Tuesday, 31 May 2011

So You THINK You’re A Loony!?

From “The Goodies Book of (Criminal) Records” (by Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor, Sphere Books, 1975)


(Click for the full-sized version. And we’d post more images from the book, but cramming it onto our rubbish scanner would probably ruin the book. Anyone want to buy us a better, more book-friendly scanner? Thought not.)


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Telly Savalas Looks at Portsmouth

From 1981. Excellent.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Telly (Book) Selly Time (and COMPETITION)



Paul Ross: ...and so, the same button we used to switch on the device can also be used to switch off the device?

Resident 'Expert': Yes. The Gizmotron 7000 is a vast improvement on the earlier 6800 model, which required the use of separate 'activate' and 'deactivate' buttons.

Paul Ross: Wow, so it's literally a 50% reduction in the number of buttons?

Resident 'Expert': Mmm.

Paul Ross: Remarkable what they can do nowadays. The Gizmotron 7000, there. Now yours for the special one day only TST price of £899.98.


Paul Ross: Now, onto our next item, and it's something a little unusual. It's a website... that isn't on the internet? How can this be!

Resident 'Expert': Ha ha! Your eyes don't deceive you Paul, it really is an website, but you don't need a computer, internet connection, or even any electricity to read it!


Paul Ross: Wow. I am literally speechless.

Resident 'Expert': Well, not literally.

Paul Ross: So, how does it work?

Resident 'Expert': Go ahead, try it out!

Paul Ross, flipping through the pages and grinning with phoned-in astonishment: It's so easy to read!

Resident 'Expert': That'll be the special iNstaView Technology used for each page - there's no need to wait for each page to load, it's all pre-loaded onto the pages at the factory beforehand.

Paul Ross: All the pages are numbered, so I know how much of it I've read!

Resident 'Expert': Yes, the innovative page numbering system allows you to measure how far you've read. This book goes up to '678', which means that it contains 678 pages.

Paul Ross: The name of the book is on the cover, so I know what it's called!

Resident 'Expert': Well spotted, Paul. I'm not sure about you, but I'm forever buying books with completely blank covers, so that when I need to find a specific title in my library, I have to read all of them until I happen across the correct one. With "Off The Telly: The Best Bits Of The British TV Website 1999-2009", the name is right there on the cover, so you know exactly what it is!


Paul Ross: That's ingenious! So, what's the book actually about?

Resident 'Expert': Well Paul, between 1999 and 2009, OffTheTelly.co.uk was a place where the enthusiastically well-viewed could go to read, or even contribute to, an ever growing number of intelligently written and painstakingly researched articles, reviews, interviews and features relating to all matters televisual, past and present. From programmes universally regarded as TV classics, to little-known gems unlikely ever to find their way into a Blu-ray boxset, to offerings that even the creators might prefer everyone had long forgotten about, if it had flickered to life in the living rooms of Britain over the last fifty years, it was likely to be examined by OTT’s hardy team of contributors. This book picks dozens of the finest articles to grace the site, bringing them all together in one volume to keep forever.

Paul Ross: You just read most of that from the back cover, didn't you?

Resident 'Expert': I did, yes. But really, it's a brilliant read. Compiled, edited and designed by Graham Kibble-White and some chancer called “Mark Jones”, there are dozens upon dozens are articles contained in the book. Inside, you’ll find articles on the following programmes... Ace of Wands, Around the World in 80 Days, Belle and Sebastian, Castaway 2000, Clarence, Cool It, Curb Your Enthusiasm, DEF II, Election Night 2005, Fairly Secret Army, Girls on Top, Hardwicke House, Have I Got News For You, Hi-De-Hi!, Hippies, I, Claudius, Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes, Lee & Herring, Live & Kicking, Look and Read, Nationwide, Never The Twain, Nightingales, Out of the Trees, Play School, Rentaghost, Sapphire and Steel, Scotch & Wry, Seven Up, The Bill, the CBBC Broom Cupboard, The Comic Strip Presents, The Flashing Blade, The Golden Shot, the House of Cards trilogy, The Mad Death, The Show, The Singing Detective, The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, Timeslip, Top of the Pops, Treasure Hunt, Triangle, Wanted, Whose Line is it Anyway? and Zokko!.

Paul Ross: That’s astonishing!

Resident 'Expert': It doesn’t end there, Paul. There are even complete chapters taking in several articles on The Simpsons and Doctor Who, as well as a dedicated section looking at the work of Alan Bleasdale. Throw in even more features taking in entire genres, trends, channels and various TV-related spinoffs, and you have yourself one fearsome telly-related package.

