Review 2023: A Review of 2023: June.

01    Pride Month Begins.

09    Multiple resignations from government triggering inopportune by-elections

15    Johnson lied.

18    Father's Day

30    Barbenheimmer begins

Review 2023: A Review of 2023: May.

01    Dutch police arrest fake ‘Boris Johnson’ for suspected drink-driving

04    Star Wars Day

19    It's widely reported New York is sinking.  Here's the original paper.

Review 2023: A Review of 2023: April

01    The Guardian forgets April Fool's Day, does this instead.

19    There is no news.

21    Star Trek: Picard's superb finale broadcasts in the UK.  God, what a great series.

The Crowd (Doom's Day)

Audio  Doom's Day was this year's multi-licensee story told across prose, games, comics and audios about a time travelling assassin literally being chased by Death itself after a hit gone wrong, taking every hourly job across a whole day searching for a particular incarnation of the Doctor who may have some answers and could save her life.  Unlike Time Lord Victorious with its multi-stranded narrative, Doom's Day has 24 discrete "episodes" and were generally released in chronological order over the summer, topped and tailed by an arching story on the website (more information here).

It's immense fun.  It takes time to get a handle on Doom's character because the first quarter of her story is told through shorter comic strips in DWM and a couple of Titan Comics which use Missy as the focus.  But once the longer form storytelling kicks in through the novel, the audiobook and then the Big Finish plays and Sooz Kempner's vibrant performance in the title role, we're more clearly able to understand the irony of her chasing after a figure who would completely repudiate her chosen profession.

Which is exactly what happens when Doom runs into the Doctor and Charley in the penultimate hour.  She stumbles into their mission to preserve causality from The Crowd, a race of intergalactic tourists who, rather like the miscreants in Gary Kilworth's Let's Go to Golgotha, visit scenes of death and destruction for kicks and having exhausted the usual venues are now creating disasters and have it in for Thomas Becket and Canterbury.  What follows in Lizzy Hopley's script are the usual hijinks intermixed with heated discussions concerning the time traveller's morality and methods.

The Crowd is the most Doctor-centric story of the whole series and Paul's clearly in his element with all of this, bringing out the Doctor's darker side from later in the Big Finish timeline especially when Charley's not around for various reasons.  But India is also loving playing up to the Edwardian's similar dismissal; over the years Charley's offered a diplomatically light touch even against the darkest of foes, but Doom really rubs her up the wrong way and the feeling's mutual, the assassin referring to her a Pollard throughout.

The Eighth |Doctor at his most hard line, even authoritarian.  He hates Doom and everything she stands for and says so to her face, slowly remembering the occasions when they've met before from his point of view in his first, second and sixth incarnations (Doom's met him in later versions and not really gotten along with them either presumably because they remember this meeting with greater clarity).  He's life's champion and at every turn he tries to distance himself from her and even when they have to ally with one another, he's less keen than if she'd been the Master.

The effect of this is for us to re-assess how we've reacted to Doom's adventures.  As consumers of various franchise content, our suspension of disbelief changes depending on what we're watching, reading or listening to.  Having a hired assassin as the protagonist allows us to bend out morality to accept that for her missions to be a success she has to outright murder people and we might even cheer her on as she does so.  On occasion she does find a way of dodging the murder of innocents, but bumping off crime bosses is fair game.

Except now we have the hero of the franchise, usually our hero, pointing out the moral implications of that lifestyle.  Some of the hours are structured like Doctor Who stories but with someone who has a different moral compass at the centre and now we're beginning to question our own enjoyment of events and its the first occasion when Doom herself takes a good long look at her lifestyle.  That makes this one of the richest of the various hours and makes the whole trip worthwhile - well that and the hilarious twist in the final hour, but you'll have to read that yourself.

Placement:  Charley says she and the Doctor have been travelling for a while so let's put it just before Time of the Daleks to help that make sense.

