Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Top 50 TVTimes Genre Icons of the 1970s - Part Two

Firstly, anyone hankering for the days when we did proper updates instead of this tosh might like to pay a visit to Arena Magazine's excellent website, where we've contributed a short piece about swearing on telly, and how there really should be more of it. Expect a more comprehensive version of the same piece on here in the near-ish future. But for now, we present:

The Top 50 TVTimes Genre Icons of the 1970s - Part Two: 1974 (Part One)

Well, it's the year of our birth, so why not split it into two parts, confusing subheading or not, eh?

Spooky Gawp Camera Action Time

Cyril and Edmond soon regretted moving into the flat with the massively oversized keyhole in the front door. That voyeuristic cameraman looks utterly delighted by his actions, doesn't he? So much so that he's completely forgotten about the 'candid' part of the programme title. 'Glaringly Obvious Camera' would be a more accurate title for what is going on here.

Leader Choosey-Time Night

Ah, one of the many General Elections of the 1970s. Going by our knowledge of the period, pieced together as it is from the many documentary clip shows on BBC Four, the UK held general elections on a monthly basis in 1974, with Ted Heath, Jim Callaghan, Harold Wilson, Lulu, Chelsea striker Peter Osgood and animated patriarch Father Flump all spending varying amounts of time in office at Number Ten. The political turmoil of the age is represented here by an Avant-garde representation of the voting process; a car wearing a bow-tie on a stick (representing the finery of the Conservative Party), some novelty clothes pegs (representing the Labour Party's earthy grittiness), and a bloke doing his pools coupon (which the Liberal Party's Jeremy Thorpe had plenty of time to do. A-ha-ha-ha).

After-Dark Stubble-Strewn Epic Time

"I know what you're thinking, Large Jake. Will you be able to draw your pistol before my pardner, the great big floating orb from The Prisoner envelopes you with his eerily floaty torso? I'm saying... no."

The Gallivanting Gastro

Graham is making a kedgeree that is so very unusual. The ingredients include - as shown in the picture - some boiled question marks and various fungi larger in size than a turkey. For added unusual points, he has also pressed Scrabble letters into the mixing bowl that spell out the names of everyone who has wronged him since grammar school. Oh Graham!

Ha Ha! They've Used The Wrong Picture For This Progra... [Checks Wikipedia] ...Oh.

Still, adopt, adapt and improve, as Graham Chapman's Colonel character used to say. Are those three handlebar-moustachioed men in bowler hats and shoelace neckties firing guns at us, or holding bunches of flowers? If it's the former, why wasn't there a Western all about them? It would have been brilliant. "We're the Hedgepeth Triplets, who the hell are you? What did you say about our matching hats and moustaches? Right, outside!" [STOMPING FEET MOVING FROM CREAKY FLOORBOARDS TO DUSTY EXTERIOR, FOLLOWED BY SOUND OF GUNFIRE x 3] Just imagine a scene where the three of them are twirling their handlebar moustaches wickedly. It would be brilliant.


Monday, 23 February 2009

Top 50 TVTimes Genre Icons of the 1970s - Part One

Yeah, don't say we didn't warn you. We've sourced a load of TVTimes from the 1970s, and we're utterly determined to run this idea into the ground. With any luck, we'll scare away at least 90% of our regular audience, then we can be as self-indulgent as we like. A month from now, it'll be nothing but graphs, gushing praise about low-rated Adult Swim shows, and graphs about low-rated Adult Swim shows around here. Bliss. We can just imagine it. "Ah, but if you consider the overnights for episodes seven and eight of Squidbillies, you'll see something quite interesting happens."

The rundown is in (approximate) chronological order, meaning they aren't all sorted by merit. However, to make things that bit more exciting and Jack Bauer-y (in a slightly tragic way), we've only actually found another forty genre icons so far. That means, as soon as we click the 'Publish Post' button, the race is on for us to uncover another ten of them. How enthralling is that, eh? (Reader's voice: "not very.") Let battle commence!

Part One: 1973

The Academia-Quizzery Half-Hour (Aug 17th)

At our graduation ceremony in Chester Cathedral earlier this year, we got to wear a mortar board for the first time in our lives. Sadly, our head isn't even remotely compatible with such an object, meaning two things. Firstly, we had to use one hand to keep it on our head while walking up on stage in front of everyone, which meant we were unable to pay full attention when BBC Sport's Sharron Davies handed us our diploma, and our reaction to her light-hearted quip may have seemed a little insincere. Secondly, this means we're genetically incompatible with obtaining any of that there fancy learnin'. It just ain't for the likes of us.

