Friday, 24 December 2010

The Top Ten Lookie-Likeys That Probably Don’t Get Much Work

“Don’t wanna be ignored at the door. We all look the same, we’re all lookalikes.”

So sang criminally underrated German electropop band Tok Tok Vs Soffy O in their 2002 non-hit “The Lookalikes”. And do you know, they were right, pretty much everyone looks a bit like someone else. Often, that someone else is someone a bit famous. We’ve variously been told over the years that we look a lot like Jarvis Cocker, Rik Mayall and Sunderland bench-warmer Boudewijn Zenden, even though we don’t look anything like any of them, and not that there’s much work out there for a Boudewijn Zenden lookalike. OR IS THERE?

One thing that always amuses us for up to several minutes at a time is looking through the websites of professional lookalike agencies, mean-spiritedly scoffing at the ‘acts’ who don’t look anything like their famous supposed doppelgangers. Anyway, instead of that, we’re going to take a look at some of the lookie-likeys who’ll probably need to keep plugging away at their day job for quite a while yet. But first (and this’ll only really make sense if you’re reading this intro text from the front page of the blog, and not the article itself), see if you can work out who this is supposed to be. Answer after the ‘jump’.

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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Graph of the Day

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In summary: On roads – “Eep”. On an empty work car park – “Wheeeeee!”

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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The BrokenTV Awards 2010: Sneak Preview

THE WORST TELEVISION PROGRAMME OF 2010 IS GOING TO BE: TRAMADOL NIGHTS

Yeah, no brainer really. If you’re going to be shocking, at least remember to be funny. A bit like this show from New Zealand, about a decade ago:

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Monday, 20 December 2010

“The 1986 World Cup on the Moon?” It Must Be The Christmas 1973 TV Times!

We’ve chipped the icicles off the office computer to bring you the last of our glances at TVTimes gone by, and what could be better than a double Christmas issue with a cover that sums up the era perfectly?

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Hyuk-yuk-yuk. Or however one is supposed to spell Sid James’ guttural guffaw. It’s 1973!

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Friday, 17 December 2010

Meanwhile, In An Alternate Universe… (rpt)

So, the Christmas listings guide begin tomorrow, meaning the festive season is officially GO. And, to be fair, the schedule is quite a good one, with repeats of Rowan Atkinson Live and The Goodies scheduled over the next fortnight. In tribute to those, here’s a repeat of our own, the fake Christmas Day schedule we put together when we were being sarcastic about Mark Thommo Thompson’s budget cuts.

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Yes, we don’t normally ‘do’ repeats on here, but this is our favourite update of the year (yes, it’s a TVGoHome ripoff, but we think it’s a good one), and deserves a wider audience. Also, we’re going out in an office Christmas ‘do’ in about twenty minutes, so this is all we’ve got time for today.

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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Mobile Mediocrity

Just a quick update, this. BrokenTV has now been tweaked to look 47% less horrible on your mobile phone or iThing.

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Admittedly, it’s a quick fix, so it still looks a bit rubbish.

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But, as it’s only nabbing the RSS feed for now, that’s to be expected. Still, at least this kind of approach to design is in keeping with the remainder of content in this blog, eh?

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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ar-Gosh (The Inflationally Adjusted 1985 and 1986 Argos Catalogues)

We could think of a pun for the title this time. Not a good one, though.

So, slightly surprisingly for us, yesterday’s update on the 1976 Argos catalogue seems to have been really quite popular. We know this because there are several hits on our Feedjit page linked to something on Facebook, though thanks to the way Facebook handles outgoing links, we don’t know which particular bit of Facebook everyone is coming in from. Anyway, that means we’d probably better make good on our promise to look at some items from the 1980s, and what they’d cost in nowmoney.

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In case you haven’t seen yesterday’s update yet, we’d said this:

“Thanks to the utterly magnificent work of someone calling themselves Trippyglitters, Flickr now plays host to not one, not two, not four, but THREE complete Argos catalogues from the past. One from 1976, one from 1985 and one from 1986. This, as any reasonably rational person will understand, is absolutely fantastic news.”

Indeed, this is still fantastic news, especially as we can actually remember items in the catalogues we’ll look at today, which are from 1985 and 1986.

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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

It’s The Argos Catalogue From 1976 And What The Things In It Cost Now After Accounting For Inflation!

We couldn’t think of a good pun for the title.

Thanks to the utterly magnificent work of someone calling themselves Trippyglitters, Flickr now plays host to not one, not two, not four, but THREE complete Argos catalogues from the past. One from 1976, one from 1985 and one from 1986. This, as any reasonably rational person will understand, is absolutely fantastic news.

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So, what are the items therein which seem comically aged from a modern-day point of view? And how much did they actually cost, both at the time, and when accounting for inflation? WE SHALL INVESTIGATE. And hopefully squeeze some mileage out of the zany concept that things from the past are different to things from now. Don’t think anyone has ever thought about exploiting that potential comedic goldmine, have they? They have? Well, we’re going to do it anyway.

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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Exciting Free Gift For All Readers Inside

Way back in 2008, we ran a little contest over on the BeEx forum called Song Wars (no relation to the Adam & Joe thing of the same name). The rules were too complicated to run through in detail here, but it was basically a World Cup Of Liking Music – with group stages and a knockout phase and a prize and everything. Basically, each ‘player’ picked one song per week, often based on a theme, sometimes not. The songs from each group were listed, with no clue as to which player had picked which song, and everyone else got to vote for their favourites, with identities revealed and points allocated at the end of each week. It was fun, and we should have really carried on with it.

Anyway, the first song-card we decided to play was the We Are Terrorists remix of Revolte’s ‘Ironical Sexism’. Problem was, we couldn’t find a streaming version of it anywhere, so we uploaded it to YouTube after designing a quick ‘cover’, and used that. It did well, too, narrowing missing first place thanks to someone else picking the even better MacArthur Park by Richard Harris.