Review 2023: A Review of 2023: March

01    Twitter pretended everyone was a new user

13    Gary also won

15    BBC journalists went on strike for a different reason.

18    Red Nose Day

21    My Dad tested positive for COVID.  I had a meltdown.

22    Boris Johnson gave evidence to the parliamentary standards committee.  It did not go well.

24    Got COVID

25    COVID

26    COVID

27    Felt a bit better but still COVID

28    COVID.  Reached infinity in Marvel Snap

30    Donald Trump indicted.  Gwyneth Paltrow won.  It was a busy day.

Review 2023: A Review of 2023: February.

01    James Gunn announced  an amazing new slate of DC films.  #firejamesgunn quickly trends on the socials.

07    Rose Day

09    New deputy Tory chairman Lee Anderson MP asks BBC Nottingham drive time presenter Verity Cowley ten times if she's a liar when she questions him about his mistruths, then he asks that the interview not be played.  They played it.  In full.

28    PM Rishi Sunak said the following and redefined irony:  "Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position - unique position in the entire world - in having privileged access not just to the UK market… but also the EU single market.  Nobody else has that. No one. Only you guys, only here."

Review 2023: A Review of 2023: January.

That Day    The joke about the annual reviews on this has usually been that they're not really annual reviews as such and often had nothing at all to do with the twelve months preceding them.  But after the anniversary nonsense last year (and this year and as we've discussed next), I decided that just this once I would actually do a review of the year.

Almost every day this year I've been collecting what seem to be the most significant or at least the most talked about news stories or happenings and keeping them as a list.  Sometimes I've just written something else or kept a record of something so outlandish it had to be saved for posterity.  If something looks especially esoteric, I've probably forgotten for a couple of days and wanted to fill a gap.

Ferris Bueller says “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  Here's 365 examples of me doing just that.  It's all the stuff you either may have forgotten or didn't see in the first place.  Each piece will be accompanied by one of a favourite song containing the name of the month.

Anyway, to January which began with something which probably defined the year.

01    Scarborough cancelled their New Year fireworks display for a visiting walrus, only for it to masturbate and leave

04    I had a job interview.

06    I did not get the job.

11    Michelle Yeoh won a Golden Globe.  Told house band to "shut up" when they tried to play her off.

14    Read in this book that the original Norse Loki transformed himself into a mare so he could be impregnated by a stallion and give birth to an eight legged horse which then became Odin's favourite steed.  Sadly this did not happen in season two of the Disney+ series.

22    The extent of Jeremy Renner's injuries revealed after snow plough accident.

25    After a long search, I bought a new bookcase from Argos to store my Doctor Who discs.

27    Video shows police brutally beating Tyre Nichols—then laughing about it.  The protest were peaceful so the media moved on within a couple of days.

30    There's a general sense that January is never going to end.  Brexitcast reunion.

Firelight (Once Upon A Time Lord)

Comic  Once Upon a Time Lord is the first in what's to be comics a-lister Dan Slott's annual Doctor Who story, on loan from MARVEL, where he usually writes for the Spider-Man and She-Hulk lines.  He's been a fan of the show for years and says that when crafting this graphic novel, he wanted to write it as though it might the only time he'll get the chance so he's included everything, all the monsters and importantly for our purposes the Doctors.  

The story opens with ten frame collage in which each incarnation of the Doctor up to the Tenth (not including War) is show explaining the modus operandi of the main villian, the Pyromeths, creatures who "feed on the precise psychic energy that's released whenever we create imaginary worlds, characters, and conflicts" a little bit like the birds in The Scarlet Empress or Akhaten in The Rings of Akhaten.  Like Big Finish, they love stories.

The Eighth Doctor appears in a single panel in his Dark Eyes leathers talking to Molly because we're in deep cut territory (the Sixth Doctor's chatting with Frobisher) standing next to the TV Movie console on the opposite corner to the visually similar Secondary TARDIS Console Room from the Hinchcliffe years.  He's the one who directly references Scheherazade, the storyteller from 1001 Nights (which I had to look up because I didn't know her name).