But anyway. Why would Bambi be wearing a mortar board? We wouldn't be able to see his ginger perm. Meanwhile, we're willing to bet actual cash money that the current-day TVTimes no longer asks questions about African rivers next to the listing for University Challenge.

Jocko Time! (Aug 17th)

Ah, this truly is the 1970s. The word 'Scotch' being used as an acceptable substitute for the word 'Scottish' (a crime which is now punishable by at least four Scotsmen leaving grumpy comments about your use of the word, even though you'd clearly used it ironically), but just look at that icon! St Andrews Cross fluttering in the chilly east-coast wind, burly bloke tossing a caber, a thistle, and some people doing a sword dance (swords not pictured). If this icon tells us anything, it's that we won't need to look at the listing to learn that our expections are unlikely to be confounded any time soon.

Clearly, if such a programme were transmitted now, the icon would contain deep-fried Mars bars, a World Cup qualifying campaign coming undone in the final group game, and a heroin addict getting a fix of OH COME ON WE'RE BEING IRONIC.

Yet Another News Icon (Aug 17th)

It's another ITN icon, though sadly not quite as demented as the previous one. We do like the old-school representation of a weather forecast. In fact, here's a screen-nab from Southern's Day By Day, circa 1979, with which to better illustrate our point:

A gentler age. You can keep your autocuties, we'll take avuncular blokes in ill-fitting suits playing with fridge magnets every time.

Late-Night Yikesfest (Dec 8th)

Don't open the door! There are loads of scary eyes behind that door! Gah, too late. For people in our particular age demographic, this icon reminds us of excellent scenes in Dangermouse. The main difference being, as everyone knows, such scenes would normally end with Penfold rushing off, leaving DM's sole functioning eye alone in the centre of the room, surrounded by beasties. Sadly, to the best of our knowledge, no Vincent Price film actually included such a scene, unless you're really widening the scope to episodes of the Price-introed Count Duckula, where Cosgrove-Hall may well have re-used said gambit.

Animated Mayhem Segment (Aug 17th)

Oh, now this marker positively screams "anything can happen in the following ten minutes". Flying mice (not neccessarily Mighty Mouse, as he was on BBC-1, and in any case, wasn't any good until John Kricfalusi got his mitts on the show), men in hats using all five legs to run away really quickly, what could either be rapidly unspooling cine film or a rope ladder, poorly-scrawled hounds, or two plasticine men doing heaven knows what. Come on TVTimes Icon Bloke. Just because the programme in question is only on for ten minutes, it doesn't mean you only need to spend that long considering, planning, drafting and drawing your icon for the slot! As we shall see, these icons are giong to be used repeatedly over the following nine years.

Nine long years.

NEXT TIME: 1974.

Friday, 20 February 2009

We Take It All Back

We've said nasty things about David Letterman in the past. "Rubbish interviewer", "is way too annoying to be entertaining", "Laughs too often at his own jokes, as if the first time he saw them was on the autocue, but how could that possibly be?", "spends way too long on underwhelming in-jokes that no-one could possibly care about" (oh, meanwhile look out for our Top 50 TVTimes 1970s Icons coming soon). But with this videoclip from 2006, where he comprehensively PWNS Bill O'Reilly, we take it all back.

We take it all back Dave. Well, most of it. Now we like you quite a bit more than we did previously. Not enough to seek out the broadcasts of your show buried at 3am on DivaTV (well, that's where they were last seen), but still. Here's part two:


Thursday, 19 February 2009

Daily Mail Hates Disabled People, Eats Self

You couldn't make it up!

"But the memo has exasperated senior staff. One insider told the Evening Standard:'This is political correctness gone mad.

'All the BBC's bigname presenters received this email from Peter Horrocks saying that whenever they refer to an on screen phone number or email address they should no longer say, 'You can see the number on the screen now', because it might offend blind people - and could even be illegal."

Yeah! Those flipping blind, coming over here, getting their own set of special indentations next to the buttons on lifts... what ARE they hiding? Send them all back to Blindonia, I say. They're laughing up their sleeves at us!

How will this register on the Shockometer?

Wow, the first ever sub-zero reading. A tabloid rag claiming that something is a scandal when it's actually a very positive move, meaning it's an anti-scandal. The Daily Express are going to have to pull something extra-magical out of their hatred bag to top this.