Paul Ross: Is there even an especially written foreword by a special celebrity guest?

Resident 'Expert': Erm, the guy from that BrokenTV blog did that.

Paul Ross: Ah, well. There is a recession on, after all.

Resident 'Expert': But once you’ve skipped past the foreword that’ll probably just bang on about the BBC hyphen or something, it’s quality all the way, with articles written by Ian Jones, Jack Kibble-White, Graham Kibble-White, Chris Diamond, Steve Williams, TJ Worthington, Andrew Collins, Chris Orton, Matthew Rudd and David Sheldrick.

Paul Ross: Spiffo! Now, how much would you expect to pay for a comprehensive, and indeed, innovative product like this? Given the staggering amount of content contained within, why, you must be looking at upwards of a score, yeah?

Resident 'Expert': Well Paul, the physical paperback copy of this book can be yours for just £16.99, from Lulu.com.

Paul Ross: What a bargain! I’d gladly pay double that! Is the book also available in ebook format, for people who prefer books you have to recharge?

Resident 'Expert': Indeed so, Paul. The eBook version of the, er, book is also available in Adobe PDF format, at a bargain price of just £3.99, also from Lulu.com.

Paul Ross: And I suppose all the money goes straight to that BrokenTV guy, who’ll spend it all on gin and Pot Noodles or something?

Resident 'Expert': Surprisingly not, Paul. Instead, any profits generated from sales of the book are to be donated to UK Alzheimer’s charities.

Paul Ross: Superb stuff.



Paul Ross: So, our viewers had better start raiding those piggybanks right away then?

Resident 'Expert': Absolutely, Paul. Though to celebrate the launch of the book, BrokenTV are giving away a FREE COPY OF THE BOOK, which (due to technical issues) contains some content not available in the official version of the book!

Paul Ross: Hell’s bells, can today GET any better? What do they have to do to win a copy of this book, worth £16.99?

Resident 'Expert': Simply answer the following question:

Everyone loves television-related books, but can you match the three book titles below, to the television personalities responsible for them?

The books:

1) The Custard Stops at Hatfield

2) Crying With Laughter

3) As It Happens

The personalities:

a) Bob Monkhouse

b) Jimmy Saville

c) Kenny Everett

Simply jot your answers (1b, 2c, 3a or whatever) onto the back of a stamped, addressed email, and send it to ottbookcompetition@gmail.com by Friday, 3rd June 2011.

Sorry, UK residents only, as we’re literally not made of stamps. One winner will be chosen at random, and notified as soon as they’re chosen.

If you don’t win, don’t despair, you can still be like all the cool kids in school, and buy your own copy of the book direct from Lulu.com as a PDF ebook (£3.99), or as an excellently huge 6” x 9” paperback with shiny cover (£16.99).

Paul Ross: So, don’t delay, get your copy of Off The Telly, The Best Bits of the British TV Website 1999-2009 today!

Both: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Resident 'Expert': Wait, why are we laughing at that?



*The Paul Rosses referred to in this article are meant for educational purposes only.
Any resemblance to real Paul Rosses living or dead is purely coincidental.
This competition also posted at ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

BBC Hyphen Update

Thanks to viewer Paul Twist for making us aware of another big name at the BBC bringing back The BBC Hyphen.


That’s right, Alan Sugar from BBC One’s weekly twatzoo The Apprentice has also brought The BBC Hyphen back out of the retirement home of punctuation, in a tweet he made earlier today.


Maybe this is just a “soft relaunch”, with the Beeb’s marketing department putting out feelers on how the public would take to it being fully reintegrated into the corporation’s branding. First Adam Curtis, and now the man who thought selling a device where it costs you ten pence every time you want to see if you’ve got any emails or not would be a huge hit, yet goes around bragging as if he’s World Business Champion for some reason.


Who next? And will it eventually lead to more retrotastic rebranding, such as the BBC website being renamed “Ceefax On-Line”? Farbeit from us to make any rash predictions, but we’re saying “yes”. That will definitely happen. Just you wait.



Tuesday, 17 May 2011

TV Comeback of the Year

In the words of Eminem, guess who’s back, back again?

Excellent, eh? Next Monday at 9pm on BBC Two, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, the new series from Adam Curtis, the best documentary maker in the world whose name isn’t an anagram of “Nojh Gepril”. While it might be possible to sometimes have doubts over what he’s saying, the programmes he puts together are so finely crafted it’s near impossible not to find them utterly compelling.