There's nothing more to it than that.  Why Eighth and Molly?  I've asked Mr Slott on the socials but don't really expect a reply, he's far to busy.  There's no mention of it in the interviews I've tracked down either.  It's notable that Big Finish doesn't have a credit and neither does DWM for Frobisher which is odd considering all of the notices for the Daleks and Cybermen.  Perhaps there's some kind of shared domain business.

Placement: The TARDIS Wiki places it between The White Room and Time's Horizon.  Let's go with that.

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1989.

We're now at the point when every year feels pivotal and/or memorable 1989 is no exception.  A glance at just the television page for these twelve months on the wikipedia shows us the trivial and profane: The Late Show debuted, Colin and Guido's kiss on Eastenders, the Five Star incident on Going Live, the coverage of Hillsborough, BBC2's 25th anniversary, John Craven retired from Newsround, Robin Day retired from Question Time, NICAM stereo test transmissions began,  Challenge Anneka began, Blackadder Goes Forth, Jeremy Paxman joins Newsnight, Around The World in 80 Days with Michael Palin, Byker Grove, Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, Dennis Potter's Blackeyes and the Del Boy falling through the bar sequence on Only Fools.

But perhaps most importantly of all, Doctor Who's original twenty-six year run ended with the third episode of the story Survival before it headed off into the wilderness years.  With Ncuti making his solo debut in the role tonight as we reach the close of the 60th anniversary year (which after a slightly muted start has exploded like Katy Perry's Fireworks), I thought I'd talk about the final speech delivered in voiceover by Sylvester McCoy, hastily written by script editor Andrew Cartmel when Executive Producer John Nathan Turner caught wind that their might not be new series in 1990.  Here it is:
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream. People made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on Ace, we've got work to do."
In just a few short sentences Cartmel captures the essence of Doctor Who as a character and programme.  All of the revival showrunners would return to similar lyrical waxing, notably when the tenth Doctor misunderstands that Donna isn't proposing to leave the TARDIS during the Sontaran two-part in Season 4 ("The Fifteenth Broken Moon of the Medusa Cascade, the Lightning Skies of Cotter Palluni's World, Diamond Coral Reefs of Kataa Flo Ko.")  It's almost nonsense poetry, except because of the format, especially in the prose, audio and comics that filled the sixteen year gap, the Doctor and his companions in all their various configurations probably visited planets exactly like these if not weirder.  

The Doctor and Ace could have just wandered off into the sunset as was originally planned, but this final speech somehow became a preview of what was to come.  Now here we are, eight years away from the revival surpassing its original run (and the way things are looking with series already in production to 2025 this doesn't seem that unlikely), you could probably swap out the companion name, give that dialogue to each subsequent Doctor and it would still work just as well.  Not to mention that special effects and budgets, although not infinite, could put people made of smoke on screen and show us how a sea could sleep and what Rivers dream of.  Hello Sweetie.  Happy Christmas.

The Show

"Report on the auditions for The Show, the new late-night television show for BBC Northern Ireland. Interview with BBC producer Jane Cassidy. Reporter: Susie Millar."
[BBC Rewind]

"BBC Northern Ireland's The Show, which began on Saturday evening (4.11.89), resulted in around 700 phone calls of complaint and the subsequent resignation of presenters Eamonn Holmes and Rhonda Paisley. Report by Liam Creagh."
[BBC Rewind]

"Eamonn Holmes resigns as presenter on BBC Northern Ireland programme The Show. Interview with Presbyterian Minister Reverend Willis Cordner. Report by Mike Gaston."
[BBC Rewind]


"An amateur film of two North London cinemas and a BBC run open day at the Ealing Film Studios that features props and iconic set pieces from the TV series Dr Who."
[Screen Archive South East]