The BrokenTV Awards 2009: Part One

You just wouldn't believe how much messing about has gone into the creation of these. Literally months of planning. Weeks of dicking around with Photoshop, AVS Video Editor, Photo Story 3 and the trial version of Sony Vegas Pro. Plus literally several hours of writing. Then, with a heavy heart, we realised that writing thousands of words for our annual awards show then transplanting them a few words at a time into comedy subtitles over dour footage of Soviet politics would be boring for (a) the viewers once the initial joke wears thin about six seconds into the clip, and (b) us, cutting, pasting, resizing, aligning, and adjusting EVERY SINGLE LINE of the subtitles, because video editing programs are hateful little bastards that would much rather you use a tacky starburst effect and Comic Sans for everything.

So, the project was shelved. But all our initial work wouldn't be for nought - we could use it as a sort of 'highlights' package alongside the written awards, playing in illustrative clips of the shows we want to include, along with lovely captions and the like. Sadly no - YouTube's IP cops busted down the video of that while it was being uploaded, citing the use of 'copyrighted material' (even though we're legally allowed to use clips of things, as long as they're under thirty seconds in length).

So, despite being tempted to go around to YouTube's house and letting their tires down, he's the re-edited re-edit of what we wanted to do, followed by the first part of the original script for The BrokenTV Awards 2009.

The BrokenTV Awards 2008

Live from the Federal Assembly in Moscow

[Grainy monochrome footage of a miserable yet prominent communist party leader from the early 1970s. Faint applause is played out over the picture.]

Boris: Hello everybody! I’m Boris Gryzlov your host for tonight's veritable juggernaut of gong-based merriment. It’s been a truly magical year of television viewing over at BrokenIndustries’ subterranean headquarters, if by which you mean the type of wholly underwhelming magic where David Blaine sits in a chair for three months, having all his food brought to him, and he gets a twenty-minute break every hour. But that’s a bit of a gloomy start, so maybe I’d better kick off with our first award. Here to present the gong for Best Comedy Show, it’s top entertainer Gennady Zinovyev!

[Cut to more recent footage culled from the Russian Federation's YouTube page. Now a different but equally miserable politico is in full colour, and he is in a more open-plan parliament building.]

Caption: Best TV Show About TV

Time for the perennial two-horse race between two of BrokenTV’s favourite telly shows of the decade. Both are utterly fantastic, but each year one just manages to outdo the other, and take away the prize in this category. Or at least they would, had this been an actual category in the BrokenTV awards before now. The two shows in question? We’ll I should hope you have guessed already, but to make it easy: it's Harry Hill versus Charlie Brooker. Here come clips.

[Cue clips of ScreenWipe's piece about Noseybonk and TV Burp's When Your Shadow Looks Like An Elephant clip.]

And the winner is... yes, it’s Harry Hill’s turn this year. A tad unlucky for Screenwipe, as the new series has been excellent, seeing the show take in things like Charlie becoming a children’s TV presenter, twenty-five men doing a wee in front of Konnie Huq, and a wonderful episode dedicated to television commercials. However, the judges ruled that Mr Harry and his team keeping up their own high standards within the twin confines of going out on prime time ITV1, and taking on a mammoth twenty-five episode run, is enough to nick the crown this year. Well done Mr Hill!

Caption: Best International Animated Comedy Programme

And now the award for best international animated comedy, by which we mean American. Where’s a sequel to Stressed Eric when you want it, eh?

Family Guy

Still perambulating between the two extremes of "piss funny" and "full of timesome 1980s pop culture references that don't go anywhere", 2008 saw Fam Guy veer more frequently toward the former. Best episode? The one where Stewie, Brian and Mort find themselves in Warsaw, in 1939. Featuring the voice Brian Blessed!

[Clip of the bit where Mort pretends to be a vicar in from of some Nazis.]

The Drinky Crow Show

No, not just because They Might Be Giants did the theme tune. The sort of show that really should have been impossible to convert to the small screen (for people who aren’t comic geeks, it’s based on Tony Millionaire’s utterly demented Maakies comic strips – figures of the two main characters were on the front of Roy’s desk in series two of The I.T. Crowd), this show did the near-impossible and stretched out three panels of manic lunacy to twelve minutes. Also, not many comedy shows star a manically depressed alcoholic crow who blows his brains out about twice per episode. We’ve just come up with the perfect barometer of quality for television programmes. Look at each individual sentence in the script, then mark it against every over sentence ever uttered in the history of television. The higher the number of unique sentences – something we’re going to call a ‘script-whack’, the better the programme. With lines such as “and you must do the same, my sweet monkey, if they have discovered you have released me, they will chop off your head and make an exotic stew from your brains”, The Drinky Crow Show is sure to score highly.