One of the reasons we find his work so compelling is his mastery of the archive, eschewing straightforward news clips in favour of rushes taking in unguarded moments from major figures in modern history. Another is his expert use of pop music that we like throughout his work – when watching one of his short films made for Newswipe, we actually had to stop and rewind thirty seconds of it as we’d been too wowed by his use of Stereo Total’s “C’est la Mort” to actually listen to what was being said. Our favourite Franco-German garage rock/ electropop duo also get an outing in the trailer for his new series too, with the use of their track “Aua”.

To top all this, the trailer for the series also features a return appearance for someone we thought might never return to our screens. That’s right:


Not seen since the mid-1980s, it’s the long-awaited return of The BBC-2 Hyphen. Long since shoved off Britain’s television sets to make way for the slightly more arty “TWO”, which in turn made way for the bouncing, frolicking “2”, and latterly for it’s more sober older brother “BBC Two”, the Hyphen is back for a limited time only.


(*Though, of course, the actual trailers shown on TV have the standard aqua-coloured BBC Two branding slapped over the end of it, so the BBC-2 Hyphen won’t actually appear on telly after all. Pity. It was a nice idea while it lasted.)


Sorry for getting your hopes up, Hyphen.


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Eurovision 2011 LIVE BLOG


It’s that time again. We’ll be both livetweeting and liveblogging the Eurovision Song Contest 2011. Exciting, isn’t it? No, it is. IT IS. Latest entries at the bottom of the page.


The BBC are deeming this SO important, they’re using their “Look at all the brilliant things BBC One has done” montage of classic BBC One shows, like Morecambe & Wise, One Foot In The Grave, and Mrs Brown’s Boys (yeah, we know). Respect: due.

The iPlayer live stream of BBC One (which we’ve got up so we can do screencaps) is about half a second ahead of the digital delay on our actual television. That’s how fast the internet is nowadays.

Hopefully we’ll get better at taking screencaps than this as the night goes on, though:


Eurovision 2011: Play Along At Home…

…with our handy checklist. Tick off each of these events as they happen, and have your enjoyment of the event improved immeasurably.


Live blog at 8pm!


Friday, 13 May 2011

Saturday. 8pm. Eurovision 2011 Live Blog.

This Saturday, at 8pm…oh. We’ve rather shot our metaphorical load with that title. Anyway, yes, Saturday at 2000 hours, we’ll be kicking off our 3rd Annual Eurovision Live Blog between here and Twitter. The former when there are entertaining asides too darn long to cram into 140 characters, the latter when we want more than seven people to read what we’ve written. Be there, or be thereabouts.

Until then, a video:


Friday, 6 May 2011

How To Be Afraid Of… The Dimblebys

[Note: this post originally published on another blog we used to do. We don’t think we crossposted it to here at the time. What with AV sadly getting a kicking in the polls today, this is a nice enough time to shove out a repeat, as it were.

BrokenTV: Now the UKGold at 2am on a weeknight of blogs.]


Each General Election night, terrestrial viewers are treated to the sight of two brothers, raging a seemingly eternal battle across the waters of political discourse like a besuited Fionn mac Cumhail and Benandonner. Each time the voting stations close, families all over Britain sit around their television sets in eager anticipation as to which brother will win this Election’s results show ratings skirmish. Will it finally be Jonathan’s year? Will his helming of ITN’s “looking over the shoulder of the people counting votes to bring you the results first”-led coverage bring in a decent slice of the viewing figure pie this time? Or will big brother David shove him out of the way in order to scoff up all the BARB-compiled goodies himself, as per usual?

It’s a tale as old as the ages, or more accurately, 1997. However, one thing you might not know about Richard and Jonathan is that they are but two of ten siblings to spring from the loins of the late Richard Dimbleby, and that each pairing also work in similar fields.

Alton and Shelton Dimbleby are both bakers. Alton runs the most successful bakery in all of Ludlow. Shelton is forever trying to lure customers away from Alton, by way of a heavily-postered marketing idea of “making loaves of bread more quickly than anyone else in Ludlow”. This involves having his luckless assistant Horace actually knead the dough whilst actually inside a huge oven, whilst wearing an asbestos bakers uniform. It has yet to catch on in a big way, sadly. The bread being delivered while still smoking hot, whilst having a crust flecked with bits of asbestos and burnt skin is considered something of a downside to the whole end product for the customers.