"The Director General of the BBC Michael Checkland was heckled by journalists when he arrived to open the organisation’s new television centre in Nottingham."
[Media Archive for Central England]

"Report on 10th anniversary celebrations at Radio Foyle. Interview with Sean Rafferty, Gerry Anderson and Michael McGowan. Reporter: Liam Creagh."
[BBC Rewind]


"The most innovative and consistently funny British sketch-based comedy series of the last 15 years is also one that is inexplicably only ever repeated at late nights on cable channels: BBC’s A Bit of Fry and Laurie (1986 – 1995)."
[Off The Telly]

"Michael Peters’ design for the BBC Corporate Identity, launched in 1988, had sharpened up the existing BBC slanted blocks and typography and had introduced the underscore beneath the blocks in colours to represent Scotland, Wales and Ireland."
[Ravensbourne University London]

"The phone rings in Michael Palin’s office. “Hello?” he answers. “Yes, yes BBC, I know.” A pause. “You want me to what? You want me to go around the world? Yes, but I don’t see why, you can go around the world in 36 hours …” Silence. “Ah, 80. 80 days. Yes, I see, I’d be Phileas Fogg. And no aircraft.”"
[Off The Telly]

"Peter Snow presents the programme on the day the Berlin Wall was breached."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"The Blackadder star loved playing the villain in this Robin Hood spoof – but Kate Lonergan had to get checked for bites between shots as her yellow underwear kept attracting ticks."
[The Guardian]

"This special edition of Open Air focused on the success of Australian soap operas in the United Kingdom. The Prisoner segment includes phone interviews with actresses Sheila Florance (Lizzie Birdsworth) and Val Lehman (Bea Smith). It aired on 27 April 1989."

"Watch the band's interview with Red Dwarf star Craig Charles on this archived slice of grindcore heaven."
[Metal Hammer]


"Doctor Who is 50 this year and has plenty to celebrate. But just like chart-topping bands with albums they wish they had never released, the veteran sci-fi TV show has had its share of turkeys. Why is the 1980s the decade so many fans love to hate?"
[BBC News]

"This has been a year of significant change for the BBC and for the whole broadcasting industry. This might easily have been written in each of my three previous introductions to the BBC's Annual Report to Parliament. But, after so many predictions, much guesswork and some false starts, we have finally seen in the last 12 months the real transformation of the broadcasting landscape."
[World Radio History] 

The Future

Just a short note for people who've read down this far.  Now that we've reached the end of the 80s and the peak TV Cream period, I thought it would be the right time to take a pause.  Writing these weekly posts can be incredibly time consuming and with this year's Christmas Links, preparing Review 2023 (which begins tomorrow) and, well, life in general, I've fallen behind.  The last thing I want is for something sub-optimal to be posts here (not that's stopped me before).

Plus, with more recent decades hovering into view I'm in the process of trying to work out how to cover the 00s and 10s without it all being a bit I Love 1999, especially when it's really difficult to classify what counts as "archive" three years ago.  Perhaps I'll sneek one out in six weeks and go full bore (in both senses of the word) again in four months given where I've left off.  Though hopefully it'll be sooner.  Anyway, let me know if you've been enjoying these posts through the usual channels.

Christmas Links #24

‘I cried for hours’: the moments people realised truth about Father Christmas:
"Suspicions start to become aroused around the age of eight, shows psychology study."

"The Hallmark and Lifetime networks are known for their prolific output of made-for-television holiday movies each year. Even in the age of streaming, they bring in impressive cable television ratings, perhaps aided by how easy they are to leave on while, say, baking several batches of gingerbread for a tree lighting ceremony."

"Thirteen years after a theatre opened, its first full-scale pantomime has been "worth the risk", it said."

"The festive favourite that’s also incredibly divisive…"

"Ed Emberley has been drawing and making art for children's picture books for six decades now. Some of his work include instructional drawing books, inspired by his belief that everyone can learn to draw."

