A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1992

Not for the first time, I'm currently experiencing an overwhelming feeling of content overload, the sense of being faced with a near infinite amount of things to watch or read or listen to and not knowing which of it to experience next.  The last time I mentioned it was in 2020 and the affliction has become even more acute after the post-COVID streaming boom and the sheer amount of things which are being added every day.  Clearly some people are able to cope with this by narrowing their focus, but my anxiety addled brain finds it immensely difficult to see everything it wants to see and shuts down after unable to go with just one thing and putting on another episode of Taskmaster as a coping mechanism.

That's particularly acute for the long-tail, the material which I feel like I should have watched already, that everyone refers to but which I haven't managed to get to because of all the other things which have filled the spaces between work, food, sleep and the empty cries of loneliness in the darkness.  Even in  trying to focus on to my "traditional" interests, even some of the more obscure Shakespeare plays have multiple recordings by professional companies available now, my shelves and Big Finish account are bulging with Doctor Who stories bought and ignored and both of those are as nothing compared to the long list of archive television I've collected or can stream. 

Take Ghostwatch.  I missed Ghostwatch originally because it was broadcast the same night as my eighteenth birthday party at a church hall in Garston, where all of my school friends and a girl I had a mad crush on got to not meet the members of my extended family.  Even though we hadn't designated any tables, both groups stayed very much on opposite ends of the room without even gathering together for the dancing portions of the evening.  So at about the time of Ghostwatch's original transmission I would have been Cossack dancing with the girl I had mad crush on to the tune of Doctor Spin's Tetris, back when being at school forced me to have a social life.

For years it would be in the background, an article in SFX magazine here, a mention in a television clip show there but it wasn't until August 2nd 2019 (Letterboxd reminds me) after finding a copy in a charity shop that I saw it all of the way through, another in the aforementioned long list you could also call the "great stuff you were probably too young to really appreciate but it was probably about time you got around to" (or something snappier) along with Artemis 81.  As expected it was a deeply impressive piece of television, a forerunner to the found footage genre and although probably losing some verisimilitude due to running off a DVD rather than its original TX, certainly pretty terrifying.

You'd think I'd be happy about this.  But then I just think about all of the other "great stuff etc" on top of Ghostwatch which is right there but I'll never get around to.  The "tyranny of choice" as I called it in 2020.  Back then the solution seemed to be to stick to films and just new films.  But I haven't seen all of Bergman or Resnais or Kurasowa or in terms of actors Heddy Lamar, Cary Grant or Juliette Binoche.  On TV, I know I'd enjoy Sapphire and Steel but apparently the new Shogun series on Disney+ is excellent and I still have another sixty odd episode of the 90s X-Men animation to work through so I can then get the most pleasure from the revival.  Same with music and same with books.

In previous blog posts, I've tried to find solutions, giving myself strict rules as to what to watch, listen to or read which do work - for a while - before it starts to feel limiting and guilt sets in.  Like I said earlier, I wish I was someone who could just watch the occasional thing and not worry about any of this.  But I'm stuck in this brain, and this brain is constantly wondering why I'm watching this quite boring Japanese alien invasion film from Toho in the 1960s instead of something French, the one that won all the awards or that amazing documentary.  I'll just have to keep reminding myself that I can't watch everything and that there was a time when it was ok to miss Ghostwatch in favour of Cossack dancing.


"The director and writer of Ghostwatch Lesley Manning and Stephen Volk join Matthew Sweet and academic Lucy Arnold to look back at the reality–horror/pseudo-documentary TV, which aired on British tv screens on Halloween night 1992."
[BBC Sounds]

"Our producer received a letter from a woman asking for compensation to buy new trousers for her husband, as he had soiled the ones he was wearing."
[The Guardian]

"The writer, director and one of the producers join Adrian Chiles to discuss the controversial BBC programme, that aired on Halloween 1992."
[BBC Sounds]


"A special programme marking a decade of the BBC Computer Literacy Project."
[BBC Computer Literacy Project Archive]

"A BBC Essex series by Carron Garden visiting unusual homes in Essex. Recorded 1 January-1 February 1992."
[Essex Record Office]


"The makers of the 1990s BBC adaptation of Mary Norton's tales about tiny people recall the weird techniques they had to use to achieve that crucial 'Borrowers' eye perspective'."
[The Guardian]

"The 1990-1991 Gulf War had shown the BBC that there was an appetite for 24-hour radio news. The so-called “Scud FM”, officially titled “BBC Radio 4 News FM” had taken over the VHF frequencies of Radio 4 on the outbreak of that conflict, providing a full news service 17 hours a day."

"TV veterans Peter Fincham and Jon Plowman talk to the writers, producers, and performers behind Britain’s biggest TV comedy hits, and hear the inside story of how they brought their programmes to the screen."
[BBC Sounds]


Peabody Institutional Award 1992: BBC Radio
"For more than six decades, BBC Radio has been a source of information, education and entertainment for English-speaking audiences both in Britain and abroad."

"The BBC needs to keep closely in touch with its audience, and to develop clear objectives that reflect the audience's needs and interests. Once these objectives are set, the BBC needs to be able to assess and report on how it is doing against them. The Governors will report annually to the licence payers and Parliament on the BBC's performance."
[World Radio History] 

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