[Clip of Uncle Gabby and his monkey god peering up the toilet at the Cap'n's daughter in front of an unimpressed Drinky Crow.]

The Venture Bros

The most underrated animated comedy on television? There's just so much to love about Team Venture: from the misanthropic former child star perpetually living in his late father's shadow as the main character, to well-rounded peripheral characters like Billy The Quizboy or magnificently monikered femme fatale Molotov Cocktease, and that's before you even get to the actual events of the show. In fact, The Venture Brothers probably has some of the best charactisation of any current television show, with every character having their own comprehensive personality. Not only that, but the animation looks great, especially so given the modest budget afforded by Adult Swim. It would be entirely fair to speculate that...

[Fast forward through the host's extended Venture love-fest, slowing down in time to catch the end of it.] edtion episode-specific T-shirts, for Christ's sake. Brilliant.

[Clip from final episode where The Monarch is driving to the ultimate showdown with Dr Girlfriend and his minions.]

American Dad

One of our favourite things about American Dad is that even if you took out all the jokes, most of the time you'd still be left with a storyline compelling enough to keep you watching. Been a while since you could say that about The Simpsons, hey? This series is still going strong, which makes it all the more annoying that the only place you can see it in the UK is now on FX, which we haven't got.

[Clip of Steve getting his bison-based revenge on a cheerleader who mocked his girlfriend.]

And the winner is... American Dad. Avoiding the “fire enough pop culture references at the wall and hope some stick” approach of sister show Family Guy, American Dad is going from strength to strength. Sure, it’s less popular than Family Guy, but Peter Kay is more popular than... well, someone good. American Dad also put out the single best twenty-two minutes of television comedy in the past... ooh, three years with the episode “The One That Got Away”. Season four, episode two. Genuinely brilliant. Here’s a clip that does it absolutely no justice, and which does nothing at all to promote the episode.

[Cue clip of Roger meeting the pigeons. Fingers crossed it doesn't get gunned down by litigious.. oh.]

Look out for Part Two soon!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Most Disturbing Image On The Internet

Ready? If you thought the Flimby slimming picture from Look Around You was bad, check this out, after a little bit of spoiler space so as not to shock the unaware:

A banner promoting Digital Spy's interview with him (which we're not providing a link to, because, well, it's an interview with Piers "Charm Vacuum" Morgan). That, right there, is what hell looks like.


Not scared enough yet? Try this:


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A Very Quick Update

Who wants to see a picture of Brian Murphy in character as George Roper, dressed as Kurt Cobain, but from 1979?

There you go. In other news, we've tried uploading the BrokenTV Awards 2009 to YouTube, but as it contains short clips of copyrighted shows (even though said clips are under the legally permitted maximum of 30 seconds), it is removed before it even appears. This is not good. The text version will appear online over the next few days.


Thursday, 12 February 2009


It's just possible our relationship with Twitter is faltering. We stopped checking our Tweets at noon, and can't now be bothered going back and checking *all* the ones we've missed, because we're too knackered from a full day of ducking and diving. On top of that most of our new Follower requests are from spammers, generally cleverly disguised as suspiciously attractive young women with suggestive names ("Wow! HornyXXXGirl is following me! Let's see what she's Tweeting... 'OMG LOL YOU SHOULD TOTALLY LIKE VISIT MY HOT DATING WEBSITE'. Oh.") Note to such spammers: we're only going to block you, don't even bother. And stop ruining everyone's fun, you shits. Any non-evil BrokenTV readers are of course still welcome to join the 140-char maximum party however, because we've arbitrarily decided we love Twitter again, as Charlie Brooker has just started reviewing crisps.

By golly, we're fickle beasts. However, our love of nosing over the related stats will never falter, and we're delighted to notice that Stephen Fry is now the second most popular person in the entire world, after some bloke called Barack Obama. See?

Not pictured: Britney Spears (6th), Jonathan Ross (8th), The New York Times (9th), Wil Wheaton, who once posted our spoof anti-piracy poster on his blog, and we had no idea he was so famous (15th), Phillip Schofield (21st), John Cleese (23rd), BrokenTV (169,826th).

As we have just shown, merely measuring Mr Stephen Fry against other members of the Twitterati just isn't enough. Previously, we measured his popularity against other European nations, but it's time to up the ante. It's Stephen Fry versus The World! Wikipedia has compiled population info (mostly from the UN) for 221 nations - all the way from the Pitcairn Islands to the People's Republic of China. Just where would Frydonia fit in on this list? And who would be it's populatory neighbours? WE SHALL SEE.