"More than 21,000 people have signed a petition calling on a bishop to intervene in the row after the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, in the Avellino hamlet of Capocastello di Mercogliano, features what appears to be two mothers, rather than just Mary and Joseph."

"If you’re exhausted from that radio station on your presets that flipped to all-Christmas the day before Thanksgiving and has been playing nothing but Mariah, Wham!, Brenda and Burl ever since, here’s a tonic: 40 great holiday songs you probably haven’t heard."

"Christmas time is upon us, and though children loathe getting new clothes for gifts, they best put on that new itchy sweater or slide on those unwanted socks. Or else risk being eaten alive by a giant cat, at least according to Icelandic folklore."

"Over a dozen celebrities got into the giving spirit with the Los Angeles Mission on Dec. 22 for the non-profit’s 87th Annual Christmas Celebration."

"Do you remember the "Christmas Bells" advertisement for Hershey's Kisses that debuted in 1989 and that has been aired—with minor changes in 2012 and 2020—every holiday season since? In the ad, Hershey's Kisses, arranged into the shape of a Christmas tree, become handbells as they play "We Wish You A Merry Christmas.""

Christmas Links #23

Last Christmas scores Christmas number one, beating Sam Ryder and Mariah Carey:
"Wham!'s Last Christmas has been crowned this year's Christmas number one, 39 years after it was first released."

"Christmas trees without the dreaded needle drop? Researchers are growing them now."

"The pair talk training, festive traditions and bringing joy and happiness to people at home on Christmas Day."

"A ghost story for Christmas."

"From festive TV to presents and food, Guardian correspondents round up Christmas traditions across the continent."

"In Gulatingslova, the law of the Gulathing law province in Norway, there are strict rules for the brewing of ale before Christmas."

"Nigella's recipes from her 2023 BBC Christmas Special are inspired by local ingredients from both the Dutch and Indonesian culinary cultures of Amsterdam, creating dishes that are both simple and celebratory to make our Christmas deliciously do-able and joyous!"

"The British Medical Journal’s Christmas edition publishes sincere research about zany topics."

"Christmas 2023 could be America's least snow-covered in at least 20 years. Meteorologists consider a white Christmas one in which there is at least one inch of snow on the ground Christmas morning."

"From IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE to ELF, I've curated a collection of scripts that should inject some holiday spirit into your screenwriting education."

Christmas Links #22

Mystery of Raphael masterpiece may have been solved by Bradford-made AI:
"Algorithm concludes most of Madonna della Rosa was by renaissance master – but not the face of Joseph."

"This week: some notable Christmases, and some festive maps. But first: sorry, I’m going to get soppy on you."

"It is a much loved festive film - and for one cinema It's a Wonderful Life is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving."

"Maria Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" has been the soundtrack of the holiday season for nearly 30 years.  Why has this song become a rare modern Christmas hit?"

"We continue our countdown of your picks for the greatest Christmas comic tales with the new (and award-winning) Christmas origin of Ace the Bat-Hound."

"Birmingham prison was opened in 1849, prior to that criminals were sent to Warwick to suffer their punishment."

"With roots dating back to the 13th century, Gryla is not to be messed with."

"Hotel prices and tourism numbers are up as New York City goes through its first holiday season with new rules that ban nearly all Airbnbs and other short-term rentals."

"Whether you’re spending the festive period by yourself or with people that don’t make you feel seen or supported, Christmas can be a time that exacerbates feelings of loneliness. Here’s what you can do to ease them."

"As the sun sets on the narrow streets of Africa’s largest informal settlement, children hurry to change from daily clothes into pointe shoes and other ballet gear."

Christmas Links #21

"When I started this set of articles about flash frames, right back at the beginning of the year, I never thought it would end up taking five parts to tell this story properly. In particular, I never really wanted to get into the nitty gritty of endless Young Ones repeats."

