called Speedometer 3."

"Sainsbury’s, the National Lottery and Tesco also flagged for tokenism, negative stereotyping and inauthentic representation."

"With the year drawing to a close and Christmas almost upon us the sounds that seem to sum up the season are less jingling bells and carols, more the cough of Covid and an enormous, exhausted sigh of relief." [New Zealand] 

"Look back at every Christmas chart-topper of the last 70 years."

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1932.

Two or three huge moments in the BBC's history in 1932.  Broadcasting House opened and the official home of BBC radio moved there from Savoy Hill.  The BBC Empire Service, forerunning of the BBC World Service began its first experimental broadcasts, ending the year with the first Christmas speech on that occasion from King George V, written by Rudyard Kipling.  The BBC also began experimental TV broadcasts using the Baird system and incredibly we have some brief footage of him with his machines and what may have been part of the first broadcast.

Broadcasting House Opens

"As it approached its second decade, the BBC’s happy-go-lucky attitude was fading fast."
[History Extra]

"When Broadcasting House, London entered service in 1932 the BBC published a book of photographs of the building called 'Broadcasting House'. Its pictures give us not only a view of the studios and other technical areas but also of many other parts of the building. A corridor, a staircase, a dressing room, the boiler room and the ventilation plant were all considered worth recording just as much as the Control Room, the Concert Hall or the Chapel Studio."

Thorough history of television broadcasts from Broadcasting House.
[TV Studio History]

"Offices and studios for the British Broadcasting Corporation (north extension not of special interest). 1930-32 by Col. G Val Myer and Watson Hart, relief panels by Eric Gill and Gilbert Bayes, etc. Portland stone on steel frame."
[Historic England]

"And now we are at Broadcasting House."
[BBC Programme Index]

A commemorative catalogue with hundreds of photographs of the exterior and interior.
[World Radio History]

"John Logie Baird striving to create television. B.B.C. Broadcasting House."

The First Christmas Speech

"By the 1920s radio was increasingly becoming the medium through which leaders could talk to their nations and, in some cases, their empires, with radio the norm in the US by this point."

"In this clip, John Reith, the founding director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), opens the first programme of the BBC Empire Service. The service went on air at 9:30am on Saturday 19 December 1932, and Reith’s address was read out five times over the day to reach different parts of the world."
[British Library]

The continuity announcement then part of the speech.
[BBC Sounds]

"The first ever Royal Christmas Message, written by Rudyard Kipling and broadcast live over wireless from Sandringham by King-Emperor George V in 1932."
[Roman Styran][BBC Programme Index]

Behind The Scenes

"Directed by Henry Hall from first studio completed in Broadcasting House."

"The BBC Dance Orchestra and Henry Hall play cricket then play 'Here's To The Next Time' for a radio audience."

"The New Empire Review, now present the first pictures of the, BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] Orchestra (Leader Arthur Catterall) Conducted by Adrian Boult."

"A video-only extract from the 30-line TV restoration of Betty Bolton singing some time between 1932 and 1935."

"It was not until 22 August 1932 that the BBC finally took over television programme production from the Baird company. At this time, the vision signal was being sent out on 261.3 metres (London National) with the corresponding sound on 398.9 metres (Midland Regional)."
[Baird Television]

"New Zealander Joan Sherley tells of the time she heard King George on the radio in 1932."
[BBC Sounds]

"In October 1932 the BBC introduced a marriage bar, stemming what had been an enlightened attitude towards married women employees. The policy was in line with the convention of the day; marriage bars were widespread in the inter-war years operating in occupations such as teaching and the civil service and in large companies such as Sainsbury’s and ICI.  However, once implemented, the BBC displayed an ambivalent attitude towards its marriage bar which had been constructed to allow those married women considered useful to the Corporation to remain on the staff."
[Bournemouth University]

"One of London's loneliest four-footers."
The guard dog of Bush House!

"This year had again been one of steady progress."