Stephen Fry: officially bigger than Guam, not quite as big as Samoa. But with the number of Frydonians now growing at around 40,000 per week, surely that must change soon. Best get breeding, Samoans! Frydonia is currently in 179th place (from a total of 222 countries).

BrokenTV's position on a similar graph? Second from bottom of the entire world. In your face, Pitcairn Islands.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Clever Pun Confusing the Band Metric With The 18th Century System Of Measurement Goes Here

Holy ruddy crap! There's a new single and album by Metric about to be released!

Why were we not informed? This is wonderful news! Obviously, it's no Monster Hospital, but it suggests they're using more synths this time around, and as long as there isn't any song with lyrics as terrible as the ones from 'Hand$hakes', we're stoked. So stoked that we think this is the first time we've ever used the word 'stoked'.

(Reader's voice: "What the bloody hell has that got to do with telly, you berk?")

Oh, shut up. Here, have a clip of a demented Japanese gameshow from 1986:


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

"A Comedic Misinterpretation Adventure Playground" (TVTimes Icons III: Back In Training)

To the undoubted chagrin of at at least 80% of BrokenTV's audience, it's time for the third part of our 768 part series taking a look at programme genre icons from 1970s copies of TV Times. We can assure you, the remaining 20% of the audience all fall within our target demographic of embittered ident fetishists, and this is the sort of thing they really go for, so we're determined to carry this on for as long as possible. To the naysayers, we can assure you that today's offering is almost certainly going to convert you to the cause. If not, there's a splendid bit of YouTube clippery at the end, so stay tuned.

With eternal thanks to TV Cream's Steve Williams* (who we notice Amazon haven't listed as co-author on the paperwork edition of the book he co-authored, for some reason. You should go and buy The Encyclopedia of Classic Saturday Night Telly from Alibris instead), we've got some more TV Times genre icons for you. Due to the way our brains are like a gigantic Excel 2007 spreadsheet (the 2007 version because it's got a really annoying interface and it keeps crashing when we try to make it do anything interesting), we've been compelled to rank them in ascending order, as per usual. There are only three of them, but they're all really good. All killer, no filler, if you will.

(*And his mate Alex's scanner.)

3. Political Discourse With Posh Men In Fusty Suits Hour

This is like a comedic misinterpretation adventure playground! While the chap in the middle is speaking, it looks like the bloke on the left is yawning. Meanwhile, it certainly looks like the fellow on the right has taken out a bottle of Teachers in a brown paper bag, and is about to neck it. Man, that must be one dull speech on overseas affairs (or energy). On closer inspection, it's clear that the fellow on the right is meant to be clapping the speech on energy (or overseas affairs) enthusiastically, but the bloke on the left only has one hand visible, so he's clearly not applauding. The smaller grey blob is undoubtedly his tie, after all. Is he gasping with Conservative astonishment at the controversial approach to North Sea oil being proposed by the speaker?

Alternatively, have we missed out at the clever political nature of the icon? The man on the left is also on the political left, and as such is taken aback by the right-wing policy being advocated by the speaker. The man on the right, is (as you've guessed) taking the opposite approach, and is lapping up the "unlimited free biscuits for South African PM Balthazar Johannes Vorster" proposal. The clever thing about this approach is that one week later, as the Labour Party Conference swings into Blackpool, the icon can simply be reversed, meaning the clever political subtext remains intact. Why, it's almost as if the position of TVTimes Icon Bloke (a position we're now prepared to liken to the rota of Top Gear Stigs) was being filled this week by a young R. Bremner.

2. Big Coat Man Wallop / Semi Realistic Depiction Hour

Whoa! A revelation in TVT Iconography, as Icon Bloke pulls out several stops. A parked police car - good. One little icon bloke walloping another one in the face - brilliant. An actual attempt at drawing an actual character from the specific programme in question: off the chuffing scale. It's like when a band brings out a Greatest Hits set, and they've tacked on a 'new single' as the final track so that the fans who've already got all the other albums will go out and buy it, only against all logic the new track is really, really good. That's what is going on here. If this icon was an album, it'd be Pet Shop Boys' Discography, and the John Thaw sketch would be new track 'Was It Worth It?'. So, was this worth it? Undoubtedly. Today's third icon must certainly be going some to top this.