"Researchers suspect euphoria and intimacy of season may be behind spike in cases."

"Christmas has finally come home: In a sweet, new YouTube video, Darlene Love reunites with David Letterman and Paul Shaffer for the first time in nine years to resume a longtime holiday tradition that capped off the Christmas episodes of Letterman’s late night talk shows for 28 years."

"Between all the new gadgets being opened, video games being downloaded, and Premier League matches to watch, the UK's broadband networks will be under extreme pressure to deliver over the festive period."

Mickey, Disney, and the Public Domain: a 95-year Love Triangle:
"On January 1, 2024, after almost a century of copyright protection, Mickey Mouse, or at least a version of Mickey Mouse, will enter the public domain. The first movies in which the iconic mouse appeared – Steamboat Willie and the silent version of Plane Crazy – were made in 1928 and works from that year go into the public domain in the United States on New Year’s Day 2024."

"A former church in Ohio houses what's believed to be the world's largest privately owned collection of Christmas movie memorabilia."

"A popular "Santa's letterbox" in Coventry has been stolen and the owner has called for it to be returned."

"So I can now say that I’ve seen Santa with Muscles. That was not a thing I could have said two days ago. It was a better time, then. A more innocent time. I reflect sadly on what I’ve lost in the interim. Brain cells, certainly. A bit of sanity (And you all know the kinds of movies I indulge in. I have none to spare). The will to live."

"And other strange evergreen decor evolutions, from retro-kitsch to glow-in-the-dark."

"The day after Christmas, my family gathered around a bare branch stuck into the sand of a Cape Cod beach with boxes of stale crackers, cereal, and pretzels to celebrate what my mom had dubbed “Seagull Day.”"

Christmas Links #20

"The Victorian era was not as dusty and monochrome as we think; a new exhibition and a research project, Chromotope, explores a wave of chemical breakthroughs that brought colour to the people."

"It’s the most ... romantic time of the year?"

"Thieves have stolen the lights from a Christmas tree, leaving a village heartbroken."

"Elaborate food boards may not be practical, but some say that's not the point."

"A children’s Christmas party in Belfast with lots of fancy goodies and balloons."

"Crazy expensive dried citrus, cheap sh*t, a system of waste and compost as a natural fertiliser and political act...but is compost also spiritually nourishing?"

"If holiday music seems designed in a lab to get stuck on repeat inside your head for all of December, well, it kind of isall of December, well, it kind of is."

"At a recent NOAA workshop, another participant gifted all of us these wonderful “hard hat” float ornaments. The perfect blend of nerdy oceanography and 3-D printing."

"For astronomers peering into the depths of the universe, Christmas came a little early this year."

Christmas Links #19

"Analysis: many Christmas babies have traditionally carried a key sign throughout their lives of when they were born in the form of their name."

"Here's a selection of mildly-concerning vintage Christmas meals that you can make yourself this holiday season. With so many food items to choose from, it can be overwhelming to make up your mind."

"In this video, I connected some christmas electric toys to the WANPTEK DC power supply using wires. I continuously applied increasing voltage to the toys, starting from 5V and going up to 30V."

"The early music ensemble of the Folger Shakespeare Library offered a compelling Christmas program at St. Mark’s Episcopal."

"Dozens of runners dressed as Santa have raced along a beach to try to catch a Christmas pudding."

"At the outbreak of war in 1939, the BBC evacuated its newly-formed Radio Drama Company of actors, led by Val Gielgud, to Worcestershire."

"Brilliant festive photographs recently unearthed from our archives."

"The most popular Christmas movies seem to come primarily from the Forties."

"Professor complains that show’s Oxbridge bias is even more pronounced in Christmas specials and calls for public debate."

"The 68th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Malmö, Sweden in May 2024."