And here it is. It’s still thunderingly brilliant, by the way.

A few years later, after we’d long forgotten it, we received a YouTube private message from French electropopsters WAT themselves (their name since shortened, possibly just so they could get their stuff through airports without having to hear the sound of a customs guy snapping on a body cavity search glove). Was it a polite bollocking about us trampling all over their copyright by uploading it without their permission? Well, nope. It was them thanking us for promoting their work – the YouTube upload was nudging 10,000 hits at the time of the message – and offering us a free copy of their debut album. What with us not being as stupid as we look, we gratefully accepted their offer, and got a free copy of something we were almost certainly going to buy anyway. Hurrah, eh?

And, as luck would have it, the debut album from WAT is something we’d classify as Really Rather Bloody Brilliant Actually. If you’re a fan of the genre the band themselves call ‘positivelectrorocknewwavediscotecawithahiphoptwist’, you’ll love this album. If you’re not a fan of positiveelectrorocketc, you should prepare to have your expectations elbowed sharply in the ribs, because you’ll probably find you love it anyway. That’s how good it is.

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But don’t take our inelegantly phrased words for it. We’ve asked nicely, and we’ve got a medley of songs from the album, specially mixed into excellence by DaTraxer, to share with you all. Yes, it’s a promo track that we could probably have just made available without even asking permission anyway, but shush. We’re polite like that.  It works as a pretty damn good song in it’s own right if you’re asking us, and gives you a pretty good idea of the joyous jumpiness contained within the album proper. Download, listen, enjoy.

WAT - Wonder (Teddy-Beer's Millenium Flocon Teaser By DaTraxer)

Because it’s Christmas (well, early mid-December), here’s another freebie of a WAT song not on the album. It’s a remix of the theme to Knight Rider, which is a television programme, which means this whole blog update is still on topic. Yay!

We Are Terrorists - Kangou 2000 (Remix Of Knight Rider Theme)

You can buy Wonder from iTunes, buy the CD direct from Boxon Records, or digitally from 7Digital. Oh, and here’s Soundcloud link to their next single, which is splendid.

 

COMPANIES! Would YOU like to offer us a free copy of things we would probably have gone out and bought anyway in return for us being nice about it here? Feel free to contact us on Twitter. (We’ll be extra nice about whatever if you throw in some cash, too.)
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Friday, 10 December 2010

To Russia With… Elton? It Must Be The Christmas 1980 Issue Of TV Times!

Okay, who had “December 8th” in the “Which Day Will BrokenTV Miss A Daily Update Sweepstake”? That tiny plastic bag of pound coins is all yours. We’re back now, and it’s time for another flip through a TV Times of yuletides past. To make things ever more exciting, inspired by tonight’s episode of Coronation Street, we’re typing all this out LIVE. Let’s hope nothing bad happens as we delve into the double Christmas issue from WEEK COMMENCING 19th DECEMBER 1980:

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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

If You Were Thinking Peter Kay, Twiggy and Jason Donovan Were Bad Enough…

…celebrity-fronted corporate chain store Christmas commercials didn’t used to be any better.

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Monday, 6 December 2010

“If It’s Tyne-Tees, Tell ‘Em I’m Not Working” (BBC North-East Xmas Tape 1986)

It just wouldn’t be December without us including some videos of BBC Christmas Tapes, would it? Here’s an interesting find – the BBC North-East Christmas tape from 1986. Warning: contains Bon Jovi.

As Sean Lock might say, it’s something that isn’t that funny, but it’s not boring either. Actually, it is pretty boring. Oh, for the golden age of Xmas Tapes.

If that’s a bit much for you, how about this clip (purportedly from a Christmas tape from a US network, though we suspect it’s just generic non-festive VT engineer tomfoolery) from the 1950s?

Not sure the BBC VT department of the late 1970s would have got much out of that, really.

TOMORROW: A better update than this one. Possibly.

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Sunday, 5 December 2010

Max Bygraves’ Inland Revenue Bill and Bonnie Langford: It Must Be The Christmas 1977 Issue Of TV Times!

One of the generally accepted universal truths is that ITV Can’t Do Christmas Telly. This reasoning was probably more true than ever a few years ago, when the only noteworthy addition to ITV1’s Christmas Day line-up was a South Bank Show special on… Little Britain, a BBC show that itself wasn’t considered big enough to be included in BBC One’s Christmas Day schedule.

But: was this always the case? To celebrate the bumper double Christmas issue of the Radio and TV Times hitting the shops  (aah, remember the days when you had to buy both?), it’s time for the first of an occasional series where we look at what aired on The Light Channel over festive breaks past. First up: Christmas 1977, with cover stars Harry Secombe, Yootha Joyce, Brian Murphy and Bonnie Langford.

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Saturday, 4 December 2010

“…and Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln”

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After the sad passing of Leslie Nielsen, we’ve spent quite a few enjoyable hours this week watching our DVD of Police Squad!, and it’s every bit as great as we remember it. Best of all, though, the DVD itself contains a bunch of wonderful special features, and here are a few of them that work as framegrabs.

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Friday, 3 December 2010

Doctor Who vs Bing Hitler

You know how we’ve often gone on about how brilliant The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson is? This is precisely why.

[UPDATE: Just posted this in the comments, but might as well put it here too, where people will actually see it.]

Weird thing is, despite all the hard work that clearly went into making that routine, it never actually aired. The rights to use Orbital's remix of the Who theme hadn't been acquired, so that episode actually opened with a clearly pissed off Ferguson saying that they'd just done a brilliant dance routine that now couldn't be shown.