1. The Really Quite Disturbing News

Re-sult! What the ruddiest of hells is going on here, then? It's the news, but not as we've seen it before. The newsreader in the centre is absolutely textbook. Leave him there on his own, with lashings of white space either side, and it's job done. It's the news. That would positively scream "commentators and camera teams on-the-spot bring you the latest reports". But no, icon bloke won't rest on his laurels like that. He won the Rose d'Or (Programme Icon category) in 1975 and 1976, and he can do what he damn well likes. And if he wants to include four people of mixed ethnicity waving at the camera during a news report, he's damn well going to include four people of mixed ethnicity waving at the camera during a news report, no matter what Dave Lanning might say about it in the canteen. "He's losing it Lesley, have you seen his latest graphic for the 5.5 ITN News?" Screw you, Lanning! Golden Roses in 1975 and 1976... and that silver in 1973.

Quite what the intention here is, we're almost frightened to speculate. We're too young to remember any ITN broadcasts from around this time, so maybe ITN policy at the time actually did include a bunch of people waving at the viewer, so as to distract them from the antics of the Provisional IRA, Donald Neilson, Postmaster General John Stonehouse and Princess Margaret. Or maybe it was to try and deflect attention from the fact the full title of the programme is "Independent Television News News". Possibly on-the-scene reporters ended each report with a cheery wave, so pleased were they at not being just a photograph of a person on the phone next to a map, and this is reflected here. It could even be that ITN's relaxed security often allowed the newsreader's mates from the pub to wander on set at the end of the late bulletins. That certainly sounds like something the modern-day ITV News could re-introduce in order to boost audiences. Let's face it, it wouldn't be any more appalling than concentrating largely on the feelings of grieving family members, like they do now. "So, you've just witnessed your entire family splatting fierily into the tarmac of a runway. How do you feel?" It's quite lucky there isn't an icon bloke at TVTimes these days. It could even be that a sort of "Lesbians Invade The Six O'Clock News" thing is going on, but by people who are just really pleased to get on telly.

In summary: staggering. That makes up three different icons for the ITN News for the three times we've seen them used. It's almost as if Icon Bloke has got one eye on the 2009 eBay second-hand copy of TVTimes from the late 1970s market. He knows that all he has to do is come up with lots of different graphics for the news bulletins (as regular readers will remember, 'The Plasticine News With Morph and Chas', and 'The Dogme95 News Typed Live In Front Of Your Very Eyes' have previously been shown here), buy lots of copies of the TVTimes on publication, and wait 30 years for berks like us to wander along with £4.99 sitting in our PayPal accounts. Buy each copy for 13p, sell it for £4.99, and that's before the surreptitious mark-up on postage. That must beat inflation. Ker-ching.

The Icons Have Finished, You Can Come Out Now

Welcome back, iconophobes. So, time for that YouTube clip. And, in reference to a text link a couple of paragraphs ago, it's the scene where lesbians protesting against Clause 28 invaded the BBC News studio in 1988. However, quite thrillingly, this clip also includes audio from the production gallery. It simply has to be heard.

"On the air... oh fucking hell, we've got nothing [dialogue indecipherable]. Get them out!" Can anyone help here with the muffled bit of director anger?

Friday, 6 February 2009

"Damn you, FACTU!" (TV Times Icons from 1978: Part Two)

(Part one: here.)

By semi-popular demand, it's time to kick off another look at some TVTimes programme icons from 1978. If you want to play along at home, this batch are all from the June 3rd-June 9th 1978 edition. ATV region, Lee Remick and Rock Hudson on the cover. But before we kick off, there's just time for an advert. Specifically, an advert for that most 1978 of household items, the rented telly. Note the frenzied attempt to tie it in with the World Cup, much like every single company tries to do nowadays:

Even now, spending that much a month would surely bag you a reasonably sized high definition LCD set on credit. Anyway, just feast your eyes on that space-age remote control. Two buttons!

Channel up, and channel down. And this in an age when there were only three channels to choose from. Surely they could have put on an extra button, so you could switch directly to each channel? Or give the option of adjusting the volume? We just don't realise how lucky we are in Space Age 2009, with our dedicated buttons for adjusting the aspect ratio and the like.

Onto the icons, then. Just the nine to choose from, and in a break from tradition (if something you've only done once before counts as 'tradition'), we're going to show you the best icon first, and leaving you to guess which programme it's for. The answer will be at the end of the list.

Quite a good one, isn't it, but what is it for? Those people seem to be carrying placards, so surely it's for a discussion programme based on the striking unions. Maybe it's a Union protest against invisible people with side partings. Or maybe the presence of some kind of panel suggests it's for a consumer affairs show. ITV have probably made at least one stab at recreating That's Life, and this could be it. Could it be that the people on the right are supposed to be opening ceremony standard bearers, as you might find in the opening ceremony of the Olympics? Only it was a World Cup year, so maybe it's for the Commonwealth Games?