"On July 7th, 1932, the visit of their Majesties the King and Queen to Broadcasting House, the B.B.C.'s new London head- quarters, set the seal on ten years of British broadcasting. On November 14th and the following days the B.B.C. celebrated its actual tenth anniversary with a week of special programmes. The purpose of the present article is to review the B.B.C.'s career as objectively as possible."
[World Radio History]

Christmas Links #20

Links  Which brings us to Review 2021, the one with all the sandwiches and the best way to celebrate that, as you might have seen yesterday, was to eat another one.  The project was mostly out of necessity.  I needed something to keep myself occupied during the first Christmas since Mum died and this meant that I had to go out and make special trips to places in order to purchase the sandwiches and then do a bit of research for each of the posts.  

The farthest I travelled was the other side of Ormskirk to Booths and the closest was the local Spar shop (and I was disappointed to find that this year they're not using back bacon but followed the crowd into streaky bacon territory).  Anyway it mostly did the job.  I wept a bit on Christmas morning, but the rest of the day mostly went without a meltdown.  Thanks sandwiches.

Doctor Who: The War Doctor
BBC Radio 4xtra are broadcasting the Big Finish War Doctor audios at the weekend through January.  Here's a link to the first episode.

"He’d brought a Sainsbury’s carrier bag full of gifts. I can’t stress how unusual this was – ‘out of character’ doesn’t begin to cover it."

"Runners dressed as Santa chased people in Christmas pudding costumes to raise money for charity."

"Arriva has now released when its buses will be running over Christmas and New Year."

"The panel investigating the Capitol attack voted Monday to ask the Justice Department to hold the former president accountable for his scheme to subvert democracy."

"Now a global phenomenon, the holiday tradition traces its roots to medieval Europe."

"From romantic getaway ideas to family-friendly trips and solo excursions."

"The special features various Muppets from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and Muppet Babies."

"This 1987 special isn't just one of the best things The Muppets ever did, it should be a modern holiday classic."

Review 2021: The Christmas Sandwich Reviews: Co-op Turkey Feast.

Food  Did I imply that Review 2021 was over and that I wouldn't be writing about any more pre-packed Christmas sandwiches?  Yes I did.  Did I think it was over?  Well, yes.  But then having written about all of the annual reviews from across the decades at the top of all the Christmas Links and realising that it might need some kind of big finale (without getting too carried away), I decided to go after the big white whale once more, the supermarket sandwich which eluded me last year, to finally try the Co-op Turkey Feast (with smoked bacon, pork, sage & onion stuffing (which is pork AND sage & onion stuffing, not pork as a separate entity on the sandwich no matter how its implied on the box), cranberry chutney & fried onion mayo on malted bread).  Apologies for the quality of the photograph but I was in my break at work and every second counts.

Much like the rest of the supermarkets which featured last year, the Co-op (pronounced coop) has just sort of been there.  Dad was telling me earlier about how membership had been passed down hereditarily through my Mum's family and that he could even remember the number she used to give when visiting one of the local shops and how she received a dividend at the end of the year.  But it's only quite recently that it's really become part of my life, through the shops opening on Myrtle and Hardman run-on streets in Liverpool and on Lark Lane, not the Doctor Who one which is mainly residential, the real one with all the restaurants and retail.  When it opened, it was during the period with the verbose branding with "the Co-Operative" written on everything which made it feel very metropolitan somehow.  They're since returned to the more familiar homespun low-caps logo.

If you don't mind, I'll refer you to the Wikipedia page for an explanation of how the gestalt structure of the Co-op chain works and how it might go some way to explaining why there are two near identical supermarkets at the top and bottom of the same road, and why some shops feel more corporate than others and instead move on to the sandwich.  After about a year of not eating turkey, bacon, stuffing and cranberry sauce on malted bread, my taste buds have lost any baseline expertise that it they might have acquired last December.  But this seems like a pretty generic example.  Despite being out of the fridge for two hours after I bought it, the bread and filling were still cold which give everything a slightly stodgy texture.  The cranberry sauce is pretty overwhelming so the flavour of the onion mayonnaise is al most non-existent.  The bacon is thin streaky kind which otherwise finds itself wrapped around small sausages.  It's fine.