Here’s how the show originally aired. In full, because the people who make The Late Late Show are SO marvellous they don’t mind putting the whole thing online for the world to see, for free. It’s a Doctor Who special!

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Yule (B)log: Stand-Up Round-Up (2)

From FIFA’s website:

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The 2018 World Cup is to be held in a country where spectators regularly boo black footballers, and the 2022 World Cup is to be held in a country where homosexuality is outlawed. Hmm. Maybe FIFA are going by George W Bush’s definition of ‘mission accomplished’?

Anyway, comedy!

Rhod Gilbert and The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst

Channel 4 DVD
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63

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This year’s offering from Rhod Gilbert, and if you’re keen to hear someone from Wales unconvincingly pretending to be really angry about minor things for 83 minutes, but you don’t know our phone number, this is the DVD for you. Personally, we’ve always felt that Rhod Gilbert is about 78.6% of the way there to being a really entertaining stand-up, and can’t help but be a little surprised at how he manages to bag sold-out tours and his own BBC One series without filling in the gaps in his act. To our minds, the show would be much more enjoyable if the material written by Gilbert remained the same, but was somehow performed by Windsor Davies circa 1981.

A lot of the material, of the “have you noticed [x]? What’s all THAT about, eh?” variety, really could be stronger (even we don’t get confused by washing machines, and we’re idiots), and even when the stronger material kicks in, it’s as if the show had been written using Microsoft Comedy Routine Live 2011. Maybe we’re being needlessly cynical, but we can really imagine that towards writing the end of his set, there are several parts where a cartoon paper clip popped up to proclaim “It looks like you’re trying to squeeze in a callback! How about… making a reference to your earlier routine on vacuum cleaners?”

So, a bit of a let down, but slightly better than his previous live DVD ‘The Award Winning Mince Pie’. At this rate, we’re expecting his live DVD in 2017, called ‘The Toaster That Won Eurovision’ or something, will be pretty good, though.

RATING: C-

Sean Lock – Lockipedia

Universal Pictures UK
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86

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The most naturally funny comedian in the UK? We’d say so. In a performance that performers like Rhod Gilbert should take a lot of inspiration from, Lock manages to take similar everyday topics – bags for life, RyanAir, laser eye surgery – but riffs on them with seemingly effortless majesty. Where Rhod Gilbert slides uneasily into his character of “Angry Welsh Guy”, Sean Lock prowls the stage in the guise of a misanthrope who’s long seen recognised the pointlessness of being furious about stuff, and who now delights in warm and cheery malevolence. And it works brilliantly. Most stand-ups can’t help but deliver their lines in a kind of showy “Hey, everyone! I’m on stage! Look at meeeee!” kind of way, while Lock prefers a much more natural style of delivery, which really draws you into his set, letting the funny bits hit the targets of their own accord.

The set does falter a little once it reaches the USP of the tour, namely the Lockipedia segment which sees Lock improvise a routine based on a word from a random audience member. Coming from the man who always puts in a brilliant shift on 8 Out Of 10 Cats no matter how many JackWhitehallalikes are on it that week, the material isn’t poor by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn’t come close to matching the deftly written and repeatedly finessed gags that make up the remainder of Lock’s show. Happily, he seems to recognise this, and the last part of the show returns to prepared material.

In short: our favourite stand-up comedy DVD of the year so far.

RATING: A

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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Yule (B)log 2010: Comedy DVD Round-Up (1)

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Yes, yes, we’re aware that updates have been sporadic recently. We even missed the 5th anniversary of the site going live. Rest assured, when BrokenTV’s tenth birthday rolls around, we’ll probably Photoshop a party hat onto the logo or something. But anyway, it’s December, and that means we pledge to do a blog update EVERY! SINGLE! DAY! until the 25th. Could 2010 be the year we make it beyond the 12th before breaking that promise? We’ve got a positive feeling about it, put it that way.

DAY ONE: STAND-UP DVD ROUND-UP

It seems that each year, there’s one type of DVD-based gift that dominates the last-minute-stocking-filler market. A few years ago, it was the football blooper compilation fronted by an annoying  celebrity craze. More recently, we had the Interactive DVD Quiz Game fad, which seemingly lasted until the manufacturers realised they could just shove their half-arsed licenced quizzes onto the Wii instead, and sell them at double the price.

This year, it seems to be stand-up comedy DVDs receiving their very own shelf in your local Tesco Ultrastore, which is, in theory, a marked improvement over, ooh, “Danny Dyer’s Funniest Football Foul-Ups” or something. Ha! Can you imagine if someone was still bringing out rubbish like tha… oh. Oh dear. (“Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,147 in DVD”)

Where were we? Ah yes. Stand-up comedy has always been around in a variety of recorded formats, both audio and visual, ever since the wax cylinder of Thomas Edison’s “Quadruplex Teleg-laughs!!!” first hit Manhattan stores in 1884, but this year has seen a non-literal explosion of them, with more stand-up comedy DVDs released in the run up to Christmas 2010 than at any previous point in recorded history. Citation needed.

In our first Yule (B)log of 2010, we take a look at a few of them, and tell you which ones you should consider. JOIN US.

 

Frankie Boyle Live: If I Could Reach Out Through Your TV and Strangle You I Would

Channel 4 DVD
Amazon Sales Rank (DVD): 21

 

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We used to like Frankie Boyle. There aren’t many reasons to go anywhere near BBC Two when Mock The Week is being broadcast on it, but Boyle made it worth occasionally sitting through the lobe-molesting delivery of Andy Parsons’ topical observations. Yes, a lot of his jokes were expressly written with the intent of shocking the kind of people who write letters to mid-market tabloids, but they were interspersed with standard panel show fare like “anyone who’s been to Middlesbrough will know that living to 53 is maybe a bit long. Sort of like Blade Runner without the special effects.”

