Saturday, 19 April 2014

Avast, a larks with mein electronic digit... (50 years of BBC2 with a big cake and all..)

BBC2 is 50. Well, well.. Finally, its joints are getting creakier and its hair is needing some artificial help along the way. But how could you describe the channel to an alien? Well, you could always show that 40 Minutes documentary, about being an alien on earth with trees and a lady undressing herself. 

Though enough with the nudity, there's been plenty of that over the years and coarse behavior and its never done its viewers any harm at all. I don't remember Percy Thrower with nipple tassles though on Gardeners World,  how did we get to this point though? Apart from some people throwing paint at a still BBC2 ident, there have been many interesting programmes on BBC2 through the years and rather then doing a top ten as most people would seem to do about the subject or make a hilarious copycat (see 'The Big Fat Quiz') quiz.

How does BBC2 like to lift its skirt and show itself off? For instance, from Pete and Dud talking about bloody Greta Garbo at the window, onto those Goodies, onwards into space with The Hitchikers' Guide and Red Dwarf and back down to earth with a bump to The Office. The channel itself likes a good laugh and has made comedy a key part of its schedule, though along the way it hasn't been plain sailing. May we not forget, Its Ulrika plus also the second series of Look Around You, with a tiny bit of The Mighty Boosh.

As the channel shows itself to be a breeding ground for shows, with The Apprentice starting off on the second channel, business is a serious business. The Troubleshooters three of Sir John Harvey-Jones, Sir Gerry Robinson and now Lord Digby Jones showed there was an appetite for smart documentaries about the business world and that over time you can move from being a Sir to ending up as being a Lord. But business is entertainment as well, taking us 'Back to the Floor' and leaving us with 'Blood on the Carpet' thanks to Robert Thirkwell's well thought programmes over the years. With as much business people and other people learning more about vast sways of business aspects than reading a lifetime's supply of the Financial Times.

Though there is no business like show business as someone once sung, as well as serious programming music is the food of love for BBC2 with it having Dance Energy in the 90's, being Later with Jools, see if it will pass The Old Grey Whistle Test, plus thanks to the foresight of the BBC light entertainment department allowing Terry Henebery to come up with Jazz 625 showcasing some of the finest jazz musicians ever. But the second channel shows its class as well with its coverage of the arts. Arena, the fore-barer today's modern arts documentaries has been floating along in the moonlight for many years now looking at the Ford Cortina, how to do it My Way and with an amount of menace looking at the Beano and Dandy story. 

Ever so often it will show its sport credentials as well, starting off what has become an institution in Match of the Day from Beatleville with Kenneth Wolstenholme in 1964 to Nigel Starmer-Smith from a wind swept Rugby Special, the quiet of the green baize in its snooker coverage to the men and women of the oche in its coverage of the BDO World Darts Championship. Plus even dedicating a whole afternoon of sport on Friday afternoons during the late 80's and early 90's. Though the channel likes the smell of oil and petrol as well, apart from the Open University that is. BBC2 was the home of Formula One for many years as well Moto GP, but it likes to get itself all revved up now and again, from the pokey motoring show started by Angela Rippon and Noel Edmonds, through the sensibleness of Tony Mason, Chris Goffey and William Woolard to today's massive road trips partaken by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. Seemingly Top Gear is what BBC2 is about today and has always been which is fast paced, funny, incisive plus informative as well.

But as BBC2 sees itself in a mirror, does it seem to be sagging? A little, but doesn't everyone do by the time they get to fifty? When the candles are lit on the birthday cake, most probably made by The Great British Bake Off team, the second channel can look at itself and say 'Yeah, I've done alright for myself!' Then raise a glass, a cup, a mug or even an Arielator from Jed's house in I'm Alan Partridge to BBC2, you might not be old as your bigger brother or sister, though at least you kept us entertained.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Recreating the impossible, probably..

Hello once again, its been a while hasn't it?

Now you maybe wondering where I have been since the latter part of last year and why there have been no blog updates at all, partly for two reasons. I have been occupying the spare time I have in different ways, but most importantly spending time working on the most important project that I have ever done so far.

Out on there on the internet, there is so much information about television history and presentation with so many different websites such as Transdiffusion, TV Cream and TV Ark to name but there is also a lot of facts as well. For instance on the upcoming 50th anniversary of BBC2 there is the ability to read about what happened on that aborted opening night as well as seeing it in video.

Though much with archive television, some pieces of footage exist and others do not. Meaning for an opening of a new television station or franchise, that the opening programme and some of that day's continuity may exist. But via discussions with some of my friends, we wondered what day's broadcasting we would all like to see again.

From this came a seed of an idea, to pick a particular day or year's schedule and try to re-piece it back together. Now you must be wondering what exactly this has to do with my absence from here, but I can explain now.

In the autumn of last year, with the challenge laid down by my friends. I decided to do a project of such magnitude, I think no-one has ever done it before. I set out to recreate the first day's broadcast of TVS in January 1982. You might say 'Yeah, that's easy to do!' but consider this, in initial footage that I had, there was only the opening programme 'Bring in the New', the launch documentary 'Birth of a Station' and a small fragment of continuity including that lunchtime's ITN News read by Trevor McDonald.

However on the actual day, 1st of January 1982, there were over 19 different programmes on that day. But the schedule showed on that day actually differed from Thames and LWT's for instance. Some of the programmes which were networked were shown in the slot that the rest of the country was looking at them in, but TVS showed some of them at different times and had programmes which had been seen by the rest of the network a few days earlier.

Plus, also nearly all the continuity was missing, meaning that had to be reconstructed piece by piece from scratch and footage of the programmes shown on that day, had to be found in various places. Even with some of the footage missing, I had to reconstruct that as well.

You might say, all in all that it is quite a hefty task to do all that. Lo and behold though, I have managed to do that and after nearly six months, my recreation of TVS' first day is finished. Before this I have made other videos for YouTube and also made a pop video for some of my friends. This was a different kettle of fish though, I mean by stitching everything together including adverts from 1982 as well. Making it look like as it was broadcast, the continuity gives it that added touch, to seem like you are watching a truncated version of that day's programmes.

You might ask why, but it was showing people what exactly TVS would have looked like on their opening day as not many people would have video recorders to tape the whole day off the television. People say its easier to that now in a digital age, however the recreation is about a historical document as well. This is part of the nation's television culture, when a new ITV franchise came onto the air it was big news compared to today when a channel launch hardly goes unnoticed.

So that's my part of the story, if you would like to know more please do not hesitate to find me on Twitter @boggenstrovia and there we will go from there, OK?

Keep an eye out for more articles coming soon...