All will revealed later on. On with the rundown, beginning with, as the copy of TVT we've found only has so many icons not included in our original update, number nine.

9. Child-Based Programming

Some childish scrawls to get us going. Fairly standard stuff, meaning we can't even think of anything suitably acerbic to say about it. Wonder what the postman's unusual present was.

8. It's the World Cup (and The Derby)

Such is the paucity of HOT NEW ICON ACTION in this edition of TVT, we've included one that doesn't quite fit into the kitschy icon canon that we're trying to cultivate. But, as it's related to the 1978 World Cup, we've decided to include it, and we're not even going to mention Joe Jordan's handball cruelly depriving Wales from taking part in the thing.

Oh. Anyhoo, we like the way ITP Ltd have co-opted the official FIFA logo for Argentina '78 (pictured on the right somewhere), and chucked in the World Of Sport logo. It's the kind of thing that companies could get away with around that age - see also the BBC-1 globe 'borrowing' from the heavily copyrighted IOC logo for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. All this from an age where the phrase 'brand identity' would possibly have had more to do with a portly astomoner's passport (yeah, weak reference there, sorry everyone) than splashing a corporate identity over any bit of 4:3 safe zone that isn't nailed down.

What we also like about this listing: two completely disparate sporting events lumped together in the same listing. Hate football, but love racing? Well, you're probably going to need to sit through the highlights of Mexico vs West Germany if you really want to be sure of getting the latest odds. It's things like this, and the demented way programmes could be listed as starting at 6.57pm that make us wish we'd paid more attention to television when all this was going on. Instead of, well, eating rusks and deficating in our pants, which is what we were probably doing at the time. And that was just the teachers! No, hang on, we've got that punchline wrong somewhere.

7. Antipodean Wartime Recurring Drama

Going by Wikipedia, who we're quite sure would never lie to us outside of a Big Brother launch night, The Sullivans was "an Australian made drama television series produced by Crawford Productions which ran from 1976 until 1983 [which] told the story of an average middle-class Melbourne family and the effect World War II had on their lives." As far as we were concerned it was a hugely annoying blight on our post-nursery television viewing, as it meant we'd have to wait another twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes for another instalment of Charlton And The Wheelies, and it had a bloody depressing sepia title sequence. And anyway Mum, Choc-a-bloc's on the other side, aww mum, come on, Fred Harris is on it this week... gah.

Oh right, the icon. Well, it's pretty generic stuff, which could just as easily be used for any television drama ever. Note how it's the black heart that is the one breaking, which might suggest the tear is more to do with a blocked artery than any emotional turmoil it's owner is going through at the same time. Or maybe the bloke's just dumped the woman for having a really pointy chin and no fingers, the bloody body fascist.

As for The Sullivans, as we grew older it momentarily got 0.02% more interesting when we realised Mrs Mangel was in it, but that didn't last very long.

6. Week-Centred Factcasting

Man with a microphone. A silhouetted city of London. A giant, but not very specific calendar. There aren't even any days of the week on there, let alone the month, uplifting tidbits of information like "it's more important to be right, than to be seen to be proved right", or even pointless trivia like "Feb 6th 1910: The first Monopoly set goes on sale". Whether this is down to shoddy standards on the part of the calendar makers, or just that the calendar firm's team of fact-gatherers were on a union-led strike again ("Damn you, FACTU! We can't afford a 20% raise, and that's that!"), or just that TVT's Icon Bloke was in a hurry for this space filler, we can't be sure. Either way, this a certainly a good example of a programme-specific icon.

5. Chair-Originated Gobshitery

"Look, Mr Amorphous-Blob-in-a-Suit, I happen to think you're completely wrong about the Baader-Meinhof Group." "As I've said repeatedly, Mr Amorphous-Blob-not-in-a-Suit, you're fully entitled to your opinion, it's just that I thought their second album was rubbish". Ah, seat-based discourse, you can't beat it. We can't help but feel a little disappointed that Brian Walden isn't the same at the top of the billing, though. Meanwhile, "a stimulating and entertaining half-hour about people, places and issues"? A little bit presumptive, isn't it?


What could it be? We shouldn't need to be Clive Doig to work it out. Possibly they aren't placards at all, they're huge fish-slices. Or, really tiny people holding regular-sized fish-slices. And they're being exploited in the chip shops of 1978 Britain, and a panel have been invited to discuss the matter. Or maybe, the tiny people are carrying huge fly swats, and they're going to belt the two side-parting men and the big haired woman about the face with them? Ooh, It's A Knockout! Oh, wrong channel. Tsk. The answer in a moment!