Sadly, at some point, Boyle realised that he could make just as much money by making the majority of his jokes about rape, paedophilia, Susan Boyle and Josef Fritzl, pausing only to charmlessly insult audience members. By the time of his “I Would Happily Punch Every One Of You In The Face” tour, a performance from which makes up this DVD, he does little else.

The end result, well, you know the two scenes with the little girl in the red coat from Schindler’s List? Imagine that, only repeated over and over and over as if it were a Holocaust-themed version of Wario Ware, the soundtrack being nought but increasingly heavy use of a swannee whistle, and you’ve pretty much got Frankie Boyle’s new DVD summed up right there. When something shocking proves to be unexpected, even in an already brazenly impolite context, it needs to sneak up on you for it to have any real impact. When you’re left with what is effectively a Scotsman shouting the word ‘cunt’ at a photo of a kitten for eighty minutes, no matter how good a few of the jokes are, it’s hard to summon up the energy to keep caring.

Oh, and if you’re watching his new Channel Four series and are hoping to get this DVD for Christmas – there’s a good chance you’ll have heard all the material on it used in the series by that point. Though we suspect not many people will bother reaching the end of Tramadol Nights, what with it being utterly woeful.

RATING: D+

Ricky Gervais Live IV – Science

Universal Pictures UK
Amazon Bestsellers Rank (DVD): 39

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As we all saw in “Ricky Gervais Meets Garry Shandling”, Gervais can’t take a joke when it’s made at his own expense, but can he still make them?

After the two most recent live DVDs from the 11 O’Clock Show star proved to be a little on the disappointing side – especially after ‘Animals’ showed how good a stand-up he can be – we weren’t expecting too much from this. Pleasingly, ‘Science’ is a bit of a return to form for the star of BBC Two reality show ‘Celebrity Boxing’. It isn’t quite up to the level of ‘Animals’, and the parts where he refers to how rich and successful he is (in that “aah, I’m being ironic though, even though I’m not” manner of his) still grate as much as ever, but this performance will generate more laughs than “Politics” and “Fame” combined.

RATING: B-

 

Tim Vine - Punslinger Live

Spirit Entertainment Limited
Amazon Bestsellers Rank (DVD): 340

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“I don’t like Lion Bars. They’re such unwelcoming places.”

In a year where at least 95% of stand-up comedy DVDs seem bound by law to make the same jokes about Michael Jackson’s death (most common joke: that everyone has been making jokes about it since it happened), we possibly need Tim Vine more than ever. Now that Harry Hill seems to have given up live performances in favour of phoning it in on TV Burp (hasn’t the latest series been rubbish?), there’s only one real choice for a comedy DVD that the whole family really can enjoy while waiting for this year’s Christmas pudding to cool. Provided you’re suitably persuasive in arguing that Tim Vine really is much, much funnier than Michael McIntyre, of course. Because Tim Vine isn’t as popular as he really deserves to be.

Sure, in isolation, many of his one-liners might not seem to be that great (“The Archbishop of Canterbury came up to me, he said ‘you’re excommunicated!’ I thought an old girlfriend had sent me an email”), but thrown at you like relentless handfuls of comedy gravel, you can’t help but find a daft grin form beneath your nose. Very often, you’ll find that grin developing into a chuckle, if only with incredulity at the occasions where he’ll try to pull off an especially clattery pun while on stage in front of people who’ve paid to be there. Even throughout the weaker gags, you’ll still find yourself smiling, mainly because as performers go, Tim Vine is pretty much impossible to hate. He even has the good grace to seem genuinely surprised when the crowd call for an encore at the end.

The only downside to the disc is that the main performance is a bit on the short side, at a tadge over an hour. Of course, with it being Tim Vine set, this does mean you’ve got a few hundred jokes crammed tightly into that hour, but we’d really like him to pad things out by including some of his older gems. Going by the reaction of the crowd in this performance, you can’t help but feel they’d feel the same. After all, if it’s good enough for Ken Dodd...

Petty griping aside, Punslinger is a hugely enjoyable way to spend an hour of your festive break. The rapidfire delivery of unrelated gags mean that even if you’ve been momentarily distracted by a hunt for that elusive After Eight envelope still containing a wafer-thin treat, you can rejoin the fun without having to ask whoever’s nearest the remote to hit the rewind button. Splendid.

RATING: A-

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Monday, 29 November 2010

“No, These Are My Wife’s Slacks.”

RIP Leslie Nielsen, .

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Thursday, 18 November 2010

“I Won’t #HIGNFY That With A Response.”

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Noticed how certain BBC programmes now seem to flash up the Twitter hashtags they’d like viewers to use at the start of each show? Bit presumptuous, isn’t it? It’s like they’re saying “if you’re going to way how wonderful we are, please use this as a signifier, so we’re able to use you all as a free focus group.”

Anyway, we’ve conducted an in-depth investigation into how these hashtags are actually used during the broadcast of a sample BBC programme from tonight. Here are the results.

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Clonkingly Stupid Screen Furniture Of The Decade (2)

In a thrilling change to their usual diet of complete and utter drek (Your Face Or Mine, Distraction, Balls Of Steel – y’know, all the stuff too rubbish to be repeated on E4), 4Music have started broadcasting the wonderful Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. Generally at around midnight, and never at quite the advertised time, so your PVR recordings are likely to be topped or tailed by seven minutes of Mark Dolan’s smug wrong face, but still, at least the thought is there, eh?

Well, the idiocy doesn’t stop there. The entire show has been cropped really badly from 4:3 into widescreen. That’s stupid enough with a standard comedy show, but when it’s a programme packed with loads of amusing on-screen text, it does kind of ruin things. Throw in a huge on-screen graphic at all times telling you the name of the programme you’re watching (even though you’ll already know what the name of the programme is, because it’ll be right there, on the EPG), and, well…

ACTUAL SCREENSHOTS AS SEEN ON 4MUSIC.

