Noise to Signal

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August 2009

Truly, we are living in the future... / 31.08.09

Keeping with the Sixties theme, this gem of a film from the GPO (the General Post Office, forerunner to British Telecommunications, or BT) in 1969 predicts the future of telecommunications in the UK. Leaving aside the videophone, which has still proven problematic (although companies with enough money are benefiting from video conferencing), the ideas in this film have pretty much come to fruition, although maybe not quite in the manner that the GPO was expecting. It’s eight minutes of your time well spent, if only for the absolutely spot-on home-working scenario!

RIP Simon Dee, 1935-2009 / 30.08.09

Another iconic part of the Sixties passes on with Simon Dee, the host of the notorious Dee Time, a show which had 18 million viewers in 1967. It’s quite possible that most NTS readers won’t know who Simon Dee was, which is the main tragedy of his life; a man who epitomised the famed spirit of the late ’60s spent the rest of his life in obscurity. His Wikipedia entry documents his dramatic rise and fall from grace, and although there’s very little evidence of his charm and talent remaining in archives (Dee Time was mainly transmitted live and not recorded by the BBC), NTS did a review of his one celluloid appearance in the 1970 film Doctor In Trouble earlier this year, and YouTube hosts the one remaining piece of Dee Time, with part of the 2003 remake (produced by Victor Lewis Smith), along with some other interview footage.

It seems very sad that there’s so little left to remind us of a man Elizabeth Hurley cites as the inspiration for Austin Powers, but his career could be seen as a metaphor for the ephemeral medium that television was seen as in the 1960s; the ultimate Sixties icon indeed.

Lab Rats Commentaries! / 19.08.09

Oh yes. The DVD may not have any extras, but that hasn’t stopped Chris Addison, along with co-writer Carl Cooper and producer Simon Nicholls, recording their own commentaries - which you can download from here. (iTunes integration coming shortly, apparently.)

The Hair of Dorian Gray / 18.08.09

So, there’s a new film adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray due out later this year (although naturally, such a title is far too long for movie audiences to handle, so it’s simply called Dorian Gray). It stars Ben Barnes, of Prince Caspian fame - not necessarily a bad bit of casting, as he is something of a pretty boy, although I’d argue he’s perhaps five or six years too old (still, given that Anthony Andrews circa 1982 no longer exists, it’s arguable that casting the perfect Dorian is pretty much impossible). Sadly, it’s fallen prey to something that almost every film version of the character has stumbled on so far - in that yet again, Dorian has been given dark hair.

Academia Republica SminkiPinki Especiale / 17.08.09

Dear Dave,

When showing episodes of The Fast Show, please don’t cut out my favourite bit of the entire damn episode. For reference:

It's the Peter Serafinowicz DVD! / 10.08.09

… or, rather, it isn’t. At least not yet, anyway.

Because despite being one of the best sketch shows of the last decade, and although a DVD has been put together and is raring to go, the distributor is currently refusing to release it. So the man himself has requested that you help out, by pre-ordering or reviewing the DVD on Amazon. Do so and he’ll even thank you personally, because he’s nice like that.

And as if you needed one, here’s a reminder of why this series needs to be preserved for posterity…

Guinness Book of Records in "load of crap" shock / 03.08.09

This probably shouldn’t jump out as much as it did, but I couldn’t help but notice this story from San Diego Comic-Con, where The Simpsons was honoured by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “longest running sitcom in the world”.

Only… it isn’t, even, is it?

Democracy Inaction / 01.08.09

There’s a most entertaining punch-up developing on the MediaGuardian blog as a result of their poll on the greatest TV show of recent years. When voting opening, there was a strong showing from The Wire, but Top Gear has now started storming ahead. There have been some attempts at starting a vote-rigging campaign on the petrolhead forums, but it’s impossible to know how seriously to take this. I’d get agitated at Doctor Who’s poor showing, but it’s a low-profile year for the show, not helped by the last episode being utter dross.

The real fun, however, is in the comments section, which features a heated-multi page debate between several people who appear to be incapable of conceding a point. It’s like Prime Minister’s Questions without a bloke in fancy dress shutting people up.

I’d strong encourage you to head over there and watch from the sidelines- doing so has been successfully distracting me from the MSc dissertation that I’m supposed to be writing…