I take a lot of comfort from China Miéville's The City & the City. It's a book I return and read at least once a year. It's a novel that dances on the cusp of the fantastical, but never seems to teeter over in a way that makes my imagination work too hard: the world that Miéville presents, where multiple cities uneasily exist in the same space at the same time, is easy for me to hold in my mind.
Also, I frigging love a good murder mystery.
When I heard that there was to be a TV adaption of the novel, I was worried that it might not feel the same as the book that I've become so familiar with over the years. This brief clip makes me feel that maybe, just maybe, those fears have been misplaced. The series made its debut with the BBC this past spring. It's not currently available to stream, but I'm hoping it may pop up as a digital download sooner or later.
Has anyone watched it? Did you enjoy it? Read the rest
Tonight marks the world premiere of the first Doctor Who series in which the Doctor is portrayed by a woman. The limited-edition commemorative Barbie available for pre-order starting tomorrow, exclusively through Forbidden Planet.
Read the rest
This video churned out by the BBC in 2017, offers a number of frank, intelligent conversations about the microdosing of LSD and magic mushrooms. Those interviewed seem sincere in how the practice has improved their everyday lives in a manner that's medicinal, not recreational. As a guy who's traditionally limited his drug use to booze and coffee, I was fascinated by what they had to say. Read the rest
The BBC has weighed in on the debate over Article 13, a controversial last-minute addition to the EU's new Copyright Directive that will be voted on in 12 days; under Article 13, European sites will have to spy on every word, sound, picture, and video their users post and use a black-box copyright algorithm to decide whether or not to censor it.
Read the rest
My wife -- whose father is a TV director who'd worked for the BBC -- learned as a little girl that the British spy agency MI5 secretly vetted people who applied for work at the BBC and denoted possible subversives by putting a doodle of a Christmas tree on their personnel files; people who were thus blacklisted were discriminated against within the Beeb.
Read the rest
In November, 1970, just outside the Norwegian town of Bergen, two kids found the partially burnt remains of a woman's body. Surrounding the woman's remains were a number of objects: some bottles of water, a rubber boot and a burnt newspaper. All of the labels had been removed from the woman's clothing. Why the woman – known in Norway as the Isdal Woman, named for the remote valley that she was found in – died or who she was has been a mystery for close to 50 years.
Norwegian journalist Marit Higraff and BBC documentary maker Neil McCarthy are working to shed light on the Isdal Woman's very, very cold case. Working together, they've produced a new podcast called Death in Ice Valley. The first episode is available to download or stream, right now.
During the course of the podcast, Higraff and McCarthy will talk to those that investigated the crime back in the day, as well as forensic experts and anyone else they feel might propel them towards the answer of who the Isdal Woman was and why she died. But they're not stopping there. Listeners of the podcast are invited to talk to one another and the podcast's producers about the case on social media, in the hope that a breakthrough for the case could be crowdsourced.
I listened to the first episode yesterday. It starts slow, as many BBC radio productions often do. But the questions that the pair of journalists raise surrounding the Isdal Woman's death and what they uncovered, even in the first episode, has compelled me to continue with the series to see how things turn out. Read the rest
The BBC posted an online archive of many of its sound effects. The nature scenes and peculiar things of historical interests are wonderful, though the broad focus seems to be components for radio plays and the like: footsteps, actions, incidental moments.
The BBC license isn't free and has odd stipulations, but the point of the project and its accompanying rules is remarkable: "RemArc, or Reminiscence Archive, is designed to help trigger memories in people with dementia using BBC Archive material as stimulation. " Read the rest
In the early days of TV, it was routine to tape over the recording medium after the initial air-date, which means that no video record exists of many of the pioneering moments in television.
Read the rest
Working from a traditional score by Ron Grainer, Delia Derbyshire created one of television and electronica's most distinctive works of music: the theme tune to Doctor Who. For her pioneering work with synthesizers, often in crudely sexist and exclusionary workspaces, she is being posthumously awarded a degree by Coventry University.
Due to BBC policies at the time, Grainer – unwillingly – is still officially credited as the sole writer.
Derbyshire stayed at the workshop for 10 years, recording sound for Inventions for Radio and Cyprian Queen – all in the days before modern synthesisers and machines. She was later approached by Paul McCartney to work on a backing track for the Beatles hit Yesterday.
But despite her talent and credit from her peers, Delia failed to gain widespread recognition during her lifetime, eventually becoming disillusioned with the industry and finding work as a radio operator in Cumbria.
Photo: BBC Read the rest
The BBC's pidgin service is aimed at West African audiences; it is a pure delight.
Read the rest
BBC Asian Network raised a few eyebrows after tweeting "What is the right punishment for blasphemy?" While it's clear from watching the video all the way through that BBC's Shazia Awan is not taking a side, BBC Asia later apologized. Read the rest
Simple brilliance from Matt Amys. Read the rest
Ten years after the original series, BBC's widely-acclaimed Planet Earth returns to television in the UK in November and in the US in January 2017.
The first episode, Islands, looks at how animals can become very large or very small in those conditions. This adorable swimming sloth looks worth watching the series all the way through:
Bonus video: extended trailer:
• Planet Earth II website Read the rest
Adam Curtis' latest mind-blowing project just dropped a trailer, and it's a doozy. HyperNormalisation uses a tale of two cities (New York City and Damascus) to trace how we got to Trump, among other post-truths. He goes in on everybody, with a special focus on bankers. Read the rest
These unusual "radio drama staircases" are inside the BBC's sound studios. When an actor is recorded walking up or down the stairs, the different surfaces (wood, carpet, cement) give the acoustic impression of unique locations for the radio drama. Samuel West shot the image above at BBC's Maida Vale Studios. Apparently, they are actually functioning staircases that lead somewhere in the building.
(via Neatorama) Read the rest
"We believe that the new classics on this list are destined to become old classics," writes the BBC. "Whether or not that happens is ultimately up to you, the moviegoers. But one thing is certain: cinema isn’t dying, it’s evolving." Read the rest
If you live in the UK and watch live TV or use the Iplayer video-on-demand service, you have to pay a "license fee" that directly supports public media in the UK (in other countries, public media is funded out of the tax-coffers, but in the UK, it's a direct transfer from viewers to the media, which is meant to make the BBC independent of the whims of government and thus more able to hold it to account). Read the rest