The Deep

Sardines A new BBC sci-fi drama series. Hmmm. I have not seen some similar series that might have been half-decent and worth watching for a bit of innocent entertainment. Typically, I miss the first few episodes and then fail to jump onto the running train later in the series. The one that I did watch and enjoy was discontinued after a short while. Maybe I was the only one enjoying Defying Gravity.

So, when The Deep was announced, I thought I should watch the first episode. After all, it is a British production, and thus stands a chance of being less silly and stereotypical and boring, with more plausible characters and all that, compared to pure American productions.

Ah well. The Beep missed a good chance here, but missed by a couple of miles. Frustrating:

A mostly inexperienced grew of mainly psychologically unstable young people with unknown qualifications (presumably, scientists), embark on a deep diving mission (The phenomenal depth of 2000ft is noted at 25:40 into the first episode. So much for sci-fi deep diving). The whole mission starts just 6 months after the catastrophic failure of the previous mission – that alone being implausible enough.

A long string of implausible events and details follow, acted out by equally unconvincing characters. At the end of the first series, the crew faces “that big thing” which now hovers above them. It could be alien. It could be a giant Russian foreign nuclear space deep sea station. It could be the new submarine Taliban division. It could be anything, but it is already certain not to be convincing or original.

Good lord BBC. Give me a few days, a room to think, and two creative free-thinking co-thinkers. We’d think up a better story-line for you.


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End of an Era

BT tower So, it’s the end of an era, he says. Realistically speaking, its the end of a not quite 11 year employment.

If you live in the U.K., you can’t have missed the huge fanfare with which TV and radio presenter Jonathan Ross said Good Bye with his last Friday night chat show on BBC television, and his last Saturday morning BBC Radio 2 show.

Many  came to wish him well and express their sadness to see him leaving.

I wish him well, too. Of course I do, but am I sad to see him leaving? Not really.

I acknowledge that he has gotten better over the years, but he is not half as original and not half as funny as he appears to think of himself, and when not quite sure what to say or do, his humour gets dirty and under the belt. How funny.

It would be very sad news indeed, if nobody can be found who fits his broadcasting slots just as well, and hopefully even better.

So, all the best to you, Jonathan. All the best to the –hopefully young- talent who steps into his shoes.

P.S. It’s Hildegard Knef, not Hildegard Knecht.


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Well Done

cherryTomatoes Well done, Dhruv Baker, Masterchef 2010. Well-deserved and, in my opinion, a clear win against the two other finalists.

There’s a lot to dislike in this series. Unnecessary American-esque drama (“cooking doesn’t get tougher than this”) and drum-beating music, silly candidates’ statements (“It means everything to me”) and equally silly labels invented by the judges. The palate of an angel, give me a break.

But, on a whole, hugely enjoyable and hugely stimulating to watch hugely appealing food been cooked and presented.

Must go now. I have work to do in the kitchen.


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Masterly Fools

Toulouse sausages, on bed of lentils, with a salad from Jerusalem Artichokes I am following the BBC Masterchef series this year for the first time, and I am in several minds about it. It’s kind of interesting to watch, and it’s kind of annoying to watch at the same time. By and large, it’s good entertainment. Almost every candidate falls for the same annoying foolishness though:, with one fatal foolishness almost every candidate falls for:

Typically, it begins with one of the presenter asking the same old question yet again: So, what does winning Masterchef mean to you?

Almost all candidates then get big and shiny eyes, and tell just how very very much this means like, like, everything to them. Most will then go in with a tale of their dream little cafe or country restaurant, growing their own vegetables and being a celebrated little chef in their own little eatery. Somehow, many seem to think  their reaching an advanced stage in this TV cooking competition would in any way qualify them for realising this dream.

A severe case of romantic surrealism, almost every one of them.

One would have thought the three-hour run in a commercial kitchen would have thrust some realism onto people, but no.


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I Used to Think…

crocus I used to think nurses were women,
I used to think police were men,
I used to think poets were boring,
Until I became one of them.

The BBC quoted this poem in their Mastercrafts program on stained glass, and the poem is now cited in a new stained glass featuring in a school in Peckham, south London.