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4Music: the clumsy step-son of the Channel Four family that never seems to do anything right.

 

In other “while we’ve got the screen grabbing program loaded on our Freeview box” news, every time we see the special BBC One/Children In Need idents with Pudsey leaning into the screen and waving…

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…we can’t help but think of this from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

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“BONG! Start again.”

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Sunday, 7 November 2010

Clonkingly Stupid Screen Furniture Of The Decade

You know how new-fangled digital channels feel you need to be slammed over the head with the details of subsequent programmes the very femtosecond the end credits begin to roll, lest you pick up the remote and switch to one of the many other programmes starting at, er, 10.50pm? Worse still are channels who decide this information has to be globbed onto your screen during the final moments of the programme itself, as the BBC infamously tried when decided the best way to add to a tense cliffhanger during an episode of Doctor Who was to throw a cartoon Graham Norton at it.

Well, Comedy Central (UK) have decided just discreetly sliding a few lines of text onto the bottom of your screen at the end of a programme just won’t grab anyone’s attention. No, as we noticed when watching our recording of Sean Lock Live earlier today, squeezing the ending of the thing you’re actually watching into the left half of the screen is a way to really grab the attention of those viewers. “Hey, you know what? Fuck enjoying the ending of the thing you’re watching, there are more programmes coming up ANY MOMENT NOW. After some adverts.”

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Now, this is rendered especially pointless for three reasons. ONE. We’re watching Comedy Central after 9pm, so there was already an 80% chance the next two programmes were going to be Peter Kay at the Comedy Store and South Park. TWO. These days, there’s a pretty good chance someone is watching a show using a PVR. Unless Sky have added a time-travel option to the remote on new Sky HD boxes, we’re not going to be viewing the next programme. THREE. Doing shit like this only makes us hate your channel and makes us not want to watch it again unless you do something special, like start showing The Colbert Report.

Where will it all end?

Our guess: by 2013 the last minute of every television programme will see a quarter of the screen taken up by live footage of a pair of goldfish swimming around inside a blender which, for the moment, is switched off.

After ten seconds, text scrolls alongside the bottom of the screen, simply stating “This is live footage of two goldfish in a blender. If the overnight figures for tonight’s viewing show that more than 5% of the audience change channel before the next programme, the blender is switched on, with the fish still inside it, live, on air, tomorrow evening. Coming up next on Comedy Central, Two and a Half Men.”

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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Hidden (YouTube) Pleasures: Part One

In a discovery that fills us with three parts excitement and two parts simmering resentment*, there seem to be a growing number of fondly remembered, though never commercially released, TV shows on YouTube. This is a marvellous thing, so here’s a quick rundown of our latest finds.

(*over the time we spent untold hours making a video of The BrokenTV Awards, only for it to be near-instantly removed from YouTube because it had ten-second long clips of Channel Four shows in it.)

NOTE: Presumably because the programmes involved are so dimly remembered by anyone, they seem to sneak under the copyright barrier, but that’s unlikely to be for long. We’d suggest you watch them now, while you can. And don’t, for example, download the videos involved by using a YouTube download app, because that would be wrong. (Our tip: if you’re using Firefox, install the Greasemonkey extension, and then the YousableTubeFix script.)

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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

You Have Not Been Watching

"I'm head of the class / I'm popular / I'm a quarter back / I'm popular / My mom says I'm a catch / I'm popular / I'm never last picked / I got a cheerleading chick."

So sang 90s alt. rock also-rans Nada Surf in their 1996 offering “popular”, but what about those at the bottom of the social pecking order? Especially when it comes to television channels? (Yeah, we tried to think of a clever segue there, and failed miserably.) Which digital TV channels are being sent off to the electronic programme guide with a pudding basin haircut, unfashionable trainers and their elder brother’s unlicensed Def Leppard pencil case? Well, after recently being reminded of an odd-one-out round in Have I Got News For You where sneery mention was made of Sgorio on S4C officially being watched by no-one*, we decided to find out.

(*Which of course simply means that too few BARB diarists watched a given programme to be extrapolated into a four figure national viewing figure, of course. But it is more fun to make out a TV show had no viewers at all. As we probably will in this blog update.)

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“Tee-hee! Welsh people! Guffaw! Also, John Prescott is still fat, and we still get paid for this tosh.”
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Sunday, 17 October 2010

TV Listings Fail

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Oh, ITV.

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Top Ten French Names For Mr Men And Little Misses

This is going to be one of those things that you either find endlessly amusing, or will leave you completely cold. You know, like how Richard Herring insists on performing the “Men of Phise” stories he did as a tiny child, which he seems to think is the funniest thing ever, but which is just numbingly dull.

Mr Men – remember them? The series of endearingly crudely-drawn children’s characters from the felt-tip of Roger Hargreaves, and if you’re as old as us, the spin-off animated series narrated by Arthur Lowe. It’s probably been converted to CGI and voiced by Matt Lucas or someone nowadays.

Anyway, the characters are also huge in the land of Gainsbourg and Cantona, with each character renamed for the Gallic audience. The names chosen for the various Mr Men and Little Misses are, we’re saying, tremendously amusing. Here are our ten favourites.