Christmas Links #19

Links  Review 2020 didn't really happen for understandable reasons, consisting of a single post listing the films I gave five stars to on Letterboxd.  So instead, let's talk about this weekend's release of photos and a video revealing the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby's costumes.  The video is on YouTube Shorts here and they're absolutely funny/adorable in a similar was to Jodie and Mandip so lets hope unlike them, that chemistry will be taking full advantage of on screen.

His costume is supremely tasteful, both contemporary and yet somehow redolent of the past.  It'll be interesting to see if there's any mix and matching as the series progresses.  Few people seem to have remarked on the fact he seems to be keeping the 'tache which is another first for a Doctor.  The last time the Doctor wore one of those on TV he was masquerading as a milkman.  Hers has the off the peg feel of most of the more recent companions and presumably she won't be wearing that all the time.  

These are the sacrifices parents are making to try to pay for Christmas."

"Volunteers in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv have made a Christmas tree out of camouflage nets."

"In a small distillery just outside Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a clear liquid drips out of a copper pot still into a stainless steel barrel, ringing like church bells."

"Researchers urge members of the public to look out for the beloved insect that was once a mainstay of Australia’s summer."

"Police have been called in to try and get the traffic flowing."

"Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without our seasonal film quiz, which includes festive faves and merry movie title mashups…"

"A stalwart of Melbourne’s Christmas celebrations, the Epicure Gingerbread Village, will not be a feature of festivities for the first time in 11 years."

"any popular images and traditions of Christmas come from the Baby Boom years. With the dark days of World War II behind them, many Olympia families wanted to celebrate the holiday in style. Here’s a look back into Olympia history at a Baby Boomer’s Christmas."

"Tate Kids Gallery."

"Robin Miles was looking for stage and screen roles when she began reading books for the blind. She’s become one of the country’s most celebrated narrators."

Christmas Links #18

Links  There wasn't a Review 2019, at least nothing taggable.  There were the usual predictions (about which I couldn't be more wrong for either year) and a Review 2010s in which I list my favourite books, films and television of that decade largely one per year.  There's nothing much here I disagree with three years later (god, is it only three years since 2019?).  

I still think more people should see the film Advantageous which is still on Netflix.  Written and directed by Jennifer Phang, it should have been a spring board into a long cinema career but she's nevertheless instead found a niche on TV directing episodes of things like The Expanse, Cloak & Dagger, The Boys, Foundation, The Flight Attendant and Stargirl.

"Easy peasy pigs in blankets with a gorgeous maple syrup glaze. A Christmas favourite, these are supersized and guaranteed to go down a treat."

"The East Yorkshire-based frozen food giant is much cheaper than Asda and Tesco's offers."

"Skeleton crews on Antarctic research bases - known as 'winterovers' - wait until June for the festivities to begin."

"In this Midwestern town, it’s Santa season 365 days a year, with decorations and carols."

"The Challenge returns for a second year with a series of fiendish brainteasers and a final twist!"

"The land of Punt, a mysterious place where ancient Egyptians bought gold, incense and other luxury items, has been located using DNA from mummified baboons."

"Mention frankincense, and it’s hard not to instantaneously think of Christmas."

"Frome has a flourishing independent retail scene, with dozens of locally owned shops and cafes, but even here, campaigners are warning local stores are at risk."

"As part of its ‘Truth or Dare’ season, Channel 4 is setting the life of Prince Andrew to a series of song and dance numbers. But is this musical take on the disgraced royal too much, too soon?"

"Christmas celebration in Norway is a true feast of lights, full of events, preparations, and traditions that last a whole season. White snow and decorations add to the magic."