Categorical Imperative (Short Trips: Monsters)

Prose  The TARDIS Wiki page for Simon Guerrier's story is quite the thing, explaining as it does the background of the Kantian philosophy which underpins events, whether the murder of a baby who will go on to destroy a planet is justifiable, basically should be kill Hitler?  Told mostly from Sarah Jane's point of view, we see all of the Doctor's incarnation up until that point attend the child's funeral, each on a mission to knife the thing in its crib with the Fourth Doctor brooding in the corner, biding his time.  As ever it's the Eighth Doctor who does the heavy lifting.  We know that the Time Lord can't do it, it's not in his nature, so it's a question of what he can do to nudge history in a different direction.  Big Finish's Short Trips anthologies were often, quite, quite weird.

Placement:  Charley's here, so the gap between the first two seasons.

The Glass Princess (Short Trips: The Muses)

Prose  Does the Doctor have a celestial Google Calendar which pings him through the incarnations to return to certain places and catch up with whoever's there?  The Glass Princess offers another example of this cross (re)generational story, as an event which happens during the Hartnell years, the poisoning of a young princess, becomes a mission as he returns throughout his life so he can wake her up now and then, for a few hours, so that her parents can spend time with her until she's the only one left of her civilisation.  It's a similar effort to A Christmas Carol, with birthdays in for the 25th December and a group effort rather than just Eleventh.

The Eighth Doctor appears in the final scene, leading the girl towards her final moments.  It is, as you might expect, horrendously sad and it's through his words the writer, Paul Leonard, articulates another element of the Moffat era, seven years earlier, that it's just a fairy tale, an articulation of Sleeping Beauty with the Time Lord in the role of the Prince.  But honestly the section which really punched me in the gut is the moment when the Seventh Doctor gifts her a small blue badge in the shape of a boat which has been passed on by Ace who says she doesn't need it any more: "She said to tell you that you had deserved it. It's a badge really, not a brooch. It's only given to people who are very special. Very brave."

Placement: Outrageously, I think I'm going to retcon this in the Time War era, in the period when he's dealing with unfinished business.

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1988.

History provides context.  Back on the 23rd May 1988, when I saw the Six O'Clock News being disrupted by protestors and watched the same incident subsequently repeated as part of the TV Hell theme night, I probably found it quite amusing, seeing these newsreaders trying to do their job as potential mayhem was happening off camera.  As a proud BBC fan I no doubt applauded the professionalism of Sue Lawley in continuing to present the programme even as she gave a nervous side eye to the woman who had chained herself to the news desk with her co-presenter Nick Witchell sat on another.

Now I understand of course the reason for the protest.  Section 28 or Clause 28 was a legislative designation for a series of laws across Britain that prohibited the "promotion of homosexuality" by local authorities.  Much like similar laws being passed in the United States right now, its broad, unfocused nature was an existential threat to the LGBT community of the time, as support and counselling groups were forced to close and schools could no longer teach children about a whole group in society, with numerous Conservative MPs using homophobic language to justify their actions.  It became law on the 24th May, the day after the news protest.

Which means and as this BBC Stories piece demonstrates those protestors were incredibly courageous.  As Booan Temple describes, broadcasters simply didn't understand the impact this was going to have on LGBT people and so their only recourse seemed to be to try and get on television themselves and nationally.  It worked.  The invasion itself became a news story on the Nine O'Clock News and although the coverage in the newspapers afterwards was predictably homophobic and it ultimately didn't change how the vote went, it did at least give some comfort to any gays and especially lesbians watching that someone understood what they were going through and were willing to fight for them.

Section 28

"Section 28 of the Local Government Act passed into law on May 24th 1988. But Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government had under-estimated our communities’ determination to resist this legislation at every possible opportunity."
[Gay in the 80s]

"It's exactly 17 years since the anti-gay legislation was finally repealed by parliament in 2003."