4. Chair-Originated Gobshitery: Lady Edition

Ladies' Night. A programme for, by and about, ladies. Director: A bloke. Producer: Another bloke. But who will get to sit in the MYSTERY CHAIR?

3. Surprisingly Early Afternoon News

We love this. It's News at One - hour an hour earlier. As such, they've somewhat been caught on the hop, and Sybil the secretary is still working on the script, just off-camera. Oh noes! Will she be able to keep pumping out the stories quickly enough to get them straight to Peter Sissons? With the added pressure, will she make any rudimentary typing errors, such as accidentally listing the Secretary of State for Social Services as "David Anals"? Why, all of this could make for a brilliant Typing Of The Dead-style videogame.

2. Programming For Those In School

Quick everyone, into the hall, where the school's only television is! Yes, we had to kill the first seventeen minutes of the lesson with pointless banter, because 'What Should We Do?' doesn't start until 9.47, but at least now the class wag can make themselves the centre of attention by pretending to eat the disappearing pips on the countdown clock while teacher isn't looking. For this listing TVT's Icon Bloke has employed the style of his famed Crossroads icon, and just filled an oblong with any school-based doodles that come to mind. A blackboard! An attentive pupil behind a desk! Some test-tubes, because they're piss easy to draw! A, er, gramophone? This is the sort of demented artistry that makes us want to get on eBay and pointlessly waste another few Paypalled fivers on aged listings magazines. And surely, surely, all of these old schools programmes should be somewhere in the public domain by now? They were usually shot on film, so they must exist somewhere, surely? We really want to see that episode of Looking At Television. Oh, it's meant to be a microscope!

Well, it's time to reveal the identity of the mysterious programme icon from earlier in the update. Consumer show? Political discussion show? Tiny people with spatulas? Well, it turns out you were miles off, as it was in fact...

Yep, the Nickel-Arsed Parsons, and The Quiz Of The Week! What the bloody hell? What on earth does that have to do with... oh, to hell with it.

More confusingly inaccurate late-1970s TV Times genre-icon japery soon, readers!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

ITV Sport versus Football

Oh, ITV. When will you learn that if you do everything on the cheap, you'll end up doing things like this?

It certainly seems to have been regional - we're living in Granadaland, and the picture cut back to the action after a couple of seconds of the E-on bumper - but even so. Brian Moore will be spinning in his grave.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Thing Of The Day:

Giving the devil the opportunity to come into your home and destroy everything:

Meanwhile: more 1978 TVTimes icons, presently.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Hail, Hail Frydonia, Land of the Brave and Free

Yes, it's another post about Twitter, but we promise it's the last one for a OMFG JONATHAN ROSS SENT US A REPLY ABOUT HANDHELD GAMES CONSOLES THE OTHER DAY while. Twitter is really taking off now, as signified by the way National Treasure Stephen Fry (to use his full name) has raced from a having 60,000 followers, all the way up to 100,000 in just a matter of days.

This led to us clambering onto our special statistical train of thought. If National Treasure Stephen Fry actually were a European nation, and his followers citizens of said nation, where would it sit amongst the list of European countries when sorted by population? The nation could be called Frydonia, and at the time of typing this it would contain 102,408 happy subjects. Most of whom would probably be going to the Apple Store tomorrow for his appearance, only it's been snowed off.

Well, we've taken out our digital felt-tips, and constructed a chart, marking off his place in the list. And here it is, taking in just the thirteen lowest-ranked nations. Startling Microsoft Office-based revelation of the day: if you're going to use images as the filling for a data point, you can just paste in the location of an image from the internet, you don't need to save it to your hard drive first. This discovery means our charts are now prettier than ever.

Admittedly, we should have used an Apple Mac to compile all of that data, if we wanted extra authenticity points. Those figures in full:

Malta 402,668
Iceland 304,334
Frydonia 102,408
Jersey 87,186
Isle of Man 77,000
Andorra 67,000
Guernsey 62,101
Faroe Islands 47,000
Liechtenstein 35,000
Monaco 35,000
San Marino 28,000
Gibraltar 28,000
Åland Islands 26,771
Vatican City 821

So, the newly formed nation state of Frydonia has a larger population than eleven European nations (and yes, places like Jersey do count). Iceland and Malta are currently some way away, but as the population of Frydonia grows, surely they will soon be FLOUNDERING in the wake of a population-based TIDAL WAVE from the glorious new land of... we're taking this way too far, aren't we? Still, it's saved in our "C:/Disappointing Statistical Riffs" folder now, so expect future updates on the Fry-o-meter soon.


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