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10. Mr Impossible (M. Incroyable)

French – it’s a pretty cool sounding language, isn’t it? Just saying the word “incroyable”, making the correct type of glottal gasping sound on the ’c’, instantly makes one feel 17% more sophisticated. It’s not as if the name really needed translating in the first place, what with the French word for “impossible” being, er, “impossible”. Clearly French pre-schoolers would rather everything is kept just within the realms of plausibility, and our purple friend here does the incredible, rather than the impossible.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

PCZ RIP: Part The Rest Of It (Mr Cursor and Culky)

“Hey, Brokey! When are you going to do the rest of that tribute to PC Zone?”, people in the street would shout at us, if we ever went outside. And complete it we shall, with a look at our two favourite contributors to PCZ’s golden age.

Being avid readers of Your Sinclair since we first owned a ZX Spectrum home computer (in 1989, only 7 years after it was fashionable), one of our favourite magazine writers has always been Duncan MacDonald. Perhaps best known for being the author of cult videogame Advanced Lawnmower Simulator (of which here’s a nine-minute long review on YouTube), and not as well-known as he should be for the excellent book South Coast Diaries (out of print, but the website it was based on is now back online here), Dunc penned a monthly column in the early days of Ver Zone. Writing under the moniker of Mr Cursor (subtitle: “He’s Afraid Of His PC”), the column took in, well, pretty much anything on earth apart from videogames. Daytime television, Ceefax subtitles, compilation albums of tunes from ice cream vans and Earex: yes. Videogames: no. In an age when even talking about PC games involved having to spend about £120 on a new graphics card before you could be taken seriously, Mr Cursor’s columns made for a welcome diversion from coverage of impressive looking games that probably wouldn’t run properly on your unenhanced Amstrad 386.

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Thursday, 9 September 2010

“What about the time I chipped my tooth on the bathroom urinal…”

 “…what the fuck is so comical about THAT?”

[Beat.]

“It was a back tooth, Hank.”

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In quite possibly the most thrilling DVD news of 2010, The Larry Sanders Show is finally being released in full. In case you’re not aware of the series, it was a very close second only to the mighty Seinfeld as the greatest American sitcom of all time (if you’re playing at home, we’d put Soap third on that last, with Arrested Development in fourth and Futurama in fifth).

It had looked like this day would never come. One of the first DVDs we ever rented, around a decade ago, was “Larry Sanders: The Best Episodes”, taking in just six episodes plucked from the first four seasons, and featuring some of the laziest DVD cover art ever. And the only ‘special feature’ was a trailer for Shandling flop “What Planet Are You From?” – indeed, we suspect the DVD was only rushed out to help promote the film, which saw Shandling play an alien visiting our planet in order to cop off with a lady earthling.

It was another couple of years before the first release of a complete season, with a Sony Pictures box-set of the first series being released in February 2002. Sadly, this DVD set didn’t sell quickly enough for tentative plans for the remaining seasons to be released, and fans of Larry could do little but hang around for occasional repeats of the show on Bravo, Paramount or ITV4.

It wasn’t until 2007 that another DVD release containing the antics of Larry, Hank, Artie et al saw the shops, but it was merely another compilation, “Not Just The Best of the Larry Sanders Show”, this time containing 23 episodes over four discs. Presumably due to problems clearing all the music performances from the episodes (such as They Might Be Giants performing S-E-X-X-Y in the episode where Hank rediscovers his faith), that had pretty much been it, meaning fans had little option but to track down illicit copies of the missing episodes from the Web (seemingly all captured from ITV4’s launch-era repeats, as far as we’ve noticed. Not that we’d download stuff like that, honest).

Until now, that is, with Shout! Factory announcing a wonderful 17-disc box set of the unexpurgated Sanders, due to be released in early November for those lucky people in Region 1-land. There’ll have never been a better time to own a multi-region DVD player or be North American.

We’d normally mutter something about blog posts containing nothing more than a copy-pasted press release being a shocking waste of pixels, but in this case we’re happy to make an exception. Full details of the DVD set after the ‘read post…’ button, unless you’re reading this directly from the full article page, in which case feel free to state at the screen wondering there the ‘read post…’ button is.

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Monday, 6 September 2010

PCZ RIP: Part Two - Before They Was Famous

Time for another helping of scans from the now sadly departed PC Zone. While we COULD focus on some of their games cover over the seventeen years of the magazine’s life, considering we spent the last update ripping the piss out of advertisements from the magazine, we’re not going to. Instead, how about a mini-compilation of cartoons by Charlie Brooker? Yeah, why not.

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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

PCZ RIP: Part One (Scanfest2010: Part 6)

It’s only a few days until the final issue of PC Zone magazine hits the shops. This, it’s fair to say, is a shame. Over the years, PC Zone has included content from lots of brilliant writers – most famously Charlie Brooker, but also legendary videogame journos Duncan McDonald, David McCandless, Paul “Mr Biffo” Rose, Stu Campbell, Jon Blyth, Culky and many more.

Now, admittedly, we stopped caring about PC gaming a long time ago, about the fourth time we found ourselves thinking “bah, this PC is more than a month old, it’s probably far too underpowered to play any current games”. Back in the late 1990s though, when our 233 MHZ Pentium II (32MB RAM! 6.4GB of hard disk space!) could handle almost anything (providing we turned all the graphics settings right down to 320x240), PCZ was an essential read.

Looking back through those issues now, there’s still a lot to enjoy, which is why we’ll be spending the next few updates wallowing in just how great a magazine it was. But, just to be contrary, we’re going to kick off with being needlessly spiteful about one aspect of PC Zone’s golden age. We’re going to attack the very lifeblood of the magazine itself: the adverts. Yes, it’s time for the…

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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Futurama Feature: The Face, October 1999 (SCANFEST2010, Pt 5)

Futurama’s back on Comedy Central in the USA, and it’s as good as it ever was. Hurrah!