I was intrigued and consulted with a popular Internet search engine, and thus discovered a poet called Benjamin Zephaniah. What a great guy! Well worded, non-boring, non-traditionalist, inventive, fresh. I also like Wot a Pair.

Read it for yourself, and read it aloud. It’s right here.


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Slightly Unsuitable

nudism Lily Allen, the caller sais, is slightly unsuitable for his young daughters. The caller rung the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 2 (18-Feb-2010), so he was of course agreed and his call turned into another couple of minutes of inane babble.

These guys play all the right music, but really shouldn’t be allowed to speak.

Anyway. Slightly unsuitable. Right. A little bit pregnant.

A little bit stupid. Yes, that’d work.

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It’s Only a Theory

canarywharf It’s Only a Theory is the perfect example. It’s the perfect example for what makes BBC4 television what it is: a TV station regularly criticised for the fact that it fails attracting the huge big audience (criticised by those who oversee the BBC‘s spending of license money), and regularly praised for failing to attract the big audience (like, by myself).

How’s that?

It’s got to do with engaging the mind. Take a look at It’ Only a Theory, for example. A comedy program in which candidates propose and defend a theory, challenged by Andy Hamilton, Reginald D. Hunter, and a guest judge. The theories are serious, but of course chosen for their headline and entertainment value. Their party-talk value, if you like. Previous theories included “Texting improves children’s literacy,” “The first person to reach the age of 1000 years is already born,” and “Romantic comedies make people miserable.”

Similar to QI, It’s Only a Theory doesn’t strike a balance between comedy and something more serious. It’s not serious. It’s comedy, its pure entertainment, but it goes without the roaring-out-load, thigh-slapping style of humour.

Not the kind of show that will save BBC4, and not a show ever to make it out of BBC4. Nice entertainment though.


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David Hockney and I

Alfred-lowres The BBC runs a new program on David Hockney, and The Master contributes three little paintings, which you can put […] onto your phone or computer. These downloads are available right here, and for 48 hours only.

Once David Hockney’s time-limited offer has expired (why this childish for-48-hours-only nonsense anyway?), feel free to take one of mine – that’s OK as long as you don’t change it or pretend you made it yourself. I use Alfred on my mobile phone, and use the Manukan Island sunset as a desktop wallpaper.

Whether you chose David Hockney, one of mine or maybe one of your own making, I find this is a very nice way of personalising an impersonal device.

An endless number of web sites and utilities help you to create the wallpaper that fits your phone from an existing image; see for an example. Go for it!


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Evolution and I

hopper I fear I may have lost out in evolution through a loss that goes all the way back to the fruit flies. Some male fruit flies carry powerful pheromones on their tails, which makes them irresistible to their female counterparts.

But then, the commentator tells me in the superb BBC South Pacific production, one wrong move [by the male], and she is off for good.

Evolution all the same all around, and my world order is restored.


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animal People in Britain complain, as it emerges that collections of domestic recyclables are currently stockpiled. Prices are down, so companies fill warehouses with recycling paper, plastic, metal and glass rather than selling at a loss.

The complain roots from a sense of being cheated. We do all this separating and recycling, one interviewee said in a tear-stricken voice, and all they do is stockpile it.

Makes sense to me. Doesn’t make sense to moan and complain, not in the way portrayed by the BBC. After all, it’s still better than throwing everything onto the landfill, isn’t it?

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Strange London

weatherProject Here’s some nice lunch time entertainment: BBC London’s Strange London Photo Gallery: Strange London.


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El Sistema

What a wonderful concept! BBC’s Imagine had a program and reported about El Sistema in Venezuela; a scheme that provides children with free musical instruments and tuition in an attempt to re-socialise and improve the impoverished and disadvantaged. They put the fun back in learning music, too, because they don’t make the kids go through years of learning and practising an instrument prior to joining an orchestra. Instead, the children join the orchestra, and learn there and then.

One of the first pieces performed, they told us, is Tchaikovsky’s 4th. Not because it’s particularly easy, but because it is not particularly easy.

A very stimulating report from Venezuela. Great to see that the Venezuelean scheme has been adopted by Sistema Scotland, also known as The Big Noise. Please support them, if you get a chance.