Clancy and Bruno Dimbleby are lifeguards at Clacton-on-Sea beach. Clancy is one of the most celebrated lifeguards in all of Essex, having an uncanny ability to spot someone in trouble from hundreds of yards away. It is this, coupled with his astonishing ability to swim quickly in even the choppiest of waters that led to him being named Clacton-on-Sea Lifeguard Of The Year on three non-consecutive occasions. Ever keen to compete, Bruno is not put out by this. Since 2007, he has pledged an oath to rescue people at an earlier stage of drowning than anyone else. Unfortunately, this has yet to prove much of a success, with the younger of the two aquatic Dlimblebi (that’s the plural, look it up) routinely pouncing on unsuspecting bathers and dragging them back to shore should they so much as cough politely whilst up to their ankles in the foam.

Gladys (L) and Ethel (R)

Gladys and Ethel Dimbleby are emergency telephone number operators. Gladys is a much celebrated employee at the 999 call centre, thanks to her uncanny ability to understand the most garbled of surnames and addresses from panicked callers. Sadly, Ethel is currently on her second written warning from HR, due to her idea of simply phoning people up at home to check if their house is on fire or not. She remains adamant that this approach is sure to pay dividends eventually.

Lastly, we come to Generals “Spanky” Spiffington and “Dimples” Dewhurst Dimbleby. As their full titles would suggest, this last pairing each occupy important positions in the MoD. Throughout the British Armed Services, “Spanky” is renowned for his cool head under difficult circumstances, having once managing to coax the entire Argentine Navy into postponing a fresh invasion of the Falkland Islands indefinitely over tea and scones. Conversely, “Dimples” prefers a more pro-active approach, loudly proclaiming quite loudly after one too many sherries at the Reform Club how he’ll happily wade into conflict with any nation speaking with an accent he doesn’t like.

Sadly, it was not “Spanky”, but rather “Dimples” that then Prime Minister Tony Blair contacted in late 2002, with a view to gathering evidence on (“Right, that’s it sonny. Get in the van, you’re coming with us” – The Outdated Satire Police.)


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

When Advertising Was Good (The Top Ten Heineken Commercials 1978-1994)


As anyone who knows us will attest, we can be contrary old sods at times. Offer us chocolate, we’ll say we prefer cheese. Offer us a Dairylea triangle, and we’ll insist on a Twix. Bang on at length about how little interest you have in The Royal Wedding and why should WE be the ones to foot the bill for it all, eh, and we’ll instantly forget our long-held republican beliefs in order to point out that okay, why not just say the taxes of the millions of people who do like having a Royal Family are what’s paying for all that, and your taxes can go towards paying for stuff that royalists might not like, like giving council houses to disabled immigrant one-parent same-sex couples or whatever.

Similarly, if we’re watching a recording of something on TV, as soon as we reach the end of part one we’ll dive like salmon at the remote, lest we accidentally listen to a single second of the sodding Go Compare jingle. And yet, dangle the link to a website containing hundreds of old TV commercials in front of our one good eye and we’ll pepper your surprised face with a flurry of wet kisses, whether you like it or not (in our experience, generally ‘not’).

The last of those things is what has recently happened (well, apart from all the kissing), when someone on the Cook’d And Bomb’d forum posted a link to the excellent Arrows Archive. “What’s that?” You might be thinking if you’re too busy to click on that link. Well, it’s an absolutely superb online archive containing around 25,000 British television commercials from the last 34 years, made available by The History of Advertising Trust. And we love it.

The database is searchable by year, product or title, and while you need to pay in order to download each commercial (at prices ranging from £1 to £50 per ad, depending on the download format), viewing the streaming previews is free and unlimited. With this in mind, we spent a couple of pleasurable hours over the long weekend revisiting the offerings from Heineken, whose "Refreshes The Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach" commercials (a slogan later followed by "Only Heineken Can Do This") we especially loved when we were tiny.

Sadly, when it comes to modern-day Heineken commercials, it seems we’re cursed with technically impressive and hugely expensive but annoyingly smug, safe and soulless Heineken commercials that can be easily used in dozens of different markets without having to worry about the kind of humour that ‘plays’ best in each market, or indeed, any translation. Even if we do really like the song by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour that features in it, we’d wager the majority of the audience can’t remember what the advert was even bloody selling ten minutes after they’d watched it. Which, is a bit of a no-no in marketing terms.

In no particular order then, here are our ten favourite Heineken adverts of times gone by. Click the titles to visit the Arrows archive page where the advert in question can be viewed, and note that the descriptions we’ve added often contain spoilers. Oh, and “the wat-ah in Maj-or-kah” one isn’t bloody there, as let’s face it, wasn’t really that good, was it?



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