That means that this collection of scans from October 1999’s issue of The Face is topical, as well as interesting. The article in full, plus other Scans Of Interest from that issue, after the ‘leap’.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop Book, 1978 (SCANFEST 2010: Pt 4)

Scanfest 2010 continues with by far the most interesting find from our archive yet. Yes, even more interesting than the FA Cup Final programmes from 1986 and 1989. First published in 1978, and costing a princely sum of £1.25, this was possibly our favourite book when we were five years old. It can only be THE MULTI-COLOURED SWAP SHOP BOOK (by Rosemary Gill and Crispin Evans). As, er, you’ll probably have already ascertained from the title up there.

(*How do we know we were exactly five years old when we were in possession of this? Because we’d written our age in a competition form inside that book. Our handwriting hasn’t improved much since then, to be honest.)

A bumper scansplosion taking in 36 pages from the book is after the “Read Post” link (we’ve skipped only the really boring bits, and the pages where we’d scribbled glasses and moustaches on people). To tease you all, here’s a tiny preview of a very definitely non-boring bit:

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

SCANFEST2010: “French & Saunders used to resort to TV parodies to hide a lack of their own ideas.”

David Baddiel, Vox magazine, June 1997. Around the time the magazine had started to call itself “The NME Monthly”.

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SCANFEST2010: “I’ve been missing pot roast.”

Our trip through the mid-90s archives continues, as we blow the cobwebs off this entry, again from Sky Magazine’s November 1995 issue. Tucked away at the back of the magazine, on page 138, and billed below Alicia Silverstone, Lee Sharpe, Lee and Herring on the front cover is this interview with a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Then promoting his appearance in The Basketball Diaries alongside a post-Funky Bunch Mark Wahlberg, this sees a 20-year-old Leo before he became the globally famous name that Titanic made him.

(Yes, it’s a bit of a departure from this blog to run with this, but we found it interesting. And these picture-based updates are a nice way to test the new template is working properly, including the new make-the-main-page-less-of-a-pain “Read full post” buttons.)

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SCANFEST2010: “The Year’s Most Revered British Comedy Duo.”

We’ve finally got the scanner on BrokenTV’s trusty all-in-one printer working with Windows 7 (top tip: ignore the supposed Win7 drivers and just install the ones for Vista), an event which happily coincides with us recovering a pile of about 200 magazines from the mid 1990s from our parents’ loft. All this means that we can capture some of these legendarily lost artefacts from the past (“Ha ha! A computer with a 1.8GB hard drive, 16MB RAM and a 16” monitor selling for ‘just’ £1800!”) and put them on the internet before the whole lot end up on eBay, or in a skip.

First up, from Sky Magazine (no, not the free NewsCorp one that everyone throws in the bin) in November 1995, an interview with “A big man called Stuart [sic] with the stupid hair and the indie clobber from 1981” and “his mate Richard, possibly the cheeriest man in the world”, also known as Stewart Lee and Richard Herring.


(Click for bigger.)

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Saturday, 21 August 2010

Top Fifty BBC Freedom of Information Requests For Which Information Was Not Held But Which We Shall Try To Answer On Their Behalf: Part Three

More from the pile of BBC Freedom Of Information cold cases. First up, a few requests that seem more than a little self-centred.

ODDLY SPECIFIC 


Has been caught on a "speed camera" and wonders if under FOI he can see the film of the alleged crime. (ref RFI2005000230, 02/10/05) 

Admittedly, we’re kicking off this “oddly specific” section with a request that could do with being a lot more specific. Does the individual involved mean his “alleged crime” (i.e. actual crime – if a speed sign says “40”, and you drive through the area that speed sign represents at 50mph, it’s against the law, no matter how much you might mutter about how “they” should be out arresting paedophiles and terrorists instead of pestering ‘innocent’ motorists) took place right outside a BBC building and might therefore be captured on CCTV cameras operated from within the Corporation? Or is he just dim enough to assume the BBC has access to all speed cameras everywhere?

We’ll assume the former, and have therefore commissioned this re-enactment:

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Guilty as charged we’re afraid, Mr RFI2005000230.


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Thursday, 19 August 2010

Top Fifty BBC Freedom of Information Requests For Which Information Was Not Held But Which We Shall Try To Answer On Their Behalf: Part Two

Previously on BrokenTV: we’ve narrowed down fifty of the questions that the BBC’s Freedom Of Information department were unable to answer, and attempted to answer then. Tuesday’s inaugural bunch of posers included questions posed from people wanting to know the extent to which the BBC in secretly funded by militant left-wing public schoolboy vampires (or whatever it was). Today, we’ll be looking at some people who want impractical reams of information from the Beeb, for whatever reason. All right under a screen capture from Alexei Sayle’s Stuff that might have nothing to do with the article in question but will break up all the text quite nicely and make this blog update a little easier to read.

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WANTING THE MOON ON A STICK

How much of the BBC output do the Trust members watch? Specify which programmes.  (ref RFI20081442, 12/17/08)

That “The BBC Trust”, eh? That meddling, secretive panel of cloaked figures, a secretive New World Order group who lurk in the shadows, deciding what really happens at the BBC. Well admittedly, they’re actually all identified on the BBC website, but shadowy underworld figures like that always tend to unwittingly leave one tiny clue as to their true identities. They always think they can get away with it, until they accidentally allow their name, photograph and full biography to be left on one of the UK’s most regularly visited websites.

Conspiracy theorists might like to know the BBC website even lists a “declaration of interests” for each member of the trust (“Ooh, Anthony Fry is a member of the Trust For Paintings In Hospitals! Bet he has dozens of nurses sacked every day just to pay for new ones”). In short, it’s a bit like how you can find out who the Pools Panel all are, if you can be bothered to check. All that doesn’t stop another person requesting to know how many members of the panel are Jewish, but that’s for a later update.