"Section 28 of the Local Government Bill prohibits the "promotion of homosexuality". Concerned about its effect upon the arts, and fearing for its implications on a wider scale, actor Ian McKellen questions the purpose and logic of the Bill. Newspaper editor Peregrine Worsthorne argues for the Bill in this forthright discussion."
[BBC Archive]

"Kilroy (1986-2004), BBC One’s weekday discussion programme, covered the topic of the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in schools in the wake of the Section 28."
Featuring Sir Ian McKellen.
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]


"A Schools Television series presented by Carol Vorderman. This encouraged schools to experiment in various specific ways."
[BBC Computer Literacy Project Archive]

"A series of ten programmes about computers in society, with Fred Harris."
[BBC Computer Literacy Project Archive]

"Description of Dunmow Flitch Trials, where couples compete for a side of bacon by showing themselves to be the most happily married. Features extracts from Trial Ceremony, including verdict and sentence, and interviews with judges, candidates, counsel, and jurors. This was originally broadcast on BBC Essex on 12 June 1988."
[Essex Record Office]

"Keith Floyd continues his culinary trek with a visit to East Anglia. He looks forward to dinner and the prospect of Norfolk Dumplings, he makes potted shrimps and tastes brown shrimps. He then cooks scallops with chef Robert Harrison."
[BBC Rewind]

"BBC Radio 4 series in which Michael Charlton traces the emergence of Zimbabwe as an independent country in 1979."
[Imperial War Museum][BBC Programme Index]

"Nelson Mandela Concert at Wembley Stadium Celebrating His 70th Birthday: Harry Belafonte, Jonathan Butler, Tracy Chapman, Joe Crocker, Jazz."

"Richard Taylor was serving as a military police subaltern in Korea. Near to his tent they were interrogating prisoners - and sometimes they tortured them.  That was the start of a lifelong concern about torture."
[Richard Taylor][BBC Programme Index]



"Phillip Schofield, the first Broom Cupboard inhabitant, presents the programme that allows young viewers to give their opinions on TV shows."
[BBC Archive]

Three part history of the youth strand.
[Off The Telly]

"Representatives of Telegael, a joint RTÉ-Udras venture for dubbing TV programmes into Irish, visit the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Wales in Cardiff, to explore possibilities for co-productions."

"In this episode of The Reunion, Sue MacGregor gathers together the founding members of Comic Relief [...] On the back of the Red Nose idea came the first ever Red Nose Day TV extravaganza in 1988 - an event which would bring together comedy and charity like never before on live national TV."

"The BBC’s head of comedy said it would only work if there was a sofa. We said spaceships don’t have sofas – and he said it won’t work then."
[The Guardian]

"Sometimes, if I put on my magenta-tinted spectacles, I think that the most fun I ever had with Red Dwarf was in 1994. That was the very first time I watched the series, and indeed the very first time the show had been repeated from the beginning at all. So I could blithely enjoy the show without being troubled by what other people thought of it… or specifically, what the writers thought of it."
[Dirty Feed]

"Neighbours star Stefan Dennis, who plays Paul Robinson, visits Belfast. Reporter: Paul Clark."
[BBC Rewind]

"In this extract, Richard Attree develops music for the BBC schools radio series Popalong, using a state-of-the-art computer system, while Peter Howell puts the hum into hummingbirds for Wildlife On One: Birds of the Sun God."
[BBC Archive]

This BBC audience reaction report was one of the first nails in Doctor Who's coffin in the late eighties…
[Gen of Deek]

"The alcoholic and Godless wife of a vicar, a curtain-twitching meddler who finds happiness in prison and a timid suburban housewife who falls in love with a murderer. Three of 12 seemingly remarkable yet ordinary characters who made up Alan Bennett's two series of ground-breaking TV monologues."[BBC Sounds]


"Broadcast journalists from Belfast travel to London today to join protest at House of Commons against home secretary's Sinn Fein broadcasting ban; while in Belfast journalists and senior editors held news conference to highlight campaign for review of measures. Reporter: Iain Webster."
[BBC Rewind]