You’ve got to love this request though. “Specify which BBC programmes the BBC Trust members watch.” Space is tight here, but using the info we’ve gleaned from the BBC Trust Declaration Of Interests, we’re prepared to make the following educated guesses for the favourite BBC shows of several Trust members.

Sir Michael Lyons (also Governor, Royal Shakespeare Company): Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show.
Richard Ayre (also Chairman, The Dairy Partnership): Young Butcher Of The Year
Diane Coyle (also Advisory Committee Member, Spatial Economics Research Centre at the London School of Economics): Addicted to Boob Jobs
Alison Hastings (also Vice President, British Board of Film Classification): Bryony Makes a Zombie Movie
David Liddiment (also Associate, Old Vic Theatre Company): Help! My Dog's As Fat As Me
Jeremy Peat (also Member, Expert Group on Finance Supporting The Commission on Scottish Devolution): Pissed and Pregnant

Hope all that helps, “ref RFI20081442”!

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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Top Fifty BBC Freedom of Information Requests For Which Information Was Not Held But Which We Shall Try To Answer On Their Behalf: Part One

One of the things we love most about the BBC website (even more than the two bits of it that mention us) is the Freedom Of Information section. Now, as a publicly funded organisation, the Beeb are bound by law to at least make a token effort to answer any questions that fall within the remit of the act, but being the commendably useful bunch that they are, they’re willing to put a lot of time and money into providing useful information, providing it’s requested by a member of the public.

We’ve looked at it before, back in 2008, where amongst other things we discovered that there are currently 2,787 broadcast copies of post-2002 programmes missing from the BBC archive (from a total of around 200,000), and while you can’t request any information from the duty logs for BBC programmes, you can obtain a list of complaints made about the BBC canteen.

Much, much scarier than unpleasant trifles or missing editions of Newsround was the full documentation from the 1980s on how the BBC would announce the outbreak of a nuclear war. The link to the documentation we’d found in 2008 no longer works, but here’s a quote from our original blog post:

From 1984, a script of what was to be read out on air in the event of a nuclear war. These Wartime Broadcasting Instruction Announcements began with the words:

"Here is an important announcement about the broadcasts you will be able to hear after [date]. At [date] all normal Radio and Television services of the BBC and IBA will cease. The will be replaced by a new single Radio service known as the Wartime Broadcasting Service."

From 1988, this is changed to an almost chummy

"You may be wondering, as many people are, what will happen if the current crisis develops into conflict and wondering how you will find out what is happening. Well, the BBC will do everything possible to maintain its broadcasts but it will probably mean that we cannot maintain our full normal service."

We'd like to think this would have been delivered to the nation by Chris Serle. Luckily, details of our impending annihilation would also be listed on Ceefax.

Erk. The most recently published FOI replies are similarly interesting, taking in an updated listing of canteen complaints, this time from the BBC Northern Ireland canteen (“there hasn’t been a cooked dessert in months”), rather brilliantly, someone asking about how many people have complained about BBC buildings being haunted, and a mention that three agencies besides Lambie-Nairn submitted proposals for a redesigned BBC logo in 1997, though sadly it’d be up to the other agencies to make those designs available. Hopefully, something like this:

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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Scamwatch AU

In news that will probably shock anyone who has ever met us, we’re actually not as stupid as we look. Not that this fact seems to have filtered through to the more inept internet scamsters, going by the increasing amount of emails we’re getting, all coated temptingly in fictional money. Quite often, they’ll be SO inept it’s actually funny, like this email we received earlier today.

spamfail Wow, we didn’t know British Telecom were now being run by rick-willey@sbcglobal.net! That’s a hostile takeover you’d have expected to have made the newspapers. Maybe Rick Willey is the name of the character played in the BT adverts by that bloke from My Family, and to make the corporate behemoth seem more cuddly, all business transactions are to be conducted via that email address. It all makes sense! We’re SO replying to him!

imageBut, things get even wilier. Tonight, we received an email purporting to be from “John Nguen” of “Ralf Financial Services Pty Ltd”. The text of this email is as follows:

image image So, it’s a scam about asking people to transfer money via their bank accounts. Quite why the money would need to sit in someone’s account isn’t really explained (especially with UK bank transfers taking a few days to process so that the banks themselves can play with it on the overnight money markets during that time), but whoever the person behind this scam is, they’ve made more effort than your common or garden internet scam artist. The email was sent from ‘job@ralfrecruiting.org’ – they’ve gone to the trouble of registering a domain name and everything (though the WHOIS record for “ralfrecruiting.org” doesn’t give any address), and trying to visit the website itself only results in a 403 error.

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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Tumblr and Fall

What with BrokenTV being keenly up-to-date with all manner of online developments, we’ve decided to join Tumblr. We suspect it might just be the next big internet thing. (Reader’s voice: “This isn’t 2007, you know.”) Here are some of the things we’ve thrown on there so far:

image Eagle-eyed viewers might notice: some amusingly old-fashioned advertising, a few things from television and film, some photos of the one-off Sinclair Spectrum+ in white, and the reason why so many people refer to us as “someone with far too much spare time on their hands”.

We’ll probably also bung up some things that we’ve done that aren’t really good enough to put up on the blog. Like this:

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Well, if you download a film, and the first minute is in shitty camcorder-o-scope, with audio that appears to be sneaking out of a broken Walkman half a mile away, you ARE likely to think “ah, balls to it. I’ll just watch it in the cinema”.

Well, our rubbish jokes normally attract the occasional tumbleweed, so we might as well put them onto a TumblrFeed. A-ha-ha. Anyway, the BrokenTumblr lives here: http://brokentv.tumblr.com. Enjoy.

Meanwhile, this is the best pop video of the year so far:

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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Little-Seen TV Merchandise From The 1980s

These seemed like a better idea when we started doing them. Based on this post at UnrealityMag.

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